Wednesday, November 11, 2009
On an unrelated and not at all angry note, sacrificing something to fix something you caused is not called sacrifice. It's called taking responsibility for the shit you pulled. Also, if you set up the problem that requires your "sacrifice" to fix, it's called being a dick.
A sacrifice is NOT a sacrifice unless you actually lose something or give something away for good. I suppose he did sacrifice some of his time, I guess. Wait, scratch that. A finite amount taken from an infinite amount approaches ZERO mathematically, so he sacrificed zilch. And you didn't volunteer to die for anyone's sins if you didn't actually go kaput permanently.
If I tell a girl that I love her and then threatened her with torture if she does not reciprocate, I am a sick fuck. If I am able to somehow do this forever and ever without giving reprieve or showing mercy, I am god.
By the way, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore (which accounts for the years not covered in Jesus' official biography - you know which one) is an awesome, awesome book. It's been so long since I've laughed out loud so much reading a novel. I really should look into comic fantasy genre more. Anyway, Moore's book is not hostile to Christianity at all and is in fact, quite an affectionate love letter to the faith, so don't let my scary atheistic blasphemy scare you from reading a really good book. The author's a baptised Methodist too, you know, in case that's important. To those folks who I've intro'ed the Bartimaeus Trilogy to and have subsequently fallen in love with them, this book's for you guys.
I am just... pissed... at someone. Not at someOne, if you catch my drift. But then again, I shouldn't feel the need to say that. It's just not possible to hate someOne you don't believe exists.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Hi, I am Jeffra. And I love Kok very much.
She's a beauty ain't she? I'm like, talking to you through her right now. Trippy huh? I won't bore you with her, um, measurements but she's definitely beefier than any system I've owned in my life before. For the first time ever, I can actually run games not published a decade ago. Joy.
I named her after my favourite Sim which I lost to toasted silicon after Priscille's very sudden demise last Wednesday. Priscille was my girl for the past 4 and a half years. She was with me through my entire tenure in India, working hard almost 24 hours a day to keep me entertained, happy, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I have an incredibly low threshold for boredom, you see, and I've sworn off television completely (I am proud to say that I have not seen a complete show on the telly for four entire years now). In the intervening days between Priscille's death coma and Jeffra's entrance into my life, I tried sitting in front of the bloody tube for a bit and I found that I can no longer enjoy anything passively. I need to read, to click, to interact. This is one reason I have never named our TV. It's a buggered piece of machinery. Mechanical, cold and unfeeling. Now, we'll discuss my computer fetishism one day. Today is not that day.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a bit of "us alone" time to spend with Jeffra.
She says hello, by the way.
Friday, September 11, 2009
"A drug is that substance which, when injected into a rat, will produce a scientific report."Author Unknown
Yeah, that's pretty much it.
As you all know, I was at the 1st Malaysian International Medical Students' Conference (or if you like acronyms - the MIMSC 2009) a week ago and on Tuesday, I wrote an informal coverage of the whole affair focusing only on the unimportant motes and motleys. Now, if you remember, I promised to pen a slightly more academic review of said conference in that previous post... so surprise, surprise! I'm actually making good on my promise for once! Summon the heavenly choirs and break out the 'lectric guitars, cuz' this one post escaped the oblivion of my all-consuming Draft Folder!
I learned from an inside source that the entire conference was supposed to be held within the confines of the Palace of the Golden Horses, where all the participants were housed, but they hit a bit of a budgetary glitch with that plan, so the scientific presentations, the plenaries and the workshops in toto were conducted in the nearby International Medical University campus instead - which, as of last August, is my sister's school.
According to the excellent and very helpful conference book they gave every participant, they have scheduled 38 slide-show/oral scientific presentations by contesting medical students on Saturday, divided into three concurrent series. The keywords here are "contesting" and "divided into three concurrent series".
Yes, it was a contest; a rigidly-timed rigmarole arbitrated by three judges of respectable research repute. Now, I may be wrong on this but I feel - and I feel strongly - that 8 minutes of jumping through hoops dictated by scoring schema don't make for very thorough and effective research expositions. One contestant from Saudi Arabia, Aws Saad AlMufleh, lamented to me that he had to prune large chunks of his PowerPoint presentation in order to fit the time-frame, rendering some parts quite unintelligible. As he had exceeded his pittance of 8 minutes of talky and 2 minutes of Q&A, I had to approach him after the session to quiz him further about his study on behavioural risk factors amongst youths, which I found fascinating but oddly truncated. You see, I came to this conference with the express goal of actually imbibing the contents of the the medical students' research papers, not to watch how neatly they can compress it down to less than one-sixth of an hour. I came for the substance, not the form (which is very important to some people, I'm sure). 20 or even 15 minutes would have been a more reasonable and manageable allotment, and we would all be richer for it. Although if I had my way, I'd do away with the whole contest format altogether.
The other BIG problem was that the presentations were "divided into three concurrent series", each taking place in a different auditorium. This meant that a person would have to move between the venues if the talks they wanted to catch were inconveniently peppered across the three threads. Then, there was also the probability of those talks overlapping with one another, forcing that person to choose and attend just one. Two of my colleagues from our delegation had papers to present and they were scheduled back to back in different auditoria. I sympathise with the bloke who had the floor right after our first colleague completed her presentation. I mean, the moment he stepped up to the rostrum, about two dozen people stood up and egressed the room.
Miss Chow Lai Yin did a speaky on her study of stress levels amongst medical undergrads.
Mr Sanjeev Kumar Pugazhendhi passionately declared that he has a dream.
