Posts Tagged ‘ Australia ’

The Random Musings of an Attention-Seeking Author: 19 July 2012

 

I’ve been trying to reconnect with my old friends from across the seas (Australia), and I have to say, it is hard. What do you say when the fellow classmate you say hello to tells you that he got married to another one of your classmates? What do you say when a friend of yours from church informs you that a man you knew passed away? What do you say when your mate casually throws in there that a mutual acquaintance has a baby on the way?

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There’s Something in the Water

Hey.

How you all doing?

I’ve been a little preoccupied lately with a certain event that has been dominating my mind over the past few days, and it truly is one of epic proportions. People have been, and will continue to be affected by it.

What am I talking about?

My 18th Birthday.

Oh yes, the big ‘One-Eight’. The day where a young boy becomes a young man. The day that usually includes copious amounts of alcohol and/or gambling, and perhaps a celebratory smoke on a cigarette or a cigar. The day that you and your rambunctious friends might decide to spend in a bar getting intoxicated on beer, or maybe a foray into the dancing scene in a nightclub with a hundred other jam-packed bodies swaying and moshing to “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. The day that, in the case of my brother, resulted in a late night ambush by his friends, attacking him with eggs, flour, and spoilt milk in a lighthearted way of showing affection.

And I would be soon be eighteen.

I’ve heard many stories about being eighteen – now that you become 18, you’re legally entitled to do whatever you want. You can drink, you can drive (not after the first, though), you can gamble, you can enter nightclubs, and you can play paintball or airsoft without a protective vest.

Rambo was so tough, he played paintball without a protective vest AND used real bullets.

I’ve been so excited over this monumentous event that I even compiled a list of presents that I wanted my family, friends, well-wishes and random hobos from Hoboken to give to me. Among others, they include:

  1. My pick of Apple products. Because only Apple makes them cool.
  2. The new Justin Bieber CD. For mad stompin’ on fun!
  3. A pet iguana. Because how many people do you know can honestly say that they have a pet iguana?
  4. Platters of meat products.
  5. Lotion. Or various lotions. That’s why my skin stays so soft.
  6. A whacking stick. For all my whacking needs.
  7. Cigars…and a pussycat. They go in great with my supervillian costume I’ve been dying to try.
  8. An ‘I’m with Stupid’ T-Shirt. For emergencies, in case I ever run into Justin Bieber.
  9. The entire Star Wars collection. Never seen it, would like to. But someone already spoilt it for me – Darth Vader? Really Luke’s father.
  10. A jetski. Do I even need to explain?

The list goes on, but you get the idea.

A few days ago, my mind was rudely jolted out of its party-anticipating stupor by horrific news: Australia had been hit by flash floods of near-biblical proportions. Most of Brisbane, Gatton, Withcott, Toowoomba (west of Brisbane), and other Queensland towns had been devastated, and most of the area was literally under water. At last count, there were fifteen dead and many more missing.

What really brought it home to me is that I used to stay in Toowoomba. I had called the sleepy town home till two years ago, when I moved to Brisbane for university. I went to school there for 9 years, attended a church in the CBD for the same amount of time, hung out with friends at one of the three big shopping centres there. I knew many of the nooks and crannies, the side streets that crisscrossed the small houses, heck, the people that used to stay in those houses. Brisbane, or at least where I lived, was similar. I had only stayed there a year, but I was already familiar with the area around my house and the university. My family and I had made many friends, and I loved that place.

And but for the grace of God, who put me where I am now in Singapore, I would have been, literally, in the muddy soup.

Now, safe in Singapore, I shudder to think of the fear and turmoil that the residents of the affected areas must be going through. The evacuations, escaping the rising tides, or alternatively, sandbagging the house to protect the residents who have nowhere to go. Not only that, but they have to deal with the snakes and crocodiles who have taken it to wage a war on humanity. It’s enough to make many give up in sorrowful defeat.

And yet.

And yet.

And yet the flood waters did not reach the expected peaks, saving many lives and property. And yet the flood waters have already started to receed, allowing the residents in Toowoomba and other rural towns, at least, to start the cleanup. And yet aid in the form of volunteers and international aid have started to pour in to the affect areas. And yet many residents and churches and offered their houses as evactuation centres. And yet places that were affected were not totally destroyed, and are slowly starting to get back up on their feet.

And yet it could have been so much worse.

