Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pregnancy Report- Week 31

It looks like we've come up with a sure way to cure Trien's sleeping problems. It's very simple. When she wants to sleep, I climb in bed and hug her. It's amazing how well it works. Maybe it's because it makes her feel loved and safe, I don't know. I'll have to ask her about that later. This afternoon, I lay on our bed and hugged her, and in five minutes she was fast asleep. So it looks like before I can go to sleep on my mattress on the floor, I'll have to embrace her on the bed. That way she can sleep, and I'll be able to also.

This week her sleeping problems got so bad that she got one of the cheap hard plastic chairs from the our dining table, put it at the desk in our bedroom, and tried to sleep like one of my students. It was because it felt hard to breathe when she was lying down. Sleeping at the desk was more uncomfortable than lying down, but a little application of some "hug medicine" once she crawled back into bed worked wonders.

pregnancy cartoon

Our baby has been very active. There is all sorts of bumping and rippling going on in my wife's tummy. At one point, it looked like her tummy was being pulled inward! Both of us said the same thing:
"Huh?! What is the baby doing???"
We figured that the baby must be playing with umbilical cord, and pulling on it, just for fun. When we jokingly asked her what she was doing, she stopped.

It seems that even in the womb, our daughter is able to communicate her needs. When my wife is hungry, the baby is hungry, too. Sometimes Trien will try to wait before eating, because she is tired and doesn't want to get up. If she waits too long, though, our daughter will let her know it is feeding time, by kicking her. It's always in the same spot. She seems to be learning, even inside the womb, because once she starts kicking in that spot, Mommy has no choice but to get up and eat. Once she does, the kicking stops, and Mommy can have some peace. So our daughter knows when she wants to eat, she kicks Mommy in the right spot, and she gets fed.

Then again, that is a typical woman. They always know how to get what they want!

Hi Baby!

I know you are reading my Blog now, my sweet wife, so I just wanted to say
I Love You!!!

Your John

Friday, June 29, 2007

Been Unable to Blog the Last Couple of Days . . .

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. . . and not by choice. The Internet connection at school is screwed up again. According to those in the know, they (whoever they are) have been trying to upgrade the school to a new high speed line. In doing so, they messed things up somehow. For the past two or three days we have either had no connection, or we can only connect to websites in Malaysia. That really helps when you are trying to teach English, and the only websites you can connect to are in Bahasa Melayu.

Lucky for me, despite the problems, my 2K students have been able to log into the Classblogmeister website, and work on their Blogs.

Things have been going great with the blogging project I have been doing with them, a lot better than I ever expected.

The students really enjoy blogging. When it is time for class, half of them, usually the boys, are waiting for me outside the computer lab, and the other half are waiting all the way at the other end of the school, outside the classroom, for me to wave them over. I admit that at first there was a little bit of fooling around- playing games on the computer that students from other classes had saved, checking e-mail, playing music, etc. Now, I do allow them to play music while they do their assignments, as long as they keep it low. At the end of class if there is a funny video someone else has saved on one of the computers, then I let them to watch it. But as things have gone on, there has been little of that going on.

Now, when class starts, they run in, and log into their accounts. The first thing they usually do is see if anyone has left any comments on their Blogs. They get excited when someone from a different country reads what they wrote and leaves a comment. They also enjoy leaving comments on each others work. Of course, for security sake, everything has to go through me first. That's why Classblogmeister is such a great tool. The teacher can have complete control over what gets published on the students blogs, and can even make comment to the students if something isn't appropriate, or if someone from the outside does something they shouldn't do. Believe me, the administration here would have it no other way.

Some of the students enjoy what we are doing so much, that they have started blogging outside of class. Other than doing homework assignments, or in class, reading and writing in English is something that they would not normally do. It is also something they don't really like to do. Yet with blogging, it's something they love to do and get excited about.

My 2K class obviously has been talking with the other form 2 students about what they do in the computer lab, and now the other classes are asking me when they can start blogging. I am working on getting the 2S class started, and hopefully adding 2U and 2Z later on.

The problems are:
1. Getting enough computer time.
2.Scheduling time for the class.
3. The spotty at best Internet connection.
4. A stone age era IT system.

Plus there is the fact that the computer class has plenty of computers, and is not used very often, but only four out of the thirty something computers have an Internet connection. So while I could probably get the time that I needed there, it is useless for what I need.

Oh well, I gotta go. The wife is waiting to eat.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Horniest Birds in Malaysia

There are some real horny birds here in Taiping. As a matter of fact, we have some of the horniest birds in Malaysia living here. How do I know? they hang out right next to our apartment. They are really stunning looking, and amazing to watch in action. They might not be everybody's cup of tea, but I love them. I can't help but run to the window or balcony to watch them when they hang out here, as they often do.

I have all the proof I need right here. Look at these pictures! These birds are showing how horny they really are. Need I say more?

I know that some of you came here, thinking that I am going to tell you the best place to get to get laid in Malaysia. The jokes on you. I am happily married, and to me - Ok, I'll stop there before my wife reads this and won't speak to me anymore.

With all the keywords I have in this posting, I should be getting plenty of page views. The more people that read my Blog, the happier I am, and I'll do almost anything to get them here!


Monday, June 25, 2007

Macaques in the Garbage

You've heard of "Gorillas in the Mist"? Today I bring you the Malaysian version, "Macaques in the Garbage".

I have been busy today, teaching five classes, and setting up a new Blog for my 2S class, since the work my 2K class is doing is going so well. That means I don't have any time for a new posting today, so instead, here are some pictures of a couple of Macaques, doing what they are fond of doing at our school. Namely, raiding the garbage cans for food scraps.

I found out, from no less an authority than the National Geographic Channel, that in Macaque society it's the females that rule. The females stay with the maternal group their whole life. When a male gets to a certain age, it is kicked out of the group, and has to fend for himself. That means you have a lot of juvenile male monkeys roaming around looking for trouble, and finding it.

They can be pretty bold, like these guys, who didn't even blink when I approached them. They were having too much of a good time throwing garbage around to even care. Plus there were some really yummy semi-rancid sugary snack scraps that would give them the sugar rush they needed. There was even enough that they didn't have to fight over them. Just pull up a can, dump it all over the floor, throw the trash around, and dig in!

Even though I consider myself an environmentalist, I will save you any of the anthropomorphic tree hugging Dian Fossey kind of stuff.

I don't have time!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Incontinent Vikings

incontinent (adjective) Lacking normal voluntary control of excretory functions.

Yesterday I wrote that " . . I run around tooting like an incontinent Viking". While I was taking a shower, I thought:

"That's a pretty neat simile. How cool would it be if someone came to my Blog after doing a search for 'incontinent Vikings'?"

