Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Before I begin, just want to mention that I've finally listened to Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up", and it's become my all-time favourite Josh song. Seriously! It was originally done by Secret Garden -- they make beautiful music -- and the lyrics are truly inspiring. It might have started off as a love song, but being a Christian, I draw a lot of religious significance from the words, and the piece brought tears to my eyes. Josh has an amazing voice, and sounds fantastic. I can't wait to hear him doing Linkin Park's "My December"!

Dr. Keith Goh, the brilliant neurosurgeon who led the team that attemped to separate Iranian conjoined twins Ladan and Laleh, gave his first public interview to Tim Sebastian of Hard Talk from the BBC, and it aired on BBCWorld ( Channel 13 on cable ) today.
I have heard and read good things about Dr. Goh, and he really does come across as a very humble, kind-hearted person. Soft-spoken and respectful, he carried himself very well, and was extremely diplomatic even when Sebastian probed him about his reaction to criticisms from other surgeons after the twins died. Like Dr. Alex Chao, the much-loved vascular surgeon who perished during the SARS epidemic here, Dr. Goh is a devout Christian, and prays regularly for his patients. He spoke about the most important lesson he learnt from this experience -- that of being more adept at empathizing -- and instead of being defensive about his reasons for taking on a task that at least 2 other surgeons had considered too dangerous, he simply said that the twins were of sound mind and were fully aware of the risks involved, that they had assembled the best possible team of experts to assist in the operation, that venous bypass techniques had improved greatly since the 1990s ( when the twins last consulted a doctor ), but most importantly, that everyone entered into this with "the best of intentions", and only wanted to help the two women fulfill a wish they desired more than anything else in the world.

The saddest part, however, was when Sebastian asked him what transpired between the doctors and the twins just before they were wheeled into surgery. Dr. Goh mentioned that only he and Dr. Ben Carson were present, and that they both assured the twins that they would do their best for them. The twins then asked their surgeons to take care of them "as they would their own children", and my mom, who was also watching, said, "So poor thing."

When they died, the atmosphere in the OT was described as "stunned silence", with nurses sobbing, anaesthetists staring into space, and a massive outpouring of grief in many other ways. Little wonder that Dr. Goh spent time "soul-searching" after that, praying and asking God if he'd done the right thing, why this had to happen, etc. He's come to terms with the experience, and is a lot stronger for it. He makes us all very proud, and I hope he can listen to "You Raise Me Up" for some comfort should he need it. :)

My thanks to Obels for linking to me. Found out about this from the referrals section of my blog. Description reads as: A Dutch medical intern writes about healthcare-related issues. Very well done! :D

Monday, September 29, 2003

It's Monday, and I'm off! Hahahahahahahahaha! This can only happen in A&E. Spent the morning in town, picking up the latest Sting and John Mayer CDs, a book called "The Purpose-Driven Life" by Rick Warren ( I first heard about this from the Clay Aiken websites -- it's one of his favourites, and a fellow church member who's reading it now confirms that it's excellent ), and these unbelievable rose-shaped pineapple tarts that just melt in your mouth, located in basement 2 of Takashimaya, at a stall named Cookie Man. I'm really addicted to these, and strongly recommend them to everyone.

Nothing much to report at the moment. Here're 2 links for those interested in Josh Groban or good music. These are songs from his upcoming 2nd album -- I've only heard "Oceano" so far, 'cos I have some problems loading "You Raise Me Up", but it gave me goosebumps, literally. Josh has hit the 5-million mark in sales in the US, and makes savvy choices in his collaborations and singing material. Top-notch production on "Oceano" makes it a terrific listening experience, and Josh's voice has never sounded better. Can't wait to add it to my collection! The links are as follows:

"You Raise Me Up"

Have to get some writing done -- the deadline nears! More another day. :)

Saturday, September 27, 2003

I've finished Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up and am now reading Dave Barry In Cyberspace. It isn't as funny as the former, but it has its moments. :)


"Believe me, you do not want to try to install a new operating system yourself. I have done this several times, and it is terrifying. Your computer is taken over by an Evil Demon Installation Program, very much the way the young Linda Blair was taken over in the movie The Exorcist. First your screen goes blank, and then suddenly your computer starts asking you a series of questions that you could never answer in a million years, like:

"The Installation Program has determined that a conflict exists between your IRQ Port Parameter Module and your Cache Initialization Valve. Shall the Installation Program reallocate the Motherboard Transfer Polarity Replication Allotment, or shall it adjust the Disk Controller Impedance Threshold? Bear in mind that if you answer this question incorrectly, all of your data will be lost and innocent people could die."

This can go on for many hours, and at any moment your computer may start laughing in a diabolical manner and spinning its monitor around 360 degrees and projectile-vomiting green stuff. ( Your newer multimedia computers vomit in a variety of colours. )"

I think I'll buy Dave Barry books as birthday presents from now on. :D

I've finally tapered down my Michael Buble CD-blasting, and am currently playing another wonderful jazz album in the car. Titled "The New Standard", it features Steve Tyrell, a middle-aged American guy with a gruff but likeable voice, doing covers of well-loved classics such as "On The Sunny Side Of The Street", "Smile", "A Kiss To Build A Dream On", even "The Way You Look Tonight". Surprisingly, I liked his interpretation of the last piece, despite considering Buble's version the best so far. I also enjoyed Tyrell's "The Very Thought Of You", which is my favourite song on the album.
He collaborates with a whole slew of notable jazz musicians, but the production on a few of the songs isn't that great, especially when they use synthesizers as "stand-ins" for actual string sections. The resulting effect spoils the piece, but thankfully, such occurrences are quite seldom and often not very noticeable.
There's a foreword by Burt Bacharach, who calls this a "happy album". I fully agree with that assessment! This CD will lift your spirits, and is ideal for the drive home after a long day at work, or better still, on the way to work! Best of all, the songs reflect an era where romance was subtle yet white-hot without all the blatant sexual innuendos and dirty dancing in music videos. Lyrics from "The Very Thought Of You" are perfect illustrations, ie. "The very thought of you / And I forget to do / The little ordinary things / That everyone ought to do... I see your face in every flower / Your eyes in the stars above". Ah, those were the days. :)

My shift just ended, so I'll write again another day. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Another blog to link to: Otterman Speaks, the author of which also knows the Lonely Ham ( yes, Singapore is small, and crawling with bloggers, it seems :)). His review? "She is likely one of our industrious forum page letter writers and her blog too reads well. Unfortunately it includes lengthy star struck essays about some singer or the other. Well it's her site, mates, so read it and weep."
"Star-struck" is an understatement, in my opinion! :D But I love getting excited about things, especially when it's something good. Someone once told me I had a "schoolgirlish giddiness" about Clay Aiken, and my simple solution to that person's annoyance -- don't read my blog then. Or at least, the bits that turn him/her off. Don't ever let anyone get away with comments like that on your blog. You have the right to your own opinions. :) Thanks for linking to me.

I'm hoping for a quiet night shift today. The reg on with us is super-nice, and has pretty good luck -- usually. My first time doing night with her, and we're both presenting a case at a small conference tomorrow morning, so the ER had better not get swamped! Am wondering whatever happened to that nasty woman I saw last weekend. Complaint letters can show up on the very day itself ( yes, admin is efficient in that respect ), but so far, I haven't heard a peep from her. Interesting...

Ploughed through "Vanilla Sky" earlier today. Yes, "ploughed" is the operative word here. It's so long, and just when it started to rise above the "dull" level, it turned completely insane. I actually enjoyed "Jerry Maguire", and think quite highly of Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, but this show sucked in my book, for 2 reasons -- Penelope Cruz and the script. The former can't act very well ( again, this is my personal opinion ). Maybe she's dynamite in Spanish films where she speaks her mother tongue, but I've seen her in "All The Pretty Horses" and "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" and was bored silly both times. There was one show where she fared a little bit better -- it's an English movie about her hosting a cooking show... oh darn, what's it called? Never mind. Ultimately, I always find her "acting" skills mediocre, even forced at times. And her manner of speaking really irritates me, though I understand accents are difficult to control, especially if they're from non-English-speaking countries. She's sweet-looking, but I get very distracted by her eye bags, and her hairstylist needs to convince her to change to a less limp and haphazard do.

In "Vanilla Sky", Cruz and Cruise flirt outrageously. Maybe it's my imagination, maybe my observation is biased based on Tom and Nicole's ugly divorce, but I've watched a lot of his movies before, and this one was different from the rest. Sure, he plays the romantic lead very well -- e.g. Jerry Maguire, Mission Impossible 2 ( yes, yes, it's supposed to be an action movie, but I liked his on-screen chemistry with Thandie Newton more than the explosions ). However, there were sparks between him and Penelope, and the latter kept giving him these come-hither looks that I never noticed in her films with Matt Damon and Nicolas Cage. Cameron Diaz, lovely as always, had a few love scenes with Cruise too, but she never came across as overdoing it. Funny that she and Tom didn't hit it off. My mom says it's because 1) she's taller than he is, 2) she's as big a star as he is, or 3) she doesn't believe in making passes at married men. How true. Apparently, she prefers guys almost 10 years her junior named Justin. :)

As for the script, it's a warzone. I am not a Cameron Crowe fan, "Almost Famous" or not. ( What was so good about that film? Someone please explain it to me. ) "Vanilla Sky" would've been more enjoyable if it had been an hour shorter, with fewer "dream sequences" ( aka time-consuming segments that are meant to be artistic but actually demonstrate the character's warped mind ). The last 20 minutes became a joke, with its references to futuristic cryogenic life extension whatever. A poor imitation of "The Matrix", my friend. Crowe should've stuck to reality.

