Friday, April 30, 2004

Concerning re-minisce's latest entry about 15 minutes and all its untold opportunities -- am I reading it right? Can never tell with this fellow. ;)

--> Not so long ago, some show on TV ( ?title ) had this woman lamenting how she'd just wasted 2 hours doing something useless. "Two hours I'll never get back."
Time waits for no man. Hmm, I think I've done quite a few "useless" things already. *Cold sweat*

My next trip to That CD Shop will entail...

...sampling this guy's album. ( Is it any good? He sounds like a jazzy John Mayer. Interest piqued... )

Whenever my next foray into town may be. Extremely strapped down by work. But at least I'm working. :/

I've never packed so much in my entire life. This is the second time I'm moving - ever - and funny that both shifts occurred within a year of each other. I swear I'm going to stay put at this new place for the rest of my life. Can't take this anymore.

Yesterday, while driving to work at around 3:30pm, I found myself belting out "The Way You Look Tonight" at full volume in my car. I was alone, of course, and suddenly decided to turn the stereo down and sing my guts out. I did the Michael Buble version. A bit truncated since I'm bad with lyric-memorizing, but it did wonders for my mood. 2 minutes of yowling, then it was back to my Peter Cincotti CD. I did it again this evening as well. Heh. :)

Momentary memory lapse:
Last night, when I didn't set the right channel for my recording of "The O.C.", aaargh! Good thing my mom watched, so she updated me on what happened. :P Ended up watching "C.S.I." instead. Plot involved a jealous surgeon murdering a young nurse who left him for a younger doctor. The killer dismembered his junior colleague for good measure as well. Not one of the better episodes, but at least in this one Grissom starts to show some interest in Sara -- I have 2 words for her: Greg Sanders ( played by the irrepressibly cheeky Eric Szmanda )! Why go chasing after a gray-haired, emotionally confused recluse, when you can have an energetic, good-looking guy who makes no effort at concealing his feelings?
Obvious answer: Ratings, ratings, ratings. :D

John Stevens is out of American Idol 3. He's a nice chap, but absolutely failed vocally. Everyone else got better, while he just kept getting worse. Simon, however, gave him credit for having a good attitude, and wished him good luck in the future. Now George is the only male contestant left. If he gets the boot, the top 4 will be an all-girl line-up. My bet is on LaToya. She's dynamite!

Also, William Hung's coming to Singapore in June. For a "performance". Good Lord.

Movie quote today is from "Love Actually", a film I haven't seen as yet, but which I hope to very soon. Think I'll start a string of Hugh Grant lines for the next week. :)

Natalie ( a maid the PM falls in love with ): [talking about her ex-boyfriend] He says no one's going to fancy a girl with thighs the size of big tree trunks. Not a nice guy, actually, in the end.

Prime Minister ( played by Grant ): Right. Goodness. Well, well. You know, being Prime Minister, I could just have him murdered.

Have been subpoenaed to show up in court, KIV to submit testimonies in 2 trials next month. My first time, despite writing countless medical reports these past few years. The cases may or may not appear in the papers. Huge inconvenience, but apparently I may get off work, AND get paid extra for my troubles. Not too bad then. :)

Thursday, April 29, 2004


4-12 today, this time in resus. On my way up to the ER from the basement carpark, I met a staff nurse and a health attendant, who cheerfully told me, "We're on standby for a mass casualty in Ayer Rajah!" before scooting off with a trolley patient.
My first reaction: a few silent expletives. :P Followed by quiet contemplation, then excited anticipation. By the time I'd changed up and stepped into resus, I was raring to go. Gimme those casualties!!! A few A&E registrars and consultants were clustered together at the far end of the room, talking to our department chief, AND the hospital CEO. Whoa, serious stuff.

Anyway, it's been 45 minutes, and so far the action is confined to NUH and SGH. So much for getting my hands dirty. ( But I'm glad, really. The fewer mortalities and morbidities, the better. )

This past week has been a continuous adrenaline rush. Horrible shifts, packing during every spare moment, little sleep -- I finally dozed off at 2am this morning, after unsuccessfully trying to rest after my 4-12 shift yesterday. Ended up watching a recording of "Sense And Sensibility" -- the updated version directed by Lee Ang, and starring Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman. Spent the whole 2 hours marveling at just how handsome Rickman looked in period costumes, heh heh. :D Lovely film.

Today, I spent the later part of the morning unpacking and cleaning house. Not too tired though, and I'm hoping resus will stay REALLY quiet. Tomorrow is the last leg, people. Packing up the last items, a quick mop of the current place, then the big move on Labour Day. New place is fit and ready for occupation. Can't wait. :)

Latest movie updates!
Due for release in Singapore:

Van Helsing -- 7 May
Troy -- 24 May

Saw part of the trailer for Troy recently. Delish. Girls, eat your hearts out. :P

What A Difference A Year Makes

[ Substitute the word "year" for "day", and it's actually the title of a famous song. ]

My mom brought up the SARS epidemic today during a lunch conversation, and we talked about Singapore's battle with the disease in 2003. Though it happened merely a year ago, it sure doesn't feel like it. For me at least, it seems more like a distant memory -- slightly blurry, with scattered random images.

What stick out in my mind? The deaths of Hok Su and Alex; the Orange Valley resident whom I reviewed, and whose death cert I signed ( without knowing she had SARS ); the fear in my colleagues' eyes whenever the thermometer registered a fever, however slight; the space suits; the masks and gowns; an almost deserted Orchard Road during the peak of the epidemic...

Funny that China is seeing a minor resurgence of cases in the midst of the outbreak's first anniversary. It's contained, they claim. Well, let's hope so.


A certain scene in "Sense and Sensibility" got me pondering. In it, Marianne Dashwood ( Kate Winslet ) finds out the man she loves left her in the lurch in order to marry a lady who is much wealthier, even though it's Marianne he loves. Her sister, Eleanor ( Emma Thompson ) comforts her, saying that the gentleman did love her, but chose money over affection.
"Then he didn't love me enough ," Marianne replies somberly.

Is there such a thing as not loving someone enough, I wonder? I tend to believe that you either do or do NOT love a person. Is it still love if you count in increments / decrements? If there are limits? If you tell yourself that you won't fight for a future together if the conditions aren't just right? I'm not talking personality differences or intrinsic relationship problems here. My questions apply only to couples whose difficulties arise from external sources, be it financial, social status, familial, distance, etc. Call me a romantic. Call me hopelessly so. But I've seen it with my own eyes in this lifetime, and I know it exists. Real Love. What I would give to be able to experience it at least once. :)

I've run out of good Kevin Spacey quotes. Here's one from another terrific movie, Good Will Hunting.

Sean ( psychiatrist played by Robin Williams, in an Oscar-winning role ) [ to Will Hunting, the reluctant and emotionally distant genius, played by Matt Damon ]:
"So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientation, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you'd probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You're a tough kid. And if I ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right? "Once more unto the breach dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you. You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much ."

Think I'll watch my recording of "The O.C." after my shift tonight. :P

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Educational Turmoil

Straits Times Article today

This has caused a ripple throughout the country, and is a story I'm following quite closely, as my mother ( now retired ) once worked with Mr. Ng at Nan Chiau High -- back when it was still at the River Valley campus. At the time, Nan Chiau was a combined primary-and-secondary-school entity, but has since split into two separate buildings following its move to Sengkang at the turn of this century. My mom served under him for a few years before being seconded to the primary levels just prior to retirement.

Her comments about Mr. Ng are good, as they worked very well together, and he is the sort who appreciates competent and capable teachers. He was never out of line, and only caned or hit male students. He was fully aware of the restrictions concerning female pupils, and adhered to them strictly.

He also once mentioned to my mom that throughout his earlier career as a teacher, he'd always worked towards becoming a principal. So when he finally got the post, he was extremely elated and grateful for the opportunity. Nan Chiau has gained an admirable reputation for itself these past few years. The head of the school has no doubt contributed to this in some respect.

I asked what could've pushed him over the edge, and my mother could only postulate that the student in question - though female - might have provoked him to the breaking point, thus causing this outburst. It is important to note that the girl's mother was spoken to, and in her own words, "understands" and "accepted his apology". The complainant in the matter is actually the god-sister of another female pupil, who happened to be in the principal's office when the incident occurred. Fishy, hmm...

It's sad that he felt a need to step down. Perhaps he made this decision on his own. Perhaps the Hokkien Huay Kuan reprimanded him. Perhaps the Ministry of Education contributed to the pressure ( it wasn't too supportive in its statements to the press ). In any case, as some people have commented, it's an abomination to penalize the principal and let the student off. A student who, FYI, has allegedly been disciplined up to 20 times previously, for truancy, being late for school, and flouting a whole lot of other rules.

The world is unfair. What's new eh.

Another related piece

This is why my mom told me NOT to be a teacher.

In other news...

Kevin Spacey's brother tells all

Heck, I'll still see his films no matter what. He's always been a fine actor. Always will be.
And I mean that as a compliment.

This is for you, Mr. Spacey! :)

From "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" -- my favourite novel so far, even though Clint Eastwood mauled the movie version.

Jim Williams ( played with aplomb by the great man himself ): I'm what they call "nouveau riche," but then, it's only the "riche" that counts.

10:30pm. Will be finishing at midnight. Ugh.
But I've only seen 20 cases so far, heh heh. :D

Before I sign off, here's one last thing.

Bored Slacker

The latest boiling-egg entry had me in stitches. :D

Sounds like a guy to me, but might be a girl, at least from the self-description just beneath the blog title.
Hey, thanks for thinking I'm witty. :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

*looks around furtively*

[ hushed tone ]
8-4 today. Yesterday was a SCORCHER, and I'm not talking about the weather. Saw 42 cases, with only 30 minutes of free time -- ie. my lunch break! Typical Monday morning, I suppose ( I was 9-5, while my 8-4 friend saw almost 50 patients ), but this is getting a bit ridiculous. Honestly. What ER has a total of 400 - 500 patients per day? And a "community hospital" by definition some more? Most tertiary institutions usually hit about 300 or so. People in the East are either abusing the system, or they're all really unhealthy, or just plain hypersensitive about even the most minor of illnesses. But then we also get patients who live in Hougang and Jurong. Prudent to have a common queue perhaps. You know, to lengthen the waiting time and discourage frivolous attendances?

