Saturday, 31 December 2005

Life in Singapore

taken with my latest baby the Nikon Coolpix S4, that came in an Olympus paper bag.

My home church - the Balestier Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

80% of the country's population live in flats like this

With people living on top of each other in flats this high (most spanning up to at least 20 stories), it's a wonder the country hasn't sunk yet.

The trishaw - a traditional mode of transport that has since been relegated to a tourist activity. Found this old gentlemen napping underneath one of the block of flats.

Handmade bread - a fast disappearing technique in modern-day Singapore (don't ask me why the bread is so burnt).

Anybody care for a pAzza? And don't ask me what is the difference between a $1.50 pAzza and a $11 pAzza..

Friday, 30 December 2005

Oh, and I got myself a new toy!
Haven't actually done much playing around with it as of yet, considering I only just got it last night.

This blog is most likely going to feature a lot more photos in future!

Tuesday, 27 December 2005

My brother poked his head through the gap of the front door and took a step back, going, "What the?"

My mother stared at me for a full five seconds before throwing off the blanket and jumping out of bed, exclaiming, "What are you doing here?"

Faith, on the other hand, simply stood rooted to the spot, spatula in one hand, hyperventilating.

My aunt was slightly more straightforward. She merely yelled "Melody!" at the train station.

I may just get used to this whole business of surprising people. Seeing the shocked look on their faces, their eyes widening and the step back from the unexpected sight of me was somehow strangely satisfying.

Been back home in Singapore for a week now and well, it's good to be back. Hanging out with my brother again, spending time with my mom, catching up with friends, basking in old familiarity and yet experiencing it from changed perspectives, having wonderful Indian, Chinese, Thai food without actually having to cook for myself (I think I've gained several kilos already), being a complete nerd and stocking up on my books and CDs...

By the end of my six weeks here, I think I'd be loathe to return to Sydney!

Wednesday, 21 December 2005

how fun is this Christmas card?

I love the interactive nature of it...not sure about the rooster crowing part though...

Christmas Party 2005 [1/6]

Photos from the staff Christmas Party where "vegetarian food" to the caterers meant "eggplant".

Considering I really am not a big fan of eggplant, it was a good thing the entertainment was at least good.

Tuesday, 20 December 2005

From the creators of Relevant, one of the best contemporary Christian magazines I've ever read, comes Radiant, a magazine targetted towards females between 18-34.

Download their prototype issue, filled with relevant (ahem) articles about living life as a young woman in the world. It's a little lifestyle (home-decorating tips), a little career advice (working as a young professional woman), a little pop culture (interviews with famous celebrities), but best of all is the subtle underlying Christian theme.

Yup. I would certainly love to join the Relevant team.

Even if it means having to move to America ;)

Monday, 19 December 2005

Thieves actually managed to steal this two-tonne sculpture with the help of a crane and a lorry.

I'm sorry, but I cannot stop smirking.

It's not as if it's a two-gram toy that can easily fit inside one's pocket. This is a gigantic piece of metal that would require much hefting and hoisting in order to successfully transport it. And the thieves managed to get away with it?


Mind you, the theft happened at around 10.45pm. Not that late. Not as if it were 3am where the roads would certainly be deserted. I'm guessing that would still be some sort of traffic at the hour of the night.

Imagine, three men (I don't know why three, it just seems like a good number for stealing large and heavy sculptures lying in the open) creeping in the park...

"Shhh..Mike, you're making too much noise!"


"Now, tiptoe over here and give me a hand with this crane will you?"

*loud engine sounds from the vehicle as sculpture is lifted onto the back of the lorry, dogs bark, birds squawk*

"Er...boss? Where are we hiding the sculpture?"

"In your tiny London townhouse of course! And after a month, we'll sell it on the market because nobody would recognise something as large and famous as this sculpture."

Friday, 16 December 2005

A really interesting sermon by Dr Barry Casey, chair of the Department of Communication and Journalism at Columbia Union College, inspired by the songs of U2.

A sermon about the state of the world.

A sermon about our response.

A sermon about God's role in all of this.

Thursday, 15 December 2005

Courtesy of Nicholson Cartoons, as published in The Australian today.
Spectaculars vs News - a rather insightful article on the role of the media in response to the Cronulla riots.

What a dilemma.

When do journos draw the line between doing their jobs and inciting hatred?

Wednesday, 14 December 2005

I passed my driving test! I passed my driving test!

*dances around the table*

I can now drive without supervision!!!

Monday, 12 December 2005

How quickly one's mood changes within a morning.

I'm still excited about going to the U2 concert, but more than that, I'm just sad, angry and terrified as to what has happened over the weekend.

5000 people gone wild, intent only on creating havoc and causing bodily harm to others. 5000 people herded like sheep, adopting a mob mentality and forgetting to actually stop and think and realise what they're actually doing. 5000 people actually proud of themselves for going against another group of people who just so happened to have a different gene pool and skin colour as them.

5000 people that could have been fed by Jesus instead - my heart actually aches for these people who could have otherwise been touched by the love of God.

But I'm focussing on utopia again where the world is filled only with sunshine, rainbows and colourful flowers.

It's not the blood and violence of the photos taken yesterday that were shocking. It's the fact that there were at least twenty smiling faces in the background where one man was being protected by a policman while another man tried to punch him.

These are my fellow humans and I can only hear one question running over and over again through my head - what have we become?

I cannot understand it. I cannot understand how a group of people can harbour so much anger over people of a completely different nationality without even knowing them. I cannot understand why people can bring themselves to hurt someone so badly simply because they happen to look different. And even worse, I cannot understand how an entire political party can in good conscience stir up and encourage anti-multicultural and anti-immigrant sentiments.

What have we become?

It makes me laugh to read how one guy actually said, "I'm not saying all the wogs and the Lebs are that bad, but there's a certain group who harass and cause trouble."

He actually believes this qualifies his actions?

Does this mean the world should descend upon the scoutmaster's association or all 57 year old males simply for what Robert Potter had done?

Why are we so prone to stereotyping? Why are we in such a hurry to lump people into categories, especially when it can be easily done through the colour of their skin? What is it about being of different ethnicities that people just seem to instantly dislike? Why is there so much latent hatred in us?

Why can't we realise that it's the differences in all of us that makes the world so beautiful? Why can't we realise that we have so much to learn from other cultures? Why can't we realise that people are individuals and although their culture may shape them, they are also formed by their own unique personalities?


What more can I say besides the fact that I'm utterly appalled by what happened over the weekend?

I don't know whether to be angry about the extremely intolerant and racist behaviour or to be saddened by what we have become.

And in all honesty? Even though I am not of Middle-Eastern descent, I'm not a white Anglo-Saxon and currently, I'm just feeling a tad nervous about my own safety...

Tuesday, 6 December 2005

My heart breaks.

I'm going to miss the concert by the biggest band in the world, fronted by one of the most amazing man on earth.

Update: I GOT TICKETS!!! Thanks to the second show they decided to put on due to the response to the first show (and to Bilbo for the tip-off)!

I'm going to see U2 next year!!!!!

Actually, if it weren't for my colleague who parked himself in front of my office at 9am, I would have clean forgotten about it...thank goodness for fellow u2 fans.

Friday, 2 December 2005

oh my goodness! Pandora is going to be my favourite website for a long while!

Just type in an artist or song that you like, they'll search for it and start playing a whole bunch of songs that would be similar in style to your search criteria.

All for free!

How cool is that?

[Thanks to Seth Godin for the link.]

