Saturday, April 28, 2007


Woman, 95, to be oldest college graduate
By CARL MANNING, Associated Press Writer Fri Apr 27, 4:02 AM ET
HAYS, Kan. - Sitting on the front row in her college classes carefully taking notes, Nola Ochs is just as likely to answer questions as to ask them. That's not the only thing distinguishing her from fellow students at Fort Hays State University. She's 95, and when she graduates May 12, she'll be what is believed to be the world's oldest person to be awarded a college degree.
She didn't plan it that way. She just loved to learn as a teenager on a Hodgeman County farm, then as a teacher at a one-room school after graduating from high school and later as a farm wife and mother.
"That yearning for study was still there. I came here with no thought of it being an unusual thing at all," she said. "It was something I wanted to do. It gave me a feeling of satisfaction. I like to study and learn."
The record Ochs will break, according to Guinness World Records, belongs to Mozelle Richardson, who at age 90 in 2004 received a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma.
"We should all be so lucky and do such amazing things. Her achievement challenges us all to reach for our own goals and dreams," said Tom Nelson, AARP chief operating officer in Washington.
She's getting offers for television appearances, and reporters show up wanting to interview her. She acknowledges enjoying it.
"It brings attention to this college and this part of the state. Good people live here," she said. "And I still wear the same size hat."
But she added: "I don't dwell on my age. It might limit what I can do. As long as I have my mind and health, it's just a number."
Ochs is proudest of being the matriarch of a family that includes three sons — a fourth died in 1995 — along with 13 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.
"They're all such fine boys," she said. "Our main crop is our children, and the farm is a good place to raise them."
Ochs started taking classes at Dodge City Community College after her husband of 39 years, Vernon, died in 1972. A class here and there over the years, and she was close to having enough hours for an undergraduate degree.
Last fall, Ochs moved the 100 miles from her farm southwest of Jetmore to an apartment on campus to complete the final 30 hours to get a general studies degree with an emphasis on history.
At 5-foot-2, her white hair pulled into a bun, she walks purposely down hallways to classes with her books in a cloth tote bag. Students nod and smile; she's described as witty, charming and down to earth.
"Everybody has accepted me, and I feel just like another student," she said. "The students respect me."
Coming out of a classroom, Skyla Foster, a junior majoring in history, sees Ochs and calls out to her. To everyone on campus, she's "Nola," not Mrs. Ochs — and that's the way she wants it.
"She is pretty neat, a very interesting person and very knowledgeable," Foster said.
Todd Leahy, history department chairman, wondered at first if Ochs could keep up with the other students. After her second week, all doubts were gone, as he discovered she could provide tidbits of history.
Leahy, who had Ochs in four classes, wantsto record oral histories with her after she graduates.
"I can tell them about it, but to have Nola in class adds a dynamic that can't be topped," Leahy said. "It's a firsthand perspective you seldom get."
For instance, Ochs offered recollections of the 1930s Midwest dust bowl, when skies were so dark that lamps were lit during the day and wet sheets were placed over windows to keep out dust that sounded like pelting sleet hitting the house.
During a discussion about World War II, Ochs told how she and her husband, along with other wheat farmers in the area, grew soybeans on some of their acres for the war effort.
"I would have never talked about that in class, but she brought it up and we talked about it," Leahy said. "She often adds color to the face of history."
Ochs hasn't complained about the work, nor has she asked for special considerations.
In her one-bedroom apartment, books are open and papers and notes are within easy reach when she sits down at her computer to research and write.
"I came up here with that purpose. No, I never doubted it. Other people did it," she said. "I came up here to work, and I enjoy it."
Ochs said she has learned new things. She said she has attained a better understanding of Russian history and the role Dwight Eisenhower played in the D-Day invasion.
An added joy for Ochs is that her 21-year-old granddaughter, Alexandra Ochs, will graduate with her.
"How many people my age have a chance to hang out with their grandmothers? She's really accepted by the other students," Alexandra said. "They enjoy her, but probably not as much as I do."
Ochs said she looks forward to getting home to help with the wheat harvest, as she has done every year for as long as she can remember. After harvest, she might travel or take more classes at a community college.
After that?
"I'm going to seek employment on a cruise ship as a storyteller," she said, smiling.
The determined look in her eye leaves no doubt she's serious.
Anyone bound for Bali Labour Day break? Welcome on board!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Visits to other private colleges often reinforces the tyranny of the market on the academy, and of course academics, if lecturers would even dare to call themselves 'scholars' these days.
Just as McDonald's had been accused of encouraging 'Pester Power' among children who emotionally blackmail or extort their parents to patronise the franchise, 'McD's Unis' should be tried and found guilty for 'giving too much face' to mostly rich, and even not-so-rich, kids to treat education as a commodity with a price tag and thus teachers, a more appropriate and humbling term for lecturers at private colleges and universities, as no different from McDonald's servers.
Indeed, the day may soon arrive when your McD's Uni lecturer asks, "Would you like an A+ with that, Sir/Madam/Master/Miss?"

