Saturday, February 25, 2006

One week later

Hi guys I'm back.

Unsurprisingly, many of you would think that the BMedSci course that I started this week has taken its toll on my blogging. Indeed, it has. But better late than never, I am sadly informing all of you that I won't be posting at every 2 day intervals due to the fact that I just don't have the time to do so while back in uni and also because the PCs available in IMU's postgrad room where I am based in are too slow and too few. Nevertheless after me complaining to the Dean about the too few and too slow PCs, hopefully I will soon be able to post more regularly. Of course if I am free to post in the first place.

Anyhow, now I am back home in PJ and allow me to update you on the little events that have taken place in my life for the past week.

Eight of us: Elena, me, Daniel, Adrian, Linda, Ying Wei, TJ and Kasemsuk are now officially RESEARCHERS; voyagers of science, servants to mankind. Each of us are now involved in different research projects ranging from finding the cure for cancer using some algae to preventing pregnancy-caused high blood pressure. Forget all the hype and oohs and aahs, it basically isn't all that easy. In fact, it is so tedious and meticulous that it really irks me sometimes. For the next few weeks our timetable may seem relax, with just 2 hour per day for lectures. But once our research proposals are approved by three different committees, we will be really busy collecting samples from all over and locking ourselves in the lab day and night to see how little molecules float around and fight with each other.

Speaking of being meticulous, each of our research proposals have to be vetted by three different committees before we can start work on the projects. We must pass the IMU's Research Committee which basically sees whether money is worth being spent on our individual projects or not, the BMedSci Committee which looks into ethical issues including wanting to know how lab rats will be killed and how patients are convinced into giving up a tiny bit of their tissue, and finally a so-called Defence of Research Protocol meeting which is basically an interrogation session where you present your proposal to a top brass committee consisting of IMU's Chairman, senior consultants etc. and they throw all sorts of questions at you regarding the feasibility of the proposals. Having passed all these, then we will be given RM20,000 each and a official permission to commence our projects. Incidentally, the RM20,000 is actually from our own pockets. We pay 30k for this one year course and of which 20k is our research grant. Essentially, as how Prof. Mak aka Parasite King puts it, "IMU only makes a MEAGRE 10k from each of you which IMHO is just or barely enough to cover the costs of the lab equipment and overheads. So 30k is actually quite cheap."

Like speak to the hand, PK. *roll eyes*

I am currently spending my time doing lots and lots of journal reading on my research topic which is about finding certain biochemical markers in a mother's blood and urine which may be able to predict whether she will suffer from pregnancy-caused high blood pressure or not. For readers who are more science-savvy, the official title is: "Use and detection of maternal serum soluble Fms-like tyrosine kinase sFlt1 and urinary Placenta Growth Factor PlGF in third trimester of pregnancy in predicting pregnancy induced hypertension/preeclampsia". Other more fancy research topics include TJ's one which involves "stunning" lab rats by simply grabbing the rat's tail and hitting its head hard on the table and then slicing up its belly to harvest a small strand of artery to be used in an experiment for Gingko biloba. All research topics are actually very interesting in their own right but they differ in the method of research and sample obtaining. Also, very few researches have been done in the areas where we are venturing in and not only will our works be significantly contributory to the scientific world, but will be of much importance to the local Asian/Malaysian context. By the way, if we so happen to come up with such a Nobel-winning research finding that our project is sought after for millions of dollars, IMU comes in to take HALF of our earnings as royalty. Not so glamorous finding a cure for AIDS after all.

Apart from all the academic stuff, life has been mundane, slow and less exciting compared to the days when we were studying together through the semesters. Lectures are with a few friends at weird times of the day in a small tiny PBL room and before and after lectures time is spent on reading, discussing and thinking. Occasionally we do go out for a movie, or even catch a play like the Actorlympics at Bangsar's Actor's Studio. But that's as far as fun goes. IMU is now a dark cave with no sunlight at all seen when you are in the building owing to the massive renovation works going on. Juniors in silly costumes make up most of the population and noise amidst highly stacked scaffoldings and the persistent humming and rumbling sounds. Almost at every corner you see bins which collect water that drips from leaky ceilings and sawdust covers the floor. IMU is sad. Tell me why am I still farting around in IMU again?

Anyway hopefully life will be more interesting next week with more upbeat activities planned. I will be remembering to bring my mahjong set to keep us occupied and we are also planning for a series of karaoke and movie outings. Seriously, research is not very fun. Interesting but not something I can stand doing for the rest of my life. Every thing you write or quote must be backed up by references or evidence and there is no room for doing something based on individual opinions or assumptions. I really admire how the other postgrad students can actually be so enthusiastic doing research till their doctorate levels.

I just gotta do my best for my project and hopefully get a Second Class Upper or better and I am going to continue my journey towards being a practicing clinical doctor. But let's see how the real thing is when I start my project later.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Back to good ol' days.

I'm going back to school officially as a student (again) on Monday. And I am happy about it.

Unlike previous years in IMU and also in school where I used to look forward to going back to school for the sake of meeting up with old friends, this time I am looking forward to the course itself, and also seeing my friends again not to mention. I will start my BMedSci course which is basically about a group of 8 former batchmates getting together to do research work in a lab previously unfamiliar to them. There will be NO more library study visits I must say, but this is not to say we have nothing to study, but rather we will be having our own assigned cubicles in a seperate room to study/bum/play/surf net. Sounds cool right? But contrary to what most people think (including Daniel and Elena), this course isn't a one year break with a BMedSci title to make us sound hardworking. The truth is according to seniors who are halfway in it, this course is a time where we really put to use our critical and creative skills acquired since secondary school days where they used to exhort this KBKK or Kemahiran Berfikir secara Kritis dan Kreatif. True to its name, even if we should get a negative finding, we are supposed to still be able to critically appraise all data and information we obtained through our own trials and publish them in a typical journal-like format, with graphs and what-nots. Because according to Dr. Vishna, a negative result is still a result and by getting one it does not prevent a PhD student from getting her due recognition after years of working on a negative result research. It's the way you think, the deep intellectual analyses and multi-faceted points of view of a subject that determines if a student gets a First Class Honours or a Second Lower, also in the same way as how some publications land in the Jurnal Diraja Seremban or British Medical Journal.

