The Calling

Monday, February 27, 2006

Apt name I should think. Pastor Ulf preached today about our calling in God, and he made it pretty clear; We are called NOT to activities, although activities are important too. Here's what I got out of his sermon.

We, as children of God, are called to three things:
1) We are called to be like Jesus
2) We are called to bear fruits for Him
3) We are called to heaven!

Keeping this in mind, it is important to focus on the important things in life; namely to maintain an 'Eternity Perspective'. Philippians 3:7-14 tells us that Paul too came to this realisation and encouraged the church to keep the main thing, the main thing. We run for God, true, but it would be a waste to simply do the activities without fulfilling the calling, if you get what I mean.

Ask yourself this question whem making decisions: Does this take me closer to or further from my Eternal Calling? If the answer is that it takes you further, then perhaps you ought to consider that it might be wise not to pick it up. Note that we have to fulfill all three callings above: which means we have to constantly walk with the Holy Spirit that He may shape us to be like Christ everyday, to reach out to people (through activities and our lives) and to multiply the things God has given to us, and also to live a life that prepares us for eternity! If you have the desire to live for Him, then you have to get your mind and spirit focussed on heaven.

I also learned something which really encouraged me (Talk about God's perfect timing). Sometimes, God speaks, and you know it's from God, but then He later tells you something seemingly contradictory to what He initially told you... and you get stuck in a situation... so you ask God: What did I do wrong? Where did I make a mistake? But sometimes, you didn't do anything wrong... you just have to learn to trust in Him and in His promises! Perhaps, as it was in Pastor Ulf's case, God just wanted him to obey, and to lead him to his calling through a different channel, or in a different way from what he originally thought. When we're called, it doesn't mean that it is an IMMEDIATE call, sometimes God wants us to go through certain things to build our character that we may be worthy of that call. Pastor Ulf finally DID fulfill the calling God placed on him to go to Bangladesh, but he first obeyed God to go to America, even though it seemed like it was something way off from his calling.

God promises us this: He will help us form our character, and in due time, we will come to our calling! It takes time, but the Holy Spirit is there to help us! So don't fight Jesus, follow Him!

Truly a word in season, and as I decide to be heaven minded, may God help me to achieve my calling!

On a seperate note, I've been 'lobsterfied', thanks to the irritating weather on Saturday that made me (and some other hall mates) move in and out of comm hall to avoid the rain (which didn't come). It was SO HOT, and then so cloudy, and then drizzling... still, thank God we managed to finish painting the wall on that day itself. It looks really cool now. Which wall? Oh, well, the huge mural displaying in big bold letters, "Raffles Hall" to every passerby. It's the one facing YIH outside the comm hall and I think we did a very good job restoring it. It looks darn cool now... But I'm so 'lobsterfied' that I've been labelled the 'inverted Singapore flag'... hope it heals well enough...

Posted by Gerald at 2/27/2006 01:41:00 AM

Latter Rain

Saturday, February 25, 2006

It was fantabulously excitatic! I don't regret travelling all the way to Expo today for Pastor Ulf's conference and barely making it for the last train back... It was worth it.

Yes, I wasn't feeling too up lately, but God really spoke to me today. I'm glad I went, and I guess I needed that word. God really knows how to give a word in season.

First things first. Sorry... I don't know how else to say this... I've probably been more of an irritant than a blessing, and for that I sincerely apologise... I was foolish to think I could 'bless' without doing what God wanted, and in that aspect I probably made things even more difficult. I have my own convictions, but I guess it had to be kept in check... So I just ask for your mercy and forgiveness... and I sincerely do hope (even though I've probably gone about it the wrong way before) that things can get better between us...

That aside, I'm taking a step back and pushing for a new goal... Pastor Ulf's sermon was so prophetic... Everything has a time and a season, and we have to flow with God's timing. It won't do to fight against the seasons, because like it or not, it comes and goes when it pleases, not when YOU want it to. Success comes when we can flow WITH the seasons... and God really asked me to focus on Him, so I will! I decide that from TODAY, I will be cheerful and focus on Him, and not on all the things that have happened. God will grant me strength and the breakthroughs in all other areas. Matt 6:33 comes to mind...

So what does this have to do with 'Latter Rain'? Well, in all areas of life, when we go through the different times and seasons, I pray that God makes me a man of all seasons. But of course, the part which we look forward to is the harvest time, which is the Latter Rain... However, we have to be at the right place, doing the right things, with the right people, at the right time! That means sowing when it's the time to sow, and waiting when we ought to be waiting, and reaping when it's harvest time! Don't try to sow during the harvest, or wait during the sowing time... that's just foolishness!

