A new chapter of my life began...when I left a small lil' island called HOME to a much bigger island called TASMANIA... but, life is still going to be as blessed or even MORE BLESSED and CRAZY because God is watching out for me. :-) SO here's a testament to that!...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Revival of a blog.

I'm home.

Time to revive this dreary and lacklustre blog.

Major reno under way.

Watch this space.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tasmania brought out the Malaysia in me.

It's sure been awhile...Not sure if anyone still visits this dusty, cobweb-ridden blog. But, whatever, it's my blog and my rules! :)

Anyway, this will just be a short update about the recent Merdeka celebrations we, the mob of Malaysian students here, had in Hobart, Tasmania.

I don't know what is it about the 31st of August that ignites the patriotic flames in Malaysians, however fickle and small it is. I mean, Australia Day (26th of January), which is the equivalent of the national day here, is celebrated very differently. The only pomp and ceremony they have here is the march past of all the former soldiers and army men who fought for Australia and some Awards and recognitions panned out to outstanding citizens. And, that's it! To most Aussies here however, Australia Day is just another public holiday when everyone just puts on their bathers, have a day out at the beach, play some cricket in their backyards, chuck some meat on the barbie while downing some goon. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But, coming from a country which celebrates her National Day with colourful parades with tens and thousands of people participating in them, presentations from people of different races and culture, dazzling fireworks displays, jet fighters performing stunts in mid air and what not, you kind of expect something more from Australia Day.

But, then again, one might argue that maybe all that pomp and ceremony with Merdeka celebrations is just a huge waste of resources to put on a good show to distract its citizens from underlying problems which plague the country such as racial polarisation and inequality, corruption in government and what not. Or maybe Aussies are more comfortable in their own skin and don't need all that hype to reassure them of their national identity and pride.

Whatever your views, they are perfectly valid and justified.

But, for me, and as a Malaysian, Merdeka is about peace and the sense of camaraderie and mateship between people. One should look past all the ceremonial pomp and try to appreciate the true meaning of Merdeka. To me, Merdeka, or Freedom in English, is about being free from oppression and threat, and being unfettered to chart out our own course and future. Oppression is not just limited to colonial authority and prowess. There is one form of oppression that is far more detrimental - that is the oppression of the mind. If we live everyday, constantly moaning and complaining about how unfairly we are being treated, or how corrupted we think the government is, how "free" do you think we really are? We are constantly bogged down by all these issues. And, the problem is, we continue to let them bog us down.

'Change' cannot be associated with passivity. Change is what we MAKE it to be. And, instead of talking and thinking ABOUT change, start LIVING change and living FREE. Merdeka is not all about the desire to "change", it's about living free - and that includes being free from our own negative perceptions and bias.

I read a quote somewhere which reads: "We are not born winners. We are not born losers. We are born CHOOSERS."

So, choose to be free, and to love one another for who they are - human beings - and not because of their race or creed. That's Merdeka to me.

Group picture

Economics students unite! How awesome is that supply and demand curve? *Because we're such nerds. *

Law students unite! Woot! I get to be in both pics!

Our attempt at re-enacting the Petronas Twin Towers. Can't you tell?

A Malay acapella medley we did for Multicultural Night some time back...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Opportunity Costs

Below is an excerpt of what 'Opportunity Cost' means:

Opportunity cost is the value of the next best alternative forgone as the result of making a decision.

The next best thing that a person can engage in is referred to as the opportunity cost of doing the best thing and ignoring the next best thing to be done.

Opportunity cost is a key concept in economics because it implies the choice between desirable, yet mutually exclusive results. It has been described as expressing "the basic relationship between scarcity and choice." The notion of opportunity cost plays a crucial part in ensuring that scarce resources are used efficiently.Thus, opportunity costs are not restricted to monetary or financial costs: the real cost of output forgone, lost time, swag, pleasure or any other benefit that provides utility should also be considered opportunity costs.

{sourced from Wikipedia}

There's a saying that goes something like "The more you learn about something, the less you know about it".

The concept of 'opportunity cost' is not something totally unintelligible to the layperson. Although, I must admit, it may not be a common term that you may be accustomed to, you definitely would have lived it out in practice.

Here's my take on 'opportunity cost':

Opportunity cost is...

Leaving Penang for hopes of a better education and environment but also leaving the comfort of the warm weather, friends and family back home.

Living off-campus and forgoing a "wholesome" college life but being able to pay cheaper rental rates and learning how to be my own chef.

Taking up the position of Chairman at the OCF here and stretching myself for His Kingdom's sake but that also means that I'll have less leisure and study time.

Coming to the Uni of Tasmania, having to pay cheaper tuition fees and being able to own a car here but that also means that I don't get the prestige and sense of achievement of studying at a huge, renowned University with a vibrant student life. But then again, my own academic and financial ability have sort of boxed me in, haven't they?

Having to go through 5 years of Law and Economics at uni with the hopes of securing a brighter future for my family and myself but at the same time having to put up with all the, at times, sickeningly torturous study and assignments at Uni.

