Monday, September 19, 2005

documentary on child labor

so i was looking through the online archieve of the 20-year running documentary series named 'hang cheung chap''s been showing weekly in HK for many years and i remember watching it as a kid...obviously i didn't really appreciate the depth in these documentaries as a kid, but i'm really amazed with the range of topics covered and the quality of the program now that i can watch them online...

anyway, i watched one of the episode named 'childhood without seasonal changes' caught my eye because that particular episode has garnered a few international documentary awards...i didn't prepare myself for a topic this grave but i was really moved by the end of it...the 30-min program talks about the plight that faces the millions of child labor in the world...seeing these footages remind me of my trips to many ways, i think my trips to Cambodia has been sheltered from the many horrible truths that exist...i was living in an orphanage, where everything is peaceful in the villages nearby...yes, i know the kids there didn't really have a good quality of education and many of them have to help out in the farm...but it never really dawned on me what is it really like to fend for yourself for survival at the age of 5.

The documentary was mostly filmed in Nepal where there's a big chil trafficking trade across the border to India...some of the kids being interviewed were sold off by their parents without their knowledge...and it hurts to hear this boy confessing that he miss his parents after he comes back from a long day of work carrying bricks weighing much much than his own...some girls were forced into is a really depressing sight...i'm really glad that there is some people in the world who's actually doing something about it as the program itnerviews a few activists who try to get the world's attention to this problem...many times when faced with a social problem of this magnitude, many of us (the fortunate) would be at a lost of where to begin and probably count this as one of the daily bombardments of bad news happening around the world...but i'm glad there're people with such passion to dedicate their lives to this cause...i wonder what else i can do...or more importantly, what will i personally actually do at the end of the day, other than fretting about it here...

here's a link to the's in cantonese with chinese subtitle

a strange conversation...nostalgia

perhaps i shouldn't call it's kind of heart warming at the same time...well, after slogging through some nano fabrication homework till 1 in the morning, a sudden wave of nolstalgia engulfed me and so i decided to give my friends in HK a ring...i guess i should have prepared myself (emotionally) before dialing the long-distance numbers...fact is, this group of friends i had managed to keep in contact since my secondary school days in Hong Kong always arouse a feeling more than mere friendships based on our more innocent and carefree days...i guess they have always been the embodiment of something bigger, something that reminds of the place i was born, the i deals i had as a kid and the level of spirituality i once had...this is the 10th year since my family migrated from Hong Kong to Singapore, and i must say i have a fruitful 10 plans have always more or less gone the way i have intended them to...i am pretty satisfied with the personal trriumphs, to the exten that i chose to define them, i had so far...and yet those last 2 years in HK in Baptist LMC Secondary school always hold a special place in my makes me abit uncomfortable saying it cos i'm abit effy when it comes to these sort of sentimental subjects...perhaps that's what it is...those 2 years represent to me a time when i was truly innocent, full of wild dreams and simple ideals with next to nothing to worry about and these friends i had were the same...and i don't recall being uneasy with discussing matters of the forward 10 years and now i'm a much more cynical person...

that's why catching up with this group of friends always tingles more than the usual vibe i get when i talk to an old friend and i consciously make an effort to stay in touch with them...most of the time these encounters with them evoke many happy memories but occasionally the distance and time barrier do bring about abit of awkwardness...perhaps i have too high expectations of these friendships...but it's an intricate thing to balance this sense of being a close friend and yet being very distance (quite literally)...

anyway, so i called up gloria...she's always been the outstanding smart girl who seem to excel in everything as far as i can remember...we talked for a long while...pickin on random some point we talked about religion and it dawns on me that the most care-free time of my life is also the time when i have the most spiritual peace of mind...and both of us agree that those early years in LMC where we attended the christian fellowship in school regularly was really the last standing fort that pushes us in the direction that there is a God, despite whatever hanging questions and doubts about religion that comes with the development of more complex reasoning later in life...i realize that's really one of the major reason why i long for that period of time so much...and i'm really grateful that i have such an amazing childhood...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Berkeley racial composition of incoming class

well, i saw this on the homepage of yahoo! appaarently there's 47% asian in the new freshman class...this is suggested to be the result of the blind-race approach in recruitment policy that was passed as a law a while ago or so i gather from the article...but there's a huge imbalance in terms of african american student as well as hispanic students...this reminds me of all the debate surrounding the affirmative action law suit against U-Mich for the past few years...

