Blogger has been acting screwy for the past week or so. It took me two evenings to finagle with the system to get the picture and text up on my last post. I had to post the picture in one post and then link to it in a post of text. I also had to do some hand coding of the HTML.
I have noticed that the spell checker is completely unreliable. It will sometimes fix words, but it deletes the other words in the sentence. This is especially the true if I use html tags to highlight certain parts of the text. It has also been extraordinarily difficult to use the Blogger Dashboard. I'm having to post this via e-mail, because the normal way to post only works fifty percent of the time. I have been to status.blogger.com and they say that everything is fine. Can anyone tell me what is going on?
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Blogger has been acting screwy for the past week or so. It took me two evenings to finagle with the system to get the picture and text up on my last post. I had to post the picture in one post and then link to it in a post of text. I also had to do some hand coding of the HTML.
Oh, how I miss the living in the land of consumer waste known as the United States of America! In the United States we have extra large soda pop and extra large trucks. In the United States all cheap restaurants serve you using Styrofoam or paper containers. In the United States demolition derbies are legal, and people can wreck cars for sport!
Here in Singapore they are a little more sensible. Except for a few American food chains, even the the cheapest restaurants serve you on real plates. It is unheard of to own a big clunker of a vehicle. I haven't seen any American style SUVs since I have arrived. My little S-10 had an engine slightly larger than most Singaporean commercial vehicles. Old vehicles aren't wasted, once they don't meet the latest pollution controls the government taxes the tar out of them and they must be sold to Malaysians.
However, none of that stuff really gets me down. What is the most uncool, or rather, what is extremely ice cold is the temperature of my morning shower water, if I don't push the button pictured above. In the U.S. I had a huge water heater that must have held twenty or thirty gallons. The thing ran all day, blazing natural gas so that I could have instant access to hot water. Here in Singapore, I have a little water heater that runs from underneath the kitchen sink. And, get this, you are supposed to turn it on before you use hot water.
This wouldn't be bad, but when I wake up groggy in the mornings I often to forget to turn the thing on and become the victim of a cold shower. What a travesty!
However, this isn't the worst. I'll save the explanation for a future post, but the biggest problem of all is that in Singapore-- listen close-- they don't use clothes dryers! How do they survive? I'll tell you the secrets next time: same blog place, same blog time.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
For the last several days Blogger has been unreliable when I have tried to post pictures and posts at the same time. In fact, sometimes I haven't even been able to get to my dashboard. This post is being sent via e-mail. I don't know what the problem is, but this will explain why there is a picture missing from my previous post.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
I saw this in Sim Lim square yesterday. I wrote a pretty long and drawn out post reminiscing on the days when I sat around for hours and played Nintendo. Somehow, Blogger deleted it and I'm too lazy to type it up again. Maybe I'll do it some other time.
The Gameboy Micro is striking because it is shaped like the original NES controller. To get one in this model costs one hundred and ninety dollars, sixty dollars more than the Game Boy Advance SP. Behold the marketing power of sentimentality.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
I went to go see this concert last Thursday. It was my first chance to go to the Victoria Concert Hall. My landlord told me that before the Durian was built, Victoria Concert Hall was THE place to go for concerts. The event was sponsored by the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of music, a group connected with Singapore's National University.
The first piece the Conservatory Orchestra performed was the Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov version of "Night on Bald Mountain."
Laurence Gargan, a world famous trumpet player, practically blew his brains out during the second piece of the concert. He played a fast tempo concerto by some guy named Oskar Bohme. According to the programme notes Bohme is a relative unknown Romantic Era composer from Germany. I could tell Gargan didn't take the venue that seriously. At one point he took out his spit valve and began flinging it, nearly splattering his saliva on the first chair violin.
Monday, September 19, 2005
A fellow educator stumbled upon this blog and sent me a few interesting links. I will post them here for everyone to view.
Learning with Lucie
TSLC Learning Community
The Year of the Blog
I think I may eventually just get a dedicated G-mail account so that I can take link suggestions. For now, if you have any more post them in the comments section. Happy reading!