Not only is this course laborious in terms of brain usage, but it will also require us to work at all sorts of odd times. Imagine going back to the lab at 10pm just to see if the bacteria you cultured at 5pm has produced toxins or not. Or maybe having to go to Seremban Hospital at 3 am to obtain fresh samples of a placenta which was discharged by a mother with pre-ecclampsia. Well these are just the few examples of the unusual routines/timings that we will have to work at. The fun thing about this course is most likely to be the fact that we do not have so heavy lectures everyday that require us to hide in the library after dinner. Also having only 8 of us means we will have more time for each other and forge closer ties; we are after all going to be together in Queensland and will be graduating together. Apart from the 6, the 2 more students from my batch who are doing this course but not going to Queensland is non other than TJ and Kasemsuk. They just love BMed. Other friends from our batch who are working are San San, Ai Ling, Yee Pei and Yean Koon. It's gonna be a mini M203 so it won't be so boring I guess.

Among the activities that I have planned to be done during the BMed are:

1. Visit Singapore for a day trip.
2. Visit Pulau Ketam for wonderful Fried Oysters.
3. Play mahjong with friends every night.
4. Watch movies and have more outings with friends.
5. Revise my Sem 1-5 notes.
6. Exercise more often.
7. Sing at Karaokes more often.
8. Find a CG and join in.

Oh well let's hope I can juggle my time well enough to do all these.

On another note, today I went back to my apartment to clean up my room and while I was waiting for a lift at the lobby I noticed that there were just so many new students who have come with their parents in fully-loaded vehicles. These are unmistakenably JUNIORS! Young upstarts who haven't even spend one hour in the library! So there were bags, new tables, new chairs, TV sets etc. And as I cramped into a lift with the stuff and the new students, it just so reminded me of how I used to be in their positions once too. An as I stepped out of the lift of B2 15th Floor, I realised that there isn't any familiar people left on the opposite extreme of my unit where Sheena and Co used to be. I looked at the block opposite mine and instead of normally seeing Yee Pei in her short pants, I now see Daniel laughing away. Time has passed so quickly and now I find that I have grown out from being a junior, passed the rank and file semesters at IMU and I'm now with just a few familiar people in a sea of unknowns. Ah how I miss those days, the days when we studied together and had fun together.

Well I will certainly appreciate the little fellowship that we will have together in Bmed, in a familiar place called IMU which is now nothing more than a war-zone lookalike.

I miss all my friends...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Happy Belated Valentine's Day.

Today may be the 16th, but the air of love still lingers around me so thickly I can clearly smell it. To all readers out there, be it singles or couples, divorcees or spinsters, I wish all of you a very Happy Belated Valentine's Day. May God bless you with love, love and more love with every living being on this planet.

To those who are wondering why I am posting this a bit late (and to foul-mouthed, bad-hearted, morbid readers who thinks this blog is dead as well), the reason is because for whatever reason, the Blogger website was down the whole day on the 14th of February! I'm honest! I tried logging in in the morning and in the afternoon but the page just couldn't load up. Someone who also experienced the same thing please put a comment to prove it.

Secondly, it's Valentine's Day for heaven's sake. You guys don't expect me to sacrifice my day just so that I keep up my 2-day-a-post consistency, do you? In any case I find that my readers have been spoilt by my too frequent, too long and too consistent postings that it backfires on me (Come on la, most blogs do not have new posts in every two days ok?). As for yesterday, the Blogger site was back up. But I must admit that it was my fault for being too engrossed in my new found love that I kept blogging out of my mind.

But better late than never, I am back.

Since we are in Valentine's mood, allow me to pay tribute to a very special loved one of mine...

She is beautiful beyond compare;
Fair and bright, on the outside and inside;
Small and slim, no one fails to notice her;
Spread her open, and you notice a glistening shine coming into sight;
She is not all beauty, but with brains to go with;
Feel her, touch her, your senses will be aroused;
Open her, press her, and music comes out of her little mouth;
Oh such a cutie pie you are to me;
And I wish I may have you for the rest of my life;
To sleep with, to play with and to often bring me to the other world.

Mr. Chair, Members of this august house. It is my pleasure to show you a very special loved one of mine, the one who has given me a new meaning to life. Put your hands together to welcome...

(Clap clap clap clap clap......!)

Yes I have just bought my brand new V3i on the 14th of February which is also Valentine's Day. And I actually spent the whole of yesterday playing around with my new found love hence I didn't blog yesterday. I must say that having it in your hands and playing with it personally is actually far more orgasmic than seeing it on websites. And whatever I wrote above just so aptly describes it. It is a head-turner, a beauty, an engineering marvel and a fashion icon both in one.
Open the phone and you see a bright shiny nickel-copper alloy keypad just begging to be pressed. Hit the music button and you play great sounding tunes with the built in iTunes software, the same one found on iPods. Being made of aircraft-grade anodised aluminium, it's surface is so cool and nice to feel against the skin. All in all, I would say describing the wonders of this phone is akin to describing a beautiful, sexy, horny and brainy girl.