Then I wondered what a Google search for incontinent Vikings would look like. What kind of results would you get? Would there be an incontinent Viking home page? An incontinent Vikings Blog? An incontinent Viking fan club? An incontinent Vikings support group? Mothers of Incontinent Vikings? How about An incontinent Vikings Anonymous? Would my Blog entry be at the top of the list? Then and there I decided I had to know. Any time I do any sort of search on Google, I usually end up with a billion or more results, even for some of the most arcane and unlikely searches. I figured that there must be, oh, maybe a hundred million or more results for what I was looking for.

So the first thing I did when I got to the internet cafe today was to do the search, and see what I came up with. Unfortunately, the results are disappointing. Even though Google came up with 21,600 hits, none of them are really relevant, or what I was hoping for. Even worse, none of them reference my Blog!

I got a little frustrated that there wasn't anything more interesting, that there wasn't a clan of Incontinent Vikings running around in Warcraft, or mucking about and causing all sorts of havoc in Secondlife. If I had the time, an Internet connection, and the ability to mess around with these things, I might just start the "Clan of the Incontinent Viking". I mean, really, what is wrong with people nowadays?

The only interesting result was this rather odd Wikipedia entry on"The Saga of Bjorn".

The most interesting results came when, after becoming morbidly depressed after seeing such dismal results, I did a search for "Viking sh**" on Google images, and came up with 37,500 results, considerably more than my first search. That at least lead me to this interesting article, which has a picture of some real Viking sh**.

It seems that there is a museum in England that has some fossilized Viking feces as one of its major exhibits. I kid you not. You don't believe me, look at the picture. It seems like it got broken, and now they have to glue it back together. Again, I kid you not.

Oh sure, there are plenty of scatological references to the Minnesota Vikings football team. Oh Well! I got to go. The wife is hungry, correction- she says very hungry, and needs to eat NOW!

Thst means I have to leave this article as it is, as a rough first draft. If I had more time, I would rework it, make it funier, change things around, delete other things, etc. I guess I'll just have to leave it, mistakes and all, and go feed my Babies- the big baby, and the little baby!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pregnancy Report Week 30- Addendum

Trien doesn't like to go for her checkup before her scheduled appointment. The other day, she made some of her locally famous barbecue pork, and barbecued some fish. She ate a bit too much, and kept complaining about the pain, and couldn't get to sleep. That meant I couldn't sleep until I saw her sleeping, which made for another late night/early morning combo. By now, I am getting used to that. Besides, it makes good practice for when the baby is born. Then I am sure I will end up walking into work looking like a sleepwalking junkie. Still, I can't help myself, because my wife looks so cute when she's snoring and drooling all over her pillow.

For the past few days Trien has been complaining about pain in the upper left hand part of her abdomen, below her rib cage. She said sometimes the pain was sharp, and it hurt when she twisted. I thought maybe the baby was poking her with her toes. It was bothering her enough last night that she said she wanted to go to the doctor today (Saturday), three days early.

Saturday is not a good day to go to the doctor, and today proved it. People seemed to be coming in from everywhere, and we had to wait over an hour to see the doctor. I know, for those of you dealing with socialized medicine, or with the US health care system, that may seem like a dream to you. But this is a private clinic in Malaysia, and we aren't used to waiting more than a half hour.

There were even a couple of people who came in after us, that got to see the doctor before us. That was ok, as it was getting awfully close to quitting time. In that case, I rather be the last ones, because then the doctor will be more relaxed, and not in a hurry to get us out the door. (This is Malaysia, remember that.) Besides, Dr. Jeya and her nurse always enjoy our visits, because we (or usually me, playing the anxious father to be) are always good for a few laughs.

We didn't disappoint them in this respect today. I had them busting out in laughter a couple times. The sleep deprived, nervous, overprotective Daddy came out with a couple of howlers. They caused Dr. Jeya to say, "Pregnancy is usually harder on the fathers than the mothers".

As for Trien's pain, Dr. Jeya asked her a few questions, like where is the pain, is it shooting, etc., checked her out on the sonogram, and came up with a diagnosis: gas. Again I am losing sleep over gas pains. I think maybe Trien and I should compare who has more gas, and have a winner take all farting contest. The prize will be a lifetime supply of Alka-Seltzer. No question about it, I will win going away. I fart more than her anyway. Or maybe she's just trying to be lady-like, and hide it, while I go tooting around like an incontinent Viking.

The solution for Trien's pain? Ginger tea, my favorite home remedy for gas.

As for the baby, she is bigger than we thought, about two kilos. Everything looks good. She is still upside down, with her face turned to mommy's spine. And she is still a girl, which is great news. We've only bought girls clothes, mostly in pink, and only thought of girls names for our baby. I would hate now to have a son, and have to name him Angelica, or Melody, and dress him in pink for the first six months of his life. If that were to happen, we're talking major gender role confusion, psychological damage, and him appearing on Oprah in twenty years to tell his story.

Trien has gained 3 kilos since her last visit, but it seems to be all baby weight. It looks like she is right, that she will gain about twenty kilos. Right now she weighs in at an astounding 63 kilos (138.6 pounds), 13 kilos (28.6 pounds) heavier than when she started.

So all is well. No need to panic.

Someone please pass me the Valium!

Friday, June 22, 2007


I don't remember how I found this site, but it is pretty cool. Instructables tells you how to make all sorts of things, with full instructions and pictures.

Some are kind of strange- like "How to Make Meat Shorts for Dick Chaney". Some are kind of obvious, or really simple, like "Boobs in a Box", which is both. Some are just plain cool, like making an "Electromagnetic Floater", or "LED Throwies". Others make you think, "Now why didn't I ever think of that", like the "Invisible Book Shelf". (See pic).

It's a cool site to browse around. I've gotten a few ideas that I want to try out. My poor wife is going to be wondering what the hell I'm doing. That's ok, I'm sure she'd be happy when we have a finished "Home-made Sun Jar" in our house!

For Craziness Sake

I like to chase the cats that hang around our apartment complex. Before I didn't know why. I just knew that I didn't much like those cats, and that I like to run around like a crazy man and make them scatter.

The other day, Trien and I were walking to the hawker stalls by the Lake Gardens. She had bundled up the garbage, and I was carrying two heavy bundles of newspapers to the dumpster where the cats like to lounge around. Of course, as soon as I saw them, I immediately went into attack mode. I became the Terminator for cats- site targets, evaluate situation, plan course of action, and YEEEEEHAH!!!

I didn't care what other people thought. I was having fun.

Of course my wife just kept on walking. When I caught up with her, she asked me:

"Honey, why do you always chase those cats around?"

I told her the truth:

"For craziness sake."

That made perfect sense to her, but when I said it, I didn't know what it meant. Then I thought about it.

Why do I chase the cats around? Because they are there. And because I like to do it.

If I tried to do anything like that when I was a kid, at best I would end up getting screamed at and berated for being a rotten kid, and told to behave myself. At worst, I would almost literally get the crap beaten out of me. That's why I do it now- because I can, and there's no one to tell me not to. No one except for my wife, who tolerates my behavior, and understands it, because she has her own craziness too. The only thing is, I am the only one who know it.