We actually missed the first half of Sanjeev's presentation, which is a bummer especially for me since I stayed up till 5:30 am helping the man prep for it - and let's not forget to figure in that one whole night's sleep I've already forfeited at this point to swot for my Community Medicine end-posting exam which was conducted in the morning before I board the college bus to this conference 2-hours away in K-fucking-L. Let us not even talk about how I have to wake up almost immediately at 7:00 am to get myself ready for that morning's agenda.
There was so many presentations I wanted to listen in to but could not. There's that one on the Effect of Shift Work on Psychological Stress, Sleep Pattern and Health of Nurses in Riyadh by a Saudi Arabian delegate which sounded highly applicable to all of us. Then there's that piece on the Influence of Ramadan Fasting on Calory Intake of Housewives in Pulogadung District, Jakarta by our largely southern neighbors. My mate, representing IMU, was going to talk about house dust mites and childhood asthma in a third auditorium but I had to give him a pass in favour of Lai Yin and Sanjeev's slots. And, I'm sure all of us felt like we were missing out on something truly
Depicted above may or may not be Ms Auhood Salem (it's quite hard to tell for sure) who bagged one of the runner-up positions for her concise presentation on the
The conference bolsters an atmosphere of scholarship which I find sorely and strangely lacking in the education mills we call universities here in Malaysia. I find that the majority of Malaysian U-goers have very claustrophobic focuses and approaches to their studies; a sort of "if it ain't coming out in the exams, it ain't worth learning" mentality. The very few foreign delegates I have had the pleasure of talking to are a whole breed apart. They aren't merely students, no - they are real academes with a certain esprit de la Renaissance clinging about them. One of the Saudi Arabians surprised me with his in-depth knowledge of Malaysian racial politics and was deeply curious about our unique social structure, asking me many questions pertaining to it. He told me that he greatly admire our harmonious ethnic relations, in spite of the unfortunate circumstances. He said and I quote, "If I am not Saudi, I wish to be Malaysian."
That made me want to tear up, a little. I don't think we notice it very often but for the very first time, in that hall, I saw Malaysian medical students of every ethnicity sitting all hodgepodge together, showing not the slightest inkling that they realise this simple but powerful innate sense of belonging. Then, I noticed that Ezyana was sitting beside me at the time and wondered if I have ever seen her in in the context of her Malay ancestry at all. I don't think I have.
Ah, got a bit sidetracked there, didn't I?
Another member of the Saudi Arabian delegacy, Aws, have recently traveled to Chang'an (present day Xi'an), Beijing and Shanghai and we were exchanging tales and thoughts on Chinese culture, history and monuments. He was in the middle of divulging his thoughts on Communism when the dumb ice-breaking games interrupted us during our first dinner together. I would certainly like to have followed that thread of conversation to conclusion.
One of the highest-points of the conference were the plenary sessions when they had genuinely distinguished guests to speak to us. The first of them was Dato' Dr Ronald S. McCoy, a founding member of Malaysian Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (MPPNW) and its President and also Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a federation of 83 national physicians' groups, representing 200,000 doctors worldwide and dedicated to the elimination of nuclear weapons. He disserted on the role of a doctor in times of peace and war and on a doctor's responsibilities in political issues ranging from nuclear apocalypse to the environment - the latter of which is a cause I champion and hold quite dear to heart myself. While I disagree with him on nuclear power plants, which is possibly the best energy source we have now to temporarily substitute fossil fuels and to abort the escalation of anthropogenic global warming, I find his doomy speech of doom to be quite an enlightening experience. I was fortunate enough to speak with him privately after his talk (which is to say I cornered him and bugged him with my inanities) and we very briefly discussed the urgent need for clean alternative power apart from nuclear fission, and environmentally-sustainable housing and skycrapers.
"Oh, like the sort designed by "Dato' Dr Kenneth Yeang?" I commented.
He beamed at me and said, "Yes, exactly."
Boy, I feel smart. Never mind that the only reason I know Dr Ken Yeang is 'cause he's Beve's dad.
The 2nd plenary speaker was the equally illustrious Mr Youssouf Mohammad Oomar, an economist, diplomat and accomplished singer (or so I heard) who heads UNICEF Malaysia and had served years in many troubled regions around the word. Also, he is a native of Mauritius and spoke with a rich, pleasant French-tinged voice. His topic of choice was mainly on women and children in conflict zones, and on the Rights of the Child. Now, while he was a less mechanical orator compared to Dr McCoy, I found the content of his speech to be ever so slightly less engrossing. The majority of my colleagues disagree though.
One question though: just where did the organising committee of this conference pull enough clout to summon these heavies for the plenary sessions? I must say that I was well and bloody impressed by it all.
The last plenary was hosted by Dr Mahadevan Deva Tata, while also having quite substantial a list of fame to his name, spoke to us mainly in his capacity as the Area Commander of Port Dickson for St John Ambulance, Malaysia. While possibly the least resplendent and engaging of the 3 plenary speakers (due to his lack of an English or French accent, probably), what he lacked in high ideals and decorated language he made up for with solid practicality - as the subject of his discourse is disaster care and first aid, something medical students are ironically crappy at due to a lack of exposure in their curriculum. The title of his talk, Disaster Care: An Inconvenient Truth, could have been a little less, er, plagiaristic and irrelevant though. Just sayin'.
The last day of the conference was mainly comprised of the workshops. There's one on suture materials and suturing techniques by the B Braun folks, who are suppliers of healthcare products like - yeap, you guessed it - sutures. For some reason, I thought they made toothbrushes. While I was only taught the simple interrupted stitch back in 2nd year, the workshop covers a wider range of techniques, including the running stitch and the figure 8 stitch, and pontificated generously on the differences between a granny and a reef/square knot (which I wished my instructor had). While the workshop was dead useful, a lone hour simply wasn't enough time for many people to pick up even the basics, and factoring in the limitations of having to share suture sets in duos simply worsened the time constraint. I defy anyone to try and master the one handed tie in just 3 minutes after only watching a 30 seconds long video clip. Go ahead. I'll wait.
