Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Winter is an etching, spring a watercolour, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.    ~Stanley Horowitz


I shared the sentiments of the above quote, as autumn is by far my most favourite season of all.

Realising that this may possibly be the last autumn I'll spend in Melbourne, I took the opportunity to take some pics of the beautiful season before it ends.


Autumn is always the most romantic season. The rich colour and romance of the season always makes me feel like doing a spontaneous dance in the middle of the park.

It's a season of observing leaves dancing, frolicking and cavorting in the breeze, their flashes of different hues a feast for the eyes.


It's a season of hearing them whistling and rustling, singing a unique tune of nature under the conducting baton of the wind.

It's a season of breathing in the substance of the leaves, with their earthy hint of a summer long gone.


Best of all, it's a season of crisp crunch crunch crunch as I indulged in my favourite pastime of stepping on these leaves.

If only there's autumn in Malaysia...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I can't resist

Can't resist just to take a moment to write this post even though I got a ton of assignments waiting for me to finish.


This is the just published Monash University Undergraduate Course Guide 2009.

Turn to page 126 and...


Yes, that's me! ^^


Now every prospective Monash students worldwide will be able to see my smiling face. Luckily the photo is circa end 2006. I looked younger then.

See what I had written in my profile one and a half years ago:

Beginning paragraph: "I chose to study pharmacy because it has great potential for growth in my home country Malaysia."

End paragraph: "Studying at the Victorian College of Pharmacy has vastly enriched my experience, which I intend to bring back home to Malaysia after finishing my degree."

JPA would love me so much!

Anyone wants an autographed copy?

Now back to assignments.. =.=

Monday, May 19, 2008

A rainy Saturday story

The last few days had been cold, but on Saturday, it rained without any signs of stopping.


After a very healthy breakfast of Avacado Salad (avacado + rockets + baby spinach + tomatoes + mushrooms + peanuts + red onions + lemon juice and a dash of salt), I went to Fed Square for the Buddha's Day Celebration.


They had this yearly event in Melbourne where people can go to pay homage and bathe the Buddha. Since it was held in a public place, the event attract a fair share of tourists and Ang Mohs.

Besides that they had a cultural show, some cooking demonstrations and a food and fun fair. It was a great day to have fun, despite the cold and rainy weather. Besides, an umbrella is a great prop, as demonstrated below:



Me and Robin trying to do the best Song Hae Gyo impersonation.


I wore my new pink shoelaces out for the first time, and I felt that it looks great especially on my white shoes and some fallen autumn foliage.


On the way home, I saw this ad being posted on the window of a house. Sure is one of the best I had ever seen:


Wonder whether they will get such a hot flatmate in the real world.

At night had a gathering with some JPA friends and OWL's parents who are in Melbourne. Had a nice time catching up while enjoying dumplings, Nasi Lemak, fried beehoon and an extremely nice coffee liqueur. Too bad nobody remembered to take photos. A warm day despite the cold weather.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Reflections on a pharmacy placement

At last it was over.

For the last three weeks, I had a community pharmacy placement - in a pharmacy right in the heart of Melbourne city.

It was a very interesting placement, as I was unfortunately positioned in a pharmacy chain that is renowned in the pharmacy fraternity for viewing pharmacy students as free labour.

And it really was labour intensive. I got to run errands nobody wants to do - like moving stocks between the two stores (around 300 metres away, the record is 8 times in one day); moving boxes here and there, checking, security tagging and putting away stock (record of 16 boxes a day), post letters (200m walk), buy stuffs like stationary and food. By the end of the week, I know what the boss's  favourite coffee is (latte no sugar), where to get it and even got know the person who sells it (By the way, the coffee is really good). And I only got one 10 mins break and 30 mins lunch - at the unGodly hour of 11am and 2pm respectively (got one day even 3pm). And yes, there's even one day where I was required to work from 9am to 9pm.

