Sunday, November 9, 2008

#7 A Letter to Sensei

In the first post, I was but a lowly primate who simply had his eyes on more scrumptious nuts. I felt that I needed to mimic the chirps and the way to flap my wings in the manner befitting of those who soared above from where I stood looking up into the sky. Thus, like a spy on a recon mission, I decided to stalk the infamous Sir Rich and observe the how the master extricates himself from a tricky personal conflict. Thoroughly impressed by the class which oozes from his every step, I became curious why there exist such a huge gulf between us mere mortals and those who reside on cloud nine.

Taking a break from staring up all this while, I thought it would be a great idea to stretch out my neck and just have a look at how my friend to the left interacts with my other friend on the right. To my surprise, I learnt that communication meant more than the words we speak. Effective communication also require us to understand each other on a deeper level, appreciating the diversity within that stems from the unique cultural background that each of us call home.

Struck by epiphany, it suddenly seemed so obvious why Sir Brad shook his head in disappointment when I pleaded to be sent on the earlier recon mission. Sensei knew that I was not ready to learn the ultimate technique for I have yet to embark on the journey of self discovery. It was now so clear that to successfully infiltrate the evil corporate world, I would first need to accept the shadow which is my past and only then can I climb up the ranks.

I have recently started meditating again as I looked deep to find the true I within. Seeking out my dreams, I become conscious of the passion I hold for green energy. Confronting my abandoned roots, I embraced the fact that change is the color in my life and calmed the chaos in my soul. Understanding my determination, I grasped that kinship with my friends have made the journey more rewarding than the final destination. I now realize my folly to question your wisdom.

Thank you for guiding me Sensei.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

#6 Biodata - Change & I

Born in 1985, I grew up in a multiracial environment living in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. My school life is a colorful story; reciting my alphabets in a Methodist kindergarten, writing calligraphy in a Mandarin primary school, studying for my national exams in a Malay government secondary institution, and finally spreading my wings to Singapore on scholarship for Victoria Junior College and then National University of Singapore. The changing scenery has truly blessed me with the opportunity to appreciate the unique cultural diversity that prospers in Southeast Asia, the melting pot of East and West. Change is new and new is fun. I love the excitement of a mystery ahead, the challenges it poses, and the jubilation of surmounting the impossible. I believe in making a change in our world for a better tomorrow.

Friday, October 10, 2008

#5 Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

Learning is a lifelong process. Often in life we repeat a task so often that our minds switch off and our body just happens to go through the motion. As a 4th year student constantly bogged down by assignments throughout my school days, I guess it is fair to say that sometimes I am jaded by the prospect of working on yet another assignment.

After all, are not all assignments essentially the same? First, you delve into research. Next, you piece together the findings. Lastly, you spice up the draft. 1-2-3 and presto, you have completed yet another new report. If that is true, why is it that our education so vehemently extols the virtue of ‘team projects’?

By now I am sure many of the readers are itching to tell me why it is right and how I am wrong. I know my cue when I see it, so let me first apologize and gently remind everyone that I did say that I am jaded.

Just like the story, a man sought adventure and travelled long and far, eventually he reached his final destination but was utterly disappointed by what he saw. The moral of the story was that his unerring focus on the final destination left him numb to the experience of an amazing adventure that was the journey itself. Getting back to the topic of the day, team projects are more than just producing yet another report. It is simply about enjoying the company of new friends threading on a quest for knowledge, braving the challenges ahead, facing adversity with the new found strength that comes from unity and diversity all in one tight group.

For these amazing experiences, I thank my fellow adventurers, Oxy and WeiKin, for it is truly them who have given life to the ‘new’ in yet another report. All I can wish for is the kinship we have would not fade with time nor should the different paths ahead distance the bonds in our hearts.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

#4 Space Time Continuum

As I was coming out of a class on Einstein’s theory of relativity last week, I saw John sitting on a bench all alone looking slightly flustered and bored out of his skull. Like the good friend I am, I never pass on a serendipitous opportunity to poke my head into a friend’s dilemma.

