Nov 30, 2008

Viva la Paz

JUST saw Spanglish and loved it. Should've seen it a long time ago. Anyway. I'm in love with Paz Vega.

Nov 18, 2008

The Monash Letters #1

I SET up my Gmail account in Microsoft Outlook recently for easy access and found myself going through old emails that I'd written to family when I started university in Malaysia. Going over them, I was a little surprised at how many emails I had written--I thought I'd written much less than I had. Anyway, I'm going to post some of them here. I just think they're interesting reading. It's like going back in time and meeting myself three years ago.

22 Feb 2005

The international student office is very helpful. I can go to them any time and they will help me out with any dates, deadlines, fees or advice. So I'm not really worried about immigration.

The internet connection is provided by Sunway hostel free of charge.
Of course, it's really paid for by part of our hostel fees. I paid the hostel fees today, by the way. I had to pay RM 1,985, most of it a refundable deposit for my room. The rest was a semester's worth of rent. I have about RM 2,100 in the bank, a few hundred in my wallet, the USD 800 bank draft still being processed. So I'm OK for now. I'm compiling a budget right now, will send it to you guys as soon as it's done.

About drawers, I meant there's no drawer in my desk. There is one inside the cabinet and I keep all my important papers in there. As for the kitchen, there is a medium-sized fridge, and I've put a water bottle, bread, and a sandwich spread in there so far. Technically we are allowed to cook, but not using gas appliances. So a couple of my roommates have got together to buy an electric cooker and use it to cook some of their meals. If I want, I suppose I can buy my share of it and use it too. Right now I'm eating all meals except breakfast outside, keeping daily food expenditure about RM 5.

Had a very interesting time today. The heads of the various departments in the business school talked to us about why we should choose one major or the other. The head of the school talked about the way they expect us to study now (evaluate, critical analysis, synthesis, application, etc.). The student association made us play a couple of games afterwards, like putting on our shoes as fast as possible and striking various poses. Then they gave us a tour of the university building and we had a photo shoot and got our Monash ID cards.

I also allocated my timetable online, from my hostel room, a few hours ago. It works like this: we choose four units to take in the first semester and are enrolled for them. Then we go to the website and choose which classes and lectures we want to attend, by clicking the appropriate buttons. I'm attaching my timetable, so you can see what classes I have. There are lots of abbreviations in it, though. Things like ETW1000 are unit codes. For example ETW1000 represents Business and Economics Statistics. Something like Lt7 means Lecture Theatre 7.
TR3, Tutorial Room 3. 28/2-21/3 means 28 Feb to 21 March.

Tomorrow I have the Diagnostic English Test at 9:30 am (1 hour long). After that I'm more or less free.

Nov 9, 2008

How Did He Get the Crazy Idea That He Could Win?

THAT'S what I've been asking myself over and over again. Obama knew that he's special, but how did he decide to take on the institution of Washington politics to win the Presidency? I mean, what was the point where he sat down and thought, I'll actually get into politics, become a Senator, then after a couple of years, stroll into the White House. I've been obsessing over all this, as you can probably tell.

OK, so it most probably didn't happen like that. But I wanted to know more about the start of his campaign, so I did some digging in the usual serious news sites and found an excellent seven-part piece in Newsweek. Now I'm glad I waited until after it all ended to get my in-depth analysis of the election. Newsweek says the major three candidates allowed its reporters to follow them across their campaign--of almost two years I believe--and observe all the plotting and tensions first-hand, in exchange for their story appearing after the election.

It's gripping reading. I just couldn't stop reading it. (I did skip over a couple of the middle chapters though. Didn't want to read details of McCain's comebacks of earlier this year.)

Oh, and I found an amazing set of candid, election-night photographs of the Obama camp, taken while they were all waiting with bated breath for the results to come in. Here it is. Watch it as a slideshow.

Waiting, watching and hoping. This photo is from the photostream of Barack Obama on Flickr.

Nov 6, 2008

The Skinny Kid With The Funny Name

FEEL-GOOD exercise: Go to Then, scroll down the list of US presidents while reading each name. Finally, read the last name. It goes something like this:

George Washington


Thomas Jefferson


(aside: Benjamin Franklin was never a president? Surprising!)


Abraham Lincoln


the Roosevelts


... a whole bunch of other WASPy names ...

John F. Kennedy


Bill Clinton, the Bushes ...

and then ... BARACK OBAMA.

If I forget everything else that's happened in the US since its founding, I know that in more than 200 years, there's never been anything like this. He's magic, there's no other way to explain it. I hope that the confidence and the faith he brings out in all of us eventually becomes a virtuous cycle, a self-fulfilling prophecy of global recovery and progress. But in the meantime, I know he's just landed himself in the biggest fight of his life. But then, this is what every US president-elect should be thrown into.