Wednesday, June 29, 2005

War of the Worlds

Finally, mid-week. The first week of the new term is always a horrible one. It's like a massive hangover which lasts for the whole week. After a month of holidaez, of sleeping late and waking late, of doing fun stuff... coming back to school is like a massive jolt back to reality. Like it or not, it's part of school life. So, guess there's not much point in complaining.

Other than the horrible feeling of tiredness and the unrelenting wave of things/activities, I guess the term has not been too bad so far. Teaching wise, the 3 classes I'm taking is a nice return to familiarity since I'd taught them before last year. Teaching Physics is certainly more fun than having to cover Chemistry as well. Youth Week has also been quite ok so far. Despite initial concerns, I must say things appear to be going reasonably well.

Today, I decided to make time and go watch War of the Worlds. Actually, the main reason why I had to go was coz I had a movie voucher which expires on 30 Jun. So if I didn't go, I would be wasting a free ticket! WotW was pretty good. The special effects were quite breath-taking. But the one thing which really stole the show was Dakota Fanning. She's the little girl. I mean, she can really freak out! Throughout the show, she pretty much convinces you how scared she is and her screams and sobs are really wrenching. The one small let-down is the ending coz it ends quite abruptly. I think Spielberg did it intentionally coz he wasn't really focussed on how to fight the aliens but how the 'everyday people' faced the invasion. I'm sure many people in the cinema were like 'HUH?!' when the movie ended. haha. Good show. Go watch.

OK, two more days to go. Then it's weekend. Phew!

Monday, June 27, 2005

First day blues.....

I am sooooooooooooooo tired... YAWNZ......

The first day has been pretty ok, but it's been such a looooooooooong day.


Friday, June 24, 2005

Went to Funan today. Kind of like my way of spending all possible free time doing stuff I want before the term starts. Bought a few new games coz a few of the game shops were having sales (as part of the Great Singapore Sale). I have no idea when I'm gonna play the games, but I guess it's ok to get them when they are on sale so that I can play them later. Bought Ratchet & Clank 3, supposedly an excellent platformer. I've enjoyed R&C 1 and 2 so I think 3 should be pretty good too. Also bought Kirby Canvas Curse, a DS game. Anyway, noticed the nearly completed Court House so I took a pic. Just doesn't look very court-ish to me. More like a restaurant cum shopping complex! Personally, I find the walls weird. They have this slices of marble 'pasted' onto a frame like design. (I think you should be able to see it if you click on the pic and see the larger version). A classy building? Don;t think so. I think it belongs as one of Singapore's ugliest wonders. (Right next to our horrigible new National Library building).

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Oh yah, I went to The Marketplace supermarket at Paragon on Wednesday evening and found the yummy Calpis water there! And compared to japan, it was pretty cheap! For you expo-ers, you would remember that a can of calpis would probably cost about 120 yen which works out to about S$1.80. At the supermart, it was only going for $1.55. Like I said, it's of course, costlier than other normal soft drinks, but it's cheaper than Japan! And a 1.5 litre bottle was goign for S$5.60. That's comparatively reasonable too.

Initial D

Somehow, today started off really badly. Just one of those days when the world just doesn't seem right. Maybe it's the thot that the holidaez are ending. Or maybe it's just the proverbial 'getting out on the wrong side of the bed'. My apologies to those I'd snapped at todae.

Anywaez, despite the not too good start, the day got a little better in the late afternoon. I decided to catch Initial D. Now, I'm not exactly a racing car fan so I would probably not be the first in line to catch a racing movie. But I guess, the fact that it's based on a manga, made it quite alluring. So with very little expectations in mind, I went over to Great World to catch the movie. Initial D is a very strange movie. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed myself. I think I found it strange becoz the weird way they did this movie. Watching this movie is really like reading a japanese comic. Some of the humour would feel totally weird in a regular movie. But if you think of reading a manga, where dirty old men like to stare up little school girls' skirts, then it all kinda makes sense. No, it's not a porno movie. There's nothing to see. But occasionally, such actions will suddenly take place. The other weird thing is the way the movie is done. The directors have tried to follow the manga closely by basing the movie in Japan. But all the actors are Chinese?! And they try to get these chinese actors to act in a japanese way! Like the bowing, the overly courteous actions, you get wat I mean? And very often, it just seemed unnatural. I dunno if it might have been better to base the movie in Hong Kong or to have gotten japanese actors to act in japan instead. Anyway, despite it's weirdness, the movie is certainly pretty entertaining. Give it a shot if you are looking for some lighthearted fun.