Everyone else looks at her and thinks she is this nice, normal, proper woman. Even her family and closest friends don't know how crazy she really is. I am the only one who knows any different. They wouldn't believe me if I told them the truth. You know what? It makes me very happy that she's that way with me. It means she is open and comfortable with me in a way that she isn't even with her closest friends and family. It means we are more intimate with each other than we ever have been with anyone else before. I can be my crazy self, and she tolerates it, loves and accepts me, and I do the same with her.

I know she can't run around like I can because she is pregnant with our daughter, but I can't wait for the day when the two of us will be running around the complex chasing those stupid cats around. We'll probably have to wait until the baby can walk so she can join in too!

In the mean time, the cat chasing duty falls squarely on my shoulders. Now when those cats see me, their eyes get big, they get into their readiness crouch, and they look at me with the fear of god in their eyes.

Then we are at it again.

I have become the scourge of all things feline.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pregnancy Report- Week 30

There is a lot of growth going on, both with my wife and the baby. If my wife was big before, she is even bigger now. Our daughter definitely is going through a growth spurt. According to the pregnancy sites I surfed through, she is three pounds something now, and nearly 16 inches long. That's a lot bigger than what we saw on the ultrasound scans in the beginning, when she was no bigger than a pencil point.

Next Tuesday is our check up, and I can't wait to see the scans. As usual, I am trying to convince Trien to go to the doctor early, but as usual, she is having none of it. It looks like I'll just have to wait.

This time, instead of walking to the clinic, it looks like we'll have to call a taxi. Trien is no longer able to walk as far or as fast as she used to. Not that I can blame her. It's not easy walking around with a 3+ pound baby pushing your internal organs around and making you have to pee every 10 minutes. Because of the weight in the front of her abdomen, Trien has to walk with a slight backwards lean. I know it will get worse in the following weeks. Usually I try to walk behind her, because it seems to me that one misstep and she will tumble over backwards.

When we walk into town, on the way back we have to stop so she can rest on one of the benches by the Lake Gardens. Not that I mind, because at nice it is nice to cuddle together by the lake at night, and talk.

Sleeping is getting more and more difficult for her. There were a couple days this past week where she only had an hour or two worth of sleep by the time I was getting ready for work. Trien complains about having a near constant pain below her left rib cage. From the diagrams I've seen of the baby's position during this time, it looks like that could be caused by the baby's feet poking her in the ribs!

The second Trimester, things weren't too bad. Now, things are getting more and more difficult.

Boy, we men are lucky we don't get pregnant. If we did, then this world would get depopulated awfully quick!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

One of the Worst Miscarriages of Justice Ever!!!

Some miscarriages of justice are so mind boggling that you have to wonder what the people connected with the case are thinking. Such is the case of Genarlow Wilson.

He is in prison for ten years for having consensual oral sex with a fifteen year old girl when he was seventeen. All parties connected with the case agree that the girl initiated the act. She refused to press charges or testify against him. Even her mother agrees that it is a miscarriage of justice, and that charges never should have been filed. Yet for that he gets ten years in prison?

He's not a bad kid, either. He had a 3.2 grade point average, was homecoming king, and a very good athlete. He was being recruited by Ivy League colleges. He had never been in trouble with the law. It seemed like he had a very promising career ahead of him. On the day he was to take his SAT test, he was arrested.

So far he has spent over two years in prison. A judge ruled for his release, but the Georgia Attorney General filed an appeal, so he is still incarcerated.

If there is an case that cries out for action, it is this one.

If you want to do something, go to the link in the letter I copied and pasted below, and sign their petition. Then send the letter out to your family and friends, like I have done.

Let your voice be heard!

Dear Friend,

On Monday, a judge finally dismissed the sentence of Genarlow
Wilson--the honor roll student and homecoming king serving ten years
in prison for having consensual oral sex with a 15 year old when he was
17. Immediately after the ruling, Thurbert Baker, Georgia's Attorney
appealed it--leaving Wilson stuck in jail.

Baker's actions have not only robbed Wilson of his long overdue
freedom, they epitomize the insanity of a justice system that seems
hell-bent on criminalizing young Black men. The New York Times, former
President Jimmy Carter, the NAACP and thousands of others have called
for Wilson to be released. I've signed on with to
call on the Attorney General to withdraw his appeal now. Will you join

At a New Year's Eve party in 2003, Genarlow Wilson had consensual oral
sex with another teen--she was 15 and he was 17. Under an old Georgia
law, he was convicted of aggravated child molestation, a charge
intended for adult sexual predators, and sentenced to a mandatory
minimum 10 years in prison. If Wilson had engaged in sexual
intercourse with the same girl, it would have been a misdemeanor under
an exemption for contact between minors. No one, from his teen
"victim" to the jurors at his trial, wanted Wilson to go to jail, but
at every turn the Georgia justice system and Georgia legislature
failed him--convicting him under an archaic Georgia law; passing a law
that could have freed him but not applying it retroactively; and then
blocking a second bill that would have allowed for Wilson's release.

It's hard to believe that race is not a factor in this case. According
to the NAACP, around the same time that Wilson was sentenced, a high
school teacher was convicted of having sex with a student. The white
female teacher was sentenced to just 90 days in the same Georgia
courthouse that sentenced Wilson to 10 years. While Wilson's
prosecutor claimed that he was "standing up for African-American
victims in this case," he hardly seems credible, since the "victim"
did not want to press charges and did not even testify for the

In his statement overturning Wilson's sentence on Monday, Superior
Court Judge Thomas Wilson said: "If any case fits into the definitive
limits of a miscarriage of justice, surely this case does." Why, then,
is Georgia's Black Attorney General trying to keep Wilson in jail?
Baker says he's compelled to appeal, but as Attorney General, it is
completely at his discretion. He's ignoring the outrage of nearly
everyone associated with the case, and thousands of Americans across
the country, by keeping this innocent young black man in jail.

Clearly, justice is not being served by Wilson's continued
incarceration. Will you join us in telling Attorney General Baker to
withdraw his appeal and allow Genarlow Wilson to go home once and for


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Best Customer Service Caller Ever - Henry W. Bloch

I was talking with Phoebe about our customer service days, on Sunday. We both did some time as CSR's. That got me to reminiscing the next day. There are some calls you will always remember. Sometimes, it was because the caller was so rude, or conversely, because they were so nice.

That got me to thinking- who was the nicest caller I ever had?

The one that immediately came to mind was Henry W. Bloch, founder of the H&R Block Tax Consultant company. People might not know that before founding the company, he served as a navigator on a B-17 in the Eighth Air Force, flying 31 missions. He was decorated with the Air Medal, with three oak leaf clusters.

