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Tattoo

5 Oct

The one on my abs

Immi’s paper aeroplane

12 Sep

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Immi asked me to make a paper aeroplane for her. Here’s how it goes.

Daily Life Redux

22 Apr

Some things are better left unsaid. Or aren’t they ? I’m not totally sure about this, but sometimes I think what happened to me may be too personal to write for the world to know. So I’m sorry if I disappoint you somewhat for not sharing the exact inspiration to this post. Suffice it to say that recent events spurred me to take more control of my life, holding the reins soundly in my hands.

Of course, one could argue that there’s only so much a HIV-positive man can do with his life. His is certainly very limited by his handicap. It is easy to hide behind the fact that I could not work in a regular office job like everyone else, for example. And while I could not be blamed ( at least not totally ) for the way my condition affects my family, there must be something else I can do to help them get what they need. I decided to start by re-arranging my daily life schedule.

And what a start that seemed to be. I know that the topic of daily grind of living your life may seem banal to many people, but consider this for one second : What if your daily schedule can have a huge impact on your health ? That is, what if, – say, you will get sick if you force yourself to work longer than you can ? That’s right, you’re beginning to get a picture of this life of mine. I myself have no idea if I can do what I need to do to help my kids stand on their own feet when my time comes. God knows I want them to have something tangible to hold on to when I’m not on their side anymore.

Hence the radical change to my daily schedule. I was always an unstructured man. I prefer a loose method of working than a rigid schedule of my days. My disease, if anything, did not help at all. I am supposed to take my pills on a definite time, but other than that it just ( sometimes ) kill my energy to the point that I could not think in the right state-of-mind to work. It’s easy to imagine that this needs to be changed. What I decided to do is incorporate a routine in my daily life where I will work on scheduled time slots on my book, – and whatever else I get my hands on at the moment. After planning it, my typical working week looks something like this :

I can almost hear some of you laugh after seeing it. I know. Don’t imagine for a moment that I’m able to work 8-10 hours a day like I used to do 4-5 years ago. This schedule is a mere peanut compared to some of my friends who sometimes are still on a meeting at 10 pm. What I would give to be like them.

Yet, this new schedule of mine is still a far cry from my current loose take on daily life. In fact, I don’t know if I can do as I planned to do. I have the will, but there are so many other variables that may affect the result of the equation. Just bear with me for now. Let me just try. It is my prayer that this small decision I made today signifies something much bigger : that I will have more control over my life. That it will enable and empower me to be a better provider for my family. Someday, when it happens, it just won’t get any better than that. Trust me.

The Hand That Feeds

29 Oct

To me, November is a month that underlines the importance of a lasting relationship. My parents have their anniversary at the 3rd, while me and my wife have ours eight days later. Every time it gets to this time of the year, I cannot help but stop what I am doing, close my eyes, and pray that I will make my marriage last as long as I can. Oh, it’s not that we are having some marital problems or something. It’s just that I don’t know how much longer I have to live.

What I want to talk about is my parents’ marriage. They are still there, standing strong after about 35 years of marriage. It has been bumpy, – even bruising at some points. Yet they refuse to let go of each other and holding steadfastly to their other halves instead. This echoes the important trait which sadly is seen less and less nowadays : perseverance.

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I do not have any right to elaborate on details on their trials and tribulations over the years. It will always be their authoritative decision about what is free to share and what is not. What I can tell you is their difficult experience with me as a young man.

My life was indeed unusual. To cite a few examples, I struggled with addiction in the past, have several troubles with the authority, and almost died more than three times. I was flirting with the devil himself. As I grow older, it became easy for me to imagine that an ordinary parent would at least consider to disown such insolent son. But mine is anything but ordinary.

This short post is then a dedication for them. In this anniversary of theirs, let it be known to world that I bow my head down in respect. I am not doing it to a long-suffering couple. I am not doing it to an everlasting love. I am doing it to a pair of fighter who knows no surrender. To a pair of hands that fed us the children come good or bad times. I love you, Mom and Dad… !

P.S. : This post was inspired by a song of Nine Inch Nails’ “The Hand That Feeds”. I am tagging Nindya and Leonnie FM to write on any topic from the list, you both know what to do ( see my previous post )

How I Picked a Name for My Daughter

22 Oct
Her Pic

What’s in a name? Proud families carry favorite relatives’ names down through generations. Others will honor entertainers or characters from books, even sports heroes. How did you choose the names for your children?

For me, this definitely is a tough and critical issue. A name is more than just a couple of pretty – sounding words, it is something that constitutes the beginning of a someone’s life. It can not be trivial or easily forgotten. It identifies a person from his birth unto the grave. And there is no “Rename” menu in your child’s birth certificate either, believe me…

I came up with my daughter’s name ( she is actually a second child in the family ) before I found one for my firstborn son. No special reason, really. It just so happened in one of my pre – marital aimless conversations with my wife that had our first kid is a daughter, then it would be wonderful to name her Imogen.