On a related note, I watched this movie at Cinema 1 in GV Great World City. This is the cinema which was originally the Imax cinema. My frank opinion is that while the cinema screen is nice and large, the curvature of the screen and the height really makes the viewing not very enjoyable. Cinema 6 is excellent, but cinema 1 is quite a horror. If possible, do avoid cinema 1 in GV Great World.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Had a meeting this morning then I decided to go down to Orchard Rd to do some shopping. Wanted to splurge a little before the start of the new term. As I exited from The Heeren, I noticed the new design they had for the bus stop outside the mall. This has got to be one of the more interesting bus stops. I think before this, they had a very creative Madagascar decor. Well, this time, they had this Flying Saucer with a 'FOR SALE' sign. Basically saying that even the aliens are flying Valuair. Thought it was really creative!

When I turned right to go towards Taka, I noticed another excellent promo for War of the Worlds!

After getting plenty of books and magazines from Kino in Taka, I went towards cineleisure and noticed the four Fantastic Four statues! I've read about it in the papers, but had forgotten about it. It was really quite thrilling to see the four statues which were pretty well done. They were placed at the four corners of the junction. Apparently, they had originally wanted the statues to be able to shoot stuff like lasers, but our ever vigilant traffic police said it would be too distracting to drivers... sigh.

It's really very refreshing to see such promotional activities going around Singapore. I think it adds to the excitement of the place and makes it very vibrant. Hope to see much more of such promos!

The Challenge

The last two days have been pretty challenging. It's the first time I'm facilitating the Leadership Challenge for students in its entirety. For those who have been following my blog, you'd know that barely three months ago, I had to conduct an Introduction workshop for the teachers on the Leadership Challenge. That was pretty nerve-wrecking. But that was only a 10am to 3pm kinda thing and I needn't do the whole workshop, just an intro.

This time round, I was conducting the complete TLC workshop for the students, spread across 2 days, from 8.30am to 3.30pm. I was kinda nervous at the start cause I wasn't really sure if I was all ready to conduct it. I had most of the things in order... reports, powerpoints, logistics... but it was just this fear that the whole workshop would end up being a big bore and waste of time.

At the end of these two days, my first response is to breathe a huge sigh of relief. I'm glad my 'virgin' workshop is over. It certainly wasn't perfect and there are areas I really need to work on and improve, but I think on the whole, it was ok. There were times when it got a little demoralizing when I noticed students nodding off or spacing out. Then of course, there were pupils who weren't really interested to take part in the activities. Regardless of all that, I am optimistic that most of the participants were able to take something useful away from the two days spent together.

Well, once again, the holidays are coming to an end. There's a prefects' meeting tomorrow, then I have two days to get stuff ready for the new term. I am so very tempted to go away for those two days.. take a short trip to Hong Kong or something. But I noe the reality is that there is plenty to do before the term starts, especially with Youth Week kicking off the term. Well, all good things must come to an end I suppose.

Let the games begin!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Spent last night and this morning putting together this 950 piece Jigsaw. I bought it last year when I was in Japan. Jigsaws are generally cheaper there. This is my first panaroma-type jigsaw. I always use the long holidays to do jigsaws if I find one that I like. My largest one is a 2000 piece one I think. Those who've been to my place have seen it. That took me a pretty long time. A few days.
Saw this chair/shopping trolley at NTUC yesterday. How I wish I had this at the World Expo! It would have made the queuing up so very much more bearable!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

More than half-way through the holidays. So far, it's been quite good. Spent first week preparing some school stuff and also preparing for the Expo trip. Spent second week in Japan. And now, hlaf way through the third week. Been busy doing some preparations for the Leadership Challenge Workshop next Monday. Have also been catching up on the movies! I watched Mr & Mrs Smith on Monday. Excellent show. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie really have chemistry. It's not surprising that Brad Pitt broke up with Jennifer Aniston after the movie. He and Angelina were hot! The movie is really quite funny and the action was good. Highly entertaining. Definitely a 'must-see'!