A few MOs and I have discussed the individual queue system on many occasions. Obviously, it has its pros and cons.

Plusses: Prompts speed and ( hopefully ) efficiency, discourages skiving ( e.g. choosing to see easy cases, seeing slowly so others have to work harder), definitely shortens waiting times.
Minuses: Many many! Increased stress ( try having 8 people waiting on your queue with no letup in the constant flow, or a whole string of complicated cases, with each taking twice the usual amount of time to clear ), little leeway for even a simple doctor-patient conversation, exhaustion, flaring tempers, complaint letters...

I've always supported the common queue system, and the last year has only served to reinforce this opinion. I was never this fed up at SGH, and can totally understand patients' frustration when I talk really fast and shoo them out in an effort ( unknown to them, of course ) to get to my other 8 patients waiting outside ( Easterners also like to make a hell of a lot of noise once they hit the 30-minute mark, then the nurse comes in to tell you exactly that, which is an indirect manner of saying, "Hurry up!" -- super-irritating, I tell you ).

When I was at SGH, the common queue afforded us the luxury of giving the appropriate care to the right people. URTI -- 3 minutes tops. Minor injuries -- 5 minutes, then refer as necessary. Not so straightforward ones -- 10 minutes, maybe more, depending on what needs to be done. We could answer queries without watching the computer or the clock, we felt no need to rush through our reviews of test results or observation cases, and interestingly, patients there rarely kicked up a fuss about the waiting periods, even when they hit 3-4 hours during the worst peaks. ( I also noticed people there are a lot nicer to doctors, which I can't explain. But a lot of them are in the geriatric age group, so maybe that's one reason. )

Speaking from the viewpoint of a junior doc, I can tell you that allocation of cases is hazardous, not just to the patients, but to the MOs as well. If we have sufficient manpower, it doesn't pose any major problems, but if we're short-staffed ( which is what happened to my current batch ), seeing 40 - 50 cases per shift takes a heavy toll, and both sides end up really unhappy.

The awful truth, however, is that waiting times are sacred. At least to the people upstairs ( and I don't mean the ward teams ). Financing, manpower allocation, performance appraisals, etc. Waiting times probably form a large part of an ER's overall assessment, and my personal feeling is that this approach is fraught with ( dangerous ) errors. Does anyone even bother to look at the bigger picture anymore? Do they ask why? Do they take other factors into consideration -- e.g. the number of complaints, the number of cross-department referrals / admissions, the number of non-emergencies which clog up the line but contribute significantly to the statistics? Does anybody give a damn about good patient care and communication?!

[ okay, venting completed :) ]

Almost 4 hours in. Tally so far: 30. %^$&%$#*%%! 3rd May can't get here quickly enough...

Eye For A Guy Episode #4

Hah! Another side-splitting episode, this time with resident clown Eugene as the star. After a group dinner at Rachel's apartment, the guys are grilled by 3 of her good friends ( who pop by very unexpectedly ), with hilarious consequences.
"Have you ever checked out Rachel's boobs?" one asks.
"Err, yeah, I admit that I have." Gotta admire Sivert's candour. And he said it in a very nice way too. :P
"If I gave you a thousand dollars right now to bow out of the the competition, would you do it?" asks another.
Mark: "NO WAY. I wouldn't leave even if you gave me FIFTY thousand dollars. It's all about Rachel, not about the competition at all."
Eye-rolling from Rachel's pals.

Eugene goes last. Having had more than a few drinks earlier, he's completely plastered by the time it's his turn in the hot seat. Slurred speech, boisterousness, maybe even some conjunctival injection ( I was staring quite hard :)). Bet his alcohol breath was obvious too.
"I'm a lot more honest when I'm drunk," he announced. Rachel's friends were evidently tickled.
"Okay, so what flaws does Rachel have?"
"She isn't the most intelligent person I know." Wow, he wasn't kidding when he said he's truthful! And brutally so too! :D

Rod Monteiro, who was in the 3-friend interview panel, and hosts the morning show on Class 95 with Glenn Ong and the Flying Dutchman, took a shine to Eugene instantly. "I like him, man. He's a straight guy."
Sivert also got good reviews, but Wai Chung was labelled as "boring", and "not Rachel's type".
Mark, whom I read somewhere was named Cleo magazine's Bachelor of the Year 2003, wasn't popular. "I just didn't get a good vibe, man," Rod kept repeating. I couldn't agree more. :)

In the end, poor Eugene got eliminated. I get the impression this is more about looks than anything else. All the ugly ones got kicked out really quickly, now leaving the more presentable ones in the last leg. My favourite? Definitely Sivert. How come he doesn't have a girlfriend though? Hmmm...

Next week: individual dates. At last! And it appears Wai Chung brought Rachel back to meet his mother. Cue theme from "Psycho". :P

In other news, I've got my eye on 3 upcoming films. I've only seen 2 movies in the cinema these past 4 months -- LOTR: ROTK in December, then The Passion of the Christ 2 weeks ago. In May, we've got Shrek 2, Van Helsing, and Troy ( the one with Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom, yowzah! ). Redeeming my UOB Credit points like crazy, heh heh. Free movie tickets, can't beat that. :)

Mustn't forget...
My thanks to Mark Richmond from Class 95!

I sms-ed the station almost a month ago to tell him about Peter Cincotti, and he actually ordered the guy's CD all the way from the UK ( it was sold out locally ), and devoted the whole of last week to playing tracks from the album, even with a nice biography segment thrown in. ( I was working nights a lot at the time, and missed it, aaargh! )
Anyhow, I finally heard Cincotti's lovely cover of "Rainbow Connection" ( aka the Kermit D. Frog anthem ) during the dinner jazz programme yesterday, en route to the new place to unpack some more stuff. Mark tells me it's a big favourite with listeners, but Michael Buble's Sway is still more popular than Cincotti's version. Awww... Never mind, I will keep requesting Sway and drum it into everyone's head. :)

Mark prefers "Ain't Misbehavin'", which I agree is one of the best songs on the CD. But they're all terrific, actually. Go to the website I highlighted to learn more about this great talent, if you haven't already read my previous review ( have to go hunt for the exact date I posted that ). He's going to play Carnegie Hall, and is booked solid till 2005. Talk about rising stars!

Hopefully, with added attention from Singaporean fans, he'll drop by someday soon for a concert. Getting my money ready... :D

Movie quote:

I'm just going to plough through as many Kevin Spacey films as possible for now. He's got some of the best lines ever. From "American Beauty":

[at the dinner table]

Carolyn Burnham ( Lester's overbearing, frustrated wife, played by Annette Bening ): Your father and I were just discussing his day at work. Why don't you tell our daughter about it, honey?

Lester Burnham ( Spacey ): Janie, today I quit my job. And then I told my boss to go f*** himself, and then I blackmailed him for almost sixty thousand dollars. Pass the asparagus.

Carolyn Burnham: Your father seems to think this type of behavior is something to be proud of.

Lester Burnham: And your mother seems to prefer I go through life like a f****** prisoner while she keeps my dick in a mason jar under the sink.

Carolyn Burnham ( outraged ): How dare you speak to me that way in front of her. And I marvel that you can be so contemptuous of me, on the same day that you LOSE your job.

Lester Burnham: Lose it? I didn't lose it. It's not like, "Whoops! Where'd my job go?" I QUIT . Someone pass me the asparagus.

*laughing -- boy, I'd forgotten how great this movie is!*

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Another mind-numbing shift in the ER. 40 cases in 7 hours. 60 more minutes to go before I call it a day. SIGH...

So I keep hearing good things about the KKH Paediatrics A&E Department. Shorter night shifts ( 9 hrs maximum compared to the usual 11 elsewhere ), usual tally of 20 cases per shift ( OH YEAH ), a common queue ( HALLELUJAH ), sending up to the ward without the need for plugs / bloods in the majority ( YES! ). We even have a 9pm - 6am shift. Wow, if I get home before 7, I'll still have time for a quick swim before breakfast. Woohoo... :D

Anyway, the countdown to the Big Move begins. All systems go. Major packing and unpacking. Did I mention how much I love my new room? Can't wait to stay over for good. :)

More inane stuff ( sorry, am saving my lucid thoughts for the SMA News and another writing collaboration ). :)

The Next Joe Millionaire -- Saturdays 10pm, Channel 5

Yeah, there's a sequel , believe it or not. The first had Evan Marriott playing a bachelor with a fake US $50 million fortune. The girl he picked ( ie. Zora ) agreed to continue dating him even after he revealed the awful truth, then the two of them were presented with a US $1 million cheque for, I guess, giving the story a nice happy ending, and proving that not all human beings are money-faced hypocrites.

This time round, the bachelor in question is David Smith, a true-blue Texan cowboy with a cute accent, and even cuter buns ( think Brad Pitt's physique :)). Blonde, blue-eyed, boyish, a little shy -- seems like a perfectly nice guy. But he's being thrust into a group of European women ( who, as a prequisite for the show, have NEVER heard of the original "Joe Millionaire" ), and all signs indicate he will be eaten alive.

The lie has been inflated -- instead of US $50 million, Smith's estimated "worth" is now $80 million, thanks to an "oil tycoon father". The girls are holed up in his "Italian villa", but show obvious disdain when first informed of his cowboy roots. Stemming from some cultural bias maybe? Odd.

Anyway, this bunch of girls puts the previous batch to shame. American women are a thousand times better than these trashy loudmouths. Or maybe the producers deliberately picked these females for this specific reason. They chain smoke, drink champagne by the bottles, stay up till the wee hours of the morning, get up just before lunch, cuss without shame, and make no effort to conceal their LURVE for money, Money, MONEY.
"I love diamonds and pearls," says one. "He'd be the perfect boyfriend. He can take me shopping and pay for everything ," gushes another. And this is even before they meet the guy.