So, as the days pass, and the flooding continue, let us remember the ones who need our thoughts most – the flood victims of Queensland who are struggling to get back on their feet. Instead of buying that Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, why not use get some McNuggets and send the money to the flood victims. Instead of throwing out that sweater that your mother-in-law made for you, why not donate it to the residents of Toowoomba. Instead of buying me the jetski, why not send it to the people who need it more than I do.

In the words of Queensland Premier Anna Bligh:

What we have here in Queensland tonight is a very grim and desperate situation. There are many Queenslanders tonight in critical and dire circumstances; emergency workers out facing risky situations and many people facing a very terrifying night. I think we can all say that our thoughts are with them over the coming hours and we pray and hope they’ll be safe when first light comes… [SOURCE]

I fully concur.

To donate to or volunteer for the Flood Relief, please visit http://myhillsong.com/ausfloods for more information.

A Rant about Stories, Using a Story

Ladies. Gentlemen. That weird guy in the back with a DeLorean. How are things in the future?

Firstly, I apologise for not updating this since July. Three things have demanded my attention:

  1. Uni work, assignments and readings. Self explanatory.
  2. The Australian 2010 Federal Election. Since I’m doing Constitutional Law as part of my degree, the current hung Parliament scenario now is almost like a dream come true. I’ve been boring my parents with the possible legal and pragmatic scenarios that could happen at any time, so much so that they are thinking of switching my degree to Bachelor of Leatherworking. Is that even a real degree?
  3. Plain Laziness. Yeah, sue me.

Today, though, I want to talk to everyone about something that has been bothering me for quite a long time: The State of Writing.

Huh?” You may say. “Is the state next to Washington?” And then I will hit you.

Or you may ask, “Whatever do you mean?” Good question.

Books and stories used to be really well written, with famous authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Hugh Lofting, and to a lesser extent Captain W. E. Johns producing marvellous works of fiction. Who could forget the best-selling Sherlock Holmes series,

or the intrepid Biggles series,

or even the famous vampire novel, Dracula?

Oh, har de har har har. That DOES serve to illustrate a point, though. Stories today have been “dumbed down” for the shorter attention span of the public, who can’t even sit through a 5 minute speech or 100 word document before getting distrac – OOH! BUTTERFLY!!

But how is the writing getting lousier? The creation of Fan Fiction. Yes, the very thing that allows people to use their creative juices and think of great alternate adventures involving their favourite characters in TV, books, movies and so on leads to a massive lack of quality writing. Many FanFiction writers (not all, I do stress) create stories that have poor grammar, or no description, or their characters inconsistent with the original show/book without saying so. Or even all three.

If you want to have a look, go to FanFiction.net and just click around on a couple of stories. Without a doubt, there will be many that are poorly written. Enough that would make you feel like buying the poor sap a dictionary.

(A/N) I would like to stress here that there are some FanFiction writers who are great writers, and their stories are marvellous. However, those that do not tend to bring it down for the rest of us. No insult is intended. Please don’t sue / kill / use a cattle prod on me.

To illustrate a good story, let me tell you guys one. This is how I got into writing in the first place. A story of love, determination, and friendship.

I was just a young kid, living the high life in the school system. I would painfully meander along to class everyday, strive hard to score good grades, and hang out with my friends during recess. Afterwards, it was homework, television, music, and piano to while away the lonely nights. Life was just, well, mundane.

Until one of my best friends changed all that.

I had known Kelly for a long time, ever since I was young, and she was one of the few people who would give me the time of the day. Often times, people would ignore me and regard me as a weird outcast – but Kelly never did that. Most days we would hang out and talk (always with other friends around, of course), just enjoying the other’s company.

And I committed what, in hindsight, was definitely a bad decision. I fell in love with her.

Oh, it was a gradual thing. I only noticed it when I discovered that all I wanted to do was to talk to her, to hold her close, and be the best friend that she could ever want. Maybe even more. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. And by then it was too late.

Being the romantic that I was, I decided to confess my true feelings to her. Being the coward that I was, I decided to do it by letter. Night after night, when my parents thought I was simplifying a polynomial equation to the lowest algebraic factor, I was actually hard at work pouring out my feelings on paper.

Finally, it was all done. I chose Valentines Day to give it to her (cheesy, I know), and boy, was I nervous. I was figuratively sweating bullets and wetting my pants, and my teeth were literally chattering. In hindsight, I much preferred it that way rather than the other way round.

Gathering up my courage, I strode up to her, card and rose in hand. She was on the phone, and just as I approached, she hung up and turned to me, her pretty eyes aglow and excitement radiating off her face.

