Friday, June 26, 2009


I am in shock right now.

Can't believe Michael Jackson's really dead.

Just saw the Internet news reports this morning. Confirmation of details surrounding his tragic demise are still pending, but I'm extremely saddened by this sudden turn of events.

Possibilities: 1) drug overdose? 2) some viral illness causing myocarditis? 3) an underlying disease which he hid from the media and finally did him in?

I still remember the night I saw him in concert at the Kallang Stadium. It was 1993, just days before my prelims, but my mom knew how much I wanted to go and generously purchased the most expensive tickets for us. We ended up standing on our foldable chairs for 2 whole hours, craning our necks to see MJ above all the outstretched arms in front of us. We also sang Happy Birthday for him as he turned 35 that very same day.

It remains one of the best shows I've ever attended and, weeks later, a letter I snail-mailed ( not much Internet back then ) to Shadoe Stevens - the host of American Top 40 - was read to a global audience. In it, I detailed his visit to Singapore, including his gifts of free concert tickets to healthcare personnel who took care of him at a local private hospital.

Wow, everything's still fresh in my mind...

Despite all the controversy and bad publicity that has dogged MJ these past 15 years, there's no question that he will always be a musical icon - a genius who fell victim to the perils of fame and fortune and, sadly, never managed to recover.

Time magazine's tribute edition will arrive in my mailbox next week. Will store it somewhere safe, next to the commemorative issue from 9/11.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pure Indulgence Part V

Bear with me. :)
My mum's a little creeped out by that snake.
Real? Not real? I think it's the former. Fake ones can't coil like that.
Edgy - I like.

Not sure which year this is from, but James McAvoy has looked the same for the past 5 years.
Fabulous actor. If he'd been taller, he could've been a killer Darcy opposite Keira Knightley.

A recent favourite - though a perpetual Top 10.
He's done a few racy films in his early career. Check out YouTube. :)

An unexpected find on Google - a picture of Kevin Spacey that I've never seen before, and one of the most beautifully shot to boot.
Okay, now it's REALLY time to get back to work.
Back To Normal Transmission

For the time being, at least.

Some of you must be tired of my recent blog entries - a friend commented that my blog's become "sterile". Thanks, man. :)

Where's all the bitching and whining gone? A little bit of it migrated to Singapore MD. But I'm still holding most of my pent-up frustration in check.

Right now, it's 4am Saturday morning, and I'm ploughing through yet another mountain of admin work, though taking a short break to write this.

Am currently following State Of Play - the original BBC version - which has reruns on cable's BBC Entertainment Channel 76 every Thursday night.

I haven't seen the Hollywood remake starring Ben Affleck and an increasingly tubby Russell Crowe ( please go to the gym ). I've never been a big BBC fan ( other than long-ago productions of Jane Eyre, Pride And Prejudice and The Black Adder ), but State Of Play is proving addictive, especially after its 2nd episode.

Well-written and perfectly cast, the main reason I even know about this series ( didn't even make the connection between this and the film version ) is my deep interest in James McAvoy's career. This was one of his earliest roles, and he looks like a mischievous schoolboy here, playing a rookie reporter with a keen nose for hot leads.
Although how someone like him can be cast as the offspring of someone who looks like Bill Nighy is really beyond me.

The pace can be a tad slow at times, but the characters are compelling, and overall production is terrific.

Have been bugging Books Kinokuniya about the Adam Lambert issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Can't place an order until the magazine actually arrives, which I find kind of ridiculous. The harrassed staff fielding phone calls says she's received numerous queries about this particular issue. Same thing happened with the Clay Aiken edition back in 2003 ( which I also reserved and purchased at Kinokuniya ). I just find it cool that RS picked the right person to feature. Kris Allen may have won the title, but that doesn't make him the Idol. Not by a long shot.

A month into the new MO batch, we have yet again identified the weak and the strong. An alarming number of them are doing their very 1st MO posting in the ER. This was previously not allowed - in my time, you had to be at least a 2nd year MO before you could work at the frontlines - but who knows why the ban was lifted, and with dire consequences.