There was a total of 4, maybe 5 workshops and everyone was cycled through all the stations mechanically in accordance to a strict schedule. If you thought that the allotted time for the suturing workshop was miserly, you'd be aghast to know that the same amount of time was divided across the remaining 3 workshops; transportation of injured patients, fracture immobilisation, and the chest tube and central IV line insertion combo. Again, all the workshops are quite fun and I believe also, quite essential in augmenting our repertoire of medical know-hows. The problem there wasn't enough bloody time to do any one of them justice!
Ezyana in a very inexpertly tied triangular bandage for head compression by yours truly, the resident inexpert himself.
The penultimate event which preceded the closing ceremony was the so-called Open Forum which carried the modifier of An Integrated Approach Across the Globe to the Panoramic View of Medicine which contained a lot buzzwords like "integrated" and "panoramic view" - which I detest almost as much as I detest words like "proactive", "synergy and "paradigm shift", but that is wholly a matter of personal preferences. I only participated in one segment, which is the one on medical ethics. The short of it is, someone brought up euthanasia, and Aws, in his turn, said that the guidance of religion should be paramount in this issue: the life belongs to God and not to men, so therefore, to perform euthanasia or to receive it is sinful. This was the point I got interested in the forum. What I basically argued is that religion has NO place in medical ethics whatsoever. Zero. Nada. Nil. Zilchville. The whole idea of life being sacred to a deity is purely a theological viewpoint and it should be kept out of medicine the way faith healing and the demonic theory of disease is kept out. I find it ridiculous that there are even laws restricting a person from committing suicide in the face of insurmountable suffering and at the nadir of living quality, considering that not everyone buys into the whole "whoopsie, soul belongs to Guy upstairs" deal. This is basically forcing a religious idea onto everyone. It's unconstitutional and is plain wrong. When your cat or dog is at its life's end and are in pain, you would take it to a vet to be put to sleep, wouldn't you? All I expect is that the same kindness be given to me when my turn comes.
The moderator of the forum responded by saying something like, "I feel very strongly about patient autonomy but we also have to consider everyone's culture and beliefs." Pure 100%, unadulterated, freshly-squeezed, soundbite, straight from the fruit. I don't blame him though. The debate was veering dizzily onto highly controversial terrain and apparently addressing the really hard questions wasn't in the forum's integrated panoramic view of purposes.
Aws spoke a second time, this time narrating how the guidelines of medical ethics of his country was form from a hybrid of teachings from philosophers and religious leaders while skirting the points I made completely. After that, the moderator closed the segment due to time constraints (again) and the forum plodded harmlessly forth on
Naturally, I continued the debate with Aws off-mic and he conceded that he simply could not think of a justification for forcing a particular dogma on people who do not believe in the religious institution which birthed said dogma - which was why he did not address my argument publicly. I suddenly found him immensely likeable.
The Best Damn Bit of MIMSC 2009, if you ask me. Police escorts FTW!
That's pretty much the chief bug of the entire MIMSC wasn't it: a ruinous, detestable poverty of time. The blitz of workshops, the bite-size integrated panoramic forum, the 8-minute-apiece scientific presentations, divided into 3 concurrent series... it pretty much put a bit of a damper on an otherwise monumental medical students' conference (though I admit my experiences are woefully limited on such matters).
Let me just put it out here that I would most certainly sign up for next year's MIMSC if I have the time and chance (and if I'm allowed back, of course). It was certainly one of the most agreeable and enlightening weekends I have ever participated in. Sure, our delegation didn't win any position in the scientific paper presentation contest, but neither did the fellas from, er... Monash! Yeah! Boy, they really sucked, didn't they? We did at least dominated the ice-breaking games and bagged first prize for the best traditional dress pageant.
There you have it: a serious as a heart attack review of the 1st MIMSC, 2009. Now, I shall go crash into my bed hard. I've stayed awake for the past 36 hours and honestly, I worry that I might two brain cells left to rub together tomorrow if I stay up any longer.
P.S. The bit about Monash sucking is a total joke. If they suck, we suck equally because both delegations didn't win the... Look, if you need me to explain this, you really shouldn't be allowed on the internet at all.
P.P.S. Will correct typos and grammatical errors when I regain consciousness. Right now, I'm seven different kinds of whacked.
Like seriously yours,
k0k s3n w4i
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
"Primum non nocere"Unknown
But if it's cancer, it's "primum succurrere," mkay?
Last weekend, I attended the 1st annual MIMSC - which is anagrammish for
I was part of a delegation from my college to the conference and while some of my colleagues were attending with the intention of presenting their scientific research papers, I was pretty much just there to inflate the size of our entourage and to provide comic relief. It cost me RM 250 in all but damn, you wouldn't believe what RM 250 could buy.
Just for starters, it bought two nights at a 5-star hotel,
Now, I'm no ignoramus when it comes to lodgings and paid accommodations having quite a taste for backpacking myself, but my experiences have largely been limited to the shoestring budget variety. I don't demand a lot personally - a clean bed and a clean bathroom are all I ever asked for, but the Palace was... outright palatial in comparison to the kind of places I've roomed in before. It has cable TV, pseudo-antique furniture, a balcony, a giant mirror overlooking a bathtub and a stone washbasin so big you can have a threesome on it. However, it does lack free wireless internet access which is a real buzz kill. If my uncle's budget-class hotel can provide that free of charge, any 5-star outfit which doesn't is just going to appear miserly in comparison.
And here's me in front of that giant mirror I was telling you about. It's for people who like to look at themselves in the nude.
