Friday, September 26, 2008

shall i compare thee to a summer's day?

the fading of a summer's day
coastline of santa barbara, california

as i was browsing around and searching for a poem to read and present in communication skills class, i came across several that left me pondering about literature and the use of poems to convey emotions and ideas and knowledge.

in the opening episode of this season of heroes, mohinder suresh narrates his usual epilogue consisting entirely the poem "the second coming" by yeats. and the poem is SO deep and full of meaning that i'm sure the average viewer will not bother to dissect. besides i have trouble relating the plot arcs that are set up in the episode to the poem.

anyway, the poem was way too scary and depressing so i didn't want to read that in class (although one classmate read something along the same lines). i went for the other extreme - love poems. (: and after looking through several by blake and all, i chose a sonnet by william shakespeare.

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."

- Sonnet XVIII, William Shakespeare
it's a beautiful poem and i really like it. (: it makes me feel happy and warm.


the many lessons on metacognition, constructivism, educational psychology, philosophy of science and etc. have been leaving me with so many thoughts lately. sometimes i don't even know where to start. having thoughts is one thing, collecting them to put in a coherent manner is another.

let me sort out my life first.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

an alien vine, i am.

paris's one and only vineyard in the district of montmarte;
paris, france

pastor's pre-YAG seminar message on saturday has been on my mind since saturday. as i drive to school on my own everyday, it's the times that i have for myself. to escape from the realities of life and growing up into adulthood. to assume responsibilities and all that jazz.

well anyway something struck me (and all at ypg3-yag meeting) speechless.

"Yet I had planted you a noble vine,
a seed of highest quality.
How then have you turned before Me
Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?"

- Jeremiah 2:21

there were many instances recorded when we have failed. Jeremiah wrote this about Israel, Isaiah wrote this about Judah, Paul wrote this about the Corinthian church. these are 3 examples that i know of, which means there are many others.

but they all have the same idea. that we have been made in God's image. we are God's work, and He meant for us to be "a noble vine, and seeds of the highest quality", giving the best fruits, grapes. something along the way made us stumble and fall. we degenerate spiritually and fall away from God our Creator. and i'm suddenly made aware of this dire fact.

we forgot that we are meant to be partakers of the divine nature. that divine nature that God has placed in everyone of us. i'm constantly rebuked (by myself) when i see Pastor's life and work and ministry. i'm really thankful for his example and his willingness to help us correct our lives and teach and guide us to live the life God has planned for us. to always seek to imrpove our spiritual life and keep track of our walk with the Lord.

hence i'm really excited about the upcoming seminar. (:

Friday, September 12, 2008

democracy and education.

so it is widely known that singapore students excel in science and math, and often clinch top prizes at international competitions.

many countries seek to learn from singapore's education system.

so a delegation from the US came along, asking what is the secret to our success in educating our kids.

my brilliant professor quipped,

"we don't practice democracy."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

history lessons.

i realize that one of my i'm-too-busy-and-stressed coping mechanisms, among many others, is to write about my travels and look at my photos. plus i'm really looking forward to japan in december and wearing winter clothes again. (:

here are my snaps of berlin, germany. to help me cope with the 5-6 deadlines-a-week NIE life.

the very majestic brandenburg gate.
site of many historic moments of germany.
constructed in 1700s, it survived 2 world wars and is still standing tall in relatively good conditions. it was site of the armies allied forces marching to meet the nazis, part of the berlin wall separating east berlin from west berlin.

there's a fascinating story regarding the brandenburg gate, the french embassy in berlin and the french. the square surrounding the gate is called pariser platz, which means paris square.
the statue at the top of the gate is victoria, the goddess of victory, which replaced the goddess of peace after germany defeated france in the prussian war in 1800s. and victoria is fixing her gaze on the building on pariser platz that is the...

french embassy.
plus a similar statue rests on an arc in paris,
just a stone's throw away from the louvre.
the arc du tromphe du carroussel.

i love the greek columns.

a silky terrier (?) on our walking tour.
this little guy sits down and rests when our tour guide, rachel was telling us stories and historical facts. he got a little tired after awhile.

usually i forget why i take a photograph if it was something ordinary. but i never forgot this, 'cos it was where Hitler's bunker used to be. the very same bunker where he and his wife committed suicide by ingesting cynanide the day allied forces bombed berlin.

now, there are no remaining monuments or historical artifacts that are related to hitler existing. the bunker was destroyed along with everything he owned. to prevent neo-nazis from building a shrine or place of "worship". what was scary was that on his death anniversary last year, somebody threw rose petals all over this sidewalk.

peeking into the former air force headquarters of the nazi forces.
now the building is a government office, i think the ministry of tax.

standing in the former death strip,
a strip of land between the 2 walls of the berlin wall.
snipers and soldiers guard this strip 24/7 and shot anybody who tries to cross it.
of course, there were a few success escapes.
the stories we heard from our walking tour guide immensely interesting.
i really couldn't type them all out here.
i remember one involving a guy who traded a west berlin girl (he picked up and romanced) to free his girlfriend trapped in east berlin, only to be thrown into jail (both of them) 'cos the traded girl was the daughter of a high-ranking government official.
another involved driving a very short convertible under the barrier gates of checkpoint charlie (photo below).

of course, the events that led to the fall of the berlin wall were also SO fascinating, even though XH fell asleep. (: one guy's PR mistake led to the reunification of germany - is a story that should be made known to everyone.

checkpoint charlie.
a border crossing used by americans, allied forces and foreigners.
and no charlie is not the name of the guy that founded the checkpoint.
it's just the military alphabet thingy.
alpha, beta, charlie, delta.
this is the 3rd of 8 border crossings.

a monument for the mothers of soldiers who perished in the world wars.
with an open roof, the mother looks as if she's crying when it rains.

the berlin cathedral,
located on an island within berlin,
called museum island.
it's greenish tinge exterior reminds me of the statue of liberty.
well it was bombed by the allied forces during WWII, but is now restored.

the traffic light man!
a national campaign to get their children to observe traffic light rules,
they redesigned their traffic light man to this cute guy.
and then very smartly, launched all kinds of memorbilia and an official store.

the tv-tower of berlin.
my travel mates strike a pose.
don't know what the C sisters are doing. (:

this is AK, chilling out on a chair on the sidewalk,
while the girls check out a vintage store.
but it seems that they are leaving without us. hmmm.