Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Finish the Fight...

The marketing blitz surrounding the Halo series of video games has been phenomenally & amazingly successful. I pre-ordered the 3rd installment of the game for my boys & had to stand in line (which snaked all the way outside the shopping mall!) to collect it, surrounded by fans, some wearing the Halo 3 cap & gear...grown-ups, mind you, not kids!

It has spun off into novels & even a movie, due to be released in 2009. I can't imagine what it will be like then...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Money Can't buy Everything

Hah. A lesson learnt about citizenship & what it should be about.

I've said it before & I will say it again: Being a Singaporean should be more than how much one is paid for one's services, no matter what those services may be - whether it be sporting ability, intelligence, scientific knowledge or artistic talent.

This fiasco has cheapened this country's citizenship. Obviously, these athletes were in it for the money & not for love of this country. Why the Singapore Athletics Association went along with it is beyond me.

Imports 'failed', but locals will take up baton: Athletics chief

HE ONCE memorably said that if medals were what Singapore was after, then he could simply "hire" athletes from China to deliver.

Under the country's Foreign Sports Talent Scheme, Mr Loh Lin Kok eventually recruited China-born shot put specialists Du Xianhui, Zhang Guirong and Dong Enxin.

The two women received their Singapore citizenship in October 2003, while Dong got his in May 2001.

Another shot putter, Luan Wei, and hammer thrower E Xiaoxu, touted as possible graduates of the scheme, were brought to Singapore in 1999.

But today, Mr Loh, who is president of the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA), brands his association's efforts a "failure".

Du and Zhang are back in China after disagreements over training and salary issues; Luan is currently embroiled in a court case with the SAA over unfair dismissal; E Xiaoxu dropped a similar action due to financial constraints; while Dong has failed to live up to his billing thus far.

"The foreign talent scheme has failed miserably," Mr Loh admitted in an interview with this newspaper.

"The characters were, quite simply, unreliable. Two have abandoned us and another two have charged us in court. As a medal prospect, Dong is unreliable, too.

"When I brought the China-born athletes over in 1998, I wanted the sport to be more professional, to have full-time athletes training professionally. But they've abused my generosity."

Does that mean the SAA has lost faith entirely in the foreign talent scheme, launched in the 1990s?

"No, we are not going to abandon it," said the SAA chief. "It's just that the previous failures have taught us a bitter lesson. From now on, we will have to tread even more cautiously and look at each case with a microscope before making any decision."

The closer scrutiny of foreign-born athletes augurs well for the local athletics fraternity, for the SAA can concentrate on grooming the home-grown talent coming through the Singapore Sports School and other institutions under the Ministry of Education.

Eight of the Republic's best youngsters qualified for July's World Youth Championships in Ostrava, the Czech Republic (see box), and Mr Loh is counting on this pool of juniors to kick-start a new era in track and field.

"There's a new generation taking us out of the rut. Right now, we might have to suffer a bit," he said. "But believe me, when it bears fruits, they are going to be bountiful and they are going to be beautiful fruits."

Even though the decision may mean that for the first time since 1989 Singapore would almost certainly not win a track and field gold medal at the South-east Asia Games in Korat, Thailand, from Dec 6 to 15, the SAA supremo remains upbeat for the future.

"We are in transition," he said. "Instead of relying on foreign talent, we are putting our faith in a bunch of really promising youngsters, all born in Singapore."

The athletics chief is also looking for a radical change in the local club scene to pump-prime the sport. From Wings Athletics Club to Swift, there are some 20 such organisations affiliated to the SAA – but with some pulling in different directions, with what Mr Loh describes as an "I don't trust you, you don't trust me" attitude.

He believes such rivalry is "unhealthy" and is looking to adopt the school-based American system, with schools here taking over the grooming of young athletes.

Said the 59-year-old lawyer: "Right now, the Singapore Sports School is leading the way towards an American tertiary format. Its manufacturing process is good.

"Of course, it's not easy to manage schoolwork with athletics, but times are different now -- it pays to be in sport these days … We have insisted that the athletes are not put under too much pressure at a young age. American athletes complete their degrees in eight years, and we can adopt that."

Mr Loh was SAA president from 1982 to 2004 before making way for his handpicked successor Tang Weng Fei, a businessman and former hurdler. But Mr Loh was never far from the scene and two years later, he was back in the hot seat when Mr Tang stepped down.

