Ellen Hopkin's masterpiece

Monday, September 22, 2008

Does over 600 free verse pages about teen suicide sound like a little much? It is at times, especially as the three interconnected protagonists reveal all the trauma they've endured in their short lives -- which includes everything from sexual abuse to abortion to cutting and more.

But by stringing together short lines, Hopkins is able to make each of her characters real and distinct. I find this book very interesting. Unlike the usual paperback novels, Allen managed to capture peoples attention by telling her stories in the form of poems. Along the way, readers will find themselves really caring for Vanessa, Conner, and especially funny and warm Tony, as the troubled teens start to deal with their demons, and depend on one another.

In the end, IMPULSE is a gritty and realistic book for mature teens only. It can open the door to a lot of conversations, thanks to the myriad topics it covers. Parents who do a quick flip through the book first will feel more prepared for the discussion.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

After months of craving, I get to eat spaghetti...finally. It was all thanks to Hachiroku Senpai and the gang for asking me to join them break their fast at East Coast Mall yesterday. Originally, the plan was to eat at Laksa Shack but due to my extended craving for spaghetti we decided to go to Pizza Hut instead.

When we got there it was already near Maghrib and the pizza parlour was fully seated. So, we went to carrefour to buy drinks and light foods. We found a soft, comfy seat right in front of Giordano. It was my first time breaking fast in the middle of the mall's wing and it was fun. Done eating, we went for our prayers at the mall's prayer room and headed to Pizza Hut. We found a table and ordered a set for 4 persons. A few minutes after taking our orders, the waiter served the dishes on our table.

And there it was. The dish I've been wanting to have since a few months back.


One look at it and I can't wait to get the taste of the tomato sauce in my mouth. At last, my longing for spaghetti have been paid up (and paid for!).
Hontoni arigatou hachiroku senpai!

this blur called life [vol.2]

Thursday, September 18, 2008

She drowned herself again
in the loudness of the crowd
in the craziness of despair
she loses herself there

the blur that blocks
her sight and senses
it has come again

the tears that flows
when all hopes seems hopeless
it has come again

give her an empty box
so she can fill it with her sorrows
dump the lumps of unhappiness
and throw it far away

all she needs is someone to be there
to just listen and tell her
that the rain won't be forever

all she wants, all she needs
is someone to hold her
and make sense of this blur

you're a year OLDER!

Monday, September 15, 2008

you're a year OLDER!

At the stroke of midnight of 15th September '08
has turned 9 years old.
you're a year older

::9 wishes for a boy who just turned 9::
may happiness and success always be by your side
it takes a long time to grow old so take your time
don't be afraid to make mistakes because when you do, we'll be here to guide you
live your life bit by bit and enjoy every moment of it
always remember that we love you unconditionally
if you don't know where you're going, turn to us and we'll show you
keep honesty and purity in your heart
don't deny your right to laugh, love, try, hurt, need, fear and cry because that's what humans do
live everyday like it's your birthday

to aa and adib: be nice to him AT ALL TIMES. not just when you need somebody to go upstairs or play video games with you.
(i repeat, AT ALL TIMES) =p
to mama and papa: please watch over aa and adib. love and miss you guys SO MUCH!
to wawa: guess we'll be celebrating from here, sis.

SENANDIKA ramadhan hangout [part 1]

Last Friday (12th September '08) SENANDIKA had it's RAMADHAN HANGOUT. It was my very first Senandika Hangout. I haven't been to any beaches in quite a while so this trip was really making me excited.

At exactly 6.15, 6 cars started their convoy from UMP - all headed to the Ramadhan bazaar at Jaya Gading. The plan was to stop there and buy kuih-muih so we can break our fast in the car while on our way to Masjid Sultan Ahmad 1. We managed to arrive at the mosque just in time for breaking fast. We ate, did Maghrib prayer at the mosque and continued with the agenda.

At around 7.50 we were ready to invade Ana Ikan Bakar Restaurant, Tanjung Lumpur for our main agenda. A group of senandika members were already there. Syafiq A, Bob, Bad and Syafiq C had to join us at the restaurant because they were waiting for K to close up Kami The Stall - a drinks stall at UMP's BazRa. Kak Izni and Kak Thiya had to join us a bit later too. The food was nice and we ate a lot. Senandika members really conquered the scene.

Done eating and creating havoc at the restaurant, all 8 cars made a move to attack Teluk Cempedak beach. It was my first time being there too and I happened to like the artistic atmosphere. Street performances, sand bottles, seashell bracelets, batik designs, paintings and portraits. It was enjoyable walking through all those things. And once our feet touched sand, the party begins...