On Tuesday, I caught Unleashed. Thankfully, I had read the review before watching the show so I wasn't let-down by the non-action-ness of the movie. You go to a Jet Li film expecting only fighting, fighting and more fighting. I must say that Unleashed was quite different. Although there were sufficient fighting scenes, the show really focusses on Jet Li's relationship with his new 'family'. Jet Li played a real innocent role. I think he did pretty good. Better than whatever Jackie Chan has done in Hollywood anyway. But, Unleashed can be a little slow at times. For those looking for an action flick, give this movie a miss. But if you want to see a more dramatic side to Jet Li, give it a shot.

Today, I caught Batman Begins. The highly anticipated return of the Batman movie franchise. Was it worth the many years of hiatus? Well, the movie is really quite different from the previous movies. It wasn't campy and the tone was quite dark. Basically about people struggling with their fears. Christian Bale was quite credible as Batman and this is the second movie I've seen this week with Morgan Freeman (he seems to be everywhere!). At the end of it all, I think the movie was not bad, but unfortunately, there wasn't a 'wow' factor. I came out of the cinema satisfied but not floored. Quite different from movies like Spiderman & Star Wars III where I came out of the cinema wanting to go back for more.

Yepz, that's it for now. Fantastic Four & War of the Worlds next!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Learning Journey to World Expo 2005

Ok, it's been 2 days since I returned from the world expo learning journey. If I don't blog abt it now, I probably won't do it anymore. So here goes.

5 June
I kinda regret taking the overnight flight. I know it did save one night's accommodation cost, but I think the overnight flight was terrible. I couldn't sleep and I had to keep myself occupied through the entire 6.5 hours. It's quite different for my flights to US coz for those, I do sleep after sometime coz I'm just too tired out. For a 6.5 hr flight, there really isn't enough time to get tired. Most of the others did catch some shuteye I think. Well, the flight was uneventful. Kept myself busy with my PSP. Managed to watch parts of The Incredibles and also Shall We Dance. I was quite pleasantly surprised by Shall We Dance. Not a bad show at all. I think Jennifer Lopez plays these kinds of roles very well. Maid in Manhattan, Monster-in-Law, Shall We Dance, all pretty similar roles. Thinking of getting the DVD now.

6 June
Our first day. Arrival was fine. It was nice meeting Yamakoshi san again. The last time i met her was when I was working in Ken-Air and I organised some trips with her. I remembered her as being a very meticulous and careful tour manager and at the end of the whole trip, my memories were more than confirmed!
Anyway, we made our way to Tokyo Sea Life Park. It's not my first visit there. I was here during my second visit to Japan many years back. I loved the way the Aquarium was designed, the tuna tank and the horizon pool at the entrance were my faves. This time round, the thing which kinda spoilt the visit were the screaming children on a school excursion. Wished it was a more quiet experience to enjoy the fishes. It was also a pity that the boys didn't have time to go to the Observatory Tower and the Ferris Wheel.
After the Sea Life Park, we made our way to Odaiba for lunch and then to the Museum of Emerging Science & Technology. I missed this museum the last time as I had arrived there too late. One of the teachers in school, Mdm Kwek, visited it last year (I think) and highly recommended it. I'm glad we made the trip there. It was a pretty good museum. If not for my tiredness, I would have loved spending more time there. The globe with the LEDs was very nice. You can see it in my album. From the museum, we made our way to the pier (just a short 10 mins walk away) and took a boat across Tokyo Bay to Hinode Pier. I think the boat ride was an excellent idea. It broke the monotony of the coach rides and allowed us to take in some fresh sea breeze.
After a Shabu shabu dinner at a shibuya restaurant, we started on our 3-hr journey to our hotel in Hamamatsu. We reached the hotel around 10pm and were totally bushed. On the whole, a very busy first day.

