Saturday, December 24, 2005

Grade Expectations

PMR (lower secondary assessment) results were out this past Thursday. No. 1 didn't appear to be overly excited over this. After returning from youth camp with his dad, he went to school on Thursday afternoon to collect his result slip. Hubby rang me to tell me the news.

Me : He's got 1A? (I was only certain that he'd get an A for his English, at best 3As out of 8).
Hubby : 5.
Me : FIVE?
Hubby : Why you got no faith in your son?

I've got faith in him all right, that he'll get between one to three As. I didn't want to expect too much from him as I didn't want to be disappointed. Moreover, his performance in his term exams hadn't been exactly inspiring. I read in the papers about the girl who cried at getting 6As and 1B because she expected to get straight As. As for us, 5As is great news because no. 1 had done better than expected.

When we heard news of others faring better (a niece got straight As, another friend got 6As and yet another 7As out of 8), no. 1 asked if I was going to start comparing him with them. I told him that if I'd wanted to do so, I wouldn't have been happy with the 5As he obtained.

It's human nature to want to compare our children with others who've done better. This is a favourite refrain amongst parents :

"Why can't you be like so-and-so who
1. got straight As
2. is a debating champion
3. is a state basketball player
4. wrote a book in his teens
5. won the essay writing competition
6. blah-blah-blah-blah..."

Sometimes I do it too but hubby is always quick to remind me that the only comparison we should make of our kids is to compare themselves with themselves. The comparison shouldn't be external but internal. If you're capable of getting an A but you only got a C, then you've done a lousy job. On the other hand, if your level of competency is such that a C is the norm, then getting a B is reason to rejoice.

If we parents insist on comparing our kids with others, then we shouldn't just compare them with those who are better but those who are worse off too. Then, we won't be so demanding on our kids.

But then again, the word "demanding" can be construed differently by parents and children. That's another story altogether.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

$elf publishing in Singapore

Pinched this link from Sharon's blog. I'm putting it here because it's related to the articles in my previous entry. Here are some figures culled from the said Straits Times article of 17 Dec 2005, So Many Authors, So Few Readers.
Self-pub authorTitleOutlayCopies sold
Harris NgReovered Grace (autobio)S$8,000600
Low Kay HwaI believe you (love story)S$2,3401/2 of first print run
Emily TaiWill Your Child Eat a Tomato? (cookbook)S$20,000220 out of 5,000
Joanna WongSqueaky… He’s more than a squirrel (children’s bk)S$23,0001,800 out of 10,000
Mohamed Ismail GafoorYou Can Fly (in Eng, Chi, BM)S30,000

Where the money goes

Cost of publishing book:20%(includes printing, layout, editing & cover design)
Author royalty:10%
Publisher's gross profit:15-20%(before deducting overheads like rent and salaries)

Assuming that a self-published author appoints a distributor to place the books in the bookstores, his profit would be 25-30% gross.

Personally, I’d rather take the 10% royalty and concentrate on the writing.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Self-publishing vs Conventional publishing

I'm one of the authors interviewed in today's Star Two feature story by Lee Tse Ling. Read all about it here :

The power to publish
The pros and cons of self-publishing
Is self-publishing faux publishing?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Way too soon

My father passed away early yesterday morning, 15 December 2005. Today he would have celebrated his 65th birthday.

Initially the doctors thought he had obstructive jaundice but an ultrasound scan showed that there wasn't any obstruction in the bile duct. To be very sure, they wanted to do an ERCP, a procedure that involved inserting an endoscope into his body to take a "picture" of the bile ducts. On the scheduled day, Friday 9 December, his blood pressure plunged down and he became semi-conscious. A few days prior to that his liver function test results came back with bad reading and he was confirmed to have Hepatitis B. His liver was badly damaged.

On Tuesday, 13 December, he lapsed into a coma. The doctors told us to be prepared. We discharged him from the hospital and engaged a private nurse to tend to him. On Wednesday night, the nurse warned us that his condition had deteriorated. At about four-something on Thursday morning, my phone rang. My niece said to come over immediately. I "flew" to mum's. My sister greeted me at the door. "It's too late. None of us saw him go. By the time the nurse woke us up, Pa was already gone. He breathed his last at four-ten."

My father is gone. It was way too soon. I'd always thought he'd be around for a long time. I worried about his Parkinson Disease. It was diagnozed in September 2004 and I'd been taking him to UMMC for treatment. But the PD was the "red herring," the liver disease was the real killer.

I regret not being more proactive when my father first fell sick about a month ago. We should have checked him into the hospital earlier. The doctors said even if he had gone in earlier, it would have still had been too late because the liver condition was already chronic.

If only we'd known earlier. Ignorance is NOT bliss. Ignorance is DANGER when it comes to health.

My father has departed from this world. Way too soon. From now on when I pass by a red and white taxi, I will remember him and visualize him behind the wheel of his beloved taxi.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Eh Poh Nim's Palindrome Quiz

The Star, 15 December 2005

EH Poh Nim, I need your help. I’m supposed to come up with some fun quiz for the school’s English Week. I’ve been swamped with marking exam papers and I don’t have time to think of ideas and I’m supposed to hand in the quiz this Saturday! Give me some ideas, quick!” Shanti rattles off over the phone.

“Whoa, slow down. What sort of quiz are you looking at?” Eh Poh Nim asks.

