Friday, June 24, 2011

My Wife’s Great Accomplishment

 The proud moment

Congratulations to my beloved wife.  After 4 long years full of challenges and sacrifice, she has successfully completed her degree in Human Resource Management from the Open University Malaysia (OUM).  When we decided to embark on this journey, we knew it was going to be hard.  Her driving to Ipoh in the early morning on Sunday every 2 weeks, me having to look after our little daughters, her struggle with health on a few occasions that forced her to skip classes, postpone some papers and a couple of final exams, and her many sleepless nights trying to complete papers and assignments are just some examples of the hardship we had to endure during this period.  We even had to face some critiques questioning her rational of pursuing a degree, or the few skeptics who dismissed the credibility of getting an OUM degree.  Well, as the saying goes....."that which does not kill you only make you stronger".  I am glad we did not pay much attention to those naysayers and just kept on going.

  The fruit of her labour....well done Azlin Abd Aziz

Why did she take up the challenge?  Of course I can’t answer on her behalf.  She has her own reasons.  But I did believe from the beginning that the whole journey of acquiring a degree would broaden her horizon and perspective on things.  I always believe the undergraduate experience helps a person to develop a more structured thought process, it helps to develop his/her analytical skill and ultimately enable him/her to approach a problem in a more systematic manner.  I think my wife has shown some of those potentials already.  We did not even think about her getting a job upon completion either.  We decided then to just do it and not worry about whether or not she would seek employment eventually.  I am glad she took up the challenge, and I am pleased to see the much wiser and stronger individual that she has become.

 I hope my little angels are inspired by their Mama's accomplishment

Of course looking back, there are just so many memories.  I acquired some basic cooking skills along the way, only reserved for my family consumption obviously......hahahaha.  The kids loved it, really!  I learned a few valuable knowledge about economy for instance......aggregate demand and aggregate supply, what subsidy does to the shift of is subsidy good? Now I can form my own opinion, that’s for sure.  She was also so critical about the “appearance” of her paper (I think it was due to her previous experience as a secretary).  The quality of paper, the type of cover, the colour of the ring binder, the spacing of paragraphs, you name it.  She was very meticulous.  Oh, and I think Gardenia has made millions by now from her faithful consumption of Bun Ikan Bilis and the likes during the long lectures at OUM.  Gardenia, I think you should give her a medal for that, serious!!!!  And above all, she has proven to herself especially, that she is capabled of accomplishing great things if she puts her mind to it...... although during some difficult periods she did doubt herself but fortunately at the end she persevered.  And the fact that she managed to conquer her own self-doubt has made her a much stronger person now.

One thing for sure, the whole journey has also strengthened the bond that we share.  I can also appreciate now that being Mama to my kids is not easy, and it has also been proven that I can handle my kids........with lots of guidance and reminders from my wife of course…hahaha.  These are the added bonus that we did not consider earlier on.  For that I am truly grateful. Alhamdulillah. 

 I am so proud of you

So Azlin Abd Aziz, cherish the joy of graduating as you have definitely earned it.  You truly deserve it.  I am so proud of you Sayang!!!  Congratulations!!!

 An incredible day for us all

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mike Flanagan’s 20th Anniversary as the United States Naval Academy Head Coach......Congratulations Mike!!!!!

Mike Flanagan the greatest coach ever

I’m writing this well overdue entry to honour my rugby coach Mike Flanagan. Mike was my coach for more than 3 years during my academy days. When he first arrived in 91, I had no idea who he was, didn’t know he was a legend at Towson State and wouldn’t have thought that he would transform my game beyond my imagination.

This is his team
(and mine too)

This year is Mike’s 20th anniversary as the Head Coach at the academy. He was such a colourful character back then, and I’m sure he still is. He was loud, he didn’t mince his words, four letter words were synonym with him, he really was in your face kind of a coach. But above all those, he was a great coach who was really passionate about the game, a person who made rugby his religion and brought the academy rugby to a soaring new height.

This is Mike's 2008 Team
(they beat Army that year...yeah!!!!)

I am truly blessed that our paths crossed, an encounter that changed my rugby game forever. Mike was the one coach who catapulted my game beyond my own expectation. He pushed me hard, well he pushed everybody hard. But I really felt at home under his watch. I have such wonderful memories playing under his tutelage; I created some miracles while playing for him, we beat Army 15-12 at their home turf in 1992, I scored an unexpected try against Towson in the dying second to secure us the win during my Second Class Year season, the beating we gave Towson State despite the hype of them giving us a good fight during my final year, the incredible first game of Eastern Championships against Dartmouth although we then suffered a heartbreaking loss to Harvard, the sweet victory in the Cherry Blossom Tournament against Loyola Marymount enroute to winning the tournament, securing the highest scoring game against Clemson, the many pushover tries we scored due to our immaculate technique and strength in the scrum etc. In fact sometimes I wasn’t sure whether I was playing for the academy or I was playing for Mike. On one occasion, I was using crutches after suffering an injury in the first game, only to play the next day albeit with a heavily strapped ankle and could only run at jogging pace the whole game.... Mike made me feel that I could be Superman!!!!! Hahahahaha.......and an ample dose of painkiller did help as well.