The first few days I felt like the male version of Andy of The Devil Wears Prada, working for an evil boss. Only that the boss is not evil enough.

image image

The Devil wears Prada and Andrea "Andy" Sachs.

Luckily all the other pharmacists and pharmacy assistants are also very nice and friendly, which helps a lot when I am inevitably stuck.

Total amount of money earned during the 3 weeks: $0. Total amount of money spent: >$100. Total amount of time spent: 120 hours.

In all fairness I did really learn a lot, especially about the cafes around Little Collins and Elizabeth street - ask me if you what to know where to get the best muffins or coffee around there. =)

I know that as students we are not supposed to do all those jobs - but somehow I don't feel angry about it - in fact I felt quite happy to have something to do. It felt purposeful that I am able to do something useful. There's a form of happiness derived from the fact that I know where to find things on shelves, that the speed that I check off the stocks are getting faster each day, that I can enter long stock sheets without error. I arrived early every day and leave late most of the days. Anyway these three weeks had me questioning the competency of my brain, because what kind of people in their right mind still go on their work happily even though they knew that they are being ruthlessly exploited?


Doesn't make sense but happy anyway.

Nonetheless I got to feel like a pseudo-pharmacist for the very first time, dispensing advice to unsuspecting customers with mock-up convincement.   I diagnosed and gave recommendations on medications for numerous customers struck down with cold and flu and cough and muscle ache, show them the best vitamins to take (and the cheapest) as well as counselling a patient on the usage of morning after pill.  I realised that being a pharmacist is actually a very powerful feeling, because you can instruct old and prominent looking people on what to do, and the best thing is, they really follow what you said.

After these two placements (the one above and another 3 weeks previously in Austin) I felt that my pharmacy knowledge is enhanced by leaps and bounds. I always believed that no matter what I experienced, all of it will be useful one day.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pink is the new In


Pink is the inspirational colour today, and I felt myself falling in love with this cool, extremely funky colour. After receiving a cute pink Tupperware sandwich container and medal today, I go even further and brought a pink wristband and pink shoelaces. You bet I will wear them to Uni. Proudly.


I usually celebrated Mothers' Day at home, where we either go out to grandma's place for a reunion type potluck dinner or maybe cook a meal for mum. But since I am overseas, I found out another meaningful way to celebrate, that is by joining in the Mothers Day Classic run.


Mothers Day Classic is a charity run to fund Breast Cancer research. It was held in all Australian main cities, with 60,000 odd people taking part in 4km and 8 km runs or 4km walk. It was the second year I joined in under the Team Monash banner, which is pretty cool this year because it's Monash's 50th year birthday and they have a new sports shirt- as modelled by my running mate Kush below.


For the record, I finished the race in 48mins (equal to 10km/hr) and in 8637 steps.

There's also this whiteboard in front of the Hallmark marquee, where you can write your dedications to Mum and stick it up for all people to see. Freda and Hui Bing wrote their part...


And so did I. Happy Mothers' Day!


Pretty right? and no, I didn't stick it over another person's card. In a burst of inspiration, I did a double layered card. One and only. =)

On a side note, hopefully in the near future, there will be a Fathers Day Classic to fund prostate cancer research. We are in the era of gender equality rite? I did my part by liking the colour pink!

Mothers Day

To my beloved mum, I am dedicating today's run for you.


Happy Mothers Day!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The morning after

That night was never meant to go too far. But it did.

It begin innocently enough, with just the slightest hint of skin brushing against each other. But it grew and progressed, progressed and grew. Seductive glances, longing stares. Beer bottles dropped on the floor, lips met. Undies peeked, articles slipped. Hands everywhere .

Flashing lights and warning sirens popped up in their heads. Isn't it going too far? No. Just this one time.It feels so right. So it happened. The time when two became one. Double happiness. The next door neighbour can't sleep at all.

For he and she, the sleep was blissful enough, but the morning dawned a nightmare.