“You know, fun type of questions. As long as they’re in Malayalam, they’ll do.”

“Malayalam? I thought you said it was for English Week?”

“I did, did I? Oh dear, oh dear. Must be all the Malayalam conversations I’ve been having with my aunt. She’s here on a holiday and has been staying with us for the past week. She doesn’t speak English so I have to talk to her in Malayalam. Sorry. Hello, hello, are you still there?”

Eh Poh Nim, who has been writing something on the notepad, exclaims, “Aha! I’ve got it! I’ve got what you want.”

“You have? So fast? Spill it out quick.”

“Malayalam. I did, did I? What are these words called?”

“What do you mean? You want me to write down these words? Okay, just a sec.”

Shanti grabs a piece of paper and writes down Malayalam and I did, did I.

“Spell them backwards,” instructs Eh Poh Nim.

“M-A-L-A-Y-A-L-A-M. It spells the same backwards! Palindromes! You’re a genius, Eh Poh Nim. Now you’ve got to help me come up with a quiz on palindromes. Ten questions would do. Please, pretty please?”

Shanti sounds so desperate that Eh Poh Nim doesn’t have the heart to turn her down. She has two hours before Desperate Housewives comes on, so she sits down at the computer to crank something up for Shanti. By 10.30, she has this quiz neatly typed up:


Palindromes are words that are the same spelt backwards. Some examples:

Don’t nod. I did, did I?
A nut for a jar of tuna.

Now, fill in the blanks with palindromes. Ignore spaces and punctuation marks.

1. A straw full of moles is called _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
2. When Father Christmas makes an appearance at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the newspaper headline may well read “ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.”
3. The class teacher announced that everyone but Delia has passed the exam. She said, “_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.”
4. The clumsy doctor’s nickname is _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
5. The headmistress asks Adam, “What’s your name, boy?” Adam replies, “_ _ _ _ _ _’_ _ _ _ _.”
6. If someone commits murder in order to steal a jar of red rum, the headline may well read, “_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.”
7. Linda tries to exchange some papayas for a rock melon with the fruit seller. However, he only wants to exchange it for lemons, not papayas. He says, “Sorry, Miss. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _.”
8. The unique pet shop has little creatures like white mice and hamsters running loose all over the floor. It has a sign on the door that says, “_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.”
9. If you’re extremely short-sighted and can’t make out whether it was a car or a cat you just saw, you might ask, “ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _?”
10. At the coffeeshop, the wonton mee seller asks, “Would you like some wontons?” You don’t feel like eating them at the moment, so you say, “_ _ _ _ _ _ _? _ _ _ _ _ _.”

Answers in the comment box.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


When I touched down at KLIA last Sunday night, I called my mum. There was no reply, which was strange. It was eleven o'clock. I then called my sister and she told me that our father was admitted to the hospital. He had been sickly before I left so I shouldn't have been surprised.

He has jaundice : his eyes and skin have turned yellow. And I'd just been told by the doctor that his liver is damaged. They're doing some more tests on him. Please pray for him.

With dad in the hospital, I didn't have chance to do much upon my return, that's why there hasn't been any update on the Manila trip. It's "rancangan tergendala" for now.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fan Power

I'm writing this from Manila. Tonight we had the biggest cheer of all. We had just reached the restaurant for dinner when Lee Hui Seng, the Famemas chairman received an SOS call saying that our presence was needed at the badminton hall. Our male shuttlers were playing the team event. We took off immediately and only reached two hours later due to the peak hour traffic jam. The minute we arrived at the hall, we were told by some people loitering around the gate, "Malaysia needs you now. They're losing 2-0."

Yikes, losing against our arch rival, Indonesia? This was unthinkable. When we walked into the hall, Hafiz Hashim was playing the third match. He was playing his first set. We cheered like crazy, banging kompangs and drum, flailing and beating our thundersticks and yelled like lunatics. And he won in straight sets!! The tide is changing, yeah! Some of us immediately rushed to the toilet to release all our pent-up bodily liquid, then rushed back to the auditorium again. Our hunger was forgotten. As Lee said later, we sacrificed our tummies for our country.

Next Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah took to the courts. They won in straight sets too!! Double yeah! Now we're tied at 2-2.

When Wong Choon Hann went down to the court, we were delirious. The gold medal is in within touch. We egged Choon Hann on with our "Go, Malaysia, go!" and shouts of "Malaysia Boleh!" This time round, the Indonesian supporters were lesser in number compared with the last SEA Games in Vietnam where we were overpowered in number but not in enthusiasm.

Datuk Azalina Othman, Youth and Sports Minister at the VIP stand, kept waving and gesturing to us to cheer some more and we didn't let her down. When Choon Hann won, again in straight sets, she came to us and danced with the Famemas members. Choon Hann, draped in the Jalur Gemilang, came over and high-fived us. We were so happy that we've managed to help our shuttlers turn defeat into victory.

Malaysia Panalo! (Tagalog for win.)

After the win, we went back to the restaurant for dinner. Our tour guide had pleaded with them to extend their opening by one hour to accommodate us. We arrived at eleven, guzzled down the food and were on our way to the hotel at midnight.

What a night. As the Beatles sang (in the karaoke dvd in the bus), "It had been a hard day's night. It was time to celebrate. Tomorrow we have a free day off for sight-seeing and shopping.

Famemas boleh!