Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Trees & Flowers

I love trees..
The bigger, the shadier, the better..
But, the ones in winter...
Make one really wonder..
How time and the cruelty of mother nature...
Makes them stand sturdier as ever..



Like the trees we have to be..
Absorbing whatever good there may be..
With roots silently probing & venturing..
Unwavering & undetered by the surroundings..
Its amazing to see..
Lining the streets, gardens & cities..
The multi colours of trees..

Flowers on the other hand..

Have always been praised by men..

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day & The MBTA

Monday 28th May is Memorial Day. We took the opportunity of the holiday & the fine weather to go venturing the 'T' in Boston. If you're familiar with the Komuter, The Star & The Putra in KL then you'll get along fine with the trains here. In fact, you'll survive in any train, Underground, Metro or Subway system in the world! First of all, go to the nearest train station and get yourself a map of the train routes; plan where you're going, then get a ticket.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)'s website is also a good way to start. It contains wealth of information. Every ride cost $2, so round trip is $4 - we bought our tickets from the touch screen machines at the station, but I noticed passengers can also buy them from the slot machine on the train, near the driver. Macam naik bas kat Malaysia! I also find crossing the railway tracks at the station as something odd, when its a No! No! back home. The station at Newton Center is above ground...I can say Newton nie macam Shah Alam laa. For an 'old' train system, I think the trains here are very fast & on time. Don't mind the physical conditions though - my son said " ..kalau kat M'sia, dah kena buang dah nie.." We took the Green line, Route D & our destination was Gov't Center in Downtown Boston - 14 stops altogether. From there we walked over to Quincy Market, Fanueil Hall, Haymarket & the New England Aquarium. With summer-like weather which the 'mat sallehs' crave for, the centers were buzzing with people & happenings.




I can say we were not the only visitors in town! :-) Quincy Market offers rows of food stalls which during lunch time will be packed with office workers surrounding the area. Boston souveniers are available at Fanueil Hall - an 'old' post office is also located within to cater for immediate deliveries and postal service. There's also a 'Cheers' bar lookalike nearby where we see quite a number of snapshots taken. Besides being a 'hot spot' for visitors, this area is also a historical site and its part of the Freedom Trail that the Trolley Tours offer. Notice the 'old' I previously mentioned in quotes; I believe we should also be preserving & showcasing them MORE than the 'new' which we are frequently hype-ing these days.. People want to see history & culture that's why they go to places; if not they would have stayed at home! Don't you think? Well, just a passing thought..:-)
The New England Aquarium, like any other, features animals from around the world - equipped with four-storey 200,000-gallon Giant Ocean Tank, its home to everything from seaturtles to sharks to tropical fish. I have been to our Sea World in Langkawi but it was some time back so I can't make an immediate comparison to this aquarium. Maybe I should research it! ;-) But, what I notice about the NE Aquarium is that, it has a clinic & lab for injured sea animals within the facility & those that they find in MA surrounding waters. Which is quite comforting to know...Of course, research is in conjunction with the educational institutions which Boston is renowned for.
Besides going around the 'inexpensive way' like we did, the city also offers visitors many more ways to tour Boston; such as the different Trolley Tours, the Duck Tours - it goes over land & water!, and the Harbor Cruises. To see so many Architecture, Museums, Historic Sites, Tour Sites & Fun Sites - making Boston a charming and educational city to visit. :-)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Asian Nite 2007 @ Newton South High School