To a lot of people here, I look like a Japanese, Korean or a certain Hongkie movie star (I'm not making this up) but am always asked stereotypical questions by the Whites like: "Which part of China are you from?" and "Wow..you can speak English???" ~ ok...I know this has nothing to do with 'opportunity cost'... but it just peeves me off when I get asked those questions.

Leading on from that point, opportunity cost to me is when I have a good command of the English language but at the same time not being as proficient in my own Chinese language, history and culture.

So, does learning about concepts like 'Opportunity cost' or 'the law of diminishing returns' really do help you in real life? Well, some may argue that learning about opportunity costs help you make better, and more informed decisions when faced with 2 mutually exclusive alternatives.

My view is that, given the circumstances in which I made a lot of my decisions in life, I did not have a fair go at deciding between the alternatives at hand. More than half of the examples I gave above are proof of that. Then again, one can easily say that there is always a choice. Life is all about making choices. You're where you are today, doing what you're doing because of a choice you made at some point of your life, whether or not you were aware of the fact that you were already making that life-altering choice.

I am where I am today - at some obscure uni, short and stubby, not knowing how to play the guitar - all because I decided not to study hard enough when I was in High School, not to do more jumping(does it really make you grow taller?) and exercise as much or put in the extra hours into learning how to play the guitar when I was 14. And, many a times, what's done is done and we cannot make right the wrongs that we've done.

So, is 'Opportunity Cost' really that useful a tool in my decision-making process? I will answer that question in the negative. My view is that instead of helping you make better decisions, it just makes you realise the costliness and the gravity of you actions or inactions, for that matter. Instead of guiding you in your decision-making, it leaves you with the greatest sense of rue and regret for not choosing the other alternative. Maybe that's why they call it opportunity "COST", and not "BENEFIT".

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The story thus far.

2009 thus far in 29 pictures.

First up, the OCF (Overseas Christian Fellowship) Easter Camp 2009. Awesome people. Beautiful location. Good food. All in all, a flippin' great camp. One of the best camps I've been to in a very long time. Who knew a trampoline could be so much fun?

And then came the season of browning and shedding of leaves. The days got shorter as it gave way to longer and colder nights.

Tutoring first year Economics students at Uni. Enjoyed every moment of it.

In the OCF worship team leading worship at a local church.

Benjamin Leigh Atkinson & Dyan Lai Yu Fern's Big Day.

Shaun's 22nd birthday bash.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Too much wisdom to handle...

Ten or so years ago, when I was still a wee little boy in primary school, I submitted an essay into a Chinese children's magazine, called 'da hong hua' or something, entitled 'ba ya ji' - which literally means "A visit to the dentist". That essay eventually got published in the magazine and I got a few prizes. But, the thing was...it was neither REAL nor ORIGINAL. But, what I'm about to share with you below is the real deal. Warning: Graphic and amusing illustrations ahead.

9'30am: Me: "Hello...Sandy Bay Dental Centre? I would like to make an appointment to have my wisdom tooth checked up." Receptionist: "Yup, I can put you in at 2pm." Me: "Yup! That'd be good." R: "So, who would you like? Dr Gordon Henry or Dr Sherina Parmar?" Me: (Thinks to myself...maybe a lady doctor would be more gentle with it..) Uhm..Dr Parmar?" R:"Yup, sure. See you later then." Me: "See ya."

1'45pm: Happily nibbling away at some cut apples... Trying to calm the qualm in me. Tells housemate to inform my parents that 'I love them' if I don't make it.

2pm: Arrives at clinic. Fills in registration form and waits for name to be called out. And soon enough, "Daniel? We'll see you now."

I walk into the room seeing 3 ladies all dressed in uniform. Nice, I thought. I proceed to tell the doctor what is it that's bothering me and that I thought it could be an infection around my wisdom tooth at my top right corner of my upper jaw. She proceeds to check all of my teeth..."no. 23, 24..18...19's got amalgamation.." Apparently, that's how they refer to teeth. They have a specific number to everyone of them. Then, she proceeds to tell me that the particular area is infected pretty badly and advices that I have it extracted. I was like "Wha??? Extraction? Can't you just clean that area and make the infection go away?" D:" I can...but it's pretty bad.. and it will be recurring if you don't get it out, because the area is quite deep inside and it'd be hard to keep that area clean." Me: " Ok.... if you think it fit..." She then proceeds to do what every fast food retailer does, upSIZE! "So, would you like us to clean your teeth as well or just the extraction?" I'm already shitting in my pants from the thought of having my tooth extracted and you think I'm that concerned about having my teeth look all sparkly and white? "Uhm..no thanks. I'll just have the "burger", no "fries or drinks", thank you very much."

She brings out a cool-looking machine... I thought she was gonna get it out by just zapping it..Nope. That was just the x-ray. Darn.

"I'm gonna inject some anesthetic into that area to numb it. Just take deep breathes in and out and relax." Here we go, I thought to myself.