Update: D'oh! Seems like you have to register to actually listen to more than 4 tracks and have gotta be an American citizen to qualify...sigh...the idea was good though. Now for an Australian version...

Wednesday, 30 November 2005

I'm a sucker for amazing creative/design work done by Christians and I've just found something amazing.

This guy from Riverside Community Church has just come up with beautiful desktop wallpapers for the computer and I'm going to be bookmarking this site to change my wallpaper regularly now.

The images are fantastic, bright, happy, contemporary and the best part of it all is that some of them come with a monthly events calendar on some of the wallpapers - not that it would do me any good considering I'm not from Riverside, but I wanna be a member now just so that I can make full use of the calendar!

My favourite's gotta be the candy cane one, although the cross one looks quite good too.

[Thanks to Church Marketing Sucks for the link.]

Tuesday, 29 November 2005

View of Canberra (War Memorial in the foreground, Parliament House in the far distance) from Mt Ainslie.

Turned out Mr Howard was in Malta and so there was no rubbing shoulders with the Prime Minister at the National Prayer Breakfast.

What a wet and cold weekend it was in Canberra! It rained the entire time I was there and even managed to experience hail! And we're about two days shy of summer! It certainly felt more like autumn than spring.

At least we managed to sneak out in between downpours up to the three mountains around Canberra to see the city from the top. Even got to see the Big Merino on our way to Canberra.

Australia continues its obsession with all things big with the Big Merino at Goulburn.

Canberra's more like a big country town than the capital city of Australia. I don't think I've quite seen as many kangaroos and other teeming wildlife as I have in any other major city. Not even Perth, the supposed "country-er" part of the country.

The prayer breakfast unfortunately didn't really blow my mind away. In fact, I got rather upset at one point of time because it felt like the presentation was going down a rather anti-Muslim and political bent. Actually, the entire event had a tinge of political flavour to it. Then again, it was organised by the Parlimantary Christian Fellowship and held at the Parliament House. Did I really think it wouldn't be political?

It wasn't so much the political bent that I had a problem with. It was more of the fact that there were sentiments expressed that I didn't think Christians should actually agree with. The war on terror was discussed, and I found it really hard to comprehend how a Christian who proclaimed and advocated peace could reconcile being the military advisor of the Iraqi army and denounce Muslims at the same time.

In all honesty, I left the place feeling more disappointed than uplifted.

At least I had a good time hanging out and catching up with friends when I wasn't attending the breakfast.

Friday, 25 November 2005

this is a perfect example of what one shouldn't receive while at work.

my horrible colleague forwarded the link to me and I found myself happily clicking away for at least five minutes!
will be in Canberra for the next few days rubbing shoulders with Prime Minister John Howard.

I may be technically lying, but it sounds so much better than saying "I'm going to Canberra for the weekend to attend the National Prayer Breakfast", especially since there is a possibility that John Howard will be there. Let's just hope he doesn't growl at me or have me for breakfast when he finds out I'm from Singapore...

It's only a Sunday evening and Monday morning affair, but it's a great excuse to go to Canberra for a weekend to enjoy a holiday and catch up with friends!

Thursday, 24 November 2005

Tragic Flaw, Healing Grace
Written: November 9, 2005

Unless one leads a particularly charmed life, graduating from college could both be the happiest and scariest moment in your life (that is, until your wedding day, but that is another story altogether). Assignments, tutorials and exams become but a fading bitter taste in the mouth as the sweet smell of freedom starts wafting in.

Unfortunately, with it also comes the inevitable question of “what next?”

My struggle with my future last year nearly resulted in a major relational crisis with God. Far from being the “good and faithful servant” I thought all Christians were supposed to be, my search for a job brought me into dark despair.

It did not take long for me to realize that jobs requiring my qualifications were scarce, and a fresh grad’s resume isn’t the most attractive in the world.

Six months after graduating and with no job in sight, my despair became a crippling guilt. Somewhere at the back of my head was the knowledge that God was in charge, but at the same time, I was terrified. Terrified that in the next few years, my life would consist of being stuck in a job I hated, living in a city I detested. I would slowly transform into the most negative and depressed individual that ever graced the earth and my favorite Bible verse would be Ecclesiastes 1:2.

Despite my faith in God, I was afraid that things were not going to work out. And that was when the crippling guilt started creeping into my heart. After all, isn’t faith “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”? (Hebrews 11:1)

The fact that I kept fearing my future was going the way of the sewer obviously meant that I was not a good enough Christian, having insufficient faith in God.

If I were a true Christian, I would be looking my future boldly in the eye, ready to take whatever was thrown at me. I would be sure that whatever hopes I had about job prospects would come true. Fear should not even exist in my vocabulary if I really had faith in God. My tragic flaw obviously spelt the beginning of the end of my relationship with God.

That was when I stumbled across the story of Gideon, the young chap from the weakest clan of Manasseh chosen by God to defeat the Midianites.

Most people know his story, found in Judges 6-8. The insignficant fellow from an insignificant tribe who tested God twice with a wool fleece, and had so much faith in God, he had no problems fighting tens and thousands of Midianites with only three hundred men. His was a story of courage, faith and how God can use anybody to achieve greatness.

Or was it?

It’s true that Gideon did everything God commanded. It’s true that it was because of Gideon that Israel enjoyed peace for the rest of his life. Gideon was a hero, remembered in Hebrews as one of the champions of faith.

But that’s not what was significant about Gideon. What was significant was the fact that he achieved all these despite a tragic flaw.

Gideon was not a fearless warrior. Gideon did not even transform into a fearless warrior after he received directions from God. Throughout his entire journey, Gideon remained a terrified individual, lacking courage, doubting God.

When God first commanded Gideon to tear down his father’s altar to Baal and replace it with one to God, Gideon obeyed. But the Bible says “because he was afraid…he did it at night rather than in the daytime” (Judges 6:27).

And after Gideon gathered all the forces against the Midianites, he continued to doubt God, and had to use a wool fleece not once, but twice, to be reassured that God really wanted him to fight the Midianites (Judges 6:36-40).

And still, Gideon could not get rid of his fear. In Judges 7:10, God told Gideon, “If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah.” Immediately in the next verse, Gideon does just that – “he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp.”

Even after all kinds of signs and direct instructions from God, Gideon never completely got rid of his fear. It was obvious that God was on Gideon’s side (you can’t get any more obvious than having God actually tell you), and yet his fear was never abated. Time and time again, God had to reassure Gideon so that he wouldn’t run all the way back home, cowering in fear.

But get this.

God did not give up on Gideon because he was afraid, even after the third extremely obvious sign. God did not deem Gideon an unfit Israelite because Gideon had this nagging feeling at the back of his head that things just may not turn out.

And Gideon fought the fight against the Midianites full of fear, but full of faith.

That’s when it all made sense.

Having faith is not about being fearless. Having faith is not completely losing our human senses. Having faith can mean we continue being afraid but going ahead with the battle anyway, just like Gideon against the Midianites.

Just like David and his men in Keilah, against the Philistine forces (1 Samuel 23:3-5).

Just like Elijah against Jezebel, even after his triumphant victory on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 19:3).

Just like when we are faced with an uncertain future, wondering if we are indeed good and faithful Christians because we are starting to fear that God would allow us to forever be stuck in an unbearable fate.

Gideon had a rather tragic flaw of cowardice that kept coming back to haunt him. But God’s healing grace and comforting reassurances were always there to reignite his courage and help him go on.

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

How interesting to read about my home country from a completely different point of view.