This is how Mike's team play

One thing I never understood though. Mike never once scolded or yelled at me. Everybody else had their fair share of Mike’s piece of mind either during training or during the games. But he excluded me from the receiving end of his wrath. Maybe he took pity of me thinking that I wouldn’t understand his !@#$%^* words anyway:0. But he never meant to harm anybody and we actually became accustomed to Mike’s way of doing thing....... it was simply Mike’s way. And his way has produced wonders, absolutely! Mike’s way was never the easy way, everybody knew that. He made us ran till we dropped (ahhh.....the killer hill next to the pitch, such wonderful memory), the front rows like Vinnie Johnson would develop cauliflower ears due to the endless scrums the forwards had to endure every day, I was given at least 25 rugby balls everyday to spin at with my scrumhalf partner Darren Platz so that we could develop killer speed and accuracy in our scrumhalf passes, we would have scrimmage every Tuesday to polish our game conditioning and tactics, the killer sprinting we did at the end of every practice and many more. Killer routines all around..... you bet. And above all, Mike was the most brilliant tactician. He knew where our strengths lied and let us exploited them. Mike’s style of rugby suited me very well and I had nothing but fun on the pitch.... I felt at home every time I stepped into a game. I’m sure the hundreds of players who have had the pleasure of playing for Mike felt the same way.

This is the kind of results that Mike produces

So Mike, I know they are planning some incredible programmes to celebrate your incredible achievement. Have a great time, as I know you will. This entry is just my small way of saying how much I appreciate all that you have done for me. Coach, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. You are the best coach one can ever ask for. Congratulations on achieving this incredible milestone in your illustrious career.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Allergy Attack…Arrghhh!!!!

I decided to go swimming on Monday after more than 3 weeks of no physical activity. Final exams, semester break and a field trip to Singapore and Indonesia really kept me away from any meaningful exercise. The 40-minute session in the pool was really good and I could feel myself sweating profusely throughout. Should be good for the body right? Not this time as the next morning I started to feel lower back pain when I woke up. Dismissing anything amiss, I went to attend lecture as usual but instead of being able to shake it off, the prolonged sitting in less than ergonomic chair in the lecture hall led my condition to get worse. By the time the day session finished I was struggling. Even simple bending or twisting was becoming more painful than before.

The situation got worse and by bedtime I knew I was in trouble. I slept lying on my back the whole night without any possibility of rolling to either side. Imagine being in the same position for more than 6 hours. When I woke up this morning I decided that it was time to go see the doctor.

The waiting at the military clinic wasn’t bad as I was called into the doctor’s office not long after I “reported sick” at the counter. The examination was short and sharp. “Any allergy?” he asked, “No” I said. Off to the treatment room with a prescription in hand, and a jab shortly followed. I felt a little better almost immediately and drove back to my apartment.

As I sipped my coffee and read my newspaper, I started to feel this niggling itchiness around my eyes. I allergic to the medication? Nahhh.....don’t think so. Within 5 minutes my eyes were all swollen and after consulting my chief nurse (my wife Lin) who is a veteran in allergy department (she is allergic to almost all antibiotics and half of the pain killers in the global inventory!!!!), I quickly put on my uniform again and drove back to the clinic.

Voltren is the culprit

I was attended to almost immediately upon checking in at the clinic. “Yes, you have an allergy here. Any difficulty breathing? Are you aware of any allergy you might have? Are you allergic to any painkiller?” All of which I said “No” to. Another jab and it was all done. Went back feeling sleepy and fell asleep until almost 2 pm. Still feeling groggy as I type this entry.

Red and puffy eyes......still there shortly after the second jab but the itchiness was gone almost immediately

Yes, I know now that I’m allergic to this “Voltren” and must remember to mention it next time before being prescribed with any medication. I guess remembering my childhood cartoon series “Voltron” would help me to permanently remember the name. Hahahaha ......

The city is slowly being swallowed by a heavy downpour. Perfect signal to jump back into bed. I was just starting to put another gear into my thesis writing before all this happened. Oh well, I guess Jawaharlal Nehru and his nonalignment foreign policy can still wait. Life is full of surprise!!!!

Heavy rain on the way to break the current dry spell