Sunday, September 18, 2005
I really need to find a good used bookstore in Singapore. Today I went to Borders and realized that almost every book published in the U.S. is between twenty and thirty Singapore dollars, even classics are that expensive.
There might be an upside to this. Because I didn't want to spend all of my money on books I could get in the U.S. for one third of the price, I purchased some books by Singaporean authors.
The first book I purchased is called Got Singapore and it is a series of newspaper editorials that originally printed in the The Straits Times during the nineteen eighties and nineties.
The second book is a novella by Colin Chong titled seventeen. He is one of Singapore's few award winning authors.
I will post reviews of these books after I read them.
Americans are wimps who can't take the truth. I'm probably one of them. We mess around and try to find compromises and solutions for problems. The strategy works well on petty issues, but when it comes to life and death issues there is no substitute for strong decisive leadership. Sometimes people can be a danger to themselves and others.
Why do I feel so strongly about this right now? I just saw the warning labels that the Singapore government places on cigarette wrappers. I don't know how anyone can still smoke when they are confronted with disgusting images each time they light up. It is a far cry from simple text label that is required when cigarettes are sold in America. Sure, let people make their own decisions, but give them the truth, the brual, honest truth.
File this in the Singaporeans don't mess around folder.
Cowboy Caleb has linked to this entry.
It seems that he was once a heavy smoker who named the characters in the pictures.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Today was another beautiful day in Singapore. I went with A, K, and H to see Formula One racing boats at Marina Bay. I was the only one who was able to see the big race because everyone else showed up late. By the time my friends arrived there were only a few boats doing time trials around the course.
We ended up walking around the bay, going to the top of the Esplanade, a durian shaped piece of achitecture, and then walking around Suntec City.
I did get my first chance to see the Merlion today.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
My apartment now as a real, honest-to-goodness DSL internet connection, 30Mbs.
I have been extra sloppy with my blog editing. Until today, my internet connections in Singapore have been pretty sketchy. I would use the unsecured connections of my neighbors and those connections only functioned about half of the time. Hoping to get something up before the connection dropped, I would spend even less time editing than usual.
Keep checking for updates. Please subscribe to RSS.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
One of my favorite sites to visit was the Conezone. Some guy in Iceland actually took the time to record each episode of Conan O'Brien, render it in low, quickly downloadable resolution, and host the episodes on a website.
I loved it, especially since I moved to Singapore. Availabilty of American talk shows is limited and it was a decent substitute for the broadcast version. The screen was tiny and the audio was mono, but it was better than nothing.
Unfortunately, some knothead lawyers at NBC Universal shut the site down. Now I need to figure out another way to watch Conan. There was no need to shut the site down. No one in his right mind would watch these if they had access to the broadcast version. Does anybody have a legal remedy? How about Bittorrent?
While there are certainly much greater problems in the world, it is situations like this that make me happy that there is an Electronic Freedom Foundation.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
An old college friend has pointed me to her blog. There are a number of pretty cool photographs to view. The Myspace interface isn't nearly as good as Blogger, so you have to hunt around a litle bit before you find the blog entries, but once you come upon them you will be utterly impressed with her insightful opinions.
This Missouri girl is currently teaching in Guam! Who would do a crazy thing like that?
Monday, September 12, 2005
Yesterday I just finished reading Jim Wallis' books God's Politics: How the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. I became aware of this book by watching C-SPAN and reading several blogs.
I believe that this is one of the most level headed books on religion and politics ever published in the United States. I strongly welcome Jim's call to create a new political option in America, one that is socially conservatice and economically liberal.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
I recently found a blog that linked to my site. I appreciate that. I think this guy's opinons are pretty interesting to read. Warning- the blog is not just conservative, but obnoxiously conservative. Your computer may begin to smell like a gun toting, cigarette smoking Karl Rove if your stay at the site too long.
I was inspired by an entry on BoingBoing to go look at Har Paw Villa, a park full of Chinese culture statues. It was created in the 1920's by the Chinese billionaire who invented Tiger Balm.
