Archive for August, 2012

The fun in volunteering work…

What at first, had been a chance to give back to the community since our time here as alternative serviceman is routine, I was deeply surprised by the entire event. Our original intentions for the event were that we had hoped we could make the most of our time here. We wanted to make our time here in Nantou valuable and memorable, and I felt that this was a great opportunity to do exactly that.

This was a chance to give back to a greater social community. I thought about how I had received various types of opportunity when I was younger, yet I had never really given it much thought as to how they had came to be. Why would people, strangers even, willingly give their time and patience without ever wanting anything in return? What they had offered is far greater than many things that money can buy. Learning about the culture, the passing-on of knowledge, and new experiences… all of which are difficult to obtain. The foreign element makes the experience exceptionally unique for the kids.

The both of us set about our tasks. Jay organizing the entire summer rugby camp, whereas I planned the routines and the practice contents. As a team, it had been exciting to see our work come together to become a stimulating summer camp event for the kids. The kids who attended were from neighboring primary schools, 光復國小 (Guanfu Primary) and 虎山國小 (Hushan Primary) in this community. They were from unprivileged and lower socio-economic environments, which makes the camp all the more valuable for these kids. The opening ceremony was remarkable. Thanks to the servicemen from Executive Yuan, the exhibition left the crowd dazzled. The well orchestrated show, lead by the hosts and director captivated the crowded who lead high skilled performance one after another. There were professional singers, a stage magician performer, and a couple of skilled stage performers specializing in acrobatics, clown theatrics and juggling. They were great openers for our holiday camp. The kids were quite pumped after the event. They even sang along with some of the popular song covers that the singers were singing.

During the week, as the kids knew more and more about the game of touch rugby, they began to get excited for the game. We had warm up exercises with music, played mini-games to familiarize with others, and had training practices to harness their ball handling skills throughout the week. Our aim was to get the kids involved and excited in the game as much as possible. It did take awhile for them to grasp the concept of the game. Nonetheless, seeing the laughter, the smiles, the struggles as well as the frustrations at not scoring a point in the game was proof enough that we succeeded in offering a memorable experience for them to take away.

On the last day, we set out for Taichung’s ScienceMuseum for a field-trip to finish. It was a great feat and accomplishment! Most relics in the museum weren’t exactly tasteful for the kids and they had gotten quite bored with it very quickly. After giving them the chance for freedom and independence (with our supervision of course) to various exhibitions, they scattered away throughout the museum like a jar of marbles falling to the ground. And as a treat for lunch, we ate McDonalds for lunch together. The longer I spent time with them; I better got to know them. Teaching them, laughing with them, and playing with them, they grew on me over the time. This made the end of the day, all the more sadder.

From this experience, I felt I had learned a lot more than I had intended and that this shall be a memory I will forever cherish. I would like to thank my partner Jay, the schools, and the kids for having the chance to do something different.

蔡健雅 Tanya Chua – Carousel

Willis introduced me to Tanya’s – Just Say So Album and there is one song that I wanted to share.
Absolutely great album… >.<

Confused and scared

WARNING: This post may possibly be slightly grotesque and saddening.

I grew up in a family where pets were quite an uncommon thing. I have known families who have nurtured and kept various types of animals and over time, they have become members of their family. My mother is allergic to animal hair etc. so our family didn’t exactly have close relations with any types of animals. Well… I remembered for about two years, we had a very large pond outside our place where we kept and fed everyday like tens of carps. This is probably the closest to our family keeping pets.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to write about this sad event, but it had been on my mind for a long time this week. So I figured as a chance to reflect from it in the future, I shall write it out.

In our camp, we have two dogs. One is called Hamburger, the other is called Lil. Black. They aren’t exactly domesticated dogs. I remembered my seniors telling me that they’ve been there forever. They are wild-dogs, but they’ve taken to living in our camp area comfortably. Somehow, they have learned that for allowing them to stay at the camp and having clean water and dog feed for them everyday, they would guard the camp. And guard the camp they do. The other guys never really give the dogs any true credit, but as I observed them closely over the year, they do a hell of a good job.

