Posts Tagged ‘ university ’

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.

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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!

University: First Impressions

Hey guys. Short post today, because uni really took it out on me. It was akin to being ambushed and beaten up in a back alley – my brain feels like mush.

I had two Lectures today at the University of Queensland, a Criminology Lecture, and a Law of Torts lecture. Some comments:

  1. Criminology wasn’t bad, though the lecturer (I keep wanting to say “teacher”; force of habit from my high school days…) talked quite fast. It was slow enough for us to hear, but fast enough that when you started writing notes, you looked back up and thought “What did she say?”
  2. Since Criminology technically is an Arts subject, there were plenty of people who where doing psychology. I happened to sit in the very spot where all around me were Hong Kong psychology students. Hmmm…..conspiracy, methinks?
  3. Law of Torts lecture was immense. So much information….if that’s what’s on the first week, what will the rest of the year be like??
  4. Apparently Criminology textbooks like to play hide-and-seek. Went to two different faculty libraries trying to find the elusive textbook……and couldn’t. I had to settle for an earlier edition. But rest assured, I will find it! (Or buy it)
  5. It was drizzling all day. And it was really humid. So, wet on the outside (rain) and wet on the inside (sweat). That’s Brisbane for you. I’m just happy I don’t live in Melbourne.

And I’ll have to do it all again tomorrow. Sigh….

Do you have any tips on how to beat the University blues? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

The Random Musings of an Attention-Seeking Author – 01/03/2010

Well, it’s raining again….the dark, dreary downpour that never seems to let up, eh? Nothing really much TO do today….so this, I write.

  1. I’m currently penning a story about a guy from my school – it’s part of a project I took on to pass the time. I challenged myself to write a one-page story for every single person in my Grade….and after the better part of a year, I have about 9 left to do. Which says less about the hugeness of the task and more about my short attention span.
  2. Watched the Manchester United vs. Aston Villa football match – the Carling Cup Final. MU fought on to a well-deserved 2-1 victory….and I screamed in joy like a little girl.
  3. Preparation for my first year of Uni (Law at UQ)….and I’m feeling a little nervous. Any tips, guys?

Hopefully something new happens later. Check back here for further updates!

Do YOU have any tips for a new student at UQ? Leave a comment and tell us about it!