I was working for First Chicago Bank & Trust IBM Shareholder relations when I got his call. I immediately knew his voice sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. That's because the name of the company is spelled Block, and his family name is spelled Bloch. Anyway, I got his information, and verified it. Then I asked him what I could do for him. He wanted to verify the amount of IBM shares he had, what the dividend was, and what was the dividend paid out to him.

He had a huge amount of shares- in the hundreds of thousands in different accounts. You know what? The dividend payments were completely screwed up. At the time IBM stock was trading for $106 and change per share, and the dividend payment was around $1.20 per share for that quarter, so we are not talking about pocket change here. Instead of paying him a dividend of $1.20 or whatever it was, for some reason he was only paid a dividend of something like 46 cents per share.

If that was me, I would have been so angry I would have been crapping my pants. Not Mr. Bloch. His voice never changed tone, even after I told him that the company had screwed up his accounts, and owed him hundreds of thousands of dollars in dividend payments. He remained very calm, almost serene, cordial, and unfailingly polite throughout. A really nice, sweet man.

He asked me to see if I could get the errors on his accounts fixed, as if he were asking his son to correct a simple error in his math homework. Heck, with that great attitude, and the way he treated me, I would have gone and slaughtered the whole accounting department for him!

I put an urgent "rush- special attention needed" on this transaction. The next day I checked his accounts, and things were fixed, and new dividend checks were issued.

He called back a couple of days later and we spoke again. I double checked his accounts to make sure everything stayed fixed. He thanked me for all my work, and for a job well done.

Later on he wrote a letter to First Chicago, commending me for my efforts.

Let me tell you- for a customer service rep, callers don't come any better than Mr. Henry W. Bloch!

The Best the System Can Produce

I was sitting in the library this past Friday, just unwinding at the end of the week. I couldn't use the Internet, as is usual around here, as the connection is sporadic at best, and slow when it does work. So I was just playing hearts and solitaire on the computer to waste time until the bell rang to go home.

The last period of the day, one of the English teachers came in to teach what was obviously an English for Science and Technology class for the upper forms. That was cool, because then I could sit in and observe, without making anyone nervous or being obtrusive. All I had to do was keep my ears open, keep my face to the computer, and keep playing solitaire, and all would be well.

I was amazed by what I observed. Even though it was supposed to be an English class, 80-90% of it was in Bahasa Malaysia, with the teacher being the worst offender. The only time he ever spoke in English was when he was reading from the test or homework the class was going over. Other than that, even simple explanations were given in BM. Students were allowed to ask questions and make comments in BM, and of course the teacher answered them back in BM. Teaching English almost totally in BM is as useful as teaching drafting to a blind man.

Granted, this teacher is young and relatively new. But he graduated from an SBP school, where supposedly the best students (at least bumiputras) in the country go. He went to a university, probably on scholarship, and got a degree in teaching English, or was somehow deemed suitable to teach English. Even worse, he gets hired and right off gets a job at an SBP school. This is the result? This is supposedly the best type of English teacher the education system can turn out? Something is seriously wrong somewhere.

That somewhere is the education system here. I could write a whole essay about it, but I won't. Why? Because I am living here now, my wife is pregnant, and I want to keep my job until my contract expires, so I can leave on good terms and get a good recommendation for a job elsewhere. Anything in the least bit critical I want to write will have to wait until I move out of the country.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Sultan's Official Photographer

I walked into the staff room today and checked the notice board. The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, is going to visit our school for its 25th anniversary. Why? Because our school, Sekolah Menengah Sains Raja Tun Azlan Shah, (SERATAS) is named after him. When he is coming, nobody seems to know. Some time in July or August is the best answer I've gotten so far.

There is a list of duties that teachers have been assigned for his visit. Me? My duties will be as a photographer, along with Mr. Yusoff, the librarian. I guess that means I will be walking around with my little Canon A540 snapping off a bunch of pictures, and taking some grainy video, like I normally do at any event. In the meantime, Mr. Yusoff will be using the big fancy camera with all the bells and whistles, the one that I wish I could use! ;D

I only hope the Sultan doesn't come from July 2-5, when I will be at CfBT's National Conference in Malacca. While it would be nice to spend time with my colleagues, and catch up on things, it would be a shame to miss an opportunity to get some cool pictures, ones that I am not likely to get a chance to get ever again. It's not often you get a chance to photograph royalty up close and personal, especially not in Malaysia, where there are firmly entrenched hierarchies and protocols.

Not that I am star struck or anything like that. I just think that these would be great pictures to post on my Blog!

(Note: I have just been told that he will be here on the 18th of August. That will be right around the time my wife is expected to deliver. Stay tuned for further details!)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Our Class Blog

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I enjoy blogging so much, that now I have my 2K class at SERATAS doing it, too. Click on the link, and you can see what they are up to. The more visitors we get, the better, because that encourages them to keep writing, and they can look on the clustermap, and see who around the world has been visiting.

I have been using, as it lets me retain control over what is put on their blogs. The administration here would not have it any other way. The site is pretty basic, with not a lot of bells and whistles, but it is good enough for what we want to do. What's also great is you get plenty of input and support, as there is a classblogmeister support community on Yahoo! Groups.

There is only minimal fooling around when we go to the computer room to work. They even wait for me outside their class, looking for me to give them the ok sign so they can run to the computer room and get started. I don't have to say anything. If a computer isn't working, or they can't sign on to the school system, which happens frequently, then I have to play IT guy, and fix the problem. I spend a lot more time doing that than doing any teaching or giving instructions. The students get really disappointed when that happens.

It hasn't been easy, having to deal with things such as week long Internet outages, an antiquated and cranky IT system, and overloaded servers at the Ministry of Education. Because of this, we are not as far along as I would have liked to have been. Right now, the students are working on writing a report on the Ulu Muda Forest Preserve. Once they finish that, I want to get started podcasting.

Since things have been going well with this class, I want to get my other form 2 classes started on blogging. That means going through the whole set up process three more times. At the end of the school year, I hope to do collaborative projects with other classes from around the world. I already have one class in Maryland, USA which is interested, and another in New Zealand. That means I need two more classes so that each class will have a sister class.

If there are any teachers out there who are interested, let me know, and we'll see what we can set up.

Pregnancy Report - Week 29

These are Trien's latest "Mommy" pictures. I took them today at the Lake Gardens, while we were walking to the hawker stalls for our regular Saturday breakfast. It really doesn't do justice to how big her tummy is getting. Our baby is going through a growth spurt, because Trien's tummy is getting bigger by the day. When I leave for work in the morning it is big, and when I get back in the afternoon, it is even bigger. She is getting so big, that it is difficult for me to hug her face to face.

She gets very hungry. All of a sudden, she will just have to eat. She doesn't want to eat, as she is worried about becoming a "Fat Mommy", but she has no choice. Instead of eating three meals a day like before, she has to eat 4 or 5, with little snacks in between. Even though she is hungry, she can't gorge herself. That's because the baby takes up a lot of space, and has pushed her stomach and intestines aside. It doesn't leave a lot of space for food.