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Since I missed Farewell to the King, thought I'll just post a few of my pics taken by Borneo Blues at the inaugural AllBlogs' party.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I managed to catch a rerun of Oprah Winfrey show on 'Stop Living a Lie', or something along that line, advocating people to be true to themselves and SHOW UP, not as a Pretender or an Imposter, but as their true AUTHENTIC selves in any relationship, be it at the workplace, social or familial setting.
The operative word here is BEING your own REAL self, not HAVING what you think will DRAW people to you, or make them LOVE you, unless it's shallow and materialistic people that you intend to attract in the first place.
Like I've said in a text message before, and I will say it again and again:
Ms Winfrey and her guests went on to relate how most people, especially women, would inextricably link self identity and self image with what we HAVE (usually a 'catch' in the guise of successful boyfriends, trophy husbands, rich SugarDaddies or even brilliant Mentors who will make us the envy of every woman in our social or professional circle, 'cos they are often regarded as the Express/TAG Lane or PASSPORTS, not only to overseas trips, but to palatial homes, chauffeur-driven cars, a life of leisure, that framed degree/s on our walls, and the promotions thereafter), and not for who we ARE - unique and special in our own right and capable of achieving our personal or professional goals through our own efforts.
Now, most of my female relatives and friends, not just the home makers but the professionals as well, subscribe to this very ILLUSION that every woman's dream is to be a Datin or a Tai-tai, with a walk-in wardrobe of designer clothes, bags, shoes and jewelleries to captivate the crowd during that 'Red Carpet Moment', and similar shallow and superficial pursuits.
Now don't get me wrong, I do enjoy my share of superficial socialising and fine dining with high society, but I derive REAL satisfaction and pleasure from being recognised for my academic work at conference circuits and other public forums.
I remembered well an awful spat between me and a female relative who retorted that:
"You're jealous of me because you HAVE nothing!"
And my knee-jerk reaction was:
"Why should I be? You ARE nothing! (i.e., without the honorific title, expensive clothes, jewelleries, cars, etc., courtesy of her husband)"
And that was the last we spoke to one another.
In fact, having witnessed and felt the resounding VOID in her life made me, consciously or unconsciously, AVOID falling into that tempting trap of being the Mentee who had to walk several steps behind her world-renown Mentor, Patron, or whatchamacallit!
And, of course, it will take me forever to finish my doctoral dissertation without a benefactor, but hey, it's the journey and not the destination that matters.
In any case, what do you think will happen when two supposedly mature and sophisticated adults SHOW UP, over and over again, as shy, awkward and self-conscious people?
The answer is, NOTHING.
What are the reasons for the NON-EVENT?
Will they ever make things HAPPEN between them?
Well, for starters:
Think about how it feels to be the other person.
What they need to feel good.
Remember, there's almost a fifty-fifty chance that they feel shy too.
Put yourself in their shoes and do what you think it would take to make them feel good.
That's not phoniness, that's kindness.
And try to extend that kindness by going the extra mile to her TURF and respect her TERMS, to make her feel good and comfortable.
STOP 'dragging' her down to the same level as opportunistic, materialistic and mindless 'kiddos' by compelling her to compete with 'budak-budak hingusan' (wet behind their waxed ears neophytes, WHAT AN INSULT!) - that will NEVER, ever work since her values are opposed to theirs, or perhaps yours, for that matter.
She can't show up as desperate and needy, when the REAL self prided in self-reliance.
So, SweetHeart, either settle for CLONES in your own IMAGE, or you just gotta change that APPROACH! You may be an arrogant bloke, but certainly no DUMMY! Don't just SHOW UP, OWN UP to your actions! STOP hiding behind plate numbers, heavily tinted wind shields, mute runners, balaccis, etc., etc!!!
And here's Missy Elliot to drive the point home:

