In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Broken Sword

A beacon! A light!
Shining, full of hope
Pure, reaching out
Trying to help

Suddenly striken
Shame
Self hatred
Anger
A long struggle
A faith dies

Dims, exiled
Creeping in shadows
They may not know
They may not understand
"I can't tell you yet"

The desires are real
I deny it no more
a hungry beast, wild
caged. Ever yearning
Too dangerous to be given freedom
The heart can only bear so much

I am a mirror
I wil not become you

A cross around my neck
replaced by a broken sword
But that's enough
enough to continue
We all fight on

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Triumphant Return?

Kakak is back from her daughter's wedding in Indonesia. Her relatives were more than a little jealous that she came back to spend her money on her adopted daughter (instead of, say, them). Kakak got pretty annoyed when they told her of and in retaliation held the grandest wedding in the state for decades. The ver best wedding arranger, the best food (what, 30 chickens?), canned drinks (something nobody ever does there), 14 changes of dresses for her daughter - it was really something. People they never knew came from out of the state to attend this ridiculously lavish wedding.

I saw the picture of her daughter. She was wearing so much make-up to the point that she looked like a doll. Or a geisha...kinda creepyu. But the people there liked it. Anyway, it wouldn't come of later since they don't have make-up remover even though she bathed 3 times in the river. >.>

I really wish Kakak had some savings after all her years of working for us, but I understand that she comes from a different culture. Not giving to her relatives and friends must be considered pretty bad. She spent all her money, as usual, but at least this time it was on something more memoriable than handouts to greedy relatives. She's pretty satisfied with how she spent it - the wedding cost even more than my mum had rationed her to bring back (a futile attempt to help her keep some money) so her daughter had to help with the remainder.

Her flight back though was marred by the airport on the Indonesia side. A whole slew of people weren't allowed through at the whims of the officials - unless a bribe was given. Having used up her whole supply of cash, Kakak had to sell her jewelry to get on the plane.

Whatever complaints one may have about Malaysia's corruption, Indonesia is worse. Much much worse. Kakak describes the people in Malaysia as extremely law-abiding folk.
------

One good thing O-San did for me is he gave me the expansion pack to Baldur's Gate 2. He's already played it through so I can keep it, the cd being pirated and cheap and all. So what else to do but start a new campaign with an all new character! Last time I used a paladin (I like paladins and all their holy righteousness), so what this time? Well, since its new with the expansion I chose the unpredictable Wild Mage, whose magic sputters out and causes havoc quite often. I'm just waiting to launch a cow at someone by mistake. :D

It took quite a bit of doing, but after customising the potraits and voice (aaaand a little hexediting), my new character was ready! Click on the picture for a bigger view.


Inwantus...woofus...warfus! *wiggle wiggle* ...ooopsh, wong shpell!





And yes, the dog(wog?) is my main character. =:3

Monday, January 23, 2006

Classes 3

Much of my lessons with this girl who I talked about here (who I shall call Chatterbox for all her random babbling) is spent telling her to concentrate, giving directions slowly and repeatedly. The girl is constantly in a daze of sorts, looking this way and that. She needs to be called back to the tasks over and again, and her verbal responses have to be squeezed from her with a lot of patience.

My colleges told me that this girl's does quite well in everything except academics, much to her mother's dismay. Not so. With some patience nd a lot of persistance, I've found that she can name numbers (preveiously couldn't even *match* numbers) and remembers new words taught in the Malay language quite easily. Next in my was to teach,

She got it right the first try. And the second time. And the third time, without prompt from us. This surprised even her mother who had been insisting to my colleges that her daughter was capable of more than they gave her credit for all this time. I tested her again a number of times just to be sure.

Not only does the girl recognise numbers, she knows what they mean. This girl has the concept of quantity. That may not be much for your avergae child, but it means a lot to special education teahcers. We had no idea she knew.

Chatterbox's main problem is that half the time she isn't listening or even trying. So much to the point that nobody could really figure out what she could or couldn't do until now. So I give her mother this task - using work that Chatterbox already knows, we concentrate on improving her listening skills and response time. If she fails due to not listening (the task being set to easy enough that she already knows), we take away her precious CDs that she's been clinging on to the whole time until she gets it right. It's using Chatterbox's obsessions to our advantage, and it works pretty well. Eventually she'll get the idea that she has to try to do the tasks as best she can and concentrate. Once it's become routine, we'll fade the negative reinforcement of taking away the things she wants. What, you think I *like* to do stuff like that to kids?

Her mother seems quieter nowadays. Somehow I have a good feeling about that - she's not having to make excuses for her daughter and distracting the teacher so much since we're starting to see what her daughter really can do. She may not be making as many jokes - but the humor wasn't reflective of her real worries inside that is now only apparent on her face. Maybe the problem has now come down to an 'acceptable' level.

Things are looking up.

----------

Since I'm going to spend my Chinese New Year in KL instead of my hometown, Melaka (Papa must in the church service on Sunday), I've taken the task of arranging the time of the gathering of all my old school friends. So that I don't miss it myself while I'm in KL. :) My college at work suggests I run a BBQ...hmmm. We'll see.

--------

It's funny how one behaves irrationally when filled with wishful thinking. Or more specificaly, me. I was under the impression that O-San was actually interested in me. Was I trying to woo him? Anyway, I'm the one who's been doing all the calling and messaging and inviting and seducing (Good greif, kill me now). In fact, O-San in no way even hinted that he was the least bit interested in a relationship or even remotely liked me.

I guess that one's behaviour in bed doesn't always reflect their true feelings. What was I thinking? Did I really think that by bedding a person I'm somehow laying claim to him? That he'll take it as a sign of my affection?

I thought I was over all the nonsense that happened. I am. I don't blame myself for some of the things that went wrong - I was young, naive, and I didn't know. But that doesn't make the scars and consequences just disappear. I'm too desperate, too lonely. Trying too hard to put away all the past hurts and insecurity by finding someone to love me. And projecting an image of perfection on another person.

