Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from a certain someone...

To every single person in the world that considers me a friend:

I'm sorry that I haven't been updating or been spending enough time with you guys. Recently I've been busy, as well as spending a lot of my time thinking.

This Christmas, lying on my bed, I realized that one of the most important things to me is to treat my friends right, and I realized, better than ever before that all you guys out there, wherever you may be, be you in America, the UK, Singapore, Australia - anywhere in the world right now - you guys mean the world to me.

I may not do it right all the time - I often come off as self centered and arrogant - but I've realised that I really mean well, even though sometimes I come across as a cold callous bastard. If that was the case, frankly speaking, I just didn't know what to do.

Alone in my thoughts I just knew in that moment that I wanted you all to know - even though I may not be immediately near to you, or available to meet up - that all of you mean a great deal to me and that I sincerely wish that you have a merry, merry Christmas, from the very bottom of my heart.

So sorry that I may not be able to be with you at the moment, but remember that I am just human, just like you. But I miss you so.

Merry Christmas, and happy new year, from the deepest crevices of this boy's heart.

Your faithful friend,
Kevin Chan

Monday, December 15, 2008

Medical Expenses.

I finally have something to write about, but even though I slept the whole day, I'm still in no condition to write as I still am in a drug induced stupor due to the horrible, horrible flu that plagues me now.

Yes, I kid you not.

And I have like $40+ worth of medicinal pills and capsules all scattered over my desk. My head's in such a mess and the state of the room really mirrors how I feel inside. Messed up, apathetic and tired.

Let's see how things are back home.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Memento Mori

I woke up at about 1:45 today. 1:45am - right smack in the middle of the night.

Earlier today I was helping out at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon as a volunteer part of my Impresario committee's effort to canvass some extra funds for our project.

The Drinks Station

I was posted at one of the drinks stations and this is how it all looks like after the runners were through with us. (:

We were there at City Hall right from 12:30am last night, all the way till about 12:30pm on December 7th, and as a result of that, my internal body clock is majorly messed up right now.

Waking up in the middle of the night is weirdly disorienting. I'm pretty used to sleeping and waking up in the day, but waking up when it's all dark, silent and cold around you is weirdly disquieting.

I was lying in bed, and I just felt this chilling emptiness inside me calling out to me, and I wondered - what is my great purpose in life?

Or does it make sense to have any at all?

It's just one of those moments that makes you just pause to ponder and reflect, and I realized that there are somethings that I really want to do before my lease on this mortal vessel I call my body is up.

Here's a few of the things I thought about:

1. Write a published Novel
I've been talking about this for some time right now and I'm kind of disappointed in myself for not putting in much effort at all into planning and writing my novel and so I did a Google search for "how to write a novel" earlier tonight and I did manage to get some good pointers on the step-by-step guide to the process of writing a novel.

One article that I found particularly useful was the "Snowflake Method" and I decided to do step 1 of the method which is to write an overarching one sentence summary of my novel.
Step 1) Take an hour and write a one-sentence summary of your novel. Something like this: "A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul." (This is the summary for my first novel, Transgression.) The sentence will serve you forever as a ten-second selling tool. This is the big picture, the analog of that big starting triangle in the snowflake picture.

When you later write your book proposal, this sentence should appear very early in the proposal. It's the hook that will sell your book to your editor, to your committee, to the sales force, to bookstore owners, and ultimately to readers. So make the best one you can!

Some hints on what makes a good sentence:

  • Shorter is better. Try for fewer than 15 words.
  • No character names, please! Better to say "a handicapped trapeze artist" than "Jane Doe".
  • Tie together the big picture and the personal picture. Which character has the most to lose in this story? Now tell me what he or she wants to win.
  • Read the one-line blurbs on the New York Times Bestseller list to learn how to do this. Writing a one-sentence description is an art form.
(Read the rest of the "Snowflake Method" here.)

Yeah, so I decided that the one sentence summary for my novel would be - A coming of age story of a boy struggling with meaning, purpose and love in his life.

One of my favourite books is Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Reading it somehow changed my life in ways that I would do no justice to describe in words. Who better to write a coming of age novel than one who is currently going through all that the dear protagonist would be going through in the novel? The only issue is that I'm still unsure of how this story will end, but we'll wait and see, won't we?

2. Run a full marathon
Watching the runners push themselves through the marathon today was inspiring. At the drinks stand, we saw people from all walks of life - from the fittest athletes of African origin to the grotesquely obese; from the very young, being pushed around in prams to old, wizened grandparents all pushing themselves to complete the marathon.

And I realized - I don't want to go through life without conquering a challenge like this one.

It's not going to be easy, but the more challenges you overcome in life, the stronger and more confident you become of overcoming the rest. I want to do this simply because it is not easy, and I really need to grow stronger, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually to overcome the challenges ahead. I just have to.

I don't know why, but I feel like I'm floating right now, but not one bit sleepy. Guess this is the time to take a break. Hope you guys out there are great.