The only woman that stands out at this point is a softspoken long-haired brunette -- didn't manage to catch her name -- whose past boyfriends include "poor artistic losers", but whom she loved anyway. She reminds me of Zora, who was also the sweetest of the whole bunch, and eventually ended up the victor. We'll see what happens.

Here's a nice blog run by a fellow Clay Aiken fan I got to know through the local fan club. She's due for a med school interview on Tuesday. Good luck! ( And since when did they make it so tough? Psychometric test? Essay? Wow, things were a walk in the park in my day! )

Lianya's Blog

--> by the way, read her April 12 entry, which details a visit by the CAS group to the Autism Association Singapore's Simei Centre. Very informative and inspiring. Keep up the good work, everyone!

Movie quote for the day:

Taken from another Kevin Spacey film, "The Usual Suspects". ( Fantastic movie, this one -- but you've got to be fully awake in order to appreciate it )

Verbal Kint ( one of the roles played by Spacey ): "Keaton once said, "I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him." Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze."

Friday, April 23, 2004

Due to a major shortage of off days, coupled with a sudden surge of stuff-carting to the new place, ironing out of various annoying details, preparation for the upcoming new posting, various other commitments, etc., blog entries may be rather erratic over the next 1-2 weeks. I will, however, try my best to update the site regularly.

Friday night = on call again. I haven't slept a wink today. Spent the morning fighting a headache after 4 hours of scavenger-hunting at Ikea, while the afternoon was filled with packing and unpacking at the apartment. 5-7pm was reserved for a short orientation at the new department, followed by a rather dangerous drive home through traffic jams and wet conditions to grab a 10-minute dinner and clear some chores, THEN a mad rush to work. It's pretty busy at the moment, and my cases haven't been straightforward either. I'm hoping to grab some sleep during the 1-3am slot. Feeling really crappy right now. Not to mention... no more off days for the rest of the month, AAAARRRGGGHGHGH!

The Medecins Sans Frontieres Talk

This was held over the past 2 days, but I only had the opportunity to attend yesterday's, which had Ting Hway as one of the guest speakers. Good turnout, with a strong showing from the SGH camp. Seems a lot of people know about it, but not everybody could turn up. Pity that.

It was a very enjoyable event, thanks to the dynamic organizers, interesting presentations, and an overall informal mood. I will be covering this in an upcoming article for the SMA News, so more on that then.

It's good to see so many doctors with genuine interest in joining this organization and doing their bit for the less fortunate. The MSF team will be returning to Hong Kong on Saturday, but welcomes any enquiries to You can also visit their website. The HK office is responsible for recruiting from China, Japan and the Southeast Asian region.

My thanks to June Kashio for the MSF T-shirt and pin. Will wear them proudly. :)

I can't think straight at the moment. Pardon the fluff talk. :P

American Idol 3

Say bye-bye to Jennifer Hudson, who has never been a favourite of mine, but still outsang John Stevens on Barry Manilow night. John looked stumped when Jon Peter Lewis got booted last week, but appeared mortified this time round. No doubt he knows the competition is becoming a tad unfair. He's got a lot of fans, that redhead!

And surprise, surprise, LaToya and Fantasia were among the bottom 3, while lesser talents Diane, George, Jasmine and John were safe. What is going on here? *shakes head*

I guess the only sure thing this week was Manilow The Legend. I grew up listening to his albums ( thanks to mom's influence ), so it was a huge treat to see him mingling with "new blood". He trained all the Idols so expertly that many of them gave their best on the latest episode, wowing the judges and causing Simon to ask, "What've you done with the girls? You've made them sing really well this week!" Yay, Barry!

Then for the first time, a guest judge sang on-stage with the Idols. Manilow did Let Freedom Ring with the young 'uns, and made me wish he'd return to Singapore ASAP for another show. Yes, I went to his first concert here many years ago. He's the consummate performer, and has the best rapport with his audience. Always hits the notes pitch-perfect, and I just never tire of his music. Can't Smile Without You, Mandy, Could It Be Magic, Weekend In New England... they're all great. He also recorded some big band pieces previously. Now THAT'S an album worth getting!

The O.C.

I was a little incredulous at comparisons made between Ben McKenzie and Russell Crowe, but last night, I saw the amazing resemblance. Facial features, manner of speaking, manner of walking even -- I was blown away. There was a scene in yesterday's episode, where Ryan ( McKenzie ) and his alcoholic mother part ways yet again, and he's obviously torn up about it. This actor is 25, but also blessed with very youthful looks. He was every bit the 17-year-old lost soul he plays, yet never sank to sappy melodrama during this emotional bit. He's definitely got something . Will someone please put him on the big screen already! :)

Very tired...
Movie quote! Taken from "Se7en", one of the best thrillers around, starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey ( absolutely chilling as John Doe ).

John Doe: Wanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention.

Fighting to keep my eyes open. It BETTER be a quiet night. :(

Thursday, April 22, 2004

So much to do, so little time...

Something unusual happens whenever I swim. It's one of the very few times my head clears -- completely -- and I feel truly relaxed. Something about the repetitive strokes, the feel of the water as I glide through it, the sensation of total freedom. And peace of mind.
Yesterday was my first time dipping in the pool at the new place, after a hiatus of 2 months, thanks to a crazy schedule. I've got the intense shoulder and upper arm pain to show for it, but also a 24-hour cycle of circulating endorphins which even a lousy morning can't get rid of. :)

Why the lousy morning, you wonder?

Complaint letter. Again, sheesh! Directed at 3 A&E doctors, no less.
Case of a young man who attended twice with non-specific abdominal pain, then got admitted 2 days later and was eventually diagnosed with appendicitis. I was caught in the crossfire merely because the patient was handed over to me for a review during a change in shifts.

Never mind about the details, which I'm probably not at liberty to discuss. What I find appalling about the complaint ( made by the fellow's father, not the patient himself, mind you ) is the permeating sarcasm. He mentions how he contemplated writing to the Forum or his constituency MP, but later decided it would be "more appropriate and polite" to approach our "high office" first. Some other scattered comments about whether we're "fit to call ourselves a medical hub", how come it takes at least 3 doctors to to diagnose a "simple" appendicitis, how his "doctor's friend" ( why not his doctor? I ask ) said his son's condition could have been fatal if an operation hadn't been performed in time.

This is just another example of the increasing trend of unreasonable expectations from the general public with regards to healthcare. Everything's black and white to them: You're the doctor, you SHOULD be able to diagnose this, how can you NOT know what's going on, how come this wasn't done, how come that wasn't done, etc...
I'm occasionally tempted to tell them: Yes, you're absolutely right. We're clinically incompetent, and can only diagnose something after doing a whole panel of blood / urine tests, chunks of X-rays, +/- CT scans. That's what med school's all about -- learning which tests to order.

No thanks to the Forum Page, which I hold fully responsible for encouraging frivolous complaints to the print media. If you only knew the amount of abuse the medical staff tolerate. Who listens to US then???

First case I saw in resus this morning: drunk 30-year-old found lying at the side of the road, unconscious. Woke up in the ambulance. By the time he got to the hospital, he'd become super pissed off. Horrible-looking laceration left side of mouth -- REFUSED SUTURING. When I tried to persuade him otherwise, he started hurling Hokkien vulgarities, then threatened to come back another time to "get us". I got him to sign himself out pronto. Real piece of work.

Endorphins still blunting affect. Cool. :D

Something newsworthy for a change

I first got wind of this Tuesday night because of all the newsflashes on TV. It was unnerving, considering the first thought that went through my mind was "Is this a terrorist act?" Yeah, this is the era we live in: The Era Of Paranoia, post 9/11. Just the other day, an MRT worker was arrested after being caught on a surveillance camera planting a shoe box filled with aerosol cans and a note from "the al-Qaeda". This guy was brought here to be examined pre- and post-statement, but my chief saw him both times, so I didn't get the honour. :P It's times like these that make me grateful I have my own car, never mind the money I have to fork out for its maintenance.

As for the Nicoll Highway incident, one story in the papers today caught my attention. It gave an account of how one foreman ran back into the fray to rescue a bunch of workers, before going missing himself. 40 years old, with 2 young daughters. Whatever misconceptions you may have had about construction site supervisors treating their charges like dirt -- this kicks them right out the window. I hope he survived.

Clay Aiken update

Article from Exceptional Parent ( scroll down a little )
-- excellent piece.

Today's movie quote is from Swimming With Sharks / The Buddy Factor, the best Kevin Spacey film EVER, in my humble opinion ( tripping over his dog notwithstanding :)).

Buddy ( Spacey's character ):What I am concerned with is detail. I asked you go get me a packet of Sweet-N-Low. You bring me back Equal. That isn't what I asked for. That isn't what I wanted. That isn't what I needed and that s**t isn't going to work around here.

Guy ( his assistant ): I, I just thought...

Buddy: You thought . Do me a favor. Shut up, listen, and learn . Look, I know that this is your first day and you don't really know how things work around here, so I will tell you. You... have... no... brain . No judgement calls are necessary. What you think means nothing. What you feel means nothing. You are here for me . You are here to protect my interests and to serve my needs. So, while it may look like a little thing to you, when I ask for a packet of Sweet-N-Low, that's what I want. And it's your responsibility to see that I get what I want .

Sounds a bit like the medical profession to me. ( Buddy being the quintessential FON patient, that is. :D )

Over and out.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

8-4 consult on a Tuesday is turning out to be a real pain in the ***.
4 hours in, and I've seen 30 patients. You do the math...


1:45pm. Latest tally 36. Had to admit quite a few. My apologies to the ward people.


Frustration is...

... trying to pry open those *&^$%^ specimen bags, which break apart JUST ABOVE the seal itself. Try having this happen to you 3 consecutive times during peak hour in the ER. Grrr.

... knowing at first glance that your patient "has no veins", but needs blood-taking, IV meds and a drip whether you like it or not, while your queue gets progressively longer.