Monday, April 16, 2007

R Strauss Oboe Concerto, MPO, April 13-15 2007

Zai and I were simply thrilled to get complimentary tickets to the MPO after the event at NN Gallery. I'm now beginning to appreciate western classical music and able to distinguish the sounds and moods evoked by the different musical instruments, be they string, wind or what-have-you. As a novice, I can proudly say now that horns produce a "lively theme", strings have a "jagged rhythmic edge" and flutes and clarinets are reminiscent of a "charming rural or pastoral" past.
So, this time around, I had a splendid time at the DFP, savouring both the music of Ravel (Valses nobles et sentimentales), Strauss (Oboe Concerto) and Dvorak (Symphony No. 7 in D minor (Op. 70)), as well as the desserts (tiramiru, almond choc and carrot walnut, haha!)
"Inspired by the music of Schubert, Ravel’s “noble and sentimental Waltzes” was originally written for a concert where the audience had to guess the composer ... Dvorák’s Seventh is widely regarded as the greatest of his nine symphonies while MPO Principal Oboe, Simon Emes, enchants us with the Concerto Richard Strauss wrote for one of the American soldiers sent to guard him at the end of the Second World War."

Garden of the Heart, NN Gallery, April 7-30 2007

This is one solo exhibition with a difference, from the moment the art enthusiast walks into the gallery til the moment she steps out.
Now, I'm no art connosseur, just a lover of aesthetics. And was I fascinated by the creative floral arrangements that greet the visitors at the foyer. The air was fragrant with the sweet smell of tuberoses, 'melor', 'tanjung' and 'kenanga' (gosh, can't find the translations in English on the net and no kamus dwi-bahasa at hand) as well as 'bunga rampai'.
The theme is Sufism, from the flowers to the music and, of course, the works of art. Garden of the Hearts marks Dato' Sharifah Fatimah Syed Zubir 21st solo exhibition and showcases 24 new works. And as any novice could tell, Islamic arts is more about conformity and contemplation, rather than creativity, which represents the Islamic way of life and revolves around the worship of the Almighty and appreciation of his creations on Earth.
The collages and other works at the exhibition focus "more on geometrical images and colours which evoke feelings of calmness, enlightenment and spirituality". This "dynamic new body of work ... is reflective of the artist’s recent experiences which marks an evident change in style and a significant development in her artistic expression." And this recent change in style is the result of her travels to many different parts of the world, including Sumatra and Yemen, to retrace her roots and search for solace and serenity in her cultural heritage.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Oxford & Cambridge Gala Boat Race Ball 2007

This is one event that I simply wouldn't skip, not only for its style and sophistication, but for its scrumptious food, clever conversation and melodious music.*ázquez
So there we were, last Saturday night, in our best black dresses and shawls and killer heels to the Carcosa Seri Negara, where we rubbed shoulders and introduced ourselves to the charming crowd.
Speaking of sparkling as well as dry wit from eloquent professionals, socialites and diplomats, this is one joke by a former ambassador that I simply got to share:
A doctor of numbers wrote a letter to his wife justifying the reason why he had to meet his 18 year old mistress. Although he still loved her and would not dreamt of divorcing her, she was nonetheless already 54, and hence, could not satisfy him any longer. But as a responsible husband, he will be home at midnight. However, when he walked into the hotel lobby for his rendevous, he was greeted by a fax from his Old Wife, which said:
"Since you have an 18 year old girl as your lover, I too have taken an 18 year old boy as my lover. I'm sure as a mathematician, you have no problem figuring out that it's faster for 18 to go into 54, than for 54 to go into 18. So, honey, please don't wait up! Love, your wife"
And here's to those who did not make it to the Ball:
Besame besame mucho,
each time I bring you a kiss
I hear music divine.
So besame besame mucho,
Yeh I love you for ever
say that you'll always be mine.
Dearest one, if you should leave me
then each little dream will take wings
and my life would be through.
So besame besame mucho,
yeh I love you for ever,
make all my dreams come true.
Oh this joy is something new,
my arms are holding you,
I never knew this thrill before.
Who ever thought I'd be
holding you close to me
whispering it's you I adore.
So dearest one,
if you should leave me
then each little dream will take wings
and my life would be through.
So besame besame mucho,
yeah I love you for ever,
make all my dreams come true.

