Sunday, 16 June 2013

Why can't kids fail?

Ashwini brought back her test results over the weekend. I saw that and I thought of how my test results were. Mine was really simple. You either scored, passed or failed. And when you actually wrote rubbish, you failed. There is such a thing as failure and none of us wanted that. When I brought my results back home, and if there was a "F" in there, in red, I better get prepared for some really good smacking (actually smacking was far from good). Thankfully, there weren't many of those in my time.

But kids in New Zealand have four types of grading - "Developing", "Achieved", "Merit" or "Excellence". And Anil's college has a similar four scale result but the "Developing" is replaced by "Not Achieved". How weird is that? Why can't you fail? What does "Developing" actually mean? Isn't "Not Achieved" simply a fail? Why is it so difficult to say that you have failed?

We had that debate here once before and parents felt that saying a child has failed is not good for his or her morale and the use of "Developing" and "Not Achieved" is far less harmful. Parents need to face up to the fact that people WILL fail in life. There are no two ways about it. If they don't know what failure is like when they are a child, how would they be able to accept failure when they grow up? We need to prepare kids to face the real world out there. A world that has no mercy and will tell it like it is - no sugar coating.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Has it been 3 years?

I can't believe it has been three years since I wrote my last post on this blog. It just dawned on me how much has changed since then. For my children, both Anil and Ashwini have now gone to college. When I mean gone they have actually left the house. How strange it was when they left and the house suddenly felt so quiet. We always said the kids were noisy but when they have left is when you realise the noise was actually music. Anil still has about three and a half years of school left and wants to be a soldier when he grows up. Ashwini still has over four years of schooling and is not sure if she wants to be an interior designer, a chef or a lawyer.

As for Vera, the kids leaving have given her the time she deserves for herself. She has given all of her time minding the kids and not to mention the dog and now she finally has some time for herself. She has decided to go back to school and finish what she has always wanted.

I had a lot going on. I met with a serious accident about two years ago that left me in a wheel chair for awhile. With the help of doctors and physiotherapists, I managed to walk again. I am still recovering and doctors tell me I still have a few more years to go before fully recovering (fingers crossed). My dad passed away also two years ago. Although my dad and I were not really close, we had a bond. He has been the greatest dad anyone can have. I have learnt a lot from him and hope one day, my son will feel the same about me.

While I was writing this, I thought about the value of time. I wanted this blog to be a record of our lives and that our kids can share with their kids, so on and so forth. But  I have lost three years of our lives. No matter what I did or much money I had, I could never get it back. Interestingly, I have this little card on my desk at work that reads something like this "There are only 24 hours a day in everyone's lives. It doesn't matter if you are the King or a beggar. So make the most of it while you can". Probably not those exact words.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Seaweek 2010

Anil and I went to Evan's Bay this morning to do our bit for the environment and did some beach clean up. While we were there, we had some fun as well.




The biggest mussel we ever saw!


The end result after everyone brought in their bags back. Among the rubbish there were shopping trolleys, chairs, tents, tyres, bottles of wine both opened and unopened and batteries.




While we were cleaning up the beach, others were having fun on the water.



Sunday, 28 February 2010

My first attempt and cheap macro

I was always intrigued by how people take pictures of insects so close and so wanted to give it a try. A decent macro lens will set you back by at least $600 so wanted to try using a cheaper option. This was buying a cheap prime lens and an adapter so that I can mount it in reverse. All for less than $50.


Here are some of the experiments. Still a long way to go to get pin sharp insects at close up.





And here are some insects.




Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Growing up changes your life

When you are 8 years old or 11 years old (like my children), every birthday is a big one. You are keen or shall I say eager to tell the whole world that you are now one year older, and hopefully also, one year wiser. When you are approaching midlife like me, birthdays tend to take on a different feel to it. As much as I still enjoy being treated to a nice dinner, I prefer it to be a low key family affair. I realised this year that low key was not quite possible, thanks to Facebook alerts.

I remember an ad on TV sometime back about how we look forward to birthdays when we are young and then it tapers off when we reach our midlife years, then it springs back again as you age. I suppose when your age is a single digit, you look forward to the next one. It could mean moving from a junior year to a senior year, or that you have grown an extra 3 inches or even the mere fact that your shoe size has increased. Moving from 12 to 13 is a major milestone I guess. My son is so looking forward to that big 13 as he can then officially call himself a teenager. Then comes moving to college which is a rather significant step for him. Another year after that means independence - you can now legally stay home alone and don’t need a babysitter. After that each year has privileges of some sort like being eligible to drive, drink alcohol, date, work, vote and the list goes on.

