Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday commentary on health

I always enjoyed the Sunday paper. It never failed to be a good source of information, especially on health.

The current generation should be called the Generation of Health Freaks. We are just too obsessed with our health - following the latest diet fads, indulging in the newest exercise regimens and devises, and consuming wonder pills to increase energy and lose weights. Admittedly, I am one of those health conscious people. I tried to spend at least a 20 minutes walk daily, go to the gym or for a jog 2 times per week and incoprate more vegetables and fruits into my diet.

These are just some interesting and surprising information about general health that I gleaned from just browsing today's paper:

1) A UK research suggests that a lack of sleep can results in obesity. This is due to the fact that by sleeping less, the body undergo hormonal changes and make you crave for food.

2) The best age to give birth is 34. If a woman gives birth at this time, she will enjoy better health, live longer and have healthier babies. For men, they better start help producing babies before 40 or the risk of miscarriage will be higher.

3) The average males start to lose their hair at 28 years old and start to get grey hair at 35.

4) To slow the ageing process, it is good to eat grass-fed meat, oily fish that is high in Omega 3, eat organic produce and drink filtered or spring water.

There are just so many different information and opinions on how to lose weight or look younger. Even though I do believe some of these theories might have some truth in them - I still think that the fundamental concept for good health is just these simple rules:

1) exercise - 20 mins walk daily and some anaerobic exercise (jogging, swimming or cycling) 3 times per day.

2) food - eat green leafy vegetables, and take less meat and junk food. To lose weight, just make sure amount of calorie intake < amount of calorie output.

Simple. No need any other theories.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Just a note to say a very Happy Birthday to See Hua aka Casper the friendly ghost.

Best wishes and many happy returns for the day!

And for those mired in the exam season, happy studying and best of luck. =)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Corpus Medicum

Today I went to hear an orchestra coz my housemate OWL is performing in it. Besides, I haven't be to an orchestra before in Australia and the $20 ticket fee all go to charity.

The orchestra consist of doctors and medic students and interns. It is nearly 2 hours long and they played music composed by Beethoven and Bartok.

What I found really amazing is how the music from 20 violins sounds so differently from the solitary one that I often hear when OWL is in the mood to practice.

But alas, I still can't really appreciate music. I can enjoy the rhythm but can't figure out the story behind it.

Anyway, it was a nice experience. Nice break from study too, as my exam starts Thursday.

Wonder when they will start an orchestra featuring Pharmacists. Doesn't matter anyway coz I can't play any musical instruments. =P

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Political bloggers

According to those political bloggers out there, the current Malaysian government is a rotten lot - full of corruption, ineffectiveness and untruthfulness.

It does make me wonder, is it only the Badawi led government this bad? Or it had been this bad all the while, only that then nobody have blogs to vent their feelings? I do feel that the latter is nearer to the truth.

Another trend is that these bloggers surely but certainly began to put their words into actions and entered themselves into the political fray. Because they felt that they can make a difference. This lead me to wonder, how will they fare while in the hot seat? Will they be able to do better?

Will it be a case of Mean Girls? In Mean Girls, Lindsay Lohan played a sweet innocent girl who managed to knock the most popular but mean and snotty girl in her school off the perch. In the process, she realised that in order to be the most popular girl in school, she became the new Mean Girl.

These bloggers are certainly full of ideals and beliefs that they can do a better job against these perceived unjust and rampant bad governance. I am sure before Mahathir or Badawi reached the top, they have the same mode of thinking too. But politics is always very dirty game. Once you are in the top, you really need to look after the 'welfare' of those loyal to you and be in constant vigilance to prevent other upstart usurping your position, all while trying to run the country to the best of your ability. The harsh reality is that, the view on top is always very different and everyone wants to be there.

Even though these blogs make entertaining reading and I do salute their noble motives of making the government more transparent, something I don't like about these blogs is that they are too hell-bent to prove that the government is bad that they started picking out bones in the egg. Everything bad is highlighted and in everything good, they see a hidden motive or agenda. What they do is only in reverse of the current government who highlight everything good and black out everything bad.