Before I could get a word out, she leapt forward and hugged me, words tumbling out in a rush.

“Oh my god, I can’t believe it! Mark just asked me to be his Valentine! I’ve had a crush on him for, like, ever! Ohmigod, I can’t believe it! This is the happiest day of my life!”

***

I still can’t remember how I got through the rest of the year. Needless to say, I burnt the letter and the rose when I got home (to which Greenpeace objects strenuously). I was devastated, heartbroken. But eventually, I got over it. Kelly never knew about my feelings, since I decided that our friendship is more important than my selfish ambitions. All I wanted was for her to be happy. And to this day, Kelly and I are still really good friends.

I started writing short stories after that, as a way of keeping myself occupied. And now it has become a full-blown hobby. Other than assignments, church, and TV, this is what I do in my spare time.

But you know what? I still think of her from time to time. To use a line from a song by a band called The Young Veins:

“I tried to love you, but you still love him, so
I’ll keep my distance and lie to the truth….”

And I’ll never know what would have happened had I told her just one day earlier.

***

So, what was the point of all that? The point was, I made it all up off the top of my head.

But before you start booing and throwing rotten grapefruits, that was done to demonstrate a good story. There was good grammar, formatting, and the story flowed logically. And most importantly, it was interesting. And that’s all that matters.

Before I go, I’m going to leave you with a something written by a real author. C.S. Lewis, author of the bestselling Chronicles of Narnia series and other great Christian books (which I recommend everyone reads), also wrote this great paragraph in is sixth Chronicles of Narnia book, The Silver Chair:

Gay,” said Puddleglum with a deep sigh. “That’s what we’ve got to be. Gay. As if we hadn’t a care in the world. Frolicsome. You two youngsters haven’t always got very high spirits, I’ve noticed. You must watch me, and do as I do. I’ll be gay. Like this…”

Stirring stuff. I bet Puddleglum voted for the Australian Greens Party.

Did you ever have a bad experience with a poorly written story? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

Why Brothers Bother, Haircuts Take Time, and Cameras Hurt

Well, another day has went by, and my exciting life just seems to go on. Despite the lack of anything actually news-worthy (like the healthcare bill – who cares?), there are a few interesting happenings that have…..err….happened. So, let’s see……

I woke up raring to go – I had to be at Hillsong Brisbane by 10.30, as I’m in the Production Team (I know, cool, right?). So, as previously arranged, I would catch a lift with my brother. Sounds nice? Not really. I was ready to go by 9.50 ( Yes, yes, eager beaver) – But my brother wasn’t. And he was determined to make me wait.

Sluggishly, he took his shower, got dressed, and so on. Then, he made breakfast. Nope, it wasn’t his usual choice (yogurt….or nothing…), but he decided to make a grilled cheese sandwich. And while it simmered and grilled, he drank some juice, just taking in the beauty of the kitchen. While he cooked and ate, I was trying to get him to go, or I would be late. But being the older (and stronger) brother, he took his time and enjoyed the cheese. “We’ll be there on time!” he said, munching on wholemeal.

Was making a grilled cheese sandwich really worth jeopardising my punctuality? Though, that sandwich DOES look good…..

There is one thing about my brother, he’s always right. No matter what the scenario, he always turns out right. Ever since he successfully predicted the way the ball would go from the penalty spot in Xbox Soccer (for the record, he has about 189 straight victories against me), and then predict that Australia would beat Uruguay in the 2006 Wold Cup Qualifier (I lost $4 in a bet because of that), my brother has continued to remain correct in all respects. And when we arrived at Hillsong at 10.30 exactly, he turned out right again. Annoying.

Moving on, I walked into the video team office, only to discover that I was on Camera 3 today. Now, Camera 3 was a roving camera; one that was situated on stage and had to be carried around for shots. When I heard the news, I nearly had a heart attack, for 2 reasons:

  1. I had never done Camera 3 before, and I had no idea what to do.
  2. Did I mention that I had never done Camera 3 before, and had no idea what to do?

Camera 3 required a lot of creativity in shot taking, invisibility in roving, and toughness in carrying the heavy camera around on your shoulder. Now, while I can be inconspicuous, the fact that I was on stage didn’t really help. Neither did my white sneakers – they would show up like a signal flare. Creativity is also another big zero for me, as anyone should know just my reading my blog. And as for toughness, forget it. I could barely carry the weight of my emotions, let alone a camera.

