Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Three Great Forces that Rule the World

This is the script which I have written for the Humorous Speech Contest. I have prepared it to fulfill Project 2 "Resources for Entertainment" of the Advanced Communication Manual, The Entertaining Speaker.

I like the topic as it marries my two passions of my life - my professional knowledge and my role as a mother.


The Three Great Forces that Rule the World

“Ka-Ko-Ko-Ko, Ka-Ko-Ko-Ko, the sky is falling!” Henny-Penny, a farm chicken shouted at the top of her voice as she raced down the road. “Run, run for your life!”

“Henny-Penny,” Goosey Loosey, the goose living in the farm next to Henny Penny stopped her and asked, “Why do you say so?”

“H..rrr…H..rrr…” Henny Penny panted and tried to catch her breath before she let out in bullet-train speed, “See this bump on my head. I was having my lunch when a piece of the sky hit me. The sky must be falling. I need to hurry to alert the King of this critical information.”

“Wah, your bump is certainly big and bloodshot.” Goosey Loosey’s eyes widened as she examined the swell. “We should quickly tell the rest. Let me join you in this noble quest.”

Soon, two became twenty, and twenty became forty. Everyone was panicking.

En route to the King’s palace, the farm animals met Foxy Loxy, the fox who invited them to his cave which according to Foxy Loxy would protect them from the falling sky. Of course, that was not true, the farm animals became Foxy Loxy’s meal.


I have just shared with you an English Fairy Tale, Henny Penny. Of course, the sky was not falling, Henny Penny was hit on the head with an acorn while eating her lunch. There was a lot of fear and panic in the Henny Penny’s crowd. And the crafty Foxy Loxy took advantage of it.

Here it is the first great force that rules the world – it starts with the letter “F” and ends with the letter “R”. FEAR that’s right.

There are many people in the world just like our Henny Penny. They panic when they listen to the news. They think the sky is falling and we are all about to die. And this is precisely what happen what the stock market or property market crashes. This just happened as recent as in around March 2009. Everyone was dumping their shares, selling their properties at fire-sale prices. And no one was interested to buy. But now when prices are high, people are busy chasing these assets.

Why is this so? These people believe that well if they buy high, they can sell even higher. But why is there any sucker that is willing to pay a higher price for the same asset? [Pause] This is irrational right? But this is how the stock market works. It thrives on greed.

There is a story about a dog biting a piece of meat in its mouth. He was on the bridge when he saw another dog with a big juicy piece of meat in the river. He was greedy and wanted to snatch the meat as well. “Woof” he barked and opened his mouth, dropping his meat into the river. He then realized that the dog he saw was his own reflection. So instead of two pieces of meat, the dog was now left with none.

I would say many people remembered this lesson well. In around April last year, the market rallied. Some were tempted to go in to take a position while many waited. Then the many heard about their friend, Freddy making a bundle from the stock market. They wished they were Freddy but then they told themselves “better be saved than sorry”, wait a little while more to confirm that the coast was clear. Soon, every Tom, Dick and Harry in the coffee shop and even taxi drivers were talking about how much they had made in the stock market in early this year. Then many decided that this was the time. They took a huge position but then market headed south. This is a very familiar story. What happened?

This is the third force that rules the world. It is ignorance or stupidity. It is no different from believing that the sky is falling when the acorn hit Henny-Penny in my first story. Many believe that money too will fall from the sky. Like sheep, they find safety in numbers. There is no alternative to hard work. If you want to be a good public speaker, you have to practice the craft. If you want to win a speech contest, you have to invest time and effort to craft a good speech, prepare and practice. So if you want to make money from the stock market, you have to study the market, the asset that you are buying and not merely following what others are doing.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have shared with you what Albert Einstein has once said about the three great forces rule the world. They are stupidity, fear and greed.
Conquer them and you will be the one who would rise to extraordinary heights amongst the sea of ordinary men.

To your success.

Back to you Toastmaster of the Day.


Sunday, August 22, 2010


DTM Mr Edward Ma forwarded the story below to me. Hope you like this story as much as I do. Never give up. Remember winners never quit and quitters never win.

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Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!" My father yelled at me.

"Can't you do anything right?"

Those words hurt worse than blows... I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn't prepared for another battle.

"I saw the car, Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driving."

My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt.

Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts.. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil.. What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon . He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often.

The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess.

The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing.

At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived. But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor's orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust.

Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue.

Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad's troubled mind.

But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.

The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered in vain.

Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, "I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article."

I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world's aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed.

Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.

I pointed to the dog. "Can you tell me about him?"

The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement. "He's a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow." He gestured helplessly.