And the best part is, I managed to get my ORIGINAL set at a bargain price, thanks to my mom who knocked the price so low that the boss almost chased us away. While most shops sell it for nothing less than RM1,440 as far as I know, I got it for RM1,380. Don't be mistaken; I get the same accessories at this price as those paying higher prices elsewhere. Mine is Made in
Singapore with a one year warranty by Motorola Malaysia, and there are no items less in my package. For those interested in buying one at this price, I can show you which shop to go to.

But apart from all the hype, there is one glaring problem that I am facing. I am not used to Motorola phones. In fact, I buying a Motorola phone after owning 5 Nokia phones really come as a surprise in the same fact as how I am now a blogger who once used to detest blogging. The User Interface as I already knew is really un-user friendly, and it does not accept any ordinary downloaded themes/screen savers/skins. I suppose maybe this model is still new and they yet to come up with compatible downloads. Other unfamiliarities are the absence of permanent report delivery after sending messages, the Select and Back keys opposite than that in all Nokia phones, a whole new messaging input system called iTap instead of good ol' T9 (by Tegic) employed by Nokia and Sony Ericsson, a 3-bar battery indicator compared to the 4 or 8 bar ones found in Nokias, a kuchi-rat mini USB port for both charging and synching and so on. Apart from these that I still lack experience in, the V3i is a superb phone that does all it promises to do. The 1.23 Megapixel camera is not equivalent to the N90 or K750 but it takes decent shots with exposure control, white balance and 8X zoom! Audio from the little speaker behind the phone is also good with no cracking heard at higher volumes. Almost everything on this phone can be personalized; you can adjust the screen brightness, menu layout, speed dials, voice commands etc. In short, I love this phone. Feel free to ask me anything about it.

On another note, my Valentine's was made even more significant this time with me going over to my GF's place to have a nice home dinner with her and family. Unlike the previous 3 celebrations that we had at posh restaurants, this time the environment and ambience was different. It was more of a family affair, where we had to work together to prepare our food. We had a wonderful pizza by Elena's mom, fried chicken by her grandma, fries by Elena, red bean soup also by her mom, fresh vegetables by her maid, longan water by her sister and tomato ketchup by me. No, I grated the cheese and sliced the pineapples for the pizza too. It was economical, fun, delicious and most importantly, great in terms of family bonding. Oh and also not succumbing to the over-commercialisation of Valentine's Day.

In as much as I paid tribute to my V3i, I think it is also fair for me to acknowledge my dear GF who has been with me for the past 3 years come this 26th of March. She has played a very special role in my life; as someone who balances out my life, and one who compliments my shortfalls. In times when I was overly stressed out in my studies, she would show me comics and tell me stories to help me relax. When I was frustrated and sad, she is the one who would cheer me up. When I lose my way trying to go to Mid Valley from Vista, she is the one who will draw maps and direct me there. When I was sick at home, she is the one who will buy food and take care of me. And after almost 3 years together and counting, I must say that she has been a wonderful GF to me in her every right. We had and still have our fair share of arguments and fights, but it is through all these times that we sort out differences and learn to understand each other better. And through thick and thin, we managed to sail through together in our journeys and I pray that God bless us always in the future.

Thank you, Elena for being my wonderful GF.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Little Bit of Everything.

This post is gonna be a post that covers many little things which on its own would be too short to qualify as a solitary post. And no, this is NOT a desperate attempt to post something up in my blog to maintain my 2-day-a-post consistency. At least I don't blog about my experiences killing cockroaches ok! *takes cover from YP's missiles*

According to Coach aka MTI (Miri Treehouse Inhabitant), I must tell what I'm gonna talk about, talk about it and tell what I have just said. So these will be what I'm gonna talk about in this post:

1. YP vs. YkK vs. Speaker (this is not about wrestling);
2. Rusty brains and how to get it tip top again;
3. Convo mag misprints;
4. My blogging future;
5. Valentine's Day.

Issue #1: On getting paid, not getting paid and having to pay.

After most people read my post that said Jody will be getting paid as a research assistant as how YkK, San San and Ai Ling are, I have gotten 2 feedbacks so far:

1. Richard, why are you PAYING RM 30k while others are BEING PAID to do similar stuff?
2. Why they get paid while I don't get paid wan???

The answer to the former question is simple: I am getting a BMedSci degree at the end of one year while they only get to swank around with the title "Research Ass." in their CVs. If that's not convincing enough, dig this: I can only afford Queensland, and to get there, I must have a first degree of which paying to do BMed in IMU is THE only way. Therefore, screwing BMed and taking up the RM50-a-day job as Research Ass and eventually having to go to a more expensive uni is NOT an option at all for me. The people who are paid now are more talkative because they are all on scholarship and they are just earning extra pocket money AT THEIR LEISURE, WITHOUT PRESSURE, WITH PLEASURE probably for a trip around Europe during holidays or something. On the other hand BMed people gotta slog their ass out for the degree just as their parents have to in forking out the cash. Apart from those who did this for the love of research, is it a curse to be poor?

In answering the latter question: Not all lecturers pay students to work for them. You must be hired by someone in position to disburse funds from the research grant, namely Prof. Mak (Parasite King) or maybe Prof. Ong. Dr. Vishna DOES NOT pay students for helping her with her projects because she is neither a person in high enough authority nor is she willing to dig into her pocket to pay you for breeding rabbits. It's purely on a I-wanna-learn-stuff-only basis of being hired under her.

Issue #2: On forgetting what we have learned in the past 2.5 years.

Apart from those who have already been transferred to PMS, can I have a show of hands of those who have been revising our past lecture notes?

I speak for myself, and it's a big fat NO.