The Holy Spirit will guide us through, and if we walk close enough to Him we can tell when the seasons are coming... God grant me the wisdom and help me to walk closer to You, that I may do that which is pleasing to You, when You want me to, the way You want me to!

Posted by Gerald at 2/25/2006 02:14:00 AM

Breaks between work

Thursday, February 23, 2006

That's what I'm taking and that's why there are quite a lot of posts recently. Been programming for hours and it's not beneficial to just keep going without breaks. It resets your mind and gives you a fresh perspective, which is what I need just now...

Mid sem break is almost over. I didn't really do as much as I expected, due to unforeseen circumstances. Been rushing assignments and project work (which till now I STILL have yet to do). Working as best I can. Also been surfing recently to destress, after all the browser is just an Alt+Tab away. Some things caught my eye, like Technorati™ top three searches, ShaolinTiger's take on egosurfing, YouTube for funny, homemade videos, revisited Megatokyo again after a long sabbatical...

No I don't have anything interesting to write just now... I don't have the inclination or motivation to do just about anything... if I do anything, it's mechanical... I don't see the point in doing anything... I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel... I'm in a pit that's so deep I don't know which direction I'm facing let alone how to get out of it... I wallow in misery and self-pity, and I beat myself up for it at the same time... I feel down, and I despise myself for not being able to control and forget it... I feel that life is meaningless, everything is meaningless... I'm just drifting along the sands of time hoping to find a niche, SOME area in my life that I can say I actually did something worthwhile... I don't see it...

I only know how to do one thing, to carry on despite what I feel, despite what I think, and trust that You will see me through... I remember Job, who even though was robbed of everything, did not blame You. I choose not to either, even though there are doubts... even though there is pain... Naked I come, naked I will go... I ask only that You help me do what is right in Your sight while I can...

Posted by Gerald at 2/23/2006 02:10:00 PM

Johari/Nohari windows

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

In case you didn't already know, these are personality 'tests'. I don't know the accuracy, but I guess there's no harm trying them out... Hope you guys can help me out ok?

Johari (Positive) window
Nohari (Negative) window

You can see the 'results' here:

Johari results
Nohari results

If you have a few minutes to spare it wouldn't hurt to fill it in for me. But please, do give it SOME thought (although if you want to leave it at first impressions that's fine I guess). The more people who fill it up, the more i'll get to know myself I guess...

Three posts in one day... Taking breaks from programming. Thank goodness I'm about finished...

Posted by Gerald at 2/22/2006 10:10:00 PM

Moving on

What does moving on mean? That you put down what you have and go for something else? Is that moving on? Or is it taking the next step to attaining a goal that you have? How does it fit in different contexts? I don't know... I just do what I feel God is telling me to do.

I was told to move on, by more than one person. Logically (and I know I'm a logical person) it's the right thing to do. Under any other circumstances, I'd probably agree and comply. That's how I've been able to get over many things in life so far. But this time, it's not that simple...

I tried, I really did... I thought initially everything would settle in about two weeks, three at most... It wasn't anything particularly new... I don't know if it's escapism... God knows it's a lot easier to let go than to hold on, knowing full well that you're holding on to thin air... but when God asks you to trust Him, what do you do? I keep asking Him, should I just let go... should I just give up... and His reply each time was never to according to what I asked. I half wished He'd just let me, but He won't. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I cannot do anything, except trust in Him...

No, I never expected what I wrote to influence the situation. I know better than that. Perhaps I was expecting a miracle, or divine intervention... vain hope, that...

One thing remains... my commitment and decision. It might be late... probably too late... but as I've stated before, it's a choice, not merely a 'feeling'. If I am clinging on to vain hope, then I am doing so based on God's will. I pray He strengthen me to face it and take the fall if it is His will. I have fallen before, many times... and people still ask why I have yet to succeed. The truth is, I don't know. It's definitely not from lack of trying... Even if I fall, and fall hard, I will still do what He says... for He is all I have left. Perhaps I really am just stubborn, too strong headed, too irrational, childish, immature... but there's a saying I heard once: Nothing done out of love is ever evil... I just pray that it holds true...