Can someone with ideals really make a difference? I am sure the answer is yes but it does not have to be in politics. Politics is like a meat machine. No matter what kind of meat you are, once you got in, you will come out as mince meat. It can shape the way you think and act, and somewhere in between, you may lose sight of the goal. There are still so many other ways to make the world a better place.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What I had learnt from PISA

Parkville International Students' Association (PISA)

PISA is the greatest thing that had happened to me in university.

It is the club I committed my soul to and hence it was with a heavy heart that I had to retire from active service in PISA after 2 eventful year.

Reminiscing the time I spent there, I am proud of many things that I had done and learnt from PISA. It was a tremendous experience.

It was in PISA that I had met inspirational people who are just so committed to make the university and the world a better place. It was in PISA that I made friends throughout all year levels. It was in PISA that I learnt that you can make your dreams come true.

When I first entered PISA as a junior member, I didn't even say anything during the first few meeting. I just listened to people talk and do what I'm supposed to do. Now when I exit PISA, I felt reasonably comfortable of voicing my opinions in meetings and even make announcement in public.

When I first entered PISA, I was in publications. I do what I loved to do, writing articles, maintaining the website and noticeboard, and doing advertisements. It is a way for me to put my command of English into good use. When I exited PISA, I had added being a treasurer, being someone who can think and initiate activities, and being someone who can communicate with the staffs in uni into my spectre of activities. I don't mind doing all this, I viewed it as an opportunity to learn.

Of course then there are the disappointments. But perhaps these disappointments are those that spurred me to do more things to right the wrong. I felt that there is a lack of initiative in the club. Hence I started initiating things like writing a survival handbook. I felt that there is a lack of activites. Hence I spent nights thinking about them and even wrote a nice calendar of activities. I felt that there is a lack of communication. Hence I started to mass e-mail every member. I felt that no one is listening to the grassroots. Hence I started to ask around what they think of the club. I felt that there is a lack of support. Hence I attended every activities PISA held without fail. I felt that there is a lack of commitment, so I emailed every committee member and tell them what I felt. I just don't care I am just the Treasurer, one that should be content being the bean counter.

Looking back, sometimes I do wonder if it is all worth it doing all these for a club that doesn't seems to know what support and appreciation is all about. Two things that bugged me most throughout my time here is: one, when the committee didn't turn out for an activity that is organised by their own club; two, when the committee didn't seem to show their appreciation of what their predecessor did for them. But in the end, how other people decide to spend their time in PISA is none of my business. Ultimately, how you what to utilise the opportunity given to you, want you want to do and learn from it is yours to choose. I knew I did my best and I have no regrets that I put 100% into PISA.

Now I think I can finally understand what JFK meant when he famously say "Ask not what the club can do for you; but ask what you can do for the club." How much you get from a club depends on how much effort you put it. As long as you just concentrate being true and committed to a club, you will learn new things and acquire some priceless life experiences without being conscious of it. Okay, JFK said country and not club. But it doesn't matter, I'm sure you get my message.

As we go on, we will remember, all the time we spend together..

For the new committee of PISA, I hope you will learn a lot from PISA. I'm sure all of you will do good.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


It had been a long time since I read a book and be truly amazed by the author's ability.

And this author is so good that I dare say that she is probably one of the best writer in the world right now.

Usually, I define a good book as one that you can't help but turn page after page to finish the story as fast as possible. Books treated this way by me include those by JK Rowling, Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer and Agatha Christie.

But now I discovered that there is a higher state for book appreciation - a book where you feel obliged not wanting to finish so quickly because the journey of reading the book is so tantalizingly amazing.

That's what I feel when reading Jodi Picoult's book My Sister's Keeper. I'm only half way through it and is already enthralled by it. So much that I felt compelled to mention it here in this blog.

She had such a way of viewing the world, such vivid imagination, such a refreshing style of describing things.