Clay Aiken update ( can picture Otterman cringing right now :P )

His latest single, "Invisible" debuted on Power 98 today, approximately a week after starting airplay in the US. It's very pop-flavoured, and a cover of a song originally done by a UK boyband, so there will inevitably be criticisms from connoiseurs of "real music". Well, I'm not paid to voice my opinions like reporters, but I listen to anything from classical to new age, pop to rock, jazz, and even a little rap ( though I refrain from buying such CDs, to avoid having my brain turn to jelly ), and Clay is top on my list of favourite singers. He's got an amazing voice, wonderful stage presence, and is a worthy role model for young people everywhere. Naturally, I also find him good-looking, but again, people have disagreed with me a number of times. :) Hey, I think Kevin Spacey is hot. Try to categorize my taste, will you? :D

Next thing I'd like to share, thanks to a fellow local Clay fan who bugged someone from BMG Records, is: Clay's full-length album will be released in Singapore the same day as America! This hasn't been confirmed publicly, but the source was pretty sure about it, and we're treating this as fact till proven otherwise. The CD release party is likely to be kept on October 25th, and some of the fans are taking pre-orders on behalf of others. Seems all the music stores on the island are having trouble meeting the demand. Doesn't surprise me at all. :)

"CSI" is airing on local television every Wednesday at 11pm, starting tonight. Which season is this? I'm not too sure, but it is an excellent show, so pleeeeeease, tune in.

Only 10 more hours to go. Yippee.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

One of the ER nurses informed me of my "amazing karma" yesterday. I left at about 8am when the morning shift arrived to take over the resus area. Had been sitting around for the past 3 hours prior to that, with ZERO cases, woohoo! Was crossing my fingers as 8am approached, and zoomed outta there once my friend came on. 5 minutes later, 5 people involved in a road traffic accident were brought in together, swamping the resus room. Apparently, some of them were in pretty bad shape. A close call for me, though. Whew :)

The Emmys 2003

Tuned in to the live telecast after my night shift, and have no regrets whatsoever. It was really funny, especially the bit with Dennis Miller reading some innocuous lines which were later followed by hilarious / racy video clips (e.g. the Britney / Madonna kiss -- the Singapore censors couldn't snip this one this time, haha!; Kobe Bryant -- "touching young fans", heh heh ). At one point, it got so goofy Miller paused to shake his head and say, "I'm just reading the prompter!"
Then there was George Lopez, a guy I saw for the very first time, but who had me laughing a lot when he said, "I'm the Lopez you're not sick of." :D :D
Damon Wayans was probably the only one who fell flat with his "joke" ( more like a major insult, really ) -- he said something about Doris Roberts ( from "Everybody Loves Raymond" ) being over a hundred years old, eliciting a very pained expression from the poor woman, and a shocked gasp from the audience. Tsk tsk tsk!

Not many suprises in the major categories -- "The West Wing" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" took top honours, while "CSI" and "Six Feet Under" got left out in the cold ( but who cares really, when "CSI" continues to win the ratings game? ). I was extremely happy when Tony Shalhoub from the excellent detective dramedy series "Monk" got the award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. He's such a fine actor, and Adrian Monk is one of my favourite TV characters of all time, so my eyes teared up during his acceptance speech. Many congratulations!!!

Was also saddened by the tribute to John Ritter, who died in his early 50s (not familiar with the exact cause). I grew up watching his shows, and recently saw him on Ally McBeal, where he played a really sweet fellow who fell in love with her but couldn't make any headway because he was already dating Ally's secretary, Elaine, whom she couldn't bring herself to betray. Ritter nailed that character, and I'll always remember this little dance he did as a farewell to Ally -- wiggling off down a busy street while Ally tried to suppress a smile. Ritter will always remain in our hearts, and yes, I always grin when he comes to mind. He will be greatly missed.

More from Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up -- had a hard time getting my breakfast down this morning. :D

On bad songs:

It would not trouble me if the radio totally ceased playing ballad-style songs by Neil Diamond. I realize that many of you are huge Neil Diamond fans, so let me stress that in matters of musical taste, everybody is entitled to an opinion, and yours is wrong. Consider the song "I Am, I Said", where Neil, with great emotion, sings:

I am, I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair.

What kind of line is that? Is Neil telling us he's surprised that the chair didn't hear him? Maybe he expected the chair to say, "Whoa, I heard THAT." MY guess is that Neil was really desperate to come up with something to rhyme with "there", and he had already rejected "So I ate a pear", "Like Smokey the Bear", and "There were nits in my hair".

Well, it turns out there are some major Neil Diamond fans out there in Readerland. They sent me a large pile of hostile mail with mouth froth spewing out of the envelope seams. In the interest of journalistic fairness, I will summarize their main arguments here:

Dear Pukenose:
Just who the hell do you think you are to blah blah a great artiste like Neil blah blah more than 20 gold records blah blah how many gold records do YOU have, you scumsucking wad of blah blah I personally have attended 1,794 of Neil's concerts blah blah What about "Love On The Rocks"? Huh? What about "Cracklin' Rosie"? blah blah if you had ONE TENTH of Neil's talent blah blah so I listened to "Heart Light" 40 times in a row and the next day the cyst was GONE and the doctor said he had never seen such a rapid blah blah. What about "Play Me"? What about "Song Sung Blah"? Cancel my subscription, if I have one.

I need a moment here. A patient lying on the trolley nearby is giving me a "You're nuts" look. :P

Monday, September 22, 2003

I have some quiet time in resus at the moment. Didn't sleep earlier because of the adrenaline effect ( which I always have trouble shutting off ) and am now suffering the consequences. The refrigerator temperature helps a little, but Dave Barry came to the rescue, and I have his book in my hand right now. Here're a few excerpts I'd like to share ( it's such a funny book I can't stand it!). :D

From an account of his trip to Hong Kong ( pre-1997, ie. the China takeover ):

When it came time to purchase return ferry tickets, I was practically a professional. I got into the "line", which was a formless, milling mass of people, and I leaned hard in the general direction of the ticket window. I finally got close to it, and it was clearly my turn to go next, when an old man -- he had to be at least 75 -- started making a strong move around me from my left. I had a definite age and size advantage, but this man was good. He shoved his right elbow deep into my gut while he reached his left arm out to grasp the ticket window ledge. I leaned hard on the man sideways, and then -- you can't teach this kind of thing; you have to have an instinct for it -- I made a beautiful counterclockwise spin move that got me to the window inches ahead of him. I stuck my face smack up against the window, confident I had won, but then the old man, showing great resourcefulness, stuck his head under my arm and shoved his face into the window too. We were cheek to cheek, faces against the glass, mouths gaping and eyes bulging like two crazed carp, shouting ticket orders. Unfortunately, he was shouting in Chinese, which gave him the advantage, and he got his ticket first. But I was definitely making progress.

On his day-long rush job of a trip to China:

(Our guide) tells us that our first stop is a museum where we'll see the World Famous Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses... These are life-size clay statues of horses and warriors; 8,000 of these statues were buried with a Chinese emperor in 221 B.C., to protect him. This was before the invention of burglar alarms.

The Peking Duck is pretty good, but not plentiful, only a couple of small pieces per person. John informs us that in China, when you eat Peking Duck, you eat only the skin.
"Sure," mutters an Australian woman at our table. "And they'll tell the next group that you eat only the meat."

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Short note to readers who are looking for info on SARS on this blog: You can look under the archives listed on the right. My posts on SARS occurred in the months of March, April and May. Thought this might help. :)

Okay, on to the post proper!

Latest on the Clay Aiken CD Release Party In Singapore

Date: October 25th, Saturday
Time: Tentatively starting at 1pm, till maybe 11pm or 12 midnight
Venue: email me for details ( ojj75@yahoo.com ), or go here ( need to register first )
Number expected: Aiming for at least 60. May hit 100, but venue capacity will need further evaluation if this happens
Attendance fee: ballpark figure of $20 to cover costs of food, T-shirt, mug (kinda like a welcome pack :)).
Activities: meeting other local Claymates ( always a pleasure! ); a special viewing of his performances; various games; just having good, clean fun. :D

Please join the thread via the link above, or email me. We will need to know how many are coming so we can plan accordingly. Admission is by invitation only. No gatecrashers, please!
Seems some reporters are already covering these events in the US. No idea if Singapore will follow suit, but the publicity is always welcomed!

Anyhow, his CD cover and title are officially out. It will be named "Measure Of A Man", though one of his friends from Raleigh did tell me that it wasn't a top choice on his list. I think it's a nice one, though, especially the "man" part. :) He's young and boyishly innocent, but makes women's hearts flutter wherever he goes. Counting down to the release date!

I wrote that the shift was okay earlier on, but again, I ended up jinxing myself! It's 3am, and I've seen 35 patients!?!? Here's an impromptu list of annoying patient characteristics when you're doing a night shift in the ER:

1. people who are really well and somehow can't wait till the next morning to see the doctor, preferring instead to storm the hospital after midnight for things like a runny nose or a blocked ear.

2. MC seekers, whom I suspect are capitalizing on the fact that MOs are very tired and thus less resistant to issuing medical leave in the middle of the night (or if this fails, the patient can always use the late hour as an excuse to get an MC in order to "rest properly" ).

3. patients who don't believe you, or second guess your assessments. I got 2 such cases today -- the first a young woman with the flu and a history of asthma, who was feeling a bit breathless, but whose lungs were completely clear. She seemed to be having problems breathing through her nose because of all the congestion rather than anything else, but refused to believe me when I told her it wasn't an asthmatic attack, and insisted on having nebulizer therapy. Like I said, we're too fatigued to argue at this unearthly hour, so I just gave it to her, and she went home happy. The other guy was a schizophrenic who fell and hit his knee, but could walk and everything. Fracture? Zero chance! But he refused to leave my room until I did an X-ray, so again I gave in. Sigh....

No super-nasty patients so far. Will be in resus for the later part of the shift -- people there are usually too sick to complain, so that's a relief. :D

Saturday, September 20, 2003

3 links to post:

Lonely Ham's Blog -- from what I can gather, he's a university undergrad studying chemistry, among other things. Light-hearted musings, and links to mine as well. ( Thanks! )

Michael Buble's website -- don't know why I never put this up before. :P It's got a player, which I haven't tried 'cos I have the CD. But it should have all his songs, which you can listen to for free ( I strongly suggest just buying the album already! :D ), plus updates on his career, and info on his background, etc.