Posted by Gerald at 2/22/2006 03:37:00 AM


Just when you though things can't get any worse, they just do. I rushed back the past few days to pay my last respects to my uncle. He passed on on Sunday morning. It was sudden; He was in a motorcycle accident. (Read a little about it here)

It was a sad occasion, and my aunt is simply devastated. My three cousins (aged 12, 9 and 7) lost their father and didn't even get to say goodbye. I helped out wherever I could, although it wasn't really much. I saw a lot of friends and family members who came to pay their last respects, and I realise that my uncle touched a lot of peoples' lives. I started thinking how short life is, and how I'd picture my own funeral. Life is fragile, and God can call us home at any time. I asked my sister if she'd prefer if she went first or her husband (to be), and like me, she'd rather her spouse go first... then he/she wouldn't have to bear the grief of losing someone so dear.

Thank you to those who came, to those who were concerned, and to those who expressed their condolences. Personally, I'm not too bad, but it pains me to see this happen. I wouldn't say I'm perfectly fine, but when you are already near rock bottom, it's just 'another sad thing' to think about.

Posted by Gerald at 2/22/2006 01:49:00 AM

Yet another revamp

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Why you ask? Didn't quite like the fact that I couldn't refresh or link directly to certain posts. I liked the old one becaused it allowed me a few pages on one template file, but I realised that you sacrifice navigatability for that. I've opted for a more simplistic approach... until I get my own server which would allow more than one file support. Still, I've somewhat managed to incorporate most of the things from the previous template, so I guess it's fine...

I've moved back to my own room, so my internet connection is back and stable... yay! Didn't quite manage to finish a lab assignment because of that though, but I'll work harder for the next one.

Well, about the NUS fee hike, it's pretty disappointing that the really sought after dialogue session lasted all but 60 minutes. That's probably enough time to wait for people to come in, give an introductory/opening oratory followed by a measly question or two before they concluded. No, I wasn't free to go because of cell group, and I don't think that even if I'd went for it I'd have the opportunity to speak. I shouldn't be complaining I guess, since the Admin staff ARE busy people. The result wasn't exactly satisfactory (although some might consider it a done deal since they had different objectives), but it was definitely a good step taken by the students.

The major issue is, what now? Is it over? Do we now just go back to the way things were, accept that the fee hike is here to stay, and move on? That's it? All questions and doubts clarified? IMHO, it isn't over... Not yet at least... From the summary of what conspired in the dialogue session, it is NOT entirely clear as to WHY there is a "rising operational cost". Sure, they explained about raising the salaries of qualified professors and lecturers so that they'd stay on in NUS, sure operational costs are higher (since inflation does affect operational costs), and yes, they explained that the Centennial celebration used seperate funds... but I do question every single one of these responses.

Firstly, I do not question the capabilities of the professors hired by NUS. What I do question is the 'competitiveness' of the salaries given to them. NUS may be 'world class', but it is by no means a Harvard, Oxford or Cambridge. What is a competitive salary? Just how much on average does a qualified lecturer in NUS get? How far should we go to get them to stay? Comparatively, the cost of living in Singapore is lower than say, the UK, USA or Australia, so it would not make sense to 'pay lecturers the same amount' as those other universities since the expenditure over there would also be higher. I'm not saying don't pay them well (because undoubtedly if the pay is too low then they'll leave), but it is not an easy thing to simply pack up and leave. So although paying them a competitive salary is justifiable, paying them too high with the excuse of 'wanting to retain them' isn't.

Secondly, inflation causes costs to increase sure, but just how much can it increase in a year? 3%? Judging from this, I'd say not. Moreover, it fluctuates throughout the years, so while it is understandable that operating costs increase year by year, it is certainly not going up by 3% every year. We just had a fee hike last year, doesn't it make sense that they shouldn't hike it this year?

Thirdly, the Centennial celebrations which included the construction of the brand new University Hall may not have come from tuition fees, but I do wonder what 'donations' made to the university in general is for. Aesthetic purposes? I doubt so... unless the donations were done with a non-virtuous intention (to which I would then say should not be labelled a donation). If you were to donate to a university, even if it was your alma mater, shouldn't you focus on giving it so that the university can continue to provide quality education to the students? Perhaps I'm being naive and euphemistic, but I believe those donations should go to help pay for what the university needs to operate as a university. It is a place of EDUCATION, and that should remain the PRIMARY focus of the university. Furthermore, by building these expensive 'wonders', they will undoubtedly increase overall operating costs; which IS covered by the tuition fees.

