Friday, October 28, 2005

Many Happy Returns

Just as I thought this year's birthday is going to be the worst of my (censored) years yet, my bestfriend showed up (several days late, but nevertheless) with a gift and we spent a wonderful couple of hours hanging out at a cafe. It was simple but lovely - except for the few extremely embarassing minutes where my bestfriend requested the live band to sing 'Happy Birthday' for me.

Birthdays for my friends and I used to come with mandatory elaborate parties complete with food, games, a birthday cake (which was a MUST, since some of the cream on it must end up on someone's face), presents and - sometimes - a trick or two. At times, the elaborate parties were even extended to become slumber parties, without (or with very little of) slumber. In our Fifth Form, each one of us got a cool (some of you may term it 'nasty') trick from the rest.

My absolute favourite is the one where we hid in the birthday girl's room, close to midnight, on the eve of the birthday, and scared the wits out of her (who was coincidentally drowsy with want of sleep at the time). One of the conspirators, the birthday girl's cousin, woke her from her sleep and led her out of the room on the pretext that she was wanted for something. While she was out of the room, we slipped in quietly, found a dark corner / hidden spot each, and crouched down. And Kate (she often comments on this blog, if you don't know it yet) wore a set of false Dracula fangs, and stood behind the door. So there we were - all set, waiting for the poor birthday girl to re-enter her room. Once she did, we all sprang from our hiding places, growling loudly, while Kate stood still, shining a torch upwards to her face, showing the fangs and all. Boy, the effect was superb! The birthday girl jumped and screamed - and I bet her heart must've skipped a few beats too! But of course she calmed down pretty well after that and was thoroughly happy when we gave her her present: The X-Files Soundtrack CD (original one, not pirated!)

Those were the good ol' days. We have them no longer. For some years now, a few SMS greetings, or some e-cards would usually suffice to remind us of our age. Presents from loved ones are extras (thanks, bestfriend!). I'll write about how birthdays are celebrated during my college years some other time.

To conclude, many happy returns to me. :)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Erm~ Pardon Me?

It is exams season again; and it's all a tense monotony save for this email which came through today. As a semesterly reminder to all of us who will invigilate the exams, it goes:

1) When asking students to leave their bags and belongings, please DO NOT let them leave them outside as there were THREE theft cases just today. Let the bags be INSIDE the venue. If the student takes their personal belongings (purses, handphones, etc) into the room, the student MUST put them on the side of the table.

-- "...let them leave them..."? Well ok, bad writing habit, but we get what you mean.

-- "...the student takes their personal belongings..." Cool. 1 student is in charge of everyone's belongings

-- " the side of the table..." Wow, that's really asking for too much - how on earth are the belongings going to defy gravity to remain at the side of the table?

2) ...(bla bla bla)... Please be discrete and quiet as the students will probably be having exams.

-- I cannot imagine what else would students be having in Exam venues during Exams time if not having exams.

Now, who wants to slap my wrists for having just posted the contents of somebody's email on the Internet? :D

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Matters of the Heart

It's a complicated matter. Many a time (long time ago), I thought I could do without it. Then, after the first love (followed quickly by the first hurt) I realised that a life not shared with a loving other half will always be incomplete. The heart always yearns to love and to be loved in return, although the process of searching for and obtaining love is always something that I don't appreciate much. Why - being a girl, despite the FCS (female chauvinistic sow) image, you don't walk out there, confront the guy who caught your eyes, and tell him so. You don't grab every single opportunity (or make opportunities) to be with him and hope he notices you. You don't go to him with the sole purpose of flirting with him. At least, I don't. Probably that's why getting noticed by the guys who caught my eyes were extremely difficult for me.

