Introducing Pangea Day

Jehane Noujaim.

I came to know this incredible woman early last year. I was surfing Youtube and I came across this video with an intriguing description: "Visionary documentary filmmaker, TED Prize Winner, and Pangea Day founder Jehane Noujaim speaks to an audience of "the world's leading thinkers and doers" at the 2006 annual TED Conference. Watch and listen as she unveils her inspiring wish - to change the world through the power of film."

I felt compelled to watch her speech, as my curiousity drove me into wanting to know how on earth exactly can you change the world through films. How on earth exactly, I ask you?

I took the liberty to transcribe the beginning of her speech and let the text seduce you into clicking the Youtube video link to her speech. Indulge in her powerful and inspiring speech, and by the end of it you'll most probably feel like contributing to world peace, without feeling corny.

I can't help with this wish to think about, when you're a little kid and all your friends ask you, "If a genie could give one wish in the world, what would it be?" And I always answered "Well, I'd want the wish to have the wisdom to know exactly what to wish for," Well then you'd be screwed because you'd know what to wish for and you'd used up your wish, and now since we only have one wish (...) I'm not gonna wish for that.

So let's get to what I would like... which is world peace.

And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "The poor girl up there, she thinks she's at a beauty peagent. She's not, she's at the TED prize."

But I really do think it makes sense. And I think the first step for world peace is for people to meet each other. I'd met a lot of different people over the years and I've filmed some of them (...)

So what I'd like to talk about today is a way for people to travel, to meet people in a different way because you can't travel all over the world at the same time (...)

Now I really think that as the world is getting smaller, it becomes more and more important that we learn each other's dance moves, that we meet each other, we get to know each other, we figure out a way to cross borders, to understand each other, to understand people's hopes and dreams, what makes them laugh and cry. And I know that we all can't do exchange programs and I can't force everybody to travel (...)

But I'd like to talk about another way to travel that doesn't require a ship or an airplane, and just requires a movie camera, a projector and a screen. And that's what I'm going to talk about today.

I'll talk more about what I did (or at least planned to do) right after her speech touched my heart and my mind. Just wait for it.


(Who says Youtube is no good?)

(credits to Nokia)
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Music is Alive

Music is universal. It can unite people. People across different cultures, races, and regions can instantly connect through music. Just turn on that radio or jukebox and you'll hear people - different people - singing or humming along, clapping and tapping their feet. All in unison. Isn't that just beautiful?

Music is instinctual. If you haven't noticed yet, you'll soon realise that you actually sing without thinking. Even if you don't know the lyrics or if you're afraid of people shouting at your ugly voice or for whatever reasons you can think of, you hum to the melody of your favourite music. Some people are not singers or hummers, but interestingly enough they play the music in their mind. Not too sure how that works? You've most likely have done it before - when you're alone studying, walking along a street, or staring out the window of a bus and suddenly the tunes, melodies, rhythms, and beats form in your mind that it's almost like you're listening to the real thing. Everything starts from your head. Singing and humming are merely manifestations of these music 'visualisation'. You don't even have to consciously tell yourself to sing. It comes to you mechanically. The next thing you know you're already singing. Isn't that just amazing?

Music is emotional. Try watching a really sad movie on mute and I bet you won't shed any tears. While the actors and actresses give emotions to the dialog, the soundtrack gives you that atmosphere. Music alone can really stir and evoke your emotions. I remember once I listened to this piano piece with my eyes closed and when it reached the ending, my cheeks were wet. Music can make you feel sad and melancholic. It's a powerful driving force into making you cry watching Titanic. Music can also make you happy and cheery. If you've listened to Mika before you know what I'm talking about (Grace Kelly is FUN). And music can lift your spirits soaring high. It's the very reason why the military has a band. Imagine experiencing an emotion from a blank state just by listening to the right music. Isn't that just incredible?

Music is inseparable from human lives. It is intricately weaved into our lives. Almost like how yarn is harmoniously knitted into a sweater. Music IS part of our lives. Pull that yarn away and you will be left with nothing.

That said, I myself cannot recall a single day where music is absent from my life. Sometimes when I'm on the tram alone and a hint of melancholy touches my heart, I would amplify that emotion with just the right playlist on my iPod. Or when I'm strolling down the city street at night, I'd switch to another playlist to induce excitement and then an  imagery of hustle and lights comes to mind. With every bit of emotion that I feel at any moment, I like to complement it with music. It makes the experience of those emotions so much powerful and (most importantly) memorable.

After all, emotion is what makes a human human.


(I do wonder if I'm the only one with music having effect that strong. Let me know if you're in the club!)

(credits to photographer Vince Walter [1st photo],
source from "Singin' in the Rain (1952)" [2nd photo],
credits to LGBT Domestic Abuse, Laurent, Kingdom of Heaven [3rd photo])
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What is it indeed?

I have a short riddle I stumbled upon while browsing through books in a bookstore. Thought I'd share it with you.

"Schwarzenegger has a long one. Michael Fox has a short one. Madonna doesn't have one, while the Pope has one but rarely uses it. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, uses it all the time.

What is it?"

You can give your answers in the comments. Come on, now, don't be shy!

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This is my third blog. You might think that I don't have better things to do than open multiple blogs just for the fun of it and waste megabytes of spaces in the blog servers. That's if you don't know the real history.