I do accept that the fee hike is inevitable, but they should at least be smarter to spread it out in a way that does not burden a whole batch of students. Coming in from year 1 I've already experienced the fee hike twice (as have my batchmates). Why not spread it over a couple of years (say an increase only every two years) so that each batch is minimally affected by the hike? Better yet, the fees ought to be locked at time of matriculation (just like almost every other internationally reknowned university) and the fee hikes carried on to new students. It would avoid the situation where students would be stuck between paying more (at goodness knows what expense) and dropping out entirely, wasting 2-3 years of their time and money.

That aside, I went to EB today for dinner with Jamie (and Zhen Ni although she was busy working)... I think I found my favourite dish there, although I'd probably not frequent that little place... Also, I had an INTERESTING conversation with Andi today... perhaps I'll divulge more of it another time...

Posted by Gerald at 2/19/2006 01:12:00 AM

NUS Fees Hike

Thursday, February 16, 2006

NUS sent out an email to all students stating that there will be a fee hike by 3%, which equates to about $180 more. I suppose it's not that big an amount, but the announcement has sparked off a relatively large uproar amongst the student body. To state clearly, I don't think the price hike is all that bad IF it's justifiable, meaning there's a VERY GOOD reason for it. However, it is sad to note that the way in which corporatised NUS has gone about carrying this out is far from satisfactory considering it is us STUDENTS who happen to be their consumer.

The thing that irks students the most, is that this matter was decided at the administration level, and was 'announced' to the students with very clear intentions that it will be carried out regardless of how unhappy students may be. It is a matter which concerns mainly the student body, and yet we were maligned when it came to deciding this issue. It wouldn't be as bad if this wasn't the National University of Singapore; supposedly the place which churns out young adults who can think critically, are not afraid to express themselves, educated and well informed. By choosing to act without even thinking about asking the students first goes against the principle of wanting to produce such graduates. Obviously, the administration expects us students to be apathetic and ignorant, just as most of us were brought up to be. We swallow everything hook, line and sinker simply because 'we can't do anything to change it so why bother?'

Well we're not. I think it is high time we students start acting with a bit more back-bone. Compare the state of tertiary education now and say, 30 years back. Back then, students were actively involved in fighting for what they believed was right, even though they may not have been the most elite of students. They were visionary and passionate, sometimes resorting to extreme means. No, I don't condone violence, nor do I believe that causing unrest is the way to go, but sitting down, twiddling our thumbs, murmuring amongst ourselves and finally doing NOTHING about it isn't how it's supposed to be. Worse still, some students don't even CARE unless it affects them on a larger scale.

We have become pawns of bureaurocracy, becoming docile when we ought to stand up. We're unhappy about the way things are, but we ALL sit down and complain about it instead of DOING something about it. Student bodies have been reduced to aesthetic organisations; all for show and little or no power to make changes. It is not something entirely bad, because it does promote a peaceful environment, one in which people seldom rebel. However, I do feel that there are some things worth standing up and fighting for (using the right methods of course) and this happens to be one of them.

Am I opposed to the fee hike? No, actually I'm all for it IF it's really true that there's a need for it. The fact that the university just spent millions on trivial things such as the new University Hall and Centennial Mugs do not give the students confidence that the university is truly facing 'rising operating costs'. Since I do not know the full picture of how the money is spent, I will refrain from making any judgement. However, it is the attitude in which this fee hike has been carried out that is most displeasing. What is stopping the university from having another fee hike next year, or the year after? What can we do except grumble and comply? It would be prudent to be wary and stand up for what is rightfully ours, the right to know exactly WHY the extra money is needed, in a FULL budget plan laid out by the university administration. That I believe, is worth fighting for.

So now that we are all students of NUS, it is only fitting that we do that which is expected of us; to question critically the way things are run in hopes of making it better for the majority. That would be the same kind of attitude expected of us when we graduate and go into the real world, so let's not let others down. We need visionary leaders, something which I believe this generation lacks. It is imperative that people with vision and the passion to run it rise up, for apathy everywhere, and I fear for the future.

Note: NUSSU (NUS Students' Union) is the highest student body in NUS. However, it lacks the power to make any major changes (such as this one) by itself. I believe it's not the fault of NUSSU, but the student population that ought to be supporting them. If we all weren't so apathetic, NUSSU would have the backing of so many students that it would be hard for the university NOT to take note of what the students want... a unified voice is so much more powerful no?