It's funny how I've never even thought about how pliant I've been raised to become until moving away from Singapore and experiencing different countries, a different governments, different people.

It's true that many Singaporeans have been taught to simply follow and obey. It's true that we are hardly encouraged to think outside the box. And it's frightfully true that there is no way we would even think of opposing the government.

And it's certainly fascinating to learn how others view Singapore, standing on the outside.

The spotlight has been on this sunny island I still call home for the last few weeks, with the impending hanging of Australian Nguyen Tuong Van for drug trafficking.

It's true I hardly appreciate the stifling way in which I've been educated. But yet at the same time, I have to say, Singapore did what it needed to do.

It's a small country. It needed a strong government in order to survive and not be lost amidst the other Asian giants when it was left to fend for itself after WW2. It did the only thing it could - herd its people together to work towards a shared focus. Unity is strength. And the only way unity could be garnered in a country such as Singapore was to ensure that there were no dissidents and wayward thinking.

And look at what it's achieved in a short span of forty years . A country with a stable economy. A country where people are largely comfortable and well-to-do. A country that is able enough to go to the aid of Asian giants far bigger and seemingly far stronger than itself whenever a disaster hits. A country where I feel completely safe to walk the streets at two in the morning. A country that would have gone unnoticed because of its size (or lack thereof), but instead is recognised by most people all over the world.

In all honesty, it has been a considerable price to pay. The lack of freedom. The lack of creativity. The lack of alternative thinking. The lack of having an opinion of our own. But the rewards are appreciable at the same time. All I can say is thank goodness we had leaders who had the foresight to bring the country to where it is today, and not some zany, off-balanced cuckoo.

So I guess the question to ask is, do Singaporeans believe the price to pay for what they have now has been too high?

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

I'm Asian.

I'm female.

I'm young(ish).

And currently, I'm also feeling like the most marginalised person in the entire world.

I'm stuck in a racist, sexist and ageist society and honestly? It's a tad unpleasant.

Yes, I realise that not everybody falls into any of the above categories. In fact, I know of amazing people out there who will not care if I've got fluro-purple skin, am a hermaphrodite and am two months old. These are not the people I'm talking about.

What I'm talking about is the patronising behaviour I get when I try to make a point.

What I'm talking about is the lack of attention to what I say.

What I'm talking about is the immediate assumption that I cannot be a skilled professional.

What I'm talking about is the waitress in the restaurant who refuses to acknowledge my presence, choosing instead to focus on the guy I'm with.

What I'm talking about is the waiter who passes the bill to my male friend, and who when he realises I'm the one paying, is unable to hide the surprise on his face.

What I'm talking about is the notice on the common noticeboard calling for immigrants to either speak only English and completely immerse themselves in the Aussie culture or leave.

What I'm talking about is the refusal to pass me or any of my female friends the ball during touch footy.

What I'm talking about is hearing from my friends about snide remarks made about Asians.

What I'm talking about is not being taken seriously.

What I'm talking about is thinking I cannot carry a decent, intellectual discussion about politics, technology or the current state of the world.

What I'm talking about is not being included in the Asian community because I'm too "Caucasian", and then being expected by the Caucasians to only be interested in activities organised by the Asian community.

I'm sick and tired of being overlooked.

I'm sick and tired of being stereotyped.

I'm sick and tired of being put into a box.

Am I really not good enough?

Not good enough to do well at work. Not good enough to advance my career. Not good enough to play sports. Not good enough to carry my own weight. Not good enough to talk about the "more important things" in life.

How do I actually believe that I can do something, when people around me believe otherwise?

How do I actually believe that I'm capable, when people around me behave as if I'm not?

How do I actually believe that I have a brain, when people around me don't think so?

And even if I'm really not good enough, why don't you take the time to teach and nurture me, instead of being condescending towards me?

Update: This article is absolute brilliant. [Thanks to Della for the link.]

Monday, 21 November 2005

I think I've gotten two shades darker and consumed more chocolate than is healthy over the last couple of days.

Spent the weekend at Manly Beach (I know I didn't really like Manly when I first went there, but I'm always up for second chances. Besides, a weekend at any beach would be much nicer than a weekend at the nurses' res!) and was blessed by great warm weather.

Had great fun with kites on Friday evening and got dragged around several times, thanks to the crazy winds at the beach.

Then went on an extended walk to North Head where we had lunch while taking in some amazing views on Saturday. We were perched on top one of the many cliffs of North Head overlooking the breath-taking views of the city of Sydney and the hundreds of sailboats littered around the harbour (I may be exaggerating, but there were heaps of sailboats).

Later went exploring through the bushland and found an old wall (I have no idea what it was trying to keep out. It was wasteland on the other side as well), walked along cliff edges, jumped around rock pools, frightened little crabs and fish and attempted rock climbing.

The weekend was also littered with lots and lots of good food, that was littered with lots and lots of amazing chocolate.

Seriously, if you are ever in the Manly area, Max Brenner's Chocolate by the Bald Man on Manly Wharf is a must-visit. And make sure you order the Suckao. Divine experience guaranteed. Of course, there's also the Hot Chocolate with Magic Waffle Balls, the Cookieshake, the chocolate mudcake, the chocolate fondue....

Thank goodness there's touch footy in five minutes. Need to work off all that chocolate.

Friday, 18 November 2005

Have I mentioned before what an amazing photographer I think this guy is?

The blog is not updated very often, but when it is, it's got some of the most awesome photos I've ever seen.

Wednesday, 16 November 2005

i'm going to Bangkok for five days of wild shopping. whoo-hoo!

and in true lazy blogger style, considering that Faith has written all about it, you can read about what we plan to do in her post.

note how I don't get a say in the whole "what we must do" bit ;)

Note to self:

1. buy that Nikon Coolpix S4 before trip to Bangkok.

2. no other shopping now till I get to Bangkok.

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

I've been given an opportunity to repent of my sins.

The dude actually came back just now asking if I was interested to take worship over at the old folks' place again.

I've booked in for early next month. Hopefully I won't mix up the time again this time!

The next challenge now is to think of something to talk about! muscles....

With the onset of summer, I seem to have mysteriously taken up sports as well. It really is quite amazing to my friends, but especially myself, considering the last time I actually played proper something or other was way back in 1998.

Played touch footy with a bunch of colleagues from work (and some not quite colleagues) yesterday evening. Two hours of running up and down the field, where at one point of time I nearly flew backwards because of a supposed "touch" inflicted by an opposing team member (which unfortunately meant I was therefore labelled "delicate") was surprisingly rather enjoyable.

It felt great to be out in the open, with the gentle breeze, setting sun, fresh smell of grass and to simply get your heart pumping.

Have been swimming rather regularly for the past month or so, but somehow, playing sports with a bunch of friends seem to make things far more entertaining.

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

this is absolutely brilliant (albeit a tad sacrilegious at times)!

The Brick Testament is an illustration of various Bible stories using Lego blocks.

Had a bit of a laugh, a few gasps, but mostly was in awe as to how good this guy is with his Lego, and how much time he had on his hands.

[Thanks to mincedLifeCentral for the link]

Tuesday, 8 November 2005

Not sure if I'm simply opening up a can of worms with what I'm going to say, but what happened yesterday got me thinking.

Was at Bible study yesterday evening and since it was my first time, I was naturally introduced to everybody. What was interesting was a conversation I had with one of the guys at the end.

There were the usual get to know you questions, and I was asked what I did for a living, to which I replied, "I work with Letrica at the church office."