That RM 250 also bought 6 all-you-can-eat buffet meals - two breakfasts at the Palace's Carousel cafe, two catered lunches in the IMU campus, a classy dinner at the Saloma Theatre Restaurant and a banquet in the Palace's Grand Royal Ballroom! Just imagine what sort of havoc all that can wreak on a person's waistline. I have officially decided to participate in this month's Ramadan fasting, and I'm going to abstain from Sahur too but that's only because there's no way I'm waking up that early during my holidays. Oh, did you knoe I'm having my hols now? Well, now you do.
Unfortunately, this is the only photo I got of the nosh I scoffed. I snapped this one because... BACONBACONBACON!
The kicker ceremony and dinner was to be held at the Saloma Theatre Restaurant on Jalan Ampang in the middle of KL and several tour buses were slated to whisk us there. The logistics of carting a few hundred medical students through rush hour KL on a Friday evening in the span of just half an hour was mind-boggling to say the least. Considering that we only departed about six-ish, we'd be lucky if we could make it in time for a midnight snack.
Unless that RM 250 also bought...
I have no idea how they managed to swing this, but somehow, the organisers surprised the lot of us by calling in a couple of police escorts to speed up the transit. It was the highlight of the conference for most of us (in my bus, at least), if the cheers and whoops were any indication. There is simply no way to describe how gloriously awesome it was to travel with so much pomp and ostentatious display of self-importance.
This must be how royalties and ministers feel like daily. No getting stuck in jams. No waiting at intersections when the light is red. Just cruising painlessly through town, blowing raspberries and making fart noises at all the plebeians in cars that you sidelined. Damn, power is intoxicating! I'll 'ave 'nother glass, pleash, guv'nor *hic*.
I wonder how they would feel when they find out that we have set back the entire jam about half an hour just because a bunch of medical students wanted to make it in time for dinner.
And speaking of dinners, here's where we had ours,
We were seated according to our assigned numbers with the designed purpose of enforced mingling between the foreign and local delegates (if you remember, it's an international affair after all). I met a couple of very interesting Saudi Arabian characters but I shall not delve into the details of our conversations just yet. I'm relegating that and more to the weightier, slightly more academic writeup I plan to pen about the conference after this one (a review of sorts, if you like). For now, let us focus on the fluff.
The dinner spread was myriad and plentiful, and the entertainment was thoroughly capital. I particularly enjoyed the organising chairman's speech. He seem to have quite a bit of problem distinguishing between R's and L's in his pronunciation, and the effect was balls out, laugh-out-loud funny, particularly this little gem;
"It is a preasure having all of you here..."
They also presented a disaster-themed slide-show to us while we sup, one comprising of pictures of natural calamities and human suffering, which are precisely what we need to look at to help our buffet dinner go down well. Now, I don't claim to be an expert on grammatical conventions (and Jeebus helps me, I make more than my fair share of them daily) but if I was able to spot them in that slide-show, they must have been glaringly bad. Still, they were good for a hoot. And why was the suffering-filled presentation set to an incongruously soothing soundtrack? Talk about mood dissonance.
The ice-breaking game that night was a hybrid entity partway between speed-dating (apparently) and Simon Says, which is refreshingly juvenile for such a stuffy sort of conference. The problem is, it went on for far too long - and one game made the hall smell of shoes.
The "Banquet Dinner" (I'm sure that's redundant) which was held in the Palace of the Golden Horses' Grand Royal Ballroom was sedately climactic, but was an interesting and colourful affair throughout, which I understand to be a very hard thing to accomplish. There was a traditional-themed dress code but everyone knows how I feel about wearing weird period-drama clothes. If I have my way, I'd do away with the very concept of dress codes and conventions.
By the way, I'm sure I am speaking for everyone when I say that the opening act for the banquet was stretched on for far too long. There's only so much a lion dance troupe can do besides busting eardrums when they aren't going to perform any real acrobatics.
The performance troupe from the Malaysian Tourism Board was better but mostly, they were just adequate. The short blowpipe demonstration was especially embarrassing - I mean, missing 2 out of 4 balloons from a distance of about ONE FUCKING METRE away? Well, I'm no blowpipe expert but don't people usually make sure that they are good at something first before they trot their stuff out for everyone to see? Who auditioned these clowns?
Then there's that violin recital by one of the members of the organising committee. To put it in euphemistic terms, her talent with the violin was massively outclassed by her other God-given gifts. This is the absolute last thing I'm going to say on this subject. Another committee member performed a traditional Indian dance which would certainly have been impressive to me had I not previously spent two and a half years in India, watching Bollywood-worthy boogies every other night till I felt like hurling.
By and large, the most memorable and exciting performance of the night was the peacock dance,
Of course, what I truly enjoyed about it is the subtext - only male peafowls possess the distinctively flamboyant plumage we're all familiar with. If the peacock isn't already the universal symbol for transvestism worldwide, well, it should be! It certainly helped that the dancer himself was highly accomplished at expressing emotions through fluid facial and body cues.
The thing which really got everyone roused was the best traditional dress pageant, and two of our colleagues were selected to compete. Unfortunately, I only managed to photograph just one of them,
Our other representative was Torng Lei (which means "slaughter you" in Cantonese, by the way). She wore a sweet, pink Nyonya kebaya that night and actually won. It was quite a "wow" moment for me because... just take a gander at the kind of competition she was up against,
Aws in a an Arabic thawb and what I think is a keffiyeh on his head. He was explaining to us how the headdress signifies a person's honour and what he would do when he is elected President of the World (honestly).
The night was wrapped up with a few more speeches and more bouts of self-congratulations endemic in these kind of events, and the chairman (unsuccessfully) tried to coax the floor into participating in a bit of ballroom dancing - by asking Magdalena to dance on stage, much to the murderous chagrin and envy of every male in the hall. I wanted to ask one of the ladies in
Alright, there you go; a little primer on what I was up between last Friday and last Sunday. If you're looking for a more serious and scholastic review of the 2009
Over and out.