Oh, how I wish I can write as good as her.

It had always been one of my dreams to write a novel sometime before I am out of university. I had some story leads but didn't really carry on with it.

I always read what I write and found that it is too superficial, too childish and just not interesting enough. I felt that there is an element of worldliness that is sorely lacking. That is, I found my story does not feel real enough. Unfortunately, I think that this is an element that can be derived only from experience. For example, like you need to smoke a cigarette to know how it feels like before incoporating it in a story.

Sometimes I really felt that something big or life changing had to happen to me before I can write a story. Life have been too good to be for now. Plain smooth sailing. I know I should be thankful for that, but well..

It is time to try some new things.

Some new adult things in the adult world and not just like join new clubs and activities in the safe confinement of University.

There's such a limit of what you can learn by reading or studying.

I need more worldly experience. Then perhaps I can write a best-seller in the near future.

P/s: After I had my placement, I truly understand why all those employers want "experienced" people when setting up a vacancy sign. There are just so many things that you can only learn via experiencing it. I would do likewise if I'm in their shoes. The real working world makes uni world look like a children's playground.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A day in the life of a would be pharmacist

Front door of Terry White Chemist

Here's a snapshot of my routine during my rural pharmacy placement at Terry White Chemists, Bairnsdale.

9.02 a.m. Reached Terry White Chemist Bairnsdale. Go through the front door, walk across the aisle selling cosmetics and to the locker room to put my bag. Then proceed to the dispensary.

9.05 a.m. Stationed at the dispensary. Do all sorts of stuffs like keying in the prescriptions into the computer, printing out the medication labels, finding and assembly all the medications as stated on the labels, putting the labels on the medication, and scanning it to check it is correct. Sometimes will get sent to counsel customer on how to take their medications, which is a bit scary.

The dispensary area where I spent most of my time.

10.30 a.m. By that time usually getting a little bored of doing the same thing. So if I had the oportunity, I will wander to the "scripts in" counter waiting for customers to come and hand in their medication scripts. Its more fun there then assembling medications, coz I get to greet and talk to people. "Good morning, how can I help you..."

11.00 a.m. Sometimes there are creams to be made. Will spend an average 30 mins doing one cream coz I want to make sure the cream is smooth and silky.

11.30 a.m. At this time some medications will be out of stock and the pharmacists will realised that for one reason or another they didn't come in today's stock also. So I had to be a runner and go to the other pharmacies to borrow them. This is how I discovered that the shopgirls at the two other pharmacies are prettier.

12.00 p.m. Stock time! All the stock's in today's order finally got through from the storeroom to the prescription area. So it's my job to arrange them and put them in the allocated space in the shelves. Quite like stock time becoz it gives me time to learn about the medications.

12.45 p.m. Lunch Time.

1.35 p.m. Back at store and back at the dispensary doing the keying in, sticking labels and assembling medication stuffs again.

The front-of the-shop. They sell lots of things here.

3.00 p.m. Sometimes will go to the front of the store at the vitamins and over the counter medications section. The scariest part of the day because I don't know anything about them and felt very foolish when being asked about it by the customers. The sentence that I used most often here is "Sorry I think I better get you one of the shopgirls.." The shopgirls here are amazing. They are just like the pharmacists in Malaysia - knowing everything about vitamins.

At the cashier with one of the pharmacist.

4.00 p.m. The time before going home is usally spent on the cashier area where I got to play with the till and say "cash or cheque or saving?" Said "thank you very much and have a nice day" so many times until I even said it to the cashier in Safeway when I go to buy stuffs.

5.00 p.m. Time to go home and sleep!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rules for guys

Probably some of you knew that I lived with three girls under the same roof when I went to Bairnsdale for my pharmacy placement.

Before you go and say "whoa so nice.." let me warn you that it might not be a very good idea to replicate what I did.