I've still got a lot to learn. I guess I still am young.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

It's a small world after all

I stopped my orders of papers temporarily, so I didn't see this article in the Star. If you check out Yeak Ping Lian's website, you'll find that he's attends Emmanuel Care Center, which in turn is run at one of the 2 churches that Papa leads. I've even got his calender which I'm going to bring with me when I go to further my studies in Special Education. My coursemates are going to be sooooo jealous. >:)

Hmmm. Recently I got confused about the date for Chinese New Year. I guess actually *looking* at the calender is a good idea. =p

Thing is, there are relatively few places in Malaysia where one can get good help for children with special needs. And there is a rough network of sorts between some of the service providers out there. Ever since I attended the crash course over at USM but also because my workplace has been keeping contact with Malaysian CARE (great grand daddy of service providers of special ed in Malaysia), I've been noticed by some of the main people in the field around Malaysia. As a matter of fact, there are so few men my age with my level of education in this field that if just about anyone from this field were to see this blog I'm going to be practicly outed to the nation's service providers.

Wowsa. Oh well, too late about that now. This blog stays put - I'm definately not deleting it for such worries. Although...maybe I'd better watch my language from now on. ^.^;;

But I do wonder. Let's say I do well in this field and actually make a name for myself (yeah, dream on). A great deal of people working in this field full time are single (they prefer the term 'married to the job'). I'm told that's because this kind of work takes so much dedication that time to raise a family is out. But I personally feel that the staff just suffer very poor social lives. Bottom line- no one's really going to question my singlehood.

But what if I was outed publicly through some means, say this blog? How will that affect my work? What would the parents think? What would the almost entirely Christian based service providers think? Would they care? Or would they let prejudice and religious beliefs deny them my services?

I'll cross that hurdle when it comes.

Typical Work Day 2

After the one-to-one session is through, it's time for exercise!This is basical any outdoor activity that requires physical movement - usually a simple obstacle course which tests a number of skills on the goals of the education plan. So they'll be crawling under a table, jumping on a trampoline, balancing on a beam, kicking a ball into the upright mini swimming pool, throwing a bean bag into a basket...hmmm, sounds like a lot of fun now that I write about it. Once the activity is done we let them play freely awhile on the slide, swing, and tricycles. Parents and teachers often take advantage of this time to chit chat while keeping an eye on the little ones, be it counseling, sharing tips and strategies, checking how the child is doing at home or in regular kindy, or plain old gossip and small talk.

Once time's up, the bell is rung to call everyone back in. Time for a music and movement session. I'm usually the one manning the cassette/cd player since I'm the most tech savy of the staff. We'll play simple action games here including a version of ring-o-roses, 'the freeze', and animal actions.

After music and movement, we have a quick snack and rest in the kitchen. Parents also take a breather here to chatter, but while one teacher furiously prepares the paints and materials for art, another teacher will moving from child to child asking (begging?) to share some of their (yummy?) biscuit, cookie, chips or whatever. The idea is to encourage sharing and some interaction at meals. I call it the "Cookie Monster" routine.

Once they finish eating, there's art. Art is typically pretty simple for our kids - stamping, painting, crayons, cutting, pasting, dough play, starch play - but not all at once! I've been lerning how to draw cute sheep, cows and chickens here. =:3


Before!





After?...




Masterpieces(?) complete, we head out for either swimming or water play. For swimming we allow them to play as they like, but watch over them as they splash around in the mini swimming pool with their friends. Hey, kids should be allowed to have fun together too. :) For water play we typically have a tub of water with lots of toys. Cups, plastic bottles, funnels, sponges, little duckies. Sometimes we let them sort it out themselves, but nowadays I'm trying to make them sit down and listen to do what I tell them to with the various toys. Listening to a teacher's insructions in a group is also important.

After they change out of their clothes, it's back in for language session. We call it the language session, but actually it's any activity that requires our kids to sit down and watch, with a little participation. Just like your regular kindergarten - a story, lesson on numbers, names of objects, common verbs, common prepositions, turn-taking, what-have-you.

Finally we finish of with singing session before heading home. Since most of them can't talk, we let them choose from cards that represent the songs availabl for singing. Somehow, I ended up leading the singing session every week. Keeps my voice well trained I guess. =p The singing session not only helps train language, but also imitation skills as most of the songs are given actions . Egs. Opening and closing one's fingers for twinkle twinkle little star.

The kids go home (and in my case, get their homework), but the teacher's work isn't done. Every student's performance that day must be evaluated according to the goals tested in the monthly record. Extra notes are taken of any significant information about the child gleaned. The monthly record and homework mateials taken are put back in the child's personal working file and kept away. All the materials used for the each child's tasks are put away, and then we start preparing for the next class. One-to-one tasks, art, language activity - all these must be prepared beforehand.

-----

Still waiting on a certain person. I don't think he's gonna call. Oh well.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Typical Work Day 1

I get asked quite often what I actually *do* at work. My usual answer will cover what I teach my students (I'll cover that here later), but here's a little more for those of you who are interested.

First, a little bit about what children an Early Intervention Center like the one I work at takes. We have all sorts of children coming to us, but we take in children with learning disabilities - like Down's Syndrome and Praeder Willis Syndrome (both are global developemental delays), Autism and Asperger and their cousins Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, and children who are a little slow but have no diagnosis. Our Tuesday morning baby group will typically have a number of Down's babies since they can be detected early on thanks to their physical features, but not autistic babies since they typicaly look normal physicaly and their social affliction is only obvious when they're about 3 years old.

Most of the training of the teachers is done on the job. There are various short courses and workshops available, but there are not yet any formal courses for training special education teachers longer than 2 months in Malaysia. So having senior teachers to guide new ones is a must. Unfortunately, the teacher turnout rate in this field is pretty high as well - not many stay for long in this work. Coupled with the fact that few people come to work this field in the first place, staffing problems are always pretty serious both nationwide and world wide. And as you've probably guessed, there is a big shortage of men in special education. And youth. Thus I'll be surrounded by aunties wherever I work in Malaysia. -.-

Anyway, typicaly work day.

I arrive half an hour earlier than class to prep up the center - carry out the mini swimming pool, put out the children's name cards that are to be put up by them when they enter, arrange the tables and chairs and bring out the baskets filled with tasks that I had already prepared specifically for my student based on their Individual Education Programs (more on this another day). Or if it's a new student who doesn't have an IEP yet, I'll have prepared tasks to assess the child's level based on my estimate from their prior assessments so that I can plan education goals suitable to the child's needs. Since this center I work at is a Christian organisation, I'm required to attend the morning prayer session before we start work when the kids arrive. I'm not a Christian but I don't really mind since I'm used to Christian prayers myself - just the fact that they have the gall to say I must attend their prayers annoys me slightly.