While it's true that a few of these very young MOs turn out to be star performers who go on to specialize in emergency medicine, the majority end up merely passing through, with quite a few being rotated through the ER against their will. The result: inexperienced junior doctors who may mismanage their clueless patients, fly below the senior doctors' radars ( we only review selected cases and ward admissions ), demonstrate zero team spirit, and incur the wrath of patients / relatives, who then complain and demand to speak to a senior doctor, who has to mop up the mess.

This round, we have another record number of MOs deemed unsuitable for night shifts, so those who can do calls may have as many as 7 on their monthly rosters. On many occasions, the night team is weak, necessitating the help of the evening shift MOs, who stay back for hours to help clear cases.

I'm not the sort to ask for help, but this year, I've had to keep people back simply because if I didn't, we'd all DIE.

It isn't always easy to pick out the slackers from the truly slow ones, but peer feedback ( in particular, input from veteran MOs who've been with us for a year or two ) is definitely useful. What I call "evasive tactics" can range from hiding out in the observation ward pretending to look busy, or walking from one end of the ER to the other pretending to look busy, or refusing to see cases 1-2 hours before one's shift ends.

I just find it sad that such behaviour is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Especially in the ER, which is no longer popular since most traineeships don't list it as a compulsory rotation, unlike 8 years ago when I worked side by side with surgical and medical trainees. Perhaps this is the reason we're getting more frivolous referrals from the specialist outpatient clinics, where even simple conditions not requiring urgent investigation or treatment are bumped off to the ER for "further management" - also called "tai-chi-ing".

Same thing goes on in the wards, with multiple blue letter referrals for even a mild cough ( this is a true story ). Turf wars continue to rage, though the ER does a pretty good job staying out of the fray - let the specialists fight it out with each other directly, don't be the messenger, I always say.

And do you know that certain UK med schools don't teach their students how to do proctoscopy exams? I think one of these so-called "top universities" is collaborating with NTU on the 3rd medical school. So does this mean our future local grads won't know what a proctoscope looks like either?

While complaining to a surgeon friend whom I've known for 8 years, she mentioned the "grandmother syndrome", where the older generation uses the typical line, "In my time..." I suppose some of this holds true. Medical practice has evolved through the years, and it's only natural that this impacts our juniors' behaviour to some degree. But is it so wrong to hold them to a high ethical standard? Lying, laziness and disrespect towards seniors have no place in medicine.

Ahh, nothing beats a good ranting. :)

Tips for the weekend:

- Saturday: Nobel Prize concert 7-9pm on Okto Channel 8.
- Sunday: Dancing With The Stars 7pm on BBC Entertainment Channel 76, Hugh Laurie on Inside The Actors Studio 8pm Okto, Bride & Prejudice 10pm Okto, and No Country For Old Men 9pm on HBO.
- State Of Play has multiple reruns during the weekend, Channel 76
- Late Night with Conan O'Brien airs both Sat & Sun on CNBC Channel 15

Take your pick. :)

Time to get back to work. Sigh.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pure Indulgence Part IV

Yum :)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Pure Indulgence Part III

Like I said, my latest guilty pleasure.

They're so young, but such amazing dancers.

You MUST check them out on YouTube. Have already added Mark Ballas on my YT channel on the right.

Just finished prepping a conference presentation, so am rewarding myself with some Net surfing. :)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Pure Indulgence Part II

This is just too good to pass up.

Adam Lambert fans, you've GOT to read it.

Choice quote: "Adam's popularity proves that perceptions of sexual orientation do not determine what makes a man irresistible. My friend John doesn't understand -- he thinks the possibility that Adam plays for the other team disqualifies him as the object of a woman's crush. A voice rooted in my loins responds, "So what?" His performances display a smooth-edged virility that transcends sexual preference."

Exactly! :)

Feeling a little high at the moment. Got through a good call with an excellent night team, and have a couple of free days ahead before working a 5-shift stretch starting this weekend.

Lots of work to do, argh.
Pure Indulgence

Top marks if you can identify all these beautiful men, and figure out what they have in common ( clue's in the pictures ).

What can I say, I have interesting taste. :)

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Year Of Living Dangerously

I wish! :)

The title of this entry popped into my head from out of nowhere, though I suspect Adam Lambert blasting from the computer speaker may have influenced the choice a little.