I don't say this out of kiasu-ness nor am I a lifetime Library Demi-God, but the fact is we will really be squeezing our brains when we are at our respective PMSs if we don't act to refresh and reinforce our hard-learned knowledge anytime soon. Well but I also wouldn't expect most people to lug 2.5 years of notes back into library cubicles and start revising them alongside unfamiliar juniors. The fact remains that basic sciences learned throughout our Phase 1 is still the core of all future clinical practices and it's inescapable that we will need to recall them time and time again in exams and in our practice.

I strongly support Yippie!'s suggestion to start some kind of study/support/play-cum-study/whatever-you-call-it group to at least get us to sit down and discuss or study together, lest we suffer and be despised when we get overseas.

Let's call this club KBSR. Not Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Rendah, but Kelab Belajar Sesama Richard. I propose I be the President and life-time member while Yippie! can be the Vice or something. Hear hear!

Issue #3: On ME being old???

The Convo mag is out. And to those who haven't got it yet, go get it soon. And BE HONEST! DO NOT TAKE IF YOU STINGY PIG DID NOT PAY FOR ONE!!!

It's called M203, Our Story. Overall as a critic, I would say it was a commendable job; heck of course since I was in the committee. But to be fair, allow me to point out MY STORY on several problems I have with the magazine.

Firstly, I find that the thin film that coats the outer hard cover of the mag tends to bubble up after repeated opening and closing of the book. This is especially obvious at the vertical groove next to the spine. Also after a few knocks against the table, it bubbles too. I hope the film doesn't bubble up so badly that it begins to peel like a psoriasis sufferer.

Second and the most intolerable flaw...

SINCE WHEN WAS I BORN IN 1983??? I am a rat, no ordinary rat, but a GOLDEN rat, ie born in 1984 and am damn proud of it. I really am disappointed to be in the league of the 83s as I am not as old as I really am. But guess nothing can really be done about it. I wonder who did my profile anyway...

Third problem. I find that pictures of me are very scarcely found in the whole magazine. I mean I am sure I am not so anti-social nor am I Mr. MIA to be so barely seen in the magazine. If they needed pictures of me, I'm sure they knew where to find me. I am also sure that I have been involved in many events to get photos with me inside in the mag. Examples:

-I was in CF camp organizing committee but I don't see myself in any photos

-I was with the debaters for the Red Box Karaoke outing but I don't see myself in any photos.

-I was in the front in all exams but I don't see myself in any photos.

-I was in Orientation M204 committee but I don't see myself in any photos.

-I was in KKB and while my friends' photos are in the mag, I don't see myself in any photos.

Ok I will stop sounding like a megalomaniac and admit probably I am not good looking enough to be worthy of having my photo being published.

Ps. But did you guys notice how cute Elena turned out to be in almost all pics with her?

Issue #4: On my blog dying? Like speak to the hand!

Coach commented on how she feels that my blog will "begin to come to an end with the start of my Bmed" on the 10th of February recently. It played on my mind for a while thinking of the future of my still virgin blog; will I really lose interest with the start of the Bmed, or will it also eventually die later, or will it continue to go on even when I have grand-children? The fact is, I can't predict the future and neither can I be sure if I should discover another more interesting past-time that brings me away from blogging. But as it is, I am committed to bringing you the latest update in thoughts, feelings, stories, criticisms, reviews and gossips of mine. And although I concede the fact that I will be less regularly putting up posts when my busy schedule starts, I am adamant that I will still blog albeit at a slower pace. This does not mean it has died alright.

So continue to give me your support by visiting my blog more often AND leaving comments/tags for encouragement. Your visits are most appreciated.

Issue #5: On Valentine's ideas (and stupid ones).

Yes, the Day of Celebration of Love is round the corner; Tuesday as a matter of fact. Flip the Star papers and at every corner you will see all sorts of ads and articles pertaining to Valentine's. You see mainly advertisements by restaurants or hotels having all sorts of dining packages at all sorts of prices, not to mention those by jewelers and florists also trying to capitalize on naive guys and super manja girls. Basically don't get me wrong. I would definitely love to give my dear Elena the finest dinners, gifts and flowers, but the way the commercialization (and gullible people) is going year after year really undermines the whole purpose of this day. Take for eg.:

Promoter: "Sir, sir take a look at our beautiful flowers here, suitable for your beautiful girlfriend la."

Manja girl: "Wah so nice la! I want! I want!"

Promoter: "Ya lor you so pretty, must get pretty flowers to match ma! I'm sure your boyfriend so love you sure buy for you wan lor, hor..."(looking at the Naive Guy)

Naive Guy: "Dear you choose which flower you wan I buy for you. No problem."

Promoter: "Leng lui (pretty girl) ar, why not you go in our refrigerator and see our flowers? Got more nice wan there in bow-kays wor."

Naive Guy: "You choose from here la, quite nice oso ma!"

Promoter: "The ones inside more nice! Got big ribbon and wrap nice nice some more! Aiya sir, you love her must buy big bow-kay only can (Canto=match) ma. Just now also got one couple by one bow-kay of roses and the girl so happy. Come come I show you..."

Manja Girl: (irritated) "So are you going to buy for me?"

Naive Guy: (Like a dog with tail between legs) "Sure, let's go see."

And so under pressure from the Manja Girl and the sign in front of the fridge that wrote "Flowers to make your loved one feel loved", Naive Guy ended up with indeed a bow-kay of flowers costing RM180 excluding the wrapping.

This is what REALLY happened while I only bought a few roses for a girl I love as much as Naive Guy did. So to generalize, this is what usually happens:

Skimming Promoters + Heart stirring ads + Naive Guys + Manja Girls = Valentine's Day.

What a shame indeed.