Memento mori, least we waste another day.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

That Mirror Image

It's amazing - when it's the exams and there's so little to say, I still end up blogging like no tomorrow; but when the exams are out and I have so much to say, I find myself holding so much back.

You can never be completely honest when you write about your own life. You can try, but as hard as we try, we never really depict ourselves for who we really are. Consciously or unconsciously, we are always leaving out little bits and pieces so that the pieces, when put together, depict an idealized version of who we are, maybe better, maybe worse, but never who we really are.

A caitiff's threats mean nothing to a true man. For real.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The learning never ends! Opening a wine bottle without a corkscrew!

School's out, but the learning never ends!

I learned FOUR new ways in which you can open a wine bottle without a corkscrew! Seriously, who has a corkscrew these days anyway? Read it and I felt that it would be real useful to share with you all out there!

Method 1 - The Hit-On-A-Tree Method

While you don't really need a tree, all you do with this method is to continuously hit the bottom end of the wine bottle on a even vertical surface, preferably padded with some sort of soft cushioning to reduce the probability of the bottle cracking.

Knocking the bottle against a vertical surface somehow increases the pressure inside the bottle, slowly nudging the cork out! Don't believe it? Just watch the video below!

I tried it in my room, and after hitting the bottle on the wall a hundred and one times, the cork didn't budge and inch. Damn. The only thing that happened was that my Indon neighbour who somehow goes to sleep at 12am came knocking on my door with a mega-tulan face. Oops.

Method 2 - The Pull-Cork-Out-With-Household-Implement Method

Now this is basically using some sort of household tool to pull out the cork.

First firmly embed some object firmly into the cork and then proceed to pull it out cleanly with a some tool, preferably something that would give you some leverage, like a hammer, or a pair of pliers.

This one is pretty straightforward, but you better make sure that the paperclips or screw that you embed in the cork do not end up breaking the cork, because that will cause your wine to be filled with woody sediment, which is not a good thing. So when doing this, please be real careful.

Method 3 - The Sword Method
While this looks the coolest when done with a sword or sabre, it can be done with the back of a spoon too.

This can be pretty messy and dangerous if done wrongly, so here's the link to the how-to page!

How to Open a Champagne Bottle with a Sword

It's really pretty cool and I so want to try it someday! When there's champagne and a nice sword, Kevin will be there to sabre the top off!

Method 4 - The Push Method
When you've really exhausted all other options and still can't get the cork to budge, just push the cork in all the way. By compressing the air and the wine, the increased pressure can cause the wine to spurt out, so be careful when you do this!

Use a long tool, like a chopstick to just push the cork all the way in and the wine should just come pouring out already!

So that's it! Four useful ways in which you can try opening a bottle of wine when you find that you really don't have a corkscrew. And it is time to make myself sleep and wake up at the obscene hour of 645am, so I can make it for a meeting at Chua Chu Kang at 8am. That's life.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Now, Life.

It's time to do all the things I want to do. To read all the books that I want to, to actually begin on a rough draft for my novel, to exercise, and to decorate my room.

Yeah. Sweet, sweet freedom.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I expect a glorious guerdon when thy quest is done.

The definition of Royally Pissed.

It better be something good.


Or I'm going to be royally pissed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Novel Idea.

For quite some time now, I have told myself that one of the big things I have to do for myself in my lifetime is to write a novel. Not a short story, not a long blog post, but an actual published novel.

I have been searching for an idea for quite some time already, but I just didn't know what.

And suddenly, in the shower, it just all occurred to me - I have a mindblowing story to tell, and I know I can pull it off. Because it's about the person I know best.

It just struck me that what he recently went through could very well be something plucked out of a Murakami tale, but for his sake, lets hope that it all ends well.

Really tired at the moment and I'll reply the really interesting comments on the tagboard and the posts a little later, just after I read some more of this very interesting book that Shaun loaned me (and get back to studying, of course).

Yup, it's more Fight Club for me.

"How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?"

Not much, I guess. Not much at all.


Friday, November 21, 2008


Sometimes words just call out to you with frightening familiarity.

Guess the timing just wasn't right. I'm sorry.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Middle Children of History.

Sometimes modern life just feels so artificial, so out of sync with the natural order of things. Were human beings really made to spend prolonged hours squinting at tiny dots and splotches of ink on whitened tree pulp?

Do we really need another piece of IKEA's solutions to modern living to make our lives more complete?

"The stuff that you own ends up owning you."
- Tyler Durden, Fight Club
What ever compelled us to spend time in front of illuminated screens during our free time instead of spending time in the great outdoors anyway? Or walk around town with earphones on, with music blasting away, blocking out the real world outside?

Why do we, in this age of enlightenment believe that we need a degree to give us the permission to succeed in life when we all do possess so much potential inside anyway?

Have we all become so disillusioned with our world, with our lives revolving around so many things that don't seem to have a real connection with what's real, like slogging away for exam grades, or working for money.

Our lives have become so safe and routine that most of us don't even know what it means to risk your life in a fight anymore. Most of us have never even seen where the food we eat daily comes from before!

