Sunday, October 11, 2015

Using the E-mail as a Productivity Tool

Recently, I put out a teaser to all the staff in my place of work. I wanted to see how well the e-mail could function as a productivity tool. Here's the gist of the teaser: Why are the snow monkeys in Kyoto's Monkey Park more disciplined than their Malaysian counterparts? Well, not all the staff answered, but those who did certainly contributed to my insight into using the email as a productivity tool.The following is a summary of what I have learnt:                                                         1. Knowledge. The diversity of replies has increased my knowledge of monkeys and animal psychology.                                                                                                                             2. Brainstorming. This is the first time I’ve tested the e-mail as a productivity tool. The replies I
 received and the discussions I’ve had with a few respondents is just like in a face-to-face brainstorming session. The idea is not to judge any in-coming replies even if some ideas may appear to be ridiculous. And this is most true for me. Sometimes it’s the seemingly ridiculous ideas that trigger off a useful idea. In my case, it has given me an idea about storyboarding my English modules. The brainstorming has also encouraged me to write an article (answer to the teaser) instead of just writing a 2-sentence reply that I had originally planned to do. It was while writing the article that I got a brainwave for the following: 3. Classroom Management. Can we use the idea learnt from the way the Japanese use to ‘train’ the snow monkeys in Monkey Park? Most certainly This would be particularly useful when you have a large class of unruly students (monkeys?).
Click here to  read an account of my visit to Monkey Park.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hail the King!

The smell has arrived.

It’s that time of the year in Malaysia when the smell announces the arrival of the king. For the uninitiated (read Caucasian), the fruit attacks the nostrils like some odoriferous fart. In fact, the durian has not been accorded the royal treatment it so rightly deserves by the hotel industry. After 52 years of independence, I think it’s high time the hotels rolled out their red carpets to welcome the king of fruits. Just think of it: the king of fruits is barred from our hotels.

What ignominy!

If this happens in France or some other republics –I can understand– for they have no love for royalty. But this is Malaysia, man, and we Malaysians revere the fruit. And we Malaysians love our king – in fact, we have nine rulers who take turns to be the king every five years. Are our hotels off- limits to our king or Agung? Then, why ban the king of fruits from gracing the hotels?

For the life of me, I just can’t understand how our very own government could allow this affront to our beloved king to continue for so long. Is it because of some colonial hangover that we should protect over-sensitive white noses who simply can’t stand the sweet fragrance of our king- at our expense? Talk about our sovereignty! We can't even take durians into our own hotels!

Huh! - I would like to propose that parliament legislate the law of lese majeste to protect the dignity of this king of fruits. The law of lese majeste could then be used against any hotel owner for barring the king of fruits from their hotel. It could be used for other acts of disrespect like calling the king ‘smelly’, ‘ordoriferous’, ‘pungent’, or likening its smell to ‘damp socks’.

When the law comes into effect, we shall invite Chef Andrew Zimmern (of the Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern TV food documentary) to come to Malaysia and repeat his ‘rotten mushy onion’ remark against our king. We shall then shackle him with durians in the very same durian orchard where he made the offensive remark against our beloved king.

Honestly, I can’t wait for the day when hotels like the HyattHilton, and Sheraton will open their doors to guests bearing the thorny fruit. It should even be mandatory for doormen to give the durian bearing guest a royal salute – or at least a slight nod as a mark of respect. It should even be de rigueur for durians to be served at hotel buffets or banquets – during the durian runtuh season, of course.

Hail the king!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Your Creative Meridian Point

You might find this hard to believe: The meridian point for one's creative energy lies somewhere between the hallux and the second toe. Whenever I run into one of those writer's blocks, I'd wiggle my toes in order to stimulate the release of the creative qi. This stimulation often results in a tingling in my tailbone followed by an electric current coursing through my spine, and, finally, a heightened sense of awareness, bringing with it a thunderclap of a new idea or a burst of new ideas. Well, you should find this hard to believe.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Notice on the window of an apartment block in Puchong

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Love Free Radicals

While trawling the Internet for some interesting facts on Redox Reactions I discovered that oxidation takes place in our body resulting in the loss of electrons by our body cells. This can be caused by the presence of free radicals caused by food and environmental factors. The ravaging effects of free radicals could result in ageing of our body and to counter or retard this ageing process we should resort to food or supplements containing antioxidants, At the same time, I also came across a research on worms that appears to contradict this conventional wisdom. The worms that produced more free radicals had actually lived longer while the fortunes of those that were treated with antioxidants were reversed. Read more at this site:

Friday, January 31, 2014

Was this How the Universe was Created?
What Vijay, Dolores & Stephen Hawkings didn't Know
Find out more at the National Visual Arts Gallery

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What Makes a Good Teacher

I believe there are many differing views on what it means to be a good teacher. I shall try to distill a definition from my three decades of experience as an English teacher in both public and private institutions of learning. For me, a good teacher is someone who is able to create meaningful learning opportunities that maximize learning. Implicit in this definition is a teacher who plans his or her lessons in such a way that they facilitate learning. Every lesson has to be planned, whether it's written in the form of a lesson plan or the planning is done in the head.So, here are the keywords in my definition: create, plan and facilitate.