All of the statues are garish and most are bizarre. I was able to see scenes of ten foot tall sumo wrestlers, pistol wielding rats betting cricket fights, and even a miniature statue of liberty. It kind of reminded me of the one that used to be at Camp Sawmill. I'll post a few of these pictures and let my readers observe and judge for themselves.
However, the one thing that I want to comment on is the Buddhist rendition of Hell that I toured at the park. It made me glad to be a Christian who worships a God that forgives. Apparently, in Chinese culture theology an old man judges the lives of people who die. If they sinned, and most people do, the dead have to undergo some kind of torture for a period time. Next, supposing they did not reach Nirvana, the state of enlightenment, they are put into another body and made to live life all over again. They have to go through the cycle of pain, torture and torment over and over again until they rely on their own internal strength to be perfect. I hope that I live a life so that God, the God is Israel, the God of peace, justice, and mercy it my strength.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
As an English Education major in college it seemed that all of my teachers made the study of racial inequality a keystone of the curriculum, almost to the point where I became jaded with the entire conversation. The English instructors carefully deconstructed the stereotypes presented by authors, while the education professors constantly warned us of the gaps in knowledge and socioeconomic struggles that African-Americans might face in school.
It was a hard thing for me to deal with, and it seemed that even though the professors liked to talk about it, they all provided conflicting messages. The most vivid memory that I have is of a white education instructor who taught a high school level African American literature course and possessed literally hundreds of blackface, mammy, coon, Jim Crow, and golliwag memorabilia. She had her reasons, and some of them seemed legitimate, but for an educational device her collection bordered on obsessive.
By far the most impressive speaker that I saw speak on the subject of race was Robert Williams, a Washington University professor. Aside from being one the largest people that I've ever met, he fits the Brian McClaren's description of Neo in the NKC series, he coined the term "ebonics." When I asked him if deconstructing literary and commercial racial stereotypes was even a useful item of study and conversation he said no, and gave a response explaining to the group of college students that we should try to leave many of those ideas in the past.
Well, I'm not going to follow his advice, African Americans may get often get cheated in society, at least their condition is a subject of conversation and they have a part in American society's dialogue. But today's post isn't about African Americans, it is about American Indians.
They are one group that always seems to get pushed to the margins. Their grandparents were brutally murdered and today they still live in hellhole reservations and face impossible odds in order to get out.
Society views American Indians as sports mascots, trademarks, and souvenirs. Instead of being a massive, diverse people group, they are seen as an ancient moment in time that deserves to be charicatured and is bound to die off. Even in Asia, I see it. At the grocery store I go to, they offer a beverage called Kickapoo Joy Juice. It is relic left over from Lil' Abner that caught on in Asia. It does taste good, like Mountain Dew, and it is not alcoholic. The outside of the can features Lonesome Polecat and Hairless Joe being rocketed away from planet earth in a wash basin. It is strange the kind of things that we come across. This beverage was probably extremely popular at Dogpatch, USA, a themepark that closed which was located near my home town.
It is difficult for me to talk about this without some hypocrisy. While growing up, I fondly remember spending many fond hours playing Wahoo! with my grandparents.
Today, I guess the game is still being sold, but without pictures of Indians on the board. I guess some progress is being made. I don't really have a solution to lead society toward clearer thinking, better race relations, and, ultimately, justice. I can't even speak from a position of moral superiority. Even though some may disagree, I think just mentioning it, bringing the problem to light, and attempting to put it on the map in the world's dialogue might help a little, just a little.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Most mornings I leave my house at about 7:00, walk to the bus stop outside of Hotel Rendevous, wait ten minutes for the bus, ride twenty minutes to the bus, and rush into work, barely making it in time for seven fourty five devotion.
Most of the time the lights on all of the streetside vendors are just coming up, cars with businessmen are driving by, and a few old Chinese men are driving by on old tri-wheel bikes.
Yet, twice in a month I've managed to move my tired hind end out of bed a little early, and I think Singapore even fifteen minutes earlier is an entirely different place. At six fourty five it is still dark and no shops are open except the Seven Eleven.