Your friendly neighborhood medical student,
k0k s3n w4i
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Full disclosure after I recuperate. It was one fucking AWESOME weekend, is what it was.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
"What matters to you, doesn't matter, matter to me
What matters to me, doesn't matter, matter to you
What matters to you, doesn't matter, matter to them
What matters to them, doesn't change anything."First Train Home (2009) by Imogen Heap
In retrospect, it wasn't the smartest thing to do - traveling up to Mudtown to pick up Phoebster and bringing her down to Malacca - especially since on the following Monday, I have a midterm Surgery paper to slay. But on the other hand, I haven't seen Phoebs since March. I won't say I missed her, but that's only because it's so damn clichéd. I annoy myself every time I say it. I was hoping that she already knew how much I wanted to see her anyway. My crossing the state line four times in 4 days ought to have clued her in.
I brought Phoebs to a family dinner, but that's because Phoebs was here and I thought that it's only proper to introduce her. Normally, you can't corral me to one without either a gun or copious quantities of rohypnol. Family situations are my kryptonite.
This was the first time I brought
Anyhoo, I can't report whether the meet was a success or not. I was listening to a Slashfilm podcast I recorded on my mp3 player the entire time and was laughing into my soup by myself at wholly inappropriate moments. "We can all hear you snort in laughter, you know," Phoebs whispered repeatedly to me, quite aghast.
We had all of 3 days together, which was the maximum number of days Phoebs mom was comfortable with leaving her daughter with me without any supervision whatsoever and it certainly didn't help that I have lecture classes to attend the entire time she was here. Phoebs barely got to visit half the places I wanted to bring her to - not to mention all the awesome Malaccan nosh that she didn't have time to sample.
She was quite determined not to like Malaccan food though, because I kept telling her how much KL food sucks compared to the culinary masterpieces we eat daily down here. Also, she pouted over the fact that I've brought my ex to most of the eating places in town before - you know how girls are about wanting to be the first person to do anything with their boyfriends, right? A stupid sentiment if you ask me; my ex was like that about my other ex too. I promptly pointed out to Phoebs that my previous girlfriend also breathed air, drank water and liked that girlie-man Wang Lee Hom, and that she should give all those up too. What's the right response to give your girlfriend when she's all pissy about silly stuff like this anyway?
In the end, Phoebs decided that she likes every single restaurant I took her to after all. I remember her sneering at the idea of Malacca's awesome baba cendol before coming to visit, saying that she ate cendol in KL before and that she won't want any in Malacca - but I made her eat it anyway. A day after she got back to KL, she started pining for it. She's still pining for it now.
Phoebs in a small little alleyway off Jonker Street leading to some teahouse. Some hairdresser mangled her fringe so she had it pinned up. I do not like her fringe pinned up. And I hate her Crocs.
Now even though it was just 3 days, it was a really exhausting 3 days. It comes from wanting to do too many things in much too short a time frame. By the end of it, I wasn't even sure I could survive the long night drive back up to KL to return Phoebs to her mom - but evidently, I did. Then, after spending a night there, I came back down the next night with the prospect of a big Surgery paper glowering down at me from its Monday perch. I didn't even have time to recuperate. With only Sunday left, I couldn't possibly bone up enough on surgical factoids to do very well, if I could even pass at all. I guess I should have spent more time with my Bailey and Love's Short Practice of Surgery textbook instead of sipping glasses of Baileys and making out. Haha, bet you thought I was going to say "making love", didn't you? *ba-dum-tush!*
Yesterday was Phoebe's birthday, the second one which I didn't get to celebrate with her ever since we got together - she had to return to India last Sunday. It always seem to me that the biggest enemy of our relationship isn't the distance but rather the beastly timing of everything.
Still, I made sure that Phoebe wouldn't leave without her birthday present,
It's an external hard disk drive I picked up at the recent PC Fair! Filled with movies, songs, TV shows, comics, mangas, PDF novels and other assorted goodies! There's got to be about a whole year's worth of entertainment in there if you go through all of them one by one without sleep. It took me about a week to amass the lot from my own hard drive, my friends' media collections, and the hostel's sharing network - and it's just about the only gift I have ever given anyone with such a high degree of surety that the person receiving it would love it (and I was right, naturally). Phoebs' college internet connection has an Orwellian screening system which completely blocks any site that's fun and through the entire previous semester, I had to squeeze songs to her through her minuscule bandwidth one measly MP3 file at a time using MSN Messenger. Half the time, the sending process will fail midway. I'm sure if hell exists, one of its punishment would be doing this for eternity - sending MP3 files to the folks in heaven because as we all know, hell gets all the best musicians. Heaven only has Elgar and Liszt.
I wrote the words (yes, they are) on the bottom side of the drive using a silver metallic-ink marker, and unfortunately, I did it in a bit of a rush so it didn't look as good as planned. I was worried that the writings would melt when the thing heats up but so far, they are holding up pretty good.
I have an external hard disk drive which is the twin of Phoebs', sans the silver scribbles. Now, I'm not going to say that it's a like a couple T-shirts or matching rings sort of thing because it's so damn corny and schmaltzy. I mean, I couldn't stop myself from bursting in laughter when I practiced saying. "Mine is exactly like yours - we are sharing the exact same memories" in front of a mirror. And no, I absolutely did not consider any juvenile lines about plugging hard drives into USP's - I mean, USB's - either.
Happy 22, babe. You're positively elderly now.
k0k s3n w4i
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."