Why, then, she would be an Imogen ? First of all, I wanted a name that sounds “learned”. I wanted a name that no ignoramuses who never read any books could find. That being the case, the next criteria would be the way it sounds and its meanings. I mean, while you would find the name Mephistopheles in Faust, it would certainly not be a strong contender for your child’s name, wouldn’t it ? Here, Imogen and Antigone sprang to mind. Antigone has a definite ring of ivory tower in it as fewer people read Sophocles than Shakespeare. But Imogen has a very strong nuance of meaning. A tough choice, to say the least.

It was finally decided on the third’s criteria application : While it needs to have an educated air, I also wanted it to be hip enough to be used by other people every ten years or so, so to speak. I don’t want a name that makes my offspring’s life difficult. I remember that one of my elementary friend’s name was Aristoteles. A great name indeed, but so ancient that he was left feeling alienated and disconnected from the Michaels and Johns of the school. How would I tackle this seemingly insurmountable dilemma ? Easy. I just took the two candidates and scan the real – life applications of them. Imogen quickly outpaced Antigone as my strongest nominee. There was seemingly no influential Antigone in history, but Imogen Heap and Imogen Bailey quickly leapt out from memory. Here then it was decided. Imogen was so perfect by being rare enough to be a jewel, yet not an endangered species of name to make my child feels like a prehistorical human being.

Next came the matter of Christian name and family name. As unworthy as I may be a man, I still want my children to have a Biblical name. I want them to have a legacy to live by. An inspiration that hopefully will burn them enough to keep them going when they want to quit. Applying similar criteria, I easily picked Zipporah ( It may be noted that this took place after my son was born, while Imogen was picked long beforehand ). In case you don’t know, she’s an unsung gem of Old Testament when once, as Moses’ wife, she saved him from being killed by God himself.

Now, family name is a very different matter. If you read this writing at all, then I imagine you already know that my mind doesn’t work like most people’s. I do not want my children to carry my family name. I want them to start their own. And there’s nothing better than an adjective for a family name. As a choice, “Divine” may be questioned as I myself sometimes find it being overused, and worse, misplaced. However, I couldn’t find the same connotation in any other word, thus it was chosen. I also liked the idea that a family called The Divines will be a fresh beacon in this male – chauvinistic world of family names. And the rest is history……..

So there you go, Angel, your name is Zipporah Imogen Divine. Live on, fly strong and show the world that your name is there for a reason…..

Updates and Rebuttals : on Depdiknas Matter

11 Oct

Dear All,

I initially wanted to write this as an update to the previous post only.  However, it got increasingly long-winded that I finally decided to dedicate an entire new post for this.  There you go.

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Beside Treespotter who started it all, I’d like to thank all the bloggers who duly passed this on and wrote about this matter in their own blogs.  Let’s keep it resonating, pals !  Following is a list of the said bloggers who were bothered by this stupidity and potential consequences ( click on their names to read their respective posts ) :

I am sorry if I am not aware of any more related posts from other bloggers on this.  I will update when necessary.  Apart from that, my hats off to Pitra Satvika, – who’s bothered enough to write an email to a rather-highly-placed person in the ministry; Boy Avianto, – who actively sent SMS to his circle of influence; and many other friends who speak up against this via various means ( mailing lists, blogs, IM, etc. )

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On the other hand, I’m also deeply troubled by some arguments I received when I raised my voice in various network about this matter.  Granted, – some of them argued innocently -, but it makes me wonder :  If we, – as the society member -, fail to see that we are being wronged here; then what incentive the government have to change its policy ? In other words, why should they make the data private, – if some part of the society ( read : parents themselves ) agree with them ? Beats me….

Followings are their arguments and my rebuttals to each of them :

  • ARGUMENT : “Let’s ask first what’s their reason for doing so. Maybe they have a valid goal…”
  • MY ANSWER : What ? I don’t know what’s their reason, and frankly, I don’t want to know.  There is no valid goal, – however noble it may sound -, that can be prioritized above our children’s safety.
  • ARGUMENT : “Where’s the link ?  It’s just a cheap talk without any proof..”
  • MY ANSWER :  To post a link is to go against our very own purpose : to hinder this sensitive data sharing, can’t you see that ?  Or are you implying that I and 5 other bloggers are a very accomplished team of concerted liars ?  If yes, please tell the world about it, – we might well deserve an Oscar for the performance 🙂
  • ARGUMENT :  “The data is not completely valid anyway…”
  • MY ANSWER : First, the data is valid.  Me and several other bloggers have downloaded the files and see that they contain what we suspected.  Some bloggers even found their own children’s data there.  Second, say, even if the data is only 40 % valid; I will still raise this issue for that 40 %. Hell, I will still do it even if there are only 100 valid data.
  • ARGUMENT : “Why does it matter ? Names and addresses are similar to what you’ll find in a phone directory.  It’s the sensitive data like bank accounts which can not be shared publicly…”
  • MY ANSWER :  Unless you live in an utopian world, crime happens.  Would you give your kids’ data to anyone you meet in the street ? Also, the fact that you mentioned bank accounts as a more sensitive data, – tells me that you value finance more than the children’s safety.  Should I say more ?
  • ARGUMENT : “We could spend months debating about the validity of the policy….”
  • MY ANSWER :  Am I hearing things ?  We’re dealing with lives here.  I say take it down first, – and then we’ll talk.
  • ARGUMENT : “Why are you so hyped-up about this ?”
  • MY ANSWER :  Because I’m a father. Because if I see this grievous, sad and capital mistake is happening; and I don’t do anything as a society member to speak against it, – then I consider my hands dirty.  Please ask yourself this question, Sir : “If even just one of those kids got kidnapped or molested; can you sleep at night, – knowing that you didn’t do anything about it ?”  I can’t.  If you can, then I salute you for being a truly remarkable person..

