Sunday, November 22, 2009

Improve Your Relationship with Language

Good writing is about the readers. In writing, our primary goal is to make it as simple as it is for the readers to see our points.

Words are a set of tools. They have the power to improve our circumstances by improving our interaction with other people. Good choice of words helps us to express our meaning clearly and insightfully. We don't have to carry around a dictionary wherever we go. However, we can all expand our vocabulary on a regular basis.

If we commit to learning just one new word a day and using that word each day for a week, we will be expanding our relationship to language. In time to come, writing and expressing ourselves will be a cinch.

For the coming Toastmasters' meeting, I will be doing speech evaluation. Below are some words which my fellow toastmasters have shared with me. Hmm, maybe I will just select one new word to use in my evaluation.


Stretch your evaluation vocabulary

Try substituting the words in bold for the examples given:
able, absolute, aces, adept, admirable, adroit, bad, best, brutal, cold, complete, consummate, crack, downright, dynamite, egregious, exceptional, excellent, expert, fantastic, fine, first-rate, heavy, marvelous, masterly, number one, out-and-out, perfect, positive, proficient, skilled, skillful, super dupa, surpassing, terrific, total, tough, transcendent, tremendous, unmitigated, unqualified, utter, wonderful

accomplished, admirable, attractive, capital, certified, champion, choice, choicest, desirable, distinctive, distinguished, estimable, exceptional, exemplary, exquisite, fine, finest, first, first-class, first-rate, high, incomparable, invaluable, magnificent, meritorious, notable, noted, outstanding, peerless, premium, priceless, prime, select, skillful, sterling, striking, superb, superior, superlative, superlative, supreme, tiptop, top-notch, transcendent, wonderful

acceptable, ace, admirable, agreeable, bad, bully, capital, choice, commendable, congenial, crack, deluxe, excellent, exceptional, favorable, first-class, first-rate, gnarly, gratifying, great, honorable, marvelous, nice, pleasing, pleasant, positive, precious, prime, reputable, satisfactory, satisfying, select, shipshape, sound, spanking, splendid, sterling, stupendous, super, superb, supereminent, superexcellent, superior, tip-top, valuable, welcome, wonderful, worthy

able, active, adequate, capable, cogent, compelling, competent, convincing, direct, effectual, efficacious, efficient, emphatic, energetic, forceful, forcible, impressive, live, moving, operative, persuasive, play hardball, potent, powerful, powerhouse, practical, producing, productive, resultant, serviceable, serving, sound, striking, sufficient, telling, trenchant, useful, valid, virtuous, wicked, yielding

adept, adequate, adroit, alert, bright, capable, cleft, competent, cunning, dexterous, easy, effortless, endowed, equipped, facile, fitted, intelligent, knowing, powerful, ready, smart, strong, worthy, qualified

A-OK, adequate, all right, ample, average, cogent, comfortable, competent, cool, decent, enough, fair, fulfilling, gratifying, groovy, hunky-dory, passable, peachy, pleasing, satisfying, solid, sound, sufficient, suitable, tolerable, unexceptional, valid

accomplished, acute, astute, brainy, bright, celebrated, clever, discerning, egghead, eminent, excellent, exceptional, expert, genius, gifted, glorious, illustrious, ingenious, intellectual, inventive, knowing, knowledgeable, magnificent, masterly, outstanding, penetrating, profound, quick, quick-witted, sharp, smart, splendid, superb, talented, whiz

advance, ameliorate, amend, augment, better, boost, civilize, convalesce, correct, cultivate, develop, doctor up, edit, elevate, emend, enhance, gain ground, gain strength, grow better, help, increase, lift, look up, make strides, meliorate, mend, perk up, pick up, polish, progress, promote, purify, raise, rally, recover, rectify, recuperate, refine, reform, revamp, revise, shape up, sharpen, straighten out, take off, touch up, update, upgrade