Another stupid advertisement came out in today's Sunday Star---giving your loved one a REAL Shih-Tzu dog in a hand-knitted basket adorned with ribbons and look-goodies at a whopping price of RM2k. If Big Siaw called his blog absolute nonsense, this would be even more an absolute nonsense. So if next year is the year of the Pig, would Valentine's be about giving your loved ones Piglets in baskets? Since the shop owner said "chocolates and roses are losing its appeal to the young and they want newer ideas". Or how about little rats or monkeys in baskets? No wonder SPCA says they foresee a substantial increase in dog-dumping after the year of the Dog ends.

Call me old-fashioned but I still stick to the conventionals and believe loving somebody isn't all about doing the most magnificent and succumbing to the equation above on Valentine's day. This day is merely a flagship of your relationship and of course it means doing something out of the ordinary but not to any extremes, IMHO. It can even be done on some other day other than the 14th of February. What I do approve are like flowers, nice dinners, gifts and maybe lingerie too (Hey red lingerie sales are going up these days). Or maybe a nice hug and movie with Haagen-Daz would also pretty much make up. It's the heart that counts, don't you think?

And so, having said what I wanted to say, allow me to tell you what I have just said. I have talked on 5 issues; on the research issue, studying before PMS, problems with the convo mag, my dying blog and about Valentine's.

With that, IMU 2 is proud to rest its case today. EEEEEEEEEAAAAARR EEEAARRR!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Life in Slow-mo.

My victorious comrades in M2o3 completed and passed Semester 5 with flying colours.

Yes, we made it through four days of hell between 12 December to 15 December sitting for exams and endured another 8 days of suspense waiting for the results to be out on the 23rd of December 2005. Essentially we were able to be completely at peace and rest from the 23rd right till the day each of us leave for Phase 2.

As it is, a good 49 days or 7 weeks have already passed, for better or for worse. Now let's take a look at how some of my friends are dealing with their sudden burst of excess, study-free days.

Yee Pei aka Yippie: Poor girl, looks like boredom has so overwhelmed her that she not only has NOTHING to blog about, she even thinks the world hates her. Just see how depressing excess free time with nothing to do can be. And some say studying sucks...

Sheena aka Coach: They say that when a person is busy, he/she finds time passing so quickly they can't keep track of it. Likewise when you are beginning to chart patterns of how your minutes pass in a day, you must be having alot of free time doing nothing much really productive. But unlike depressed YP, Coach still at least bothers to post about her experience with pre-school kids. Not bad!

Adeline aka Gongster: After having near endless nights chatting with friends on Messenger till 3 am in the morning, I am sure she must have thought of doing something more productive and time-occupying. Kudos to Gongster for getting a job at MMSG and will now be no longer considered a "pandai makan tak tau kerja" kid.

Elena aka Fakdup girl: Since the results were out on the 23rd, she has been working at her mom's friend's office. For a meagre pay of RM 450 a month, Elena has no choice but to be exploited in the name of obedience to her mom. Her mom thinks that working outside for whatever pay is better than bumming at home. Good point I must say but Elena is saying that she is missing out on the fun she could have at home with her PS2 and comics. Well you guys figure whether working to occupy time is better than playing games all day at home or not.

Basically after the highly stressed exams and studying periods we all experienced, we are finding ourselves having too much free time doing nothing. And we have not even completed 2 months; what more people who are going to UK and have another 6 months plus to burn. This is not to mention that all of us are at risk of forgetting stuff we so diligently/forcibly learned during the past 2.5 years! Just test yourself on something, say "Name 4 nematodes causing food poisoning" or "4 signs and symptoms of cervical cancer". Frankly, I took quite a while to come up with some answers myself too...

But I suppose this is what all students from IMU who are twinning overseas will experience. Students bound for Australia save the most time as the term starts in January, but of course this applies only for M2 students. So it's either we continue bumming around, or find something productive to do. And hey, working in IMU's research lab is one good idea too!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Quite friendly after all...

Monday was the last day for BMedSci students to pay up their fees, and me being a last-minute guy, rushed to IMU in the afternoon to pay up. IMU was closed all the way from Day 1 of CNY and only reopened on Monday while most KL businesses including the KLSE opened on Friday. Apart from paying fees, I intended to visit some of my friends who I heard were working at the lab where I will be conducting my research work. They are San San, Yean Koon (aka Zipper Girl/YkK) and Ai Ling. Accompanying me was Jody, who was equally interested in getting a job as a research assisstant under any available professors.

After paying my fees, I met Dr.Vishna, my Godmother in IMU. As usual, we launched into a long conversation that ranged from how Elena was to IMU's research rabbits. She even invited Jody and I for a car ride to Technology Park where she was to do some banking so that she could tell me more about her projects. It is always fun to talk to her as she really does come down to the level of a student and speaks without much unnecessary formality as how I would experience with other lecturers (think Achike, people). Would you just tell a Professor straight in her face that she is fat? I don't think most people would ever do that, but I could. It's that informal a bond I have with her but of course I am conscious of certain protocols and also not to be disrespectful nor rude. In short I will be undertaking one of her projects which researches on a rather common pregnancy disorder called Pre-Ecclampsia. I don't think I would elaborate further so wait till I start on it only then will I update.

Anyway that was so much for my story. Me meeting a familiar friendly lecturer. Jody on the other hand was lamenting on how his multiple requests to Prof. Mak Joon Wah (aka. Parasite King) for a vacancy at the lab were turned down, hiring instead the 3 girls who are now at the lab.

"I think he prefers girls only la. I asked him before they did and they got jobs instead."