That’s about some of them.  There are many more, but I won’t risk your boredom 🙂  Please understand that on the course of translating them to English, I might have paraphrased.

They seriously saddened me.  They make the word of an online friend of mine rings true :”Indonesia needs to be put outside Beta status..”  I can only pray that there are more people with deeper and more complete personal capacity in our society…..

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Last but certainly not least, let me re-state that I will continue to be loud about this until there is a satisfactory solution.  For those who agree, please relay this message in whatever media of your choice. For those who don’t, please recall that this is my blog, – I decided to take a hard stand about this in my domain.  And that’s that…

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UPDATE :

The prominent Indonesia news portal, Detik, has written several news post about this. In one of them, a Depdiknas official responded verbally to this matter.  Among all others, one of the things he said was ( translated ) : “But this is still nothing more than a worrying development.  Has it been proven yet ?  If it has, please inform us, we at Depdiknas are ready to receive your complaints..

Is this exactly how we are going to steer this country ?  With idiocy and justificationWhat needs to be provenDoes the aforementioned official really recommend us to wait for a proven crime sparked by the available data ?  Wait until there is a lifeless, molested body of a child available ?  I repeat, this is idiocy….

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UPDATE :

Several bloggers, – my wife included, reported that the files are still available, but with the address deleted.  This looks like a good development.  I will continue to speak until all the data is made unavailable or guarded by a restricted access.  For those of you who are not aware of the danger of possible identity theft from even a minimal number of data, please read Jeremy’s good article first before commenting.

Also today ( 14 October 2008 ), a famous Indonesia newspaper, Koran Tempo, has written about the danger of this matter in its editorial, and reported it in a different news story ( The links may require you to signup/login first before you can read the article image ). This is a small step to victory because it tells me that we are loud enough to be heard by a mainstream media who in turn tells the tale. 🙂

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UPDATE :

On the 15th of October, the Depdiknas portal posted an official notice stating that “the online access to the data is now closed”.  Following is an excerpt in Bahasa Indonesia :

Penutupan Fasilitas Download dan Upload Data Siswa

Berkenaan dengan berakhirnya jangka waktu upload pemutakhiran data siswa (NISN) dan sekolah (NPSN) per 1 Oktober 2008 dan proses verifikasinya. Seiring juga dengan masukan dari masyarakat terkait dengan kerahasiaan data maka fasilitas download dan upload detil data siswa secara online real time ditutup. Khusus upload data siswa dapat dilakukan hanya untuk tingkat 1, 7 dan 10.

Untuk selanjutnya bagi para sekolah, siswa dan para orangtua siswa yang berkepentingan melakukan pemantauan validasi dan verifikasi detil data terkait dapat dilakukan secara offline melalui Kantor Dinas Pendidikan Kota/Kabupaten setempat. Adapun untuk segala masukan dan laporan masyarakat terkait dengan validitas data siswa dan sekolah dapat disampaikan langsung ke Kantor Dinas Pendidikan Kota/Kabupaten di wilayah kerja masing-masing.

Mohon maaf atas ketidaknyamannya pada layanan online ini dan mohon senantiasa peran aktif masyarakat untuk memantau ketersediaan data pokok pendidikan agar selalu akurat dan valid untuk masa depan online kemajuan pendidikan Indonesia.

Ttd
Admin Dapodik

Does it mean that the battle was won ?  Not until this has been verified, and until Google has deleted its cache as well.

THIS SHOULD BE STOPPED

11 Oct

This makes me so angry.  I read about this from treespotter, a Twitter friend of mine.  You can read the full post here.

In short, Indonesia’s Ministry of Education ( Depdiknas ) has just made available online the data of 36 million of Indonesian studentsNames, addresses and other details in XLS files. Of your children.  Your very own children.

Now I know that it’s not easy to verify this news.  Treespotter didn’t include any links for obvious reasons.  And I will do the same even if later I find the link to the files to verify this story.  But mark my words, readers, I will raise my own version of hell until I hear this issue has been resolved.  I’m just an ordinary man, but I’ll be as loud as I can about this.

If you do care about the security and safety of the kids, please raise this issue in your community as wellLet’s not be silent and watch this country become a dream for kidnappers and child molesters …!

UPDATE : I HAVE DOWNLOADED ONE XLS FILE AND VERIFY THAT THE NEWS IS INDEED TRUE. THE FILE CONTAINS THE COMPLETE NAMES AND ADDRESSES OF THE KIDS. DO WHAT YOU CAN, PEOPLE !