September 2009

1963 Lotus
The name was as hip as the Beatles and as charismatic as Carnaby Street and now Lotus is back on the grid. The company says it will compete in Formula One next year, a team revived after 15 years away from the glitz and glamour of grand prix racing it once dominated to become one of the iconic names in motor racing history.

In spite of the indomitable history of the familiar green and yellow badge, it is a sign of the times that the new Lotus team will be British-based but backed entirely by money from Malaysia. Tony Fernandes, the entrepreneurial founder of Air Asia, will be the team principal with Mike Gascoyne, the former technical head at the now defunct Jordan and Toyota teams, running the construction operation.

The team was founded by Colin Chapman, a brilliant engineer, whose ability to innovate soon powered his cars to the front of grand prix racing. With drivers like Jim Clark and Graham Hill at the wheel, the Sixties became a period when British cars started to dominate Formula One after years of rule by the Italians.

The Lotus name was also turning into an icon on the roads, Chapman building a series of sports cars, including the little, white Elan driven glamorously by Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in the television series, The Avengers, which even today is a cult classic.

The team started a sad decline from 1982 after Chapman died of a heart attack, aged just 54, amid allegations of fraud after he became involved in the ill-fated DeLorean scandal. The team left Formula One in 1994 and the brand was sold in 1996 to Proton, the Malaysian state-owned carmaker now behind the new venture. Tony Fernandes, former shortstop for the World Series Champion Toronto Blue Jays, and now the fifteenth richest man in Malaysia and other Malaysian investors are backing the venture with considerable financial capital.

“It will be a big challenge to get on the grid but certainly by mid-season I think we’d clearly like to be the best of the new teams and by the end of the year I would hope we have broken into the top 10 overall,” Gascoyne told reporters.

Excerpted from: The Times Online and The Malaysian Star

My love she speaks like silence,
Without ideals or violence,
She doesn’t have to say she’s faithful,
Yet she’s true, like ice, like fire.
People carry roses,
Make promises by the hours,
My love she laughs like the flowers,
Valentines can’t buy her.

In the dime stores and bus stations,
People talk of situations,
Read books, repeat quotations,
Draw conclusions on the wall.
Some speak of the future,
My love she speaks softly,
She knows there’s no success like failure
And that failure’s no success at all.

The cloak and dagger dangles,
Madams light the candles.
In ceremonies of the horsemen,
Even the pawn must hold a grudge.
Statues made of match sticks,
Crumble into one another,
My love winks, she does not bother,
She knows too much to argue or to judge.

The bridge at midnight trembles,
The country doctor rambles,
Bankers’ nieces seek perfection,
Expecting all the gifts that wise men bring.
The wind howls like a hammer,
The night blows cold and rainy,
My love she’s like some raven
At my window with a broken wing.

Bob Dylan
Copyright ©1965

Thank you, babe, for always being there for me when I need you.

Locke's Teachers

I miss my colleagues back in St. Thomas. They were a good crowd, always happy to help with a great attitude towards kids. Yeah, there were some turkeys in the mix. We had a principal that never should have left Grade Three, where I’m sure she was a competent teacher at one time, and a vice-principal that spent her days auditioning for the role of either Jack or Roger in Lord of the Flies, depending on whether or not there was a full moon that night.

But your colleagues are where where you live in this profession, and they are solid then you are going to have a good year no matter what else is going on. I was fortunate to have some really great colleagues in the course of my career, four of whom are pictured here at my “retirement” -lol! They have been settling in to another year in Ontario, just as I am getting mid-terms out the door in Malaysia, and I wish them all the best.

So to all of my colleagues back in St. Thomas, thank you all so much for being such a great group of teachers. Your dedication and your friendliness have always been such an encouragement to me, and I have so many fond memories of all our years together. If you ever get a hankering to experience what teaching is like on the other side of the world and think you might like to take a year’s leave of absence to find out, I would bend over backwards to help you to land a teaching job in Malaysia. Just log on to the link below for information on the Queen’s Job Fair in Kingston Ontario and fill iin the forms on the site. I would be happy to give you a hearty recommendation!

Philippines PH Team
There are some TWR fields that have clearly established project teams, such as the one that I work with, Project Hannah. The reality in the Philippines is that if you are in the office and you are a woman, you are a part of the Project Hannah team. The “Women of Hope” program begins with an English script which is then translated and broadcast in three languages, Tagalog, Ilocano and Cebuano. As it is designed to be a “chat over tea”, a number of voices are needed for each program and they must be the voices of native language speakers to make it more acceptable to the listeners. Therefore, if you work in the office and you speak the language you will be called upon to translate, voice the scripts or to do listener follow-up.

Each program that is aired invites listeners to send their questions or comments via text message to one of three phones – one for each language – that are manned twenty four hours a day by these women. It is not unusual for them to be up during the night providing counselling and support over cell phone lines to women who often have no one else to turn to. Fortunately, in this part of the world text messaging costs pennies a month, and cell phones are very cheap.

Philippines SoupRuthanna, the Project Hannah co-ordinator graciously invited all of the women to her home out in the hills surrounding Baguio, for a time of fellowship and an opportunity for me to get to know them. We chatted over a snack of boiled bananas while Ruthanna prepared a large bowl of a traditional Philippines soup, served over rice, and guava leaf tea.

