20 March 2009

School Is Fun! Really!

School is really fun! If you know how to ask the right questions... if not, you can still make it fun by behaving like an absolutely insensitive moron ragging your peers or just a moron being ragged by your peers, video captured and posted online and laughed about it.

If only ape had been like them (ape meant the two mentioned below, not the morons above) during his younger days...

"TWO Singaporean teenagers have designed a 'sponge' that can possibly mop up massive oil leaks at sea.

Hwa Chong Institution student Tan Ding Jie and River Valley High School's Gu Tianyu, both 17, spent their year-end school holidays last year experimenting with a 'superhydrophobic membrane' that repels water, like a lotus leaf, while absorbing organic solvents such as oil.

Their project was one of 59 developed last year under the Young Defence Scientists Programme (YDSP), a joint effort between the Defence Science and Technology Agency and DSO National Laboratories.

The annual programme, begun in 1992, helps students venture beyond textbook theories by working with defence technology professionals.

Instead of enjoying time off during the holidays, Ding Jie and Tianyu holed themselves up in the laboratories of the National University of Singapore (NUS) to find the most cost-effective material to absorb grease or oil leaks. They were mentored by scientists from NUS and DSO. ..." (Straits Times, March 16, 2009) Click here to read more.

You see, ape was once a very bright kid. If ape had been better, he would be a lawyer or doctor... or a doctor who desperately need a lawyer or a lawyer desperately needing a doctor. However, when ape reaches that weird period in life called "teenage", ape became... weird. (Maybe ape has never grown out of teenage... or perhaps he did but had not loose the weirdness... whatever?!?!)

Interests in being curious was lost and curiosity took a turn in interest towards, erm other more sociological and biological subjects. The problem was, sociology and biology was not taught in secondary school - at least not then and biology was offered to smart students only if they can cope with physics and chemistry. Come to think of it, this arrangement makes sense. You have to have some chemistry before getting physical and only when you know what you're really getting into then the biology of life takes place... but again, with or without you knowing what you're really into, biology of life will take place... know what I mean? Don't? Told you I am weird, didn't I?

Anyway, ape's academic performance took a dive. In case you're wondering if the cause of ape's falling grades had something to do ape's independent venture into chemistry, physics and biology out of school's curriculum, nope, that was not the cause... ape didn't get lucky.

You see, studying has to be enjoyable, education has to be fun! Ape had lots of fun in primary school. There were no stress, no targets to meet and between ape and his primary school friends, never once did we compare our grades. Most of us lived in a small humble town called Taman Jurong and our parents mostly blue collar workers.

However, in secondary school, things took a different turn. Ape enrolled into one of the top schools. Competition was high. Teachers are worried about our grades. Students are worried about their grades. The parents are worried about their grades. ECA (now called CCA) was also a competition... with other schools. Ape was thrown into a very competitive environment but ape has never been a competitive sort of person. As if academic performance and ECA was not enough, there's a certain subtlety within the students and teachers to compare the family backgrounds of students.

Ape certainly didn't score on that either. But this is not want ape want to say, especially to my teenage or weird readers. The point is, when you feel stressed about school and studies, and you lost interest... beat up your teacher, rag your peers and burn the school down... ... ... no, just joking, don't do that... maybe just beat up your teacher. No seriously, don't beat up your teacher, rag your peers and burn the school down.

Seek knowledge that interests you. I mean knowledge, and not subject, that you can relate too and interested in. Ask your English literature teacher why people in Shakespearean time talk funny with Dees and Daos anon. Or 500 years from now,will the students then ask why is it students in the 21st century talk funny with words like OMG, LOL, XD? :p

Ask your biology teacher about the birds and bees... and why, even though you took protection, your girlfriend got pregnant! If you're taking history, ask why was World War II started and not when it started. Ask how did it end and not when.