When you reach your twenties, I guess this sense of “growing” tends to get a little fuzzy. How different is 24 from 23 or 28 from 27? I once remembered being stopped by a pedestrian asking for directions, who referred to me as “uncle”. I immediately went home and looked in the mirror. The only image that stared right back at me was a balding one, which was no comfort. It’s scary to note that the pop group I grew up with is now categorised under “oldies”. Songs my kids listen to these days are noise to me. As I grow older, I tend to try very hard to hold on to the earlier age as long as I possibly can. So, one day before I turned 40, I still declared that I was still very much 39. My son on the other hand who has another 9 months to go before he officially turns 12 has conveniently declared to everyone that he is now 12.

As I grew older, I was very conscious of how everyone else seemed to look younger. When I look at someone’s birth date now and see that they were born in the 80's or the 90’s, I cannot help but feel ancient. In my 40’s I went to see a doctor and felt nervous because he looked like a kid because he was in his 20’s. My first reaction was “Do I trust this kid with my life?” I fly regularly and each time I fly I cannot help wondering how young the pilots are now. We somehow relate age in experience to age in years and it only gets more pronounced as you grow older.

My wife and I often explain to our kids what childhood was like for us but it is difficult for them to grasp what it might have been like for us. I know my parents have tried very hard to explain how difficult life was for them which I often found hard to appreciate, let alone picture in my mind. Likewise, my son cannot imagine life without the TV or the computer, can’t see why we still need to stick a stamp on a letter when it can be sent with a click of a button.

For me at least, it feels like I am on this tightrope suspended in midair. On one side are the needs of my ageing parents as they hang on to me tighter as they approach their golden years. On the other side are my children who push me away wanting their freedom and independence.

This is as good an age as any to reflect on how much has changed between the three generations and yet how we are so interlinked. This is as good a time as any to be grateful that I have parents who still depend on me and children who still remember my birthday and take the trouble to make it special for me. And in between all this, a wife that ensures I don’t fall off the tightrope. What more can I ask for?

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Asia leads the way again!

For years while we were living in Malaysia, the sight of Chinese women wearing sun sleeves to cover their arms while driving were pretty common. When we got here to New Zealand, we hardly saw anyone wearing them.

This morning I heard over the radio, the Cancer Society urging people to wear gloves or other protective clothing to prevent melanoma (skin cancer). How bizzare, the windscreen which was proven at one stage to prevent UV rays from getting into your car and onto your skin, is now a myth.

While the Chinese women in Malaysia and other parts of Asia predominantly want to preserve their fair skin from getting a tan (at least that is what I think), people in New Zealand will be doing the same, probably with some style, to prevent getting skin cancer.


So, some business opportunity seems to lurk for those who want to make some money in this new and up coming trend. There are obviously more business opportunities out there. As time passes, someone will come up with more myths that were once facts.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Men's Guide to Ironing Shirts

Saw this "3 Wise Men" ad on Air New Zealand's inflight magazine and thought it was funny.


The scanned image is really small so I will re-write the steps involved.

Step 1
If the shirt has buttons, unbutton them. If it has beads, sequins or anything metallic, throw it away. Same if it has rope ties. You are not a pirate anymore.

Step 2
Lay down flat on an ironing board, chest facing up. Sorry that should have read; Lay shirt down flat on an ironing board, chest facing up.

Step 3
Start with the collar. If you only iron one part of your shirt, make it your collar. Just remember to keep you jacket on all day if you do.

Step 4
Place one shoulder over the narrow end of the ironing board and iron the top of the back of the shirt. Repeat with the other shoulder. This can be quite tricky so turn off the telly, take your toast out of your mouth, stop checking the facebook, put on some undies and concentrate.

Step 5
Iron the sleeves from the top down, before opening the cuffs and ironing them flat. Try and get your cuffs so sharp that if you happened to be attacked by a man walking down the street, you could slice his throat with them if you had to. And yes we've seen that happen.

Step 6
Slip the shirt over the wide end of the board and iron the back. Here you can either iron with the back-and-forward method or the wax-on-wax-off circular method depending on whether or not you liked "The Karate Kid".

Step 7
Iron the front of the shirt, one half at a time. Don't get distracted by local body politicians, Mormons or Girl Guides selling chocolate Girl Guide biscuits at the door because you're almost there.

Step 8
You're done! Now place on a hanger. If the shirt still looks like your Grandmother's neck, give your mum a call to say you're popping over with a little something for her.

Hope all you blokes out there are now able to iron your shirts well. If you still can't go look at the yellow pages and find 3 Wise Men. They are in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Sydney. And no, I am not being paid to do this. Have fun.