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Inspirational Quote of the Day

"Growth is not built around a life of ease but through a/the path of discomfort." —Unknown

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mailbox Monday: The Ugly Renaissance

I can't wait to dive straight into this one! I love the book cover and its intriguing title. Anything that has to do Italy gets my attention. The Renaissance period is not just about the good and the beautiful, but also about the bad and the ugly, and out of these birthed history’s greatest masterpieces.

Renowned as a period of cultural rebirth and artistic innovation, the Renaissance is cloaked in a unique aura of beauty and brilliance. Its very name conjures up awe-inspiring images of an age of lofty ideals in which life imitated the fantastic artworks for which it has become famous. But behind the vast explosion of new art and culture lurked a seamy, vicious world of power politics, perversity, and corruption that has more in common with the present day than anyone dares to admit.

In this lively and meticulously researched portrait, Renaissance scholar Alexander Lee illuminates the dark and titillating contradictions that were hidden beneath the surface of the period’s best-known artworks. Rife with tales of scheming bankers, greedy politicians, sex-crazed priests, bloody rivalries, vicious intolerance, rampant disease, and lives of extravagance and excess, this gripping exploration of the underbelly of Renaissance Italy shows that, far from being the product of high-minded ideals, the sublime monuments of the Renaissance were created by flawed and tormented artists who lived in an ever-expanding world of inequality, dark sexuality, bigotry, and hatred. 

The Ugly Renaissance is a delightfully debauched journey through the surprising contradictions of Italy’s past and shows that were it not for the profusion of depravity and degradation, history’s greatest masterpieces might never have come into being.


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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Duomo di Milano (The Milan Cathedral)

I MISS ITALY. So, so much. For those who follow my blog, you'd know that I'm crazy about the country, literally in love with it, and couldn't wait to be back. Until that happens again next year, I will have to be contented with just the memories I brought back from il bel paese (the beautiful country).

Today, I'd like to take you with me to Milan, specifically, the Milan Cathedral (or Duomo di Milano in Italian). This magnificent Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete, and it is the fifth largest cathedral in the world and the largest in the Italy. The view of the Milan city from the top of the Terraces is amazing! Enjoy!

Duomo di Milano is dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente as indicated on the signage above.

The Metro is just right outside this awesome Duomo.

This picture was taken after I came down from the Terraces. By then (almost noon), there were lots of people in the Piazza. I arrived very early in the morning and totally enjoyed myself with very much less people.

A man reading.

I was awe-struck.

It's time to climb the stairs to the Terraces. But before that, you'd need to buy the ticket.

Halfway up. I love this window.

Cute biciclette (bicycles)!
All my photos are taken using this guy that has been with me for the past eight years or more!


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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Text: SANDOKAN LANUN MALAYSIA, by Emilio Salgari

Today, I'd like to share from page 79 of Sandokan by Emilio Salgari, recommended by my Italian friend from Venice. If you're interested about the background of how I came to know about this book, please check out my previous posts (here and here).

I have decided to post regularly on every Thursday a section of non-English books that I'm currently reading. For this week, I will begin with this one. I hope you'll enjoy it! This is in Malay, a language I'm fluent in. If you're unfamiliar with the language, especially my non-Malaysian readers, you will now get a feel of it...


Muara sungai membentuk pelabuhan semula jadi yang terlindung daripada badai laut oleh rentetan terumbu dan tebing pasir. Pokok sagu, mempelam, serta kebun pisang yang sarat dengan buah yang masak ranum meminggiri pesisir pantai; di sebalik pokok itu, berkericau ungka dan kera yang bergayutan pada pokok gambir, sirih dan kapur barus.

Pelbagai jenis kapal berlabuh di sungai itu. Perahu Melayu, Bugis, Borneo dan Makassar, jong besar milik orang Jawa yang layarnya beraneka warna, jong Cina yang besar dan sarat, serta kapal Belanda dan British yang kecil. Sesetengahnya sedang memunggah barang muatan sementara yang lain menunggu masa yang sesuai untuk belayar.

Orang Dayak berderet-deret menjala ikan di sepanjang terumbu dan tebing pasir. Sekawan burung albatros dan burung simbang terbang bersimpang-siur di teluk itu.

Sebaik-baik sahaja Hegoland melabuhkan sauh di tengah-tengah sungai, Sandokan mengamat-amati kapal yang ada di sekelilingnya. Matanya tertumpu pada sebuah skuner kecil yang dilengkapi senjata kira-kira tiga ratus meter dari muara sungai. Kedudukannya menghalang setiap kapal yang hendak masuk ke situ.