The baby lets her know when she is hungry, too. Trien feels hungry, and then the baby will start kicking around, to let her know she is hungry, too. After she eats, the baby will calm down, and go back to sleep.

As for sleeping, It is getting more and more difficult for her to get a steady sleep. She says that's because there is a big weight in her tummy, and it's hard to get it in the right position to get comfortable. It's also because she gets hungry in the middle of the night, the baby starts moving, and she has to get up and get a snack to calm her down. Or she has to get up and urinate a couple of times during the night.

She also has to urinate frequently, particularly when the baby is active. When we go out, it seems like every half hour or so she is running for the restroom. We are becoming quite expert at knowing where all the toilet facilities are in all the places we frequent in Taiping. I guess that knowledge will come in handy after the baby is born, and has to be changed!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What Will Our Baby Look Like?

One recurring topic among our friends and acquaintances is, " What will the baby look like?" Of course, Trien and I think quite a lot about that ourselves. We often speculate about what combination of features our unborn daughter will have.

Our friends think that the baby will be beautiful, because of the mix of races. I think she will be beautiful, because she is our daughter.

One of the games we play is "I hope she has your..." where we pick out certain features from each other that we'd like the baby to have.

(This is the latest picture of me. I'm the one on the right. The guy on the left is the one I gave the award to as the best student in my Saturday English workshop at school)

The #1 feature on her wish list is my nose. Trien hates her nose, because she says it is flat and wide. Me? I love her nose, and think it's adorable. It's cute the way I can twiddle it and mush it around. She can't do the same thing with my nose, because it is longer, and has too much cartilage in it. She practically worships my nose, and says that it is the perfect nose.

#2 on her list is the shape of my face. Her major complaint about her looks, like most Asian women is: " My face is too round!" My response? "Why, do you want it to be square, rectangular, or shaped like a pyramid? Maybe a nice cone shape?" To which her reply is usually a boo-boo face, and a friendly shove in the shoulder.

(This is her getting ready for our Blessing Ceremony in her village of Buaya, Lapu-Lapu City, Province of Cebu)

#1 on my wish list is usually split between her mouth and her hair. Trien has these pretty, full, sensuous lips, and strong white shiny teeth. She's never had a cavity inn her life. What about Daddy?" As she would say, "Not so."

Her hair is dark black, and so fine that it is almost non-existent. When I pick up one of her fallen hairs, and stretch it out between my fingers to look at it, it is so thin that I can barely see it or feel it.

(This is her at 16, in her high school year book photo.)

Meanwhile, she says that it is Ok for the baby to have her hair, as long as it is my color. Actually, what she really hopes for is that the baby will have hair the color of my sister's twins, which is a copper colored. She was a bit disappointed when I told her that wasn't likely to happen, as red hair is a recessive trait, and wouldn't be expressed unless she also carried the gene for red hair. As that is extremely unlikely, she says that brown hair would be ok, too.

(This is my sister and her kids. Josh, in gray and Liz, are the twins).

She also wants the baby to have my ears. Trien has these cute little baby ears, that don't seem to have grown much since birth. I find her ears quite delightful, and very nice to nibble on. She likes my ears because they are larger, but not over sized, and would fit in with the shape of the face better.

(This is my brother with his wife and daughter. His wife is from Taiwan.)

Another thing that is important to her, but not so important to me, is skin color. Trien's skin is a nice honey brown color, while mine is fair, inherited from my mother's Northern European origins. I definitely don't want our baby to have my skin color, especially if we are going to be living in the tropics. Trien agrees with me, but at the same time doesn't want the baby to have her skin tone, either. She thinks it is too dark. So we both agree that the best skin color would be somewhere in between.

Skin color matters more to her than it does to me. Her father is very dark, like mahogany. His family, friends, and fellow residents of the village call him "the African". The reason he is so dark is that he spends a lot of time out in the sun, tending his fish traps, or the ducks he raises. One of the reasons he married Trien's mother was that she was lighter skinned, and their children would be, too.This is Trien's family. That's oldest brother Clifford (Manoy), Mama, Victoriano Jr. (Jun-Jun), Trien (Irien), Me, sister Emily (Em-Em), and Papa)

Trien likes to say that she is "pure Filipina." To me, that means pure blooded, no mixture with anything else. Well, obviously, that means something else to her, because I found out that there is Spanish blood on her father's side, and Chinese blood on her mother's side. That is why her mother, according to Trien, ". . . is lighter skinned, and has smaller eyes." It turns out some of her cousins on her mother's side, according to her, ". . . have Chinese names, and some of them look very Chinese." Hmmmmm . . . so then her mother is part Filichino?

On the other side of her family, her grandfather was part Spanish. How much, they don't know. She asks me If I remember that he had lighter skin. All I could remember was that he was very, very old, like Methuselah. They looked to be around the same age. The only thing I can't understand if her grandfather was so light skinned, why is his son so dark? Of course, I don't say anything about that to Trien, because then she might hit me with something.

(These are the wives with the kids. The woman on the left is Jun-Jun's fiancee, holding their daughter, Althea. Jun-Jun has his arm around his daughter, Crystal, from a previous relationship. Standing next to me is Manoy's wife, Abeline, with her arm around their daughter, Toni Anne, and holding their son, Tyrone. The three kids in front- the boy in the white and orange t-shirt, the little girl in pink, and the girl in white and yellow are her brother Richie's (Ongkoy) kids, Christian, Shaina, and Richel.)

As for my family, we are what is best termed as "melting pot Americans", or more commonly known as "Mutts". Just throw a bit of everything in there, stir it together, and let simmer. We have both sides of the American experience. My Dad's family was one of the first families in the country. My Mom's family is relatively recent immigrants.

My Grandfather's parents immigrated from Germany sometime in the 1880's during one of the great migrations, and settled in Manhattan. Their family name goes all the way back to the time of the Romans, being the name of a tribe in central Germany.

My Grandmother's family, they are, to put it nicely, a mess. The authorities in Europe probably couldn't wait for them to emigrate, and had the papers all signed and approved way beforehand.

According to my Grandmother, her family is 100% German, through and through.

Now here's where it gets good.

Her father was born in France, and had a Danish last name. He fought for Germany in World War One. Her mother was born in Denmark, with a German family name. My Grandmother and her sister were born in Germany. Yet when they emigrated to the USA, they were carrying Belgian passports! This was way before the time of the EU.

My Grandmother claimed that her father and mother were German, because Germany had temporary control over the areas that they were born in when they were born there. When one of my Filipino friends heard that, he said:
"I was born in the Philippines when it was under Japanese control. So does that mean I am Japanese?"

It was useless to try to argue the point with Grandma. As far as I know, my mother's family are still arguing over what they are. They are human, or at least I think so. I sometimes have my doubts, though. Sometimes I wonder not what country they came from, but what planet!
Trien knows all about them, but she married me anyway. What a woman!