Sigmund Freud, the Father of Psychoanalysis
As I was swotting on Sunday night at the 24-hours McDonald's for Monday's Psychiatry paper, I got a bit of a jolt from the notes. In the section about personality disorders, there was a description of one that read like 20 seconds summary of my personal psyche. Damn, I have actually heard friends of mine describe me this way to other people about me using the exactly same words!
"Hey, this one really sounds like me," I said to some of my friends, who was there with me that night. I remember when I started out doing that - studying in McD's - I was pretty much alone. Now it had become the in-thing to do, apparently.
Lai Yin, who was also there at the time said, "Yeah, I thought of you too when I first read that! I memorise the personality disorders using our some of our batchmates as examples for each. That was yours."
Okay, if the smartest girl in class uses me as a mnemonic device for it, I thought, that pretty much clinches it, right?
I think I have Schizoid Personality Disorder.
According to the ICD-10 (id est, the 10th edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems manual), I have to fulfill 3 of the following criteria in order to qualify for a diagnosis,
- Emotional coldness, detachment or reduced affection (I pretty much embody this when it comes to family members).
- Limited capacity to express either positive or negative emotions towards others.
- Consistent preference for solitary activities (I love reading and spending ALL my waking hours on the internet - with very little use of any social or networking tools - and prefer to eat and watch movies at the theatre alone).
- Very few, if any, close friends or relationships, and a lack of desire for such (I have a girlfriend, one genuinely close friend aaand... shit, that's it).
- Indifference to either praise or criticism.
- Taking pleasure in few, if any, activities.
- Indifference to social norms and conventions (So much so that I go out of my way to defy them repeatedly - I've been called a contrarian because of that).
- Preoccupation with fantasy and introspection (Too easy... Next!).
- Lack of desire for sexual experiences with another person (Alright, before anyone says anything, I like sex, alright... I just don't like it as much as, um, some other things).
Now, according to the DSM-IV (the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which I feel to be the more authoritative text on such matters, I need to fulfill 4 out of 7 similar-sounding criteria which are worded slightly differently from those in the ICD-10. I score a five, and I think I fit them better than I did with the ICD-10 ones. To avoid the personality quiz fallacy, I took pains to research the specific meanings behind those criteria. So yeah; I wasn't cheating or anything.
Other scoring systems I've managed to dug up on the disorder also include stuff like avoidance of competitive relationships, over-sensitivity, eccentricity, tendency to daydream, introversion, in possession of a sense of superiority (in spades, according to Phoebe), and self-sufficiency (a Christian actually accused me once of being so deluded by my self-sufficiency that I am unable to surrender to God). I got all of 'em.
It's official: I'm schizoid. And I'm okay with it.
Coincidentally, I also read that a diagnosed schizoid will not give a fuck if other people see him or her as having a mental disorder. Funny.
Anyway, according to Disorders of the Self by James F. Masterton and Ralph Klein, I'm more correctly classified as a "secret schizoid" - which does not mean I'm hiding it from anyone, no. It just says that I may appear social or engaged superficially, but in actuality, remain aloof and emotionally distant. Influential and famous dead psychoanalyst Ronald Fairbairn (1889-1964) said that the schizoid individual is able to express quite a lot of feeling and to make what appear to be impressive social contacts but in reality giving nothing and losing nothing, because since he is only playing a part. This cuts eerily close to something one of my ex-girlfriends said about me once.
Also, for a long time now, I kept saying "I think I work best in a long distance relationship," over and over again without knowing why, and have thought at length about how odd that is. Philip Manfield, in his book Split Self/Split Object, affirms that in my case. He said that people who have schizoid personality disorder are happiest when they are in a relationship in which the partner places few emotional or intimate demands on them, as it is not people as such that they want to avoid, but both negative and positive emotions, emotional intimacy, and self disclosure.
Most importantly, this helps to explain why my previous relationship was such a catastrophic train-wreck. You'd be hard-pressed to find an uglier breakup than that.
Then regarding the schizoid profile on sexuality... let's just say that it hits very close to home. Some of my... "proclivities" have been troubling me a bloody lot. And no, I don't I want to reveal what they are on a publicly accessible online journal, thank you very much. Don't bother trying to read about it because there are more than one sexual spectrum ascribed to the schizoid personality, and I only fit one of them (though I fit it very, very much). Unless I've confided into you about this before, there's no way you can possibly guess which one it is.
Anyway, I've got to wrap this up now even though I would very much like to continue oh-my-goshing over several more of my revelations regarding my personality. Maybe some other time, eh. I have to go get Phoebe from KL tomorrow (YES, SHE'S BACK!) and bring her down to Malacca for a 3-day-stay. The entire year through, everywhere I go, I have been mentally scouting out potential dating loci I want to bring Phoebe to in my town - it's like, I could be sitting in a cafe or walking down a nice street and suddenly think, "I wish Phoebs can be here." Three days aren't a lot, I know, but it's all we have to spend together this entire 6 months. I'm going to make each second count.
Good night, people-with-regular-personalities.
k0k s3n w4i
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I also remember saying something about making it a regular monthly thing, but you can't seriously expect that degree of discipline from me. I'll update it whenever I feel like it, and that's that.
Anyway, I've just reviewed 5 films I watched this months - look at the sidebar, people. Thoughts and comments, if any, can be excreted here in this post. That's how it's going to work from now on; I write new reviews, stick them on the side, and move the old ones into a post where you can talk about the new ones if you so wish.