Friday, September 09, 2005

Berkeley campus

apparently, the Berkeley Bears has exactly the same color combination as Michigan Wolverine (mazin blue and yellow)...that explains what some have a slight shock on their face when they come close and see word 'michigan' emblazoned on my jacket..

Alrite..the Berkeley campus is really quite small compared to AA...I figure it's probably smaller than central most 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other...but this rough estimate of walking duration is highly dependent on the direction you'r taking..cos the whole campus is situated on the side of a hill...which can be pretty damn steep (maybe 30 degrees)..especially near the EECS!

Life @ berkeley (continued)

once again, this shows tam's touches in the house with her 'oh-so-romantic' setting..with rose peddles and candle...i assure you there'd be no shortage of solid fuel (=wax) shall a fire breaks out...touch wood..

We opt for a cushion/pillow setup to save on the cost of buying a sofa...pretty comfy actually :)

the projector image looks kind of dim here..but when we close the blinds, our living room becomes a kickass home theater with 5.1 dolby sound for watching live games..and the video image will be more than double the size in this pic when we put the projector further back beside the cushion sofa...Germany 06 here i come!!!!!

Life @ Berkeley

So after 3 weeks of intensive shopping, me and tammy finally got our apartment set up nicely...we spent quite alot (close to $1500) for furnitures, new phone lines, sound system, utensils, daily supplies...ouch! but it's all worth it if u take a look at the pics below..

A kitchen bar top as our little kitchen table with 4 bar stools...covered with orange-red table cloth..

another view of the kitchen table...with special meal coutesy by Tam da Chef..a long candle holder in the background...for romantic effects?

michigan wolverine at a land called Berkeley...looks like tam's also a Michigan convert now..

Friday, September 02, 2005

New beginning at Berkeley...

So it's been quite a while since i write here. The summer passed by so quickly, especially when you'r travelling and spending more money than the total in your previous 25 years of existence. It's been a fantastic summer and I'm recharged to start a new phrase of life in Berkeley.

I arrived in Berkeley a week before Tammy did. We got ourselves a really great apartment on Shattuck Ave, which is walking distance from the BART (the local mass transit train system) and the campus, and we got it at a great price as well, considering that it's a brand new building. Anyway, I didn't get too much done except watching a bunch of movies frokm BlockBuster and attending a few orientation activities as Tammy insisted on getting the furniture until she arrives. So basically I slept in an ampty apartment for about a week, which I guess explains my quick decision to get a home theatre system to hook up to the projector I brought from Singapore so I can start watching some shows to cure my boredom.

Berkeley on first sight isn't really that attractive as a town. But i've come to enjoy the atmosphere unique to this place where the 60's hyppie movement still thrives with the backdrop of possibly the most liberal campus in the States. It's a very different place from Ann Arbor; it certainly lacks the greens and space of Michigan, but what it lack in natural beauty it makes it up with a mirrad of interesting shops and outdoor market, as well as the frequent protests and demonstrations. It also has a ridiculously high density of book shops. The campus intererior is awesome too, albeit small and abit too crowded for the school population. Unfortunately, the EECS building, named Cory Hall, happens to be the ugliest structure in Berkeley and quite possibly an exact replica of the Freeze Building which is now being demolished in Ann Arbor.

Another 2 things that Berkeley pales in comparison to AA is its safety and song-writer scene. Ok, AA is a bubble, probably as safe as Singapore and there're probably very few places in US as safe as AA, but berkeley can a rough time, especially after dark. Fortunately, our apt building is situated on a major road with ample lighting so I hope that'd help. Another thing that bucks me is the lack of open mic or venues for song-writers like me. AA's got the Ark, ample pubs and cafe and school programs for open mics. I've been searching Berkeley for the past 2 weeks for a cafe or pub that regularly hosts small gigs to no avail.