Listening to Feeling Good - gorgeous, as always.

Anyway, I'm posting something only because my 34th birthday is coming up this week, and it's customary for me to reflect on the previous 12 months.

Was it a good year? You bet.

First and foremost, meeting Jason Mraz in person was and always will be a major highlight in my life. Waited many years for the opportunity, watching 2 gigs and buying every one of his CDs in existence before coming face to face with my favourite musician just before his 3rd show here in Singapore. Though it's been only 3 months since that memorable evening, it feels like it's been years ( wonder why? ).
But, of course, it exceeded all my expectations, and seeing him perform with the American Idol contestants at the finals results show was thrilling!

Second, saying hello to Peter Cincotti again ( 2nd meet-and-greet, very enjoyable ), and seeing Geoffrey Rush and the cast of The Bridge Project's The Winter's Tale up close at the Esplanade.

Third, visiting spectacular Egypt. Haven't done it justice with sufficient blog entries and photos - entirely my fault, my apologies. Definitely no longer that safe a destination for tourists, so I'm glad I've made my pilgrimage, and survived the trip.

Fourth, organizing the local annual emergency medicine conference. Made history as the youngest organizing chair so far, and am very proud of my excellent committee for ensuring its success. Also made 2 new wonderful friends from Mount Sinai Hospital's Department of Emergency Medicine, both of whom are leading experts in their respective fields yet humble to a fault. That outing to the Night Safari on a wet and windy night will always remain a fond memory. :)

Last but not least, recovering from the grief of losing a beloved friend and adopting a cat from SPCA. May not seem significant to some of you, but pets have always been an integral part of my life - I've had everything from hamsters to rabbits and even a chicken. However, cats sit right at the top of my list, and I've reached a point where even a few months without a feline companion causes actual physical pain.
Nemo's proven to be an absolute joy so far ( interesting name choice, no? :)), and I'll try to post a picture of him soon.

So what can I look forward to in the next 12 months?
Well, despite my July vacation plans being flushed down the toilet, things worked themselves out, and my extra leave is being used for another overseas trip in October - mixture of business and pleasure, but heavily subsidized by the hospital. I didn't really expect to get the funding to begin with, so greatly appreciate the support!
Won't be venturing that far, but it's a place I haven't visited before, and am most keen to spend time at those world-famous beaches, watching hunky surfers. :)

Will attend another international conference in September, which allows a few days of touring, during which I intend to purchase a crate of wine and distribute them to people I'd like to thank for a variety of reasons. Am also looking forward to savouring my share of pinot noirs and merlots. :D

Career-wise, my involvement in this year's local conference has certainly motivated me to volunteer my services for the big kahuna - 2010's International Conference of Emergency Medicine. It is a COLOSSAL undertaking, the details of which I won't elaborate on here. Lots of paperwork and deadlines and stress.

And of course, I need to publish something in a journal somewhere so I can get promoted. This is the part I hate. Apparently, doing tonnes of clinical work isn't good enough.

Anyway, moving on a slight tangent, I'm currently ploughing through Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People issue, and becoming nauseated by some of the tributes. In case you don't know, it's become tradition for those who make the list to have write-ups on them done by someone equally famous or accomplished. A few of these are great - e.g. Bill Gates writing about Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Roger Federer doing one about Tiger Woods - but others are just plain indulgent ( Oprah Winfrey swooning over Michelle Obama, Bono blah-ing incoherently about George Clooney ).
As usual, there're quite a few candidates whom I've never heard of, hence the perennial question from Time readers about just how "influential" these people actually are. The disproportionate number of Americans even prompted a sarcastic letter from an irate subscriber, which got me laughing over my breakfast.
Same thing happens with People magazine's lists of 50 Most Beautiful People and Sexiest Man Alive. Aren't most of them American too?

I can live with the injustice. Time's writers are among the best in the world - my favourites include Joel Stein, Bryan Walsh and Nancy Gibbs - and my own style has been moulded by my 16-years-and-counting subscription to the publication. If someone can write about the India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir or Vladmir Putin or harvesting fuel from algae and keep me up late at night with my eyes glued to the page, that's really saying something.

Straits Times reporters, take note.