Setelah diamatinya dengan teliti, wajahnya berkerut dan dia menyumpah dengan perlahan.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Southern Italy Bookshop Series: Libreria dell'Arco in Matera

I always make it a point to visit bookshops whenever I travel. In my last post sometime in August this year, while I was still in southern Italy, I blogged about a cute bookshop in Ruvo di Puglia called Libreria L'Agorà (view here).

Today, I'd like to take you to Matera in the region of Basilicata to a bookshop called Libreria dell'Arco. Come with me!

Welcome to Liberia dell'Arco!
(Address:Via D. Ridola, 37 – 75100 Matera
Telephone: +39 0835.31.11.11)

Let's go inside the bookshop now...


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Academic Writing (Session 1 of 3): Interesting Insights into Educational Methods (From Andragogy to Heutagogy)

Today I attended the Academic Writing class facilitated by Dato' Dr. Anthony E. Sibert. There will be two more sessions in the coming weeks and I'm looking forward to them. Besides the obvious topic on writing assignments, Dr. Sibert also touches on the educational methods and learning.

In the session, I learned something new about educational methods namely pedagogy (I'm familiar with this), andragogy (the term is new to me!), and heutagogy (new to me!). Heutagogy jumps out to me because it is a form of self-determined learning with practices and principles rooted in andragogy. I'm a big fan of self-directed learning, so when Dr. Sibert elaborated on heutagogy, I was elated because heutagogy takes learning to a new level. But first, since this is my first time exposed to the term andragogy, I'd like to take a brief moment now to examine it before I sing the heutagogy song. Although the word itself is new to me, the concept isn't because I've always adopted the approach to my personal learning and development.

Andragogy (self-directed learning) was defined by Knowles in the 1970's as specific to adult education and characterized by learner control and self-responsibility in learning, learner definition of learning objectives in relation to their relevance to the learner, a problem-solving approach to learning, self-directedness in how to learn, intrinsic learner motivation, and incorporation of the learner experience. Sounds great? Wait until you hear about heutagogy.

Heutagogy (self-determined learning) applies a holistic approach to developing learner capabilities, with learning as an active and proactive process, and learners serving as “the major agent in their own learning, which occurs as a result of personal experiences” (Hase & Kenyon, 2007, p. 112). This sounds just like the approach I've been using all this while for my self-development such as learning Italian and other foreign languages, photography, and even for work. My pursuing of this MBA also fits in nicely in my grand plan. I'm definitely looking forward to incorporating my personal experiences into the MBA studies!

I'm talking from a learner's perspective but if you are also interested in the role of the educator, you can read more about these educational methods from the IRRODL (International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning) website. It's the same website where I obtained the above definitions, recapping what I heard from today's class and also as a part of my own further reading. The Southern Cross University offers good information too (read this).

Finally, a "CAN DO" attitude is very important! (I'm happy to note that once again I hit the jackpot on this one...)


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Monday, November 17, 2014

Today is My First MBA Class!

I attended my first MBA class today. The module is Leading Organisation (also known as Organizational Behavior - OB) facilitated by Dr. Quah HS. Today's session was on Individual Change. Desire drives change in a person and I can relate to that without a doubt.

I particularly like the section on learning styles (the pragmatist, the activist, the theorist, and the reflector). I think I'm a combination of all four, but the dominant one is the pragmatist. Why? Because The Pragmatist will like:

1) practical things to do
2) producing action plans
3) experimenting
4) applying new learning
5) being given a project to get on with

That sounds just like me with my language projects, especially with Italian. I always give myself stuff to do...

Dr. Quah talked about a few theories related to change. One can't escape theories in OB. He engaged us in talking and to talk about Apple's Steve Jobs, Air Asia's Tony Fernandes, President Obama and his predecessors, etc. Very interesting! Class ended at 9:50 PM. Looking forward to next week!

My observation: During class (there were only five of us), Dr. Quah asked the students who have taken previous modules some questions. For example: What have you learned in the Human Capital module about this in relation to leading organization? Do you know this from the previous module? Or from finance? I wonder what was taught or what have the students learned in the other modules because apparently they don't know anything about anything from the previous ones they've completed. The looks were... I can't believe what I saw... blank. So what is it that people have learned or gained from the previous modules?  

The question to myself: Have I signed up for the wrong MBA program?


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Sunday, November 16, 2014

European Union Film Festival (EUFF) Movie Marathon (Part 2)

My European Union Film Festival movie marathon ended today. I've watched six movies: one on Friday, three on Saturday, and two today, covering films from Italy, Denmark (2), Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland. I've listened to German, Danish, French, and Czech, and they're all so beautiful. I love the way they sound!