When the children arrive with their parents, they first take their names and put it up (often with help) before sitting down (or being *sat* down) at a small table for their one-to-one lesson. They'll be across the teacher and their parent or guardian will be with them . Most of the meat of the teaching will be done here - training the child's fine motor skills (working with hands for tasks like writing, threading, stacking rings), pre-academic or academic skills, and language and communication skills. Behavior modification will be done during the lesson while we work on each task. These are typically the areas where parents need the most help with. The one-to-one lessons go on for about half an hour (we don't expect them to sit much longer at a young age) and homework is given before the bell is rung to signal exercise-time outside. I prefer to give homework just before they go home for the day at the end of the whole class instead so I have more time for my one-to-one lesson.

Here's the thing - we only have enough staff to handle a childen maybe 9 students at a time (between 3 teachers). Classes must be small so that to be handled effectively - these aren't normal kids you know! Furthermore, ongoing special education developement around the world suggests that parent/guardian involvement in the childrens' early education is crucial since they spend more time with the children at home. The net result of these factors is that the program is designed to train *parents* how to teach their children at home. Thus parent involvement in the program is compulsory and they'll be sitting throughout the one-to-one lesson, learning how to manage the child's behavior (which is more often than not pretty serious) and teaching methods and strategies they can use at home. The parents also help the teacher understand the child if the child is new - a teacher can never know a child better than the dedicated parent!

(Phew! To be continued)
--------

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Gymming with Bryan

It's nice to have a straight friend who's willing to tolerate me being gay because of friendship. More than tolerate actually, he pretty much put away his prejudices for my sake and was willing to even chat about my current worries. And go to gym on a semi-regular basis, with practise on the punching bag afterwards upstairs alone together.

And yes, he's definatley straight. He's already registered his marraige, and wanted me to be part of the customary bride wooing crew for the ceremony this year. Which would have pleased me greatly (What an honor! For my good friend too!) if it weren't for the fact that I'm planning to be in Australia by then. :(


Good friends! (not to be mistaken for lovers)




While we worked sets, we chatted about my father's bad behaviour and the pick-locking incident (I'll cover this later), marraige, O-San, and lastly self defense. My biggest gripe was that our practising on the punching bag was probably impractical.

The best self defense way to to avoid violent situations. So any situation which would be bad enough to actually warrant violence in spite of doing one's best to avoid it would probably be a pretty desperate situation. Example: You're out with your date when you're ambushed by 4 armed men. Running would be the answer if you're alone, but what if your date can't run?

So how to fight in such a desperate situation? I'm afraid that all those standard punches and kicks go out the window. In fact, I have to refer to my brother's experiences for this matter. Those experiences aren't pretty.

The only practical self defense that involves violence means to be very, very violent. Anything less can probably be averted without use of violence anyway. So that means I have to be able to take down a number of opponents in the most efficient ways possible. That would be a very, very violent fight. I'm not going to descibe that here, but I discussed the motions with Bryan. He was shaking his head, but he saw the need. So we mocked out those too - in slow motion.

I'm still practising regular punches and kicks - hoping that I can bring those up to the level that I wouldn't have to depend on such tactics. But that's unlikely to work - I don't intend to build myself physically to that point. That would attract bashers in greater quantities and better armed. Being underestimated is important too.

My fists hurt. But nowhere close yet to see practical use. Oh well.

----------

O-San hasn't called to make an appointment. I'm the one who does all the arrangement. Oh well. I'm going up to KL this weekend anyway - his loss. I'm not going to call him this time. But he's probably busy with family too. But I'm still not going to call first. I don't care if he sees this message (my blog address is in my profiles) - I need to test the waters. I believe in long term relationships eventually, not right away of course but eventually. But I have no idea what O-San wants in the end.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Busy body, Worried

Okay, maybe I've been hanging around with aunties too much at my work place. But I'm bold by nature, and somewhat 'kepo' (minding other people's business), especially when it comes to friends. Simply, I've been scouting around for someone's potential boyfriend at the gym I was in. So I zoom in on the closest hunk who happened to best fit the details I was given and ask, "Hey, is your name Barry by any chance?"


Work that busy-body! =:3





The guy was dumbfounded, but said no. Very very softly, and almost not looking at me. Ooookay.

"I'm looking for a friend of an aquaintance - he says his friend goes to gym here. Do you know anyone by the name of Barry here?"

Still dumbfounded, and almost whispers no. Come on, what's with you? I see you chatting with other people in the gym. It's not *that* much different from 'Hey, I see you around here often' or 'Hey, can you teach me that workout you're doing?'.

"You're sure?"

Shakes his head in the negative.

"Okay, nevermind then. Thanks."

And that's that. Immediately it struck me that Barry wasn't the guy's real name. Duh. A quick check with my friend in question was in order, but he wouldn't tell me the guy's name. Definate stop sign from my friend, so so much for that.

Apparently my straightforwardness has shocked a whole group of bloggers who know me. Yeesh.

-----
The new dog next door to the Early Intervention Center stinks. Bad. Many parents have been complaining. So my workmates have elected me to talk to our neighbour and break the news to her gently since they're convinced I have the most tact of the bunch. Imagine that...

----

Another weekend, another week with O-San. O-San had a long week of work...hmmm, one moment.

Paul insists I call him 'Kambing' - that means 'goat'. He thinks Bunny and Kambing is cute. We seem to have conflicting ideas of cute...but now that I think of it O-San is kinda boring. So, I'll put it to vote. Kambing or O-San? Please vote in your comments, guys.

Back to our regular programme, O-San just had a long week of work. So I told him that he should be the one to choose what to do together- something that he'll like.. He chose gymming, as planned earlier. Nothing else.

Huh? I had none of that. After gym I went over to his place and spent a little time relaxing together. Nothing that required any effort on his part since he was tired. I think he enjoed that more than just gymming.