Posted by Gerald at 2/16/2006 01:17:00 AM

Valentine 2006

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Excellent day... spent most of it in lectures (full day for me). Not like I could've spent it any other way... but I'm tired and feel the itch to post... something...

I think the most important thing that struck me this time around was the conversation I had with a lecturer of mine; Colin Tan. He's 30 (+/-), but acts like a fresh grad and is very friendly, enthusiastic, open and holds a PhD. He insists on being called Colin though, so we indulge him. Anyway, his lecture is really interesting although it's tough. It's one of those subjects which really get you into it and you end up enjoying it even though you suffer like anything trying to understand it. We do cool stuff like simulate processors and other hardware. Really interesting module with a small intake.

Anyway, he was sharing that he and his wife (who happens to be the vp for NETS, a huge company in Singapore) never celebrated Valentine's Day. His reasoning (and I assume his wife agrees with him) is that Valentine's Day is too commercialised, and that it's a waste of money to actually celebrate on that day. Instead, they always do it a week early... (so in essence, they DO celebrate Vday, just not on the actual day). While it may seem like a practical course, (one which ordinarily I'd agree with), I think that in this instance I'd deviate and say that if you are attached, perhaps it is better to celebrate on the day itself.

Ludicrous you say? Not quite. If I had someone to spend Valentine's Day with, it would be one of the times I shower her with my time and money... whithin reasonable means of course. I'd think that Vday would be a good opportunity to do that because I'd want to show her just how much she means to me. I could be a bit of a prude and choose another day to celebrate when the prices are lower (for both flowers and dinner and whatever else that people spend on), but then I'd be placing my money before her... I'd be placing more importance on 'value for money' instead of on her, or at least I perceive it that way. More importantly, if I did have someone to love, I'd WANT to. Call me a hopeless romantic (or a dumb, unwise steward of money), but spending on a person I love isn't something I'd shun away from.

I did consider the flip side. "After all, it's not like I'm not willing to spend the money, it's more like I felt that if I spent the same amount of money on another day or occasion, I'd get a lot more out of it. Also, if the other person feels the same way, there's nothing wrong with it is there?" There's nothing wrong I think... but I know and I know that if I chose Vday to celebrate instead of another 'replacement' day, she'd feel a lot more special... and I wouldn't want to substitute that for something less...

This is of course barring the case where money is a problem. We ought to spend whithin our means and be wise when it comes to finances, but I don't think it's wrong to splurge once in a while, particularly if it's for someone you really care for. Guys ought to, I think, because she IS someone you treasure no? Case in point: Colin apparently used to take his girlfriend to the 'Pinnacle', which was a 6 star restaurant in UOB tower, but a week before Vday. He spent a reasonably large amount (which I could never afford now) and was happy about it. I'd settle for doing something less extravagant, yet not 'cheap'...

I don't think what Colin did was wrong... and IF I had a girlfriend and she preferred that I spent it the way he did, I'd probably comply. But I know that given a choice I'd prefer to celebrate on Vday. Perhaps the actual day isn't the important thing, but I DO know that you shouldn't be a 'cheapskate'. Vday is a day for celebrating love. It's commercialized true, but I don't think we should take that as an excuse NOT to make that special someone feel special... I know I wouldn't...

Posted by Gerald at 2/14/2006 11:29:00 PM

Five weird habits about myself

Monday, February 13, 2006

I got tagged... by this infrequent blogger no less...

MY version: (I like them compartmentalised and organised and easy-to-read looking. so sue me.)
1. the first player of this game starts with the topic "five weird habits of yourself."
2. the tagged needs to write an entry about their five weird habits and state these rules and regs clearly - preferably compartmentalised, like mine, for easier reading. (hey, i like things neat, okay? errr, no, don't come into my room)
3. then choose any number of people to be tagged and link to their web journals.
4. since it's a free country, you can choose whether or not to leave a comment in their web journals about this survey. if you don't, then just hope they happen to pass by your blog to know that they have been tagged. :)
5. enjoy knowing that you're not the only one with weird habits. ;D

I'm too lazy to rewrite the whole list...

Jumping right in:

1) I have to wipe my eyes everytime they get hit by water before I can open them. Meaning if anyone splashes water at me I find it almost impossible to open my eyes after unless I first wipe my face/eyes. I like the feeling when pressure is applied to my eyes, and it somehow gives me the confidence to open them. Weird...