Congratulations to the Asian Students Organisation for making the 3rd Asian Night fun & memorable for the students and parents of NSHS. The night started off with 5 perky students acting as host & hostesses welcoming the auditorium packed audience. To set the mood & spirit going, the first act was 'Beating of the Drums' by Chinese Folk Art Workshop. I could see many with camera or handphone in their hands clicking & recording the fanciful actions of the drum beaters amidst the loud, rhythmic sound of the BIG drums. The beat was of course, not UNfamiliar to a person who have been living in front of a Chinese Temple most of her young days in Selama, Perak. Next came Korean & Japanese songs which were the order of the night. The Modern Indian Dancers managed to captivate the audience's attention to their body swaying, bangles rattling, and head shaking routines - Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit & Karisma Kapoor would have been proud! Spring Showers - the chinese fan dance was refreshing and beautifully choreographed. I imagined Malaysian girls dancing 'joget', 'inang' & 'zapin' clad in tight 'kebayas' & batik sarongs. That would have woo-ed the audience even more! But, Atiqah is the only Malaysian girl in the school & I wondered whether TDC would be willing to send their dance troupes to a High School like Newton South. The night continued on with a Lion Dance - I suppose the 'Mat Sallehs' wouldn't think the Asian Nite as complete without a 'Lion' prancing on stage. Anyhow, kudos to the acrobats on their efforts! Although I loved to watch the Martial Arts performance by Calvin Chin Martial Arts Academy, I daresay there would be more 'ooohs' & 'aaahs' if the 'silat' was also introduced to the audience that night. The Chinese Yo Yo by the boys from Chinese Folk Art Workshop was to me very unique & invigorating indeed. Especially when it was announced that the Yo Yo was founded in China! Although, I think they would be equally fascinated if they had seen our 'Gasing' act - Top Spinning. The 'Asian' fashion show went well - I commented to Atiqah & her friend Sidra, originally from Pakistan, that they should enter in next year's fashion show to make it complete. The response I got was just sniggles & glares from both of them. Of course, we wouldn't want the audience to think that Asia constitutes of only China, Korea & India, right? Asia has also got abundance of culture & art in the South East as well. The Raffle drawing was I guess the moment that everyone was waiting for - prices were a brand new iPod Shuffle, $50 Simon's Mall Gift Card and $25 Borders Gift Card. Guess who won second price...Atiqah!! The night was worth going to after all! :) I can't help hearing the illusionist from Thailand, Bus Khiaophan's comment: Glad we're all Asians!Congratulations again to all who have made the night successful. Awaiting for a more exciting & interesting 4th Annual Asian Night next year...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Physics Day at Canobie Lake Park

May 18th is Physics Day! Today, all Grade 9 students of Newton South High School, MA had the opportunity to learn & experience physics at Canobie Lake Park in Salem New Hampshire. It was around 50 mins bus ride from the school to the theme park. There were 10 buses altogether with maybe like 20 teachers and 4 parents (including yours truly) acting as chaperones for the students. Everyone looked excited in the sports hall, chattering & kidding around while the teachers took attendance. Mr Van Beever was the man of the day and I have to thank him for allowing me to tag along. Being a first time chaperone, thank goodness I had Ms Okun in my bus. Anyway, the children were very well behaved. We left at around 9am and came back quarter to 2. I know the children would love to be there until the park closes!. Atiqah was in another bus with another parent whom I came to know - Ms Maria de Lourdes Ramos-Heinrick, who is a lovely & friendly lady. Her son, to his dismay :-) is also in the same bus as de Lourdes. One of these days, I hope me and de Lourdes will be able to make it for the tenis games we talked about while we were at the teachers lounge ( besides the free ticket, we were also invited to the teachers lounge! ) and when we were up on the ferris wheel. I would love to start back on the game.. getting rusty on my backstrokes and forehand! Of course there were loads of other fun rides - I told de Lourdes, why torture ourselves! And, she agreed. The place is more like the theme park in Genting Highlands. Tapi, rasa2 nyer kat Genting lagiii best!! - in terms of the rides. But what I like about Canobie is, its charming setting amidst the forest and the scenic Canobie Lake. The place has been around since the early 1900's - changing hands a number of times. I love how they manage to preserve the trees, the foliage and maintain a crystal clear lake. It would be much better however, if the weather was in our favor but, the children didn't mind it at all. There were also other students and teachers from schools in New Hampshire and the surrounding areas. Like the NSHS students they were also taking notes & answering their worksheets before getting up on the rides. I think they were just simple questions though, - the main idea is ... physics = FUN !

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Wrentham..oh..Wrentham..

Strangely enough, bringing others to shop is as satisfying as you doing the shopping yourself.. :-). The factory outlets in MA as well as up in Maine saw a 'tsunami' of Malaysians and internationals these last few weeks. Not only the outlets were 'raided' - Newman Marcus, Copley Square & Newbury Street saw quite a number of VIPs & BioTechies taking a break from the BIO Convention. Really..., spending US500+ on a handbag is way beyond my purse! I don't think I have the courage to swipe my card for it no matter how cheap my friend say it is. But seeing her buying it, is like me owning it myself..Now where would I have the use for a 500 dollar bag!
My mother would love me more if she found out I have inherited her prudent ways..With more than 170 designer outlets all located in one attractive outdoor center in Wrentham, what more can you ask for in a factory outlet!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Children's Muzeum in Boston..& Queen Noor of Jordan

