Saturday, June 20, 2009

Life, friendships and July

Nyk was getting a bit wistful yesterday about friends lost and made. I suppose that is a fact of life that we have to accept - that friends come in and out of our lives all the time.

In different stages of life we would have different interests and activities and understandably, the people that we acquaint with would be different. Over time, we would have grown and move in divergent directions; we would have moved on to newer and other more exciting stuff.

But of course, this is not always the case. There would be that select few who would be with us for a very long time. Who would see us through the different stages in life and our ups and downs. Those that might even know us better than we know ourselves.

Even in this age of communications technology, its availability doesn't mean that it would be meaningfully utilised to keep in touch. The tools are all there and precisely because of that it is taken for granted. Everyone is just an email, phone call or text message away but sometimes we forget or are too lazy to use them.

There would also be others who would appear intermittently in our lives. They come in and out of lives. They reappear a few or many years later. But somehow we could still reconnect with them; there is still that bond of friendship. It’s like they have taken a break and came back from it.

I understand how he feels. I had that feeling a long time ago. Come to think of it, there are not many people whom I meet often. It is always the same group of people. They are the important people in my lives right now.

They may or may not be in the future but I guess the most important thing now is to treasure the friendship and not let it deteriorate.

Work and family takes up most of his time. Especially his mom. She has her mood swings and her mood significantly affects Nyk's mood.

Things are not balanced. One need to spend time with other groups of people too. The bonds of friendship can nurture and invigorate.

Perhaps all these negative energy points to something deeper. There could be something lying beneath it. Possibly feeling stuck in the rut? Midlife crisis which arrived much earlier?

Or maybe it is something as simple as the blues. Everyone gets it sometimes. Even I do. But this time it seems longer than usual.

There is only so much I can do cheer him up. Would like to just meet him now and make him feel better. I do feel powerless as I am not beside him now. This is one downside of long distance relationship which infuriates.

Hope you feel better soon dear. He is coming down in early July, so I am thinking I might have my work cut out for me if he is still not alright.

But of course, the sooner the clouds lift the better.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Community service

My company has this annual community service thing whereby staff volunteer to spend a day or more contributing back to the community. I signed up for it last month and it happened on Friday.

The expected activities were cleaning, repairing, painting, that kinda stuff. Luckily for me, there wasn't painting involved. I know painting could be fun but really, I don't like the mess produced. And painting is less fun when you have to do a decent job of it. It is another person's house after all.

The beneficiary of these activities are underprivileged kids, defined as not doing so well in school and who come from a broken or troubled family. Mine was a 11 year old girl with a single parent. She has two older brothers. We were supposed to help make their home more conducive for studying.

Anyway out job was to help clear her stuff. They live in a one bedroom HDB. Living space is already pretty cramped but it was made worse by the countless and endless boxes of stuff stacked high from wall to ceiling. They must have at least 50 boxes of stuff.

The mom had at least 5 boxes of clothing, some of which were new but never worn before. She also had at least two dozen bags and handbags wrapped in plastic. There were more than a few sets of plates, cups, saucers and other kitchenware. She had a box full of perfume for an unknown number of years.

How she got those stuff? From years of collecting and keeping the things she received from relatives, friends, neighbours. Or even good and usable stuff which she picked up from wherever.

There we were, 10 adults helping her sort through her mess for 5 hours. We had to convince her to part with her belongings. We told her all the usable equipmend would be donated to the Salvation Army. We then had to separate the things that she wants to keep from those to be discarded.

All in all, I think we managed to achieve our target. We removed at least half of her stuff and rearrange the living room. Boxes were stacked nicely and there was more floor space. We donated a study desk and computer table to them.

There were a lot of moving and carrying of boxes and bags. We had to carry the items onto a lorry which shipped them to the Salvation Army in Bishan.

In the end, the mom was visibly happy and thankful for our help. Apparently, she had tried to clean up on her own but it wasn't as productive. That was understandable as she would certainly be hesitant to discard the stuff that she had painstakingly accumulated over the years.

She thanked us profusely for making her home more spacious and cleared up the clutter.

As for me, this wasn't what I expected when I signed up for it. Clearing up stuff didn't seem to be much of a service, but judging by their gratitude, we seemed to have contributed something meaningful into their lives.

It is not much but our little service made a difference.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Male penguins raise adopted chick

Interesting news from around the world. Taken from the BBC.

Two "gay" male penguins have hatched a chick and are now rearing it as its adoptive parents, says a German zoo.

The zoo, in Bremerhaven, northern Germany, says the adult males - Z and Vielpunkt - were given an egg which was rejected by its biological parents.

It says the couple are now happily rearing the chick, said to have reached four weeks old.

The zoo made headlines in 2005 over plans to "test" the sexual orientation of penguins with homosexual traits.

Three pairs of male penguins had been seen attempting to mate with each other and trying to hatch offspring from stones.

The zoo flew in four females in a bid to get the endangered birds to reproduce - but quickly abandoned the scheme after causing outrage among gay rights activists, who accused it of interfering in the animals' behaviour.

The six "gay" penguins remain at the zoo, among them Z and Vielpunkt who are now rearing the chick together after being given the rejected egg.

"Z and Vielpunkt, both males, gladly accepted their 'Easter gift' and got straight down to raising it," said a zoo statement.

"Since the chick arrived, they have been behaving just as you would expect a heterosexual couple to do. The two happy fathers spend their days attentively protecting, caring for and feeding their adopted offspring."

Humboldt penguins are normally found in coastal Peru and Chile, but their numbers have been dwindling due to overfishing, reports the AFP news agency.

'Drive to mate'

There have been previous reports of exclusive male-to-male pairings among penguins, some of which have also included the rearing of chicks.

Homosexual behaviour is well documented in many different animals, but it is not understood in detail, says Professor Stuart West, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford.

Professor West says it has been suggested that homosexual activity could serve various purposes - for instance, it may relate to social bonding and establishment of dominance among bonobo chimps, while in some bird species, females may come together to rear young.

Other animals may simply exhibit a "drive to mate", while others may, like humans, enjoy non-procreative sexual activity.

"Homosexuality is nothing unusual among animals," Bremerhaven zoo said on Wednesday.

"Sex and coupling up in our world do not necessarily have anything to do with reproduction."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Terminator Salvation

I managed to catch Terminator Salvation on Sunday. It was better than I expected. The action scenes were great and exciting. Haven't felt this kind of adrenalin rush from a movie for quite some time.

You don't really have to know much about the earlier Terminator movies to follow the story. I would highly recommended it.

The next movie which I really want to watch is Up, Pixar's movie for this year. It's the highest rated movie I have come across on IMDB. Nine out of ten stars.