Question: What Christian propaganda machine made this film? I disagree with the premise of the script, yes, but that has never stopped me from enjoying a movie before. What ruined Knowing for me is the fact that because I know the Bible, I could guess how the entire movie would pan out and end. That little talk between Nicolas Cage's character, Koestler, and his son about belief wasn't exactly subtle. And that astrophysics lecture Koestler gave about determinism versus randomness was pretty obvious too. And I already know that this is an end-of-the-world type of movie. So, the only thing left for me to enjoy in this movie is the action sequences; which were pretty darn good, I'll admit. When Koestler ran through the wreckage of the plane crash in the rain while the victims were burning alive, I could almost feel his horror at the disaster. When a subway train flew off its tracks, killing and crushing and maiming its passengers and everyone who stood in its path, I felt a vague sick feeling in my stomach. This is how massive loss of lives should be handled in movies. The eerie elements of this film were done very well too, particularly those silent, watching, whispering trench-coat mystery men (up until they drew a close up on one). The final scene? I burst out laughing. I sincerely hope that there's a Serpent in that tree they were running to. And the biggest surprise I got from the film's finale is that the Christian Propaganda machine which made this film is apparently run by His Unholiness, the Dark Lord Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic League - and not by the Pentecostal Evangelicals as I initially assumed.
This is a beautiful coming of age story of a girl living in Iran when the conservative Muslim faction took over the country, and her childhood through the war between Iran and Iraq - then following her tale as she attended high school in Vienna, her subsequent college years back in Iran and her marriage, and finally, her move to France where she now lives. It was based on the autobiographical French graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, who also directed this film. This is also a beautiful coming of age story of all girls everywhere; whether you are Iranian, American or Malaysian. I have heard platitudes like "we are all humans", "we are all brothers and sisters", "we are all alike under our skins" etc. uttered to me many time, but I only just realised that I have never truly grasped the meaning of those phrases until I saw Persepolis. The reason why it's so easy to hate another group of people in this world is simply because we have reduced them down to concepts, because they are less than humans to us. When a pilot drop bombs onto an Afghan city, he's dropping bombs on a nation of terrorists, of fanatic killers and fundamentalist crazies - not humans. What that pilot does not know is that there are little girls like Marjane Satrapi down there who wears Nike sneakers, idolises Bruce Lee, rocks out to Iron Maiden and loves her grandmother dearly. I believe this is what we can learn from Persepolis. I believe this is what we must learn.
Overrated. And no, this review isn't at all coloured by my contention that The Dark Knight should have won the Oscar for Best Picture (never mind that it wasn't even nominated and no, I'm not sore about it either why you ask?). This movie has a great plot, I'd give it that, and a kick ass soundtrack - but what I like best about it is the portrayal of the Mumbai slums (I have been there in person) and the Dickensian lives the slum's children led. In my 2 1/2 years in India, I have lost count of just how many child beggars which have tugged at my shirt, calling me "Baya" and asking for a rupee. Young Jamal reminded me of each and every one of them. And the enterprising ways by which Jamal and his brother scraped a living across the Indian subcontinent were scarily plausible. I have seen these kids too. The core of this film is a love story but the most memorable parts of it celebrates life. But I still don't think it deserved the Oscar.
The Tale of Despereaux
The story is mundane and the animation is dreadful - and I'm not buying that "it's for kids so of course you didn't enjoy it" crap because if I'm a kid, I'd be having nightmares for months to come. The studio which animated this evidently have never heard of the Uncanny Valley (you should Google it if you haven't either). They should have re-imagined the story as a horror flick because there's a fat, ugly, servant-girl character that gives out creepy vibes like a snail gives out slime. Disney managed to make ugly characters like the Beast (of Beauty and the Beast) and Quasimodo (from The Hunchback of Notre Dame) sympathetic and likeable. Not this flick. The way the servant girl talks and acts just makes me think that I'm looking at an extremely demented psycho-killer suffering from delusions of grandeur. And Despereaux? I hardly notice him.
Marley and Me
This has to be the saddest movie I watched this year. I was informed that there is going to be a tearjerker ending - and I even guessed (accurately, as it turned out) its nature. I went in knowing exactly what to expect and yet, I still cried the moment the climactic scene came. This is a movie about a family and its dog. I am very aware of how thoroughly my emotions have been exploited, but that did nothing to lessen the the movie's impact on me. If you like dogs, you should watch this. Marley, the so-called World's Worst Dog, has to be seen to be believed. Oh, and the humans starring alongside him in this dramedy aren't half bad either. The lines were witty and the story of a family being built from the bottom up is engaging and more importantly, very relatable. Also, as a bonus, Jennifer Aniston is actually good in this.
This is one of the best science fiction films I have ever seen. This film is the directorial debut of Neill Blomkamp (NOT Peter Jackson, you fuckwads) and the special and visual effects were handled by WETA, which also did the Lord of the Ring films. Despite of having a budget of only 30 mils, District 9 has the look of a waaay more expensive film. The story follows Wikus van der Merwe, a bumbling bureaucrat, who was given the responsibility of relocating 1.8 million illegal immigrants from the titular District 9 in Johannesberg to a newer, less slummy District 10, further away from the local inhabitants who despise and distrust these strange new foreigners. Also, these illegal immigrants are space aliens that look like prawns - just thought I should mention it. In recent times, people seem to have forgotten that science fiction as a genre is much more than just stories staged in a futuristic or spacey setting. The point of sci-fi is to ask what if… District 9 asks; What if real actual extraterrestrials stranded on our planet are treated like - pardon the pun - illegal aliens? This film, - aside from being a good vehicle for raising a lot of excellent thoughts on ethics, humanity and racism - works equally well as a first class action thriller. Wikus van der Merwe, flawed as he is, is pure character gold. And in spite of having a face which is technically incapable of human emotions, Christopher Johnson, one of the slum dwellers of District 9, is a very easy character to sympathise with. I only have one major problem with the plot and writing; that canister of alien juice is too much of an all-purpose plot item. How can it do that… and THAT? By the way, I really like the documentary framing device this film used, and I applaud its seamless transitions into and out of it whenever the story requires it to. Watch it, people. It’s a monument of a film. People are going to look back on 2009 and remember this as one of greatest films of the year.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
It’s directed by Kevin Smith, so you know it’s definitely going to be juvenile and full of tits. I’m not a fan of his brand of films, but I decided to pick this up ‘cos my favourite porn star, Katie Morgan, is starring in it. I like her voice and thinks that she’s funny. Many of my friends think that I’m completely missing the point of pornos. Anyway, the story is this; Zack and Miri are besties, went to the same high school and now, as adults, they live together so they could share the rent. Then, their power and water got cut off because they couldn’t afford to pay the bills. You can pretty much guess the rest from here on. And yes, this movie is pretty damn funny, but if you have delicate sensibilities, I advise you to stay away. This movie’s not healthy for your blood pressure. Justin Long’s almost-cameo as gay porn star, Brandon St Randy, was the best thing in this film (gawd, that voice slays me). I couldn’t stop replaying his scenes over and over again. There's pretty good chemistry between Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks too, which is more than what I can say about most romantic comedy couples these days.