Josh Groban's site -- I'm highlighting this because his new CD is due out on November 11th, and there're new interviews +/- sneak previews from it on the site. He will be collaborating with Deep Forest, and doing a classical / orchestral cover version of Linkin Park's "My December". Good stuff!

Well, I'm on afternoon shift today. Saturday evening in resus can be bad, but it's 5 hours in, and I'm not complaining. Saw an Australian lady who fainted after getting off an 11-hour transit flight from Frankfurt. She was also hypoxic, though otherwise asymptomatic, with normal vital signs and ECG. Alarm bells went off when she told me she was taking oral contraceptive pills, and her arterial blood gases were very abnormal. A CT thorax showed bilateral segmental pulmonary embolisms, and she's now being monitored in intensive care, though very stable. That was an interesting case. :)

Earlier today, when I was driving along the Pan Island Expressway, it was raining quite heavily and I happened to slow down to let a car enter my lane. This turned out to be a fortuitous event! Just as I was about to enter the turnoff to Jalan Eunos, I saw a car cut through FOUR lanes, from the extreme right into the slip road. Then, he skidded very dramatically, and turned 180 degrees before coming to a stop at the shoulder, facing the wrong way.
The miraculous bit is how he managed to miss hitting any other cars, as well as going off the highway completely. A car had just passed by prior to his lane-changing, and I was about 20 metres away and travelling at 70 km/hr when I spotted his little stunt. Then, I realized that if I hadn't slowed down just a few seconds earlier to let that other car come into my lane, I may have been in this crazy fellow's direct path and gotten into a major accident.

A few months ago, a friend from church emailed me a story from a person who worked in the World Trade Centre prior to the 9/11 attacks. It was about how he didn't get into work on time that fateful day because of a minor delay at home. It was something that caused a bit of irritation, but it ended up saving his life. The message it wanted to bring across, of course, was that sometimes the little annoyances in our lives can make a huge difference in the end. In my case, being careful and giving way has its advantages. :)

Almost forgot! Here're some of my thoughts on The Bachelor and Survivor. :)

The Bachelor 3 -- The first episode didn't reveal much for me to comment on, but the women aren't as pretty as those in the 2nd season, and Andrew Firestone's looks fade the longer you stare at him. He does, however, have a winning smile, and boyishness is something I go for, so he's my favourite so far. :D I'm just waiting for the claws to come out. The women will later discover his true identity, and fight tooth and nail for his hand. Of course, Andrew, like all his predecessors, loves to smooch the ladies, and the trailers show that a lot. Not something I'd be comfortable with as potential-husband material, but I suppose Americans don't mind as much.

Survivor: Pearl Islands
The 90-minute pilot was full of surprises, and had me on the edge of my seat! These are some of the highlights:

Make Them Suffer: Straight off the bat, the contestants are given the shocking news that they will not be able to bring any personal possessions with them, and that they will only have the clothes they're currently wearing to last the rest of the game ( though I strongly doubt this will last, unless they want a bunch of naked people at the end of 39 days ). However, they're given some money to buy only the bare essentials at the local market, and the Drake tribe emerges as superior in terms of intelligence in this aspect.

Nudists Galore: 3 male members of the Morgan tribe bare all in the first immunity challenge, professing a "brotherhood alliance" with the African-American dude ( ?name ) whose shorts kept falling down. When he finally couldn't keep them up anymore, the other guys joined in, presumably so he wouldn't be alone in his embarrassment. I thought it was a little excessive, but all those strategically placed blurred circles amused me no end ( pun fully intended :))

And The Worst Player Is: Nicole, the massage therapist, who tried to pull a Rob Cesternino early in the game but ended up being found out and getting kicked off the show stat. Rob, if you remember, was on Survivor: Amazon, and has my vote for Best Survivor EVER. Never mind who won -- this guy was a master manipulator, and still managed to get people ( other contestants as well as viewers ) to respect him. It's going to be a long while before anyone can beat that.

Best-Looking Guy On The Show: In my honest opinion, that would be Jeff Probst, aka the host. This batch of men isn't very appetizing, and the alpha-males are quite overbearing too. There's one bearded fellow who reminds me of Hagrid from Harry Potter, and a couple of young, rather scrawny ones who are lying low at the moment. It's hard to pick a possible winner at this point. Might be a woman, you know. :)

Start watching before it's too late!

Friday, September 19, 2003

I have to vent before my head explodes.

Yes, it was a crappy day today. I saw over 30 patients during my shift, with quite a few complicated ones which needed sorting out with blood tests, referrals, calling of specialists, etc. I'm happy to report that the majority of patients I see in the ER are very nice. They treat healthcare workers with respect, value your opinions, and thank you when they leave.

Out of the 33 patients I treated today, ONE DROVE ME UP THE WALL. This was a lady in her late 30s or early 40s ( she was wearing a mask, so I can't be sure, but she has a 12-year-old daughter ).

As luck would have it, I ended up with her daughter's card, as well as hers, because they wanted to see the same doctor, one after the other. Her daughter was a quiet girl, but a little too quiet, because whenever I asked her a question, she kept turning to look at her mother, who would then answer on her behalf. For example:

Me: Do you have any drug allergies?
The girl: ( looks at her mom )
Her mom: No.
Me: Okay. It says here you're having the flu. Do you have a runny nose?
The girl: ( looks at her mom again )
Her mom: Yes, she does.
Me: Any cough?
The girl: ( looks at her mom!? )
Her mom: Yes.

And it went on and on for the next 5 minutes. The girl had already seen a private family doctor a few days ago, so don't ask me why she decided to see us when there was no change in her status. She wasn't even having a fever. Anyway, I supplemented some of her meds, and went on to her mother.

And the nightmare begins.

This lady is already confrontational to begin with. She fell down and landed on her buttocks about a week ago, and was seen in our ER by another medical officer for pain over the tailbone. X-rays of her pelvis and coccyx ( that's medical jargon for the tailbone ) were normal, and she was discharged with medications. A few days later, she returned for the same complaint and was seen by yet another MO, but also said she had right chest wall pain. A chest X-ray later showed a fracture of the right 4th rib, and again she was discharged with painkillers.
Today, she returned with a different problem -- that of lower back pain. She told the nurse at triage that she blacked out when she fell a week ago, so naturally, I asked her about that first, because I wanted to make sure it wasn't a major factor in her reattendance.

Me: Did you hit your head when you fell last Saturday?
Her: ( angrily ) Isn't it in the computer? I've been here twice already!

Anyway, I ignored that little outburst and went on to ask about her symptoms. She was having a lot of back pain, and in view of her mechanism of injury, I had to do an X-ray of her lumbosacral spine, which wasn't done during her last 2 visits ( I presume because she never complained of back pain then ). She was very angry that I was doing X-rays again, and asked for an MRI scan of her spine today. Now, this is something people with no knowledge of the public healthcare system would say, and I gently told her it wasn't possible unless she was admitted ( and even then it would still take at least a couple of days ). She wasn't too keen on staying in the hospital, so she went for the X-ray.

Upon her return, I told her the films were normal, and offered the diagnosis of a possible slipped intervertebral disc which could account for her severe pain. What followed was what I can only describe as a tirade, in which she expressed displeasure at having her condition misdiagnosed, needing to come back for different X-rays, and ( I can't recall the exact words, unfortunately ) said something about us doctors being incompetent. My patience was already wearing thin to begin with, but this was the last straw. I told her very sternly, "Okay, please don't say such things about us doctors." Then I sat there and stared at her for a full 10 seconds. She later answered, "Okay, I'm sorry." but continued on with some other complaints about her treatment. I tried explaining that this was the first time I was seeing her, that she shouldn't direct her anger at me for something that happened previously, but everything I said just went through her. Finally, I just continued typing on the computer and asked her if medical leave till this Sunday was sufficient, or whether she needed more rest. This is what happened:

Her: ( screams ) What?! How can you ask me this? You're the doctor! You should know!
Me: ( shocked but recovers quickly ) I'm asking because I've had patients who don't want me to give them long MCs. If you feel okay by Monday and want to return to work, I'll just cover you for the weekend.
Her: ( still upset ) I won't be okay by Monday!
Me: All right, then I'll give you MC for a week from today. Do you have enough medications?
Her: ( hysterical ) How should I know?! You should be the one to tell me! ( shows me her plastic bag of painkillers, which looks pretty full )
Me: Looks like you have sufficient supply.
Her: ( starts rummaging and pulling out the different packets ) Look at this! It's almost empty! And this! This is almost all gone! How can you say I have enough medications?!?!
Me: Fine, I'll give you some more then.

She tells me she has an appointment with the orthopaedic clinic this coming Tuesday, so I quickly print out her prescription and MC and ask her to go out to make payment. Before she leaves, she repeats me name, pronouncing each syllable with deliberate clarity -- "You're Dr. so-and-so, right?".

Me: ( nonchalant tone ) That's right.
Her: I don't like your attitude. ( whisks out of the room in her wheelchair )
Ditto, I thought.

Well, I'm waiting for someone in admin to call me, or for a letter to appear in my pigeonhole asking for my take on the situation. I usually try not to let unreasonable patients get to me, but this woman came during a bad day, and my blood is still boiling. ( Although I will admit, writing about it on my blog has eased my nerves significantly. :))

Anyhow, I listened to Michael Buble's "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" 3 times on the way home, which also helped! And there's "Survivor: Pearl Islands" tonight. More on that and my impression of "The Bachelor 3" another time. On afternoon shift in resus tomorrow, and someone's passing me a DVD with Clay's public appearances tomorrow. I can't wait! :D
My crazy shift just ended, and I'm exhausted.
This was in our main local paper ( ie. the Straits Times )today. Raised my eyebrows quite a bit!

Fangs For The Memories -- by Lionel Seah
( comments can be sent to stlife@sph.com.sg )

Barely a year after finding fame in the reality TV show, American Idol I winner Kelly Clarkson seems to have grown an ego to match her voice.

American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson is larger in real life. The newly-minted diva looks like a plus-sized Jennifer Aniston with her streaked hair and almost sweet, pleasant face.
But beneath that Kelly Osbourne figure, which hides an impressive pair of lungs, it seems there is an ego larger than her own four-octave range.