I admit it - for all my attempts to avoid spending the night with guys as soon as I meet them, I'm actually pretty highly strung. Any jokes about rabbit mating habits shall be responded in *chomps*.

But I've got a bad feeling. I know its too early. Not that I don't like O-San or see anything wrong with him - I just can't shake the feeling that I'm chasing another wild goose. That disaster is on the horizon.

Why the pessimism? Maybe it's the sudden peace and total lack of 'events' after so much nonsense happening to me and my family. It almost unbelievable that fate isn't actually hiding another completely unexpected hurdle in this walk that is my life.

My workmates tell me that somehow children from dysfunctional families are doomed to repeat the mistakes of their parents, in spite of trying to avoid them. I poo poo the idea, which earns the usual recycled response of "When you're older you'll know". Very irritating whenever I hear it, but more so because its so bloody personal this time.

I'm not saying I've changed my mind and now I believe them. But I do know that the underlying need to find someone who won't screw me up is making me see flaws and strengths in people I meet that shouldn't be seen. And that sharp pang of a need to fill in the gap left by the fleeting loving embrace of faith and confidence in a family's unconditional love- this need that drives me to seek a lover to fill those gaps. This worries me. I'm not sure what I'm doing half the time.

Of course, all of this IS still kinda moot since O-San hasn't actually to suggest that he's even slightly interested.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Hearts, points, blah

I used to use profiles in like match-up services like Fridae and Axcest and whatnots, Melaka being such a small locale and all. In fact I found O-San through one. But I've sort of given up on those.

I have this tagline in my profile:

"*DON'T SEND ME HEARTS*- I'm not really sure what to do with these things. I'm not into trades - I don't need the ego boost, thank you.
A message, however simple, WILL get my attention. :)

Seriously, a heart or spank without a message means someone didn't read the profile."

Maybe it's kind of rude. But basicaly the idea is to filter out guys who aren't interested in looking to know the person better based on what he has to say about himself in his profile.

I may not be getting many hearts (or kisses or spanks or points or whatever) , but I'm getting practicaly no messages.

I'm told its because everyone there is looking for sex. I know some people use these sites to try and find out how 'popular' they are (huh???). And I know they can send only so many messages a day. But seeing as how loneliness is one of the biggest complaints gay men make (right after acceptance by soceity), well, let's just say I'm not too impressed by your average gay man.

-----------

Not many people to turn to for advice about gay relationships around. So what to do? Check the internet.

Hmmm. I broke that "don't sms everyday" rule once and it really did fizzle out before it started. Shows how wise I am. *sighs*

Bah. I feel like a high school kid not knowing what he's getting himself into. Only that I'm past the legal age of responsibility.

But wait, what's this link I see? They wouldn't actually name it a...

*click*

Nooooo...You evil, evil women, how could you do such a thing? AAARRRGGHH!!!

...what's that advert doing there, anyway? ^^



Where did she say she wanted to insert us?
*psst, We'd better run while we still can!*

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Awakened Animals Campaign

Since Ru and Leggy asked here's some notes from my ideas for an Awakened Animals campaign. It's based on d20 D&D, which can be found here.

There's still a lot of details to be worked out - like how treasure drops since most of the stuff that drops now is useless to players without hands.
-----------
The Spell
The whole idea revolves around this spell:

Awaken
Transmutation
Level: Drd 5
Components: V, S, DF, XP
Casting Time: 24 hours
Range: Touch
Target: Animal or tree touched
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
You awaken a tree or animal to humanlike sentience. To succeed, you must make a Will save (DC 10 + the animal's current HD, or the HD the tree will have once awakened).
The awakened animal or tree is friendly toward you. You have no special empathy or connection with a creature you awaken, although it serves you in specific tasks or endeavors if you communicate your desires to it.
An awakened tree has characteristics as if it were an animated object, except that it gains the plant type and its Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores are each 3d6. An awakened plant gains the ability to move its limbs, roots, vines, creepers, and so forth, and it has senses similar to a human's.
An awakened animal gets 3d6 Intelligence, +1d3 Charisma, and +2 HD. Its type becomes magical beast (augmented animal). An awakened animal can't serve as an animal companion, familiar, or special mount.
An awakened tree or animal can speak one language that you know, plus one additional language that you know per point of Intelligence bonus (if any).
XP Cost: 250 XP.

-For the purpose of this campaign, Intelligence and Charisma scores are rolled normally and no extra hit dice are given. It also extends their life span to equal to the expected life span of the caster.

----------

Campaign Setting

Some background details:
- Metal is extremely rare. Legends say that there was a fierce battle between the forces of good and evil about a thousand years ago. The evil force was defeated, but the battle sucked out a great deal of all metals from the world. Knowledge to work metals exists but is dwindling due to the lack of metals to be found. (All metal equipment is much more expensive)
- Druids being druids awaken some animals now and then, as they were wont to do in their travels. But these awakened animals were now more successful in the world where metal was scarce, and in turn became druids and awakened more of their kin. Eventually, entire villages filled with awakened animals started appearing in forests and swamps.
- The humanoid races, quite understandibly, are quite concerned. Some look to this new emerging as a threat to the stability of the realm - some look to them as helpful and useful allies (especially the rat guilds in towns). Some wealthy persons hired druids to awaken their own pets. Conflicts arise whenever an awakened animal is killed by mistake, like a wolf venturing into farm territory. Animal haters started to band together to hunt down these awakened animals who have yet been given any humane rights - ambushing travelling parties and ravaging entire villages. Cloak and dagger within the rat guild often changed the course of history. Even the gods took notice of this phenomena, some choosing their own champions from the animal kingdom and some condemning them to their doom. How it will all end remains to be seen.

Some balancing issues and ideas:
- Material component for spells are removed - animals are allowed to provide somatic components with their own limbs. Flying creatures must land in order to provide somatic component for spell casting.
- Tiny animals have innate ability to resist magic, depending on their level (think Drow). This is so that tiny animals with their low life don't get killed by 'Magic Missile' so easily.
- Lack of metal will make magic that much stronger. And magic is already very powerful in D&D. Possibly give all spell casting a chance of failing and only tiny animals can cast it well.
- Traps are an issue for a campaign where most players don't have hands to work traps. Maybe I'll give some tiny creatures innate ability to work with tools using their paws. After all, they can talk in spite of not having the right vocal chords, why not meddle with tools in spite of not having the right digits?
- Remember that great evil that was defeated? The 3 heroes that 'defeated' it are still around...