We're just not made for too much modernity - too much time online, too much television, too much blaring music too much safety and security. We forget that we need time outside with nature, physical exertion, time to meditate in contemplative silence and to feel the rush of adrenaline when we experience danger.

There's no adrenaline rush like the one you get before a fight - the heightened sense of perception, the thumping heartbeat - suddenly your mind focuses only on what's at hand, the fight itself.

Each punch that hits you sends a shock through your system - it wakes you up, the pain makes you feel alive again. As hurt as you are, you know that you got to push yourself to your limits, or you're going to lose the fight. You're going to return even more bruised than the person in front of you. So no matter what, you give it your best shot. There's no reason to do any worse than your very best.

Perhaps that's what it takes to make us feel alive again, to feel what's real in our increasingly artificial world.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What happens when you have no control over your mind.

The Buddha also once said:

"Use and train your mind to get what you want instead of letting your mind use you to get what it wants."

Realize that you have the potential to live the life of our dreams, only if we first break out of the mental programming that is holding us back.

A lot of the time people are just slaves of their minds, their programming, and we often just go through life as just like robots reading off a program. But we are more than that. We are more than just animals who just follow their instinctual programming because our faculties of reason allow us to think, reflect, and break out of our disempowering beliefs, creating a brighter destiny for ourselves.

And it all starts with the smallest of things, just realizing that we are indeed more than the sum of the programming that we've been through all our lives, that we actually have power to choose the beliefs and thoughts that we carry in our minds. And that makes all the difference.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Artistic License.

I'm in the midst of my exams, but I just have no mood to study lately.

A little portion of Joshua Yang's, Impossibility if the Superstring Theory.

It's just like after my OB exam on Wednesday morning, the 'study' switch in me just went off, and I feel like i'm just floating around in a carefree state of artistic bliss.

The artistic impulse inside my head just keeps getting louder and louder. I want to just go free and see in my mind's eye vast panoramas of magical fantasy; strange, impossible shapes that defy the laws of reality; and the simple, sweet beauty of flowers on a wild, highland field.

I want to experience, imagine and create the beautiful, the sublime, the agreeable and the good at the same time, all in one piece.

Behold, the infinite wonders of the universe! - the main part of Joshua Yang's,
Impossibility if the Superstring Theor

But then again I have my exams, and my statistics book has been open in front of me, untouched for the past couple of hours.

Caught between these two courses of action, I find myself in a state of limbo, just idling in the vast emptiness of cyberspace...

And on a totally unrelated note, Impresario is everywhere in Singapore. The biennale was not spared either.

Guess Jimmy and Sam left their mark nice and clear at the biennale!

As Jimmy would have so aptly put it: WAH BO JIO!

Oh well, guess it is high time to get back to statistics now.


Back to work!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Singapore Biennale 2008

That's just how I spent my afternoon - being stimulated by wonderful art at the Singapore Biennale.

This year's theme is Wonder, and thankfully, the biennale didn't disappoint.

The guide book.

It was just sublime - to take time off the stresses of the exams, just to freely traipse through the exhibition. Taking time out to just appreciate the wide range of visual art pieces was a really stimulating experience that rekindled my sense of aesthetic appreciation. It made me look at things differently, and spun a new perspective on some old ideas of mine.

And then I had an epiphany - good art makes me think, and it made sense that it should.

Good art allows us to experience the sublime and the magical, jolting us away from the mundane routines of life, and allowing us to remember that beauty and magic are all around us. It's in the sun's rays, shining on a majestic cloud; it's in a tall ancient tree standing tall amidst in the concrete jungle of the city; it's that old colonial building whose bricks look like they have countless stories to tell.

I guess it takes good art for us to remember that childlike wonder we once had so long ago.

Beauty's just all around us. All we have to do is open our eyes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It begins!

To all NTU students:

The moment that we have all been waiting for it near at hand!

Wishing everyone good health, clarity of mind, nimble fingers and inspiration when you need it!

All the best for your exams!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Deep Analysis.

I've just got two more days now till my first paper, AB 105, Organizational Behaviour and Development on Wednesday morning and everyone around me (with the exception of dear 01) has been stressing out and mugging like crazy. Seriously.

I look at all the cramming for exams happening around me and I really wonder just how is this all going to help produce a new generation of inspired, self actualized, competent individuals that can emerge as the leaders (and followers) of tomorrow. Really, how many people out there actually make money out of regurgitating facts that they memorized (other than the odd memory guru or brain-power trainer of course)?

I've been going through my OB textbook for the past couple of days, and thankfully, I actually enjoy reading the textbook. What I find important about subjects like OB is not so much the basic psychology and organizational theories covered in the textbook, but the social scientific process that resulted in the various theories that we learn.

Also, these theories and concepts are great stimulus for further thinking. It gives you this platform to view reality at a certain vantage point, a totally new perspective, and that's just one more wonderful way to appreciate the beauty that's this world.

Maybe that's the reason that I'll definitely take a philosophy course if NTU ever decides to offer one. It's just so much fun!

And now back to further philosophizing with my textbooks!