"Oh, so you're a secretary then."

"Er, actually, no. I'm involved in public relations."

And I could immediately see that I had thrown him off-balance. There was a look of slight incomprehension in his eyes, but he quickly recovered and continued the conversation with a "you must be a real people-person then".

It's actually not the first time I've been mistaken for a secretary after telling someone where I work, and it only ever happens if I talk to a church member. (That is, unless they recognise my name, with which I get a completely different response along the lines of "Oh, so you're the Melody Tan!" that is followed by a very embarrassed murmur of acknowledgement from me.)

Why do people immediately assume if you're female and working for the church, you've got to be in secretarial work?

Then again, I guess it doesn't really help that it is the reality, at least within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific. There are more females working in the office than males, but the proportion of females in high-level decision-making positions are few and far between. Of the females working here, I think about two thirds of them are secretaries, or in some kind of support work or other.

Why are there so few females involved in non-secretarial work within the church?

Is it because such positions don't exist?

Is it because women are simply not good enough?

Is it because we're not interested in working for the church?

Is this happening only just within the Seventh-day Adventist Church?

Disclaimer: I'm not saying that being a secretary is not a proper job or anything like that. I'm just wondering why women in the church have become so typecast - they're either secretaries, nurses or teachers. Can't they be anything else?

Saturday, 5 November 2005

I've discovered muscles I didn't even know existed. And they're currently screaming out at me in pain.

Went for an archaeological dig with the Conservation Volunteers yesterday at The Rocks, one of the oldest part of Sydney. It was a dream come true, considering I've always wanted to be an archaeologist, but it certainly was hard work.

All the shovelling, lifting, tipping and bending brought out muscles that have long gone into hiding. It was a brilliant experience though, especially when I managed to pick up broken pieces of pottery and feel like the archaeologist I've always dreamt I'd be. Except of course, I've taken the life of a wimpy city girl, and so was hardly strong or fit enough for the yesterday's activities.

The day started off pretty horribly though. And for anyone who ever wishes to volunteer with Conservation Volunteers, make sure you check and check again where the meeting point and venue would be. Don't make the mistake that I did, and assume that an organisation like theirs actually know what they are doing.

When I first signed up for the project, I was sent an email with information on where and when to meet. It said a van would be there to pick me up at 8am sharp from the Central Station taxi stand. Fair enough.

I arrived yesterday morning at 8.02am because my train was late and although I tried and tried to call the number I was told to call if I was running late, nobody picked up the phone. Seems like I was calling the Conservation Volunteers office, and their working hours were 9am-5pm, and so I couldn't tell anybody I would be all of 2 minutes late.

Showed up at the taxi stand and there was nobody in sight. Not believing that they could actually be that punctual and have left at 8am sharp, I waited around for 15 minutes hoping that maybe the van was late. No such luck.

Finally, I called the number again and left a phone message, thinking they'd call me back at 9am when they actually started work and let me know where I could join the group. And considering I had 45 minutes to kill, decided to take a slow rock down to The Rocks.

Arrived at The Rocks right on 9am and received a phone call. It was Tom, the team leader of the project wondering if I was planning to join them for the day. Now, I thought he called me because someone in the office had received my phone message and got in touch with Tom so that Tom could track me down and have me rejoin the group. This was not so.

Upon further chatting with Tom, I realised that nobody from Conservation Volunteers had called him and that Tom was calling me on his own initiative because he thought I may be running late. Running late to meet them at 9am at Circular Quay train station.

The meeting point for the project was 9am at Circular Quay train station, not 8am at Central train station as I was told.

So from thinking I was late for my project, I ended up being early for it. It was ridiculous! What upset me even more was the fact that nobody from Conservation Volunteers even bothered to return my call from 8.15am! If Tom hadn't called, I would probably have just went home wondering whatever happened!

Actually, I lied, they did call me back. They returned my call at about 2.30pm, six hours after I left my phone message, five hours after the project started, to tell me that, "The meeting time was actually 9am."

If it was 9am, why did you send me an email saying that it would be at 8am? And why did you take six hours to let me know that? What was I supposed to do with the rest of my day? A day that I specially took off from my full-time job to work for you for free?

Just because you don't pay me doesn't mean that you can take me for granted like that.

If it weren't for the fact that I did eventually find the group (no thanks to the folks back at the Conservation Volunteers office), if it weren't for the fact that I had a really great experience immersing myself in the history of the place and digging out a cellar built in the 1800s, I would really have advised everybody to never volunteer with Conservation Volunteers.

Now all I can say is that if you ever do volunteer with them, confirm and reconfirm that they have got their facts right. Otherwise, you may end up in Melbourne waiting for them to meet you at 8am, when you were actually meant to be in Cairns at 10am.

And they would possibly leave you high and dry, returning your phone call the next day, when it is all too late.

Thursday, 3 November 2005

Check out Worship House Media, especially if you're heavily involved in various aspects of your local church ministry.

This is what I call being relevant and catering to the present.

There's a whole bunch of resources to be purchased, from mini movies, stills to this rather interesting church sign countdown. (In all honesty, I haven't actually bought anything from them, but looking at their website design and the whole idea of providing resources for a creative church is enough to win me over.)

The freebie's really cool too. Pity I don't work with young people anymore...

[Thanks to Church Marketing Sucks for the link.]

Wednesday, 2 November 2005

I thought getting into public relations/communication meant that I would never have to deal with numbers ever again.

It really was for the better.

After all, this is the girl who very calmly and confidently asked a banker (of all people), "Oh, when we give you 100% of the capital, you will invest 85% in X and 25% in Y?" much to the consternation and embarrassment of her brother (he still reminds me about it).

This is the same girl who comes up with three completely different answers when asked how much is 16 divided by 2 (or something incredibly simple like that. If you want the actual numbers, ask my brother. I swear he keeps a notebook of all my numerical stuff-ups.)

So I'm going to be spending this afternoon looking at the expense report of my department. I will be checking to see that numbers match up, and try to make sense of the department's budget. I will have numbers pouring out of my ears.

This makes perfect sense doesn't it?

Where's that calculator? I need to find out how much is 2 + 2.
The blood bank came to the area on Monday, and as I usually do, I made an appointment to donate blood.

Unlike my previous experiences though, I found myself close to passing out this time. While standing next to a friend who was still having her blood sucked out of her, my heart started beating erratically and I was soon seeing bright lights.

Anyway, after being made to lie down again with my legs raised, I soon felt better. I did feel crook for the rest of the day and was close to fainting again a few times. But I survived the day without actually passing out in the middle of the streets or something.

(At this point, I feel that I should mention my fainting spells had nothing to do with my vegetarian diet. I've donated blood several times before and have had no problems.)

Told my mother about it, who then told my brother.

I got an email from my brother this morning mentioning that he heard about my experience, and after a typical brotherly reaction of "hahaha", he proceeded to ask me if I was ok, and then an instruction to eat more iron-rich food.

What made my day wasn't the fact that he sounded like he cared. He actually showed that he did.

A second email accompanied his first. It was a list of food I can/should consume because they are iron-rich.

Granted, he may have simply googled "iron food" or something like that, but the fact that he actually took that extra few minutes to find that out was more than enough for me to start gushing.

Aren't siblings great?

Tuesday, 1 November 2005

Two more months to 2006!

Where did the year go?


Thursday, 27 October 2005

Rodney's thoughts on bugs and insect repellents had me giggling and wondering if he's spent far too much time by himself in the recording studio...

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

New bracelets!