Unfortunately, the two times that I have gotten out of bed earlier I have also seen two minor car accidents. The first crash was on Tuesday when I saw two taxi cabs crash into each other. Today, I woke up early and saw that two busses had hit each other at the exact same intersection. Fortunately, both accidents were low speed and nobody was hurt in either crash.
I can only guess at the cause. Maybe the public transport guys are driving all night and they are on their last leg before the seven o'clock hour.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Differing accounts of Cory Doctorow's visit have almost become a meme among Singapore's bloggers.
I'll join in the barrage of accounts with a short description. I was only able to make it to the first session of the Singapore Writer's Festival on Saturday and the Blogger's Connection Nite at Rouge later that evening. During that time I was able to see him at his best. At the SWF, Cory preached to the believers about how copy protection inhibits innovation, creativity, and productivity. Everything from remixes to the way that educators can present knowledge are affected by them.
Cory also lives out his message of copywrite liberalization. He has written best selling science fiction novels and sold them under Creative Commons licenses, allowing them to be freely printed and redistributed in print in the third world and electronically everywhere. He is also one of three people who help publish Boingboing, the most popular blog in the word.
As I spoke with him I had a sense of awe as he constantly inserted facts and figures into witty conversation. He nearly always had a laptop computer in front of him and even while he talked to you, even during his speech, he was consuming information and looking up statistics. He knew more websites than anybody else I have ever met.
Cory's speaking tone and rhythm reminded me of the times I had seen Quentin Tarintino on late night talk show circuits. Tarintino talks with a fanboy fervency and and an acute level of detail about whatever subject he is discussing, usually television genres. Tarintino has grown up consuming the mediums of film and television and now, out of sheer passion for the craft, he is a participant in it. I think Cory has the same passion about electronics and the media. However, unlike Tarintino, Cory Doctorow isn't out to numb minds with audiovisual eyecandy. He wants to change the world, help the poor, and provide artists with the tools to be more creative.
I encourage everybody to visit the Electronic Freedom Foundation to learn more.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
On Singaporean TV, the hottest new show is called Shooting Stars. The program premiered after the National Day Parade, which is the Singaporean equivalent of beginning after the SuperBowl. I've never watched this program, partly because I don't watch TV too much here and partly because one of my Singaporeans friends told me it was a piece of crap, "Singapore's Baywatch."
Shooting Stars features all of the top performers from the Singapore Idol television competition. So, imagine a soap opera starring Kelly Clarkson, Reuben Studdard, and Clay Aiken, and then decrease the quality of talent a notch and you can get a good picture of the quality of acting featured on this show.
Today, I went to Bukit Meriah to eat Indian food with the tech guy from school. It was while I was riding back on bus 14 and watching the TVMobile screens that I was exposed to the high drama I had until now been missing.
In less that ten minutes of time, I was exposed to only a brief taste of this half hour program. In the time that I watched, a guy had an argument with his dad about becoming a pop star, a girl got raped, another guy stabbed the rapist, and some old guy got hit by a car while trying to change the batteries on his portable CD player. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the exciting conclusion because the time came for me to get off the bus.
When I got back to the apartment one of my roommates who studies Chinese was watching a Chinese soap opera. In the brief segment I saw of it a woman was asked to leave a shopping mall for breast feeding. As she was leaving, she saw there were several other people leaving for the same reason. She then organized a breast feeding sit-in. An army of mothers marched into the mall and proudly let their children suck from their teats, in a way that was edited for television of course. The final scene had a shopping mall official publicly apologizing to the mothers. The young mothers got their way and could feed their kids whenever they wanted.
Power to the Chinese! Long live melodrama!
Here is another blog from a guy that I met at the Singapore Writer's Festival. I really should have posted this the other day. I found the site and jotted it down, but I forgot to include it in the post. He is an avid American baseball fan and keeps a personal blog. His sports blog is apparently good enough to make a little advertising revenue. His told me his personal blog gets several thousand hits because it comes to the top of a Google search for "cute puppies."
