Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Project 5, Your Body Speaks

- Use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to express your message and achieve your speech's purpose.
- Make your body language smooth and natural

Time: 5 to 7 minutes

Excuse Me, Are You My Mr Right?

Good evening Club President, District Officers, fellow toastmasters, friends and guests,

Anyone here who has idols, raise your hand. I see that most, if not all have idols.

Now, I want you to pause a well and think. Are most of your idols of the same sex as you or of the opposite sex? The second one?

Idols are usually people whom we worshipped because they symbolize the qualities that we want our significant half to possess. These are the qualities we will wish for, crave for, yield for, but our significant half does not have. And of course, as we grow older, we will come to accept this. BUT not when we are young and have lots and lots of options.

When I was in my teens, I had lofty standards for my Mr Right. During my time, we had the four heavenly kings in the Chinese pop scene and they encapsulated the qualities that my boyfriend should have. He should have the ah…. so handsome look of Leon Lai (hum a tune from his song “Would you come tonight”), the floppy hair of Aaron Kwok (imitate - toss head and sweep hair like), the muscular body of Andy Lau and the so rich and soulful voice of Jacky Cheung (Goodbye Kiss). That was a tall order. And yes, if Mr Obama were the incoming US-President then, my would-be boyfriend must have Obama’s charisma – “Hello Chicago. (Cheer) Tonight, change has come to America. (Cheer.) Yes, we can”.

Not that I had a chance to have, I was in an all-girls school then. When I was in my late teens and in junior college, I had to be immersed in a co-ed environment – no more all girls but boys and girls. My mother would always tell me in a condesending manner that "Studies come first, dear." And I was also taught that girls never, ever make the first move. With my mother’s teachings ingrained in me, I would wilt at the first hint of any spotlight from boys on me. But deep inside me, I would want very much to have a boyfriend.

So when there was a Mandarin Variety Show “Perfect Match”, I jumped onto the opportunity. It may seem strange but knowing that these people did not really know who I was gave me the courage to take part in it. On top of it, I would be barely recognizable with the thick layers of cosmetics when I appeared in the show.

About the show - each week, three males – M1, M2 and M3 and three females – F1, F2 and F3 would be invited. They would be “matched” by heaven – by drawing lots. The three couples would then vie against each other by spinning the wheel of fortune which determined their GT - Get-Together score. Though, on hindsight Gambling Team seemed to be the more appropriate term. The couple with the highest score will be the Perfect Match. In any case, all participants were winners as the minimum prize was a $250 bag voucher and there was also a lottery price of $1,000 cold, hard cash for the really lucky pair.

I sought my mother’s permission to take part in the programme under the guise of being able to net a handsome sum just by participating. And I was surprised that there was little resistance from her. As I was not a glib-tongued speaker I suspected that she was getting concern about me being an old-hag. There was then much publicity in the news of graduate women being left on the shelves as they studied too much and lacked the very important and crucial social skills to get hitched.

So Perfect Match I went. The night before the show, I was so excited to meet my Prince Charming that I only managed an hour of shuteye as I tossed, turned and twisted my legs like a pretzel. As a result, I was bleary-eyed and looked frazzled when I was on air. Luckily for me, the guys were my type. None of them had all the qualities that my idols possessed added up together. So, I supposed it did not matter.

I had my grand prize - a $250 bag voucher and $500 cash. With the voucher, for the first time in my life, I bought my mother a branded wallet. And the $500 cash? I splurged a portion of it to buy more of my idols’ music albums and saved the rest. More importantly, I have learnt that to lower my standards. Probably, that is the main reason why I am happily married today.

Toastmaster of the Evening.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Gauss and Arithmetic Progression

I have just done a mathematical problem in my work. Interestingly, it brings back fond memories of those days when I was fascinated by stories of brilliant mathematicians.

What struck me is that while there are many ways to tackle a problem, if we could find a formulae, we would cut down the time needed to reach the same conclusion. In fact, the formulae could be a very simple - that's the elegance of Mathematics.