Made with venetian glass beads - my favourite type of beads *hint*

Can't simply have pretty sparkly bracelets, so decided to make a slightly more rugged looking one. Although looking at it, it looks more kiddish than anything...

What can I say? I like pretty colours....preeeetttty....

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

I would like to buy three dollars' worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul,
or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk,
or a snooze in the sunshine.
I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man
or pick beets with a migrant.
I want ecstasy,
not transformation.
I want the warmth of the womb,
not a new birth.
I want about a pound of the eternal
in a paper sack.
I would like to buy three dollars' worth of God, please.
- Wilbur Reese -

[Thanks to an article by Valerie Phillips, entitled A Pound of the Eternal in a Paper Sack, found in the September 22 issue of the Adventist Review.]

Monday, 24 October 2005

Update: Photos can be viewed here.

Just the thought of it makes me want to break out in laughter:
Ever heard of a BuzzMob? If you're in Perth you can be part of a BuzzMob this Friday. Here are the details.

1st rule of Pillow Fight Club: Tell everyone you know about pillow fight club.

2nd rule of Pillow Fight Club: Tell everyone you don't know about pillow fight club.

3rd rule of Pillow Fight Club: If you turn up you must fight!

Flash time - 5.30pm Friday the 28th of October 2005. (this Friday)

Flash point - Outside the WA Art Gallery. There is an open space near the Perth train station overpass.

What to do - Bring a pillow concealed in a bag or backpack. Turn up at the Flashpoint a few minutes beforehand ie: 5.28 p.m·

At 5.30 p.m. the mob leaders will pull their pillows out, sound the battle cry and start the fight.

Join the fray. But please don't hit to hurt.

Afterwards, a whistle will sound, put your pillow away and disappear as if nothing has happened.

Help spread the word! You can register for receiving updates and for future events at

Never in the course of human history has one battle meant so little!
I just wish I was in Perth for this!

Alternatively, I really wish someone will be there with a camera!

[Thanks to Rodney for the post]

Sunday, 23 October 2005

Ever had all your precious bookmarks with your favourite websites wiped out? (That happened to me a few weeks ago, I'm still trying to retrieve all of them.)

Ever faced the frustration of wanting to visit a website, but unable to because you had it bookmarked on a different computer? (This happens to me constantly, since I surf the internet using at least two different computers, one at work, and another at home.)

This is where comes in.

An online bookmarking service, which means you can access your bookmarks using any computer in the world!

I've only just started using it (yes, you can call me slow), but so far, it's turning out to be one of the most brilliant things ever invented!

Saturday, 22 October 2005

Just a Minute, God

I had a desperate need to talk to God last night.

The culmination of different incidents and stresses over the course of the week had left me floundering, despairing and needing to feel God's arms around me. I knew the solution to my distress could be found in three simple things - music, meditation and the Bible.

My spirit needed repair. My soul needed healing. My entire being needed to be close to God once again. All I needed to do was to spend some time with God.

Instead, I chose to check my emails.

After all, I had spent the entire day in the city without an opportunity to check my inbox. There may be an important email lying in wait for me (the fact that I wasn't actually expecting an important email any time in the near future didn't matter).

"It's only eight in the evening," I rationalised. "I'll spend time with God in a few hours, when I'm ready to go to bed."

It was at that precise moment that God floored me.

How many times have I put off reading the Bible because I had more "important" things to do?

Daily prayer and the daily reading of God's word should be essential in my life. Instead, my daily routine consists of checking emails, watching TV, chatting with friends, pursuing my hobbies and reading anything but the Bible. Time with God is often relegated to the last agenda item of the day, and only if I'm not too tired.

How is it that the most important thing in my life has become the least important feature of my day?

I don't put off lunch just because I have to check my inbox.

I don't switch off the TV if House is showing just because I'm too exhausted.

Heck, I can even read a few chapters of Terry Pratchett before I go to bed.

But meditating and praying only happens if I have time to spare.

The Bible only gets read if I have energy to spare.

Why is it that we can make time for everything else that "has to get done", but when it comes to God, we take the liberty of bargaining?

The very source of our life. The very reason why we get to do the things we enjoy, and He gets left behind, placed below the very things He gave us. Sometimes, He even gets put off till the next day, because by the time we get to Him, we are too tired, too sleepy, and no longer have time.

How can we have time for everything else but God, the very giver of our lives?

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well," Jesus says in Matthew 6:33.

Seek first.

Not seek just before you go to bed.

Not seek after you have checked your emails, watched House on TV and made a pretty bead necklace.

Seek first.

I had a lovely time with God yesterday evening.

After he hit me with the epiphany, I spent the next hour or so sitting on my bed, Third Day playing in the background, meditating, writing, talking to Him and reading His Word. I unloaded, I pleaded, I chatted, I cried, I reconnected, and most of all, I healed.

Because as God often does, He immediately spoke to me in Jeremiah 17:7-8, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

I still have my wounds and my worries, but when you walk that little closer back to God, you feel that you can take on the world all over again.

I will still check my emails. I will still watch TV and I will most certainly continue to read voraciously.

But only after I spend time with God.

The others can be put off till later.

Thursday, 20 October 2005

November's National Geographic magazine features Seventh-day Adventists as "longevity all-stars".

I guess this means my instructions to friends to shoot me when I turn 50 may need to be slighty adjusted...

Monday, 17 October 2005

my brother just won a trip to France.

I'm envious.
Spent Satuday in the city attending the Global Leadership Summit, where I was bitterly disappointed. Not because it was bad (the speakers were actually really good), but because I thought the speakers would actually be present.

I mean, the speakers were Willow Creek authors the likes of Rick Warren! Turned out that it was merely a DVD broadcast of the speakers addressing the congregation in Willow Creek, USA. My groupie plans of taking photos with Rick and getting his autograph (not really actually. My groupie tendencies went out the window a few years ago) went swiftly out the window.

But the talks were funny, insightful, motivational and spiritual. It was particularly refreshing to attend "church' in a completely different setting, with people from various denominations.

Anyway, came home exhausted after listening to four 90 minutes lectures/sermons. Sat in front of the TV watching Helen of Troy, half-delirious from lack of sleep from the last week, and came up with what is probably my favourite creation so far.

I love this beading business.

The entire chain:

Found The Advertising Slogan Generator via Seth Godin's site.

Thought I may be able to come up with some cool slogan or something.

This is what I ended up with.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

I guess it's back to the drawing block.

A quick search around various volunteer and NGO websites have revealed that I will be useless in South Asia.

No medical experience, no logistical know-how, no knowledge of developmental work...the list goes on.

That plan to do a post-grad in International Development Studies has to happen soon.

In the meantime, monetary donations will have to be the way to go.

(Disclaimer: I am in no way saying that monetary donations are bad. For those who lack any experience, providing the experts with the financial aid to help the victims is the best way thing one can do. I guess I was just looking, hoping, for something a little more practical.)

Here's a list of aid agencies that are conducting appeals, or to be completely biased, donate via my church's aid agency, the Adventist Development & Relief Agency.

Tuesday, 11 October 2005

I feel horrible. I feel absolutely and completely horrible.

The reality of the South Asia earthquake finally hit me today. Watching the news, watching the people struggle to find loved ones buried beneath the rubble, watching them wait helplessly and hopelessly for the arrival of aid. Reading about the stories of loss, the stories of pain, the stories of anguish.

I just feel horrible.