Let's have some history lesson, shall we?

My first blog, the "Fwendster" blog (name of the blog publisher has been changed scantily to save it from public humiliation), was - let's be honest - absurdly unreliable, 'spam'mable, and utter nonsense. Apparently the publisher thought it would be super cool to augment a networking service with blog publishing. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, I can tell you. But to provide a poorly implemented blog publishing that would send some users to madness -  that's just wrong. Call me picky, but I honestly think that "Fwendster" would have even happier users if they never even conceive the blog publishing service. There would be less people literally dying of frustration.

"Fwendster" blog - one of the biggest mistakes of mankind.

And what gives it the right to-- (stops midway of a sentence after realising that I'm starting to sound like a girl)

Well, at least my jabbering reflects my disappointment with "Fwendster". Come to think of it, I haven't logged into my "Fwendster" user account for over a year.

Meh~ I guess this kind of stuff really isn't my thing. I have better things to do like playing PC/PSP/PS3 games, watching American TV series (i.e. House, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Prison Break, The Big Bang Theory), surfing YouTube, and reading medical books.

Anyway, before I begin to return to my habit of steering off the main topic, let us finish the history lesson, shall we?

The second blog of mine, courtesy of Blogger, was considerably cozy in comparison. I totally ditched the old one and was happy to start a new home. Months later came the unexplainable accessibility issue. Note the emphasis.

(Now what are you looking at? Of course I was talking about my laptop. What ELSE could I be referring to?)

Two thumbs and two big toes up for Blogger!

Strangely enough, I couldn't seem to log in to my Blogger account from my laptop, but I didn't have this problem when I use other computers. That means almost no entries at all and this went on for 3-4 months. I've wasted hours trying to figure out what went wrong. At last, I forced myself to acknowledge that the problem was simply unexplainable.

Then one day my laptop magically allowed me access to my account. That drove me even crazier to think that it is as if my laptop is playing some kind of stupid prank on me. I sincerely believe that the purpose of my laptop's existance is purely to annoy me. No, seriously, you haven't got to know this little guy yet. And don't even get me started on his other problems.

Months after I got access to my account back, I neglected my blog, but not before posting several entries first. I was continuously swept away by life's turmoil, one after another. So I dropped the whole blog thing even though I enjoy writing so much. And let's face it: who has the time anyway to type stuff on the computer when you're struggling to prevent yourself from being swept away even further?

Okay, maybe I'm a little lazy as well... (a little?)

So earlier this week I decided to start writing again now that the storm has cooled down significantly. Tried to log in to my Blogger account but there's simply no way I can do that when I've forgotten both the username and password. So that's how I got my third blog.

I kinda miss my old blog though. If you want to have a look (well, if you're feeling a bit sentimental, or you could just be curious), I've placed the link below and also in the column to the right.

Well, I hope you will come to like this new blog (although you will also come to learn that it has the same look as the old one, albeit a bit neater). Peace to all of you!

- End to Lesson -
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Shepherd's Return

Once there was a young shepherd who enjoyed telling stories to those who loved to listen. He would sit under the magnificent wide tree on top of his favourite grassy hill while the people gathered around him, enjoying tales after tales. Some of his tales were happy, and some were sad. A few were cold, while others warm. The shepherd would sing all sorts of stories and his listeners were always there.

No one could remember when exactly the hilltop fell silent. People, with eagerness in their hearts, came to visit him as they always do. But the shepherd was there no longer.

Several of those people called out his name. For months, perhaps even the seasons already entered yet another cycle, they called for him still. The reply they received was always the same. It was silence.

Yet truth is often hidden, even from those searching for it. The shepherd indeed was gone, but he would pass the plains once in a blue moon, to catch a glimpse of his beloved hill. His return was as swift as his departure, like a winter's gust that refuses to settle down even for a brief rest. From the reflection of his eyes, one would realise that the shepherd knew his storylisteners longs for him and his tales. If one looks deeper into his eyes, one would also realise that he missed them too.

Yes, the shepherd was indeed gone, but not forever.

Then came the Day. It was the day one could once again hear the sound of a wooden staff tapping the soft ground. The day steady footsteps echoed the hill. The day the music of the flute danced in the air. The day the herd regained its watcher. It was the day the young shepherd returned to his place.

"The Day is today," said the shepherd to himself.

The shepherd was unsure if his dear listeners would return to the hill as he had returned. Regardless, his heart was set and his voice would sing stories even if the people had forgotten him. For he found joy in telling and singing.

The shepherd also thought of the answer to the question why he left ever so suddenly. He thought of many ways to answer that question, but he chose only one he thought was best without starting another long tale.

"I had to leave my dear old spot because my Lord called upon me for a test of will. Now I think the test is over," he selected his words carefully. A keen observer might recognise that his wooden flute has aged wonderfully while a learned person might recall that a wooden flute will only sound more beautiful as it ages.

"Why precisely I was gone is not all that important. Mayhaps I shall tell about it someday. More importantly, now, is that I am once again here. And I do not intend to be gone again," the shepherd, standing beside the grand tree and looking out around the hill, spoke with a clear but different voice, as if the test he mentioned changed him in some ways.

"Yes, I was indeed gone, but not forever!"
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