2) Extending point 1, if I feel like sneezing (which I do quite often because I have a sinus problems) I just need to rub my eyes to stop from sneezing. I do it a lot when the nose acts up, and end up having swollen and puffy eyes.

3) I can't sit cross-legged for long. My legs seem to get uncomfortable after a while, so I constantly have to stretch them to relieve the pain. It might be attributed to the fact that I sprained both ankles before, and thus they aren't as pliable as I'd like them to be... so if you wonder why I keep fidgeting when I'm sitting on the floor, it's because it hurts!

4) I save my favourite parts for last. This is most apparent when eating, because I like to keep the parts I like best (chicken skin for example) till the end and eat them only after I've finished with everything else.

5) I collect and keep paraphernalia which are meaningful to me, but regrettably, most of the time end up throwing them away after keeping them for far too long. Given a choice, I'd absolutely love to keep everything, but moving around so much (I've shifted house about 4 times minus the moving around of stuff while staying in hostel/hall) that it becomes too troublesome not to throw away some of the items. I like to look at them once in a while and reminisce, and quite often it's a not so happy memory...

There. Now that I've listed this down, time to pass the baton on!
1) CK
2) SIM
3) Lydia

I could add more, but then these poor people will run out of people to tag. Considerate of me no?

V-day is coming... if only...

Posted by Gerald at 2/13/2006 12:06:00 AM

State of Raffles Hall

Friday, February 10, 2006

This might seem irrelevant to most people since it's hall specific, but after the SGM last night and the 'discussion' I had with Mei Kit, I decided to blog a little about what I think about hall, where it stands, and just what I think we should expect in the coming months.

IHG is just over and people are finally able to settle down somewhat. Sports people are happy, although as we've established in the SGM, we shouldn't stop training just because of that. Raffles Hall won gold for Handball, which is exciting since it's one of our hall's best sport. We did pretty well in a lot of other sports, finished 2nd and 3rd a lot but denied a lot of golds unfortunately. I think our sports are doing pretty ok compared to last year, but I must admit that it is frustrating always having to fight from the bottom of the table. Admittedly we're not exactly a sports hall, and not everyone in hall is sporty (in fact generally, most aren't). We'd like to think ourselves more culturally inclined, but even then it's not to say that our culture scene is extremely remarkable.

This academic year has not been a very good one for Raffles Hall. It's generally accepted that this was because of a not so good Raffles Experience (basically Orientation). It may not be the fault of the organisers entirely, but the fact that it wasn't very successful caused a snowball effect that we're still trying to fight off now. The support from our first years are unfortunately, below the level that we wanted. I don't think it's an attitude problem, but the first years this year aren't hall focussed, or at least not as much as we'd like them to be. It's not a right or wrong question, but just where you want to place your time and effort. Sadly for Raffles Hall, most don't seem to want to put it into hall, resulting in lacklustre support in a lot of hall activities. This is by no means attributed only to the first years, because an increasing number of seniors too after being overtaxed, feel like taking a step back from hall. It's sad, but it's happening, and if anything, some people ought to take note of a couple of things.

I think that people need to change with times. No, I'm not advocating change for the sake of changing, but considering the fact that most people who come into university now expect to be treated like adults, it seems highly unwise to do traditional 'ragging'. No company you work for would organise an event (even in team bonding activities organised by external parties) where ragging would take place of a particular person. It's true that probably 20 years ago, (or maybe even as close back as 5), it was generally acceptable in halls or hostels. Do it now and you're likely to land yourself in trouble. It's not the army, so they don't want that kind authoritative activity with seniors lording it over them. Face it, we're now having a generation of people coming to university and do not expect to be treated like school kids or army cadets. They want respect, and no institutionalised, hierarchical activity is going to help integrate them. To put it simply, give them space to bond and facilitate the activity, not throw them in and crush them in the vain hope that they'll pull together and come out stronger... they'll tell you to get lost and ignore you entirely. They have that right and they know it, simply because they owe you nothing. Your approval of them in hall doesn't matter to them until they know that they matter to you, and going army style won't accomplish that.

For instance, let's take the disability game. For all it's worth, I personally feel it's a good game geared towards forcing people to bond together. However, noting that the attitude of people involved in the activities have changed, it may not be suitable to have someone screaming at them, challenging them, scolding them, being all 'high and mighty' when it's not really necessary. They're not in the army, and many aren't inclined to be open minded when their first impression of you is an idiot merely screaming commands and making life more difficult for them. Hope they'd turn around and see the other side of you? Some might, but I guarantee you that many won't. Perhaps it's the way they were brought up, but we have to accept that they may be turned off and we might just lose a bunch of people who can be really passionate about hall simply because we feel that it's 'right' or 'ok' to scream at them.