P.S. I just started using TwitterFox, this Firefox addon which allows you to recieve and write tweets through Firefox! Get it at if you use both Twitter and Firefox today! It's a total joy to use!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Another prayer answered.

Our symbol for change - RPK!

Every night, as I ready myself for sleep, I pray.

Today, another one of my prayers was answered - RPK is to be freed at 4p.m. today!

Just as Americans have just recently voted for change in the recent presidential elections, it is also high time for change back home in Malaysia!

How much more nonsense, corruption and evil from the government can we put up with? How can we tolerate a government that relies on fear and scare tactics to keep us in check? Or a government that put an innocent man in a solitary detention cell for no good, justified reason, totally without trial?

We need change in Malaysia, but before we are entitled to embrace that change, we Malaysians need to take that very first step - to believe in that change.

Lets look at Obama's presidential campaign for example. Many people thought that he couldn't do it because he is half black in a world that isn't colour blind. People thought that he would fail because his campaign wasn't one that was hatched in the hallowed halls of Washington, but the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. The early polls showed that Obama wasn't the likeliest candidate to win. But what was different about him? He had an unwavering faith in his ability to bring change to America, and his strength allowed even the jaded public to give change a second chance.

And that's just what we need back home in Malaysia. We need the courage to believe that things can improve. We need to believe in change again, just like our forefathers once did when they wrestled our independence from the British way back in 1957. We need to believe once again.

That's why I believe we, the educated and informed citizens of Malaysia need to give people with courage, just like Raja Petra Kamarruddin, our utmost support.

We need to believe in change once again, and do our best to remake this nation for the better, even if it's just one brick at a time.

Some people have asked me why I was just so excited over Obama's win. I mean, why do I even care?

It's not that I'm secretly American, or that I'm secretly of Kenyan descent, but just because I believe that Obama is a powerful symbol of change - something that we need so much in these troubled times. His historic win in a country where racism is a very real issue empowers us to believe in change again.

I saw this photo at

The Gandhi of our age.

The caption wrote:

Senator Obama was doing press interviews by telephone in a holding room between events. Sometime later as he was getting ready to begin his event, he asked me if I was photographing his shoes. When I said yes, he told me that he had already had them resoled once since he entered the race a year earlier. Providence, R.I., 3/1/2008.

This just shows how humble the man who is to hold the most powerful office in the world truly is.

I believe that in every era, humanity needs truly inspirational figures - men who have risen above themselves and reached the apex of self actualization to inspire humanity to yet higher heights.

Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers of the United States of America believed in a prosperous, united nation free from the shackles of the British Empire, and their vision united a country.

Enstein dreamt of that he was on a rocket ship travelling at the speed of light, and that simple thought experiment became the foundation of his entire theory of relativity.

Gandhi believed in winning independence from the British through peaceful means. He believed in it, and helped pave the way for India's independence without so much raising a weapon.

I can only pray that one day I too can become someone like these men, who like a beacon of light in a dark age, shined so brightly to give strength and hope to the people around them.

Now that's another prayer that I would really like to see answered.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes we can!

Yes we can!

Change is possible!

Today, I woke up to a beautiful message from a wonderful person that went something like this:

"... Obama won the elections!"

And I just jumped out of bed and screamed for joy!

It's been so long since America has had a president who can deeply inspire the people with his speeches, and I believe that Obama really is the cornerstone of strength that Americans have been looking for.

Obama's definitely a demagogue that will remembered in the annals of history, and I must add that his presidential acceptance speech really was one that was so touching that it brought tears to my eyes.

Obama is a man that has a dream for change, a better future, and that makes all the difference.

Here is the Acceptance Speech and the full transcript for your viewing and reading pleasure!

Barack Obama giving his acceptance speech.

Barack Obama Acceptance Speech Nov. 4, 2008 Part 1

Barack Obama Acceptance Speech Nov. 4, 2008 Part 2

Barack Obama’s acceptance speech transcript
Chicago, Ill.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics, you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to, it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington, it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime, two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years, block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers, in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends, though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn; I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down, we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security, we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright, tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America, that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing; Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons; because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America ¿ the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves, if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you.

Change is only possible once we believe it's possible. Barack Obama, you've taught the world a lesson in faith and overcoming the odds that is way more significant than you realise. Like a shining star, your light illuminates the lives of so many others and gives them the courage to believe in their own ideals, and fight for what is right.

Together, I hope that we'll create a better tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A happy ending to an epic tale.

At 12:03p.m. I received a call.

"How did it go?" I wondered, and nervously pressed the "answer" button on my phone.

"Hello boy!" my Dad said to me with a cheerful ring to his voice.

My heart leaped, as that could only mean one thing - we're taking the challenge trophy home this year and keeping it!

Third time's the charm, and I'm just so happy.

Looks like we actually did go all the way this year, and all that effort coaching them in the beginning was worth every single drop of sweat in the end.

We did it.

It wasn't easy, but we we did it in the end.

You guys may not know it, but you made the dreams of so many of us come true with your win. Thank you for sharing it with us. I love all of you so much.