In first year university, I was a little head-over-heels over a classmate, but he was only lukewarm. And then, he went from lukewarm to room temperature, and later, even lesser. And the worst thing was, all the while, I was still classmates with him, which meant I saw him very often, and had to painfully watch him getting increasing interested in another girl - coincidentally, a close friend. It drove me nothing less than crazy. My heart felt as if it would burst with yearning, and I filled pages and pages of diaries and scrap paper with lamentations and poems. And one night, being alone in the house (my housemates having all gone out somewhere) I was almost overwhelmed by thoughts of him, and wildly hoped that he'd give me a call. Then, I got something out to read, bumped into a few difficult words (when you read Austen, Bronte, Dickens and the likes, you're sure to bump into some), got my Oxford dictionary out and looked them up. As my habit would have it, I read also the entries within several pages of the aforesaid difficult words. As fate would have it, I read the definitions (not that I didn't know them) for fond, and subsequently, fondly. And there - second definition for fondly - "in a hopeful way that is silly or unreasonable" - and an example which went "She fondly believed he would phone her" - !!! - I was so taken aback, my brain literally froze for several moments. After the numbness subsided, I felt this very sensible, invisible hand knocking upon my skull "Wake up!". Don't you just hate moments such as these?

I'll repeat myself - it's a complicated matter!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Cause for Heartache

For the First-Aid component in the standard First-Aid and Nursing Competition of the St Johns Ambulance Malaysia (SJAM), a squad is made out of 4 persons, numbered 1 - 4 (and a reserve, Number 5). Upon reaching a scene of accident, Number 1 (the leader) will look out for possible hazards, and if determined none, will command her squad members (Numbers 2, 3 and 4) to approach the victim (posed by Number 5, during training sessions). After Number 1 identified herself to the victim, she will proceed to diagnose injuries, while Numbers 2 and 3 control bleeding on any visible open wounds, and clear obstacles which may be scattered around the victim. Number 4 would meanwhile, control traffic (if we're talking about road accidents) and also control the advancing crowd of bystanders (we'll usually get a lot of ke-pohs). Once diagnosis is complete and first-aid (bandaging, treatment for shock etc) given, Number 4 will call for the ambulance, giving specific details about the location, the victim and injuries sustained. In training, the "ambulance" never arrives later than 10 or 15 minutes after Number 4 makes the call, during which Number 2 will constantly reassure the victim, Number 3 keeping a close eye on blood circulation and such stuff, Number 4 keeping back crowds and traffic, and Number 1 supervising and assisting in all. If the squad does not have enough of bandages or equipment for treatment, they can entreat the crowd to part with personal clothing items such as jackets, scarves, neckties etc. for improvision, and the crowds would be most willing to comply. And if the victim's breathing and pulse stopped, CPR is administered continuously until either the victim is revived, or the ambulance arrives. Once ambulance arrives, trained, certified parademics will take over, and the victim is in safe hands. And that, is the ideal situation - the wishful thinking of all of us.

The real thing? Let me run through the entire first-aid-giving scenario again, putting in the practical elements. First, Number 1 and her squad members approach the victim, and Number 4 tries her best to control the traffic - however, given the Malaysian drivers' love for speeding and lack of concentration on the road (not to mention the over-confidence in excellent driving skills which they don't actually possess), probably a car (or worse, a bus or truck) would come head-on and ram into the whole squad, killing all 4 first-aiders and also the victim on the spot. End of story (errr... so fast?)