DARYL SNG BLOG
SINGAPORE SOX FAN
Monday, September 05, 2005
Two weeks ago I joined a gym here in Singapore named California Fitness. I know it is a little ironic I would move all the way to Singapore and join a place named after the western most state, but, hey, who isn't California dreamin' about how big their biceps might be. Just remember that there is no need to worship them.
Before I begin to dwell on the negative, I want to say I really like the facilities. The Orchard Road branch that I go to touts itself as being the largest fitness center in Asia, and I believe it. It is three stories of ab crunchers, free weights and treadmills. There are classes that you can take for free. I've never attended, but I see hoards of Singaporeans punching and kicking their way to better health listening to weird Asian techno remixes of Right to Party, Dance if we Want To and Somewhere Over the Rainbow (believe it). Maybe one day I'll get the guts to take a class such as Body Combat or Hip Hop Fitness 2. I've extremely disappointed they didn't subtitle the last class electric boogaloo.
Now for the negative. I can't stand interacting with any of the staff at the center. I don't know if is cultural or if my attitude just stinks. When I went to sign up, I had to haggle for the price. I told them that I was American and that I just want to pick my price off of a list. The guy I talked to didn't seem to share the philosophy. I eventually wore him down to a decent price, but I've still talked to people who pay a little less. I'd post how much I'm paying, but I think I'm contractually bound to keep it mum.
My next rip is from when I went in for the "free" personal training session that comes with signing up all new members. Instead of setting up some type of workout routing or giving my safety tips he spent all of the time taking me to machines and making me do as many reps as possible. He wouldn't even write down how much I was doing. All he did was ridicule me. He once made me lift up my shirt and said "you like burgers don't you." He also weighed me and told me that if I weighed one kilogram more I would be "obese." Good grief, anybody that has seen me knows that I am far from that. Finally, he spent the rest of the time trying to convince me that I needed to buy more training sessions and that I was being irresponsible and unhealthy if I did not sign him up as my personal trainer. I can tell you how much he wanted for that-- eighty dollars a session. Moreover, he wanted several sessions a week. I suppose I could stop eating to afford that, but then I would no longer need a personal trainer
Around the gym are signs posted saying "bring a friend in for a free workout." I did this with one of my new roommates and I was absolutely embarrassed. They did let him workout, but only after they forced him to listen to the same forty five minute sale session that I had to listen to before I signed up. They even took one of his pieces of ID before it started so he couldn't leave in the middle of it.
As a side note it is comical how the fitness trainers act when they are trying to sell out a membership. As they are walking you around the gym the guys, proudly wearing tight read polo shirts designed to show off their muscles, will constantly give each other high fives and occasionally hug as they pass each other. Presumably this is to make you think that people that if you join you will one day grow to be large and in charge and have a lot of friends.
I've been a member for two weeks and I can promise you it doesn't work like that. I'm not much of a touchy feely guy and I'm even less of one when I am sweating after my mild to moderate workout. My only real objectives are to feel a little better, pass the time in a healthy way, and successfully hide the fact that I like burgers
Well, I promised to post a few links of people I met at the blogger connection night. I've lost one list of blogs and am going to wait on a few. I once posted links to blogs of people I didn't know and then all of a sudden they started posting intensely personal stuff, mainly about their love life.
One guy that does seem interesting is Anders Brink. He's a sci-fi writer who claims he wants to put "the science back into science fiction." He doesn't have much of a blog, and even though he has his own domain name the site doesn't offer much. It does contain an explanation of his work and a short list of sci-fi magazines that he has been published in.
I promise to post a few more links in the future.
One of my secret goals in life is to get paid for writing down obvious information. I can only imagine putting in a few hours a day at a word processor, writing down stuff that most people already know, and then laying back in my easy chair and cashing in, leaving the rest of my time to do whatever the heck I wanted to. Two people who have already achieved this dream are the husband and wife team Harry K. and Rosemary Wong.
In both of the schools that I have taught, I have been exposed to the Wong's materials for educators. They have an entire line of motivational videos and a book titled The First Days of School, that has sold over two million copies.