A loving brother, friend and coach,

Kevin Chan


And here's Andrew's recently updated compilation of debate wins:

Malaysia National English Debate Competition Winners


Datuk Wira





SMK Damansara

SMK Seafield, Selangor

SMK Damansara

Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Ipoh


SMK Lok Yuk, Sabah

SMK Bukit Bandaraya, KL

SMK Taman SEA, Selangor

Sekolah Alam Shah, Putrajaya


Batu Pahat High School, Johor

SMK Damansara Jaya

SMK Damansara Jaya

St Xavier's Institution, Penang


SMK Sultan Abu Bakar, Pahang

SMK Damansara Jaya

Royal Military College, Kuala Lumpur

St Xavier's Institution, Penang


Tsung Tsin High School, Sabah

SMK La Salle PJ, Selangor

SMK Damansara Jaya

St Xavier's Institution, Penang


SMK Damansara Jaya

SMK Assunta, Selangor

SMK Subang Utama, Selangor

Royal Military College, Kuala Lumpur


SMK Convent Bukit Nanas, Kuala Lumpur

SMK Damansara Jaya




SMK Damansara Jaya

Sekolah Sri Garden, Kuala Lumpur




Combined Team, Sabah

SMK Damansara Jaya



That makes it 10 wins in 9 years. And it's our THIRD time winning the Wira cup. Need I say more?

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Wira Story

Today, sit back, relax, and let me tell you a story.

Way back in March this year, a young temporary teacher who was teaching in his secondary school just to help out was approached by a senior teacher with a very attractive proposition. She wanted him, an ex school debater, to help coach the school team. It was something that he always wanted to do. His only response that he could offer was to nod his head excitedly.

It was something he always wanted to do...

And so it began - the whole debate training process. The team met up on weekends, and at all manner of odd hours to practice and prepare for their coming debates. They were debating greenhorns back then - they had some experience, but nothing that would prepare them for the challenges ahead of them in the national level WIRA debate that they were in. While the other students were busy in their classes studying, this small group of 7 debaters consistently skipped lessons just to give this competition their very best.

John thinking about how to best help guide the team.

So in that little room beside the school library, they prepared, relentlessly going over arguments, speeches and rebuttals. It wasn't easy. Even their coach found it difficult, but as he could see that the team he was training really wanted to win, he found it in himself to really push them as hard as he could, all the way to the finals of the championship.

"We're going to go all the way this year, all the way!" he kept telling them, knowing that this was a team who was dedicated enough and had the support to go all the way this year.

And then came the time to debate. There were some debates which they only won by a hair's breadth, but the team managed to pull through and learn a little something from every debate. Each time they went up there on that stage to speak, they grew a little wiser, a little bolder, a little stronger. They felt like nothing could stop them, that they were invincible, and they hungered for all that was ahead of them.

Then came the state level debates. The team traveled all the way down to Kuala Selangor, slightly more than an hour and a half by car from home. They went down with a determination of steel to win.

Their spirits were high, and nothing could stop them.

They debated hard, and they managed to make their way up to the finals of the state level of the national level debating championship. Just one more debate to go. Just one more win and they would be debating at the national level - something that only two teams in the entire history of their school have reached in the past. They were prepared, they were properly groomed, and their coach had no doubt that they would win that last debate.

They had their fingers crossed the entire debate, they prayed their very hardest. And it was time for the results.

"The runner up of this debate goes to..."

They all fervently prayed that it would be the name of the other school.

"SMK Damansara Jaya."

A wave of disbelief swept past the debaters. Could they have misheard the emcee? We're they really in second place? Even their coach couldn't believe his ears. He was certain that they were the better team after watching the debate. But such was their fate - to step away from it all when they were so near.

The End.


...or was it really?

Fast forward to the present. About 15 days ago, I got a call. A miracle had happened.

"Miracles do happen!"

In my brother, Keefe's own words:
Don't know how to break this to you, but WE'RE IN WIRA AGAIN! Apparently the team that we lost to in the state finals forfeited, cause the next round is too close to their SPM (november 1-6), and they're a form five team. Durian runtuh, seriously. I just got the news today from Daryl, and i was really super-duper happy about the whole thing until daryl told me that we have to sit for our final term exams after the debate in ONE WEEK (19 papers in five days omg). That kinda killed the whole mood, but we're still soooo excited about it! :D the whole team has agreed to screw the exams, and we are really, really going for it. who needs exams when we have WIRA? :) We know that opportunities like this almost NEVER come. so happy that i can't even form a coherent sentence now. not to mention tired from all the studying + jumping around in excitement. Details are still sketchy, motions aren't out yet, the venue is unknown, and we dont even know how many rounds we have to go for. will definitely update you on this.

hahaha. things just seem so surreal sometimes. I'm still in a state of disbelief after 4 hours of receiving the news. we really want to win this and make DJ proud. we won't disappoint.

and hopefully, DJ will be the first school to ever win the cup THREE TIMES, baby. keep your fingers crossed. :D

- Keefe Chan

We were back from the dead. The school that beat us had pulled out of the debate, and our team, the first runner up, was going to debate at the national level! And this time, they have the best debate coach DJ has ever known, Pn. Magdalen Su to guide them all the way to victory this time.