As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. "You mean you're going to kill him?"
"Ma'am," he said gently, "that's our policy. We don't have room for every unclaimed dog..."

I looked at the pointer again.. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. "I'll take him," I said.

I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch. "Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!" I said excitedly.

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust.. "If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't want it" Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house.

Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. "You'd better get used to him, Dad. He's staying!"

Dad ignored me. "Did you hear me, Dad?" I screamed.

At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate.

We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him.. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw.

Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw... Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal.

It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne . Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.

Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad's bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne 's cold nose burrowing through our bed covers He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.

Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of mind.

The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."

"I've often thanked God for sending that angel," he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article..... ..

Cheyenne 's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter . ...his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father. .. and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.

Life is too short for drama & petty things, so laugh hard, love truly and forgive quickly. Live While You Are Alive. Forgive now those who made you cry You might not get a second time.

But do share this with someone. Lost time can never be found.

May you reach for your dreams and always remember to be proud of who you are knowing God always answer prayers.

"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Trip Down the Memory Lane

It was a rainy, lazy Sunday morning. The heavy downpour had just given way to a light drizzle. Hubby and I were hungry to go for places to fill our grumbling and rumbling tummies. We were kept at home as the then formidable sky promised a storm in the brewing.

A quick search in the Internet decided our brunch destination. The blog threw out a few to-go places for dimsum. We zoomed into Asia Grand Restaurant as it is one of the few places in town which serves dimsum half an hour early at 10.30 am compared to 11 am by most restaurants. We were so hungry that we could not wait a second longer.

Maybe it was our growling stomaches, food at Asia Grand Restaurant was glorious and heavenly. It was love at first taste for the savory century porridge. The you tiao was fried to crispy perfection and the congee was generously laden with minced meat and sliced duck meat. The chao siew bao, fried prawn dumplings and chang fen did not disappoint in both the sight and taste departments too, though the shao mie and lotus leaf dumpling were mediocre in comparison. The restaurant also scored high in their service. There was a server in charge of our table at a distance so as to avail us with the much needed privacy for our small talk. At the same time, close enough to refill our tea before the last drop was emptied.

Perhaps what I loved most was the pictureque view in front of me. I was seated opposite the full-glass window, shrouded in veil-like curtains that allowed only soft natural light to come into the restaurant. At the same time, I could enjoy the view of the magnificent, historic Raffles Hotel juxtaposed against tall and comtemporary buildings.

I noticed that there was a delivery van which stopped to deliver goods. It sent me down to a trip down the memory lane. My father was an odd-job laborer who delivered food to food stalls and small-time restaurants. I used to squat in the "cargo-compartment" of his three-wheel motorbike. These motorbikes are the regular two-wheeler but fitted with a metal cart on the side for goods. Compared to vans, motorbikes consume lesser petrol and hence cheaper to maintain. However, they are not allowed in the expressway. For such reasons, my family used to live in the city area.

After the sumptuous brunch, hubby and I braved the light drizzle to the nearby Bras Basah building. It was another of those places which held many of our still standalone memories - we had yet to meet. Hubby worked during his school holiday as pamphlet distributor, shoving pamplets to passers-by. As for me, I did not part-time at Bras Basah but I would be there to catch a glimpse of some of the xingyao singers during my teenage years. It was also there that Eric Moo launched his fledging singing career.

We headed back with a spring in our step. Our hearts warmed by the sweet memories of our past and a deep sense of gratitude of what our country, Singapore has given us in terms of opportunities for sons and daughters of coolies to also rise and reach out for our dreams.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Time Management and Toastmasters

Tonight, I will like to share with my readers on time management. I have a time log which I record down what I do at what time. It depends on which aspect of time management one intend to improve. For example, I always wonder why is it that I have so little free time after work. So I record the way I "spend" my time from the moment I wake up till I turn in.

We all have 24 hours each day. I used to think that I have to forego my sleep to do more. Not anymore. Yes, the formulae "there is no such thing as nothing for something" still holds. But we can learn to be more effective and efficient with our time.

Recall - To be effective is to do the right things and to be efficient is to do the things right. To be effective, we need to know what we want in life. We need to set goals. To be efficient, we need to keep our eyes open on ways to improve our productivity. That is one of reasons I join the Toastmasters Club. In fact, I found that through diligently doing the projects, I have not only improved my speaking skills but also my writing skills - vital skills for my job.

In closing, I will like to share a very meaningful quote which I read in Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill, the best way to conquer fear is courage. So if you fear to speak, you have to conquer this fear by courageously taking the stage. We need desire - it is like the fuel that will propel the rocket. That is why mothers are the greatest beings on earth is our love for our young ones, this love gives us immense courage to surmount the seemingly unattainable.

To Your Success in Time Management