7 to 9 June
The next 3 days were spent at the World Expo. You can't imagibe the crowds that were there. I shan't talk abou tthe various pavillions but just share some thoughts after the whole expo experience.
- queuing: this was scary. Queues after queues after queues. Everywhere I went, there were queues. And the japanese (which made up majority of the visitors to the expo) were just happily queuing for hours. I think this can be simply improved by having a better queue system. One of the teachers were commenting that it was ironic how the pavillions were so high-tech and we couldn't even come up with a better queue system. Hopefully something will be done for the Shanghai expo.
- high tech stuff: I loved some of the high tech displays. Yeah, I know queuing for hours to see a 5 to 10 min display sounds stupid, but some of these were really awesome. The 4000-line high def screen, the spherical screen, the VR-tech, the 'infinite-screen', all really cool. Pity I didn't get to see the World Larget seamless screen in the Blue Hall of Global House.
- shoes: My feet practically died everyday. The shoes I brought were really ill-fitting and my toes were constantly rubbing against the front of the shoes. It was really really painful. In all my trips, I think this was the only one where I wore such lousy shoes. Wish I had brought my sandals instead. I know it's a little late, but I'm gonna go out and get myself a much better pair of shoes sometime this week.
- recycling: it's amazing how the japanese really recycle everything. They even had people at the recycling bins to help people sort their rubbish into the bins. I think in this repect, Singapore is years behind.

10 June
We went on a half-day self-planned tour of Tokyo before we met at Asakusa for a Taiko Drum session. I think both were excellent plans. The self-planned itineraries were fun but too short. If I ever do this again, I would love to give the boys at least a full day to plan their itinerary. As for the Taiko drums session, it was definitely a unique experience. For me, it was like playing a video game.. heh. Before we left for Japan, I had been hooked on Donkey Konga, a bongo game on the gamecube. Playing the Taikos were a little like that coz I had to memorize the rhythms. The instructor used 'Dong' and 'Kong' to represent right and left and it was totally confusing. On the whole, a memorable and fun experience. Finally, we got ot visit Akihabara in the evening. The sad thing was, it was raining (really dampened the mood) and many shops were already closed! sigh... next time, Akihabara needs to be an afternoon experience, not a night one.

11 June
This was our last ditch attempt to shop before leaving for home. Luckily, Ikebukuro had plenty of shops around which pretty much met our shopping needs. For me, it was definitely one of the most rushed shopping I've ever done. In the end, I must say I'm quite satisfied with my purchases, some of which I have shared in earlier posts. Then, it's to the airport to catch our plane home.

There was quite a bit of apprehension as I was organising this learning journey together with the other teachers. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, this was the first LJ I'd organised since joining RI (not including the prefects' retreats lar). At the end of it all, i think it went on quite well. Hope everyone who went on the trip had fun!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Photoalbum Updated

Album updated with pics taken during the Japan Expo tour. Click on the link on the right to take a look. Will update my blog on the trip later (hopefully tomorrow.... ).

Sunday, June 12, 2005

My second favourite purchase - the iDog. Yeah, it's one of those things that try to sound like an iPod. Other than the colour (white), there aren't any other similarities. The iDog moves its head and ears according to music, sings... and basically acts cute. Yes, yes, a waste of money, but too cute to pass up!
This trip was quite hectic. Managed to do some shopping only on the last evening before we left and the two hours on the last day. The is probably my favourite item - the Space Warp 5000. Basically, it comes with the poles and connectors and you have to put everything together into one of those ball-rolling-around-the-place kinda toy. I spent about 4 hours putting the whole thing together... Totally worth the 5000 yen!

Back from Japan! How fast a week passes. It's been a tiring but pretty fun week. Here's a pic of the crowd at the expo and the famous Hitachi pavillion where I queued more than 3 hrs for a 10 min ride... Just a teaser before I take some time for a full recount.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Off to Japan to visit the World Expo. Hope it is not going to be a human-traffic nightmare as I've heard! I'll probably find some time to blog while I'm there so anyone interested to find out more about the expo, check back during the week!