-------

Rat guild

Why are rats so important? Because they're the animals with closest ties to cities, and there's so many of them.

Rat guilds are typically filled with theives and wizards (two distinct classes within a guild), and are identified by the city within which they operate. The guilds are extremely territorial, and conflicts between two opposing rat guild vying for control are not unheard off. The wise major always mantains good relations with a rat guild - it is a very bad idea to be enemies with a rat guild. Rats are everywhere, after all. And the benifits of befriending the rats are always big - there's very little that the eyes and ears of the rats guild doesn't hear about. But the biggst problem that the rats guilds face is the lack of druids - druids by nature live outside cities. Willing druids are always hard to come by, and guilds will pay dearly for one to keep their ranks full lest they die a natural death...

----------

Forest Villages
Consisting almost purely of awakened animals, with the odd humanoid guest or honored member (typically a druid). Sometimes these communities only had a single type of animal, sometimes they were mixed. Different communities have very little contact with each other - they had typically banded together within a certain locale and are only concerned with their own communities daily living. In fact, the structure of each community is very different. A bat community in a cave is only looking for company in the day time and forage at night separately. Wolf packs are extremely pack minded, the alpha male leading hunts and making decisions. Mixed communities often need specific leaders to make laws and set down concrete rules. But all of these communities are similar in one way - the druids are reverred. Without druids, these awakened animals can not have sentient kin.

----------

An example

Before and after time! Here's a normal wolf template:

WOLF
Medium Animal
Hit Dice: 2d8+4 (13 hp)
Initiative: +2
Speed: 50 ft. (10 squares)
Armor Class: 14 (+2 Dex, +2 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 12
Base Attack/Grapple: +1/+2
Attack: Bite +3 melee (1d6+1)
Full Attack: Bite +3 melee (1d6+1)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Trip
Special Qualities: Low-light vision, scent
Saves: Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +1
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6
Skills: Hide +2, Listen +3, Move Silently +3, Spot +3, Survival +1*
Feats: Track, Weapon Focus (bite)
Environment: Temperate forests
Organization: Solitary, pair, or pack (7–16)
Challenge Rating: 1
Advancement: 3 HD (Medium); 4–6 HD (Large)
Level Adjustment: -
Wolves are pack hunters known for their persistence and cunning.
Combat
A favorite tactic is to send a few individuals against the foe’s front while the rest of the pack circles and attacks from the flanks or rear.
Trip (Ex): A wolf that hits with a bite attack can attempt to trip the opponent (+1 check modifier) as a free action without making a touch attack or provoking an attack of opportunity. If the attempt fails, the opponent cannot react to trip the wolf.
Skills: *Wolves have a +4 racial bonus on Survival checks when tracking by scent.





And here's what I've got by trying to make a player race from an awakened wolf.

WOLF (awakened, early campaign)
• Racial type: Magical Beast (augmented animal)
• Level adjustment: 2
• Hit die: 2d8
• Base Saves: Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +0
• Base Attack Bonus: 1
• Natural armor: +2 bonus
• Skills: Hide +2, Listen +3, Move Silently +3, Spot +3, Survival +1*
These are not racial bonuses, but initial skills already learnt
• Feats: Track, Weapon Focus (bite)
• Attack: Bite (+1 from Weapon focus), melee (1d6)

• +2 Strength, +4 Dexterity, +4 Constitution, +2 Wisdom
• Medium: As Medium creatures, awakened wolves have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
• Wolves base land speed is 50 feet. (10 squares)
• Special Attacks: Trip. A wolf that hits with a bite attack can attempt to trip the opponent (+1 check modifier) as a free action without making a touch attack or provoking an attack of opportunity. If the attempt fails, the opponent cannot react to trip the wolf.
• Low-light vision- A wolf can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. She retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
• Scent- +4 racial bonus on Survival checks when tracking by scent
• Special ruling: Not able to hold and use weapons due to lack of digits. May provide 'somatic' and 'vocal' component for spells but not some 'material' components. All armour is considered masterwork quality and must be custom made.
• Automatic Language: One language known by caster of awaken spell. Bonus Languages: Any known by caster (other than secret languages, such as Druidic). See the Speak Language skill.
• Favored Class: Monster Class (Awakened wolf). A multiclass wolf’s Monster class does not count when determining whether she takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.

• Equipment:
weapons:no
head: no
Eyes: no
Body: no
Torso: 1
Shoulders: No
Belt: 1
Feet: No
Neck: 1
LRing: no
RRing: no
Wrists: 2 pairs (bracelets only)
Hands: no

Not able to hold and use weapons due to lack of digits. May provide 'somatic' and 'vocal' component for spells but not some 'material' components. All armour and equipment is considered masterwork quality and must be custom made or adjusted to fit before use.

-------------

Notes:

Typically for a human:

o One headband, hat, helmet, or phylactery on the head
o One pair of eye lenses or goggles on or over the eyes
o One amulet, brooch, medallion, necklace, periapt, or scarab around the neck
o One vest, vestment, or shirt on the torso
o One robe or suit of armor on the body (over a vest, vestment, or shirt)
o One belt around the waist (over a robe or suit of armor)
o One cloak, cape, or mantle around the shoulders (over a robe or suit of armor)
o One pair of bracers or bracelets on the arms or wrists
o One glove, pair of gloves, or pair of gauntlets on the hands
o One ring on each hand (or two rings on one hand)
o One pair of boots or shoes on the feet

I think I'll add earings to possible equipment. And maybe sashes around the neck.

Poor Stomach

WARNING: THIS SECTION IS GROSS (ew!)

One thing that I dislike about mysef is that I have an extremely weak stomach. Any kind of sickness or slightly off food and most likely I'll be hit in the stomach. The fact that I'm a Hepatitis B carrier makes each attack a little scary actually. But usually it's just a quick upset that fixes itself within the hour, so I can sometimes get away ignoring it til then.

So I followed my workmates to eat lunch in a place called Beggar's street (yes, I know). We sit down and order rice with char-grilled pork (char-siew), some sort of chargrilled chicken liver and some sort of sausage intestine thing which I don't recognise. Immediately after a few mouthfuls my stomach starts to complain.