Harry Wong is the star of the videos and seems to be the primary author of the book. In the videos he wears a three piece suit and parades across stage decorated to look like a traditional classroom. The student desks are in rows and an apple sits neatly atop a clean teachers desk. Harry gives teaching tips and cracks the type of corny jokes that you would expect a teacher to tell. Most of the jokes tend to end in predictable punchlines such as “two Wongs don't make a white.” If you don't get it, watch the video.
Some of Wong's obvious advice include such tips as “pass back papers in a timely manner,” “wait until the students are working to take attendance,” and “read the text before you teach it.” Yeah, that stuff is pretty obvious. It is sad to think that countless hours of “professional development workshops” around the world have to be devoted to such obvious information.
However, if you go deeper into Wong's book he does eventually include some original tips. He's got a couple of neat procedures, most of them involve the teacher raising his or her hand, that can be used to quiet a class down without having to should and yell at them. There are also a tip about passing papers across rows instead of down them that seems to speed up the process.
In America, Harry Wong's advice didn't seem to work as well as he predicted it would. Kids seem to be in a motivational slump. No matter how quickly the teacher returns papers they always come up with something to gripe about. The curriculum often doesn't seem relevant to their lives.
In Singapore, Harry Wong's tips work like clockwork. Students generally do most work without complaint and they tend to do their best on the work that they are given. Also, in my classroom students quiet down quickly and all I have to do is raise my hand. I think I've raised my voice once this year and that was on accident. I've been here five weeks and I still feel my job is absolutely wonderful.
Of course, my constituency has changed substantially. In Missouri, I mostly taught the children of farmers and the working class. In Singapore, the constituency is divided almost equally between evangelical protestants with two parent families and studious Asians.
Knowing that my job as an educator was going to be easier in Singapore should have been a piece of obvious information, but I had to see it for myself. This is like much of the information presented in The First Days of School, you know the procedures would work but it is difficult to see the immediate returns to it is easy to overlook them or diminish their importance. Maybe I will get tired of teaching in Singapore and go back to the government created problem child known as American public schools. Maybe I will get disenfranchised at the automoton like nature of teaching in Singapore and desire to return and help face America's many struggles. Maybe, just maybe. However, unless something huge comes up I'll be here for the next two years-- I signed a contract.
On page 205 of his book Harry K. Wong says “At 4 o'clock, I go play racquetball, drink margaritas, and teach my Italian bride how to cook Chinese food.” I leave at six, but I guess according to Harry K. Wong I'm on the right track.
While a substantial amount of people in America rush to give hurricane relief, I'm planning a trip to the beach at Sentosa in an hour. Lots of teachers go every weekend, but this is my first weekend I've had free.
I wrote this about six hours ago, but did not post it until now. The trip to the beach was cancelled due to rain.
It is a little overwhelming when I hear about all of the things going on in America right now. The entire south central region has been ravaged. People from my hometown in Missouri are even affected.
I'm still going to post some of those links that were given to me at the blogger meeting. Singtel, the ISP I have chosen, will not be installing my landline until the fifteenth so right now I am having to leech off of neighbors, go to Starbucks or get the internet at work. It is a little unreliable. Even my wireless networking card that I paid thirty bucks for doesn't seem to work.
It is a bit shocking to hear that Justice Rehnquist is dead. I guess for better or worse conservatives will soon dominate the Supreme Court.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
I just returned from meeting with several bloggers in Singapore. I was able to meet Cory Doctorow who does boingboing.net and works for the Electronic Freedom Foundation.
Xiaxue, the most famous blogger in Singapore showed up for both events. I was also able to meet Mrbrown and Mrmiyagi.
Afterwards several people went to the Rouge and discussed blogging, technology, and electronic freedom. I met several people and will soon post links after I preview their sites. Cory Doctorow was by far the most intesting. He is a professional electronic activist and has an endless array of information about the need for the free flow of information in a free society.
The event was part of the National Writer's Week in Singapore.
I'm a little hesitant to post these links because I haven't really read these blogs yet. If they aren't compatible with this site I'll remove the links have already posted soon.