Also, I've mentioned earlier that it might be good to change the way things are run such that there are facilitators instead of a 'seperate entity meant only to give instructions' method. Now I know there are reasons, and they're probably very good ones. I just ask that you consider this: are those reasons worth sacrificing the bond between seniors and freshmen? Freshmen come in, see the RHOCers distant and unfriendly, they lose their motivation to stay for the whole orientation. Perhaps this is an individual case, where the fault lies with the RHOCers themselves who fail to also bond with the freshmen, but the fact that it failed to attract them to stay throughout makes you wonder if those reasons mentioned earlier are worth it. I for one, would prefer interested, passionate, enthusiastic freshmen than one who cowers when they're ordered around.

Furthermore, I don't think it's a bad idea for seniors to be told the objectives of certain activities. Yes, I know that by joining RHOC we'd find out, but I feel that having seniors aware of what each activity aims to achive helps seniors support better, be more aware of what's going on, be clear as to what needs to be done, and to work together with RHOC to meet those objectives. I don't think I need to mention the amazing 'Tea Ceremony' we had last orientation...

These are merely some of the things which come to mind right now. I'm sure there are many others, and no I don't think I can list them all right now. Some of you might be thinking that since I'm not in RHOC, I know crap and should just shut the hell up. I'm not in RHOC, nor do I foresee myself wanting to be in RHOC. If and only if after reading through everything you find absolutely NO MERIT, that NOTHING HERE makes sense and you can PROVE it, will I refrain from making any further such comments. I just hope the coming orientation will be an interesting one for both freshmen and the incoming RHOCers.

Posted by Gerald at 2/10/2006 04:31:00 PM

Crush, Like and Love

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I almost forgot about this until I read CK's blog. I didn't realise that a question like this would provoke so much uncertainty in so many people. What's the difference? How do you tell one from the other? Does it matter whether or not you can? I may not be able to answer everything, but I do have my own opinions on this issue.

It's important to know the difference because (quoted from Jer Hsuan) "You need to know where you stand so that you can decide what you want to do".

Firstly, I personally think a crush is when you are infatuated by a person, by his/her outer appearance, by his/her actions, mannerisms... all those external things which are what make a first impression. It is the first step to attraction and it may or may not lead to something fruitful, especially since most people realise that crushes are just that; superficial likes which although feels good, isn't necessarily something terribly big.

'Like' however, is a step further. It's when you realise that a person isn't just like every other person, but you also know that the feeling is not merely superficial. When you 'like' a person, you become very aware of that person, and there's a lot of emotions involved. It may or may not progress into something more, but this is the stage where initial courtship takes place I guess. It's the time guys (or girls) try to 'make their move' so to speak. It can easily be confused with a crush, but the distinction is that you know and you know it's not just their outer appearance that attracts you.

The third and I believe most misused of the three is love. IMHO, the phrase 'I love you' has been overused to the point that it is diluted, and people throw it around blatantly without thinking about the gravity of those words. We keep forgetting just how special it ought to be. When do you love a person? I think you love someone when you can come to the point you make a decision to keep liking a person even if you don't 'feel' like it anymore. You love someone when you'd do anything to please that person and make that person happy. You love someone when you'd willingly deny yourself for that person's visions, dreams, aspirations. You truly love someone when the decisions you make show just how much you put that person ahead of yourself, when you do things for that person's sake even if you know and you know that you will gain absolutely nothing out of it. You truly love someone when you expect nothing in return even though you may hope for it. That's what I believe love is, and if that person responds in kind, then you are truly blessed.

But again, this is just my opinion, my personal view on the issue. Some may disagree with me, and I wouldn't be surprised if people have different definitions of all three. However, this is what I believe from the core of my being, it is what I base my own life on. I hope that all of you (whoever reads this blog) think long and hard about your own set of definitions (or feel free to take mine if you agree with them). Valentines Day is coming, I hope everyone of you can enjoy it to the fullest!