It was a wonderful opportunity to hear of the joys and challenges of family life for these women as well as to get an understanding of the depth of their love for the women of their own country and their commitment to the ministry of Project Hannah.

Jeepney Ride

As the afternoon rains started, we all piled into a Jeepney, the common means of transport for most Filipinos, for the crowded journey back into the city. My heart has been touched by these women and their devotion to the cause of Christ. There is so much that I want to do for them, and they have so many needs to more effectively carry out their ministry.

Children's TeamIt is no secret that we love the people of Asia; their simple courtesy, their respect especially for the elderly, and their recognition of the importance of family and social relationships, all speak to the same values that we share. But the Filipino people really have to be the sweetest that we have ever met. They greet you so spontaneously with their shy smiles and twinkling eyes and can’t do enough to make you feel cared for and completely at home.

The main purpose of our visit to the Philippines was to meet the TWR team and spend some time with Ruthanna and Jenn, our Project Hannah staff. On our arrival we were welcomed with a “tour“ of the new TWR office, in single file, walking forward into a room and then backing out. Due to cost constraints, they recently relocated from the core business district of Baguio City to a house high up on the hillside. This two storey building, which probably has less total floor space than the living room of our apartment, provides office space for twenty one staff, two tiny studios, a kitchen and a meeting room and is home to the caretaker of the property.

Philippines TeamI was in awe on hearing the extent of the work that is accomplished from this humble space by such dedicated people. Take the children’s program, for example, which is aired weekly throughout the Philippines. In order to produce this program, they write the script, translate it into two other languages, compose the accompanying songs and set them to music, gather their little band into the four foot by six foot studio and produce the track, before recording the entire program. Did I mention that they also change their voices for each character they have created?

With their own program distributed for broadcasting, each staff then must step in to translate and read scripts for the many other programs that are produced. Even the very shy, retiring accountant has become comfortable in front of a microphone. This team now broadcasts in five different Filipino languages as well as their English programs which are available even in Malaysia.

That however, is only the radio component of their work. Much of their time is spent providing listener follow-up, mainly using text messages and field visits to local churches, schools and providing workshops and seminars to encourage leadership development. I was truly humbled by such selfless dedication in such meagre surroundings.

Philippine Restaurant
Travelling in Asia has some surreal moments. Like driving down the highway from Baguio City to Clark Field and encountering a “floating restaurant.” As we were miles from the ocean at that point, we stopped to investigate. Here was this restaurant on the edge of the highway, miles from anywhere that was built on a marsh. Taking advantage of what anyone else would have deemed a liability, the owner had constructed a series of platforms and private gazebos connected by bamboo bridges, and made that the site of a restaurant.

Philippine RestaurantBut not content with that incongruity, the owner stretched the point by populating the place with the oddest sculptures, like the monkees pictured above and huge concrete fish in various poses. There were pools of goldfish to feed and a narrow concrete bridge over which the daring were invited to walk to win their lunch, or get thoroughly soaked trying.

Philippines 101We settled on paying for a feast of fried chicken, grilled tilapia, chow mein and shanghai fried rice, washed down with mango and papaya smoothies for a very reasonable price. We paid a little more for Steve to seranade Pam along with a troop of wandering minstrels singing Elvis and Ritchie Valens. Just another surprising and delightful chance stop along the route of our Asian journey together.

Pine Trees in Baguio

It is funny how the same experiences can bring about such different effects. I can recall going to Algonquin Park in Ontario when I was about ten. We had only been in Canada about four years at that point, and it was the first chance that we had as a family to see the “wilds” of Canada, as we understood the term. For me it was a life changing experience. I breathed in the sweet smell of the pines and drank in the sight of the water glistening like a field of dancing diamonds in the sun and felt a connection in my soul to that majestic and untrammelled beauty. I understood what a privilege it was to be a Canadian, and I knew with a certainty that has never left me that Whoever made all that was Good beyond human comprehension.

I have been fortunate to have seen much of the world’s beauty, and I never cease to marvel at the delightful creativity of God. But there is something about standing in a pine forest that speaks to something in me that I almost cannot fathom, and draws something out of me that I cannot fully explain. Baguio City in the Philippines is surrounded by pine trees. This picture is taken from our balcony at the guest home on the grounds of the Philippine Theological Seminary. Just standing there is a quasi-religious experience for me.

There are prettier trees, catalpa and frangipani, for example. And there are more impressive ones, like baobab and banyan. But there is nothing like pine. The needles blossom out like a spray of water frozen in time in a green cascade, filtering light with their delicate softness. The trunks are dark red-brown, with a rugged, textured warmth, sturdy and firm, with graceful and surprising curves. The underbrush is invariably clean, inviting you to stand and walk among its cathedral pillars. And there is no aroma more subtly invigorating and calming to the spirit.

I know that when God calls us back to Canada, as one day He surely will, that I will once again head for the Canadian woods, preferably in a canoe, to drink in His beauty in a form that He has in some fundamental way wired me to understand. Until that day, this one will have to do.

For those waiting to hear how Pam is doing, she is very busy with the TWR team in Baguio and will blog as soon as she gets a minute. We are both pretty sure that this will not be our last trip to the Philippines!

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