There was alot of pushing, pulling, bleeding, rinsing, spitting... pushing, pulling, rinsing and spitting. After what felt like 15 minutes of all that, I suddenly heard a "crack!" "Phew...it's over! That was painless and easy!" or so I thought to myself. As I was just about to get up, I heard her say to one of her nurses, "Can you please get the "......" (I forgot what she called it, but it sounded something like a PLIER or something..) The nurse replies, "Should I get the BIG one or the normal one?" Doc says "Nah..just the normal one will do."

Oh...that's comforting. Not. It's like saying "Shall I bring out the bazooka to deal with that big arse teeth of his?"

So, for the next 20 minutes or so, the doctor continued to pull, push and, with her new gadget, TWIST! Being the He-man that I am, I closed my eyes through most of the whole thing. But, I could feel like the doctor, who was initially sitting down, was in a half standing, half sitting position now as she continued to go through what almost felt like an Olympic tug-of-war event. In my mind, I kept praying "Oh God, either make my tooth just slide out now..or PLEASE grant this doctor superhuman strength right this moment!" Seriously, it felt like she took forever to get it out. Half way through, she looked up to one of the nurses, who was sucking all the saliva and blood out of my mouth, and SMIRKED...no no..it was more like a small GIGGLE! I'm pretty sure one other nurse was filming all this hilarity with the intention of posting it up on Facebook or Youtube. Because she was taking so long, I started feeling pain again. So, the doctor had to inject another dose of anesthetic into the affected area.

Finally, after another 5 minutes or so, I heard a sigh of relief from the doctor. The teeth was out! *the Hallelujah chorus sounding behind me* I went to the toilet after that to wipe the blood and saliva stains off my face after which I bit on a piece of cotton. While I was waiting to pay the bill, I saw a small notice with namecards of my doctor on the desk. And, just to add to the hilarity of it all, it wrote "Dr Parmar will see new patients now." Now, what on earth does that mean!?!? No wonder I thought she looked quite young to be a doctor.

And, the bill? $300! That's just $40 shy of how much I earn from giving Economics tuition for a month! Anyhow, someone told me that I should expect that sort of price tag as extracting a wisdom tooth in Malaysia would cost about RM1000?

Anyway, to cut the long story short, I had to go through head-throbbing and body-shaking pain for the next 2 hours or so as I lie on the beanbag on the floor. I also took 2 panadols to help ease the pain. I guess for the next few days, I'll have to survive on porridge and liquids. Yumm.. Now, to prepare for the two exams that's coming up. God, I need You.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Psalm 23 (Students' version)

The Lord is my Teacher, I shall not worry
He makes me settle down in strange libraries
He leads me to books and reference materials
He restores my concentration in class
Though I walk though classrooms and boring lecturers
I will fear no failure, for You are with me
Notes and formulae before me in the preparation of my examinations
You anoint my mind with oil, my preparation overflow
Surely goodness and merciful results shall follow me
All the days of my examinations
And I will serve in fellowship
Of the Lord in school and forevermore.

Exam fever strikes (again)...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Of Black Mambas and Banking tests.

*Warning: This post is and will be a total waste of the reader's time. Further reading is at the reader's own risk. All liability on the writer's part for the waste of the reader's time is hereinafter excluded.*

I was taking a power nap this arvo. What started out as a 45-min long nap became a 2-hour sleeping extravaganza. Does anyone else notice that afternoon naps are LETHAL!? And, I will almost definitely dream strange dreams in the afternoon naps I take. Anyone else share this predicament?

Anyway, this nap wasn't much different. Towards the end of my TWO HOUR nap, I dreamt about walking home from somewhere, and suddenly I got attacked by snakes. Not, just any snake, but BLACK MAMBAS - one of the most poisonous snakes on earth! Well, it's not like I really know how a black mamba looks like. But, my brain told my dreaming self that they were black mambas. So, black mamba it is then!

But, why black mambas, you may ask? Well, just a few days ago, a bunch of us happily decided that we would buy some cheap wine, have a drink and just hang out at someone's house. 5 minutes into the drinking and talking, we decided to turn on the TV. And, there it was, a documentary about black mambas on Animal Planet. So, that's what we did for the most part of the night - drinking wine and munching on some chips while watching a documentary on black mambas. I guess that's how we were planning on getting drunk - the INFORMATIONAL way. (Just joking. We weren't really planing on getting anywhere near drunk.)

Again, I digress.

Back to my dream. my dreaming self was running all over and screaming like a little girl in its dreams (cause that's what the people were doing in that documentary). But, there were too many! There were black mambas EVERYWHERE! My dreaming self got bitten, got up, and started running and screaming again. I must have got bitten like 10 or so times before my dreaming self started to think "Ok....I should be long dead by now if all this were real. This is probably a dream and I should probably wake up from it as I've probably went over my 45-min napping time limit." But, my dreaming self also remembered that it has a Banking class test coming up real soon.

So, it was faced with a huge dilemma. Should it continue to sleep and dream about getting killed by black mambas, or should it wake up to study all about the wonderful world of banking, government bonds and securities for this test?

Yup, you've guessed it! For, the next one hour or so, my dreaming self continued to run, scream and get bitten by those black mambas.

I know this is crap, but it's 100% true! Thanks for squandering time with me. :-)