Sunday, November 25, 2007

open day

dropped by the Kolej Tuanku Jaafar's open day over the weekend just to see for ourselves the hype about this reknown independent co-ed secondary boarding school.

actually, we were not disappointed. hidden in the lush countryside of mantin, negeri sembilan,

we were greeted by prefects assigned to show prospective students & their parents around.

this 1st thing that impressed me was the open spaces & greenery everywhere :

the facilities were certainly top-drawer - science labs, library, computer access & boarding houses, just to name a few.

as teaching aids, they have smart-boards which resembled blown-up interactive computer screens.

they even have an ongoing dam project.

this is the 1st college open day we've been to (actually it's only a half-day) but i have to admit that there weren't that many visitors, probably around 20 families at most. but i shouldn't be surprised - an A-level education here will set you back RM74k, although scholarships are available to deserving students. as a random non-specific measure of the standard of the students, i was told (only) 60% aced the maths paper at the last A-levels.

hmm...maybe the STPM should be given due consideration. after all, i went thru it & i didn't do too badly, either.

on the way back, we stopped by seremban & caught up with sbanboy, who took us out for dinner at jusco.

incidentally, i also bumped into an old classmate who sat at the next table & he also happened to be sbanboy's neighbour. is this a small town or what??

Sunday, November 18, 2007

decision, decision.

although i wasn't looking for anything in particular, i stumbled upon this at the local bookstore this afternoon:

a hard-cover edition of the 2nd of his prison trilogy.
in north america, it retailed at...

...but here it was being sold for....

...with another 10% off with the discount card. it's a "steal" by any standard, & as a sworn Archer die-hard, i should grab it before someone else does.

but (sigh) i didn't. i don't think entries like :

"6.03am : woke up & wrote for 2 hours...
8.34am : had corn-flakes with UHT milk for breakfast..."

are going to fire the imagination & keep me at the edge of my seat.

it was a difficult decision to make but i'll pass this one.
maybe i'm not a die-hard after all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

x'mas has come early

got a package from UK today. guess what?

Lord Archer found time, in between correcting proofs for his latest novel & shuttling from conducting fund-raising auctions to attending theatrical plays (read here), to autograph for me a copy of the revised version of Shall We Tell The President?

you've made my day, your Lordship!

i'd also like to extend sincere appreciation to his PA, Ms Alison Prince, for sending the paperback across 8 time zones, & a special mention of Iml for 1st directing me to Jeffrey's blog.

blessed christmas, one & all!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

the cosmonaut

Juliet said this at the balcony :

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet".

seriously, i've never read any of shakespeare's plays, not even the abridged versions, but i am suitably impressed with some of his more famous quotes. this particular excerpt is self-explanatory. the converse would mean that, if it were not a rose, calling it one would be meaningless as the sweet fragrance is decidedly absent.

the americans call them astronauts. the russians called theirs cosmonauts. if this report is true (read here) , then our erstwhile angkasawan Dr Sheikh is now a full-fledged trained cosmonaut.

sure, as a malaysian, i should be proud that one of ours has finally achieved this sought-after qualification awarded by the Russian National Space Agency, no less! (in chess parlance, the russians would called him Grandmaster).

sure, we as a nation have arrived in the guise of a space-exploring power & are pushing into the frontiers of the galaxies beyond.

i'm really not into the intricate financial & technology-transfer aspects of our space programme but.....err... before the red carpet is rolled out & ticker-tape parade starts, can i just ask one question?

if you were going to space, would you want cosmonaut Dr Sheikh to pilot your shuttle?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

graduation day 2007

yeah, it's that time of the year again when the kindergartens have their graduation ceremonies, showcasing the achievements of the students to the parents in particular, & to the public at large. of course, this is also a neat piece of PR work to attract prospective parents to enrol their pre-schoolers.

my son's school is no different. next year, they will take up the Fungate franchise, which (supposedly) means superior teaching methods, more science & computer facilities & better trained teachers, therefore effectively preparing the 4-to-6-yr-olds for formal education. naturally, all these advantages come at a (steep) price - about 3 times the current fees.

well, let's not get too academic about the issue. kids should enjoy their childhood & here's the boy's few minutes claim to fame at center-stage :

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

biblical inpiration ?

it all started with the made-for-tv serial. starring sam neill & peter strauss - at that time both actors were largely unknown - how could one miss with a title like Kane & Abel, playing on the name of Adam & Eve's first-born?

what caught my fascination about this saga set in America during the great depression, was the bitter-sweet climax, as only Jeffrey Archer could conjure up. in this instance, it was Kane who anonymously provided financial backing for Abel's doomed hotel chain. a gracious act - uncommonly outstanding in a backdrop of national collapse & hostile manipulation of 1920s, & conspicuously rare these days. a total contrast from the tragic Cain & Abel story as recorded in the book of Genesis.

i've been hooked on the ex-MP's books since. sometimes i wonder if he occasionally derives inspiration from the bible. how else can he explain The Prodigal Daughter & The 11th Commandment? dare i imagine that Mark of The Beast & The Burning Bush be amongst his future titles?

in the meantime, his latest collection of short stories came in useful while waiting between patients.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


it's probably terminal.

my GP friend was recently diagnosed to have inoperable cancer of the liver. the doctors managed to reduce its size by embolization & then proceeded to chemotherapy. (read here)

short of surgery, that's probably his best shot.

it was really ironic because we were having dinner with a few other medics earlier last month & he was asked whether he believed in God. he replied that there was no need to as he doesn't have a problem, conflict or crisis. he was being candid because life has been rosy for him - happily married with a young family, runs a successful clinic & financially independent.

and now, this.

but he is still outwardly jovial about his future. talking to him, i can sense that he has more or less prepared for the battle with big C. but more importantly he is also receptive to having God in his life. for that, i am happy for him.

is this God's timely test for him? does he have to go through the same desparate sinking experience as Jonah before he retraces his path back to The Way, The Truth & The Life?

it's probably terminal & chemo-embolization probably his best option. probably. in times of fear & doubt, isn't it reassuring that there are still promises we can hold on to :

Let everyone call urgently on God.
Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish." Jonah 3:8,9

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