(Btw the 3 girls are doing researches under Prof. Ong Kok Hai's project in bacterias; San San: Salmonella typhi, YkK: S. paratyphi, Ai Ling: Brugia malayi (parasite))

To add to his dissatisfaction and reinforced conviction that Parasite King (PK) was indeed a sexist (girls resemble parasites more than guys maybe?), Jody heard that Zen and Yee Pei were coming to the lab to assume posts as research assisstants pretty soon too! In short, he plucked the courage and decided to confront good ol' PK and met him in his room.

Much to our surprise, PK actually welcomed us into his room and invited us to sit down for a chat. After explaining the purpose of us coming to IMU, Jody went straight to the point in asking about his long overdued job. And very surprisingly, PK mentioned that he had previously had a word with Prof. Yeoh Peng Nam (Aunty Nam) and was wondering if he could fix an appointment for Jody to meet her regarding the vacancy. It was indeed a surprise because after hearing no news from PK and seeing the girls already working, we would have thought he had long forgotten about Jody's request. And either as a show of hospitality or to make his words credible, he picked up his phone and rang Aunty Nam.

"Prof Yeoh, this is Prof Mak here."

"Which Mak are you?"

"Professor Mak la..."

"Oh ok, ya why?"

"Remember the student I mentioned to you before? That he could help you with your project..."

And it went on till some point...

"Are you free now? Can I send him to see you? Oh you're coming over? Would trouble you then."

I was startled at the thought of having the lecturer I dreaded most to be sitted at arms length from me, in the presence of Parasite King, another dreaded lecturer. But as it was, PK actually seemed very friendly, not only for arranging the meeting which Jody appreciated very much, but it's also through our conversations that we realised how jolly and open a professor can be with students. He didn't appear to be an idiot to me anymore as how he irked me by always making us remember parasites I can't even pronounce. Try pronouncing Culex quinquefasciatus and spelling it in exams.
It wasn't long before Aunty Nam walked in, greeted us and extended her hand for us to shake. She also made it a point to try recalling if she had seen any of us in lectures before. Then I thought that since I never bothered to look for her for answers after her long winded and confusing lectures, she wouldn't probably remember me out of hundred over students. Then again, I was always the cheeky one to call out Phang's name for every single question she asked or fault that happened in the lectures. Anyway thankful that she didn't recognise me but the gesture was nice. Next thing that happened was Jody started having a conversation with Aunty regarding the job and PK in the meantime was finding opportunities to support Jody in his bid. After a while, I found PK staring at me and smiling, as though he could sense I was being left out and wanted to strike a conversation with me.

"You know, just now Prof. Yeoh asked which Mak I was." Lamented PK.

"Ya I wondered whether you were this Mak or the other Mak upstairs. There are only 2 Maks here." Aunty referring to Dr.Mak Kok Fee, another lecturer.

"Well to me there is only one Mak here," PK pointing to his MUG sitted next to his microscope.

And Aunty and PK burst into laughter. I also went "Hahahaha..."

Lame I must say but these little antics coming from research Professors really amuse me and show me how I shouldn't judge a lecturer by his/her lectures!

The bottomline: Jody got his job as assisstant to Aunty Nam in researching the negative effects of Noni fruit. Not only that, he will be getting paid for his job, courtesy of PK.

Aunty Nam and PK rawk !

Monday, February 06, 2006

Of Symbians and Razors

I just read Sheena's recent post about the array of handphones that met such tragic fates under her hands. Of course with the exception of some phones that she peacefully parted with to be given as a gift to her dad or were traded in, I must say Sheena really is NON-MOBILE PHONE FRIENDLY.


Anyway, it's such a coincidence since I also had a draft post which is about my own handphone stories. So guess Sheena's post will set the precedence in this technology-themed post.

Below are handphones which I have previously owned and the technological specifications each has:

1. Nokia 3210 - December 2000-May 2001

Remember this phone? It was one of Nokia's very first antenna-less phones. I bought this at the end of my Form 4 using money that I stinged and saved for months. It was about RM 850 then since it was considered the latest handset in town and you would look super cool with one of this in your hands, never mind the fact that even labourers own better phones these days.

What so special about it?
-Black and white screen with the all-time favourite scroll down menu. Has ringtone composer and great games like Snake. Keys are widely spread and very tactile. Perfect for gaming. Changeable covers for those who wanna keep it funky. Heavy at the top, lighter at the bottom. Bulges in tight pockets and weighs down on shirt pockets. Extremely solid in built and withstands falls with only a dent left behind. Ask Grace about it.

(Those days when J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition) was not heard off, we could only play games that were pre-loaded and not download or expand our games. For those who wanna know, J2ME is a platform (kinda like a software) for graphics, mainly games. The phones must have this to be able to support games with graphics.)

What happened?
-Well as I said it was not a very cute phone as I thought it was at the beginning. It was heavy, bulky and definitely not cool anymore as newer models namely the Nokia 8210 and 8850 were being launched. Since the price tag for both the two beautiful handsets was well above the 2k mark (8850-RM2,899, 8210-RM2,299), I decided to cling on to it till the prices dropped. And trust me, prices for Nokia phones drop fast. And so, when the time was right...

2. Nokia 8210- May 2001-January 2002

Oh what a beauty don't you think? The 8210 was actually designed by a famous European fashion designer sometime in 2000 and if you take a good look at it, it resembles a low cut blouse from the front. Do you see the white borders that goes plunging downwards towards the valley where they meet and end as the call/hang up buttons so gracefully? There would be the cleavage line but what a marvellous design notwithstanding. And to go along with it, the phone comes with little petite buttons that are silver painted that look so elegant. You gotta feel it to appreciate it.

What so special about it?
-The main buying point for most if not all people is its physical built. It's a fashion statement Nokia is trying to sell and really it was a big hit. Lightweight and cute, but functions-wise it's all the same as the 3210. No Symbian, no J2ME. Only addition is an infrared port for connectivity.