Naw, it couldn't be. That's too quick to get food poisoning.

So I do my best to finish up the food in spite of my stomach complaining. (Hey, I've had eating problems since a child. My best memories of childhood was mum sitting next to me saying 'please finish your food, faster, please dear') I struggled a bit, but eventually I do.

It was a big mistake. 9 hours of stomach pain, burping, coughing, head ache (head ache for me coupled with stomach ache normally means food poisoning), followed by puking after I forced myself to attempt to take some porraige. My brother was out so I had to clean up the mess myself. From the remains, it was obviously the day's lunch.

So, why didn't my two workmates get even the slightest upset? >:(

I'm too weak to go to work today, so I'm at home resting. Gotta buy oats later - I wish I could ask my brother to do it but as usual he's asleep until late hours. I wish he would help out with the running of the house a bit more. Like taking in the laundry like I asked him to.

It doesn't help that Kakak somehow sent ALL our towels to KL with mum by mistake over the past few months. Apparently mum has been using ours but kakak thought they were mum's.

--------
O-san's coming back to Melaka a little late this weekend. Oh well, at least I'll definately be well by then. Hmmm. He already knows I intend to leave in July to continue my studies. Wonder if that stops him from wanting to pursue something further.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Conversations with Mum, Jan Dara Review


"Listen Ban. I've got something to talk to you about."
"Sure mum... *mraaaaahh* ...fire away."
"...seriously, you want to hear this."



Well, another weekend means another late night catchup with my mum. But look at what she's been reading.

Here are some quotes form A Letter to Louise:

"I was ignorant of the many facts about homosexuality and what the Bible says about it. Yet, without facts, I had pre-judged it; I was prejudiced. With little thought I had read into the Bible what I presumed it ought to say instead of reading out of it what it did say. My idea of not needing to study the subject was pure anti-intellectualism. I am now grateful to God that He led me to study."

"Evidence that homosexuality is unchangeable includes: (a) ten thousand suicides each year of young homosexuals unwilling to face life with that orientation; (b) the high percentage of homosexuals who go to psychotherapists desperately wanting to change their orientation, and then (c) the very small percentage of them reportedly being changed after hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars being spent in psychotherapy; (d) the millions of homosexuals who remain "in the closet," not acting like homosexuals and not wanting anyone to learn of their orientation; (e) the thousands who are reported as coming to pastors and counselors devastated to have to recognize their unchangeable orientation and wanting assistance in dealing with it."

Wow. This is all coming from a reverend. I'm impressed already. I'm going to read it in detail later. Probably this weekend when I have time. >.<

Rev. Bruce Lowe's writings have really gave my mum some food for thought. She was so affected by the arguements in fact that she had discussion with Papa 'at volume of 10' as she put it (he's a conservative Pastor).

So she spent the night telling me about how she's come to realise that homosexuality isn't a real choice. She tells me about what she read in the section about interpretting the Bible correctly, then the how the Bible verses that relate to homosexuality don't quite cover the topic adequately.

What a turnabout!

Things are looking up. But I still haven't mentioned O-San to her, although I did ask about relationships with older people in general. Don't know why I bother - O-san hasn't even said he's remotely interested in me yet. And I just *know* I'm rushing things because I'm lonely and desperate - not good.

------

One of my mother's suitors (whom she was almost inclined to sick me and my brother to beat up for molesting her. Almost.) has gotten married. Well, one of my aunts who is close to my mum attended the wedding since she was a good friend to said suitor.

Unfortunately she had the misfortune to be sitting next to my biological father. Now, my father abhors just about anyone who is still on speaking terms with my mother or even friends with her. So he made sure to make comments about how old she looked for the entire wedding. As my mum put it, to an aging woman who used to be the belle of her time and has put on her best clothes and make-up for a friend's wedding, that's just about as nasty as you could get.

If my aunt wanted to fire him back, there's a HECK of a lot of points to poke back at him that will sting for months on end. Like lack of faithfullness for instance. But she suffered in silence because she didn't want to make a scene.

I really dislike the guy. Truly I do. I'm happy I'm calling my new dad Papa now.


"For your next assignment, Bunny Assasain, you are to *chomp* off his crown jewels and make him eat it."
"Kewl!"


-------

Ah, time for a movie recommendation! I've mentioned this one to Derek before - but I couldn't remember the name at the time. The movie is Jan Dara - It's quite different and bold.

Do NOT let anyone under 18 watch this movie. It is an extremely sad and tragic story. Pay *no* attention to the explicit sex scenes are almost pornographic - but then the even the sex scenes quite often are extremely tragic.

Jan Dara's mother died at birth - and somehow his life has been cursed since then. His father absolutely hates him (Jan Dara's nickname is 'bastard'), and in his greif for his wife will have sex with just about every woman in the household - in full view of everyone. Jan Dara grows up in this horrible environment surrounded by hatred, self deprevation and promiscuity.

The movie tracks the tale of his life and how he turned out. In spite of some of the things he does, one can't help but feel sorry for Jan Dara. Quite often, he finds himself catches himself in disgust at what he has become. It could be said that this is a movie about trying to make one's way in spite of the odds being against him but failing utterly in the end to live decently. And at the end of the story, once Jan Dara is already old, he learns a tragic secret that was kept from him...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

DOTA and O-san

Hmm, I wonder if O-san is reading this. ;)

Spent the day meeting a nice guy yesterday. We had met up on another occasion through gay.co.uk. Met with yet another guy from KL and his quiet-to-the-point-of-not-wanting-to-look-at-us friend along the way. After a quick lunch and bidding goodbye to the guy from KL, O-san and I eventually left for an internet cafe to play DOTA Allstars.











DOTA Allstars aka Defense of the Ancients is actually a custom map for Warcraft 3. It's really popular nowadays - internet cafes around Malaysia and Singapore WILL stock DOTA among their games. It doesn't play anything like Warcraft since you only control 1 hero and team up with 4 other players against another team. Very tough game since you play against other people, but that's what makes it fun. It's what I and my brother have been butting our heads against for the past few months.