My Dad's family, as I said before, have been in the USA forever, coming sometime around Jamestown to Virginia. They are real salt of the earth types, almost total opposites of the lunatics and crazies in my Mom's family.

There is a lot of American Indian blood in their heritage, recently Cherokee, and probably some nearly extinct eastern woodland tribes. They mixed very well. According to my Dad's mother, our family is a mixture of:
English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Scotch-Irish, French, German, Spanish (if I remember it all correctly), and whatever Native American Tribes mixed in along the way, which apparently there were several.

So add that to my Mom's background of French, German, and Danish (there might be some Polish in there, too, but don't try telling them that, or it will lead to yet another war), and Trien's background of Filipino, Spanish, and Chinese, and I think we don't have to worry too much about any racially inherited genetic conditions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

CSR Blues

When I was working as a customer service rep, it was way back in the stone age of green screens and Winblows 4.1. I liked the job. Sure, you got some real nasty arrogant blowhards sometimes, and other times it was a constant stream of calls, but for the most part it was a pretty fun job. It's something I wouldn't mind doing again.

I was thinking what it would be like if I were a CSR today. If I wanted to be one, more than likely I would have to move to India or the Philippines. Moving to the Philippines, that would be no problem. There are plenty of call centers in Cebu, the province where my wife comes from, or in Manila, where her brothers and their families live.

Then I was thinking, with all the fast computers and databases today, what would it be like to get a call from a lonely elderly person (LEP), and how would I handle it?

I could see myself taking orders for a retailer selling music, say, one with the biggest collection of music ever. You name it, they have it, and it is all indexed in their computer database.

Here's how I figure a call from a LEP today would go if I were working there.

Me: Hello, this is The Music Warehouse. John speaking. How may I help you?
LEP: Huh? What is this? The Music Whorehouse?
Me: No, sir, this is the Music Warehouse, your source for every type of music you can imagine. How may I help you?
LEP: Oh, that's different. For a minute there, I thought I had contacted a musical whorehouse.
Me: Well, sir, if that is what you are looking for . . .
LEP: No son, that's ok. I'm too old for that.
(Next comes a fifteen minute overview of his life.)
Me: Well, sir, are you looking for some music today?
LEP: Well, yes I am.
(That is a cue for an in depth analysis of his musical tastes, bands he's seen, and how music is different today from what it was years ago. That takes another ten minutes)
Me: Ok, so what specifically are you looking for?
LEP: Maybe some Jazz. I like Jazz. I remember when . . .
Me: Yes sir, we have a very extensive collection of Jazz. Anything specific you are looking for ?
LEP: Well, I always liked Eric Clapton.
Me: (by now I know it's suicidal to point out that Eric Clapton plays Rock and Roll, and Blues, instead of Jazz.)
I'm happy to tell you, Mr ______ that we have the full Eric Clapton catalogue available.
LEP: That's great news.
(Uh-oh! He's going to want me to read out everything on the list!)
I remember seeing him in concert when I was in England right after my second divorce from my first wife. Now she was . . .
(I will spare you what follows, and my desperate attempts to steer the conversation to the topic at hand. Let's just say it takes a while)
Me: (getting back from a desperately needed bathroom break)
Which album or song are you looking for?
LEP: What instrument does he play?
Me: (I turn off the mic so I can grumble to myself. Always make sure your mic is turned off if you are going to let off steam during a call)
He plays the guitar.
LEP: He just plays the guitar? Do you have any albums where he plays something other than the guitar?
Me: I can check for you. What kind of instrument were you thinking of?
LEP: Do you have anything where he plays the tuba?
Me: (Trying not to burst out laughing)
Just a moment, and I will check for you.
(The mic goes off again, and it takes a few minutes for me to stop laughing. In the meantime, he keeps asking if I am still there)
Uh, yes, we do have some selections with Eric Clapton playing the tuba.
LEP: (genuinely surprised) Really?
Me: No kidding. We have the largest selection of music available in the world.
LEP: Wow! That's really great! Things have really changed. I can remember-
(You can imagine what comes next)
Me: So can I place an order for you?
LEP: I'm not sure. I have to make sure it's the type of music I am looking for.
ME: Just what type of music are you looking for?
LEP: Well, it's a present for my granddaughter. She just graduated from college, and
(Uh-oh! There he goes again!)
Me: What type of music does she like?
LEP: Well, I think she's always liked that rapper guy, the one with the bald head who dressed like a thug? What's his name?
(Of course, he's just described at least 90% of rappers, living or dead)
Me: Is he a white rapper or a black rapper.
LEP: Black. He was killed.
(That narrows it down, but not by much)
Me: You don't know his name?
LEP: Toothpick something. Toothpick Champur or something like that.
Me: Tupac Shakur?
LEP: Yeah, I think that's it.
Me: So you want to buy her a cd by Tupac Shakur?
LEP: No. I want to buy her something by Eric Clapton.
Me: Ok, so which Eric Clapton selection would you like?
LEP: I don't know. Can you read the list to me?
(hardly likely)
Me: How about the one with Eric Clapton playing the tuba? That's got to be a collectors item, and it's bound to be worth a lot someday.
LEP: Well, I don't know. Say, do you have any albums where Eric Clapton plays the greatest hits of Tupac Shakur on the tuba?
Me: (Checking the list) Uhhh, yes I do, sir.
LEP: Ok. But is it polka music?
Me: Let me see if I have this right. You want an album where Eric Clapton plays polka versions of the greatest hits of Tupac Shakur on the tuba?
LEP: Yup. Do you have it?
Me: Yup.
(The line goes dead)
Do you want it? The computer says his version of "All Eyes on Me", was a number one hit in Albania in 1997.
LEP: I'm not sure.
(Must. Overcome. Urge. To Kill! Must. Overcome. Urge. To Kill!)
Me: WHY?
LEP: (mumbles something that sounds like:) I'll have to call you back. My neighbor is being abducted by aliens again.
(Hangs up)
(I go in the bathroom and scream my lungs out)

Uhhhh. Nevermind. I think it's easier to remain a teacher!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Vacation Time Ends - But Our Hug Research Continues

Ok, it's back to school tomorrow. To be honest, I really dread going back to work. Why? Well, for all the normal reasons, of course. The biggest reason, though, is because I will have to spend part of the day away from my wife. Even though we didn't do anything because of the pregnancy, and never left Taiping, this has been one of the best vacations I have ever had. That's because Trien and I spent a lot of real quality time together.

In the mornings I didn't have to get up at 6:30 and get ready to drag myself to work. I could stay up late, and wake up whenever. That usually happened when Trien got up and climbed over me on the mattress on the floor. Sometimes it was to go to the toilet or to grab something to eat. The baby's demands on her body are getting greater, and she has no choice but to do what her body tells her to do.