One of which was the many fascinating stories of how mathematician solved seemingly difficult questions. This is my favorite about Gauss.

Gauss was a famous German mathematican (1777 to 1855). He was a child prodigy. There were many stories about his precocity. One was when he was in primary school and his teacher wanted to occupy his students by asking them to sum up a list of integers - from 1 to 100.

But Gauss did it in split second. How did he do it?

This is how:

To find, Sum = 1 + 2 + 3 + ..... + 99 + 100 [There are 100 terms here]
Now Sum is also = 100 + 99 + 98 +.... + 2 + 1

So Sum + Sum = 101 + 101 + ...........+ 101 + 101 [There are 100 101s here]
2 Sum = 10,100
Sum = 10100/2
= 5,050 [Whoala!]

To this day, I never memorise the formula for arithmetic sum but always derive it from first principle. You can use similar principle to get the formula for the sum of geometric progression. Try it :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Stock Taking for 2008

Time flies, 2008 is almost coming to an end. For the last few weeks, my work life comes to a standstill as I have been on leave. This comes to an end now as I have cleared my annual leave. Rejuvenated, renewed and radiant, I will be facing work challenge again, preparing for the coming year.

This year, I have been lost and bruised but managed to find my way back. I have set too many goals for myself and as a result, I felt so aimless - I will be doing something but drifting to another area before completing one. But I have definitely learnt something.

For one, I realised how little time I actually have. Sunday is the time where I do marketing and prepare food for the coming week. Monday to Friday, I have to juggle my work and family - 1. prepare dinner for the night, 2. send children to child care, 3. work, 4. exercise during lunch, 5. work, 6. pick up children from childcare/ school and 7. prepare for next day's dinner. I have done all these in clockwork precision and it gets more challenging when work piles up coupled with hubby going on his official trips. That only leaves me with Saturday, which I will also be attending my toastmasters' club meeting on bi-monthly basis. If time permits, I will also love to attend the weekday night's meeting and do some volunteering work, but I have to be pragmatic. Of this very limited time pie, I will also need to cut a slice to spend some time honing my golfing skills, coach the kids in their studies and just spend time with them.

With end of the year in sight, it's time to take stock of what we have done in this year. For me, it is not to be too ambitious and to do one thing at a time. This year, my focus is to complete my toastmaster program - target is one project every two months. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Year-end Holidays

For those who are awaiting this latest blog, apologies, I am very busy preparing for yet another road trip to Malaysia.

Yes, the year-end holidays are back. The Lim family welcome this with much gusto. We have not been on an aeroplane as a family on a vacation for a long time. It is not that the wanderlust has drifted away. Rather, we have found a pot of gold at our backyard.

Two weeks ago, we went to Malacca and Kuala Lumpur. A few days back, I was back to Johor for a golfing one-day trip. While I am still an amateur, I could definitely enjoy the lush landscape at the golf course. It is very relaxing especially on a weekday where we could have the golf course entirely for ourselves. Weekends are quite stressful as the course will be packed and one will have to speed up play. The latter is quite a feat for me who could manage at best more than 50 m but below 100 m with my 7-iron. Hence, I would need many more strokes before hitting on the green.

It is not just Malaysia. There is also much to explore in our uniquely Singapore. We have just been to the Science Centre yesterday. More new exhibits were up. One of which was the on-the-edge technology. I meant electronic. Recalled Tom Cruise action movies on Mission Impossible sequel, we had the agents using their hands to control the cursor. Keyboard and mouse were things of the past. Hey, this scene no longer belongs to our imagination but it's a reality! We also saw a plasma tv but showing 3-dimensional pictures. Amazing.

Tomorrow, the Lim family will be on yet another road trip up north. We have done much groundwork to map out the way to go there and also prepared for contingencies. Wish us a safe and happy journey :)

Monday, December 1, 2008

4 Days 3 Nights Getaway to Malacca and Kuala Lumpur

Last Tuesday, we hopped onto our family car and drove up to Malaysia together with our brother-in-law's family. It marked the first time that the extended Lim family was going on a road-trip across the Causeway.