The moment Clarkson breezes into the room at the Fullerton Hotel on Thursday evening, her diva attitude is apparent.
With a posse of minders behind her, the 21-year-old inquires snappily in her drawl: "Is this next interview for another kids' magazine?"
When she realizes it is not, she does a 180-degree about-turn and flashes a toothsome smile.
"I'm sorry. I have been at this for the past few days, it's hard to keep track who the interviews are for," she explains in a contrived tone.

Clarkson, who won over hearts and a US$1 million recording contact in the popular reality TV show American Idol last year, is in town to promote her debut album, Thankful.
She performed at Embassy last night to a private crowd. She leaves on Sunday for a promotional tour to Australia.

But her friendliness soon turns frosty when she is informed that the fashion shoot will be at the lobby.
"As in, where there are people?" she asks with a sour expression.
Er, yes. There are often people at hotel lobbies, you want to break the truth gently to her.
But before you can, Clarkson does a Charlotte Church and stomps off in her platform sandals, ahead of everyone.
Though not before she utters haughtily in an audible voice: "I f***ing hate this."

Sensing her mega-displeasure, a minder suggests the shoot be done in the room she had just left.
"It's just that I hate people looking at me when I pose," she explains, while faking a pose and a stiff smile.
"I'm not comfortable with that. I hope you understand."

(Next is a bit about Kelly's past and family background, which I've left out.)

Her brassiness and confidence is that of someone who has found fame -- all 15 minutes of it -- for the first time.
You ask whether she feels she is too young to handle fame and the brunette dismisses the notion with one fell swoop.
"Not at all. I was offered a recording contract when I was 15. I turned it down because I wanted an education first," she declares, without missing a beat.
The recording deal was not the only thing she turned down. She also turned down a place at the University of California, Berkeley, because of problems at home, which she does not want to delve into.
"But I'm concerned about those individuals who become famous in their teens. I think it messes up their lives a little if they're not careful," she offers grandly, perhaps thinking of pitiful folks like Drew Barrymore and Macaulay Culkin when they were younger.
Her win, she admits, has opened doors and taken her places. A few months back, she bought a house in North Carolina for her divorced mother.
"Fame, though, is not what I', in it for. It comes with the job. But I would like to be able to move around without being recognized," she claims.

Asked how she feels is critics label her a cookie-cutter idol and she delivers an almost rehearsed spiel.
"People who said that, obviously, didn't watch the show," she snarls. "I was on a show where I wore and preformed what and how I wanted to. No one's ever told me what to do," she says, slightly annoyed.
"Anyway, I'm Texan. Nobody tells me what to do."

So would she react if critics compare her to fellow warbler Mariah Carey, whose voice, it has been said, covers an impressive spectrum but lacks soul?
"The people who said that must be tone-deaf," she snaps. "Mariah is an excellent writer and singer. I believe she doesn't receive the credit she deserves."

Then comes the nub.
"Not all critics will like me for who I am. They won't tell it to my face but they'll write about it. Anyway, critics don't buy my album, fans do," she rattles off.

If Clarkson sounds callous, irritable and loose-lipped, it could be because she is exhausted. Well, that's the official explanation from one the minders anyway.
She may be tired -- she yawns in front of the the camera, in between poses -- but the image of her that emerges from the 20-minute interview, certainly, makes the American seem like someone who has grown far too big for her boots.

And as the singer with the golden voice makes her way back after the shoot, which eventually takes place in the suite she agrees to, no one even recognizes her.
Perhaps, just perhaps, this is exactly what Clarkson would be thankful for?

The End

My mom was appalled by this article, and said it best with: "Clay would NEVER behave this way."
Food for thought, everyone!

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Thursday afternoon, big storm all over the island, and the ER is still packed! Remember the guy with the low blood count I saw about a week ago? The one who had a colonoscopy without a gastroscopy? I traced his results on the hospital computer system, and seems his gastric biopsy shows malignant changes. Sad news, this.

Anyway, nothing much is happening work-wise, so let me talk about my other favourite subjects -- TV and Clay Aiken. :D

Alias is up for 11 Emmy awards this year. 11!!! I think this show is one of the best ever, and I really hope it'll sweep some major categories, like Best Drama or Best Actress, etc. Jennifer Garner has been recruited by the CIA to appear in some ads, while "The Agency" -- that other TV series about the CIA -- is languishing. I tried watching the latter just once and couldn't even get through the first 30 minutes. High-profile producers don't guarantee good quality ( e.g. Dark Angel ). Who would've thought that J. J. Abrams, the creator of "fluff" like "Felicity" ( though I admit to liking this show a lot :P ) could come up with plots that put Chinese serials to shame? Betrayal, murder, espionage, double/triple/quadruple-crossing... this guy's my hero! Good luck at the Emmys!

The 3rd season of The Bachelor starts screening tonight on Channel 5. The guy's very handsome, and the women are getting more aggressive. I liked the cat growls they inserted into the preview ads. I'm looking out for the lady he picked -- just search the Internet and you'll know who it is. My Thursdays are going to be fun once again. :)

And let's not forget Survivor: Pearl Islands premiering on Friday. I love this show for its many surprises and very original challenges ( reward and immunity ). Would be nice to see Jeff Probst again too, haha!

Clay Aiken
After a rest at home last week, word is he's back on the road, and will be singing at the Miss America pageant this Saturday. Neither Ruben nor Kelly were given this honour, and we all congratulate Clay on being chosen for the gig! My friend in Raleigh has received the package -- the post office said 2-4 days, but it actually took 1 week! -- and she's very kind to expedite the delivery to Clay's home for us. Hurricane Isabel is making its way to the area, so our prayers are with those who may be affected.
Another piece of good news is the fact that Clay has been nominated for the Best Pop/Rock Male Artiste category for the upcoming American Music Awards. Others in the list include Kid Rock, John Mayer and Justin Timberlake. My bets are on Clay and Justin. It's going to be a close one, but if Clay clinches it, it'll be further proof of his popularity. Let's hope he gets to perform on the show as well.

I'm just starting on another Dave Barry book titled Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up. Absolutely hilarious! Am on the Space Odyssey chapter right now, and I just can't stop laughing. Highly recommended. :D

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Review of the Michael Buble concert September 15, 2003

For the record, I'm still swooning. :)
And for another record, the Life! "feature" -- more like snippet actually -- on Buble yesterday was pathetic. Can't believe they asked Tommy Wee of all people to write the piece. Wee is better off drooling over Diana Krall and the like. Wasn't there anyone else they could ask? Like me? :D

Anyway, a little background on how I became acquainted with Buble. It was a few months ago at Great World City, on an early weekday morning when I was having a day off. I was withdrawing some money from the ATM in the basement, and facing That CD Shop, when I heard this incredible voice singing "The Way You Look Tonight". I thought it was Harry Connick, Jr, but found out from the store's staff that it was a new artiste. I bought the CD on the spot, and the rest is history. :) It remains one of my all-time favourites, and let me tell you, the concert was AWESOME!

Full-capacity crowd, ranging from teenagers to yuppies to older adults. Nice audience, very appreciative, with a few even carrying on short conversations with Buble by shouting out responses to his comments / questions. But I digress :)

From what I observed, Michael Buble is:
1) very tall
2) very good-looking
3) very, very friendly
4) very humble and funny
5) extremely talented
6) super-sexy :D

When he first stepped out on stage, his height really struck me. And all those photos you see of him on CD covers don't do him justice. He is Canadian, but of Italian descent. He's got dark, wavy hair, great skin, and a beautiful ( almost beatific ) smile. He started off the evening by shocking everyone ( but in a very good way ) -- when someone from the media crouched along the aisle to snap pictures of him, he jumped down from the stage, gave her a kiss and a hug, and posed with a female member of the audience ( who got a kiss and a hug too ). I was at 8th row centre, and even from where I was, I could see his baby blues, which are HUGE. Ahhhh.... :)

Here's a list of the songs he sang from the CD ( not corresponding to the order in the concert ):

Fever -- one of his "signature pieces", already done over by many a famous artiste in the past, but given a full-bodied flavour by Buble. A sensual rendition that got raucous cheers from the audience.

Moondance -- Not one of my favourites, but it helps that his 10-piece band absolutely rocks ( the pianist is a very young Chinese fellow with impressive skill ). Very tight harmonies, and Buble loves to move to the beat. Watching him was a pleasure for this one.

For Once In My Life -- I missed this out in the first draft of my review ( so sorry! ). It was the opening number, a catchy Broadway-style piece that helped set the mood for the rest of the evening. Nicely done. :)

Kissing A Fool -- Now this song I really adore. George Michael did a great original, but Buble gives it a jazzy, big band feel. His voice is also perfectly suited to crooning for the slower bits. I had goosebumps! And let's not forget what he did after he finished, ie. he sang bits from "Faith" and "Father Figure", impersonating George and adding some guitar riffs of his own. Had me in stitches!

How Can You Mend A Broken Heart -- He collaborated with the Bee Gees on this one, before one of the members passed away earlier this year. I liked the part where he stopped singing during the chorus and directed his microphone towards us. And guess what? The audience knew the words and sang along without any problem whatsoever! :)

Crazy Little Thing Called Love -- First done by Freddie Mercury from Queen, and given a a big band makeover that surprisingly works very well. Buble's vocals are smooth and sweet like honey, especially when he croons "there goes my baaaaaby". Be still my heart. :)

Sway -- aka Buble's favourite song on the album. It's got a fast tempo, and he danced around the stage for most of it. Lovely, lovely, lovely. :D

The Way You Look Tonight -- This started it all for my "Buble-appreciation", and he certainly makes it his own. One of the most beautiful romantic ballads I know of, and I can't imagine anyone doing a better job than he. Swooning again. :D

Come Fly With Me -- Another classic, which Buble greatly enjoyed singing. He bobbed his head to the beat, snapped his fingers, boogied with the band, and gave it a different sound altogether instead of just rehashing the version on the CD. Fantastic!