Horrible for the people in South Asia as they struggle to come to terms with the earthquake that has devastated their lives. Horrible for not caring enough for these people in the first place. Horrible because I really don't know what to do.

Tens of thousands of people out there suffering and dying and I'm sitting in my room worrying about when and for how long I can go home for a holiday. How awful is that?

I feel so helpless. I really don't know what to do. I have no skills to actually physically help these people and it's frustrating me to the extreme right now. I mean, going there to write about what's happening isn't exactly going to save or help anybody right now.

But praying for them seems so...insignificant.

Giving money...just don't feel like I'm actually helping.

I want to go there and help the people, but I know I'm only going to be a hindrance more than anything.

So what can I do?

I'm so agitated right now...

Monday, 10 October 2005

Della's latest post nearly caused me to sputter my lunch all over the keyboard.
Jesus Sold

Jesus is being sold.

Not by Judas Iscariot for thirty silver pieces, but by an atheist on behalf of the church.

Angus Kinnaird, a "non-believing humanist", is the campaign manager behind the latest church marketing strategy to bring Jesus back into people's lives.

What is interesting about this latest attempt to bring Jesus to the masses is not the fact that it's conceptualised by an atheist or is a campaign that tries to engage the audience with a contemporary style. The television commercials, the website and the book that is mailed out to anyone who asks for it is extremely well produced, and brilliantly designed. But it's not the first time Christianity and Jesus have been "updated".

What is interesting are the results of the market research that drafted the rationale behind the campaign. It convinced Kinnaird, and the multi-denominational group of Australian churches behind the campaign, to leave the church and anything relating to organised religion, out of the picture.

"You can take or leave religion," says a young mother in one of the commercials that looks somewhat like a health insurance ad with its clean-cut, wide open spaces and happy family shots. "But I can't get away from the fact that a lot of what Jesus said makes sense."

That's the focus of the campaign - Jesus. Anything that even remotely looks like a church building, even religious symbols, anything that would remind someone of organised religion is left in the abyss.

According to Kinnaird, "The church was seen as the problem, not the solution."

But the research revealed that people saw value and power in what Jesus taught, such as peace, forgiveness and acknowledgment of the sin of pride. Some in the focus group even thought Jesus would be disgusted by the way the churches carried on.

People turned off by church.

Jesus disgusted by the church.

Isn't it sad that in order to target the "unchurched", we now have to take the church out of the picture?

Isn't it sad that research on current opinion revealed that people, even Christians, don't want to associate themselves with the church?

Is it like what Reggie McNeal observed, "A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason. They are leaving not because they have lost faith. They are leaving to preserve their faith."

In all honesty, I won't be the first to jump up and defend the church when it is criticised. I'll probably be the one sitting at the back, nodding in agreement at the many things wrong with the church.

Too much hypocrisy.

Too much judging.

Too much legalism.

I will nod my head because I have been hurt several times by my "siblings in Christ" who prefer to tell me what I should or should not do rather than focus on the grace of God.

I will nod my head because I find the church is becoming more and more irrelevant in the way it relates to the lives of people who are still very much in touch with the world today.

I will nod my head because there are many things about the church that I am disillusioned by.

But I will not nod my head if someone asks me to take the church completely out of the picture.

It's true a relationship with God is not about how often someone goes to church. But going to church is very much a part of having a relationship with God. If we take the chuch out of the picture, what would happen to fellowship, support and a community that strengthens and enables fellow Christians to embark on projects that would glorify God?

It is depressing that there are so many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, who do not want to have anything to do with the church because of what it has become. It is sad to find out that in order to attract people to God, a marketing campaign needed to distance itself from any association with church or practice of religion.

The church is an essential element to a growing relationship with God, but is slowly being phased out of people's lives because of its imperfection.

But imagine a world where all the rational-thinking, grace-loving, God-like people who are relevant to today's generation left the church.

The church will degenerate into an ugly, intolerant, embarrassing institution where God will most likely be misrepresented.

An entire network of Christian schools founded on the principles of God will not exist.

Healthcare and welfare systems based on the compassion of Christ will struggle to support themselves.

Developmental work in third world countries will be stunted.

Christians who are loving and true will find themselves stranded on an island, lacking a support network that existed because of relationships they've developed with fellow believers whom they've met in church.

Life for me will be completely different since it was through seminars and mission trips organised by the church that first developed my relationship with God. It was through a church-run institution that I got my qualifications and deepened my love for God. It was through church that I met people who became my close friends that supported me in times of wavering faith. It is because of the church that I'm able to put bread on the table and pay my bills.

The church needs to exist, and it needs to exist with Godly, relevant people.

Rome wasn't built in a day, but it did eventually get built. If everybody who have been hurt and disillusioned by the church, who see what needs to be changed, stays within the church, I believe we can make a difference.

It's a difference with results we may not even live to see, but it's a difference that we would have at least started on, a difference that may trigger a ripple effect and eventually change the way people see the church.

It's definitely a theory worth trying, instead of leaving the church to the vocal minority who mar it.

Click here to view the television commercials and to learn more about the "Jesus. All About Life"" campaign.

Thursday, 6 October 2005

Talk about six degrees of separation.

Met up with my friend Leanne last night and she told me a really bizarre story.

She was at a restaurant on the Central Coast (about an hour away from Sydney) with her boyfriend a few months ago when she noticed that a guy at the next table could not stop glancing at her. Having never seen him before, she merely attributed it to his lapse of sanity and continued with her dinner.

While waiting at the entrance of the restaurant as her boyfriend was settling the bill, the guy approaches her, smiling, hands outstretched and asked, "Melody right? I'm so-and-so." (I'm not hiding his name to protect his privacy. Leanne honestly forgot his name.)

Leanne gives him a confused look and said, "Huh? What? Which Melody do you mean?" (Please, don't ask why she asked such a strange question.)

Guy: "Melody Tan right? I'm so-and-so from Sanitarium."

Leanne: "Er, no...but I am friends with Melody."

Upon which the guy apologises and slinks back to his table, embarrassed, leaving behind a rather confused Leanne.

What are the chances of that?

Firstly, Leanne, although Chinese, does not look anything like me. It's not as if there was anything on Leanne that said we knew each other, or were even remotely associated with each other. Besides, she was eating in a restaurant an hour away from where I live. In an area I don't frequent.

How? How can you approach a complete stranger thinking that she was someone else, only to realise that she's actually friends with who you thought she was?

Thirdly, I don't think I know any guy working in Sanitarium. I've worked with people from Sanitarium, but the ones I've met were females. Although with my terrible memory, I'm not surprised if I'd simply forgotten. But still.

How bizarre.
You know how it is that when you've picked up something new, the novelty is there and the enthusiasm just overflows?

Well, that's me and beading at the moment. I just can't stop!

All my materials went back into the box yesterday evening though. I need to curb this addiction somewhat.

Tonight, I'm going to go back (or attempt to return) to my first love - writing.

All these ideas in my head waiting to burst forth. If only ideas and thoughts are as coherant as actual articles...

Wednesday, 5 October 2005

What I'd like to know is what were the zookeepers thinking, getting her hooked on the habit in the first place?
My First Creation!

Ambitious I am not.

So I started with a real simple bracelet that will be making its way to Singapore for my mum.

Then I started worrying about wrist sizes and ended up making another one that could potentially double up as a necklace.

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

I just had to share this.