... seeing a GP referral for "pedal oedema", when the patient has NO such signs, is perfectly comfortable, and could've been spared having to pay $65 for, well, nothing.

... attending to an NS boy for the nth time, who like his many other compatriots, thinks camp MOs are sadistic. ( Ok, I try to sympathize sometimes, but it's hard when the computer records show 15 ER visits in the past 3 months. %$%^&# )

... getting a hypertrophied bladder because going to the toilet invariably guarantees a three-fold increase in patients waiting on your queue. A very effective deterrent, by the way.


Now that I've got that off my chest... :)

Eye For A Guy Episode 3

This just keeps getting better and better. Yesterday, Rachel demonstrated her wide social circle and the tininess of Singapore in one fell swoop when she grilled Adam the not-cute-at-all-but-very-flirtatious-and-full-of-himself ang-moh about him already having a girlfriend. The expression on his face -- priceless ! My mom fell asleep during the Ubin ODAC nonsense, but I quickly woke her up during the interrogation, after which we both went "Horrrrrrrrr!", which is Singapore-speak for "You're DEAD!". :P

So Adam got booted this week, but not before turning sour grapes and blah-ing about how he couldn't picture himself with Rachel in the long run, etc. My dear boy, don't expect to have any social life in this country after last night. :)

Hmm, it appears Rachel isn't that dumb after all. Either that, or she's just plain lucky.

Sivert remains my favourite of the lot. Getting quite sick of Mark, who keeps trying to outdo the others but always fails. Why do the men dislike Wai Chung so much anyway? I don't get it. He seems pleasant enough, though a bit on the egoistic side. Which guy isn't, btw? ;)


Conversation with a female friend yesterday...

She: "Say it with me -- all men are b******s."

Email reply from a guy, after I asked if the above is true...

He: "Really, all men ARE scum. The same way women are all b*****s. Grin."

Your views?


Taken off someone's blog:

"Was irritated with my friend's growing obsession with my "passivity" in handling recent romantic opportunities, and her insistence that I should make the first definitive move, i.e. ask the guy for a date. Hallo???

And then, there was the "what if". What if in choosing to walk, I miss the train? Well, if the train were meant for me, it would wait for me. If it were not, then even if I had run, and caught up with the train, I would not have been able to board the train, for whatever reasons.

If you would open every single door, if you could, to devour every morsel of life, is that Courage? Or just being "kiasu"? Could there not also be Courage in living with the knowledge that some doors needn't (or shouldn't) be opened; that you win some, and you lose some. Would you then open a door because you are more fearful of what you are potentially losing out on, if you had not opened the door? So, one lifetime may not be enough to see and do everything there is to do, but can we not live with life's little disappointments and move on? Na2 De2 Qi3 Fang4 De2 Xia4. No regrets.

"If it's yours, it'll come to you. If it's not yours, it was never meant to be."

I'm learning to have the Patience to wait it out. And I ain't blinking.

Well said. Methinks it's a chicken-and-egg situation. You need Courage to be Patient. And Courage comes from... various things. Often Unexpected Things. Being put on the spot. Being yanked out of your comfort zone. Being forced to reassess, re-evaluate, rethink. Realize.

I'm a firm believer in convention. Girls making the first move strikes me as a little odd, enlightened / feminist-driven 21st century or not. And yeah, I subscribe to the waiting-train theory, heh heh. Call me a hopeless romantic. I think "Meet The Parents" is one of the best love stories around. But I'd prefer the man to look a little more like Owen Wilson rather than Ben Stiller. :D

Opening doors, to me, is of secondary importance. It used to be a priority, but as I was telling the guy who agrees that all men are scum, there are two main things I can fear: being "left on the shelf", or marrying some man then turning to him one fine day and thinking to myself, "What the heck did I ever see in HIM?"

I choose singlehood any day.


To: The Dude in London

Kevin Spacey got robbed in a park over there. Which one, I wonder. And what the heck is he doing in London anyhow? Another Broadway play? Can you get me his autograph if you see him? Can you even recognize him? :D

Israeli terrorists are threatening to bomb the UK capital. Yeah, that makes a WHOLE lot of sense.


Movie quote for today
From "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl":

Mullroy: Not breathing.
Jack Sparrow: Move.
[Jack slits the ties on Elizabeth's corset and rips it off, causing Elizabeth to regain consciousness, and spit out a lot of water]
Mullroy: Never would have though of that.
Jack Sparrow: Clearly you've never been to Singapore.

3pm. The end is near. :)

Monday, April 19, 2004

I had no idea how knee-deep I was till I actually TRIED to PRY myself away from the TV last night. There was nothing good on, yet I felt compelled to sit... and... stare. Hypnotized. By... whatever.

I'm kidding. Last night was spent packing, updating my other journal, and catching up with some reading. But I had you going for a moment, didn't I? :D

Something interesting in The Straits Times this morning:

NKF Controversy

Gold-plated taps? German toilet bowls? Tsk tsk.
I'm not an NKF donor. Never have been. My donations range from funding for church missions / other projects, to the SPCA, to the Autism Association Singapore, and assorted raffle tickets that come my way at work or on the street. If I had to pick a dialysis-related foundation, I'd choose the Kidney Dialysis Foundation over the NKF any day.

Not because of any impropriety on the latter's part -- I didn't know anything about their practices till complaints surfaced last week. But I do know that they've built up a huge support base over the years, and don't exactly NEED my help. $189 million in reserves leaves a lot of other smaller charities in the dust. Why not help those instead?

Although I do agree that gold-plated taps and German toilet bowls are a tad excessive, even if it IS the chief exec's office. Knowing whether it's Mr. Durai's choice, or that of the NKF committee's ( ie. as a special perk / reward ) would be enlightening though.

Then again, how about religious figures who flaunt their wealth? Buddhist monks driving ( or better still, BEING DRIVEN ) around in Lexuses or Mercedes Benz's. The Pope dripping in finery. Didn't Christ live a frugal and simple life, subsequently entering Jerusalem riding a donkey? Ok, I digress. :)

Work is work. A bit dull at the moment. Will keep this short and post another movie quote.

From Finding Nemo [ the scene where all the fishes in the dentist's office are observing him as he works on a patient ]:

[the Tank Gang is watching the dentist]
Deb: What have we got?
Peach: Root canal, and by the looks of those X-rays, it's not going to be pretty.
Bloat: Dam and clamper installed?
Peach: Yep.
[Dentist drills and patient screams]
Peach: Now he's using the Schilder technique.
Bloat: He's been favoring that one lately. He's using a Hedstrom file.
Gurgle: That's not a Hedstrom file, that's a K-flex.
Bloat: It has a teardrop cross section, clearly it's a HEDSTROM.
Gurgle: No, it's a K-FLEX.
Gurgle: K-FLEX.
Bloat: Oomph. There I go. I'll be over here.
Deb: [sighs] I'll go deflate him.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Sunday morning in resus. Just me and another registrar in here, waiting for the storm to break. Talk about a sense of foreboding... :)

Yesterday was spent sleeping. And I'm still exhausted. My mom keeps asking if I should go for a blood test. Sure, if there's a serology marker for chronic fatigue syndrome ( and I don't mean of the EBV variety ). Sometimes, I can actually feel my cells aging. One by one. Not pleasant.

And FYI, I read somewhere that turtles never die of old age. Disease, injury -- yes. Senescence -- nope. Something about their cells being able to live forever. Fountain of youth formula right there. ( Don't eat them, for pete's sake! Genetic analysis would make more sense. ) But honestly speaking, spending an eternity on Earth isn't something I find appealing.

Gonna start something new here. Will include quotes from various films, thanks to IMDB's fantastic movie quotes site.

Here's today's selection, from my favourite movie of all time, "Dead Poets Society":

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse."

That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"

-- John Keating ( literature / English teacher played to perfection by Robin Williams ). [ You really must see the film in order to fully appreciate these lines. Williams deserved an Oscar but sadly didn't win it that year. ]

My thanks to JC, for lugging a bagful of Clay Aiken paraphernalia from LA back home. Key chain, button, T-shirt, tour programme and gigantic poster. I love them all! :D

Last but not least, a fond farewell to Candlewick's Blog. Stay in touch through email, won't you. :)

Have a good Sunday.

Friday, April 16, 2004

This is the first of 3 Friday night calls I have lined up this month, thanks to what looks like a fixed template on our department secretary's Microsoft Excel. ( It's either that, or I'm being sabotaged by an unknown force. :))

House-moving Update

Furniture's in. Looks terrific. Ikea did a great job!
Now for the curtains, a new fridge / washing machine, and a few finishing touches.
Will be taking my first dip in the pool downstairs next week. Yahoo! :D

TV Show Updates:

Eye For A Guy

I totall forgot to review this in the whole mess of moving, so here's a belated recap. ( Xena, I hope you caught the second episode, which was absolutely hilarious. :P )
It's getting to be like some Amazing Race / Survivor competition now, with the guys being put through various degrading / physically challenging tasks to prove themselves worthy of the bimb... oops, I mean lady. :D Monday night's installment had them doing embarrassing half-full Monties at a theme restaurant ( if I'm not mistaken, the establishment is being investigated by the police at the moment, for demeaning other hapless patrons on a separate occasion ).
The hunks got to strut their stuff, while the wimps were left behind in the dusty stampede. Toilet Frog Boy got a stuffed toy from Rachel -- plus some dagger stares from jealous suitors -- but eventually still failed to make it to the next round.
Polytechnic lecturer Mark seems to have, in his own sappy words, "fallen" for the bikini babe. I initially thought he was one of the more promising fellas in the group, but this revelation had made my opinion of him dip quite a bit.
Sivert remains a frontrunner. Sweet-faced, softspoken, not pushy like the rest, but just enigmatic enough to keep everyone interested. Hair salon manager, his profile says. Which salon, I wonder? :P

Next week, hormones go into major overdrive, as Rachel goes rock-climbing with the men, and looks "hot against the wall", as one subtly puts it. Stay tuned.

