Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Don't Be Evil"

I read this article about Google's threat to leave China & for some peculiar reason, it reminded me about the doctoring situation in Singapore. I've been getting negative vibes from reading about complaints left, right & center about doctors' overcharging for their services, bad outcomes from aesthetic procedures, death from liposuction, doctors being late at their clinics, and so on & so forth. Being a doctor in Singapore does not seem to be something that is looked upon very favorably at the present moment.

Much of the negativity is probably justified. However, that doesn't take away the disheartenment I feel and even some sadness to see my profession being given a bad name. It seems like the media has focused on the bad apples rather than the good ones, which doesn't help matters at all.

I guess for me, Google taking a stand for their beliefs against the Goliath that is the Chinese government is akin to those family practitioners in Singapore who slog on & practise good medicine & not succumb to the temptation of the all mighty dollar by going into aesthetics exclusively, which many have done so.

Whether or not Google will follow through with this threat, who knows?

I, for one, am hoping that they will. Although it may not make economic sense, it would leave some spark of hope that for some, money is not the be all and end all of everything, and that standing up for one's beliefs and doing what is right is more important.

Don't Be Evil.

Do No Harm.

Sound very similar to me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


My first born turned 18 last week, the legal age of consent. He is old enough to die for his country, drink alcoholic beverages in certain states/countries, gamble in a casino, buy cigarettes (in certain countries), get married (!).

I can feel him slowly pulling away. He is becoming independent, a separate entity from this nuclear family. He spends more time with his social circle of friends than he does with us.

As I reluctantly & slowly untie the maternal apron strings, I wish him well & trust that we have raised him to be a responsible and upright human being, with a good heart, and a keen spirit to do well & to do good in the big, wide, and sometimes, scary world out there.

I am proud of you, My Son. In the words of a famous Vulcan - Live Long and Prosper

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Big Screen

Avatar was an amazing experience. To call the experience "watching a movie" would not do it justice. The storyline was admittedly predictable & rather cliched (sorry, Mr Cameron!). However, all was forgiven by the jaw-dropping, newfangled CGI technology that was used in the making of this blockbuster epic (last count: more than 1 BILLION USD in ticket sales worldwide!!!)

Watching it in 3D made it even more awe-inspiring. What made it even more special for me was being able to see emotion on the animated faces of the Na'vi; and (I know this sounds strange) that James Cameron even made sure that Jake Sully's paraplegic legs looked appropriately atrophied!

The Avatar story reminded me of what happened to the Native Americans on the plains of North America hundreds of years ago. At the same time, it echoed currently trendy (and deserving) calls to save the Earth from the ravages of Mankind.

I enjoyed the movie, cliches and all, with its hopeful ending.

Another movie that I recently watched and enjoyed, this time on DVD, was The Blind Side, based on the true story of American football player Michael Oher. An African American teenager abandoned by his drug addict mother, he is taken in by a wealthy white family, the Tuohys, and goes on to fulfill his potential both academically as well as in athletics. He was recently drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL Draft.

It is unabashedly a feel-good movie, full of hope & inspiration.

As you can tell, I love these kinds of shows where the underdog ends up triumphant, the heroes end up saving the day, and where good defeats evil. Much better than the gore & violence of movies like "Inglorious Basterds", or "Kill Bill" (not a Quentin Tarantino fan - sorry) or any of the other thousand and one horror movies out in the market today.

Next up - Sherlock Holmes - which is supposed to come to the big screens in Beijing next week *fingers crossed*...

Monday, January 04, 2010

Impressions from China - Snow

The snowfall yesterday lasted almost 24 hours & left us under a mantle of white...lovely to look at, but treacherous to traverse. It seems that the Beijing municipal government isn't terribly good at snow management, seeing that they typically get very frigid but rather dry winters, instead of the 12 inches that landed on us yesterday.

Flights were delayed, & the streets, especially those not considered highways or main roads, are difficult, not to mention dangerous to navigate on. Inexperienced drivers going too fast or accelerating too quickly find themselves skidding on the slippery surface, especially when the cars & tires are ill-equipped to be handling snow/ice covered surfaces. Add to that the rather lousy driving skills & etiquette of the typical Chinese driver & you have an accident waiting to happen.

Today in the city, I saw hordes of workers armed with snow shovels, gardening shovels & even brooms attacking the heaps of snow. Human labor in China is so much cheaper than buying a mechanized snow plow, it seems. I saw two workers standing on the back of a pick up truck next to a pile of salt, sporadically shoveling salt on to the roads as the truck moved slowly onwards in the city. Astounding.

More snow is expected on Friday, and temperatures are expected to plunge to as low as -16 C, as winds from Siberia blow into town. Let's hope that the current load of snow is cleared before the next load arrives.

As it is, driving around is already such a pain, as we have to go at snail's pace most of the time because of all the uncleared snow & unsalted roads. Yes, snow is pretty...but damned inconvenient to live with. Maybe I should invest in a pair of cross country skis.

Meantime, it looks like tonight is a good night to enjoy a mug of hot chocolate (or a glass of port)to warm up the innards, snuggle on the couch under a cozy throw, and watch a good movie with The Significant Other.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

There is Hope

A friend recently shared this article (click on the title to link to it) on Facebook (yes, I have Facebook & not ashamed to admit it!), which gives me hope that my brain still retains the ability to learn even in middle age.

What is written about the forgetfulness & absentmindedness is so true, especially the bit about forgetting about things on the stove - so far so good, no fires or burnt pots yet *touch wood*! But also true is the ability to see the bigger picture, & to look at things from a different perspective. I think part of it comes with life experiences, and maybe these experiences help to form the new neural connections & networks within our brains.

I find myself looking at the big picture a lot more than I used to, and sometimes more than others my age or older.

This article has been quite reassuring to me.
“There’s a place for information,” Dr. Taylor says. “We need to know stuff. But we need to move beyond that and challenge our perception of the world. If you always hang around with those you agree with and read things that agree with what you already know, you’re not going to wrestle with your established brain connections.”

Such stretching is exactly what scientists say best keeps a brain in tune: get out of the comfort zone to push and nourish your brain. Do anything from learning a foreign language to taking a different route to work."

I have done exactly that, in the last 3+ years. Out of clinical medicine, out of my comfort zone, doing what I do now as a parent volunteer in school has stretched my neurons/synapses & created new networks which I didn't know was possible. I do things I've not done before, and find myself doing them unexpectedly well. I surprise myself that I am able to apply what I have learned as a doctor, a mother, a wife, to things that are so unlike what I have ever done before. AND enjoying myself at the same time.

I intend to continue stretching my brain in the coming years, especially once I am an empty nester which will come sooner than I like; perhaps into an area of Medicine that will, for me, awaken the passion that has been missing in this aspect of my professional life so far.

Stay tuned for updates - no promises when, but it will happen sooner or later.

Friday, January 01, 2010


One more year towards the big 5-0.

The year my first born graduates from high school & heads to college.

The year my second born turns 16 (which may not be that huge of a deal since guys don't seem to think of 16 as being sweet, like the girls do).

The 20th anniversary of our marriage :)

And hopefully, the year that will see this planet of ours take a teeny tiny step closer to peace for mankind, and a teeny tiny step away from global warming.

Happy New Year everyone.