Saturday, June 04, 2005

Spent the day doing some admin stuff in school. Preparing for the Japan trip as well as doing some prep for the Leadership Challenge Workshop in the last week. It's rare for me to prepare things so far in advance, quite used to working at the last minute. It's a bad habit, I know, but I always need the adrenaline to get me working.

Probably take my time in doing some packing and room cleaning before i leave on Sunday evening. This is the first trip I've organised for students since I joined RI. Quite funny considering that in my previous school, I was quite keen in doing trips every year. Maybe things are just too busy in RI. Well, hope the trip will be a good one. Looking forward to the Expo. Sounds pretty exciting!

Maybe I can consider doing a US trip end of year! That's kinda like my specialty, San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles... used to love doing such trips. I know there's already one going to the East Coast. But that's kinda career-centric. Would like to do my more science-centric one. Anyone interested?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

PC Show - what a letdown!

Went to the PC show today. It was really quite disappointing. The show only occupied one hall and many of the major companies weren't even there. Canon, Epson, xbox... all missing.

There was very little excitement and frankly, the only thing I found remotely interesting was the Zen Neeon. The player was smaller and sleeker than I had imagined. And 5Gb for $329? Hmm.. sounds like a very good deal!

Well, I hate to say this, but if you are planning to go to the PC Show? Think otherwise. Go Sim Lim or Funan instead. More interesting.

Album Update

Uploaded some pics of class party into Photoalbum. Take a look!
Busy day. Watched Monster-in Law and H2G2 (or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

Before that, I went to school to do a bit of Admin stuff. Then I popped by the World Book Fair at Suntec City. I was really quite disappointed at the fair. The book selection was really bad and it felt more like a Chinese Book Sale cum jumble sale. I spent less than 15mins at the fair. I'm planning to go to the PC show tomorrow, so I'm hoping it won't be as disappointing as the book fair.

Since I spent so little time at the book fair, I found that I had enough time to catch Monster-in-Law before watching the preview of H2G2.

Monster-in Law was quite ok. It seems to be the 'return of the old actors'. I mean, we had Barbara Streisand in Meet the Fockers and now Jane Fonda in MiL. Mind you, Jane Fonda hasn't acted in a movie for 15 years! There were some hilarious scenes, and Jennifer Lopez was ok as the plain-jane daughter-in-law to be (although I thought she was acting in a very similar role to her other movie, Maid in Manhattan). On the whole, MiL has it's moments and it's kinda fun watching a 'distinguished' actress like Jane Fonda acting like a clown, but it's really just a mediocre film.

After MiL, I had a 10min break before starting on H2G2. As usual, I opted to watch it at an Eng Wah cinema coz Eng Wah cinemas are all equipped with digital projection. I don't understand why GV doesn't follow suit and equip their cinemas with digital projectors too. Anyway, H2G2 was weird. I read the book many many years ago as a student. If you've read the book, you know how weird the story is. The movie is not much different. For those who've read the book, you at least know where it's all aheaded and you're prepared for the wacky humour. For those who haven't, I think the movie will seem very odd. At times, you probably won't even know where the whole story is headed. In the end, I found the humour a little british for my liking. The effects were ok, and there are occasional laugh-out-loud scenes (far fewer than MiL, though). But I suspect, H2G2 will not go down well with most Singapore audiences.

Tomorrow is a bz day... have two meetings before lunch, then pc show, then class party.


(By the way, did I tell you how much I like my new K750i?)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

On Sunday evening, I was alerted by servant of the dark side that an object of my passion was finally released. Although I struggled with the strong emotions, I am pleased to say I finally gave in to the calling of the dark side. On Monday, I went down to Chinatown and finally set my eyes upon it. It was, simply put, beautiful. The matt-black finish, the vibrant colour screen, the LENS COVER, the auto-focus, the 2 mega-pixel camera... sigh... it was just too good to resist. Hence, I traded in my Siemens S65 and am now a proud owner of the Sony Ericsson K750i.

Please do not judge me. I'm just human. :-P