Given the fact that these dogs were given no training at all, I’m surprised at all the things they do. They are able to distinguish who belong in the camp and who doesn’t. Since our camp has a constant rotation of new-comers every month, this is quite a feat. They can smell outsiders and intruders coming into the camp half a km away and warn us when they are about to arrive. They scare off other gangs of wild dogs and wild cats should they decide to come by or trespass. They also scare off snakes and other dangerous predators and rodents. They keep an eye around the perimeter even at night sometimes, just to make sure it’s safe. They sometimes also walk the junior new-comers out the drive way if they feel the new people seem vulnerable than others. To me, I believe, they are really smart dogs. Sadly, not everyone sees them as though.

Earlier this Monday, one of the guys went back to the camp mid-day and when he came back to work, he told us… one of Lil. Black’s eye has fallen out and there was blood all around the sockets. Not only was I baffled at what the imagery of my mind was portraying, but that fact that something like this happened. It was hard for me to put into place, let alone realise it as reality. At first, I was shocked. What? Why? How? When? Where? I then, got pretty scared. I was afraid what I would see, what I would find.

That night, when I went back to camp, I wouldn’t dare walk over to Lil. Black’s sleeping area. Some of the other guys went to have a look. Their description… ‘something out of a horror movie,’ one guy said. Another followed with ‘I don’t what happened, but he looks like he either got the beats by a couple of guys or he was hit really hard by a car’. A group of the guys gathered and they began discussing the possibilities. I could only sit to the side and listen. Somehow, I sat mute, quietly beside them. My thoughts were running at a hundred miles per hour, yet it was difficult for me to even utter an opinion or a thought. I was truly sad. I felt pretty weak also.

The guys were discussing how to deal with him. It was hard to listen, but the discussion that followed swayed mostly towards putting him down. It wasn’t because the guys didn’t want to keep him, but they were discussing the costs involved. Having him taken to surgery, then an operation… and even if he had gotten better from it, the post-surgery fees… the medicine… the post-surgery care. None of us had that kinda money to put forward together. It would literally costs ten’s… no… probably close to hundreds of thousand dollars to treat him. Even afterwards, none of us would have the time to take care and nurture him back to health, and most of us (the seniors) who really care are leaving soon anyways. Since he’s a wild dog, he wouldn’t let any one take him away from the property, even if he’s badly hurt. He’d probably have to be tranquilized to move him anywhere.

He’s a pretty old dog, Lil. Black. His body and senses had been slowly decaying over the last several months. Lil. Black was starting to catch all sorts of skin and respiratory diseases. We were getting some medication for him, hoping that he would get better. But you can see it in his eyes, he was tired. He wasn’t as energetic as Hamburger who was much fitter, and “happier”.

The next day, I was wiping up tables. An office colleague came up to me and greeted. I replied with a fake smile and said, “HI!” He followed with an immediate, “What’s wrong? Why the glum look?” So much for faking… I asked him how he could tell that there was something that was bothering me? “Oh, just the look of your drained face and blood-shot eyes gave it away…” Guess I’m not a good actor. I started telling him how our dog back at the camp may be put down. He then began giving me advice, and his thoughts on how life is a huge cycle and that maybe it’s Lil. Black’s time to go to a better life. Even though there was nothing new that I hadn’t heard before, it was comforting hearing those words from him. And I could feel a grey haze lift slightly from my back. In this Buddhist belief, it allowed me to move on and not be stuck in a depressing manner.

The night previously, I had difficulty drifting off asleep. I don’t think I had nightmares, but I knew I didn’t get a good nights sleep. So at the end of that day, I decided not to stay out so late and head back to camp earlier. As I made my way down into camp through the drive-way, I saw Lil Black trudging about in the grass thickets. I forced myself to have a glance. And there he sat. The eye had been glazed over a milky white and was protruding from the eye sockets a good 5cm. It wasn’t dangling, but it didn’t mean that it was any better. His face took on an aged look, and the skin drooped down from under eye sockets to his jaw like the sagging skin of an old man.