And this is how it went so far:

Tan Sri Datuk Wira Abdul Rahman Arshad Debate Cup
Nationals 2008


This house believes that EQ, not IQ determines how successful a person will become.
  • Sarawak (St. Columba Miri) won by default. Kuala Lumpur didn't show up.
  • Selangor (SMK Damansara Jaya) beat Kedah (SMK Ibrahim)
  • Sabah (SMK Lok Yuk) lost to Negeri Sembilan (SMK Bukit Kepayang)
  • Penang (Penang Free School) beat Putrajaya (SMK Precinct 18 (1))
  • Pahang (SMK Sultan Abu Bakar) lost to Malacca (SMK St. David)
  • Johor (Batu Pahat High School) beat Kelantan (SMK Naim Lilbanat)
  • Terengganu (SMK Sultan Ismail 2) beat Perlis (SMK Perlis)
  • Perak (ACS Methodist Ipoh) won by default. Labuan didn't turn up.


This house would let the information superhighway run free. (copy cats)
  • Selangor (SMK Damansara Jaya) beat Sarawak (St. Columba Miri)
  • Penang (Penang Free School) lost to Negeri Sembilan (SMK Bukit Kepayang)
  • Johor (Batu Pahat High School) beat Malacca (SMK St. David)
  • Perak (ACS Methodist Ipoh) beat Terengganu (SMK Sultan Ismail 2)


This house believes that well done is better than well said.
  • Selangor (SMK Damansara Jaya) versus Johor (Batu Pahat High School)
  • Perak (ACS Methodist Ipoh) versus Negeri Sembilan (SMK Bukit Kepayang)

And now it's Selangor vs Perak in an epic battle for the trophy!

And again, we find ourselves eagerly waiting for the results of that one last debate, on the 4th of November, the same day that the fate of the US presidency will be decided.

But as much as I want Obama to win this November 4th, I know where the bulk of my prayers and best wishes will be directed at - the Wira team of SMK Damansara Jaya who is up there in Kelantan preparing for that one last debate as we speak.

As Andrew Loh very elegantly puts it, that the greatest of debaters are not only the most eloquent - they are also the most bruised, the most resilient and the strongest of heart. This team definitely has been one that has gone through so much together, and yes they have been bruised badly, but through it all they have emerged as a team that is so much stronger, so much more seasoned than what they were when I started coaching them all those months back.

Keefe, Sophia, Jayshendra, Zafirah, Daryl, Rachel and Calvin, you guys have made me prouder than I ever thought that I would be. It was always both a dream of mine to be up there, debating at the Wira finals, but the opportuinity never came to me. But then again, perhaps that is my role to play in all this, and by seeing you guys all the way up there now, I don't think I can ask for more. (:

Team, you've done me proud!

I have no doubt that it is your destiny to win this thing. God brought us back for a reason. Go for the win, team!

"We're going to go all the way this year, all the way!"

God bless and good luck, team.

Kevin Chan.


The other Wira Posts - Our journey:

Team, you've done us proud.

Make DJ proud, team!
More scribbles from the bilik tayangan.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Remembering why you do it.

The final exams are just round the corner and everywhere these days I see tired eyes due the stresses of exam preparation. It's not unheard of to hear of hermits here in NTU who spend all their waking hours in their rooms studying.

"Too much exam stress leads to the dark side!"

Exams can be stressful, but in university, should it be the case?

Whenever the pressures of my course start to get to me, I ask myself this simple question - why in the world am I doing this?

Nobody forced me into university, I wanted to do this on my own free will. I chose to come back down to Singapore to study, not because everyone else was doing it, but because I wanted an education that will help me accomplish what I want to do in the future.

Which would better prepare you for the future? The degree, or the wisdom you've earnt?

I'm not here so much to chase that piece of paper that they call a degree, but to learn as much as I can about businesses from my professors and peers, so that I would have the necessary expertise to start an enterprise of my own in the near future.

That's what I'm really here for - to learn, to grow and to become a better person, not to join the paper chase just because everyone is doing it.

And with that, the dust just settles and the stress just flows away. The air even smells better. I even start to see how relevant the things I am studying actually are. It all makes studying so much more enjoyable, and something that I am actually excited doing. And it makes all the difference.

Wouldn't it make you happy to study without stress?

Remembering why I am in university has also emboldened me to dare to try the new, even if it means making mistakes along the way.

I have seen so many people who just follow the crowd and just come up with business presentation that just seems acceptable and 'safe' - just because it looks just like the one that the previous group came up with. But I strongly believe that there's just no point in learning through just photocopying.

I dare to come up with different ways to approach a problem and present because I know that it's the best way to enrich my learning; I dare to try my hand at activities I held back trying in the past because it's going to make me a stronger person.

If you're out there, stressed due to your coming exams, just ask yourself why you are in that course of study in the first place. Like for any love affair to truly last, you have to keep remembering the reason you first fell in love to begin with, and fall in love with that person all over again, every single day.