Said Mr Loh: "People may call me autocratic, but running an association of this nature needs tough measures.

"Some clubs seem to exist for the sake of bickering, others just want to chase that elusive title of 'best club'. But there's a bigger picture here. The duty of the athletes is to perform, not get involved with club politics."

Copyright ©2005 MediaCorp Press Ltd

Thursday, September 20, 2007

White Coats No More

This is a great move by the UK Department of Health.

White coats off, UK docs told

LONDON — British hospitals are banning neckties, long sleeves and jewellery for doctors — and their traditional white coats — in an effort to stop the spread of deadly hospital-borne infections, according to new rules published yesterday.

Hospital dress codes typically urge doctors to look professional, which for male doctors, has usually meant wearing a tie. But as concern over hospital-borne infections has intensified, doctors are taking a closer look at their clothing.

"Ties are rarely laundered but worn daily," the Department of Health said in a statement. "They perform no beneficial function in patient care and have been shown to be colonised by pathogens."

A 2004 study of doctors' neckties at a New York hospital found nearly half of them carried at least one species of infectious microbe.

Last year, the British Medical Association urged doctors to go without the accessories, calling them "functionless clothing items".

The new regulations, which will take effect next year, mean an end to doctors' traditional long-sleeved white coats, Health Secretary Alan Johnson said.

Fake nails, jewellery and watches, which the department warned could harbour germs, are also out.

Johnson said the "bare below the elbows" dress code would help prevent the spread of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA, the deadly bacteria resistant to nearly every available antibiotic.

Popularly known as a "superbug", MRSA accounts for more than 40 per cent of in-hospital blood infections in Britain.

Because the bacteria is so hard to kill, healthcare workers have instead focused on containing its spread through improvements to hospital hygiene.

Doctors and nurses who do not adequately wash their hands pose a far bigger risk to patients warns Dr James Steinberg, an Emory University infectious disease specialist. — AP

When I was an intern, then an MO doing hospital postings, we had to follow a dress code, which meant ladies had to wear skirts (no pants allowed unless on night call), & covered shoes (meaning court shoes, not thongs or Croc-like sandals!) while the guys had to wear ties or bow ties. It was a pain especially when, as an intern, you had to do all the scut work, running around the wards, doing multiple rounds a day, setting drips, taking blood (no such thing as phlebotomists in my day :( ).

I don't know about other doctors, but I find it less of a strain on my back to squat next to the patient's chair or bed when setting drips or taking blood (& also less risk of exposing my chest to the male patients!!!). Try squatting in a skirt. If it's a slim cut one, damned difficult. If it's a flare skirt , you end up sweeping the floor with it. And the shoes...OMG, talk about plantar fasciitis & bunions!

I used to envy the docs I saw on TV wearing those oh-so-comfortable scrubs. I wonder why doctors in Singapore can't change into scrubs when they get to the hospitals (even if they are not working in the OR), & at the end of the day, leave them for the hospital laundry to wash so that they don't bring home all those nasty hospital germs.

Besides, I think scrubs are sexier looking than street clothes.


Just For More Laughs!!!

If you liked the previous youtube video, I'm sure you'll like this one...no offence meant to my friends in anesthesia...but it's damn freakin' funny!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Just for Laughs!

For my medical colleagues out there...a unique way of teaching med students how to clerk patients!!!


The kitchen now is all white-washed walls, stainless steel surfaces and clear-glassed fridge doors. Utensils are pure white porcelain, with square plates & uber-large bowls, all zen-like to match the interior decor with its straight lines & right angles.

I remember when this was a free-standing stall in a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop in Holland Village, back in the days when it was just a sleepy enclave made up of shophouses in the midst of a predominantly residential area. It had the best Ipoh Hor Fun & Curry Chicken Noodle south of the (JB-Singapore) border.

The waiters used to yell your orders to the cooks, letting everyone know what you were eating, & the orders would be served in melamine dishes with melamine soup spoons. Wooden chopsticks soon became the generic off-white plastic kind & now, a clean sleek zen black.