abominable, amiss, atrocious, awful, bad news, beastly, blah, bottom out, bummer, careless, cheap, cheesy, crappy, cruddy, crummy, defective, deficient, diddly, dissatisfactory, downer, dreadful, erroneous, fallacious, faulty, garbage, godawful, gross, grungy, icky, imperfect, inadequate, inadequate, incorrect, inferior, junky, lousy, not good, off, poor, raunchy, rough, sad, scuzzy, sleazeball, sleazy, slipshod, stinking, substandard, synthetic, the pits, unacceptable, unsatisfactory

base, below par, common, contemptible, crude, diminutive, dwarfed, exiguous, faulty, feeble, humble, imperfect, inadequate, incomplete, inferior, insignificant, insufficient, lacking, low-grade, lowly, meager, mean, mediocre, miserable, modest, niggardly, ordinary, paltry, paltry, pitiable, pitiful, plain, reduced, rotten, scanty, second-rate, shabby, shoddy, skimpy, slight, sorry, sparse, subnormal, subpar, substandard, trifling, trivial, unsatisfactory, valueless, weak, worth

actualize, advance, amplify, augment, beautify, broaden, build up, cultivate, deepen, dilate, elaborate, enlarge, enrich, evolve, exploit, extend, finish, heighten, improve, intensify, lengthen, magnify, materialize, perfect, polish, promote, realize, refine, spread, strengthen, stretch, unfold, widen, work out

add detail, amplify, bedeck, clarify, comment, complicate, decorate, develop, devise, discuss, embellish, enhance, enlarge, evolve, expatiate, explain, expound, flesh out, garnish, interpret, ornament, particularize, polish, produce, refine, specify, work out

alter, amend, better, change, clean up, cure, debug, do over, doctor, edit, fiddle with, fix up, go over, help, improve, launder, make over, make right, make right, mend, pay dues, pick up, polish, reclaim, reconstruct, rectify, redress, reform, regulate, remedy, remodel, reorganize, repair, retouch, review, revise, right, scrub, set right, set straight, shape up, shape up, straighten out, touch up, turn around, upgrade

accommodate, adapt, adjust, alter, alternate, commute, convert, diminish, diverge, diversify, evolve, fluctuate, make innovations, make over, merge, metamorphose, moderate, modify, modulate, mutate, naturalize, recondition, redo, reduce, reform, regenerate, remake, remodel, renovate, reorganize, replace, resolve, restyle, revolutionize, shape, shift, substitute, tamper with, temper, transfigure, transform, translate, transmute, transpose, turn, vacillate, vary, veer, warp

Friday, November 20, 2009

Playing the Piano

It is a dream comes true! Gosh, I am now able to read music score and play the piano, albeit simple songs. Not only that, my whole family of four have to take turns for our daily practice session.

And I forget to mention that sitting on the bench and playing the ebony and ivory keys can be so therapetic. It is such a wonderful feeling as the body moves with the tempo of the music which is produced instantaneously at the strike of the finger.

It is also an interesting reversal of role as my elder boy becomes our music tutor in the family. Proudly, he will point out to us that instead of crochet, we have played a minim, or a dotted minim instead of semibreve. At the same time, he also generously dishes out advice on how to remember the music notes. For example, the little tip that for bass cleft, "F" note is in between the two dots of the bass cleft symbol. Another tip is that the position of the "C" note for bass cleft and treble cleft being mirror image with the third line as the reference line.

Ha, he has forgotten how much agony he has gone through when he was the first in our family to be schooled in music. That is one main reason why he has taken three long years and not taken his practical examination yet, though he has managed a merit for his Grade 1 theory. Now that the whole family has joined the fray, there is so much fun in learning.

Hey, don't jump queue, it's my turn to play now!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sharks in Your Life

From a friend:

The Japanese have always loved fresh fish. But the waters close to Japan have not held many fish for decades.

So to feed the Japanese population, fishing boats got bigger and went farther than ever. The farther the fishermen went, the longer it took to bring in the fish. If the return trip took more than a few days, the fish were not fresh. The Japanese did not like the taste.

To solve this problem, fishing companies installed freezers on their boats. They would catch the fish and freeze them at sea. Freezers allowed the boats to go farther and stay longer. However, the Japanese could taste the difference between fresh and frozen and they did not like frozen fish. The frozen fish brought a lower price.