When's the last time you saw blood? 10 days ago? 15? Not sure? Idiot. What to do now? Panicky and shrill voices echoed across the wall. Gosh, the neighbour thought, they never stopped.

And now frighten, worried and unsure, they wandered around the city like a pair of lost children and ambled into the very first pharmacy with the lights on in the still dark winter morning.

It had to be a MyChemist, because they are the only ones which opened at 7a.m.

The great pharmacist was summoned.

I love my girlfriend very much. But we are too young. You know what I mean? he started, whispered and stammered.


We...we...too young to get married. We..

Oh snap it. We did it last night. And I don't want a baby. How can you help us? She interjected.

So you are after the pill.

What pill?

The morning after pill.

Morning after?

Yeah the pill you take in the morning to cure all the nightmares that happen after you both did you-know-what at night. Just fill in this form.

So they stared at the big white sheet of paper and started to answer the questions.

Q1: Usual mean of contraception: The oral contraceptive pill/condoms/rhythm method/none

Q2: Reason you need the pill: contraceptive failure (split condom)/missed pills/sexual assault/didn't use contraceptive.

Q3: First day of menstrual period? Usual duration of bleeding? Usual number of days in cycle?

Q4: How many times you have unprotected sex during the cycle? Hours since last unprotected sex? Dates of unprotected sex?

Q5: Are you taking any medication at the moment? Do you have any serious medical condition? Had you have a pregnancy test recently?

Oh great pharmacist, we had finished.

Then they stood there watching the pharmacist peruse the paper like school kids waiting for their teacher to check their maths homework.

So you did 7 hours ago. Excellent. Then you have 95% chance of success not getting pregnant. Here's the two magical pills. Take the first one now and the second exactly twelve hours later. Understand? Great. Be more careful next time okay? Good. Please pay at front counter. Good luck!

He and she walked to the counter with the magical pills, knowing their nightmares will be cured. They feel as light at feathers, a bounce in their steps. Their skins started to brush against each other again.

Good morning. Big smile. Beep. Scanned through. That will be $32. 2 miniscule white pills. You want the water also? That will be another $2.50. Money parted hands very reluctantly. Thank you very much. Ouch. That's a lot of rubber.

For more information about the morning after aka the emergency contraceptive pill, click here.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hospital pharmacist Part 2

Besides being ward pharmacist, there are a few other roles a hospital pharmacist play.


First there are the dispensing pharmacists. These pharmacists deal with dispensing or giving out the medications to patients that are going to be discharged home. It is not an easy job, as giving the wrong medication may result in life threatening situations. The pharmacist had to do few checks along the way to ensure that the right patient take the right medication in the right dose at the right time on the day in the right way.


Then there are manufacturing pharmacists. These pharmacists are specially trained to be able to make creams, ointments, injectable solutions and other drug formulations that cannot be brought in pre-packed for patients. They work in sterile rooms with masks, gloves and protective clothings, just like a surgeon.


There are pharmacists working in drug information, where their job is to look up uncommon information about medications when asked by doctors, nurses, the general public and also other pharmacists. They are just like detective scouring the WWW and pouring over books to find the elusive info.


There are those working in quality use of medicines, where they monitor how medicines are used in patients and what are the outcomes of patients on certain medications. They also look after adverse drug reactions, noting down and investigating cases where patients reacted badly to a certain drug.


Some work in clinical trials, where their job is to help with medical researches by ensuring candidates on the experimental trials got the designated drugs and use them correctly. Some other are involved in the research arena themselves, joining forces with other healthcare professionals to find out ways to improve the medical system, usage of medications and also discovering new drugs.


Besides this, there are hospital pharmacists who are involved in budgeting and other paperwork. Others are involved in teaching trainees and fellow healthcare professionals, some going to patients' home reviewing their medications, some even specializes in unorthodox field such as wound treating.