That's All -- One of the things I love best about music is how one person's voice, with just a single instrument as accompaniment, combined with a haunting melody and beautiful lyrics, can create pure magic. That's exactly what happened here. With just a guitar, Buble's voice still sounded heavenly. And throughout all the songs, the tone and control of his vocals was astounding. He can be soft and gentle, or powerful in a lung-bursting way, with zero pitch problems. The true mark of remarkable talent.

Other songs he sang:

You'll Never Know -- This came after a touching account of how his grandfather introduced him to jazz and is therefore responsible for his success today. At one point, he started to "tear up", and everyone must've thought his grandpa passed away or something, but he suddenly told us he was alive and well, giving us a cheeky grin to boot. Tsk, tsk! :D I can't really tell you where this song is from originally, but it's wonderful, and I heard it on Barbra Streisand's "Timeless" CD ( it's her swan song live concert performance from a few years back ), so you can sample that for a taste. This was the very first classic Buble learnt, so it holds great significance for him. Sharing this sentimental thought with us indeed added much to the overall rendition. My late grandma loved to hear me sing songs from "The Sound Of Music", and whenever I listen to "Edelweiss", it brings back memories of her. This was a very nostalgic moment for me. :)

All Of Me -- Another nice song I've heard somewhere before, but can't pinpoint, aargh! It's a happy song, and I loved it. :D

Mack The Knife -- I've heard versions from The Platters to Robbie Williams to Clay Aiken, but Michael Buble's cover is still unique and terrific. I earlier wrote that my mom preferred Buble's rendition to Clay's, but she gave me a big scolding today and told me I got it all wrong and that I had to change what I wrote, pronto. ( She's a Clay fan through and through :P ) In any case, Buble was very cool and dapper, while Clay's is a more powerhouse type of singing. Fabulous!

My Funny Valentine -- He sang 2 songs for the encore, and this was the final one. When he said, "We're going to leave you with this song." the audience went "Awwwwww", to which he replied, "Okay then, we'll leave you with the other song!" My Funny Valentine is a very broody piece, and you may remember it from "The Talented Mr. Ripley", where Matt Damon did a cover for the film and its soundtrack. But of course, Damon can't compare to Buble in terms of singing ability! It was a nice, quiet conclusion to a dynamite concert, and left us wanting more. But rest assured, he's told us he'll be coming back for sure. And this time, I'm going to get those front row seats no matter what!!!

Will just add a few bits on other things he did during the show:

The rap -- Yes, believe it! He blew us all away with his "original composition", which he claims was co-written with Snoop Dogg *wink, wink*. He beats Justin Timberlake hands down in the "vocal beatbox" department, and had all the expressions and mannerisms of a "street gangsta", even quipping that there were a lot of "fine b*****s in da house tonight". He apologized after that remark, of course, but we all forgave him. There's a rocker in him yet! :D

Stardust -- After singing "You'll Never Know", he told us if his grandfather were here, he'd say, "Now do Stardust!". On cue, a lady in the audience to my left shouted, "Now do Stardust!", and he complied! He sang the opening verse a cappella, and I grabbed my mom's arm as a reflex, 'cos I just LOVE this song. I strongly suggest he adds this to his next album. Sigh. :)

The last bit of My Funny Valentine -- I may be the only one who noticed this. At the very end, Buble, who'd been holding the mic in his hand the whole time, put it back on the stand, then stood about 2 or 3 feet back, belting out the last verse from that position. The effect was electrifying. His voice was unbelievably powerful, and it echoed through the entire auditorium. I've never seen or heard anything like it, and I hope this wasn't lost on other concert-goers. It was so wonderfully surreal. :)

So yes, I give this show a big thumbs up! Michael Buble is a consummate performer -- great voice, great look, great showmanship, great rapport with the audience, and does all the classics justice with his fantastic interpretations. Would've liked to hear him do "Summer Wind" and "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" -- my two favourites on his album, but maybe the musical arrangement didn't allow for it ( lots of strings on the latter ). I just want to kick myself for not bringing a pen with me, 'cos before he left the stage, he signed a few autographs for fans who ran up to him. I had my CD cover in my bag, for pete's sake!!?? This will not happen next time, I promise you! :D

Come back soon, Michael. And go to The Esplanade, 'cos SUNTEC acoustics suck. ;)

Monday, September 15, 2003

7am Monday morning. Just one more hour to go before I give a mighty big yawp of "Freedom, yeah!" :D ( "Yawp", by the way, is a term I picked up from Dead Poets Society. It means "barbaric cry" or something like that. Perfect for this occasion. :))

Waiting to stitch up a Caucasian fellow who works on a ship. He got assaulted at a pub earlier and has a nasty cut to the scalp. He's also got retrograde amnesia and is a bit disoriented, but has a really sweet demeanour. No prizes for guessing who initiated the punching.

I saw more than 30 cases earlier in the consult area, with the majority showing up after midnight, for some weird reason. Lots of parents bringing their sick or injured kids, the usual NS men with requests for MCs, plus a few warranted ones who later needed admission. Problem is, I was on a roll, so when it came to be my turn to sleep, I had insomnia. Ended up surfing the Net till 5, and have been in resus since.

Okay, maybe the Michael Buble concert is part of the high. :) 12 hours till the show, woohoo! I've got all his songs burned into my brain after blasting his CD in my car ad nauseum for the past 3 days. I'll be seeing him live, 8 rows from the stage, tonight! Will of course post a review as soon as I can.

A big hello to the A&E department in the National University Hospital. Someone working there emailed to tell me she enjoys my blog. Many thanks!

5 minutes more. The consult area is exploding with the usual "Monday blues" cases, as one senior staff nurse put it. Resus is quiet so far. Let the countdown to freedom begin... :D

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Just adding an article on Clay Aiken, written by Jackie Ross from the Beavers On Idol website, with her kind permission. :)
Any responses can be directed to her via email by myself.

The American Idol vs. The American Ideal

Everyone has something to say about the choosing of the 2nd American Idol. They say the contest was fixed, the voting unfair, the phone lines jammed, the judges swayed the vote, the whole contest rigged. I too think something was wrong with the whole process, but I think it was more than the judges, 19 Entertainment, RCA, BMG, or any of the powers that be could control. It was integrity, and it has shown its face in the aftermath of the "vote" and it cannot be manipulated.
Constantly we see press releases on Ruben. Always about Ruben, how he is celebrating his birthday with a red carpet party, how he is doing a free concert in Birmingham for the Governor (to get out the vote), how he was sick one night, how he was only kidding in the Rolling Stone article when he said to bring him a woman backstage, how he was "too busy with his press junket" to finish his album, etc. If Ruben sneezes there is a press release about it, trying to constantly force feed the American Idol down our throats, to try and make us care, when frankly the majority of us don't care anymore what he is doing or why. We feel duped, taken advantage of and mislead by Ruben; we just don't want to know. He misrepresented himself as one type of person on TV and he has shown himself to be someone else since he won the title. I personally feel manipulated by the whole process. So do the majority of people I have spoken to about this.

Even though both Clay and Ruben say they are friends and would like the comparisons to end, but we who are looking in from the outside in can't help but compare them. Our American Idol (Ruben) has shown himself to be greedy (R.S. interview: "I get $5,000 per show"), selfish (R.S. interview: when asked about R. Kelly being up on charges of pedophilia he said "That's R's trip man, I just want a good song"), offensive (R.S. interview: "my dad is my N----!"), and a dog (R.S. interview: "go find me a girl like the one in Chicago, you know how I like them, light skinned..."), etc. Yes you could chalk these examples up to one bad interview, but don't try to tell me that the AI people weren't there when this interview took place, why didn't someone stop him.

This isn't the only bad interview he has given. In several others he has been said to always be eating during the interview, he seems to almost sound illiterate when he is quoted, and he rarely says anything nice about Clay other than, "He is my Dawg Man". I think Ruben chose the wrong show, maybe he should have gone on P. Diddy's making the band, that seems to be more his speed. And is this man beyond greedy or just ignorant? The allegations he has made (or were made for him) against the 205 Flava company really show him to be "all about the money man"! How could he sue these people when they supposedly paid him to wear their shirts? I know this has yet to be played out, but it still looks rather bad for him. Ruben is not the man we voted for anymore, we now don't know what to expect from him. We can call him the American Idol all we want, after all he did win the title, but he is not showing himself to be someone I want my child to idolize.

Clay, on the other hand, is the runner-up. He did not get the "title". He has been called the American Icon, the real American Idol, and many other titles. To me he is the American Ideal! This is the kind of man I want America's children and teens to look up to. America's adults could learn a thing or two by watching this man live with his morals and integrity intact, even in the wonderful and devious world of show business. The reasons that people have given for why he didn't win the contest are as different and diverse as Clay and Ruben themselves. The bottom line is Clay is the real thing, and we are the winners because we have him to look up to. Everyone who is paying attention knows that Clay is the one.

My problem is the lack of press that Clay gets for the good things he does. Why is it that the famous are always front page when they are drunk, arrested, suing someone, or anything else they do that is negative? When Ruben started his lawsuit against 205 Flava, Clay was starting a charity. Which got more press? Ruben's story was everywhere, and Clay's was in the background. When Clay gave an interview for Rolling Stone that showed him as the moral person and gentleman that we all hoped he was, why did the press only focus on the negative aspect of the interview (i.e., he has no feelings for his birth father, he says he is a virgin, etc.) instead of noting that Clay was exactly what he represented himself to be -- no more, no less.

Throughout the tour for the American Idol's Ruben has began to try and get his "street cred" by attempting to rap. This went over like a lead balloon, even to Ruben fans. All the while Clay was accepting thousands of dollars for his new charitable foundation, he was even presented a $42,000 check from his fans when the tour stopped in Raleigh. That was big news in North Carolina, but not nationwide. You had to be a fan of Clay to know what was going on and how to contribute. So to sum up a bit, Ruben starts a lawsuit to get money, Clay starts a charity -- does anyone else see the difference here?

What really got me motivated to write this article was the way the Jerry Lewis Telethon and the Miss America Pageant were handled. Where is the press on this? There have been a couple of mentions of the Miss America gig, little news for such a big honor. This gig is really a big one; surely I am not the only person who sees this. You don't walk in off the street and then sing at the Miss America pageant. This is a huge honor and rightly bestowed on Clay.