I joined a multiplayer game to explain the basics to O-san while he sat beside me as I talked (I wanted to recruit him into a good DOTA partner- a good team mate means the world in this sorta game). As the game progressed, I could hardly say anything though cause it got kinda intense. But I told him what was going on as much as I could.

The fight was really evenly matched - all the players were pretty good and nobody left the game halfway. So it dragged on for very long but was very fiercely competitive all the way through. I was playing really well considering I used an early-game hero but managed to buy lotsa kick ass items. Finally we won - and just in time for dinner.

Then it clicked. Oh my god, I've left O-san sitting next to me just watching me play for one and a half hours! One game wasn't meant to last that long! But he was cool, even though by now it was so late he couldn't have a chance to try himself.

Okay, this is probably one of my main (and probably repeated)faults and I was impressed he put up with that very easily - as in not even a tinge of annoyance. If he could put up with this, he could probably put up with the rest of my bad habits. Which was really cool.

Spent night sleeping at his place. *whistles innocently*

-----

Such a cold weekend -rainy all day long. Very bad for the procrastinator who has left a mountain of washing to be done on the weekend. :-(

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Prezzies, Infamous brothers and Menagerie


Here's the unclaimed prezzies from a the Ramada Hotel Christmas bash that's more than a little late. There's even a tricycle in my back seat. >.> Parents were too busy to turn up during working hours, so we had to collect their presents on their behalf to be distributed later.




-----
Let's try this again. I deleted my last post because I suddenly realised I wasn't using this very important thing called...common sense. I'll just get this through quickly.

Mention about 'garlloching' reminded me to post about why my brother well known in school. Apart from being a brilliant student, he also sometimes of got into fights with the resident 'gangsters' through no fault of his own. (only twice I think, but that's more than enough) These always resulted in a nasty beating on the gangster wannabe's part and lots of frantic running away from my brother. Well, my brother's got a nasty temper you see. And to these morons trying to establish their rep as the 'alpha male' in the school, well, an A class student who isn't the least bit afraid or respectful of them tends to get on their nerves. So they try to establish dominance by slapping or throwing a drink at him. The results are...explosive.

There you go. End of story.

-----

And to further tarnish my brother's rep, here's the menagerie he sleeps with every night. ;-)



From left to right: Captain CUddles McDuff, Mr Quack QQuack, Vampire Elephant, Sir Lancelot Woggles, Bernard. Not in picture: Snowy, Junior







This Bernard, our resident drunk. "*Hic*"







And Mr Quack Quack, our badly named avian. "Quack, don't bother me."

Friday, January 06, 2006

Classes II (Phases of greif) and housework

While waiting for a student who was late, I chatted with a mother who was waiting for L to finish with her current student and move on to her daughter. Her daughter, her only child, has pretty severe autism, but she was expecting another child soon. Big lady, so I coudn't tell how soon since her pregnancy wasn't obvious.

Me: How long more?

Mother: After Chinese New Year.

Me: That's quick! Is it a boy or a girl?

Mother: Boy. (small pause as she notices I look thoughtful) It doesn't matter either way.

Actually, it does. More traditional Chinese families want boys to carry the family name - hence her comment that it didn't matter. But boys are more likely to get autism than girls- much more likely still if there's autism in the family. But I couldn't bear to tell her that at the time. So I keep my mouth shut.

--------

First time teaching this particular student - Mandarin speaking. Fortunately, I can work with that in spite of my poor level of Mandarin. (This is why I need classes) My colleges have been having trouble with this student, so . She performed much better than expected, succeeding at many tasks my colleges had noted she could *not* do last year (in spite of what her mum claimed she could do at home. Shows that her mum took advantage of the holidays to each her daughter. :) )

When her daughter fails to respond to a simple question immediately, her mum quickly makes excuses for her daughter. She talks too much during lessons. Really.

I motion for her to be quiet and ask her daugher again, ignoring the nonsense she was blabbering (i think I should tell her to be quiet first) and giving her daughter time to respond. After a moment she does. I knew she could do it.

"Relax. Give her time," I say to her mum.

Relax? Wait? I was saying that softly to her mum throughout the lesson. The woman is at the edge of her wits.

I can't imagine how anxious this mother must be. Her daughter has contracted some sort of mysterious rare ailment that she's never heard of that and the experts hardly understand that makes her daughter behave utterly bizarre. In spite of which temple or doctor or whatever in between she brings her daughter to, it just isn't going away. I don't think she can cope with the knowledge that our work, any practical work, only helps to improve and train her daughter - but the condition never actually goes away. How much and what type of improvement is another matter - that depends on just about every factor, including the person's severity of autism. But improvements big to be deemed a 'recovery' by some are as rare as striking a lottery.

Typicaly, parents with special children go through the phases of greif - it's been described by parents as similar to greiving for a child who has died. Or in the link I gave, contracting cancer. Denial, followed by confrontation, and coming to terms. I know for a fact some parents never actually come to terms - I won't get to see most of them sadly, because they typically don't turn to us or any relevant party for help.

This mother still says her daughter's behavior is a 'phase' that she'll grow out of. Ring a bell?

I wonder how bad it is for my mum that I'm gay. She actually believes that some people are born with homosexuality, but she can't accept that I might be one of them. Does my mum actually have to go through a time of greiving for me? My step brother is slightly delayed, so my mother's best bet for grandchildren is through my brother.

I love him to bits, but I'd never ever *ever* consider him for a hubby if he weren't my brother and straight.

------

It's been awhile since I cooked. Not my best cooked meal. Simple as usual, with a little extra spices (named '5 spices') from my college at work. Heck, for the typical Chinese meal I only know how to cook one meat dish and one veggy. I was kinda afraid I cooked to much.

The only thing my brother complained about was the washing up. But we polished it all. Not too shabby. :)

Now to sort through the mountain of washing that my brother hasn't touched in spite of being the only one who could possibly do it in the morning so it can be put in the sun by afternoon during the week days. Heck, I did it at night instead and bring out in the sun tomorrow morning. It's what working mums do anyway.