OK, assuming that doesn't happen. First-aid is given - and the squad needs something to control massive bleeding from a large, open wound. They were short of gauzes and bandages - so Numbers 3 and 4 would desperately beg the onlookers to give their scarves or neckties or handkerchiefs to save the victim - and of course, in our real-world, no one would give. Anyway still, assuming the victim does not die from a loss of blood, Number 4 would then ask a bystander to allow her to call the ambulance using his mobile phone. Assuming the bystander would comply (since emergency numbers don't cost), she would dial, and probably try a few more times before she got through. And then, her call would probably be transferred, or redirected, or put on hold; or she would be asked to call other numbers from a list which she would be given. Anyhow, after a lot, a lot of effort, she would get through to a hospital which is willing to send an ambulance. Then, the first-aid squad will continue to preserve the casualty's life, while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. They'll have to work extra hard, because the ambulance most probably will not arrive until 30-40 minutes later, minimum! So, if the casualty's breathing and pulse stopped, poor Numbers 1 and 2 would have to continuously perform CPR for more than half an hour, which by the end, would probably have Numbers 1 and 2 fainting themselves! Of course, Numbers 1 and 2 can take turns with 3 and 4 on the CPR thingy (which by the way, first-aiders must not stop performing simply because the victim does not revive - we are not doctors that can "declare someone dead"), but trust me, it's not as easily done as said. Anyway, say - finally the ambulance arrives. Those who come with it, are not paramedics, but half-pail-of-water hospital attendants who know no head or tail on how to handle an injured person. Chances are, the poor victim, so carefully supported by splints and bandages by the first-aiders, will be very roughly hauled up, and dumped into the back of the ambulance. Then, the attendants will do nothing but talk and joke on the way to the hospital, while the driver, feeling important that he is in an emergency situation, will drive like a mad man - going at top speed, sirens wailing, swerving to the right and left to weave through traffic, running red lights, flying over speed bumps... you name it. Our last concern, is whether the injured person can reach the hospital in ONE(1) piece. Horrible as it may sound - this is the reality of where we live.

SJAM works very hard to train its members to handle emergencies and to extend proper and professional first-aid. That is very noble - but what happens on the arrival of the ambulance (assuming it'll eventually turn up, if you've waited long enough) and the duty of preserving life and promoting recovery is passed on from the first-aiders to the ambulance staff who couldn't care less? Could there have been victims who could have survived, but didn't, due to the lack of concern, and the tidak-apa attitude of emergency services? If there are, how many? Very disturbing? Indeed.

Ahhhem! - Disclaimer - I am NOT referring to any particular anything. This post is not a personal attack on any parties *wink*

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Stupid Famous People

Alright, I am not writing about any particular stupid famous people here - I came across this phrase on the Internet, earlier today. And it got me mulling, as I have always done, whenever I come across interesting points in English grammar. As a rule, multiple adjectives (eg: big, red), when used to describe a noun (eg: dog), must be arranged in a fixed order:

opinion -> size -> age -> shape -> colour -> origin -> material -> purpose

That means, one must say "a big, red dog" and not a "red, big dog". (Cute Siamese kitten; large sleeping bag; creepy little spider; bla bla etc) However, if there one wants to use two adjectives of the same category (such as "stupid" and "famous") - how would the order be? Or would it be the same in either way?

Does "stupid famous people" mean exactly the same as "famous stupid people"? Seriously speaking, I have no idea - although they sound quite different to me. "Famous stupid people" seems to be describing people who are famous for their stupidity; and "stupid famous people" seems to be describing people, who are famous (for whatever reasons) who happen to be stupid also. Hardly convincing, huh?

We need Professor Blinking-Hell! :D

Monday, October 3, 2005

Creativity Gone Too Far

Last week I received a forwarded email from a friend. The subject was "Baby Biscuits" - and I have no idea if it meant biscuits for babies, or biscuits that are babies - mind-boggling? Yes, definitely. These are the pictures that were attached to the email:

Alright, first of all, they don't look like biscuits - all too real to be biscuits! But if they are biscuits (regardless of whether made for babies or sick adults) the maker must be truly sick in the head, especially if he meant these biscuits to be consumed - like all biscuits are. I mean - look - they are all cute, adorable newborns, and we're supposed to eat them because they are in fact "biscuits"??? It's so suggestive of cannibalism - "well, I can't eat real babies, so why not eat biscuits made to look like real babies?" It's crazy! I have seen many creative products before - those that are truly beautiful:

and those that are very funny:

- but the "baby biscuits".... Well, I have to say the workmanship is simply marvellous - fancy anyone could make biscuits like those - but the idea of eating them is absolutely nauseating. I seriously hope that the email was a hoax, and there are no such "baby biscuits" sold in our world. (Imagine this: "Hmmm... shall I bite off the head first or the legs first?") Arghhh!

Qualitative Research question for the day: What is enough? When is a lot (of creativity) too much?