The Jerry Lewis Telethon appearance, in the last hour of the show no doubt, was an honor amongst honors! First of all, and let me quote Mr. Lewis' introduction and continued words to Clay:

"We have someone here today, from the smash hit show American Idol, we're thrilled to have him joining us today, because when it was made known that he would appear on this Telethon, the emails and the fan clubs that this young man has have sent us $30,000.00 just at the fact that he was here (applause). And I can honestly say I have never, in all of my life, seen a theatrical groundswell that this kid has motivated, that it makes us all come right back to the bobby sox and Frank. And isn't it nice to live through that magnificence again? Here is Clay Aiken" (rousing applause)!
Clay then sings Bridge Over Trouble Water. (He is as humble as ever, his pure sense of caring for the cause coming out in each note of the song, not showing even a hint of fatigue from just ending the tour the night before, absolutely brilliant -- my impression).

Clay waves and leaves the stage (screams and applause continues). Jerry Lewis then says, "Clay Aiken! Take a bow Clay, he's gone. Clay! Take a bow young man! (Clay then comes back out onto stage, walks right over to Jerry Lewis) Jerry then says, "Hi Clay (they hug) and Clay says, "Thank you very much". Then Jerry says, "And (grabbing Clay's arm so he wont walk away) if I may just take a footnote here, you were regaled and thrilled by the loser! (Clay laughs) Cuz this for me was the winner from day one! This man!" (The two hug again) Jerry says, "Thanks Clay." And as Clay walks off stage Jerry says, "What a kid!" Then (by coincidence maybe???) the tote board is rolled again and raised by another million dollars!!

To get words like this, from Jerry Lewis, who is an icon in this business, is priceless. Add this compliment to the numerous others he has gotten from people in the business and you will see who the clear winner is here. It is Clay, and everyone who champions him. Clay is tireless in his work for others, and he doesn't do it for press. He should get it though. So should anyone else who does good things for others in need, but for some reason these things don't make the paper! The amount that Jerry Lewis raised made news, but no word of Clay.

Invariably there will always be comparisons between Ruben and Clay. They are the top 2 and they are like apples and oranges. There really is no comparison between the two. They have proven themselves to be different men in all aspects of their budding careers. To paraphrase my friend Chelena who sums this up beautifully:

"I don't let the whole comparison thing get to me BECAUSE...regardless of how much the 'media' or 'the powers that be' try to push Ruben/The Idol, Clay always supercedes him in everything he does. And Clay does it without saying a word, which is so precious. Clay lives on the principle of 'don't you speak, I'll speak for you'. (Bible verse, can't remember where though). And that's what keeps that smile on Clay's face. Clay knows that someone bigger than 19 Entertainment, Fox, RCA or Jive Records has got his back."
She is right. Clay just needs to continue to be Clay, and Ruben will be Ruben. All the publicity and press in the world can't change what is. Maybe someday Ruben will once again be the man that we voted for on American Idol, and, for his sake I hope so, I miss the Velvet Teddy Bear I voted for.

But no matter how hard they try, the publicity machine and PR people at Fox can't change the real truth that shines through it all. I think I can speak for myself (and many fans) when I say the powers that be can have their American Idol Ruben, we who know better have our American Ideal, Clay Aiken, and that suits us just fine.

J. Ross is a single mother of a toddler who works in an administrative position. She is a "writer" in her heart and a fan of talent and integrity.
Only 5 hours into my morning shift, and I've already seen 31 patients! Things seem to have slowed a little, which explains why I can post this. :) Oh wait, another card just got thrown on my table. Yeeeeeeesh.

Okay, the kid's at X-ray now. And I can't remember what I wanted to say earlier. Oh well.

Here's the link to a very informative website on SARS. It apparently links to my blog, but I can't for the life of me find any mention of my site anywhere. Thanks anyway, though.

It's official! My name is apparently causing aversion in the Straits Times' Forum editorial board ( or whatever they call it ). A spate of letters on the topic I posted on 2 days ago was printed today, and lo and behold, my mom's missive was completely ignored. Not publishing my opinions is one thing, but doing the same to my mom is another. They'll probably say it "wasn't good enough", "not to the point", etc. but I'll leave the readers to be the judge of that. I know there're people in the education system dropping by -- thought you should know about this incident.

2 days to go before the Michael Buble concert, woohoo! Was playing his CD in the car yesterday in preparation for this happy event. Really looking forward to it! ( By the way, MTV screens excerpts from his concert in the US on and off at 7:30pm, so check that out. )

The Claymates who met up for dinner last Friday are organizing the Clay Aiken CD Release Party in conjunction with other similar events in the US and New Zealand. We've got good numbers to start out with, but need as many as possible in order to make a bigger impact. It's tentatively slated for mid-October ( his CD will be out Oct 14 in America ), so make yourselves known to me please! My email is ojj75@yahoo.com.

Note: The package we mailed over should be arriving in Raleigh any time now. My friend over there is looking out for it, and tells me she'll pass it along to his pals at the Y early next week. Clay was home earlier this week, but has been jetting to New York for interviews and a meeting with Faith Hill ( they're discussing a possible duet -- a great collaboration in my book! ). His next gig is the Miss America finals, followed by more high-profile appearances on TV shows, thanksgiving parades, and photo spreads for Vanity Fair. My hearty congratulations on his continuing success. :D

2 more hours to go. Time can't pass by quickly enough... On to patient No. 35.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

5:30pm Thursday afternoon. It just started raining, and I'm feeling much better now that the terrible humidity's lightening up -- sorry, I reserve the air-conditioning for snoozing at night only. :)

Didn't get any sleep at all last night. The shift started out okay, but at 3am, around 10 people were arrested at various points near our hospital and subsequently brought in for blood-taking, examination for injuries and assessment of mental state. A group of youngsters was caught sniffing glue, one guy climbed up a crane and tried to jump off ( but of course, he was grabbed in time ), another tried to steal some durians and got pummelled by the fruit stall's gangster owners. Yet another patient -- a woman in her 30s -- didn't stop screaming hysterically from the moment she was brought into the ER. I have no idea what her deal is, 'cos she ended up being seen by the other MO on call. ( I was supposed to sleep from 3 - 5 am, but decided to stay back to help the guy out. I rather enjoyed it actually, haha! Very exciting :))

Surprisingly, I'm wide awake at the moment, after just taking a short nap in the morning. I think it's because I'm high. Found out last night that Clay has gone home, and visited his university for a day. He's rumoured to be staying with his family in Raleigh at the moment, but no-one knows for how long. However, his next big engagement is not till about a week from now, so hopefully he'll be hanging around till next week. Why am I high? Well, the package from the Singaporean Claymates was sent off yesterday, via Speedpost. It will get to Raleigh by Friday or Saturday, and my friend over there has assured me she will get it to his house pronto. Personally, I can't believe our timing. What are the odds of us picking the time period that he'd be back home? The ER nurses are thrilled. Their group photos are all in there, and Clay's definitely going to be pretty impressed by them. If he responds, we don't know how we'd react! Cross your fingers!

Seems there's been a minor surge in hits for my blog since the scare regarding the isolated SARS case. Well, I appreciate the interest, but really, the overall mood is subdued. Our Health Minister repeatedly tells us to be vigilant, but not to overreact, and life goes on as usual here. Michael Buble hasn't cancelled his show, which matters to me most at this point! :D Basically, we'll need more time to figure out what's going on with this situation. A bit mind-boggling, if you ask me.

My thanks to Enoch Choi for linking to my blog. He's got a very comprehensive list of medical online "diaries". Worth a browse.

Yesterday's episode of CSI: Miami was one of the better ones. Although I still prefer the original CSI ( located in Las Vegas ), which boasts better scripts and better acting, this episode dealt with a paedophile who's absolutely loathsome. He managed to lure a 5-year-old girl away from a play area in full view of other families, then drugged her and dragged her into a nearby toilet. When she suffered a seizure from the sedative, he performed CPR -- but not to revive her -- no, he wanted her to live so he could "spend some time" with her.

But this particular installment wasn't just about nabbing an evil criminal. It also delved into the psyches of the various CSI team members, especially that of the medical examiner ( ie. pathologist ). Normally composed and impervious to emotional trauma, she broke down during her assessment of the dead child. Sometimes, people ask me if doctors feel anything for their patients. The answer: a definite yes. But not every physician is capable of it, and being detached has its advantages if you have to face death and suffering on a daily basis, like I did in haematology and paediatric oncology. Those were distressing times, but in retrospect, you never regret going through them, 'cos feeling for your patients reinforces your own humanity, and you discover so much that's worth admiring in otherwise ordinary human beings.

I saw an elderly gentleman last night, who presented with exertional breathlessness, lethargy and a sensation of having a fast heartbeat. He had a health screening panel done just 10 days ago, which showed a haemoglobin level of 10 ( normal 14-16 ). He subsequently consulted a doctor at a private hospital and had a colonoscopy done which was normal. Inexplicably, according to the patient and his wife, no gastroscopy was done. He came to the ER because his symptoms were worsening, and a recheck of his Hb was 5.8 ( he initially resisted blood-taking because I told him he'd need admission if it showed a drop; thank goodness he later agreed ). His wife was very upset, and said she'd lodge a complaint against the first doctor. Not sure if she'll go through with it, but I told her to just concentrate on her husband's current problem first, and think about other issues later. As for the decision not to perform the gastroscopy, you figure it out.

Finally, here's a letter that was written by my mother a few days ago, in response to a complaint made by an irate parent in the Forum page of the Straits Times, regarding how teachers are too rigid in marking their students' scripts, thereby "stifling creativity". As expected, the editor rejected it for publication, even though my mother was giving the teachers' side of the story. So much for unbiased reporting.

I have been teaching English in primary and secondary schools for the past 40 years, and understand parents' concerns regarding this subject. After reading her child's assignment, I agree that the answers given are acceptable.

However, the reasons she provided for this occurrence are not entirely correct. Although it does pertain to the teacher's "mindset", it is not an issue of "stifling creativity".