American Idol 3

In a move that defies logical explanation, Quentin Tarantino -- connoisseur of B-grade kungfu flicks, ripper-offer of every movie genre in existence, maestro of violence and gore -- was guest judge of a singing competition . Did the producers run out of respectable music artistes to invite, or did the invitees gracefully decline? I thought having Paula Abdul -- she of the whiny singing voice ( if you can even call it singing ), and technically a has-been till her AI stint -- on the panel was bad enough.

Anyway, my earlier opinions about AI3 surpassing AI2 have completely vanished. My favourites, Jon Peter Lewis and John Stevens, are constantly disappointing, and now JPL has been eliminated, post wild-card-show-America's-choice glow. The audience this year is fickle indeed. Scary.

John Stevens is lacklustre, forever stuck in his jazz/oldie rut. Diana Degarmo slaughtered Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On, Jasmine is losing steam, Jennifer always grates on my nerves, and George went flat ( gasp! ).
The only two consistent performers are Fantasia and LaToya. Both African-American, with powerhouse voices and luminous stage presences, they are definitely the ones to watch, and are my predictions for the top 2, while George is a good bet for #3.
Simon Cowell may have said that Fantasia's rendition of Gershwin's "Summertime" was magical -- she did it kneeling on the ground, dressed in a pink satin gown -- but for me, "magic" will be forever epitomized by Clay Aiken's "Somewhere Out There" performance last year. :)

The O.C.

Did I forget to mention that 2 of the show's producers are well-known Hollywood successes? There's McG, music video master and director of the insipid yet entertaining Charlie's Angels sequel. And Doug Liman ( co-producer and director of last night's 2nd episode ) helmed "The Bourne Identity", which starred Matt Damon and ranks high on my list of favourite action/espionage thrillers.

This series is just full of surprises. After an intriguing pilot, the latest offers some nice twists, thoughtful dialogue, and intelligent plot developments. Ben McKenzie continues to captivate, and I sincerely hope he puts his charisma to good use in, say, a full-length film, sometime soon. Y'know, lead role in an indie, or perhaps a small role in a blockbuster.

Someone tells me Mischa Barton, aka the Bardot / Gisele lookalike who plays Marissa, was the little-girl-ghost-who-puked-all-over-herself in "The Sixth Sense". Whoa, now there's a leap! :D

Other TV Updates

"Monk" is back on cable! Screens Wednesday nights at 10pm on Starworld Channel 18. Clashes with AI3, so thank goodness I have two VCRs. :P

Outrageous Celebrity Lookalike Behaviour Caught On Tape / What Were You Thinking? -- new reality shows every Thursday and Friday nights at 8pm, Channel 18 and 19 respectively. I actually caught the former briefly before nodding off ( fatigue, not disinterest! ). This featured Madonna / Janet Jackson / Bill Clinton / Tiger Woods / Anna Nicole Smith /Mike Tyson impersonators who look convincingly like the real deal, wow. Gags include a catfight between the two pseudo-divas, the Clinton wannabe scouting around the adult section of a video store, "Tiger" hurling insults at fellow golfers, "Smith" answering brainy questions at a language class, and "Tyson" freaking out over a nonexistent spider. Funny stuff. :D

You're not the first to wonder just how the heck I manage to watch so much TV. :) Let's put it this way: some people spend their free time drinking / pubbing, doing sporty things, or dating, or raising a family. I just decide to spend mine overdosing on goggle box fare, blogging, the occasional concert / dinner meetup, and reading. I'm not the sort who gets consumed by my work. In fact, I make it a priority NOT to let it get the better of me. Television offers an alternate dimension which is a lot more interesting than real life. Plus, I get to learn new things in the process ( e.g. your race car can flip 10 times at full speed and you won't die, a-HA! ). I've been a TV junkie since early childhood, so it's a hard habit to break. Besides, my first words as a toddler were "Mommy, I wanna watch TV." ( True fact! :))

I've been asked to dole out advice yet again, this time to another college grad waiting to enter university. Is there time for yourself, she asks. Time for dating, shopping, eating... Is medicine traumatizing?

My perspective of med school is that it isn't any different from other courses. We work hard, we play hard, we lead pretty normal lives ( except for sticking your hands into someone's insides :P ). Dating? Sure. In fact, make it easy on yourself and get hitched to a fellow medical classmate, won't you. :) Shopping -- I guess it isn't a problem, considering how dressy female med students are getting nowadays. Eating's always a challenge, especially when you go to some ulu hospital with only one tiny canteen ( hint hint ;)). But then, there's always the option of walking / driving out to nearby hawker centres and shopping malls to savour better fare.

Is medicine traumatizing? I told her very frankly: Yes. And if you stop being traumatized by it, then God help you, 'cos if that ever happens, you're basically emotionally dead. Even getting transiently worked up by an FON patient is better than not caring at all.

But most importantly, I told her that medicine isn't easy, and that she has to be certain that she wants to be a doctor before taking any definite steps and embarking on this long journey. Some people join med school out of family obligation, others for monetary gains. A few crave the highly sought-after title, still fewer have truly noble intentions. I know of people with the all-or-nothing mentality. Me, it was a mixture of factors: only-child syndrome with enthusiastic parents, no other doctors in the family so I'm the first; a little bit of the glam factor appealed to me, but I was perfectly willing to switch to journalism if I hadn't been accepted locally. I didn't exactly sail through university, and I certainly didn't shine in any way. I suspect I only fully grasped the beauty of this age-old "art" of healing when I started as a medical officer, in the illustrious SGH Gastroenterology Department, where professors and other seniors demonstrated the finesse of clinical acumen, and imparted invaluable knowledge that I still vividly recall to this day.

Looking back, I sometimes feel regret at not learning to appreciate the finer points of my education till only a few years ago. Perhaps it is partly the fault of the curriculum -- I always found it dry and too theoretical. The clinical attachments often left me a little dumbfounded -- strapped down by information which later proved useless for practical purposes. Surprisingly, the med school postings which left the greatest impressions ( and provided the best pearls of wisdom ) were Orthopaedics and Emergency Medicine. I did the former at SGH, the latter at NUH. Both departments boast excellent tutors and teaching programmes, at least during my months there. Those were good times. :)

Ultimately, there's no hard and fast way to determine if you're "made for medicine". I used to think the interview panels were to blame when people dropped out or later resigned, or turned out to be real asses who gave the profession a bad name. But honestly, you can never tell, and that's the dangerous part. People know how to pretend, and people change with the passage of time. Human behaviour is already too unpredictable to begin with. And in a job as highly-charged as medicine, doctors can just as easily rise to the occasion, or collapse in a cowering heap when it comes down to the crunch. They can be on the dean's list in final year, yet suck as housemen or medical officers. Win a whole string of awards, but raise eyebrows with questionable skills in the operating theatre.

However, if you strongly believe that you can be committed to your job, are able to care deeply for your patients, and promise to strive to do your best as a physician in every aspect, then I say "Go for it!" And good luck! :)

5am. Time to get some shuteye. More packing tomorrow. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

To tide you over for the day. :)

Doctor Jokes!

Furniture's coming today. No post-call nap for me, aargh!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


The Ten Tenors Return

Gonna burn a hole in my pocket -- again.
But it'll be worth every cent. :)

Thanks to L for the heads up!

Swooning Session -- Beware

If you haven't bought this yet, what the HECK are you waiting for???

--> Review of Michael Buble's Come Fly With Me album

Recently released in Singapore, and doing very brisk sales from what I could see at That CD Shop in Great World City last weekend. I'm still working on the Class 95 people to help promote Peter Cincotti, but Buble has built up a huge audience here, mainly through word of mouth, and now needs no further introduction.

This follow-up to his immensely successful self-titled effort only a mere year ago is a gem. It contains an 8-track CD, plus a 12-track concert DVD, and 3 bonus songs from the Sessions@AOL recording. *short pause to wipe some drool off my face, heh*

I'm a big fan, so here's a detailed rundown:

CD selections

Track #1: Nice 'N Easy -- Very good choice for an opener. His style has evolved somewhat since his crooning days on the last album, and I love every bit of it. More full-throated ( somehow that term keeps popping into my head ), definitely more powerful vocals. The overall mood has actually shifted from his previously mellow delivery to a rich, thumping Big Band sound. ( I adore the Big Band era, so this is right up my alley. :)) Some resemblance to Sinatra, but really, Buble has already come into his own. Spectacular.

Track #2: Can't Help Falling In Love -- A cover of that Elvis Presley classic, which starts off sounding a bit elevator-music-ey, but has grown on me in a big way, and now ranks 2nd on my list of favourites on this CD. Wait for the chorus, and those glorious high notes. Blasting them on the Discman with the lights turned low, or in my car when I'm all alone -- pure heaven. :)

Track #3: My Funny Valentine -- This is the first of 6 "live" performances, and was included in the repertoire during his show here last September. Very well done, and if you read my review of the concert, you may recall a bit during this piece when he stood a few feet away from the mike and just belted out the last few lines, to amazing effect. The good news is, in this version, you'll be able to pick out when this happens, though nothing compares to actually seeing him close his eyes as his voice soars. Still gives me goosebumps.

Track #4: Mack The Knife -- Ooh, Bobby Darin revived! I still can't decide between Clay Aiken's, Robbie Williams' and Michael Buble's covers, 'cos they all interprete it differently. This version's again very Big Band-ish, and Buble doesn't miss a note. Terrific.

Track #5: Fever -- I'd forgotten how fantastic Buble's "live" performance of this song was at last year's show, but now have the opportunity to relive those memories. :D Ranges from a purr to a growl to power notes. Don't think anyone will ever beat that!

Track #6: You'll Never Know -- My absolute favourite on the album, and I melted completely when I first heard him sing it last year ( lousy SUNTEC acoustics or not ). The very first piece he did for his beloved grandfather, and gorgeous beyond compare. Listening to him croon "I speak your name in my every prayer " makes me weak in the knees, haha. :P

Track #7: For Once In My Life -- Big Band in full colour. It doesn't get any better than this!