If you still want to do it, there are some certain things you need to know:

Rule 1:
Remember, if you got into an argument with anyone of them, you will soon find yourself in a very disadvantaged 1 vs 3 situation. No matter how logical you are, you are ALWAYS wrong.

Golden advice:
The best thing to do is keep quiet and avoid getting into any contentious discussion.

Rule 2:
They will be some point in time where they will expect you to do some thing that they think you should do because, well you are a GUY. Doesn't matter you feel like doing it or not. You are expected to go buy stuffs, to talk to the motel manager...

Golden advice: The best thing to do is spend most of the time sleeping.

Rule 3:
There will be a point in time when they suddenly ask you to divulge some very interesting relationship stories about yourself, which are very awkward questions coz guys never discuss with guys who is their first crush, how man gals they liked before, which girl you like most etc.

Golden advice: Think of some good answers to the above questions beforehand. A declination to answer is not recommended and will lead to dire consequences.

Rule 4:
Prepare to be nagged. Everyone of the female species (except those who cannot speak) will do it. It is their second nature. Prepare to be told off if you buy too many packets of tasty chips, drink too many cups of fizzy cokes, walk with your shoes on in the house etc. Even if you sleep too early.

Golden advice: Live with it. Think of it as how Ai Ling said it in her blog: women nag men for their own good. That means they care for them (Though i don't gree that in 8/10 they are correct). Treat it as music and before long it will be backgroud music. NEVER tell them to shut up.

And if you think you can accept and follow these four fundamental rules above, you will have a very pleasant stay (and a good rest coz most of the time is spent sleeping).

Don't say I didn't warn you! =)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The road to take

Me in a rural community pharmacy

This week is the last week of my 3rd year in uni.

After this Friday, I will have 10 days swot vac, and then it is the exams.

Bar me failing any of my exams (touchwood), I will be ready-made for the workforce in just around 400 days.

It's all so near and a little scary.

It just seems that not too long ago I'm still in secondary school. And also INTEC.

After 15 years of doing what I'm most competent in: studying and passing exams, the impending working life looks so surreal. So foreign. It's like starting a new journey.

I just had a taste of what working in a pharmacy whole day is like during my placements 2 weeks ago. Nine to five and no life after that coz too tired. The thought of following this routine for the next 30 odd years is daunting.

And then comes the all important question: What road should I take after finishing my four year degree?

I will indeed go back to Malaysia. But the question is when. A bite of the money pie in Australia is very tempting. A pharmacist here can earn close to $40/hour.

Then should I focus on hospital pharmacy? Research? Academia? Community? Pharmacoeconomics? Wound care? Aged care?

I'm bad at making decisions.

On the lighter side, I still have 400 days to make them.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Lantern festival

Due to the fact that I am caught up in Bairnsdale during the real day itself, I only got to celebrate Lantern Festival on Tuesday.

The Lantern Festival was held in uni as a club activity just like last year.

Anticipating a huge turnout becoz of it being a free event and mooncakes being pretty expensive, 16 big boxes of mooncakes were ordered. And as you guess it, only less than 20 people rocked up.

However, I did learn something useful that night, which is quality always beat quantity.

The good thing of only a few people turning up is that we have more mooncakes per person, more drinks per person, more candles and lanterns per person. And yeah, everyone who came is dedicated to have fun so we had a very good time indeed.

I also felt that how we celebrate lantern festival is fast changing with the times.

Once upon a time, lantern festival is about eating mooncakes and strolling around with a lantern in hand while admiring the big round moon. Now it is more of light up the lanterns and take photos, more photos, and yet more photos...

I think most of the night is spent taking tons of photos. Here are some of the photos:


Funny faces

Forming PISA-VCP

Taking a photo in front of the great big Monash signboard.

The jump-while-carry-lantern-scene. I did more than 10 takes to have this photo.

Happy Mid-autumn festival!

P/s: all the photos are not by me. I snitched them fron facebook. I also think that facebook will be the next great thing after wikipedia.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Joe put down the house keys, draped his coat over his swing chair, and immediately started connecting to the Internet.