SENANDIKA ramadhan hangout [part 2]

Because there are so much to share about the hangout, I had to separate it into 3 parts. This part tells what happened when we got to the beach. We got to Teluk Cempedak at about 10.30 pm. Frankly, the moment Bro Peedot's car was parked I couldn't wait to get my feet wet. Everybody was excited to get to the sandy beach. So, after walking through what I called the Walk of Art, we headed down to the beach.

I headed straight to the waters and played with it for a while. I guess this is my first time being at the beach at night. The sound of the beach was truly relaxing. I took the chance to record the sound of the waves so I can listen to it whenever I feel like going to the beach.

To add to the excitement, Kak Izni bought Big Apple donuts. It was as if she knew I'm craving for Big Apple donuts these days - very understanding. Hehehe~

To spice up the night, we played a few games which included musical bottle. It's called 'musical bottle' because we use somebody's mineral bottle as the rotating object. DJ and Syafiq A handled the music and whoever held the bottle the moment the music stopped had to act out a scene or a character given to them. The funniest was the part played by Bro Azril as a transvestite trying to hit on a man (played by Bob). I've never seen him in that character before and it was hillarious. Kudos to Bro Azril for playing that part well. After a while they changed the game to 'truth or dare' mode and this time Bro Azril and Rani handled the music. Several others received the honour to choose between truth or dare.

After the game we went for our prayer and spend some time to have a drink or snack. A few of us had to go back early because they had events the next day. Bro Peedot, Syafiq B and I got McFlurry for ourselves. We tried the new Mudpie McFlurry and asked for extra chocolate only to regret it later. It was yummy but its sweetness was too intense. While enjoying the sweetness of the cold, creamy ice we received a call from Syafiq A. They told us to hurry back to the beach for a surprise. So, we went back to the beach and saw beautiful candles lit on the sand. It happened to be the lantern festival season and the lights were very beautiful.

What makes it even more beautiful was when Bob bought some candles and Syafiq A, Bad, Aini, Wani and Nani made their own candle lights in the form of a heart shape with a flower in it. That was very sweet.

We passed the time playing with the water. They bought soap bubbles and we sang our heart out. Syafiq A, Bob, Bad, Rani and DJ sang Bila Rindu to me just to make me blush. Well guys, I'm sorry you didn't succeed. I actually joinned them singing. Suddenly Bad stood up and started doing an act and asked us to guess what he was doing. Then we started playing regu. That was a blast. We divided ourselves into 2 groups and the battle begun. When it came to my turn I had to sign out Pemburu Emas Yamashita. Imagine how hard that was for me. But I did it anyways. Thanks to the sengalness of the group, I had a great time.

At about 3.30 am we decided to make a move..
Next stop? to be continued..

SENANDIKA ramadhan hangout [part 3]

NEXT STOP: Coffee Street. We went there to just sit back and relax while having a cup of coffee. Well, for some of us actually. I didn't drink coffee. Although, I was rather interested in the cafe's caramel coffee and since I don't drink coffee I asked the waiter if they have any caramel tea. I was let down and ordered hot milo instead. We just sat and talked and joked around. The tempo was getting slower and slower because some of us are getting sleepy...

Then we went to De Mall to have our sahur. They say the roti canai there is good. They all ordered roti canai. Although I haven't eaten roti canai in quite a while, I just didn't feel like eating. So I just drank warm water.

We got back to UMP at 6.15 am. Everybody was tired and ready to doze off. The hangout was agreed by all to be a fun and enjoyable one. We did so many things...sweet things, stupid things, fun things. And all those things will be remembered. Thanx SENANDIKA for a moment like this...

what's new with SENANDIKA?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

SENANDIKA now has its own blog. Congratulations and kudos for the blog!
Proud to be part of the family.
(senandika sweeeet sangat!)

V for Vogue

Saturday, September 6, 2008

V. A masked character brilliantly played by Hugo Weaving in the movie V for Vendetta. I’ve watched this movie several times before and yet it never failed to steal my attention and stick me to the couch until the very end every time it is aired on television.

Apart from Natalie Portman’s committed role as V’s unlikely accomplice, Evey Hammond (she was required to have her head shaved on camera for a pivotal sequence in which Evey is imprisoned and tortured to reveal V’s identity), Hugo did a remarkable job in bringing the mask to life – a task which requires the actor to have a lot of experience and (specifically stated by the director, James McTeigue) a theatrical background. Though aided by lighting and cinematography, the actor needed to convey a great deal of emotion solely through his voice and body language, as no part of his eyes, mouth or face are visible behind V’s façade.