So fishing companies installed fish tanks. They would catch the fish and stuff them in the tanks. After a little thrashing around, the fish stopped moving. They were tired and dull, but alive. Unfortunately, the Japanese could still taste the difference. Because the fish did not move for days, they lost their fresh-fish taste.

The Japanese preferred the lively taste of fresh fish, not sluggish fish. So how did Japanese fishing companies solve this problem? How do they get fresh-tasting fish to Japan ? If you were consulting the fish industry, what would you recommend?

How Japanese Fish Stay Fresh:
To keep the fish tasting fresh, the Japanese fishing companies still put the fish in the tanks. But now they add a small shark to each tank. The shark eats a few fish, but most of the fish arrive in a very lively state. The fish are challenged.

Have you realized that some of us are also living in a pond but most of the time tired & dull, so we need a shark in our life to keep us awake and moving?

Basically in our lives sharks are new challenges to keep us active and taste better..... The more intelligent, persistent and competent you are, the more you enjoy a challenge.

If your challenges are the correct size, and if you are steadily conquering those challenges, you are a conqueror. You think of your challenges and get energized. You are excited to try new solutions. You have fun. You are alive!

Recommendations for us:
1. Instead of avoiding challenges, jump into them. Beat the heck out of them. Enjoy the game. If your challenges are too large or too numerous, do not give up. Failing makes you tired. Instead, reorganize. Find more determination, more knowledge, more help.
2. God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but he did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears and light for the way.
3. Disappointments are like road bumps, they slow you down a bit but you enjoy the smooth road afterwards. Don't stay on the bumps too long. Move on!
4. When you feel down because you didn't get what you want, just sit tight and be happy, because God has thought of something better to give you. When something happens to you, good or bad, consider what it means. There's a purpose to life's events, to teach you how to laugh more or not to cry too hard.
5. No one can go back and make a brand new start. But anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Weekly Ritual

I am told that if we can just set aside a little bit of our time each day, we are on the journey to great things.

It sounds simple and easy enough. Afterall, what's so difficult to squeeze half an hour each day. However, the problem comes with one has so much interests that one will get pretty stressed out by allocating a small amount of time each day.

Allow me to list down my weekly ritual:

(1) In order to have home-cooked dinner every night after work, I have to wake up even earlier on Saturday to do marketing and the preparations for the week ahead. Thereafter, I have to forego an hour of lazying on the bed and instead trying real hard to find my way in my bleary eyes.

(2) By the time, I am fully awakened after the cooking of the meal, I set aside about half an hour each morning to read the daily newspaper. Weekend is reserved for reading with an eye for creative writing techniques and new words. That is the best way to build up one's language skills.

(3) To have a regular exercise routine, I do it during my lunch hour. So while my colleagues are having a leisure one hour catching up session, I am too but catching up on the treadmill.

(4) Once home after work, besides the mundane housework that accompanied having a home-cooked dinner, there is homework supervision to be done for my two boys. Then I need to teach my younger boy phonics.

(5)Being a toastmaster also means setting aside time each month to craft out a speech and rehearse before the monthly club meeting.

(6)To have quality time with my husband, I need to hit out at the golf course. It is not that I love to play golf but that's almost the only time I can have a good talk with him.

(7) I also need to set aside some time each week, to collect my thoughts and to post in my blog.

Hmm, I can see that I have already a number of items on my plate.

It is no wonder that I was struggling to maintain a new routine of exercising my vocal cords and learning piano by squeezing half an hour each day. By the end of two weeks, I am very exhausted. Slowly, I drop the first item off my to-do list. For the second, instead of a daily event, it becomes every other day. Time to sit down and plan realistically....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tee-off and High Tea

We love to drive up north to Malaysia. As we come through the Causeway from Singapore, Johor Bahru opens like a stage curtain with its old towers and magnificent view of the Malaysian shoreline.


We venture a little further to Tanjong Puteri Golf resort and the scenery changes from one of old world charm to nature's bounty.