This movie was fucking awesome before it decided midway to say fuck you to the plot and crash right into pure stupidity. The premise is this; buncha cops bugged some rich guy’s office because he was suspected to be involved in some illegal stock market practices with some other rich guys (insider trading or some financial gobbledygook I don’t understand). Then, some of the cops tapping into said rich guy’s communications found out about a massive share price rise of some company – which they did not report to their superior but instead, chose to cash in on that info. Things spiraled WILDLY out of control, which made for really ace thriller material… but then, the director started throwing in a million ridiculous plot twists, all of which made no damn sense at all. And one of the sideplots were needlessly overdramatic (Oh no, my kid’s got hemophilia! On no, now I got liver cancer! Oh crap, now my entire family was killed in car crash! And I lost an eye and two limbs!). It’s like the plot twists; the director thought the more he throws in, the better his movie is. And Lau Ching Wan’s character’s sideplot was entirely POINTLESS. Hey, Guy Who Cuts the Film; Do your fucking job, please?
This is a weird movie. If a rom-com sleeps with an indie raunchy teen movie about some nerd trying to lose his virginity, Adventureland would be their baby. The story follows James Brennan, your standard-issue Hollywood luckless boy, who took up a summer job in a local amusement park – and falls in love with a girl there (played by the very delicious Kristen Stewart, who you might remember from that terrible shit, Twilight). I like this movie mostly, but I’ll most likely forget it in a month.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
"Oh, we're sinking like stones,
All that we fought for,
All those places we've gone,All of us are done for."Don't Panic (2000) by Coldplay
First order of business; my apologies for being AFK for so damn long, but this isn't the first time really.The majority of my time was spent on research work for my in-progress fantasy novel and if you're familiar with the genre, you'd know that world-building requires a tonne of research in order to make a whole alternate universe sound and look plausible. As of now, I have about half of the first chapter finished - but I'll need to run it through a couple of editors before I'm ready to show it to anyone else (I am a bit grammatically impaired, you see - Phoebe, or anyone who reads my blog can attest to that).
Another thing that caught my attention in the previous week was this manga called Kodomo no Jikan by Kaworu Watashiya. I am reasonably sure about doing a review on it soon, because it is by far one of the best mangas I've ever read. In the meantime, try not to poke into my psyche too much if you actually know what that manga is about.
Before I get into today's post, I just want to say this about the new GI Joe movie: ICE DOES NOT SINK IN WATER, YOU FAIL PHYSICS FOREVER. That is all. Oh yeah, if you ever want to have the seats around you in a cineplex to be vacant, just pretend to cough really badly for about a minute. I did that before the flick started and the guys to my left and right immediately moved away. That's one good thing to have come out of the current H1N1 epidemic; everyone's all panicky and shit. And it seems like everyone's donning some sort of mask these days (and the recent haze attack makes it even more pertinent to do so). Anyone know where I can get a black one? I want it to match my very emo wardrobe.
Two weeks ago on Monday, part of my house was submerged underwater, which has never happened before in all the 22 years I've lived in it. What's even more amazing was that it took only one hour for it to get from roadside puddles to indoor pond. I got home at 12:00 pm and when my grandfather woke me up at 1:00 pm from my afternoon siesta, the shoreline have migrated into my living room. Talk about flash floods.
The worst that ever happened was back when I was 7 years old, and even then, the water stayed outside. I remember having to use a two chairs to get to my school bus without getting my shoes wet - y'know, stand on one, move the free chair forward, then hop onto that and repeat.
Of course, the rainstorm wasn't any harder than the ones we had before so it's really quite bewildering why it would flood this time. One popular theory that has been making its rounds about the area was that a nearby construction project was to be blamed for filling in a mini stretch of marshland behind the field.
The DAP guy (notice the rocket in his cap?) who came around telling everyone that this is all the government's fault.
While I was wading about the place, I spotted a snake-like animal writhing across the road. I'm reasonably competent when it came to basic zoology so identifying one of my favourite food wasn't at all a problem. It's an unagi! Alright, it wasn't exactly the species of eel the Japanese use for the dish, but it's the generic term for freshwater eel anyway.
"My homeland has expanded! Now we shall take over the world and make women shriek in fear at the sight of us!"
It rained pretty damn heavily last Wednesday too and my area got flooded again, except this time, the water managed to stop rising at my doorstep. An inch more and it would have been Waterworld all over again. I wish the city council would do something about it soon; deepen the monsoon drains or fix the construction site or something.
Right, that's that. A short update of my life. The next post won't take as long, I hope. I've been wanting to blog about Beve's visit to Malacca 3 weeks ago. Anyone who's curious about how she looks like, stick around and see for yourself :P.
Must learn how to build arks,
k0k s3n w4i