The movie itself contains a message which I think is relevant to the real world. A world of political chaos, greed for power and the silent urge of the people to rebel. It is no different than the world we are living in. Full of lies and betrayal, false promises and government-toppling schemes.

An excerpt from a speech in the movie (Ayn Rand influenced) from the character “V”:

“Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives.”

My favorite scene in the movie is the stunning sequence in which V touches off thousands of dominoes meticulously arranged in an intricate “V” pattern on the Shadow Gallery floor.

No doubt, V for Vendetta is a vividly vivacious and voluptuous volley of a very violently fun time.

what makes a good powerpoint presentation

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

1. Use the slide master feature to create a consistent and simple design template. It is fine to vary the content presentation (i.e. bulleted list, 2-column text, text & image), but be consistent with other elements such as font, colors, and background.

2. Simplify and limit the number of words on each screen. Use key phrases and include only essential information.

3. Use contrasting colors for text and background. Dark text on a light background is best. Patterned backgrounds can reduce readability of text.

4. Avoid the use of flashy transitions such as text fly-ins. These features may seem impressive at first, but are distracting and get old quickly.

5. Use good quality images that reinforce and complement your message. Ensure that your images maintain their impact and resolution when projected on a larger screen.

6. Practice with someone who has never seen your presentation. Ask them for honest feedback about colors, content, and any effects or graphics you've included.

7. Do not read from your slides. The content of your slides is for the audience, not for the presenter.

8. Do not speak to your slides. Many presenters face the direction of their presentation rather than their audience.

9. Do not apologize for anything in your presentation. If you believe something will be hard to read or understand, don't use it.

10. Have a Plan B in the event of technical difficulties.

what makes a good presenter

1. Know Your Stuff

Your comfort level with presenting will be high if you know everything about your topic. After all, the audience is looking to you to be the expert. However, don't overload the audience with your complete toolkit of knowledge about your topic. Three key points is just about right to keep them interested, allowing them to ask questions if they want more.

2. Make it Clear What You are There to Share With Them

Use the tried and true method that skilled presenters have used for eons.
  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
    • Outline briefly the key points you will talk about.
  2. Tell them.
    • Cover the topic in depth.
  3. Tell them what you told them.
    • Summarize your presentation in a few short sentences.

3. A Picture Tells the Story

Keep the audience's attention with pictures rather than endless bulleted slides. Often one effective picture says it all. There is a reason for that old cliché - "a picture is worth a thousand words".

4. You Can't Have Too Many Rehearsals

If you were an actor, you would not be performing without first rehearsing your part. Your presentation should be no different. It is a show too, so take time to rehearse -- and preferably in front of people -- so that you can see what works and what doesn't. An added bonus of rehearsing is that you will become more comfortable with your material and the live show will not come off as a recitation of facts.

5. Practice in the Room

What works while rehearsing at home or the office, may not come off the same in the actual room where you will present. If at all possible, arrive early enough so that you can become familiar with the room setup. Sit in the seats as if you were an audience member. This will make it easier for you to judge where to walk about and stand during your time in the spotlight. And -- don't forget to test out your equipment in this room long before it's show time. Electrical outlets may be scarce, so you may need to bring extra extension cords. And -- you brought an extra projector light bulb, right?

6. Podiums are Not for Professionals

Podiums are "crutches" for novice presenters. To be engaging with your audience you have to be free to walk among them if you can, or at least vary your position on stage, so that you will appear to be approachable to everyone in the room. Use a remote device so that you can change slides easily on the screen without having to be stuck behind a computer.

7. Speak to the Audience

How many presentations have you witnessed where the presenter either read from his notes or worse -- read the slides to you? The audience doesn't need you to read to them. They came to see and hear you speak to them. Your slide show is just a visual aid.

8. Pace the Presentation

A good presenter will know how to pace his presentation, so that it flows smoothly, while at the same time he is prepared for questions at any time -- and -- going back to Item 1, of course, he knows all the answers. Make sure to allow for audience participation at the end. If no one asks a questions, have a few quick questions of your own ready to ask them. This is another way to engage the audience.

9. Learn to Navigate

If you are using PowerPoint as a visual aid to your presentation, get to know the many keyboard shortcuts that allow you to quickly navigate to different slides in your presentation if the audience asks for clarity. For example, you may wish to revisit slide 6, which contains a wonderful picture illustrating your point.

10. Always Have a Plan B

Unexpected things happen. Be prepared to any disaster. What if your projector blew a light bulb (and you forgot to bring a spare) or your briefcase was lost at the airport? Your Plan B should be that the show must go on, no matter what. Going back to Item 1 once again -- you should know your topic so well that you can make your presentation "off the cuff" if need be, and the audience will leave feeling that they got what they came for.