Ask your mathematics teacher if he had ever used Fourier Series, other than teaching it. And how can maths help you solve the equation of,

John+Jane)=unwanted x preganacy


protection ≠ broken ≠ expired

Ask yourself what would you like to know about the subject and not what is going to be delivered to you in the curriculum. Don't be afraid to ask questions and questions don't have to be smart... only answers need to be smart. In case your teacher gives you stupid answers such as "That's not in the exam" or "You don't have to know this", well, you can still try ragging him/her... or substitute John or Jane and see if equation proves true.

16 March 2009

Do You Really Need Your CPF Now?

Ape saw "Allow Partial CPF Withdrawals Now" in ST Forum. (Thanks to KTM).

Just to share some thoughts (thoughts meaning ape can be wrong) about the author and following comments to his article.

Gary Teo appear to be someone who is doing relatively well. At least he still has his job and his job allows him to pay off his 5 room HDB flat before 40! His children seems to be around secondary school age. Perhaps his financial crunch will come in 4-6 years time when they really need some money for their children's higher education? However, he did not elaborate further as to the "issue that worries" them. As far as ape is concerned, Mr Gary Teo is someone who does not need the CPF money now.

Comments following the article were mostly arguing, sarcastically, that our CPF should be released to us in times of need. Most of such argument will eventually lead to this,

"The BIG problem is the MIWs think that MOST SGANS dont know how to manage their $$$$... Posted by: NoodleWon at Sat Mar 14 19:02:38 SGT 2009"

Do we? Do we know how to manage our money?

Ape was once like quite a lot of people saying "CPF is MY $$$, why can't I use it when I NEED IT!" Ape still is. No one can argue that your CPF is not yours... unless you were once a victim or accomplice of those schemes where employers "borrowed" elderlies ID to make them their "employees" so as to get some grants/subsidies (ape's a bit hazy on this but I diverted).

The question is when and where can you use it. The answers can be found in CPF webpage. The problem is, some people need their CPF earlier than they are allowed to do so or for other purposes not allowed for in CPF... and so, it came back to this "CPF is MY $$$, why can't I use it when I NEED IT!".

What has changed for ape is the definition of NEED.

About the only people whom ape thinks has a real need to withdraw their CPF monies earlier than what is presribed are people who, by some unfortunate turn of events, have to incur HUGE sums of money for their MEDICAL treatments. Unfortunate turn of events (for medical treatments) include accidents and critical illnesses. If untreated, lead to death. Amounts so huge that their normal savings cannot cover (but adequate in their CPF). Maybe ape is saying this because ape is a smoker and worried that one day... he may get some heart/lung diseases :p Perhaps, ape REALLY should quit smoking... ...

Why not for times like now? Worse economy downturn ever? Loss of jobs? Because, ape thinks, one can save and prepare for such days and they are temporary. A simple solution is to save to an amount equivalent to say 3 times your salary or more. It may take years (took ape a decade to build up this amount... after ape has wasted some years before that) so do it as soon as you draw your first paycheck.

CPF is meant for retirement... for our old age. Thus, we have medisave (for medical cure during old age). We can buy our property, that we can still use in retirement, with CPF (conditions attached though). CPF is not meant for joblessness or bad economy... and certainly not a back up plan for those who don't know how to manage their own money.

Bad times such as loss of jobs? Come on, don't we have enough sense to keep some savings (other than CPF) for such days? Of course such savings won't build up overnight but they will eventually,as long as one watches his expenditure carefully.

"Spend within your means!" Cliche, right? But how many listens?

Ape be honest with you... ape wasn't listening in the past also and felt so angry that Govt don't think ape can manage his own peanuts. Until a elderly kopi-buddy advised ape to pretend that ape don't have CPF, what ape gonna do if he lost his job? Hmmmm... so ape start saving since and ape is reaping the rewards now.

Ooh... ape really finds it hard to believe that over the years, Gary had not built up any personal savings... unless, he doesn't know how to manage his money in which case, should his CPF be released for him to manage himself? Even if it's just a little?