Heck, if I can tolerate sharing chores with my brother I can handle just about any future life partner, I figure. Heh.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Spoilt Children and Chores

Aaaaand I'm back to work! Kind of anti-climax really, since half my students were absent today. >.>

It's kind of strange how relatively easy it is to control some problem children compared to their parents after a little training. 'Est' for example probably first learnt any discipline whatsoever the moment she stpped through the doors of my center, to my table. At first she refused to sit. Not even for a second, not listening to any instructions whatsoever

A little background info: 'Est' has cerebal palsy in the right half of her body - and has gone through much physiotherapy to learn to walk and move as she does now. Really pitiful. Unfortunately, as is often the case, her academic and langauge skills suffered a big delay due to her disability (and possibly the side of her brain that controls language is very slightly delayed, but she's a bright girl of near normal intellect.)

Did I say pitiful? Maybe- but she's no longer the severely handicapped child she once was; just an incredibly spoilt child who flies into a rage at the slightest hint of her wishes not being met. So I had to be incredibly strict and almost always physically forceful with her the first few months, treading carefully to stay fair when it's acceptable for her to be angry (Egs. frustrated with a task that was too difficult for her level) and making sure to praise and reward her when she does things right. Okay, then again it isn't as easy as it sounds.

That was a year ago. I don't have to be nasty to her anymore - I'm actually very nice most of the time. But she *knows* that could change very quickly if she goes out of line (for too long), so she listens to me regardless. :) Due to my success (I'm the first person to make her daughter do *anything*), her mother's picked up on the need for discipline and has improved a lot. Father on the other hand...

Picture this incident when my mother visited me mid lesson and I had to leave 'Est' and her mum awhile to get something for my mum. (Since we train parents how to teach their children at home, the parents are asked to sit in during the one-to-one lesson. More on that later.)

Later,
My Mum: Wow, such an obedient child!
Me: ...You're kidding.
My Mum: Hey, she sat at the table counting and listening to your instructions quietly. Although...(I'm looking at my mum in bewilderment now)...when you left to get the keys she grabbed everything and tossed them down and sat on the floor. And her mum was sitting there saying, "Est, please sit down. Please be a good girl. 'Est' please sit on the chair".
Me: Oh boy. This I've got to tell her mum.

I was actually annoyed at the time that the mum couldn't even keep her daughter at the task and had to sort out the mess she made. But then, when she first had the poor girl she was really pitiable. I guess leniancy comes with the package.

I think parents nowadays should take courses just to know what to do with their kids. Bringing up kids is really complicated, especialy nowadays in this day and age (more on that another day). Learning as you go may not cut it.

-----------

And since Kakak has gone back to Indonesia, that leaves me to divide up the chores with my brother.

Oh gods. I don't mind if I have to do on my own (I've lived on my own before), but sharing chores with my very irritating brother isn't something I'm looking for. For one, he hates washing plates. Two, I'm the better cook. Three, he's a lazy and selfish guy (but I love the sucker!). Four, he's not working. Just the thought of having to do everything myself while he lazes around the house gets my goat.

Mind you, I respect my brother more than I do his...friends. And definately more than my 'successful' father who's highly regarded by soceity. In spite of his nature, when it all comes boiling down to it he's been brought up well and is a good and moral person. A jerk often enough, but principled. Funny, huh? This is why I don't bother with nature vs nurture arguements, I have a living embodiment of the balance living with me.

Anyway, I had a stomach ache so I asked to eat out today. Don't know when I'm gonna go to gym after work if I need to rush home to cook for my brother.

I hope he does washes the clothes tomorrow.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Prominent

At a dinner, on New Year's eve, I met an ex-teacher of mine. She had been my bio teacher, a very good one. But only for a few months before she was moved to teach the Form 6 students in my school - the school board wanted the very best teachers for the Form 6 class. What bugged me was that she remembered me, and my brother (who she never taught).

"You taught me for, what, 3 months? How is it you can remember me and my brother?"

"How do I say this... I can remember the prominent students."

Now that I think about it, it would be obvious. I do recall in her class when talking about eggs and food disease, I mentioned Salmonela to a friend in passing, and she asked me to stand up to tell how on earth I had heard of it. Quite simply, I watched those short infomercials on TV. (Infosains, anyone?) But that's probably not the only reason.

I was always getting into trouble with teachers - but not in the usual way. In primary school, when we were being taught English by a trainee whose grammar was worse than my own, I called her stupid to her face in front of the whole class. (Mum's corrected me on this. I asked mum why this teacher was marking my work wrongly and she told me that she was in training and needed time to become a good teacher. I just told the trainee it was okay to make mistake but she needed to work harder to improve her English. But yes, in front of the whole class)

She cried. Created a hell of a stir too. I think I'll *always* be remembered by my primary school teachers for that one.

It was one of those things that made sense to me at the time - me being me, I don't see how I could have avoided pointing something so 'sacrilegious'.


You talking to me?






There were the many arguements with teachers where I thought they were being unfair. I abhorred the rules about hair and nail length because I failed to see how such things made people better on the inside. I told my history teacher to his face that I was going to concentrate on other subjects so I won't be working very hard at history (I thought it was the polite thing to say!).

When the principal came into class to scold everyone for poor attendance (the top class too!), I told him we had our parent's permission to study at home because ('Many' should go here, but I forgot to say 'many'. It was a point of contention with the few capable teachers I had) teachers were not teaching properly. The good ones got siphoned to From 6, remember?. Those sort of questions and statements stunned teachers and got *teachers* into trouble.

Trouble-maker? I didn't make trouble - I found it. There's always lots of trouble everywhere you go in some form or another. Mum called me a Daniel - a man who dared to face down a pit of lions for what he believed was right. It was supposed to be the name I got, after my grand uncle, but my parents forgot to give my brother an English name so to be fair I didn't get one either. That's how I chose my English name, btw.


Want a piece of me?







Some teachers hated me. But I gave very little trouble to the teachers I respected - and they saw that I wasn't a bad kid. Just one that spoke up when he believed something was wrong no matter who it was he had to speak up to. Trouble was, I wasn't always right and I lacked tact. I'm trying to improve on that.

Non-conformist? Yes, but that's not accurate. I just don't follow what the rest are doing for the sake of following. Only reason why I was quiet in class at all was because I wanted to respect the teacher. That and I was quiet by nature. It was just as well I was brought up by a loving mum with good morale grounding, or who knows what I would have become.

And why did she remember my brother? That's another story. :)