There's only so much you can do with two holes or two cups so despite all the different famous faces dangling off the labels the ranges are not that different. So why pay $100 for something few people see, unless you are a rap singer who wears your undies on your hips and your jeans around your knees?
This paragraph had me giggling to myself in my office, especially since I happen to know a few people who try to imitate the rap singer look.
Having been recently associating with people who seem to have a chip on their shoulders about Muslims, this article in The Australian makes me want to make those folks read and digest it.

And that's the truth of it. Muslims are as much the victims of these terrible times as anyone else. Only more so. So it hardly helps to demonise Australian Muslims. That's as unreasonable and absurd as blaming every Catholic in Northern Ireland for IRA bombings. We should be uniting with every willing member of the Islamic communities, and most of them are desperate for our understanding and help.
Alas, for people so entrenched in their thinking, I doubt the article would change their minds about anything.

I really hope that the matter does not escalate with the latest Bali bombings though.

Yes, I can dream...

Monday, 3 October 2005

Part Two of photos taken during my Fiji trip, featuring the wedding and reception (which means you'll get to see more of the bride AND the groom) can be viewed here.

If you missed out on Part One, click here.
I always find it extremely healing to spend a certain amount of time alone.

Not so much hiding in a room by myself and not seeing anybody (although I do enjoy that at times too). But just being around people who don't know me, simply watching them, observing them and just absorbing life without having to give anything in return.

This long weekend has been really good for my psyche. It gave me the chance to reconnect with myself, to calm down, to simply live without worrying.

I had really enjoyed the past two months, going to Fiji, having friends visit, constantly being around people. But I guess it did take its toll on me.

With most of my friends away, this weekend became the perfect opportunity to simply be with well as pick up a potentially expensive hobby.

Went off to the Sydney Bead & Gem Show at Olympic Park yesterday to find out more about beading. It was like stepping into a huge bead shop. Ended up buying all these materials and beads to make my own jewellery, and spending a rather scary sum of money. But they were all at bargain prices and with what I bought, I don't think I'd need to visit a bead shop anytime in the near future!

Was an experience to be at the Olympic Park yesterday, what with it being the grand final day of the Rugby League as well. Everyone was in such a festive mood and there were orange and black (colours of the Tigers, one of the teams) streamers and balloons everywhere, and I mean everywhere. They were on the shop front, at the train station, along the road..everywhere!

It was a strangely nice experience to be amongst so many people and yet be completely alone.

Also spent time working on my scrapbook, collecting quotes and pictures, did some writing, worked on redecorating my room...being creative simply for myself.

I guess I'm ready to face the world again tomorrow.

Saturday, 1 October 2005

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer, from the book The Invitation
World Vision Australia makes some interesting points regarding the recent hike in petrol prices.


Isn't that a good thing? Haven't we all known for years that we need to slow our consumption of petrol to reduce fuel emissions and environmental degradation?

Did you know you can travel up to 50km for around 50 cents using an electric bike? Or that the Honda Civic Hybrid runs on a combination of electricity and petrol, using only 5.3 litres per 100 km?

Considering I'm possibly going to get my driver's licence before the end of the year *fingers crossed*, a hybrid car sounds very tempting indeed...

Thursday, 29 September 2005

i've had enough.

I've had enough of people constantly keeping their heads buried in the sand.

I've had enough of people who think that being salt of the earth is equivalent to shutting up and not saying a thing about anything.

I've had enough of people who are more concerned about the dos and don'ts rather than God's grace.

I've had enough of people who take life so seriously, they've forgotten how to laugh. Or even smile. Or even understand a joke.

I've had enough of people who claim to be Christian but certainly do not demonstrate His love and care.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

I've had enough.
Are we encouraging a generation concerned only about terminology and the “right” way to express ourselves?

Have we become a society concerned only about political correctness?

The push to pass an Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Tolerance) Bill by the Hon. Peter Breen, albeit one that was drafted with the intention to promote peace and harmony amongst different religious groups, is merely scratching the surface of an issue that deals with people’s attitudes.

The proposed amendments to the Bill state that “it is unlawful for a person, by a public act, to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of persons on the ground of the religious belief or activity of the person or members of the group.”

In light of the recent increase in tensions between religious groups, passing a Bill that could possibly curb public acts of hatred may be welcomed. But then, imagine a society where only civilities are exchanged and debates are only allowed if they do not offend anyone…imagine how much hypocrisy that could entail.

One can understand the rationale behind wanting to pass the Bill, and yet, what exactly is it preventing and how will it be enforced?

How does one agree on the definition of subjective expressions like “incite hatred”, “serious contempt” and “severe ridicule”?

All the Bill might be able to achieve is to force people to gloss everything over with a coat of honey when they wish to express their opinions. It does not change the innate attitudes of people.

Unless supporters of the Bill are able to prove they can mandate it and accurately define its terms, passing the Bill could be a futile exercise in promoting harmony. In the meantime, we should be more concerned about changing people’s attitudes towards each other. Jesus says to treat others as you would like them to treat you.

Can I say that? Or have I just incited hatred against non-Christians because I mentioned something Jesus said?

For more information on the Bill:
Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Tolerance) Bill 2005 (pdf file)
New South Wales Government Legislation Review Committee Digest
ABC Religion Report
Try summarising each of these points into a sentence each.

I love the challenge and the exercise in creativity, but it honestly isn't easy!

I just spent the last 30mins trying to summarise the first point.

No wonder I'm getting distracted and procrastinating as much as I can.

Wednesday, 28 September 2005

interesting insight by Seth Goodin:

No one "sends" an idea unless:
a. they understand it
b. they want it to spread
c. they believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mind
d. the effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefits

No one "gets" an idea unless:
a. the first impression demands further investigation
b. they already understand the foundation ideas necessary to get the new idea
c. they trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time

I'm not sure that by posting this message will enhance any of my power or my peace of mind, but I certainly agree with what he says!
For anybody who loves good animation/claymation, wit, puns and the beautiful British humour, make sure you don't miss out on Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Caught the movie last night and it had me wishing I was part of the scriptwriting process.

The amount of word play, witticisms and hilarious humour involved in the entire script was highly impressive.

This was entertainment on double, maybe even triple levels.

The story and the wonderful work put into animating the whole movie was really great and simply watching it on the surface level was entertaining in itself.

However, it was the little details lurking in the background that will not be picked up until the second or third watching that added to its beauty.

On top of that, the play on words. Oh my goodness. To have such a strong grasp of the English language and come up with such great one-liners that tied in to the entire theme of the movie was enough to make me want to worship the ground the scriptwriters walk on.

Unfortunately, there isn't really a point in me giving examples because you will not get the joke until you actually watch the movie.

Which means you have to watch the movie.


I caught their previous feature films years ago and was duly impressed by it. It seems that they've only gotten better at their work over time.

Besides, Gromit is so cute!

Tuesday, 27 September 2005

what is going on?

Last Thursday, I said goodbye to Kristin.

This morning, I said goodbye to Ida.

This Thursday, I'll say goodbye to Letrica.

On Saturday, I say goodbye to Sharona.

(Granted Trish and Shaz are only going to be gone for 2 weeks, but still...)

Why do I feel abandoned?

Monday, 26 September 2005

Went to the Blue Mountains with Ida and Letrica over the weekend.

Considering Ida was stopping by Sydney on her trip around the world, what better way to show her the beauty of New South Wales than a trip to the Blue Mountains.

Caught the sunset at the Three Sisters which was gorgeous and inspired us to plan to return the next morning to catch the sunrise.

So bright and early Sunday morning, we rose at 5am (yes, even *I* woke up at that unearthly hour) to witness a spectacular sunrise view of the Blue Mountains....only to arrive there and find the entire area shrouded in fog.