But surprisingly, it didn’t turn out too badly. I was able to pretend that I had some talent and take “oh-so-cool” shots of the keyboard, the electric guitar, and the choir. Keyboard, Guitar, Choir. Whoever said creativity was needed had to be joking – no one noticed that I barely moved from my spot, and got the same three shots over and over again.

Though my shoulder still hurts now. Ouch.

So THAT’S why South Sydney Rabbitohs’ Craig Wing’s shoulder hurt – he carried around a camera all day!

After THAT, I went for a common torture usually devised for little kids – the haircut. Yes, I went willingly to lop off my locks and fringe. While I personally didn’t think that my hair was long, my mum insisted otherwise. I think it was the fact that I started wearing animal skins and carrying a spear decided it for her.

Yep, that’s me. Cool, huh?

Haircuts are like doctor’s appointments. You have to wait for ages in a designated area with weird people and screaming children, and then you have a horrific experience that makes you swear never to go back. In fact, it’s almost exactly the same. Except for the lollipop at the end.

My haircut was slightly different. I had it in Sunnybank, an area where there is a lot of Chinese-speaking people. Thus, the hairdresser was Chinese. Unfortunately, my command of Chinese is about as good as that of my friend’s command of grammar and spelling when on MSN – almost non-existent. Ever tried to ask for a haircut and its style, and then do small talk, in broken Chinese? One word: Awkward.

That was where my brother came in. While his Chinese is only slightly better than mine, his Chinese IS still better than mine. And, he knows fashion. That guy can wake up ready for a fashion shoot. So, I let him tell the hairdresser how short to cut it. And boy, it was short. I was almost afraid people would need a magnifying glass to see it. But after applying hair gel and spray, it looked good.

So, what have we learned today?

  1. My brother is always right. Always. It’s really annoying, I know. But sometimes, the combination of three years more experience, intelligence, and “oh-so-suave” style can actually be quite helpful, and it can bring a fresh outlook on the world. Though when he says that he has a bridge to sell me in Sydney……
  2. Doing Roving Cameras on stage is very, very difficult. I have much more respect to those who did it at Toowoomba’s Australian Gospel Music Festival (AGMF; now Easterfest). And little cable-pullers that run away – watch out for them!
  3. Haircuts are awkward, especially if you can’t speak Chinese. The forced laughs, the confused looks…..man, I don’t want to go through that experience again. At least, until my hair grows out again. Hopefully, that won’t be for a long time.

So, all in all, not a bad Sunday. I might go for a grilled cheese sandwich now…..though, as my shoulder hurts so much, I might grill the camera instead…..

How did you spend YOUR day? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

Oh, Where is the Bus Driver? Or Even the Bus?

Alright, let me kick things off by saying that yes, it is an extremely hot day here in Brisbane. Very, very hot. It was so hot, I wore shorts instead of my usual jeans. Yes, it was THAT hot. But I digress.

If people were to describe me in one word, they would probably say stuff like antisocial, weird, outcast, loner…….you get the idea. But one word that probably would also come to mind would be afraid to try new things. Well, that’s not one word, but work with me here. I feel most comfortable at home, and dislike coming out of my comfort zone. Just ask my friends the lengths they went to to get me to go to a RAVE party. They practically had to pry my hands off the doorframe. But that’s another story.

(Blindingly bright strobe lights, ear-shatteringly loud music, rowdy teenagers – I mean, who WOULDN’T want to go to a RAVE?)

So, it was a pretty big thing for me to be taking….wait for it….Australian Public Transport. Yes, that’s right – after hours of endless wheedling and threatening by my family, I finally agreed (albeit reluctantly) to take the bus to Uni this morning. Oh joy of joys. And boy, did I do my homework. Google search, route planning…..etc, etc. I was ready.

I woke up at 8.30am this morning (and surprisingly, did NOT feel like P Diddy) as I had a tutorial at 10am. I had planned it down to the wire – the bus was to come at 9.27, and arrive at uni 9.50. Perfect.

With the confidence of a seasoned veteran, I strode off to the bus stop to wait for the bus with my dad. With the naivety of a child, I deliberately arrived early, at 9.10am.I was perfectly content to wait for my bus (no. 432) for the seventeen minutes. And that’s what I did. I waited.

(“Perhaps if I wait here a little while longer, the bus will come!”)