What happened?
-I got bored of it. I started to look towards the other beautiful phone Nokia had-the 8850. I traded in the 8210 and got an 8850.

3. Nokia 8850-January 2002-May 2003

By the time I bought this the price had dropped to RM1,400. Still expensive to most, but you must consider that it has dropped by half from the initial price. The Nokia 8850 is still my most loved phone till this day and I deeply regret trading it in for another more inferior phone. Sigh...

What so special about it?
-This phone is completely made of a magnesium-aluminium alloy and has chrome plated keys, neckline and sidelines. Thus the high price. It has a one of a kind banana slider and a very refreshing, Alps-like white background. Open the back alloy cover and you will see your face brightly reflected on the shiny chrome plated interior. It was a popular phone with businessmen as well as stylo people. I must say I still love this phone and Nokia today has came up with nothing close to this except for the 8850 Gold and the 8910 which is just a slight improvement in design over the original.

What happened?
-As you can see above, I traded in this phone in May 2003, which was a few months after I got together with my beloved GF. You see, this phone only stores 10 messages at any one time (so do the other 3 phones above). It's very irritating and frustrating when you have to delete some nice messages to make space for newer incoming messages. That wasn't all. The slider was getting loose and the finger prints that smeared the shiny surfaces was getting on my nerves. I concluded that this phone was a beautiful girl with not much brains. And so I settled for...

4. Nokia 6510-May 2003-May 2005

This is the longest phone I ever kept so far, two years. The only reason why I willingly swapped my dearest 8850 with this is simply because this model stores up to 100 messages in its Inbox. Other than that, I had no special love for it although it also came with radio, GPRS and HSCSD. And after having taken tender loving care of the 8850, I found it hard to keep this phone equally shiny and immaculate. I really trashed it around and even when it fell of my car I just didn't feel much for it.

What so special about it?
-BIG Inbox storage capacity with options for folder creation, radio, GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) for going online to get downloads and updates, HSCSD (High Speed Circuit Switched Data) which is basically a technical term for saying "it transfers data in and out of this phone real fast".

What happened?
-Newer phones with colour screens and cameras with equal storage capacity emerged in the market at affordable prices and so I thought it was about time I progressed on. After weighing functionality and my affordability, I opted for...

5. Nokia 7610-May 2005-present

Bought it for RM 1,400 without trading in my 6510. Intended to use it as a spare phone but eventually gave it away as a gift to Grace. She deserved it at least because her old faithful 3310 had been giving her so much problems yet she was willing to bear with that Dinosaur phone. Anyway as you can see this phone is another stylo model, with hints of fashion elements on it; the two colour tones and the nice patterns that flank the camera shutter at the back. Also notice the eccentrically arranged keypad which I soon realised that was a real chore in typing, not to mention the loud clicks that it emits when pressed.

What so special about it?
-It is a Series 60 phone, ie. it's a phone that runs on the Symbian 60 Platform/Operating System. Symbian is a trade name of an operating system, in the same manner as Windows being the OS for computers. This OS is exclusively found in Nokia and high-end Sony Ericsson handsets and is the major selling point for Nokia phones apart from its wide range and affordability. It is more user friendly than other brands and also it allows users to upgrade/update/download stuff into their phones, making it more useful and interesting. Not withstanding that this phone comes with a 1.0 megapixel camera which is not too bad, voice functions, MP3 and video recording and playback, external memory storage and also a LARGE Inbox, among others.

What WILL happen?
-Currently I am eyeing the all new Motorola Razr V3i, which just rolled out the production lines a week ago. Be sure to get this right; not all thin and slim phones you see are Razrs. There are 4 variants of the popular, award winning Razr series, namely the first and original Razr V3 (VGA camera only with no external memory storage), Razr V3i (1.23mp camera with 256MB external memory card), Razr V3c (same as the V3i but specially catered to US only market) and the V3x (3G phone with dual cameras). These 4 handsets will be undistinguishable to the unexposed but if you were to pay more attention to them you will spot the differences.
(Courtesy of

The first phone above is the original V3; notice that the Motorola logo is seperately embossed below the black panel housing the external screen. The V3i below instead has a new cool luminescent blue logo embossed and integrated with the black panel that houses the screen. Apart from that, take note of the new V3i's colour. It's official colour is called Silver Blue, while the V3 has colours in silver, black or pink (the latest edition). Another tiny difference is the words below the camera's shutter as shown below:

(Courtesy of

The words unfortunately do not appear very clear here but on the left picture, the words "VGA ZOOM 4X" are written below the shutter. As for the V3i, you do notice the word "MEGAPIXEL" below the shutter. Lastly, engineers have added micro-engraving to the anodized aluminium casing to give it the metallic look. It can also be felt as you run your fingers across the grooves as well as be seen at an angle in bright light. So in terms of physical appearance, the differences are 1) Colour; 2) Logo position and 3) Camera details below the shutter; 4) Micro-engraving. Apart from these, they look, feel, weigh and smell the same.

Well so much for all those nitty-gritty, but really the new V3i is a superb phone with improved features notably the camera, design and expandable memory ie. it has an external memory card slot (unlike the old V3 with a fixed 5.5MB memory). I am waiting for a few more reviews before I actually spend my hard-earned Ang Pows on this beauty. I will be passing on my 7610 to my sister who is currently using a debilitated 3310 instead of trading in as usual. Guess I have a soft spot for 3310 owners.

Oh and note one thing, I NEVER lost any of my previous phones, nor have I ever accidentally left them in pockets and let them be spun in washing machines. Maybe I am just more careful and protective with my phones than others...