In a nutshell, there are a lot of exciting roles a pharmacist can play in the hospital. It is not all just about standing behind the medicines counter and giving out the medications. That's only the tip of a great big iceberg. Essentially, hospital pharmacists are there to ensure that medications are used safety and efficaciously, so that patients receive maximal care.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A Sunday Story

One fine Sunday, a group of pharmacy students decided they wanted to drink the best milkshake in the world.


So they went and visited the groovy Mr. Cow.


Mrs. Cow to be exact, who kindly agreed to donate some milk.


Since there were too much milk left after making the milkshake, the rest were donated the greedy black cow of the family.


Whereby a cute rabbit suddenly popped up to be cuddled and then ran away.


The inquisitive students chased after the rabbit and like Alice in Wonderland, fell into a rabbit hole - and found themselves in a world circa 1800s.


Port Echuca. That's what the place called. The team walked through the main street,


climbed on a wheelbarrow,


and spotted a steamer boat.


Hastily they scrambled upon the boat, where yours truly captained it.


We steamed through the scenic Murray River, in a place caught between two worlds: Victoria on the right and New South Wales on the left.


Then suddenly a row of riverbank shops came into view


And we saw a familiar sight:


Home Sweet Home!

Friday, May 02, 2008

The art of elocution


The notion of standing in front of a group of people delivering a speech is an exercise of self consciousness, a training of how you would react with numerous pairs of eyes watching you intently,  expecting you to deliver. Indeed, when giving a speech, you are the centre of attention, and you can either be the eye of the storm or the epicentre of the earthquake.

Public speaking had often being the number one fear of most people. It is something we only do when we are forced to do. But like most phobias and fears, it is something that one can grow out of.

Public speaking was also once one of my greatest fears.  I suspect it all stemmed from an incidence in Primary 3 where I managed not to utter a single word while on stage in a singing competition. From that day onwards till I was in Form 4, I never spoke on stage.

When I finally did it, it was with the maxim that the best way to do a presentation is to memorise every single word: each noun, verb, adjective and pronoun to the last full stop. I still remember the time in INTEC when I rehearsed a presentation more then 30 times before doing the actual thing.

One thing good about pharmacy I can say, it that they really trained you to speak in public. After delivering a fair share of presentations, I began to relax a little and found that the trick to do that is to treat the presentation as a fun thing to do. Now, public speaking is just more of knowing the main points and words will flow.

The aim of a speech is to get the message through and an added bonus is for people to remember the message afterwards. I felt that no matter how good you are, if you can't give an interesting speech, the majority wouldn't want to hear what you say. Hence I always sought to be creative and make my presentation stand out.

In a class announcement, I tried to incorporate fun into my 2-3 minute spiel. One time I started with a slide with only some random numbers and alphabets on it, which actually stands for the first letter of every word I am going to say. I think it was an effective attention grabber and also let the audience have a little bit of fun. 

One of the thing I dreaded most about presentations is the Q&A session. But I realised that in a presentation, you are the one who control everything, not the listeners. In a recent presentation, I turned the table and asked the listeners a question before they can ask me. It is a twist that surprised people.

Another technique I found very useful is anchoring. It is a NLP technique where you visualise past moments when you are at the height of your confidence and transform them into physical manifestation which you can tap into anytime you need a dose of confidence.

Nevertheless, I felt that the best way to ace it is by taking that tried and trusted path - speak about your own experience. This is because it is the thing you know best.  Inject some personal anecdote into your speech and it will be hard to go wrong from there.

I never profess to be a great speaker, and don't think I am one, even though I wish to be one.  I still feel nervous, my hands do tremor and shake all the time, but  I am actually very  excited and loved the adrenaline rush when I have a chance to speak. The aim of this post is just to spill my two cents' worth about something I really care about - an essential life skill that shouldn't be as frightening as it seems. Public speaking is actually not that frightful at all, and some jitters is perfectly alright. The simple concept is that by not viewing it as a huge hurdle, it will cease to be one.