How are you darling?” he sent the message to his wife, a lady with jet black hair, clear round eyes and dimpled cheeks.

After waiting for a few seconds and eliciting no reply from her, he decided to poke her.

Still no reply.

He then sent her 2 bouquets of roses with the money he earned playing poker at the casino last night.

Still no reply.

He threw a goldfish at her.

Still no reply.

Bored, he shifted his attention to the child which they had adopted, an eight year old golden haired angel named Quinella.

How your day at school?” he typed.

Good” was the reply.

Quinella then showed him a word document containing her homework for the day which she doesn’t know how to do.

For the next half an hour, he and she go through the Internet, searching for info on the names of various capital cities in the world. He is only interrupted by the ring of his doorbell, which is the pizza guy delivering his dinner.

After sending Quinella happily off to bed with her homework done (after also sending her some good night kisses), Joe looked around for Wayne, his golfing buddy.

They then teed off at the golf club, and after an engrossing 2 hours, Joe managed to beat Wayne by a single stroke.

Happy, he said goodbye and tried to poke his wife again.

Yes I’m here darling. How’s everything there in Brazil? Thanks for the roses. And the goldfish. And the pokes.”

Where were you? Quinella sent her regards.

Sorry dear, was playing bridge with Anna and the gang. I won $2000 off them!

They chatted to and fro for 2 hours, where during that time, Joe had also surfed the news portal for the latest soccer scores and sent birthday cakes to his pals whose birthday boxes popped up on his screen.

He had also added his newly photoshopped self portrait online.

When the clock chimed 1 o’clock, Joe’s eyes can hardly open anymore. He said goodbye to his wife and sent her a hug.

See you tomorrow at six in the evening!” she said.

Joe turned off his computer, brushed his teeth, took off his work clothes and dragged his tired body onto his bed. He can’t be bothered taking a bath.

Some 30 thousand miles away, a heavily winkled hand also turned off her computer after admiring the 2 bouquets of roses for one last time.

-The end-

Will we be Joe in 10 years' time?

Monday, October 01, 2007

My rural 'holiday'

Went swimming.

It was in a way, a working holiday when I'm posted to do my Rural Pharmacy placement in Bairnsdale. Bairnsdale is a town located near the seaside, have a population of around 10,000 and is 300 km or nearly 4 hours via train from Melbourne.


Bairnsdale is sort of the place where you have the scenery of the countryside and also the facilities of a city. There are adequate supermarkets (all the big names ones are here) and also shopping centres. There's also a cinema, hospital, eateries, bars and pubs, hotels... and yet all these are just a stone throw away from gazing cows, vast green swarths of grass and a riverside where patient old guys sit and fish all day long.

Bairnsdale's Main Road at dusk.

Mitchell River and surrounding greens- just 2 streets away from Main Street.

Other places that I had visited during my three weeks there included the seaside town of Lakes Entrance, home to the manigficient pelicans.

A group of pelicans.

Lakes Entrance is also famous for the ninety-miles beach, which is indeed, a beach that is 90-miles long.

The never-ending beach

Bridge to the 90 miles beach

We also visited Paynesville and Raymond Island, both lakeside towns famous for being holiday spots and fishing holes. Indeed, a reccurent theme in all the places here is the jetties. There are jetties everywhere. Raymond island is also one of the few places where you can spot koalas on the trees by the roadside. The only thing they failed to mention in the travel brochures is that it was infested by mosquitoes as well.


Yet another lakeside town we visited is Metung, a quiet idyllic fishing village with rustic charms. There is a very relaxed feel to the place and it would be an ideal place to spend one's retirement.

Metung waterfront.

During our last day in the region, we visited the Buchan Caves, arguably one of the must-visit place here. The caves are amazing, however, the tour leave must to be desired due to the fact that there are just too many people.

The stunning Royal caves, Buchan

It was truly an amazing place ideal for a peaceful holiday.

Calm and serene...