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited. And waited. And waited……

You get the idea. By the time 9.30 rolled around, my bus still hadn’t arrived. 9.35, and I was annoyed. Since it takes around 20 minutes to get to uni, and about 15 minutes to find my classroom (hey, I’m new!), I was worried. It didn’t help that plenty of buses drove by in quick succession, all NOT the bus I wanted. 412, 444, 433….it was almost like the bus drivers wanted to make me annoyed.

Thankfully, my dad was still there, and together with my mum, they drove me to uni, and I arrived with 5 minutes to spare. Cars: 1, Buses: 0.

So kids, what have we learnt today?

  1. Taking the bus in Australia is like taking the Underground in London, and it’s also like taking any form of transport in Malaysia. Don’t.
  2. When the bus timetable says “…account for buses arriving slightly late…”, add about 14 years to the late side.
  3. Bus services have it out for students who are running late. The right bus won’t come, and other, incorrect buses will pass by just to make him get his hopes up.
  4. Parents are extremely important for driving you around, especially if you don’t have your  license. Mum, Dad, I love you guys.

The last point is really true. Without them, I would have had to run all the way to uni. And you know how horrible I look when I run in shorts….

[UPDATE]: I tried to take the bus the next day – and this time, it came so early, I nearly missed it. And the ride was so bumpy, I nearly got sick. Plus, it took forever.

But then again, that’s nothing compared to how bad the Malaysian bus service is….

Do YOU have a scary bus story? Tell us right here by leaving a comment!

Blast From the Past: An ANZAC Story

This was a story that I wrote back in school for an ANZAC Day contest. In case you didn’t know, ANZAC Day (April 25th, 1915) was the day that the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) attacked Gallipoli during WW1. It is now celebrated every year among Australian and New Zealand Citizens.

I didn’t win anything in that competition. I feel robbed. 😦

But what do YOU think? Tell me about it!

***
ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli
April 25
th, 1915 (0415 hours)

It was almost time. The boats had been released at 3.30. Landing would be at 4.30.

As the man checked his rifle again, he noticed that his hands were trembling slightly. He quickly stuffed them into his pockets, hoping nobody noticed his fear.

But then, he reasoned, there was good cause to be.

He was First Lieutenant Stephen Cole, leader of the 9th Battalion in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. A young man, he had a lean physique and sandy blond hair. But as of right now, he was slightly apprehensive at the sight ahead.

Squinting through the early morning fog, Cole could just barely make out the outline of land. Gallipoli. Ground Zero.

Their orders were clear. Land, kill the enemy, and then establish a defensive perimeter until reinforcements arrived. Simple…….except for the thousands of Turks waiting to massacre them. And that very thought chilled him to the marrow.

Cole glanced at the soldiers around him. They were all young men, fresh from Australia and eager for battle. Right now, though, they all had varying degrees of fear on their faces, not knowing what lay ahead.

Cole knew what they were all thinking. Would they ever come out of this alive? All had families, loved ones, friends back in Australia and New Zealand. Would anyone of them ever see them again?

“Five minutes, sir. Five minutes till landing.” came the whispered voice of Captain Joseph Stratford, his best friend and second-in-command. Cole smiled, thinking back to the days where they grew up together, played together, and now, were about to attack Gallipoli together. If anything, he hoped that Stratford would survive this.

Five minutes, Stratford had said. Very well. There was one more thing to do.

Cole reached into his back pocket, pulling out, and gazing at a piece of torn cardboard containing a face that he knew very well. Janet O’Hara. His fiancée. Hardly a moment went by without him thinking of her, of her sweet, soft smile and those beautiful brown eyes. They were going to get married after this mission was over. If he survived, that is.

The ship moved into shallower water. It was almost time. Cole put the picture back in his pocket. This was it.

As the familiar pang of fear hit him, he glanced at his team. All were waiting for him to lead them. And he couldn’t let them down. They were his mates.

Cole drew in a deep breath.

The bugle sounded, a single blast. And Cole made a fateful decision that day.

He leapt out of the boat, followed by Stratford, gun in hand. The rest followed.

Minutes later, gunfire broke the silence of the early morning. The battle for Gallipoli had begun.

Captain Joseph Stratford was the first ANZAC to be killed at Gallipoli. He is now buried at Lone Pine, having been shot to death by machine-gun fire.

First Lieutenant Stephen Cole died from single gunshot wounds to the head and chest. He was found clutching the photograph of his fiancée, Janet O’Hara.

Other than slight injuries, no other casualties were suffered in that first incursion.

***END***

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