Set in a beautiful backdrop with lush landscape that blends with natural and waterways, the Tanjong Puteri golf course provides an ambience of calmness of being so close to nature. It is difficult to lose one's cool in such a serene surroundings. The breeze that comes ever so often play with our hair and also keep the heat at check.

Source: Above picture is taken at Tanjong Puteri Golf Resort

High Tea

After sweating out for the 18-hole, it is time for high tea. In our trustworthy car, we drive into a remote road leading to a ramshackle Chinese restaurant on stilts. As we tame our grumbling, rumbling tummies, we take in the fabulous view from the restaurant. We immense in the rustic charms that are reminiscent of a bygone era. It feel nostagic and relaxing. Ha, this is life....

Source: Above picture is from the Chinese Restaurant on stilts. The faraway island is one of Singapore's northern islands - Pulau Ubin.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Stories for Primary 2 or Grade 2 Students 1

Examination is over. Now is the time to interest your child in reading. I have some stories re-written as well as some journals which I have written together with my boy. These little stories are suitable for Primary 2 or Grade 2 children.

As you read with your child, I will like to suggest that your child to have a little jotterbook to jot down the phrases which interest him or her. The jotterbook will serve as a phrase/ word bank which your child could read in leisure. This will help your child build up his or her vocabulary and improve his or her language skills.

For words that are unfamiliar, he or she could then check up the meaning and pronunciation later. Such an approach will not diminish the joy of reading, yet at the same time capitalise on the opportunity to learn and expand the mastery of the language.

You can further double the fun by drawing the characters or scenes as described in the story. This will make learning more memorable and exciting.


The Magic Kettle

Once, there was a monk who bought a beautiful tea kettle. He filled it with water. He was abut to set it on the flames when the kettle cried out, "Too hot! Too hot!"

The monk was frightened out of his wits. He quickly gave the kettle away to a poor man.

That night, the poor man was awakened from his slumber. He heard a scratching noise. The kettle had grown a head, four legs and a tail! It said, "I am called the Tea Kettle of Good Luck. I am actually a squirrel in disguise."

The tea kettle performed acrobatics for the people. The news of the amazing kettle spread far and wide. The shows were always packed.

The poor man had become wealthy. He said to the kettle, "You have certainly earned your name 'Tea Kettle of Good Luck'."

The next day, the poor man went to the monk. He gave him half of his money and the kettle. He said, "It is to you that I owe this fortune. Thank you."

The monk placed the kettle on a special shelf. It was his treasure.


The Singing Donkey

Long ago, there was a small town called Devpur. A donkey named Dhola and a fox named Fiji lived there. They were very good friends and met every night to look for food.

One night, they came upon a cucumber farm. Dhola ate the juicy cucumbers while Fiji gobbled up chicks at an animal farm nearby. At the break of dawn, they returned to their homes. Since then, they did this every night. The thin and weak Dhola soon looked bigger and stronger, thanks to the cumcumbers.

One particular night, Dhola was in a cheerful mood after his dinner.

"I'm in the mood for singing," he told Fiji.

Fiji smiled and said, "My friend, don't start singing now or we would wake the watchmen up. We are stealing their cumcumbers and we would be inviting trouble by singing."

Dhola was furious.

"You are plain jealous! You do not think I can sing, do you? Well, listen to this!" Dhola exclaimed.

Upon saying this, Dhola started to sing at the top of his voice. The silence of the night was broken by Dhola's loud braying sounds. The watchmen who were fast asleep were awoken by them. Armed with their sticks, they ran after the donkey.

Source: "Singing Donkey" at Pitara Kids Network@


Caught Redhanded

John turned the door knob as quietly as he could. He had been playing basketball with his friends at the basketball court and had totally forgotten about the time. He only knew it was late when it became dark. John was worried and he hoped that his mother would not reprimand him for coming hom late. He moved stealthily into his room but the lights came on in the living room.

"You are late again!" a familiar voice said furiously.

John knew that his mother, Mrs Lim, had been waiting for him. He lowered his head and froze. He knew that he was in trouble.

"Why are you late for dinner again? This is the fourth time this week that you are late for dinner."

John tried to find excuses but he knew he could not escape this time.