Teachers nowadays have increasingly heavy worklaods, with numerous deadlines to meet and syllabuses to complete. With current class sizes, we face hundreds of worksheets and workbooks on a weekly basis, and often have little more than a few days in which to correct the scripts and return them to our pupils. Therefore, answer keys come in handy under such circumstances. They act as useful guides and make our tasks easier, though the answers given are not considered gospel.

However, we exercise flexibility whenever a need arises. In many schools, it is common for teachers to discuss unorthodox answers with each other, with their heads of department or even the vice-principal. If the student's response is deemed suitable, it is then marked as correct.

The parent said, "This reflects the inflexibility of Singapore's education system, which emphasizes rote-learning instead of creativity." Her statement is over-generalizing and erroneous. She mentioned a few cases, her child being one of them, but such a comment is not warranted, especially if she is not fully aware of the facts.

Teachers do not mark blindly. We even reject answers given in the answer keys if we strongly agree that they are wrong or unsuitable. We use our own discretion to decide whether a response is acceptable in that particular context, and explain "wrong answers" to our pupils. Reading assignments prior to marking them, as opposed to relying solely on answer keys, is also important.

Education has evolved over the years, and Singapore's educational system has done well in keeping up. Our teachers are well-trained and highly qualified, yet also renowned for their creative methods. In fact, 3 teachers were featured in the Straits Times recently for precisely this reason.

This parent's experience is unfortunate, but also likely to be an isolated one.

Finally, here's a quote from last Sunday's episode of ER, in which surgeon Peter Benton bids goodbye and bows out of the show with characteristic grace and flair.

ER senior resident John Carter: I'm a good doctor because of you.
Benton: No you're not. But keep trying.

Till next time, thanks for reading this long-winded monologue. :)

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Patient at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) tests positive for SARS.

This is the headline on the front page of today's Straits Times. Sure beats yesterday's -- a photo of remisier Peter Lim and his new wife prancing around on a bartop with a scantily clad, er, "dancer".

The news probably broke yesterday in the journalistic circuit, and healthcare workers were alerted as of last night, but of course, I didn't think it was appropriate to post anything till the facts were confirmed.

At about 9 or 10 pm yesterday, when I was about to finish my afternoon shift, our registrar made her rounds in the ER, quietly whispering the latest developments. I wasn't told that the man in question had tested positive for the SARS virus. Rather, he was "suspected" to have the condition, and had been warded at SGH. We were then informed to fast-track fever cases who had been to SGH during certain time periods. We've also been made aware of the neighbourhood that the patient and his family stay in, so that anyone who's febrile and from the same area will be treated with a higher index of suspicion.

SGH is now on "orange alert", ie. a moderate level of precautionary measures. A friend of mine from that hospital isn't too perturbed by it, and seems previous experiences are serving well in coping with the current situation. Contingency plans are being carried out, 2 affected wards have been "locked down", and full protective gear re-instituted. Contact tracing will take a few days, and I'm crossing my fingers that this is an isolated case. A community outbreak would be catastrophic. Not to mention the upcoming post-grad exams for the various specialties -- the one for emergency medicine is in less than 3 weeks! Let's hope the foreign examiners won't back out of coming to Singapore. There're at least 30 candidates sitting for it.

Over where I am, I'm not too sure what the mood's like as yet. I got the news pretty late, and won't be at work till 3 this afternoon. I'd be lying if I said we're not concerned. We expected a resurgence, but not this soon. And having to face this danger again is causing my parents insomnia -- I can usually sleep through storms, ringing alarm clocks and construction work :D. I guess I still have my reservations. Having only a mask between myself and a potential SARS case isn't very reassuring. It's been proven safe, yes, but in life, there are no absolutes, and you often learn this lesson the hard way. Just have to pray harder, I suppose.

Anyway, my thanks to a SARS information website in Germany for linking to me. I'd prefer it if Singapore could just stay out of the limelight forever, but it didn't happen. Sigh.

Non-SARS updates

Trying not to depress myself here. :)

Get your October issue of Elle! Clay is in it, complete with a photo that is melting hearts all over the world. It never fails to amaze me how professional photographers can capture him in a wide variety of moods and pleasantly surprising poses -- boyish, funny, glamourous, sexy (yes, believe it! ). They did a great job here, and from what other Claymates are telling me, the mag is selling out all over Singapore. The article is also very insightful, though the first paragraph almost broke my heart. I hope he'll feel better soon.

MTV screened a 10-minute excerpt of Michael Buble in concert last night. He sang "Fever" and "Moondance" -- not his best pieces, but he improvised and did a lot of cool finger-snapping. His voice sounds fantastic live, and his band is amazing. Can't wait for the actual show next Monday!

Anyone seen the latest issue of Time Asia magazine? It's the one with the word "Dyslexia" on the cover, but the point of interest is in the back. There're photos of the "open-mouth kiss" between Madonna, Britney and Christina. The awards show was censored on cable, so this is as close as you're going to get. For the record, I think it's in really poor taste. Madonna has 2 young children of her own -- what a great role model she makes.

Okay then, time for lunch. Hope my shift later will be quiet. If patients decide to avoid SGH again, there's no telling what could happen for us.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

I kept having problems with the server, which explains the delay in this post.

But suffice to say, the Claymate get-together was a blast! What was initially supposed to be 2 or 3 of us having a quiet dinner ballooned into a gathering of 10, all of whom are absolute Clayniacs! And I thought I was fanatical! :D

Everyone hails from different walks of life -- healthcare workers, the media industry, university under- and post-grads, a risk analyst from a major bank, etc. -- but where Clay was concerned, there were zero problems
communicating. From the word go, conversation never ceased, and we must've said "Clay" thousands of times during the 4 whole hours we spent together. No doubt the other diners at the restaurant knew who we were, and a few of them even gave us warm ( and a little bemused ) smiles. :)

All the Claymates I've met on the boards have always been really nice, but this dinner was especially significant, because it's the first time I've ever met any fellow fans in the flesh. And let me tell you, Claymates everywhere are super-nice! One lady got us extra copies of the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly ( with Clay on the cover ), which was sold out at most bookstores and newsstands. Another paid for the entire meal, despite our repeated protests. And everyone brought their own Clay paraphernalia to share -- magazines, pictures, you name it! And the food was good too. :)

After the meal, we adjourned to a private area nearby -- won't say where, in case someone tells us later that we weren't supposed to be there, haha! This place provided us with lots of privacy, and the lady who got us the EW mags even brought her laptop along, allowing us to view fantastic video clips of Clay's very recent
appearance on a telethon with Jerry Lewis to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, as well
as a stint for Total Request Live on MTV. We also watched many of his concert clips which were downloaded from the Internet. There was even a montage of all his famous shirt tugs and yanks, accompanied by a voiceover from a hilarious radio interview ( the link of which I posted not too long ago ). We swapped lots of news on our favourite singer, and let me tell you, some of these fans are walking Clay Aiken encyclopaedias! I learnt so much in just one evening, I'm totally stunned! One Claymate surfs the Net till 1am everyday, and another stayed up till 5am to catch his performance on the telethon. I take my hat off to you both! :D

But the highlight for me was definitely meeting SF (initals don't correspond to her real name, by the way ). She's 25, and a relatively late Clay convert -- instead of following American Idol from the beginning, she noticed him only after he sang This Is The Night during the finals. Since then, she's become as enthusiastic as the rest of us, but went a step further by getting tickets to the AI concert in New Jersey during a trip to the US late last month. Even more amazingly, she managed to get backstage passes, and met all the Idols, including Clay, who took a picture with her! The photos were fabulous, and I'm extremely envious! :D

The next incident warrants special mention. After the meet and greet ended, SF waited outside near Clay's limo for 1 1/2 hours, and happened to be standing right next to the rear door when he got in from the other side. She tried to get an autograph from him (very politely, of course) but as there were loads of other fans standing there behind her, Clay couldn't oblige or there'd be a stampede. Just as a bodyguard tried to move her physically, Jerome ( Clay's famous personal guard ) appeared, and the sweet guy brought her over to Clay's window so she could get his autograph! Awwwww :) As she thought her name would be too tough to spell ( it's rather unusual, I agree ), she very considerately asked him to make it out to Singapore instead.
His response? A very funny "You mean the whole country?!" She said yes, and he kindly obliged.
She didn't bring the actual signed CD sleeve with her, but we got to see the scanned picture, and the exact wording is:

"Singapore, All my love, Clay Aiken."

The word "Singapore" is printed very clearly, and looks like he was writing this as carefully as he could so he wouldn't spell it wrongly. After that, the "all my love, etc" bit is his characteristic scribble. It's an amazing thing to see, and if / when we do have that local CD release party, let's blow this photo up and use it as an official poster. :D

We're definitely going to meet up again real soon, hopefully with double or triple the numbers. It was wonderful to meet you all! You're the best! :)

Friday, September 05, 2003

Had some publishing problems earlier, so this is a little belated.

Friday morning shift in resus. So far so good *crossing fingers* The consultation area has been a little scary, though. The list exploded from 8-9am, but after reinforcements arrived at 9, things have settled down. I find it strange for people to show up on Friday mornings -- after all, it's already the weekend, so attendances should be down. I mean, if it's Monday or Sunday, I can understand -- MC seekers galore, or cases which "cooked" over the weekend. Oh well, I've had phenomenally BAD Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays before, so who can really say? :)

The post-Bachelor/Bachelorette showdown last night piqued my interest enough for me to do a Google search on Bachelor #3, ie. Andrew Firestone, or as one stunned hopeful gasped, "Firestone? As in the tyres on my car?" Yes, that's right. He's the great grandson of the company's founder, but now spends most of his time in business or at the family's winery estate. He's even better-looking than Alex or Aaron, but that's because I prefer boyish to beefy. :) A bit Asian, but very tall, with a terrific smile ( my mom picked up on that immediately, like she did with Clay, haha! ). The show ended its run in the US in May, so yep, I know who he chose. No news on whether they're still going strong, but I hope their relationship has a good outcome. This season airs on local TV sometime later this month. My Thursday nights have been so empty post-American Idol and The Bachelorette. This won't be the case for long now. :D

As for Aaron and Helene, I side the latter, and I'm not just saying that 'cos I'm a woman. :) The things she said gave me deja vu, so I don't doubt them. For example, how his calls slowly tapered off, how he seemed less and less eager to see her, how he ( amazingly ) managed to act pretty normal up till the day he broke up with her, and kept saying he loved her to the very last minute. Better still, he dropped the bombshell on her in the most cowardly way possible -- at the airport, an hour before his flight. Tsk, tsk. My ex did all these things ( not the airport bit -- he decided to break up over the phone, haha ), so I empathize with Helene. The poor woman, who was the most bubbly one on The Bachelor 2, and won me over with her good humour and upbeat personality, was reduced to tears a number of times. "I can't turn my feelings on and off just like that. I don't know how he could," she said. Well, certain men can. Just be glad you didn't marry him.