Track #8: Moondance -- Excellent, though not one of my favs. Wish they could've included The Way You Look Tonight. Sigh.

The concert DVD

Features tracks #3 to #8, plus other crowd pleasers like The Way You Look Tonight, That's All, How Do You Mend A Broken Heart, etc. Also has lots of footage from various interviews and backstage meet & greets.

The best thing about this is being able to witness his showmanship on-stage. When I first watched him perform, I was blown away. Seeing him on the TV screen isn't the same, but it gives a pretty good gauge of what he's like in front of an audience. Totally different from his studio persona. I LIKE it. :)

Also, many little-known facts are revealed -- e.g. when did he break up with his girlfriend?! The man's single now! ;D He talks about his childhood, his love for jazz, poker, life on the road, his rapport with the band ( all young guys -- they sound great, btw, both on the discs and in concert ).

Funny that they kept saying how, when they were teens, no-one else seemed to be listening to jazz. Not at that age anyhow. Buble talks about how his grandfather always believed he would "bring it back" to the masses -- which he certainly has, bless him. :) I don't know. Maybe it depends on your family / friends. My mom loves jazz, and I tuned in to Nat King Cole, Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and The Platters way back in primary school. I've always loved this genre, and always will. And darn it, I'll make it a point to introduce my teenage cousins and any other young people I know to Buble, Williams and Cincotti ( if these 3 ever sing together, I'll die happy. :P )


David Foster proteges tend to get a chance to do an "acoustic set" ( other example: Josh Groban ), and this showcases Buble's vocals, as well his band's finesse, wonderfully. The perfect ending if there ever was one.

And if you'd like to read my review of Buble's phenomenal Singapore show, click on this link:

Michael Buble In Singapore -- September 16th 2003

So far, there're only 2 CDs that can make me smile no matter how crappy a day I've had, and no matter how many hundreds of times I've heard the songs:

Robbie Williams -- Swing When You're Winning
Michael Buble -- Come Fly With Me

Where's Clay, you ask? Haha, I love his Measure Of A Man album, but I think the best is yet to come ( i.e. his much awaited X'mas CD due for release later this year ). Be patient! :)

And the medical news for today?

Just spotted the patient attendance stats for local ERs in 2003:

CGH -- 122,000 +
SGH -- 109,000 +
TTSH -- 105,000 +

We have a winner! Boy am I glad I'll be working in an A&E that doesn't even belong in the top 3 for the next 6 months. Yeah, baby, yeah! :D

Monday, April 12, 2004

Motto of the Day

I can use the laptop to do stuff, even if the mouse goes way out of control.
So while it's stuck at the bottom left corner of the screen, furiously trying to burrow its way out, I can use my trusty "Tab" button. :)

Review of The Passion of the Christ

I saw this last night ( Easter Sunday ), together with my mom and a fellow middle-aged church friend. Theatre was fully occupied, audience comprising young and old, and in all likelihood both Christians and non-Christians. The mood was initially light-hearted, thanks to a "Starsky and Hutch" trailer that screened just a few minutes prior to the film itself. But once the 20th Century Fox theme heralded the start of the movie, things suddenly became very subdued. Total silence, then the opening scene...

I've been waiting to see TPOTC for so long, and my fears about being traumatized by its images came true yesterday. After all, my eyes blurred from the tears during a snippet of (??)"The Last Temptation of Christ", depicting Jesus' long and arduous journey to Golgotha as he bore a heavy wooden cross, at church on Good Friday. The Jesus portrayed in that film, however, is minimally bloodied. And though he staggers, the scene is relatively short when compared to TPOTC's lengthy, drawn-out version.

As everyone knows, Passion traces the last 12 hours of Christ's life: his capture at Gethsemane, his "trial" before King Herod and Pontius Pilate, the scourging, the trek to Golgotha, then the Crucifixion. From what I could tell, director Mel Gibson remains very faithful to the Bible's record of events. Famous verses are spoken exactly as they are written, and in Aramaic, nothing less.

Gibson's choices in the film may be controversial, but I, for one, applaud them all. Casting Jim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line, Frequency, Angel Eyes, High Crimes, The Count of Monte Cristo ) is a stroke of inspiration. This amazing actor practically carved his career out of playing tortured souls. His role as the Saviour of mankind is such a challenging yet vulnerable one, and he plays it flawlessly.

Another point of contention is why Gibson dwells so much on Jesus' physical torment, but mentions little of his earlier years as a preacher / healer. In my opinion, however, I view it as the right move, and one that not many other directors would've dared to make. And speaking as a Christian, it is absolutely imperative that we KNOW what Christ suffered, in its gruesome totality.

There're three main sequences to take note of: The Scourge, The Walk to Golgotha, and the Crucifixion.

The Scourge details the flogging of Jesus -- graphic, prolonged and bloody. I can't seem to find a description of this in my Bible, though I recall my church vicar saying the number "39" during his Good Friday sermon. I was crying in the theatre, but kept count throughout. Seemed a lot more than 39 to me.

The Walk To Golgotha is even more distressing. Jesus, already weakened by the whipping, dripping blood from a crown of thorns piercing his scalp, is made to bear an impossibly heavy wooden cross for many miles, first through the city of Jerusalem ( enduring constant jeering and beatings from the soldiers and non-believers -- many of whom are Jews ) then up the hillsides to The Skull, where he later died. En route, he struggles and falls repeatedly, until Simon of Cyrene is summoned to help him.

The Crucifixion is the most horrific image I have ever witnessed on film. Even all my years of facing blood and gore at the workplace couldn't prepare me for the anguish I felt, even though I kept telling myself: IT'S JUST A MOVIE. One can easily imagine what it feels like, but seeing it, and in the context of religion, is... unbearable. I get emotional sometimes, but during this agonizing scene, I sobbed . My shoulders shook, my hands trembled, I pressed my palm to my mouth so no-one would hear me whimper. First time this has ever happened to me during a movie.

It is difficult to fully describe the entire experience, but the best term I can come up with is "life-changing". As a Christian, it is SO important to know how much Christ suffered for our sins, yet in his last moments on Earth, cried out for the Lord to "forgive them, for they know not what they do"; how this man without sin was persecuted in the most terrible manner, yet never fought back. At Gethsemane, he even heals an injured Roman soldier -- his enemy, later turned believer. We see how false prophets condemned their own King, propelled by fear and a thirst for power. We see how evil man can be -- God's own Creations, now traitors and torturers. But most importantly, we realize how inconsequential transgressions against us appear when compared to Christ's own pain. And how, if he could forgive in the midst of such cruelty, we should do better when faced with so much less.
As for non-Christians, I only hope they will feel compelled to learn more. Whether out of morbid curiosity, spiritual need, or even with the sole purpose of debunking a "myth", learning more is a start.

Many non-believers ask me why God doesn't answer all prayers, or help every single person in need, or better still, perform miracles on a regular basis, in order to win everyone over. But it isn't that simple. It never has been. Even when Christ performed such wonders among his people, the high priests ( those who profess to worship the very same God ) branded him a blasphemer. Ironically, Pontius Pilate, who attempted to show mercy but was shouted down, was a Roman.
Perhaps the most important question is asked by Pilate's wife, Claudia: Will you know the truth when you hear it?
Will we know or accept that someone is the Son of God if we were to ever meet such a person, even if he performs numerous miracles? 2000 years ago, many didn't. In the 21st century, who can tell really?

It's easy to label TPOTC as "just another movie". In this day and age of fulminant violence and conveyor-belt film-making, how many of us will remember anything the next day, or even a few minutes after watching it? So I've included something new in my daily prayer: I pray every single day that I will not forget . That those images of Christ crucified, of him begging the Lord's forgiveness for his enemies, of his bleeding palms and feet, will be burned into my mind for as long as I live.

So please, go see this film. I hope it touches you as deeply as it touched me. And that you too will not forget.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

As a small favour to a friend of mine:

MSF Recruitment Talk ( S'pore ) April 22nd / 23rd

Aka Doctors Without Borders, but they're also interested in para-medical and non-medical volunteers.

Check it out if you're interested. :)

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Playing the piano for Good Friday then today's special Easter Eve memorial services provided the first opportunity for me to attend them for the first time ( was working through the weekend last year, 2 months post-baptism ).

With a new vicar and a recent major revamping of the way things are run at our church, some roles have become magnified, while others the reverse. Mine appears to be the former, but currently, it is ( to my relief ) restricted to hiding behind a grand piano in a corner of the hall. :)

Yesterday's sermon will serve as the appetizer to my viewing ( finally! ) of The Passion of the Christ tomorrow. I fully expect to be duly traumatized by the experience. But as a Christian, it is a chance I can't possibly pass up. I hope to post a review the day after.

This afternoon's memorial service included the reading of a list of names of the deceased, provided by various parishioners. My late maternal grandmother was added to it at my request, and I realized how much I still miss her, this diminutive yet regal lady with the ready smile and laughing eyes, who taught and cooked for me, whose Tiong Bahru flat became a second home as I camped there daily while waiting for my parents to pick me up.
When she fell and broke her hip, even surgery couldn't make her normal again. She became even tinier than before, hunched, afraid to walk without the aid of a pair of strong arms wrapped around her. She whispered of her childhood, and sometimes couldn't recognize me, though always nodding and beaming in mock comprehension when I idenitified myself. Her hair, once regularly dyed dark brown, became its natural snowy white -- a beautiful shade, almost luminous in its hue -- while her limbs became thin and wasted, atrophied from all those years trapped in her wheelchair.

The night she passed on, it was in a chilly hospital room instead of the home she loved. The huge trolley bed grossly oversized for someone so small. The ETT disconnected from the ventilator in the ER and changed to a T-tube after the DNR status was decided. She had clearly stopped breathing, and there was no pulse, but the cardiac monitor continued to show electrical activity late into the night, way beyond anyone's expectations considering the absence of respiration or any form of pharmacological support. Perhaps she wasn't ready to leave this world. Perhaps we needed those 8 hours to grieve and say our goodbyes. I remember chastising myself for feeling so little. The tears wouldn't flow, the numbness was overwhelming. Only when my favourite cousin -- a stoic guy 4 years my senior -- broke down did I then follow suit. Sadness, perhaps mixed with anger and guilt. But mostly, an abysmal sense of loss.