Sometimes what her body told her to do was to lay down next to me, and hug me. I'll tell you, there's nothing like waking up in the morning in the arms of someone you love, seeing them smiling at you, and getting that first "good morning" kiss. Physical affection was not a part of our lives when we were growing up, and we are making up for it now.

Sometimes I would climb into the futon, and she would be sprawled all over. Then I would get into the best possible "hug position", and let her have it. One giant "Good Morning Hug", for her and the baby. Hey, she's pregnant, so for now they come as a package deal.

We always joke about writing a book together, "The Art of the Hug", sort of like "The Joy of Sex" for huggers. We have done lots of research for the project. Right now, we are nearing the end of researching the best hug positions for pregnancy. We have been very diligent, making sure that we have enough time to carry it out every day. Current, our research is centers on "Hug Positions for the Latter Stages of Pregnancy". Believe me, that is not as easy as it sounds. It's hard for her to get comfortable in some of our favorite hug positions now. So we are learning how to improvise new ones, in the limited ways she can get comfortable now. Yet even now, my wife will suddenly unleash a hug attack without the slightest provocation.

We have had so much practice, that we must rate among the top ten huggers in the world. Ok, let me clarify that. Let's make that the top 10 wedded huggers. All right, maybe the top ten wedded huggers in Asia.

You are definitely talking about two world class hug addicts here. If we don't get our fix, then she will walk around all day with a mean boo-boo face, and I will be like a caffeine deficient bear.

It's great to be married to someone where you don't have to do anything or go anywhere to enjoy yourselves and have a good time. Where it's good enough just to be with each other, and spend time together.

I tell Trien all the time- God must really love me to have given me you as my wife.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Adventures of a Customer Service Rep

I used to work as a customer service rep to make a living when I was struggling to make it as an actor. In my case, I worked for the Equitable Life Insurance Company during the Demutualization process, and for First Chicago Trust in their IBM Stockholder relations department.

Most of the time, the calls were routine, simple questions that would only take a minute or two to handle. Then there were times when you would get a call from the most dreaded caller of all, The Lonely Elderly Person (LEP). When that happened, you would never get off the phone. Some would call every day, just to have someone to talk to.

A call from a LEP would start innocently enough. You confirmed their identity. After that, they always ask for the usual routine information- how much is in their account, what their dividend payment is, do you have my correct address, etc. Everything starts off normally, which catches you off guard.

The problem started after you gave out all the information you could possibly give out about their account. Their cue came after you asked them:

"Is there anything else I can do for you, Mr. / Mrs. _______ ?"

Their answer was usually something along the line of, "why yes, maybe you can . . .", and then they'd make up some bit of business only slightly connected with the company you are working for. That usually lead to anything from a 20 minute to an hour conversation that had nothing to do with anything. If you're anything like me, who was raised to respect his elders, you were too polite to cut them off. If you are, then one word of advice: Don't tell them your real name.

Of course, you have to tell them your real name at the beginning of the conversation. Once they start getting into the conversation, though, they will forget it, and start calling you by what they think your name is. Many times that ends up being something completely different from what you told them, even a dead husband's, child's, or imaginary friends name. When mercifully you are able to end the conversation, they will invariably ask for your name again, so they can write it down, and ask for you again. The smart thing to do is to tell them your name is either what they've been calling you through most of the conversation, or if you feel creative, to make one up. That way, the next time they call and ask for you, no one will know who it is, and whoever gets the call will have to handle it.

I realized others were doing this one day when the sweet old lady on the line asked if Barry Beck was available. At the time, Barry Beck was a singularly ugly defenseman playing in the NHL. I doubt he had the time to take off from his job of flattening opposing players into pancakes against the boards at hockey rinks all over the USA and Canada to come over to my job and answer her call.

(This is Barry Beck at his full time job)

We had a lovely half hour conversation about her grandchildren, the end result being her offering to set me up on a blind date with her oldest granddaughter, who had just graduated college, and was also working somewhere in New York doing something. Not that I didn't appreciate the offer. I was going through a protracted dating dry spell at the time, and probably would have been satisfied with a blind date with grandma herself. Since our calls were monitored, I didn't want to possibly have to go into the bosses office and have to explain myself. So when she asked for my name, I told her I was David Crosby.

(This is David Crosby)

Now believe me, I am not trying to make fun of LEP's. In fact, I always felt sorry for them, and and tried to do the best I could for them. It's just that there was only so much I could do. I had a job to do, and a quota of calls to handle. One LEP could ruin my quota for the day.

Still, I enjoyed talking to them, especially if the day was slow. My favorite LEP was a retired Rabbi from Brooklyn. His advice to me:

Find a nice woman, get married, find a job you love, and Vote for Clinton!

Hmmmm . . . In retrospect, it looks like I followed his advice to the letter!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Pregnancy Report- Week 28

Okay, we've made it to 7 months now, and passed another milestone on our journey to parenthood.

Trien's tummy is getting bigger every day. As it does, her sleeping problems get worse. Now I no longer sleep in bed with her, except if she asks me to join her, when she needs a hug to get to sleep. I sleep on the floor on one of the foam rubber mattresses we borrowed from the school. That way, Trien can twist, turn, and squirm to her hearts content, get into all kinds of strange positions and get to sleep without me interfering. It also helps me to sleep, not only because I am not getting whacked or pushed up against the wall, but because I have spondylosis. Sleeping on a mattress on the floor gives my back the support it needs, so this arrangement is good for both of us.

She is so used to having me sleep next to her, that she spends most of the night sleeping right on the edge of the futon with her arm dangling over the side. It is really sweet, and when I see that, I hold her hand and give it a kiss.

Our baby gets hungry, and lets my wife know by moving around, and making her uncomfortable. Mostly this happens early in the morning. When it does, Trien has no choice but to get up and get something to eat and drink. If she doesn't, then she feels like she is being attacked from the inside by a hyperactive kangaroo. Once she eats, everything is OK, and they both can get back to sleep.

According the pregnancy sites I surf that give weekly updates on how your baby develops, our baby's hearing has been fully developed for the last few weeks. The first real evidence of this was a few weeks ago, when she started moving to the music at church. Now she starts moving to music whenever we play it for her. When she does, my wife says it's not just her arms or legs, but her whole body, like she really enjoys it and is dancing.

Her favorite kind of music is classical. When she hears Bach, Beethoven, Mozart or the like, she becomes very active, and starts dancing, and Trien starts laughing. Her next favorite kind of music is Jazz. Pop and Rock and Roll comes in third. Trien and I both think that our daughter will grow up to be a dancer or a musician.

I try to play music for our baby as much as possible, as she is entering the part of development where her gray matter is growing, and the brain is making neural connections. If she enjoys the music, is stimulated by it, and moves to it, that can only help her mental and physical development. When she is born, what we play for her now will be familiar to her, and will help calm her when she is cranky or doesn't want to sleep.