After quick exchange of greetings, I came to know that John was actually waiting for a common acquaintance of ours, Adam who incidentally was late again for the second time that day. They were supposed to meet at 9 in the morning but Adam arrived half an hour late. Now, he was waiting for Adam who told him that he will meet him there in 5 minutes but that was over twenty minutes ago.

In order to get a grip on the situation, it is important to know that John lives by his Chinese grandfather’s mantra that time is money and has always regarded punctuality as a virtue. Meanwhile, Adam is an exchange student from Maldives and they were both very close friends. With that in mind, let us get back to the story.

Although John was clearly frustrated, he seemed to make light of the issue by joking that he should have known better and woke up a little later himself that morning. We spoke for another ten minutes and Adam finally arrived. John waved his frustration away and soon they were both laughing together as if nothing had happened earlier on.

Looking back, the incident clearly indicated an intercultural difference with regard to time. Despite Adam’s insensitivity towards punctuality, John understood that in Maldives where the population is densely packed on a small island and the community is closely knit, it is acceptable to be late if one has to stop and greet an acquaintance along the way. Moreover, the sandy beaches lend a more laid back lifestyle where it is common to meet up for coffee breaks 5 times a day. Therefore, John had no problems brushing aside Adam’s tardiness.

Perhaps Einstein’s understood much about the different cultural norms of different countries when he stated the interconnection between space and time.

Friday, September 5, 2008

#3 Gone With the Wind

An inconvenient truth. That is how Al Gore described the pressing issue of climate change. I have to admit that the movie made a believer in me. Since then I have tried to make my little contributions to the green movement - turning off the lights, saving water, using the public transport and also making a real effort to recycle. However with the recent spike in oil prices, alternative energy has become a recent obsession of mine.

At the moment, I am working on a final year paper (FYP) on biomass energy as well as designing a more effective wind turbine that utilizes shrouded brim diffuser. Every day I delve more into my research, it becomes more apparent that alternative energy is no longer a Utopian vision but rather the future for humankind. Technological advancement has made our dream viable while the incredulous oil price has sweetened the attractive option of renewable energy. Think about this. Wind energy produces no greenhouse emissions and is potentiality capable of generating 5 times more power than the total world output today. Moreover, we are even capable of producing wind energy at just 1₵/Watt. Hence why are we still overly dependent on the expensive fossil fuels to power our daily activities?

Cynics would point to the setback of biodiesel in the United States and generalize that the promise of biofuel as merely an illusion, creating more carbon footprint than it vows to reduce. Yes there is still much room for improvement in the field of alternative energy. However, there are also many other success stories that have been ignored or simply failed to captivate the hearts of its audience. Did you know that 20% of Denmark’s total energy needs are provided by wind turbines and vehicles in Brazil regularly run on gasohol (20% ethanol)? The question we need to ask now is why aren’t the people standing up and championing the cause for alternative energy? Could the taint of biodiesel’s setback or the sheer science fiction promise of unlimited renewable energy be the cause of our apathy? Clearly, there is a need to discover the views of the people so an appropriate solution to inspire their interest can be formulated.

Research Question

Are the students of NUS Science faculty convinced by the promise of green energy and willing to invest in its potential?

Purpose Statement

The first objective is to provide information on the comparative advantages of alternative energy over fossil fuels. The next objective is to inspire NUS Science students to pledge their individual contribution towards the green energy movement, for instance by integrating solar panels into their homes or spurring the government to make the change.

Reason for Attitudinal Survey
The success of the green revolution requires the full support of the people. Therefore, an attitudinal survey would provide a deeper understanding of the people’s awareness towards green energy, their overall disposition towards it, and lastly what initiatives should be undertaken to gain their support.

picture courtesy of


Saturday, August 30, 2008

#2 The Tale of Sir Monkey

We know that effective communication gets us Macadamia nuts, but how do we horde more nuts (of every kind) than we could possibly consume in a life time? To answer that, let me share the tale of Sir Monkey.