Just remember how it began...

Remembering why you do it makes all the difference.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brain Farts

I usually don't post short little brain farts as I usually strive to write long, complete and meaningful blog posts, but the stresses of university life are not too kind on my personal blogging time.

Anyway, I'm almost done with most of my quizzes and presentations this week, with the last one being my statistics quiz (yay! testis-statistics!) later this afternoon.

It's already November 30th, and I still can't decide if I should give NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month thing, a try this year, as I have exams all throughout the month of November. But then again, won't I always be busy anyway, and should I just give this 50,000 word novel thing a shot?

I've got two days to decide. Lets see how this turns out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One small step at a time.

I just feel so overwhelmed right now - I've got two quizzes coming up next week (and one of them is a dreaded statistics quiz!), a statistics presentation and an important marketing project presentation that is worth 20% of my final grade.

"There's so much to do!"

Just thinking about all there is to do gives me a headache, really, but then this whole thing reminded me of how my group for Organizational Behaviour (OB) handled our last 3000 word report.

Everything seemed to have gone wrong with that report. We started late, misread the question and when we finally realised that we had to get it ready within a week, my group members and I found ourselves caught up with a whole range of equally important commitments, making it difficult for us to even meet up and get the report done.

And thus the week flew by, with us just having a few unproductive meetings and a whole big cloud of impending dread hanging over us, and we found ourselves with just three days till D-day. With just three days left, we put in all we could. We stayed over at one of my groupmate's place and worked on the report an entire night. But that just wasn't enough, and after all the work we put into it, the report was still a mess. And somehow we found ourselves with a half done report with only one night remaining. That was Wednesday night and the report was due on Thursday morning. There was just no more time left to waste.

So in a last ditch effort to save our skins, a teammate of mine and I decided to meet at my place and work on the report all the way, and do whatever it took to get it done. So we worked, and worked and worked through the night. That night never seemed to end. Fatigued by not sleeping well the past few days as we spent so much time working on the report, we really struggled to keep working. I just kept reminding myself that 20% of my grade for OB depended on this report and just kept working on the report. There was no time to even catch a short nap. We were really running out of time.

It was hell, but as we really poured our hearts out into the report, the report begun to take shape, and it started looking better. And better, and better. But the report was still too long, and we worked in the early morning, cutting off every single unnecessary word, so that we would satisfy the lean word limit of 3000 words.

And at 6am, after working through the entire night, we did it. I cut down the part I prepared to a mere 1000 plus words and my teammate edited the rest of the report down to 2000 words, making the report just slightly over 3000 words. Or so she thought.

When we put the two parts together, and my teammate did a final word count, all the colour suddenly dissappeared from her face.

"Kevin, something's wrong, very wrong!" she shrieked.

Apparently we were still somehow 500 plus words above the word limit due to some reasons still unknown to us. The time then was about 6:05am, and we had to send the report to my other teammate who lives in Woodlands to print before she leaves the house at 6:30am, or we'll never get our report to our tutor by the 8:30am deadline.

"How are we to remove 500 words in 25 minutes? Is it even humanly possible?" she shrieked again.

We really didn't have a choice, and 20% of our grade depended on this report. We had to get it done, by hook or crook, and panicking wasn't going to help.

And then I had an epiphany.

"Hey, it's alright. Just calm down. See, we have 30 pages in our report, and we only have to cut off 16 plus words per page and we're done. It's possible. We can do this."

And so began the most stressful 25 minutes I ever had editing a report. We ran through the report and cut down as much as we could out of it. It wasn't easy, but we managed to cut off a line or two every page, and make the necessary paraphrasing to shorten our sentences. We even cut of several paragraphs which weren't particularly relevant.

And then after going through the entire report, we did a final word count.

"3014 words."

We did it! At that moment, the adrenaline was pumping so hard in my system that it felt like I just bungee jumped off a cliff, or just jumped off a plane, skydiving. We really did it! We managed to do something that seemed impossible by just doing the best we could, one little chunk at a time.

"We did it!"

By looking at the gargantuan task of reducing the report by 500 words as just cutting away 16 plus words per page, we made it manageable in our minds, and that just made all the difference.

When life's challenges all seem to come at you at one go and threaten to overwhelm you, just remember that it's all in the mind, and we can take things one small step at a time. A large challenge always seems so much more achievable when you split it up into many tiny bite size tasks to be worked on.

So if you're out there feeling stressed and overwhelmed too, just remember that things always look better if you take them on one small baby step at a time, and that if we really believe that we can, we are able to accomplish even that which seems impossible.

There's just so much to do, but I'm going to survive all this, one small step at a time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cutting out the Crap.

University sure ain't as easy as I thought it would be. Sure, classes aren't as long as they used to be back in JC, but it only means that we have to spend more time understanding schoolwork on our own; I only have lessons four days a week, but it only means that a huge portion of time is spent on completing assignments or meeting up with project teammates to meet yet another deadline.