We couldn't even see 10 metres in front of us, what more a sunrise that would take our breaths away.

Despite the disappointment, the rest of the day was beautiful. Saw the Leura Cascades (pictured) and the Gordan Falls, which were both breathtaking.

Hiked up and down the area, working off our extremely unhealthy breakfast of Nutella and croissants.

Went to various lookout points to experience the majestic-ness of the Blue Mountains.

Contemplated jumping into the embrace of the forests down below, only to remember that gravity exists and the tree tops aren't as soft and fluffy as they appear to be...

Thursday, 22 September 2005

Somehow, doing it before hasn't made it any easier.

I miss her already.

Goodbye dear friend.

Please come back soon.

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

she's leaving this Thursday morning. But considering she's got an early morning flight, we will have to say goodbye tomorrow evening.

Why do governments have to be such a big pain and make such incredible demands on visa requirements? It's not as if she's going to leech off the Aussie government. In fact, I know for sure she'll make a great contribution to the economy.

But alas, her visa application wasn't approved and she's returning to the States in two days.

My best friend is leaving me. After reuniting for about nine months after spending close to two years in two different continents, we have to say goodbye again. At least she is working to return in January next year.

But in the meantime...

No more hours of long conversations about everything under the sun.

No more being able to gesticulate wildly, unable to say a word and yet have her understand me.

No more cooking experiments together.

No more soft gooey choc chip cookies.

No more travelling adventures with her.

No more sitting in her room and watching TV, making cynical and sarcastic comments.

No more experiencing weird indie films and plans to attend plays together.

No more Kristin.

Friday, 16 September 2005

The greatest peril of travelling is the emptiness one gets upon returning home.

It's not as if I have a bad life here, although the news of Kristin having to return back to the States in 10 days certainly put a damper on things. It's simply the return to reality and a mundane life that dulls everything.

Maybe it's because after nine days of bright sunshine on the beach in the great outdoors, I'm now stuck in a building looking out a window at an overcast sky that is making me feel a little down.

Maybe it's because after nine days of activities, of being around people, I'm currently sitting in front of a computer with nobody else to talk to that is making me feel a little bored.

Maybe it's because after nine days of fun and holiday, I'm dreading having to return to work on Monday.

My real life isn't bad. It's just different, and it somehow pales in comparison to the wonderful time I've had in Fiji, hanging out with good friends and not having to worry about anything in the world.

Then again, maybe if everyday is like my time spent in Fiji, I would get tired of it very soon too.

Thursday, 15 September 2005

I'm back!

Nine days of bright sunshine, sandy beach and the sea. I wish I was back in Fiji right now.

I had such a wonderful time and it was such a good break from week of stress I had just before I left.

There were so many activities, we went snorkelling, visiting traditional Fijian villages, swimming in waterfalls, watching firewalking, kayaking and of course, getting ready for the wedding.

It has been an amazing nine days, filled with so much warmth, laughter and good fun. I still can't believe I actually camped out for nine days and endured mozzie bites, cold showers and roughed it out for the whole time. The campsite was right next to the beach, which meant many walks by the water and time spent just looking out into the distance with the gentle breeze blowing in my face.

Getting to know the locals and Nat's family and friends from Australia was really great and well, all I can say is that I wish I was back in Fiji. I had such a great time, it's hard to believe that it's back to reality now....

For those who have some time to spare, photos can be viewed here. (I've maxed out my limit for this month so will add more from the wedding and the reception next month.)

Monday, 5 September 2005

The business meeting is like a dim memory in the recesses of my mind now.

Descending into Sydney yesterday did strange things to my heart. Simply seeing the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and the rest of the city made me feel so welcomed. It really felt like I was returning home and suddenly I realise that I have come to see Sydney as home.

It was good to have been able to sleep in this morning and not have to worry about churning news today. To simply meander the streets of Sydney enjoying the time I had to myself. Most of all, to be able to sleep in my own bed on my nice pillow just did amazing things to restore my spirit.

And this time tomorrow, I will be landing in the sunny tropical island of Fiji, having the time of my life.

Bring on the bamboo-rafting, fire-walking, snorkelling and pottery lessons!

Friday, 2 September 2005

I have been in Melbourne for five days now and I haven't once stepped out of the hotel. I think I'm beginning to miss the smell of fresh air. I don't even know how the sun feels on my face anymore.

It has been an interesting experience. Fairly hectic and never felt more popular in my life, having everybody needing some sort of information from me or wanting me to do something.

Was impressed as to how passionate some of the people have been. These folks are committed to the business of the church and contribute fairly actively to any discussions made.

Working more than 12 hours a day has been interesting as well and I think I'm beginning to develop a fairly close relationship with my computer...

Thank goodness it will all be over soon.

And if anybody's interested, check out what I've been involved in here.

Am going to go enjoy my first early night.

Monday, 29 August 2005

I'm leaving for the airport in about 8 minutes.

One week of frenzy.

One week of news chasing.

One week of media pitching.

One week of shopping?

It is Melbourne after all!

Anyway, will try to update when I'm there, but who knows what's going to happen?

Friday, 26 August 2005

who would have thought numbers for one street would begin at both ends of the street?

I'm talking about Oxford Street, the gay and lesbian street of Sydney packed with cafes, bars and nightclubs. Incidentally, also the street with the cinema that Reportage would be screened.

What I mean by the numbering is the fact that I can easily find 1 Oxford Street at one end of the street as I can on the other.

Kristin and I went to catch Reportage yesterday evening, a film screening of the best in photojournalism. The cinema was located on 3a Oxford Street, which according to my map, was at the end closest to the Museum train station.

So that was what we did. We got off at Museum, and went looking for 3a Oxford Street. Except that 3a Oxford Street housed a 7-Eleven, and instincts told us it couldn't also happen to be a cinema, unless it was one of those Doctor Who-Tardis contraption where the outside looks smaller than the inside.

I went into a shop to ask for directions and was told that I had to walk about 15 minutes down Oxford Street, which totally threw us off-balance, considering that if we did that, we would be walking towards 113 Oxford Street.

It didn't help that nobody else we asked after that actually knew where the cinema was. (These are people who either work or own the shops along Oxford Street, and they have no idea what else is on their street. Says a lot about human nature doesn't it? Where we often don't take notice of what is in our own backyard.)

Anyway, we eventually found the cinema, after getting thoroughly confused and unsure of ourselves, not to mention being about 15 minutes late, at the other end of Oxford Street. 1 Oxford Street started on both ends of Oxford Street. How confusing is that?

The good thing though, was the fact that we arrived about 2 minutes just before it started. And boy was it amazing.

There were some really amazing news photos covering things from miners in Australia and China, the occupation of Fallujah, the conflict along the Thailand-Burma border to the tsunami on Boxing Day 2004.

They were newsworthy. They were interesting. They told so many stories in just one shot alone. And best of all, these were good photos. Photos with amazing composition, framing and angles. Photos that captured the moment. Photos that wrenched your heart. Photos that made you smile. Photos that actually made you feel.

Photos that made me wonder why I chose not to take up a module in photojournalism while in college.

For those of you in Sydney, tonight's the last screening, although it'll most likely come back next year.

But for those in Melbourne, it opens on August 30 and will continue on to September 3.

If you have any interest in photography, news, media, or even the world around you at all, I strongly urge you to catch it.

Considering I'm going to be in Melbourne during those dates, I'm contemplating catching it again. Provided I can actually get away from work...
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