So playing music now is a pre-emptive strike against future restless, sleepless nights. Invest some time now, and it will pay off later.

As the saying goes:

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!"

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Malaysia's Mind Numbingly Funny TV Advertisement

Another site I've run into during my forays around cyberspace is It is run by the Turner Broadcasting System, so there must be a tv program tie in, something like, oh, say, and I'm guessing here- "The Worlds Funniest Ads"?

If there was an honesty policy for broadcasting, a tv show like that would have to be subtitled something like: "Someone Find Ted Some Vicodin", "Help! We Desperately Need Some Filler For This Time Slot", "Marshall McLuhan Never Would Have Thought It Would Ever Come To This", or something like that.

It's got to be the kind of tv show you watch when you need your mind numbed, and there's no heavy drugs or someone with a hammer to do it for you.

So if you have any interest in Malaysia, and you are in frantic need of a mind numbing experience, here is Malaysia's entry on veryfunnyads.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Difference Between My Wife and a Typical American Wife

(Scene: Late at night, the kitchen of a third floor walkup apartment. A wife is scraping a plate into an overloaded garbage can. In order to take out the trash, you have to go downstairs and walk about 75 yards to a dumpster past the entrance to the complex.)

Typical American Household:

(Screaming at her husband) Hey! Get off your butt and take the garbage out! How many times do I have to tell you that? I'm not your maid! I feel like a broken record already!

My House:

(Scene: The same, except located in Taiping, Malaysia. Trien peels a banana, and opens the garbage can to throw out the peel.)

My Wife: We forgot to take the trash out. We have to take it out tomorrow when we go to the market.

(The Next Morning)

Typical American Household

(Scene: The Kitchen. The garbage is still sitting there, because her husband has forgotten to take the garbage out of the can and bring it downstairs.)

Wife: What! It's still here!!!
(She lets out a bloodcurdling scream. She then takes an Uzi from the closet, and empties a clip into her husband. Later, at the trial, she claims mitigating circumstances. Because of her husbands constant forgetfulness in taking out the garbage, she claims mental anguish, cruel and unusual punishment, and spousal abuse, and gets off with a suspended sentence. She then makes millions from the book and film rights, and buys a house with a garbage disposal.)

My House:

(Scene: The next morning. There are two bags of garbage neatly tied and sitting outside the apartment door. I walk outside to put on my shoes, while my wife finishes getting ready.)

My Wife: Honey, please will you take one of the bags down to the dumpster? I'll take the other one.

Me: Don't worry baby, I got them both. You just take yourself downstairs.

My Wife: Thank you, Honey. I'll be right down.

(I walk outside, throw the bags in the trash, and wait for her. She walks to the dumpster, and throws in an old broken umbrella. We then hold hands, and walk to the market together. Later on I write a little humorous piece in my Blog about what a great wife Trien is.)

The End

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Another Wondrous Day

The other day was another wondrous day. It was of those small little triumphs of life that don't mean much to anyone else, eliciting nothing more than a polite, "That's nice", when you tell them about it. Yet if it happens to you, then your whole world changes, and your life perspective will never be the same.

Trien and I were lazing around on the futon. She was getting some rest, while I was watching tv.
She started laughing, and turned over and faced me. There was a bemused smile on her face.

"What's happening, Baby?"

"Our daughter is playing again."

She looked down at her tummy, and rubbed it softly in a circular motion.

"Here, let me feel."

She removed her hand, and I replaced it with mine. Nothing happened.

Trien looked down at her tummy, both puzzled, and amused.

"You move for Daddy, Baby," she said to her tummy.

Again, nothing happened, I looked at her, and she smirked at me and shrugged.

Then it happened. I felt a sharp little poke right under my hand. I had felt the baby move before, but this was different. Before when the baby moved, it just felt like the ripples made when you throw a pebble into the water. There was evidence of life, but nothing tangible. This time, for the first time, I felt something solid. There was contact between me, and the life living and growing in my wife's womb. Solid flesh and bone had moved under my hand, a little elbow or a hand. It made contact with me. It made contact not just with my hand, but also something deep within my inner being, the purest essence of what I am.

I looked up at Trien, and she smiled at me like a proud Angel.

"I felt her! I really felt her this time!"

"I know, Honey."

"You get to feel her all the time, but this is the first time I could really feel her move! I could feel her bones beneath my hand!"

I kissed her. My hand stayed there for a couple more minutes, but there was no more movement. I took it away, and kissed my wife, and looked into her eyes. By now my eyes were tearing over.

I thanked her, and held her, and felt more love for her than I ever had before.

There was a life inside her that we had made together. Sure, I had seen the ultrasound scans from the very beginning, watched her develop and grow, and felt the tiny little pulsations of life. This was the first time I actually felt the evidence of life in my physical being, and from my physical being to my soul.

The little life inside of her is living and growing and developing. With God's blessing, I will not leave this world without leaving a small piece of myself behind, a dream of hope for a better world. A dream that she will make a difference in this world, even if just in a small way. A dream for my daughter of a better life than I've ever known, in a better world.

I told Trien this morning that this is the most beautiful gift she could ever give me. Nothing could ever be greater than the gift of life which is growing inside of her now. What better way could she show her love for me, than to nurture the life within her, and give birth to our baby?

Like I said, when you tell other people about it, they respond politely, just the way they should. When it happens to you? There's nothing else in the world like it. It gives my life palpable meaning that it didn't have before. There is reason for my existence - a little life is depending on me.

There will be more of these little triumphs of life in the months to come. My life can never be the same as it was.

Praise God!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Beauty in Ordinary Places

I like to carry my camera with me wherever I go. That's because I never know what kinds of interesting things I will run into, or what I will see that will suddenly strike me as beautiful. Sometimes those things are right outside my door.

Take, for example, these scenes that I have here. I have passed by these places many times, but they never really caught my eye until today, when all of a sudden something, maybe a trick of the light, made them take on a resonance I hadn't seen before. It is very easy to see the beauty so obviously displayed in the Lake Gardens, which are only a few meters away, hidden by trees and undergrowth. It is not so easy to see the beauty in scenes as commonplace as this. Some might see these as scenes of decay, not beauty. Yet even decay can be beautiful. To me, these pictures say something about the endurance of life.

The houses above are located right around the corner from our apartment. They belong to a couple of elderly Chinese people, who seem to have lived there forever. They are old, but still quite sturdy. Both the houses, and the people who live in them.

These seem to be old miners shacks. They are all still occupied, and not just by the elderly, either. They are either remnants from when Taiping was a rough and tumble mining town, or at the very least, from the British colonial days. They constitute a little hidden village, right next to the Lake Gardens and the downtown.

Some of them have been upgraded, with rooms added to the back, cable TV dishes, fairly recent coats of paint, etc.


Life goes on in Taiping, just as it always has, and just as it always will. Taiping changes and grows, but life stays the same.