Here's an idea: the producers could put her in The Bachelorette 2, like they did with Trista -- look how well Trista and Ryan turned out. Helene deserves some happiness. I think she'll find it if she takes a chance and follows suit.

We've got medical students with us today. Boy do I feel old! They're fourth years, which makes them 22 - 23 years old. I managed to show one of them an interesting case of hyperkalemia and taught a bunch of them how to read C-spine X-rays, but like I mentioned, the resus area is a little quiet today, so they're basically hanging around watching my reg set IVs. :D When I was at the National University Hospital ER during my med school rotation, I recall one particular day that was so busy I inserted urinary catheters for at least 10 patients, set countless IVs, stitched up around 5-10 people, and assisted in a few resuscitations as well. But I suspect that was my elective posting rather than the usual med student rotation ( there were only 2 of us, as opposed to 10 for the latter ). Anyway, those skills I picked up served me well during my housemanship! Never underestimate the amount of time you can save by doing any of these procedures just a little bit faster. It could mean the difference between getting some rest and getting none.


Half an hour till the shift ends. A 15-year-old girl was brought in just after lunch. Hit by a van and run over. Her friend, who escaped with minor injuries, said the girl was screaming for 5 minutes before suddenly going quiet. 5 minutes after that, the ambulance arrived.

She had no vital signs on arrival, and aggressive resuscitation didn't revive her. Her parents are out of town, so her uncle and aunt had to receive the bad news. It was difficult, even for me ( I wasn't directly involved in her care ). I could hear the wailing from where I sat, and there were objections to performing an autopsy. The main emotion I feel is deep sadness. She was so young, and the school holidays had just begun as of today. She was no doubt looking forward to doing a lot of things she loved this coming week, but crossing the road became a major case of "being in the wrong place at the wrong time". Her friend, who's in the observation ward, still looked dazed when I popped in recently. Hope she'll be okay.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl today. It's 143 minutes long, but felt like an hour shorter. This sort of thing happens when I enjoy a movie -- e.g. A.I., Gladiator, all the Harry Potter films -- so yes, I loved it! :)

Spoilers included, take note.

Admittedly, the plot is wafer-thin, though quite intriguing. It involves magical Aztec treasure with a convenient curse to punish those who steal it, and in this case, transforms a shipload of pirates into skeletal ghouls which walk the earth in immortality, but suffer the consequences by losing their "human" senses -- ie. taste, smell, touch.

This important bit isn't revealed till halfway through, so the first hour or so introduces the main characters and sets up the story nicely. We have Elizabeth Swann ( a very comely Keira Knightley, who's turned into a gorgeous damsel as compared to her tomboyish "Bend It Like Beckham days ). She's the governor's daughter ( dad is played by Jonathan Pryce, an accomplished actor / Broadway star whose talents are sorely wasted here ) who one day chances upon Will Turner ( Orlando Bloom ) when they rescue him from a shipwreck. The medallion he wears will later play a pivotal role in the fate of the Black Pearl and its crew.

Enter Captain Jack Sparrow ( Johnny Depp ), an infamous pirate who's widely considered to have lost his marbles after being marooned on an island for a period of time. I'll leave you to find out the exact circumstances of that -- absolutely hilarious. He then joins Will in the latter's quest to save Elizabeth from the evil Captain Barbossa ( a delectably villanous Geoffrey Rush ), fighting the demon pirates along the way, and getting himself out of one impossible situation after another. This guy leads a charmed life, no doubt about it!

The cinematography is fabulous, especially those sweeping shots of the vessels as they sail out at sea. The colours are brilliant, yet the moonlit scenes equally beautiful. Don't forget the awesome special effects -- the Pearl's pirates are life-like and infused with ample personality. Add on a pounding soundtrack from Klaus Bladet, and you'd have to be dead in order to not to love this ride.

But of course, the main reason this movie rocks is Depp. A man who made his first big impression in "Nightmare on Elm Street", he's gone on to make savvy career moves ( take note of the word "savvy", which is his pet phrase in Pirates, and a great comical gimmick :D ). From "Edward Scissorhands" to "Don Juan DeMarco", "Sleepy Hollow" to "Blow", he's played a myriad of kooky characters, yet made them lovable and memorable. My personal favourite is Ichabod Crane from "Sleepy Hollow" -- the amateurish but sharp detective who faints at the sight of blood -- but Jack Sparrow is now not far behind. With his outrageous Jamaican hair (complete with beads and bells dangling from his braids ), an accent that sounds like a drunk Brit, and mannerisms that make him seem effeminate, he brings down the house and has you laughing your guts out every step of the way. But he's also got style. Lots of it. Which is why his Sparrow is also sexy and heroic. Not an easy feat! Small wonder that Pirates has so far grossed US$275 million, with a sequel due in 2005. Depp has never been a mainstream blockbuster draw, but this might be the one that propels him to a $20 million fee once and for all.

Orlando Bloom, on the other hand, provides the eye candy. After making women swoon with his long blonde locks in "The Lord of the Rings", he reverts to his natural brunette, sporting a nice moustache to add some years to his otherwise youthful face. His cheekbones are fantastic, and he shows flair with swordplay. His duel with Depp reminds me of Chris O'Donnell in "The Three Musketeers" and Antonio Banderas in "The Mask of Zorro". Good stuff! But I also like the fact that he gets to talk so much more in this movie. His voice is youngish, yet has a smoky quality to it. Lovely. :) He can act, but needs a juicier role to flex his thespian muscles in. There're big things ahead if he continues to make the right choices.

I have to log off to watch The Guardian now. The Claymate dinner is on tomorrow night. Looking forward to it!

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

My first day back at work yesterday was hectic, which explains why I didn't even post -- although I did drop by Clay's website. :D

Anyway, I'm on night shift today. Tuesdays are usually quite all right, but I just saw a paediatric case whose parents drove me bananas -- 10-year-old girl, chubby and cute, with a pretty severe case of asthma which was resistant to repeated nebulizer therapy. She got referred here, and was really sweaty with tight breath sounds. I gave her another neb but she still looked bad, so I brought her to the resus area for further nebs and monitoring. She improved a bit later on, but my registrar agreed that she definitely needs transfer to the children's hospital for admission. Here's where all the idiocy starts.

First, her mother refuses any IV plug or blood-taking. She also refuses admission or transfer, asking for her child to be lodged here instead, with repeated nebs as deemed necessary. Explaining the consequences fell on deaf ears. I got so frustrated I even said the word "collapse" -- a last resort on my part because I usually reserve this scare tactic for the really hopeless cases. She didn't seem to grasp this concept, and asked me to speak to her husband.

Her spouse turned out to be even worse. They're both educated and speak excellent English, but both refused the transfer or admission, despite my repeated explanations, backed up by my registrar ( he was busy with an unstable case, so he wasn't able to help me handle these two ). The dad even went so far as to accuse us of transferring his daughter so we "won't have to bear any responsibility". That did it for me. I gave him a really long, hard stare, and since I don't believe in raising my voice even when I'm extremely fed up with a patient or his/her relative ( answering complaint letters isn't worth my time and energy, so why expose myself to the risk? ), I lowered my voice instead, and said, "Please don't say such things about us. We're trying to give your daughter the best care possible. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't accuse us of something like this."
At least my comment made him feel bad. He later apologized, and I said "It's okay" ( not that I meant it, of course ). As of this moment, they're in an ambulance being transported to KKH. Good luck to the people who see them there!

Thank goodness for my 1-week leave -- had a good rest, did lots of things that I greatly enjoy, and recharged before returning to the chaos of the ER. :)

Now, on to better things. Local Claymates, please remember to send me your photos / cards / letters by the end of this week, as I'm aiming to mail the package to Raleigh by next Tuesday. The response has been terrific, and a few of us diehard fans are meeting up for dinner later this week. It's going to be wonderful to "talk Clay" over good food -- is that a combination made in heaven or what? ;) Best of all, we'll probably have the opportunity to discuss the possibility of that CD release party, in conjunction with a nationwide campaign in the US, and other parties in countries like New Zealand. Believe it or not, the official website set up for this precise purpose has Singapore listed. You can click on this link to find out more. Spread the word, 'cos it won't happen unless we have good numbers.

The full version of Clay's awesome cover of "Invisible" is also available here. It's a winner! :)

Alias has gone up another notch in terms of spectacular twists, and if this continues further, I'm going to have to take beta-blockers before watching future episodes. Sydney's mother betrayed them! Nooooo! ( Sorry, I get very caught up with certain shows I follow, like American Idol, Survivor, The Amazing Race, The Bachelor / Bachelorette, plus a few non-reality programmes, the titles of which I can't recall at 2:30am in the morning :P ).
And speaking of The Bachelor, be sure to tune in for a post-show rundown with Aaron and Helene. The two of them looked like a sure thing, but broke up soon after. Reports I've read so far put the blame on the guy, but what do you expect from someone who goes around kissing anything in a skirt? Poor Helene.

Hmm, I think I'm getting a little incoherent now. Can't wait for the night to be over so I can get home and laze around and eat my mom's excellent cooking.

Last but not least, and my apologies to non-Clay fans who read this, the American Idol tour is officially over, and hope Clay is able to finally get some much needed rest. Time to gear up for the next big event -- his debut album! :D