In times like these, the memories always come flooding back en masse. 7 years old, sitting at the kitchen table being tutored in Mandarin, my legs dangling above the floor; 14, studying history in one of the bedrooms while she makes me an afternoon snack -- her famous red bean soup; 19, she takes me to the tailor in Outram for my lab coat measurements, and we spend the whole day together just talking and laughing -- she's proud that I got into medical school and hopes to live long enough to see me graduate; 21, she learns that I'm seeing someone, and jokes about how many great-grandchildren she'd like; 25, I camp out at her place again, but not like the carefree days of old -- she notices the change, but doesn't ask why because she already knows.

"We do not die until God decides that it is our time to pass on," our priest intoned. Grandma was 85 when she left this world. 5 children, 6 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild. A fulfilling 40-year career in teaching, followed by a comfortable retirement. A home constantly overflowing with friends, relatives, food and laughter. The old but sturdy kitchen table where we learned, confided, shared our hopes and dreams, and where the whole clan met every Chinese New Year for a feast of Indonesian delicacies. She survived the Japanese Occupation, even delivered her first child in the midst of a raging war and survived the ordeal.

The Lord has been kind indeed.
Happy Easter, everyone. :)

Now, here's something The Rolling Donut's author will most definitely cringe at. :D

Review of The O.C.

I used to be a Beverly Hills 90210 junkie. Small wonder I'd tune in to this new teen drama ( I also used to follow Party of Five and Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- that is, until Angel left the latter series ). Terrible, isn't it? :P

Okay, first impressions of the show are good. Story- and character-wise --forget realism. Street urchin gets arrested, faces jail if he gets into trouble again, then gets kicked out of the house by his mom, and taken in by ( get this ) his rich defense attorney with a heart of gold from upper-class Orange County ( or the O.C. for short ).
It doesn't end there. Urchin gets along swell with the lawyer's son, who's conveniently the same age. He also catches the eye of 2 of the O.C.'s prettiest girls. When lawyer-boy gets bashed up by some school bullies at a party, Urchin jumps in to help out, forging a brotherly bond in the process. He also cooks breakfast for the family the next morning. Etc, etc.

Too good to be true, yes, but I'm not watching this for the plots. I watch only for the actors -- leads Benjamin McKenzie ( Ryan / said urchin ) and Mischa Barton ( Marissa ).

McKenzie was featured in People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive 2003 issue as one of the Simply The Best candidates ( together with Clay Aiken -- I have the issue at home, that's how I know :)). Anyhow, they weren't wrong when they picked him out. Measuring 5 feet 8 inches, he's considered pretty short by conventional Hollywood standards, but makes up for it with charisma. Boyish face offset by bulging biceps. Brooding sexuality mixed in with the occasional little-boy-lost angst ( especially when he returns home to find it emptied and his family gone south ).

The scene that sticks out ( for me ) is when he meets Marissa for the first time while she stands outside her house waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up. He saunters over, then when asked about his background, nonchalantly cocks his head to the left and fixes her with a heavy-lidded gaze.
"I stole a car... crashed it," he drawls, then inches closer in a very deliberate, slow swagger. I saw this once in Matthew McConaughey in A Time To Kill. Always nice to spot it again. :)

Mischa Barton should be a draw for the guys. I don't usually say a female actress is beautiful ( I reserve that term for the likes of Michelle Pfeiffer, Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson ), but Barton is unbelievably gorgeous. Kinda like a sweeter Gisele Bundchen, but with fairer skin and rosier cheeks. Her chemistry with McKenzie isn't that palpable at the moment, but this could build up as the series progresses.

And if that has whet your appetite, tune in next Thursday night, after American Idol 3. :)

[ AI3 and Survivor: All-Stars are a little dull this week. Might review them next time if they pick up some slack. ]

To end off:

Nurse -- Doctor, the Invisible Man's in the waiting room.
Doctor -- Tell him I can't see him at the moment.

Friday, April 09, 2004

It's 3:30am. All quiet in resus, and I happily click on the IRAS e-filing link so I can get my income tax filed once and for all.
No such luck. Stupid browser. Error ^&%*$#@

Eh, shouldn't be doing that. It's Good Friday today. :P Will be attending service this afternoon, and filling in on the piano as well. Should be fun. :)

Kid screaming her head off in consult while being sponged for a high fever. I can feel the walls vibrating. Lots of this to look forward to come May, when I get to see babies and children on a daily basis. >_<
I once asked my mom how she managed to put up with me as a kid. "But you were a very good child," she crooned. "You hardly spoke, and almost never cried. You were every parent's dream." Hmm, sounds more like I was a piece of drywood in my younger days.

And speaking of young... For the umpteenth time, someone commented that I look too youthful for a doc. Latest age approximation: 21. Wow, I'm flattered! The last time something like this happened was when I was denied entry to an R(A) film. Think I was 25 at the time, heh heh.

Personally, I think I look 40. Okay, I feel 40. No wait, make that 80. Looks-wise, there're definitely new lines. Eye bags, dark circles, maybe a glaze in the corneas in contrast to a previous twinkle. The occasional sparkle returns now and then, but it seldom hangs around for very long. I'm still searching for... something... to bring it back permanently.

Sparkle triggers?

1. A good song -- nothing syrup-ey, puh-leeze. No, I'm talkin' The Jets' Am I Gonna Be Your Girl ( from the iPod commercial, and the latest ditty I can't get out of my head, like Kylie's... oh sheesh, there it goes again ), or Rock DJ by Robbie Williams. Music that makes me forget everything else for 4 whole minutes.

2. Comedy -- Whose Line Is It Anyway? is a constant fav. Seinfeld too until it ended its run. These are the ones that don't just make you laugh. They induce full-throttle, side-splitting guffaws.

3. Humour writing -- Ahhh, Dave Barry. Say no more. :P

4. Films -- I count only a few. Dead Poets' Society, LOTR #1 and #3, The Sixth Sense, Harry Potter. There's something just magical about movies that never get boring even after the 50th viewing. :)

5. Miscellaneous -- whenever Clay sings; a giant sizzling steak, medium-rare thank you very much; anytime my 7-year-old cat decides to revert to kitten-mode; the occasional but much-valued foray overseas; getting published.

Work? That's a different kind of sparkle -- satisfied but detached. No real immersion into "the moment". Maybe it'll come sometime. Lateral Thoracotomy Day perhaps. :D

So. What triggers YOUR sparkle? :)

Birthday wishes in order. Have a good one, re-minisce.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

I'm feeling rather poorly at the moment.
And very poor in general.

Argh, just wrote cheques totalling more than 2 months' salary in the space of 30 minutes today. It's for something important, of course, but seeing my bank balance take a big dip is always traumatic for me. And that's when I start thinking about buying a fistful of Big Sweep tickets. Hmm, birthday coming up. Maybe I'll get lucky. :P

Still sleep-deprived, but thankfully, am in resus, which can be pretty good compared to the NS-boy-URTI-MC-seeker consult population. Resorting to eyeballing music scores in between cases, since I have little to no time for actual piano-practising. A bit odd, but beats doing medical reports. :) ( Our department secretary's gonna kill me for this. :))

Okay, a l, this one's for you. :D

Eye For A Guy

I watched this last night, and you're absolutely correct about it being hilarious. But it isn't good hilarious. More like sad hilarious. Local ( and very weak ) copycat of The Bachelorette, but with much less attractive and much less likeable characters.

The New Paper review wasn't kidding when it said the guys go all out to "sell themselves". From the word go, they have no qualms about sharing their "plus points" -- "I'm a flirt!" exclaims one ( followed by a big satisfied grin ), "I'm very charming... and humble!" state another, then there's the "I worked in Australia for 2 years and left with 130 phone numbers in my little black book!" ( I think he mentioned how many girlfriends he had as well, but I was too busy gagging to hear him clearly. ) Yeah, they're all Great Guys -- in their minds, that is.

Looks-wise, ummmmm... not the pick of the crop, IMHO, but what do you expect from a show like this? A few are pretty wimpy, but Edgar, whom I found quite handsome ( though weird -- more on that later ) ended up getting kicked out together with a skinny Malay fellow ( who broke down in tears, imagine that ). Among those remaining, I think Sivert's quite pleasant ( though I'd like to know why his parents decided to torment him with a name like that ). The rest are mostly bland, but maybe more personality will emerge in the later installments. I hope .

The female object of desire is none other than Rachel, aka recently crowned bikini babe for FHM magazine. Nice bod, no question. Long waist-length hair (men love that ), bright smile. Then, she speaks. *shudder* Whiny voice, tends to drawl, tinged with a Singlish accent, loves to repeat words like "so sweeeeeet" in a drawly, whiny Singaporean twang. Wah lau eh, cannot take it!

Weirdo moments plentiful.

Edgar, the good-looker with an American accent and tight abs, suddenly launches into an account of how he frequented gay bars and participated in S&M activities overseas. Uncomfortable silence all around, but he's blissfully unaware. Blah blah blah, he drones on, thinking he's impressing everyone with his "wisdom and experience". At the end, when Rachel ditches him, he even sings her a Colin Ray love song. Off-key. Gag moment #2. :P

Then, there was the Malay guy ( ?Wayne ). Am pretty sure he got the boot as well. He chose to do a "Toilet Frog" ditty, which he claims is a children's favourite. On what planet, I wonder. "Mm-mm-mm" ( or was it more "nngh-nngh-nngh"? ) he sang, sticking out his tongue, rolling his eyes about, later even doing some suggestive squatting motions. Rachel looks dumbfounded -- the only time her vacant expression changes, for your info -- and I know he's a goner. Ow, my sides still hurt from all that laughing. :D

Then there're the Caveman Antics. Tonnes of territorial marking, but without the peeing. Adam, aka 130-phone-numbers-guy, stalks Rachel like a patient vulture. Then, when a couple of wimpy males stay back to chat with her while the hunky ones strip down to their trunks, some of the disgruntled proceed to envelope the scrawny in bear hugs so they'll get drenched and be forced to leave to dry up or change.