Mostly out of reaction, I said out-loud. ‘he’s probably in so much pain.’ One of the guys told me, he most likely isn’t in any serious pain now. It was probably still painful, and his face is probably still throbbing from the swelling but most of the nerves around the area are probably heavily damaged or severed to be in serious pain. Nonetheless, it was still painful to watch.

The guys said that the dog people are most likely coming today to take Lil. Black away to be put down…

May he rest in peace~

 

UPDATE 21/08: Believe it or not, I have great news!!! I know it’s been some time, but our camp leader… he spent his free time looking up dog foundations and other vets. He was pretty distraught about having to decide how to deal with a life. To try find other ways to save him, or to spare him and put him to rest. Actually, we were all just as distraught… was hard to find an answer to all the confusion. A few days ago, he found a vet who was willing to operate on the dog at a much lower (MUCH LOWER) price than other places. But he needed us to bring the dog to the clinic as he is unable to make on-site visits.

We spent a couple more days finding a larger cage to put him in. Then earlier today, him and a couple guys wheeled the cage on a trolley about 6 km’s from camp on foot (as we have not Ute/pick-up truck to put cages on). Hamburger accompanied them and his friend the whole way to the clinic. The doctor removed his eye, patched the wound up and gave him some antibiotics and other medicine. He then gave them some drop medicine for the recovery. Most of the fees for the treatment is actually for the medicine. The Doc told them that with regular medicine, he should make a healthy recovery. He was lucky that the insides weren’t infected but maybe given a few more days, he mightn’t have been so lucky. The Doc also suggested that the most likely cause was an external injury from a beating by a bat or club.

One of the guys said he prayed every day for Lil. Black. Whether it was an intentional injury or an accident, I’m just glad that he was saved.
May he live out his dog days well…

Woot!!!

If you had the cheat codes to life?

Okay, I’m going to pose a pretty random question.
What if you were given the cheat codes to life, would you use it?

I mean seriously, this thing doesn’t exactly exist. But I remember playing this game like 5 years ago. Okay, I think it was 10 years ago, but anyway… I thought that it was like the coolest and the most fun game in the world. A friend of mine so happened to have these mods which trick the game into thinking there were these special items and spells… and it made the player insanely powerful. Afterwards, I cleared through the entire game with ease.

It recently made me wonder. because of the mod, I eventually found the game boring and pointless. And it made the game completely luck based instead of skill based with some element of luck. So if this was mirrored into a real life scenario, would it make life boring? Would it make people try less? Would you simply just enjoy your life with ease and watch others struggle? Or would you still work hard to make the most of it, even with the cheats?

I have heard of people, who after winning first division prizes in lotto give up everything that was their previous life, and practically live off the newly won prize. But at the end of the day, does it actually satisfy them? I don’t know. Maybe it would for some people, and it wont for others. That would be my conclusion.

Random memories resurface…

When I woke up earlier this morning, I couldn’t remember what dream I had… but a lingering thought was just floating there in my mind. At first it was cloudy and unclear, so I plucked it like a feather floating above a stream and waded deeper into the memory. And then there it was, a distant memory which I had sealed off a long time ago.

Back in high school, the kids didn’t celebrate difference. It was all about fitting in. The more “different” you were, the chances were, you were going to be picked on. The only matter was when…
It was there, which I tried to blend in with my other peers as best as I can. Being too smart was frowned upon, too weak, too slow, too nerdy. Having too much interest in something other than cars, sports, and music would immediately ostracize you from what was considered “normal”.
As for me, not being white like the others was like starting a marathon with only one shoe and no socks. I was already a step down from everyone else, and I would still need to work hard just to catch up to their level. This sadly, is what affects NZ’s society. The Tall-Poppy syndrome. Cutting down people who are different to their own majority. 