Julia's Disappearance is an interesting movie and as described by the synopsis, it is a comedy about aging. Something went wrong with the screening in the cinema so the movie was rebooted and that took up an extra 15 minutes or so to the overall screening. I don't mind one bit because I got to listen to the language all over again. I don't mind repetition... Of all the EUFF movies that I've watched, this is the least intense but still very good.

A Royal Affair suffered the same fate of "blacked-out screen" incidents as what happened yesterday with The Hunt because of some sexy adult scenes between Johann Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen) and Queen Caroline Mathilda (Alicia Vikander). Now, THIS one is intense. Love is indeed dangerous. Everything changes the moment you fall in love.


A story about the dramatic love affair and political aspirations of Queen Caroline Mathilda and Johann Struensee, physician to the deranged King Christian VII of Denmark. Caroline and Johann dream of a better world for the populace, and through Johann's influence on the King's governance, the power of the aristocracy is diminished and reforms introduced. But it is only a matter of time before the courtiers regain a hold on their King.

Language: Danish


A comedy about age, youth and other eternities. On her 50th birthday, of all things, Giulia has to experience first hand that old age renders you invisible. Retail therapy ostensibly helps, but then she meets a stranger with whom she prefers to spend the evening more than with her friends. They are waiting in a restaurant reflecting energetically on the increasing number of their annual growth rings. Jessica and Fatima are shopping also, though admittedly in their own special way. Meanwhile,on her 80th birthday, Léonie rebels against her daughter and old age and gleefully sabotages her own birthday party.

Language: German


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

European Union Film Festival (EUFF) Movie Marathon

Yesterday, I kick-started my European Union Film Festival movie fest with The Best Offer from Italy. Loved that one! Today, the movie fest continued with a marathon of three movies, two of which I selected using the movie passes I won from the Embassy of Italy in Kuala Lumpur (see the first two below). Each movie is unique and special in its own way! So today I had the opportunity to savor a few foreign languages such as Danish, Swedish, Czech and German. There's a little bit of French too (in Divided We Fall).

The one that impacted me the most today is The Hunt. How one small, random lie can change one man's life overnight. Actor Mads Mikkelsen (on the poster) is awesome. And cute too. There were several blacked-out moments on the screen in the cinema and those were the censured scenes. The sexy adult scene (only one) was still audible though. I supposed the anatomy of a nude male was also censured because there was a skinny dipping scene right at the beginning. Oh well.

THE HUNT (Denmark)

Following a tough divorce, 40-year-old Lucas has a new girlfriend, a new job and is in the process of reestablishing his relationship with his teenage son, Marcus. But things go awry. Not a lot. Just a passing remark. A random lie. And as the snow falls and the Christmas lights are lit, the lie spreads like an invisible virus. The shock and mistrust gets out of hand. Soon the small community finds itself in a collective state of hysteria, while Lucas fights a lonely fight for his life and dignity.

Language: Danish

The Ice Dragon is an adventure about Mik, aged 11 and his quest for a new home. Mik runs away on an ice dragon, befriends brothers Bengt and Bertil, falls in love for the first time and eventually finds his way home.

Language: Swedish
DIVIDED WE FALL (Czech Republic)

Czechoslovakia, a summer's day, 1937: three friends travel a deserted road and share a joke. Several years later, their relationship is incontrovertibly altered and their lives reveal in microcosm thedestructiveness of war. David, a Jew, escapes from a concentration camp and is sheltered by Josef and his wife Marie in their pantry - while Horst, now a Nazi collaborator, is a dangerously regular visitor. Events take a bizarre turn when the only way of saving themselves is for David to father Marie's child.

Language: Czech


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Thursday, November 13, 2014

SANDOKAN by Emilio Salgari Has Arrived!

La fortuna è reciproca! Anch'io spero di incontrarti presto in Italia, carissima Alice Teh: così m'insegni qualche parola in malese: conosci Sandokan, il protagonista dei romanzi dello scrittore veronese Emilio Salgari?

Just like that—thanks to Maristella Tagliaferro and her message above—I was introduced to the world of Sandokan created by the Italian author Emilio Salgari. I immediately researched Salgari and his Sandokan, and found out that it was translated to Malay in 2010 and launched in collaboration with the Ambassador of Italy in Kuala Lumpur. I blogged about this on Monday. It is one of the two Italian stories ever translated to Malay in Malaysia. The other Italian story is Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, which is already well known here.

Snapshot of the book cover and the first chapter

I was at work when the package arrived, so today, two buses later and some walking, I brought home the book I collected from the Poslaju. I ordered it online from Institut Terjemahan Negara Malaysia (ITNM) on November 10, and the book arrived today. Thank you, ITNM!

I find it very interesting (and truly honored to be a Malaysian) that an Italian many centuries ago, chose Malaysia as the premise and created a fictional character that became very famous in Italy. More about Sandokan soon!


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