Of course, Sensitive New Age Guy Behaviour was also aplenty. Gifts of flowers, poems, a scrapbook with kiddish drawings -- yeah, these'll DEFINITELY have a woman swooning.

The defining moment?
When Edgar finds out he didn't make the cut, and we switch to a separate interview with Rachel. "I actually met him at a club about a year ago, where he passed me his number on a coaster and asked me to call him. I just didn't have a very good impression of him." I kinda feel sorry for poor Edgar in a way. Getting rejected by the same girl twice, on national TV -- that has GOT to hurt.

More TV show reviews.

The Laramie Project

This screened on HBO last night, and should have repeats later this month. I highly, highly recommend this.

Laramie is a sleepy town in Wyoming, Texas, but also where the University of Wyoming is located. Quiet place, gorgeous skies, vast areas of lush farmland. Then, in October 1998, Matthew Shepard, an openly gay 21-year-old university student, left a bar with 2 young locals, and was found the next morning bound to a fence in the middle of nowhere, covered with blood from head to toe, and near death.
Huge uproar all over America and the world. Reporters descend on the town in huge numbers, some branding Laramie residents as manic homophobes and the community a hotbed of hate crimes.

This HBO original movie details the journey made by 5 film students as they interviewed dozens of people close to the case, in their quest to produce a documentary that would accurately depict this sensational event. Visits were made in the midst of the media frenzy, rather than retrospective in nature, so the story plays out as the events unfold.

In a nutshell, I think it's as compelling and well-made as "And The Band Played On" ( an excellent film about the AIDS epidemic when it first broke in the early '80s ). And like its illustrious counterpart, "The Laramie Project" boasts lots of cameos and famous faces, examples of whom include Janeane Garofalo, Steve Buscemi, Peter Fonda, Christine Ricci and Joshua Jackson. The script is superb and manages to remain passively detached, allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions. And yet, intense emotion permeates throughout, be it shock, disgust, pity, anger or immense pain and loss. I found myself crying many times during its 90-minute run.

I vividly recall reading about Matthew's brutal murder in Time magazine years ago. Watching this movie brought a flood of memories. I remember thinking Laramie was against gays -- how else could we explain a crime as horrific as this? The magazine didn't really give the town residents much leeway, hence resulting in a rather biased report. But the film illustrates otherwise. The policewoman who was first to arrive at the scene wept when she saw Matt's badly battered body. He was popular at university, his sexuality ( and that of an openly lesbian lecturer ) widely known and accepted on campus. No-one condoned the killers' actions. In fact, when fellow residents were called for jury duty, many answered "Yes" when asked if they supported the death penalty.

One subplot I found extremely compelling involves the previously mentioned policewoman. In one poignant scene, she stands shell-shocked after receiving a phone call from the hospital where Matt is warded, comatose and on supportive ventilation due to massive brain haemorrhaging.
"They did some blood tests. Matthew Shepard is HIV-positive and they think I've been exposed."
She then describes how, when she found him that morning, he was caked in blood from head to toe, and how "the only place that didn't have any blood on it was his face", where his tears had left tracks. She "didn't think", and struggled to untie him so she could "get him off that fence". In the process, his blood was smeared on her hands -- hands which had a number of superficial cuts previously sustained through various manual chores.
"But we don't blame Matthew," her mother tells an interviewer. They can only hope and pray that a course of AZT will prevent her from contracting the disease.

The last 10 minutes of the movie are also the saddest. Asked by one of the killers' defence attorneys to help plead for leniency ( in this case, asking the judge for life without parole instead of execution ), Matthew's father makes a tearful statement in court. Snippets of what I can recall offhand:
"Matthew officially died on October 12th, but in truth, he died that night ( Oct 9 ), on that fence. Everyone thinks he died alone, but he didn't. He had the beautiful night sky... the smell of the pine trees... and he had God. He entered this life premature, and he left it premature." He breaks down near the end, his face contorted with pain and anguish. Yet in his next breath, he pleads for leniency, and asks the judge to spare his son's murderer's life. Based on a true story, and as stated during the opening credits, the screenplay mirrors transcripts of multiple interviews and court sessions. No over-dramatization or tweaking of the script here. I was riveted.

I thought Matthew Shepard's picture would appear once the closing credits rolled, but I was wrong. I still remember his face well -- boyishly handsome, beautiful smile, kind eyes. He looked like a choir boy, and was often described as "tiny". He also had great hopes for the future, and wanted to make a difference in what he called his "part of the world". To see such a young life end so tragically, and for such meaningless reasons, is heartbreaking. But the greatest tragedy is how so many other lives were destroyed as well, and how a once peaceful town is now forever scarred.

And in other news, it's now 9:30pm, and resus is hell. Haven't touched my music scores once. Whoopee.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

5:00 am

Chatting with my MO friend in resus, we're suddenly interrupted by 2 health attendants pushing a patient from the triage area.

"Heart attack!" they shout, running over to the nearest available trolley. The guy is a big fella, pale and diaphoretic, slumped in the wheelchair.
"Any ECG?" we ask.
"Not done yet."
Silent exchange of looks as my friend and I wonder how accurate this "heart attack" statement is.

Turns out to be right on the money. Florid ST elevations anterolateral leads. BP systolic 89, patient responsive but mental state slightly altered by pain and hypotension.
Me: Sir, when did your chest pain start?
Patient: I dunno.
Me: Can you just give us a rough idea? Before or after midnight? 3am? 4am?
Patient: I dunno.

Quick conversation with his son.
"Errr, I don't know either. I got home at 4am, and he was already complaining of pain."

Cardiologist gets a page from me. Nice chap, but needs further details.
Me: I can't get any answer regarding when the pain started. I really tried, but he keeps telling me he doesn't know. He just says he woke up with the pain.
CVM: So he was okay before he slept. Find out what time he went to bed.
I ask as instructed.
Patient: I dunno.
Me: Was it before or after midnight?
Patient: I dunno.
Me: Didn't you look at the clock?
Patient: No.
Me: How about dinner? Were you okay then?
Patient: Yes.
Me: Okay, so what time did you have dinner?
Patient: I dunno.

I'm getting exasperated, but the cardiologist asks me to see if the patient's wife is around. Turns out she just arrived.
Wife: He ate at around 8pm, but I don't know when he went to bed because I slept first. ( She doesn't know what time his chest pain started either. )
CVM: Sounds like the onset is definitely less than 12 hours. All right, start r-TPA.
I speak to the patient's family first, who understand the risks involved and tell me to go ahead. I start running through the checklist as I explain to the guy. He doesn't really seem to care.
Patient: ( sits up ) Just give me the form to sign.
Me: You do understand what I just said, right?
Patient: Mmm-ummm... ( scribbles his name then flops back down onto the pillow )

Finally get to sit down an hour later. Patient safely tucked away in the MICU, and all I can think about is how hungry I am.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Today, I learned lots of complicated things about the care of marble floors. ( That and how hypnotic marble floor-waxing can be, especially if you lack sleep :)) It was Fixing Defects Day, and there must've been 10 guys trudging in and out of the apartment over the course of 4 long hours, some of whom didn't seem to have any particular task to perform. "Must be the air-conditioning," my mom commented, heh. :)
Doing a night shift without the prerequisite afternoon nap is taxing. For the first time ever, I've volunteered to sleep during the first rest slot. Let it be a quiet night please...


Post-90 minute snooze, I'm feeling slightly rejuvenated, and indebted to a fellow MO who held the fort in order to let me continue resting. Seems he was bombarded in a major way by truly bizarre cases ( e.g. bilateral mid-forearm paraesthesia -- the patient was okay, but his wife was bouncing off the walls ). Upon waking, I was greeted by a string of police cases brought in for blood alcohol levels. If you've done ER postings before, you'll understand the intense frustration attached to those thick stacks of forms and toxicology tubes. Must've set a record for clearing 5 such cases in the space of 10 minutes. The police officers looked as if they didn't know what hit them. :D

I've received comments about my watching too much reality TV in the past, and no, I don't mind them at all. :) I don't contest these allegations. Guilty as charged. On analyzing my usual TV fare, I've come up with a list of favourites:

( not in order of preference )

Fear Factor
Amazing Race
American Idol
The Bachelor / Bachelorette
Maximum Exposure / Now See This
Guinness World Records
Scariest Places On Earth ( I think that's what it was called. Hosted by Linda "The Exorcist" Blair )

Pretty wide spectrum, come to think of it. But why do I find them so addictive? For some, it's the characters that draw me in ( Survivor, American Idol, The Bachelor ). Others, it's the shock tactics ( fellow kisses aggressive, unrestrained venomous cobras on Guinness, pilot crashes fighter jet and lives / Taiwaness politicians boxing each other on Maximum Exposure, people getting the crap scared out of them on Scariest Places, eating live spiders and cow eyeballs on Fear Factor *yuck!* ). It's an all-or-nothing phenomenon, I think. You just either love or hate the genre.

It also helps if you have no social life, like myself. :P

I find Survivor, American Idol and Bachelor / Bachelorette more compelling because these series run for months, and offer interesting insights on human nature. The Idol franchise, especially, raises the idea of "power to the people" to another level, as evidenced by the latest season, where this power is starting to get increasingly abused.

Not so long ago, an article in The Straits Times commented on how American Idol is a reflection of teenhood. But why stop there? Just apply it to life in general, and include Survivor, The Bachelor and their siblings in the whole mix. Political manoeuvreing, deception, hypocrisy, injustice, disappointment, the very occasional happy ending -- who needs soap operas? No wonder it's called "reality" television.

Besides, I need Maximum Exposure to help me brush up on my ATLS. :)

Nothing to report work-wise. Boring is good. :D