Anyways, this particular post isn’t about me this time round. There were two other guys that had it far worse than me at the time. And because of that, they drew a lot of heat away from me. One of the guy I shall name C. He had a girl’s name as his first name (Historically, it used to be a unisex name, but in more modern times, it is generally a females name). Regardless, a name is a name. Yet, his personality, his innocence, and his healthy regard for hygiene (not to mention his voice was high-pitched also) were all considered to be quite feminine. He enjoyed singing, playing chess, and knew all the  characters of Pokemon.

Thinking back about it now, it seems rather sad that kids tease and bully other kids all because of differences, because they were not the same as everyone else. I then remembered something about him which was really sad. Yet I never remembered him once complaining about being teased or bullied. One day… he just sat on his bed, and he just cried. A few of us stood at the dormitory doorway wondering what in the world just happened. We were just ignored, and he cried even harder. A few of us went over to see what was wrong, and he pushed us away. He walked up to his wooden pulpwood locker door and pounded really hard three times. *BAM, BAM, BAM* and cried out loud, “FUUUCCCKKKK”. His eyes were wet and puffy from the crying and you can vividly see the hurt that was in his eyes.
He then stormed off away from the rooms, away from everything. We later found out what had actually happened. He had two elder sisters. One of them had called him, and told him that his parents were getting a divorce and that their mother had run off with someone else. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to have an entire family being ripped apart after something like 25 years of marriage.
But it didn’t stop there. The person who ran off with his mother was also female. She finally realised that she was a lesbian and no longer wanted anything to do with her family. I don’t know about you guys, but to me, these kinds of things seemed like the tales that writers fathom up from the unconscious or things you’ll see in dramas and movies. But then again, it can be a possibility.

 The other guy… well, he always had the worst end of the stick. In life… in everything. I don’t know how he is doing now, but the only real positive thing you could say about the guy was that his family had money. He was bad at everything else. He wore glasses so thick, you’d think that they were bulletproof. He had a hunched back, he was not very bright nor well-educated, he was quite disoriented and was never good at any sports. What’s worse, he had halitosis which boarded on extreme. If you were in his class, you could smell him. If you were in a train carriage, you would’ve smelled him. Basically, if you had been within a 10m radius of him, you could smell him and the stench is bad. I will not even try to describe. Just know that it was BAD!!!
You cannot exactly blame him cause he had been trying to cure it. But nothing had worked on him. And just because of all this, he really had gotten a hard time through high school. I wont go into much detail about how he got through so much cr#p. There were just too many occasions. I hope things have gotten better than how it used to be… or even better for the future.

Spontaneous flu

 

 

I hate, hate, hate, being sick. I can assume no one else really enjoys being sick either. But it is that state that you are left in when your sick. That vulnerability, that weakness. The disparity between health and sickness becomes a whole lot more apparent especially when sickness has the upper hand. You may have difficulty breathing, difficulty moving, difficulty sleeping… Thus practically limiting to your right to live out your life with ease. When there is some ailment which hinders your daily pleasures and joy, it dampens your mood entirely. Hence this post may sound slightly sad and emo.

I always hated being sick in the first place, but when I had finally gotten myself to be healthier, it really feels like a sucker punch in the gut when you get sick. What’s more, I don’t even know how I had gotten sick. I usually have an idea over how. This time round, I really have been keeping myself appropriately clothed, even amidst this humid and hot weather, a literal walking sauna I tell you! My only guess was that I went out late on Saturday night, and didn’t go to bed till the wee hours of the morning. That’s a pretty good indication, but seriously… are you for real? Just merely walking out in public? Guess that was just a stroke of bad luck.

Okay, if anything random and humorous actually came out of this ordeal was that last night, in my brink of a fever-like state, I had a dream about me pitching insane twister curve balls that no one in the world has yet to master. Yep, that’s me… Master baseball pitcher! Then I made it into the national team and we absolutely killed every team we faced. All throughout this dream, every movement was seriously realistic and I personally couldn’t believe I was actually pulling off these twister curve balls also. Guess they’re called a fantasy and a dream for a reason… Haha…