I had the opportunity on May 7th 2007 to accompany the DPM wife's entourage to the Children's Muzeum in Boston. It was an interesting & knowledgeable experience on my part. Simple ideas but made easy & practical by the staff & administrators of the unique facility. It doesn't take a big, expensive building to achieve their objectives.! I suppose its the contents that matters most. The children's program there is an outlet for mothers, fathers and even caretakers to bring their infants / toddlers to play & learn from the facility. Such things as sand, water, bubbles, lights... are just a few of the elements creatively designed to entice the physical as well as provoke the imagination of the smaller children - which is the main focus of the DPM wife's initiative back home. She mentioned the increasing social ills among youngsters these days - ahaaa..glad SOMEBODY noticed! - and would like to implement a similar program for 5 year olds and below.
Like the activities done in any nursery or 'tadika' in Malaysia, the bigger children also get to do coloring, painting, cutting...& singing. What I like most however, are the life skills that are playfully taught and learnt by them. Simple examples are the do's & don'ts whenever they are in a kitchen, or what they have to do when they are up on an aeroplane or the buying and selling that happens in an ordinary sundry shop. All these activities take place in the model kitchen, a pretend aircraft cabin and also in the little model shop that is equipped even with a cash register!.

I remember the 'pondok2' we used to play during our childhood days... :-) No one taught us the 'how to's' then .. I suppose it WAS a process of learning life skills - by imitating adults & doing whatever comes naturally. We did not have dolls back then either - barbie , cabbage patch or whatever ...we used the smaller kids as babies & sometimes makeshift puppets out of paper with cutout paper clothes. Those were the days....



Look who's waiting patiently for the bus! :-)






On May 8th, we had the opportunity listening to Queen Noor of Jordan on the topic of BIOTECHNOLOGY AND ITS IMPACT ON GLOBAL HEALTH during one of the luncheon talks at BIO2007. She talked about the actual needs and the commercial demands of Biotechnology : Blue BioTech - safety of water & Green BioTech - food grown without much water, building peace through King Hussein Environmental International Organisation, being a patron to World Conservation Union, support agriculture for future harvests.... Security , water, food & healthcare will contribute in the times to come... So glad I made it for her speech. Of course, I would be exhilarated even more if we also made it for the luncheon talk by Michael J.Fox - Founder, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research the day before... ;-)

Monday, May 7, 2007

BIO2007 Boston

Bio International Convention - the Global Event for Biotechnology, at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) started on Sunday 6th May and ended on Wednesday 9th May 2007. It was estimated around 20,000 people gathered whether to attend the paid sessions or exhibit their stuffs in the pavillions that were set up by more than I believe, 30 countries including Malaysia. By the way, passes to the sessions cost nearly US2000 and visitors had to pay US150 just to get in. Of course, security was tight amidst the threat of animal rights protesters! Well, it was a gathering of the 'biotechies' and who's who in the technology 'glamorized' industry. During the one week period Boston became a hub for biotechnology - like a magnet attracting hundreds of people to the city. The Governor, Deval Patrick announced a US1.3B budget for the biotech industry - life sciences, in MA.
Wow ! Can u beat that? Newspapers stated that it was not just the main show that mattered - spinoff conferences, meetings & dealings were more likely to boost the biotech industry. And it is hoped Malaysia also profited from this event - sending more than 350 delegates made her the 3rd largest participation just after US (the host) and Canada (the neighbour), definitely some GOOD is more than expected! But how come no mention of Malaysia's participation in the local papers?. I believe I read something on our southern neighbor's initiatives in biotechnology. After all the huge amount of money that was spent! I think a smaaall space in The Boston Globe or MHT doesn't account much compared to what was spent on the pavillion or the accomodations or even the Lobsters during previous night dinner!.
I must say the location of the Malaysian Pavillion was very strategic indeed! Just beside the escallator used for entering into the exhibition hall ..but some sense should have been knocked into the designers' head! A lookalike structure of a Malay house' s roof as the centerpiece was undoubtedly Malaysian, but putting it sideways! No wonder the Malaysian booths inside were 'lengang', not busy at all...they were blocked by the many partitions ever! People just couldn't find MALAYSIA's entrance and walked straight on to MARYLAND! .

I managed to take a shot on top of the escallator before being apprehended by the security guards.. ! :o ..What you're looking at is the side( should be the front ) and the back view of the pavillion. The partitions in front of the man should not be there - making way for a bigger entrance and bigger view of the Malaysian pavillion as visitors descent from the escallator into the exhibition area. Hopefully the organisers learn from this year's BIO for a successful and more fruitful BIO2008 in San Diego!.
Just an honest opinion from an observer....
p/s : MHT stated BIO2007 had more than 500,000 visitors and Boston profited from it....