Unfortunately, the quality of the food has not improved along with its environs, never mind the air-conditioned space & the waiters who dutifully take your orders & serve you at the table in a civilised manner. I prefer the mouth-watering food back in the days when we had to stand in line patiently, sometimes waiting for half an hour at peak times before it reached our turn. Service was brusque, but the rewards delicious.

Now, the food tastes rather blah, sadly. Gone are the good ol' days.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fat?? FAT???

So what's the deal with the latest Britney Spears saga?

She appeared in the recent MTV awards show wearing a silver sequinned bikini. She apparently ran off the stage exclaiming that she looked like a fat pig.

No, dear girl. You've been brainwashed by the media with its high regard for Women-Whose-BMI-is-Less-Than 16. You are not fat. You are a woman who has carried two babies to full term. If my body looked like yours, I'd be really happy. No, make that deliriously happy.

You should fire your manager & agent for getting you this gig. MTV was looking for ratings. You are obviously not ready to perform again, given your recent history, not to mention the hormonal flux your body must still be in after having two babies within two years. I know because I've been there.

It sounds cliched but things WILL get better. Allow your body & soul to heal, for the sake of your boys. They are the most important things in your life right now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Man's Best Friend

Reading the book Marley & Me was like picking a scab off of a wound that had not quite completely healed.

It had me laughing then crying then laughing again, over the antics of a mentally subnormal (the author's words, not mine) yellow Labrador retriever, who was lovable, destructive, loyal, slobbery, devoted, hyperactive, & most of all, a beloved family member.

I saw so much of my old dog in Marley, and as I read, I thought, "Oh my God, this all sounds so familiar!" The incessant shedding, the jumping, the highly dependent personality (read: leech), the eager desire to just BE with someone (24/7 if possible), the undying devotion, the insatiable appetite for everything & anything (from pebbles to mulch to plastic bags)...all this described my old dog to a T.

It was re-living heartbreak again, when the author described the problems that came with an aging big dog & the eventual decision to let him go as humanely as possible.
When I picked up this book to read, I thought that I had gotten over what I had gone through almost a year ago. For many months, I distanced myself from dogs. When previously, I would have gushed over & cuddled a cute little puppy, I would instead walk away, for fear of stirring up unwanted emotions.

No, the wounds have not healed yet. Maybe another year. Maybe not ever completely.

6 Years Ago

(Disclaimer: This post may contain sentiments which some may deem politically incorrect or even prejudiced or cruel. These are solely my personal opinions & reflections in response to what has been happening as a result of terrorism & religious fanaticism. I do not lobby for any particular political group or country. I only speak from my heart.)

6 years ago today, the World Trade Center twin towers fell, as a result of terrorist attacks. 2,801 people died.

The invasion of Iraq by US forces in the name of fighting terrorism began in the middle of 2003. Four years later, despite the capture & subsequent execution of Saddam Hussein, the forces remain, sustaining casualties numbering the thousands, not including the tens of thousands of Iraqis killed by violence which many feel, is related to the US occupation.

Fanaticism & hatred is not going to go away anytime soon. Religious fervor, killing in the name of God/Allah has been around for centuries.

Get out of there now, I say. Bring home those noble soldiers, husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters now. Get them out of harms way, & let the mentally warped target their hatred towards someone else. Spend the money on education, healthcare, national defense, instead. Spend it on those soldiers who came home maimed, and disabled. Spend it on those families who have lost their breadwinners to a war they do not understand.

I know this is not politically correct to say so, but let them sort out the quagmire in their country. Hell, let them kill each other in their own country if they want to. It is obvious that they spurn help from foreign quarters, especially the so-called “infidels” (read: non-Muslims). Let the world see how “civilized” these lunatics are. Perhaps then, there will be a chance for the United Nations to play the part that they should have played in the first place, & for diplomacy & humanitarianism to work.

Enough is enough.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

R & R (recuperating & rehabbing)

I'm back.

I realize one of the reasons why the homo sapiens species has dominated this Earth is the Opposable Thumb. I don't envy our simian cousins. Try holding a pencil or chopsticks or eating without using your thumb. Hard, isn't it?

So, meantime I am using my non-dominant hand for most functions. (By the way, it's hard to wipe one's nether regions with one's non-dominant hand after using the loo).

Looking on the bright side, maybe I'll become ambidextrous by the end of this saga.