Wine & Dine with Rodelio Aglibot, April 6 2007

Rodelio Aglibot, celebrity chef from the West Coast of the USA, was at the Westin, from 4-8 April 2007, when NiA and I had the pleasure of tasting his culinary creations:
Gindara Beignets
(Miso Scented Cod Cakes with a Smoked Tomato Infused Brandade)
Duet of Crispy Rice
(Pan-fried Sushi Rice Topped with Spicy Tuna and Wagyu Beef Tartare Tataki)
Tandoori Inspired Black Cod
(Curried Cauliflower Puree Tomato Confit)
Caramelised Duck Breast Roulade
(Cured, Poached and Caramelised Duck Breast, Watercress Salad, Peppered Mango Sauce)
Roasted Australian Kobe Beef Strip Loin
(Asian Mushrooms, Spicy Pickled Cabbage Potato Puree, Yuzu-kosho Infused Demi Glaze)
Avacado Mousse
(Cucumber-lychee Granite, Raspberry Sauce)
This second generation Filipino American was born in Hawaii and is a former executive chef of well-known 'koi' and 'yi cuisine' restaurants, a founder of a premier tuna supplier in San Francisco and opening a 15,000 sq. ft. Pan Asian restaurant in downtown Seattle named 'Le Orient'.

Oh, Jit!

NiA’s invitation to join her and her friends at The Actors’ Studio (TAS), BSC, last night was a refreshing relieve from the end-of-semester madness, made more memorable with the glittering company and the generous flow of refreshments, courtesy of JAYA ONE.
I’ve always remembered Jit Murad as the urchin-faced Peter Pan stage performer who'll never grow old, never mind up. However, on the ninth evening of his current comedy run, I sensed that he looked rather drained and jaded, and somewhat out of form, particularly when he was recounting his childhood memories.
Jit was, fortunately, in his element throughout his impersonations of Samy Velu, the sycophantic YB and the loquacious Renee Choy. Switching effortlessly from the faded jeans and blazer of the narrator to a batik shirt and songkok for his portrayal of the ingratitious MP and a stylish headscarf for his version of an Ipoh Road hairdresser, the stand-up comedian had the audience in the palms of his hands all the time he was on his feet, knees and back, but not when he was on his tush, reading from his script!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Adios, Amigo!

Received these photos and verses from a former student just in the nick of time to bid a colleague and friend good-bye and fare-thee-well.
My 'sahabat seperjuangan' (comrade-in-arms, metaphorically speaking), Sheih of,
forgive me for my prejudices and suspicions at the initial stage; I have this emotional baggage about Kelantanese men, actually just one in particular. No, not grudges, just wary and weary; it's self-explanatory.
Anyway, would like to thank you for lifting my spirits up with those fun posters at times when I was feeling down and sharing the wound of having had absentee fathers and strong mothers, those few and far-between teh tarik sessions with others at that oh-so-odious 'lorong', that night out with Knudsen, Beh and Cynthia, at Hartamas Square, and the invitations to Wisma Denmark, Kafe4Teen and NPC, which I managed to honour a couple of times. Don't want to sound cliched, but "the road is long, with many a winding turn, that leads to who knows where ..."
At any rate, I wish all the best in your future endeavours. I had hoped that you would produce the new Malaysian cinema (paradiso?), but it's alright too if you produce consciousness-raising materials to awaken political activism (and I mean this in a very broad sense of the word) within the citizenry, be they Kelantanese or Malaysians.
Adios, Amigo, til we meet again!
Sometimes in life, you find a special friend;
Someone who changes your life
just by being part of it.
Someone who makes you laugh
until you can't stop;
Someone who makes you believe
that there really is good in the world.
Someone who convinces you
that there really is an unlocked door
just waiting for you to open it.
Believe in yourself
Be brave...but it's ok to be afraid sometimes
Remain calm, even when it seems hopeless
Be weird whenever you have the chance
Love your friends, no matter who they are
Take an occasional risk
Fall in love with someone..
Love someone with all of your heart
Watch your step
It will get better
There is always someone who loves you more than you know
Exercise to keep fit
Live up to your name
Seize the Moment
Hold on to good friends; they are few and far between
Indulge in the things you truly love
At the end of the day... PRAY
....... and close your eyes
And smile at least once a day!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Pakatan Nasional Penulis Blog (National Alliance of Bloggers)