Posted by Gerald at 2/07/2006 06:36:00 PM


Monday, February 06, 2006

Thinking is good. Questioning the many different issues which we are faced with, whether personally or otherwise, is, I suppose, the basis for most philosphers. I don't think of myself as one, but I do realise I do a great deal of thinking... about God, about life, about politics (yes, even *cough*politics*cough*), about studies, about global issues, about friends, about anything and everything. It's an in-built part of me that just strives to ask and keep asking, even when I know I won't get any answers. It's tiring... and it doesn't help.

I realised that thinking is very draining. It takes a lot of time and effort to focus on one subject and to think about it. I know I'm the type of person who can't stand to be bored, but lately, I haven't had much of that feeling (well, at least not literally bored, just maybe a little agitated at the way things are going). Long journeys used to be a real bore, but now, I relish them because I make full use of them, either catching up on rest or contemplating issues which keep my mind occupied. Granted it doesn't always bear fruit, but I just seem to do it a lot... and when I bring it back to myself, how it affects me, what steps do I take now, based on that 'contemplation', I always feel a surge of hope, of enthusiasm. Not a lot, but still there. This is especially true if I end up praying about it.

Thinkers will remain thinkers taking a back seat unless the fruit of the effort and time spent thinking is applied in life. That's what I think. It doesn't matter how profound or deep you can be, if you don't live it out, it means nothing. It doesn't matter how 'right' you may be, you need to put it into action, and I will strive to do just that.

The internet has been lousy lately. Somehow the router doesn't seem to like me. I've been having on/off connections for the past week. I'd really like my room back now thank you. At least I can leave my computer on with the knowledge that at the very least, my antivirus will update itself every morning (and maybe complete a few torrents for me). NUS isn't making it any easier, with so many irritating rules associated with security.

Tired, drained and still have work to do. Lord, please, more discipline and more strength!

Posted by Gerald at 2/06/2006 04:12:00 PM

Perseverence vs Stubbornness

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ever wondered what the difference is? For starters, perseverence is considered a positive characteristic, whereas stubbornness is usually attributed as negative. Perseverence is a trait looked for by people, stubbornness is not. They're both pretty similar though, at least similar enough that one can be 'mistaken' for the other. I'm not a walking dictionary, so I don't know the difference in the actual definition of the words, but the words aren't the issue. The fact that they carry similar yet profoundly different connotations tell us that this applies to us too.

The biggest defining point, I think, is perception. A positive perception of the act would be 'perseverence', whereas a negative one would be 'stubbornness'. Take for example, the American Idol phenomenon (Now in it's fifth year). Of all the many different people who turn up, some do so for the fifth time (rejected for the past four years) and get rejected YET AGAIN, by the SAME JUDGES. Some people would attribute this to perseverence, in that no matter how many times they failed, they still picked themselves up and tried again and again. However, viewed in a different light (probably the more critical ones) this would be stubbornness to face the reality that they simply can't do it, because if they WERE up to mark, they'd have qualified. Stubbornness or perseverence?

One way to put to rest this debate would be if that person actually succeeded; Success means that person could do it and through sheer perseverence and willpower finally achieve that goal. Noone would then call it stubbornness. Unfortunately, this is on hindsight and when that person is facing the challenge, it is difficult to tell whether it's stubbornness or perseverence. Does it really matter? I think it does, because if you're being stubborn, you ought to give it up, but if you're persevering, then you shouldn't. (Or at least that's what I believe should be the case) The difficult part would be how to decide what to do... It's not an easy thing if you ask me.

Thank goodness we have God to help us through. If we are led to keep on keeping on, then we take a step of faith, venturing into the unknown, facing uncertainty and possibly ridicule. We decide whether or not it's something we ought to do, and when we do decide, we should do it 100%, or not at all. That's what walking with God is, I think. In times of uncertainty, in times when we feel lost, we can only pray and trust God to guide us through, that whatever He places in our hearts is what He wants us to do, and we go and do it, even though we may not understand why or how. Nay, ESPECIALLY if we don't understand. He's all we've got... He's all I've got.

CNY was fun, but pretty short compared to previous years. Having classes and assignments certainly didn't help liven it up much. I felt that it was rushed and very unfulfilling, but I enjoyed it. It certainly wasn't the best CNY, but at least I wasn't stuck alone... Something which I'm grateful for really...

It also dawned on me that since I'm over 21, I can register to vote. That's a pretty big responsibility (at least to me), and I'll exercise that right considering the sad state of affairs back home just now. Some parties better start bucking up.

Posted by Gerald at 2/02/2006 06:15:00 PM