There's just so much to get used to - you have to get used to learning a whole new subject with minimal guidance, you got to get used to the increased travel times whenever you want to go to town to meet a friend, and you just got to learn how to meet project deadlines which always are conveniently near each other.

Many of the people around me are feeling stressed over university life due to similar reasons too, so I just thought that I should share my insights on a self-management article that I read today.

Was just browsing the Presentation Zen website (an awesome website on designing presentations with the Zen aesthetic in mind) and I was reading this article on how people should keep in mind to cut out the irrelevant and focus on the important details when designing a presentation.

It was a cool post and all, but what really caught my attention and got me thinking was this picture:

"Not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap."

And I so totally agree.

Most of the time, the reason that we feel like we don't have enough hours in a day is because we spend our time inefficiently. I took a moment to reflect on the way I spend my time and I realize that I spend too much time on crappy, useless activities which are just a total waste of time. For instance I rather frequently spend precious time playing totally stupid facebook games, browsing for esoteric knowledge on Wikipedia and searching for the lyrics to the songs on my iTunes playlist so that I can sing along.

Would I have a lot more time to do the things I really wanted to do if I just cut these things out of my life? Definitely!

And there's a whole long list of crap activities that don't do me much good that I want to cut out!

Crap Activities (to be removed or cut down):
1. Playing stupid games like Elven Blood and MouseHunt on Facebook! God knows why I even started mindlessly playing such games just so I could see my character level up or earn gold to buy bigger mousetraps!
2. Lazing around in bed in the mornings just because I can't bring myself to get up.
3. Spending way too much time being distracted doing other things when I'm trying to reply emails or wall posts.
4. Checking my Gmail, Google Reader and Facebook account just one too many times every day.
5. Googling or referring to Wikipedia the second I encounter something I don't know enough of.
6. Spending too much time just 'cyber-loafing' on MSN messenger as well as allowing myself to be distracted by incoming conversations when working on something.

The thing is that even though the activities mentioned here may have low intrinsic value, the fact remains that removing them isn't an easy task because they have become habits. These bad habits are in actual fact insidious time eroding barnacles which have to be removed on sight!

I believe that bad habits are best dealt with by taking drastic action and 'installing' a new, more positive habit. So now lets just take a look at the things that I would be doing with all this extra time due to better time management habits:

Good Activities (to do more of):
1. Study. Exams are just around the corner and I really need to do well.
2. Exercise. Without sufficient rest and exercise, the stress of never ending deadlines can really get to you and dampen your productivity.
3. Blog. More free time would mean more time for me to keep this site updated, as I always wanted it to be.
4. Read. I love reading, be it fiction or non-fiction. Reading of all kinds stimulates the mind and it just makes me feel more creative and happy.
5. Get adequate rest. When you're well rested and all you are able to be more productive and get more things done. If you're sleepy and all you take forever to complete a task.

I've already taken the first step and deleted my Elven Blood account on Facebook as well as made it a point to switch off my MSN whenever I'm doing something important to help me focus.

Cutting out the crap is good because it allows you to stop doing the things that waste your time and focuses your attention on the things that really matter. Cutting the crap out of your life may just give you that extra time to understand a concept or to complete a project. It may even give you the extra energy you need to prepare a top grade speech for an upcoming national level debate (you know who you guys are, my Wira-ers)!

Cut the crap out of your life today! What are you waiting for?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Southwest Airlines

The module that I am taking now that excites me the most is Marketing. I really find it so much fun! I just love the whole process of coming up with a novel new strategy to market something. It just fulfills my inner need to express myself creatively!

And it's just great to work with teammates that get as excited over the project as much as I do - it just makes the whole marketing process feel like play! And presenting it all tomorrow is just going to be fun!

This is just how wacky my teammates are!

Introducing, the founding fathers (and mother) of Southwest airlines!

Didn't I say earlier that marketing was fun?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Reviving this shark.

I've been so busy lately that my blog seems abandoned. My hits drastically dropped, and somehow my friends don't seem to be saying hello on my tagboard with the same frequency as they did in the past.

I just read today in a book that I was browsing in popular that blogs are like sharks - if they stop moving, they die.

I'm gonna fight to keep you alive, baby!

This blog really is my baby, and as busy as I was with all my assignments, I'm not going to let my baby die.

Uni has really been hectic with all the project deadlines coming up. I've had to rush to finish a group report so bad recently that I've had to stay up all night, three nights in a row just to get it done. It's that bad.

"Good night.... wait, it's morning!"

Yup, been going crazy from lack of sleep till I start drawing random stickmen, just when the sun begins to rise.

But after all the work (and screaming, and instant noodles, and ALL the thing that went awry), we still managed to get the report done at the very last minute.

After untold suffering (and trying to cut 500 words off our report in 20 minutes), we finished it at 6:35am, 9/10/2008.

But just as one assignment ends, another assignment pops up. Yup, and after just one day of rest, it's back to work on yet another case study. But thank God that it's marketing this time. Did I mention that I LOVE marketing? Haha.

But really, uni isn't that bad. As tough as it is, it really is still a whole big deal of fun. (:

Now I better hit the sack before I incur any more sleep debt!