Gotcha! Or is it NAB? A National Alliance of Bloggers was officially formed last nite at the National Press Club (NPC) in a counter manouvre that outsmart the powers-that-be.
Yesterday morning, the Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor had announced at the Dewan Rakyat that bloggers using locally hosted websites may be asked to register with the authorities.
Registration was seen as "one of the measures the Government was considering to prevent the spread of negative or malicious content on the Internet" which could be a threat to national security.
However, serious bloggers viewed this move to compel local bloggers to register as a form of control and a violation of the Government's no-censorship policy with regards to the Internet under the Bill of Guarantees. The Government had also established the Content Forum as a form of self-regulation among players in the sector to deliberate on complaints by any disgruntled party. They predicted that the move would also instil fear among the bloggers and would encourage them to host their blogs overseas.
Below is the line-up of the Pro-tem committee members:
President - Ahirudin Attan
Vice President - Jeff Ooi
Secretary - Nuraina A. Samad
Treasurer - Tony Yew
Council Members:
Patrick Teoh
Bernard Khoo
Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz
Syed Jamal al-Idrus
Rajahram Ramalingam
Annuratha K
Ami Husni
Soon Li Tsin (more)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Goodbye Guantanamo

Here's another chance at exercising your rights as a concerned global citizen:
Dear Avaaz Member,
Bush's top advisors are divided over whether to close Guantanamo prison forever. A massive global outcry could tip the balance.
Sign the petition below - we will publish it in key US papers next week:
Take Action Now
Guantanamo prison is a major part of President Bush's assault on international law. 400 prisoners remain trapped in Guantanamo prison without being charged with any crime or given a trial. Now we have a chance to shut it down. Last week US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Guantanamo should be closed. President Bush's advisors are now split down the middle on this issue -- a massive global outcry could tip the balance, and push Bush to close Guantanamo forever.
Click below to sign the Close Guantanamo petition, and we'll run ads next week in major US papers announcing the number of signatures:
It's now clear that many of the detainees are simply innocent people caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Guantanamo's former commander General Jay Hood has admitted, "Sometimes we just didn't get the right folks." This is what happens when people are held without charge or trial. After being held for five years, last week Australian David Hicks was finally charged -- and sentenced to just 9 months in an Australian prison. This hardly looks like the "worst of the worst" - words the Bush Administration used to justify ignoring basic standards of justice.
Meanwhile, as regimes around the world use Guantanamo to excuse their own human rights abuses, international law keeps taking a beating. Sign the petition calling on the US government to close Guantanamo , and for its inmates to be tried in a legitimate court or set free. Let's run ads in Washington DC and show that citizens from every country on earth want this injustice to end:
In hope,
Ricken, Milena, Tom, Graziela and the Avaaz Team

End the Seal Hunt Today

If you're a sucker for cute babies, regardless they are humans or otherwise, then do your bit in saving innocent seal pups from being cruelly clubbed and butchered by inhumane hunters.
Plus, we really have to start making sacrifices in terms of "creature comforts" such as vehicles, air-conditioners, etc. that produced green house gas emissions and caused global warming that eroded polar ice caps and destroyed the habitats of endangered species. Do something, anything starting NOW!