So much for this post. Hope it didn't bore too many people...Will update again once I get my hands on the new V3i.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Twilight Industry

"No one blogs these days la...Just when you are so into this people have quit it already."
-Ken Jay-

We met at Jody's place on Friday night for a simple gathering, a gambling gathering to be precise. Ken Jay, Collin, Elena, Ai Ling and I turned up for few rounds of Blackjack and Mahjong which I eventually emerged Champion (I took home $19.60 net profit). Since good old med friends were around, I thought I might as well do some much needed publicity for my blog. And what you read above was what Ken Jay said. Ken Jay may be a man of few words but his words sank into me. And I recalled that it was similar to a term called Twilight Industry learned in basic economics. It simply describes any field of business that has past its glory days, and is now in a phase where it is stagnant, non-developing and on the verge of extinction.

So what am I messing around now?

The truth is, it depends on what we expect to get out of this activity. Is it meant to satisfy the insatiable appetite of nosy people? Or are we doing it so that our holidays are well spent and have our writing skills improved? I see it as a way we share happenings in our lives with other people, our friends who may be thousand of miles away. Realising the fact that we may not have the luxury of sitting at Coffee Bean with many close friends chatting about sizes of Mandarin oranges or how early we woke up to go to church, blogging is a way to say all those in a halfway formal and informal manner to anyone at anytime. Not so informal as in online chatting, at the same time not as formal as diary report writing. Not withstanding that, we must also consider the fact of whether blogs are visited by our so-called target group. I mean if I were to be the only one who writes and reads my own blog, what purpose does it serve then? I might as well jot them all down in a diary and not needing to spend eye-straining hours in front of the computer screen. Having said that, I suppose there are still active bloggers out there who believe in sharing stories and happenings among friends. As such I believe this activity maybe worthwhile after all.

As for me, as long as there are blogger friends out there, I will continue to be part of the circle of sharing and gossiping and what not. Just hope I don't lose steam like most others.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I'm Back

The Yee Sangs have been tossed, ang pows opened and money gambled away. I'm back.

I drove home from my little sleepy hollow hometown called Tampin at the border between Negeri Sembilan and Melaka and reached PJ at 11pm yesterday. It's my mom's family, and I really love going back there ever since I was born mainly because of the non-stop supply of food that churns out of my grandma's kitchen and also the great company I have with my relatives. My dad's parents ie. my grandparents are no longer around, and all of my other uncles, aunties and cousins are all in Australia, US and UK. That means I only get Ang Pows from my mom's side every year.

This new year will be my last one in Malaysia as I will be in Australia by next January. Realising that, my relatives have not only been harping on this fact but also gave me bigger ang pows this time around. I have also been eating non-stop. In 3 days I have had 3 yee sangs and 3 big dinners. I think I am really going to miss CNY when I am away.
(Yee Pei: You're not the only who's gonna miss all the CNY fun...)

Talking about Australia, I realised that many of our batchmates have actually already left before the Chinese New Year. I received many messages from people like Phang, Desmond and Ken Rhee on the days before they left but useless as I am I never did see any of them off at the airport. Well it'll be hypocritical if I said I am very sentimental about all these little things but the fact is I really do feel sad that it all ended so abruptly. I mean could we have had a grand end-of-M203 party or something? Even a mamak with half the batch would be great. I guess most clicks would have arranged for one for themselves and so I think it's really my fault for not getting together for a meet or something. Last I heard was that a gang went to Ipoh to visit Phang, but by time I heard of it they had already gone and came back.

I don't suppose that those who have left and are in Australia would read my blog but to those who ever do, I really miss you guys man. Life is such that we sometimes never realise how people play a role in completing our lives till they are missing from it. But it may not be so bad because I will be going to Australia too! Albeit a year later. So I think what we CAN do now is to at least make an effort to get in touch with those friends of ours who will be going overseas later.

Of all the 2.5 years in IMU, and being a library Demi-God myself (I am not proud of it ok), I would say the fun-nest times I had apart from orientation were the times we studied in the library with Phang around. (For those who are wondering who Phang is, he is a friendly giant the size of Goliath and is thoroughly Chinese educated. He was the Batch Representative for 2.5 years and he's the best.) The best part about Phang is that no matter how much we make fun and laugh at him about his England, oops I mean English, he is simply OBLIVIOUS to it and sometimes ask us what we are laughing at. I don't discriminate against him but he really is amusing. His antics and other idiosyncrasies are equally worth remembering but I don't think I would wanna talk about them here. Below is a real dialogue that occured in IMU's library two weeks before the Semester 5 End-of Semester exam at approx. 9:30pm:

Eugene Tho: (in a hurry) Richard Richard I ask you ar what test do you use for Cushing's disease?
Richard:Well you do the dexamethasone test and the free cortisol test...
Phang: I know that one can, but I read somewhere you can do the Syntech test also can.
Eugene and Daniel: Richard, have you heard of this test?He keeps talking about this.
Richard: Syntech?You mean synthetic is it?
Phang: Wait I bring book come.
(He flips and flips the Physiology textbook but becomes exasperated as he can't find the topic.)
Phang: #@$% I can't find it. I check the back but cannot find Cushion's disease.
Richard: What disease?
Phang: Cushion disease la! The fat fat guy with purple lines on stomach.
Richard: It's CUSHING'S disease.
Phang: Is it I always thought it's Cushion. You help me find la.
(Eugene searches this time for the Syntech test)
Eugene: Phang, there is no Syntech test in the whole book.
Phang: (takes over book) Here la! Can't you see!
Richard: It's called the SynACTHen test la. As in sin-act-turn.
Phang: Aiya syntech sounds like it can la.

Tribute to my fellow Batchmate, close friend, study mate and future coursemate at Queensland, Phang Soo-Cheun.

G'Day Mate !