It was a very leisure and relaxing drive up north, together with three young kids - two school-going of the same age - P and E, and one preschooler - R. They were too happy to enjoy each other companion. We took many breaks in between the drive to take in the slower pace of living and at the same time, enjoy the scrumptious hawker food that Malaysia has so much to offer.

Day 1 and 2 - Interlude in Malacca

We reached Malacca and checked into our hotel, Holiday Inn at around 2 pm. We had a kid suite which was a very luxurious room with an attached kid's room - complete with a queen-size bed and a double bunk bed for the kids. Besides splendid rooms, there was also splendour view from the full-height glass panel of our hotel rooms. Pictured an old Malay-style building in the centre that came with an open-surfaced carpark with cars parked haphazardly. To the left of the building were some four-storey white-painted shophouses. To the right, there was a seven-storey shopping mall and going further from the epicentre where the Malay-style building stood, we had uncompleted buildings still under construction. what a sight of the old juxtaposed against the new and the up-and-coming buildings.

After lunching at the nearby shopping mall, we spent the afternoon lazing in the hotel rooms while the kids watched television and played pretend with the double deck bunk bed. At around 4 pm, we went to the infinity pool and wading pool. It was awesome. When we stepped out of the lift and proceeded into the pool area, we were visually treated to a continous view of water flowing from the infinity pool all the way to the Straits of Malacca. The only giveaway was the color of the water - crystal blue at the infinity pool and jade green for the sea water of the Straits of Malacca.

Day 2 started with a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel before we proceeded to explore this Unesco World Heritage City by foot. Malacca was very rich in heritage founded by a fleeing prince from Sumatra in 14th century. Strategically located at the Straits of Malacca, it later developed into a major trading port for ships from India and China. As it flourished, it became a target for foreign powers eagered to gain control of the trading port. The Portuguese conquered it in 1511. In 1641, the Dutch took over before the British empire came in to rule Malacca later. The state finally obtained independence in 1957. Today, one will find many remnants of the glorious past dated back more than 500 years ago.

The kids raced to see who would reach the top of St. Paul's Hill first. At the top stood St. Paul's Church - once the prayer house of the Portuguese Catholics, but was later converted into burial ground for their noble dead by the Dutch. We also passed by the Historic Museum and Ethnography Museum - which was converted from The Stadthuys - the official residence of the Dutch Governor. Another fine Dutch architecture was the nearby Christ Church built in 1753.

Besides fine sights, there were also fine food. We tried the baba chendol and chicken rice with chicken rice balls. The former was different from what we had in Singapore as they used "gula" or brown sugar gravy as the syrup. The latter looked like fishball but tasted like well, chicken rice.

After lunch, we bid goodbye to this historical tour and continued our journey up north to Kuala Lumpur.

Day 3 and 4 Swimming and Shopping Fun at Sunway Lagoon

After a good night sleep at hotel, we went to Sunway Lagoon Water Theme Park. It was quite similar to Downtown East in Singapore but bigger, very much bigger. We first played the water park - with flume rides and more exhilarating water ride where we slid down from a high and formed a "U" before "yo-yoing" to a halt. There were also wave pool with waves all the time, water playground and many, many more. Besides wet park, there was also "dry" park - the amusement park with a gamut of rides ranging from the classical merry-go-round to the "Wild Wild Wet"-inspired fast-train roller-coaster ride. The kids were zonked out by the end of the day.

Day 4 was the day for the adults - yes, shopping galore. In close proximity to the Sunway Lagoon was a mega shopping mall. There was a wide range of items to shop for and at very attractive prices too. After the hearty shopping, we drove back from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. It was a very memorable experience and was also very easy-on-the-pocket. You bet we would be back for more especially in these times of belt-tightening.