Sir Monkey is very wealthy so his friends call him Rich. During his early years, he realize that by being the head monkey he would get more nuts so he started his own publication start up and worked hard at creating a good magazine. Nick, a close friend was invited to join the team and keep track of the nuts reserve they have (finance). He was very good at counting and sourcing for nuts and soon the company’s reserve was bulging and overflowing with all kinds of nuts. Rich was very happy and wished that everyone could continue to work hard together for a very long time.

However, one day Rich came across a scribble (memo) from Nick that was left on his desk by accident. To his horror, it was a petition for hand paints (signatures) to support Rich’s resignation from the company. Instead of jumping in fury, Rich calmly collected his wits and considered why Nick, his friend could have instigated such a thing. Rich then decided to invite Nick out for a chat in private. When they met up later that day at the top of the tree (building), Rich coyly mentioned that since Nick was a good friend, he felt responsible to let him know the other monkeys (colleagues) were displeased by his scribble (memo). He also suggested that the best solution was for Nick to branch off on his own and that he would help him by offering elements from the magazine for him to start with. Out of sheepish embarrassment, Nick apologized and accepted the offer. Nick thanked Rich for his honesty and wished that they could remain best friends forever.

It is clear that Rich did a great job at handling the interpersonal conflict between himself and Nick. He managed his feelings and was able to exploit EQ to his benefit. His decision to take a pause and reflect on the situation allowed him to persuade Nick to part ways amicably by addressing Nick’s inner desire to head his own company. Of course there could be myriads of other motivations that led Nick to his actions. Thus, my question to all would be to suggest an alternative cause for his action and brainstorm a solution that would result in a win-win situation for both parties.

P.S. Did you figure out who Sir Monkey is? Hint: He is also known as Sir Rich….

Friday, August 22, 2008

#1 Peanuts vs Macademia Nuts

Why do I need to learn effective communication? The fault lies with the infamous Adam, not Adam Sandler (though I probably won't mess with the Zohan!) but rather the first man who has to listen to Eve's nagging. If we think about it, the original sin was certainly a case of miscommunication. God said don't eat the apple … and we all know what happened next. Come to think about it, perhaps God could even do with some ES2007S lessons as well. Sir Brad to the rescue …

Now that we have identified the reason for our plight (the Bible agrees with me on this), let us as mortals reason why effective communication is essential to our survival.

Thanks to the constant drumming that money is not everything, I have to agree with it that maybe money is just 99.99% of everything. Therefore, it is relatively just to assume that the more money we have, the better our quality of life would be. Since I've been told that many employers are dissatisfied with the communication skills of NUS graduates, by the 'grass is always greener on the other side' theorem, it would also be safe to assume that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for the first leprechaun who can better articulate his insatiable desire. Likewise, the 'birds of the same feather flock together' postulate also dictates that in order to be a high flyer, I would need to chirp (verbal) and shake my tail feathers (non-verbal) just like them to be accepted as part of the family.

In conclusion, monkeys get paid peanuts. Hence learning effective communication will hopefully get us Macademia nuts (overpriced peanuts).
After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve. And the first thing He said to them was:


"Don't what?" Adam asked.

"Don't eat the Forbidden Fruit." God replied.

"Forbidden fruit? We got Forbidden Fruit? Hey, Eve, we got Forbidden Fruit!"

"No way!"


"Don't eat that fruit!" said God.


"Because I am your Father and I said so!" said God, wondering why he hadn't stopped after making the elephants. A few minutes later God saw the kids having an apple break and was angry.

"Didn't I tell you not to eat that fruit?" the First Parent asked.

"Uh huh," Adam replied.

"Then why did you?"

"I dunno," Eve answered.

"She started it!" Adam said.

"Did not!"

"DID so!"


Having had it with the two of them, God's punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own ... thus the pattern was set and it has never changed.

Forbidden Fruit Joke -
Picture courtesy of -