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Asylum of the Sane



take cover: it's a mad world out there



Updated: 2017-08-25T00:24:23.848-07:00

 



Faces of May Day

2008-12-10T09:09:39.134-08:00

A myriad of faces and expression on May Day.

The veterans.

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Joy.

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Jubilation.

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Nostalgia.

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Gratitude.

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Perseverance.

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Hope.

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Content.

The incumbent.

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Ambition.

The rookies.

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Promise.

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Inspiration.



Victory Day

2008-12-10T09:09:45.559-08:00

The 9th of May is known in Europe as Victory Day, or plainly as May Day. It marks the end of World War 2 in Europe where the Allied forces defeated the Axis power in the year of 1945, bringing years of suffering and atrocities to an end as peace reigned over the continent. Since then, this day was celebrated annually in almost every country in Europe.World War II is more commonly known as The Great Patriotic War in Russia. It was a war so terrible and devastating that many Russians likened it to the complete extermination of the Russian race, should Hitler's army capture Moscow. With casualty of more than 27 million Soviet lives at the end of the war (easily surpassing Malaysia's population today), it was a do-or-die decision for all Soviet citizens.Victory Day in Russia in particular is celebrated in a grandious manner. It is a national holiday much similar to Malaysia's Independence Day, but unlike our bloodless struggle of independence from the British Empire, Victory Day symbolises the victory of Soviet Socialists over Nazi Facists through the strength and determination of the working class.The emblem of the Great Patriotic War & 9th May. The black-and-white photo shows Soviet soldiers symbolically disposing of Nazi standards at the Red Square in Moscow.Back in the heyday of the Soviet Union, huge military parades were held yearly to commemorate this significant day. Endless columns of war machines would rumble pass the ranks of marching soldiers of the Red Army, and their leaders would salute them gloriously from the heightened podium as the military band played vigorously.Heavy vehicles carrying weapons of mass destruction rolling through the Red Square to the delight of its spectators.The Victory Day Parade was celebrated not only in Moscow, but in nearly every major city and town in Soviet Union. Besides paying tribute to the heroes of World War 2, it also the raised patriotism, and strenghtened faith and confidence in the country's ability to defence itself. The world too would observe mindfully over the potency of the military of the Soviet Union – the message is clear: Don't mess with the USSR.The Red Army marches on on Victory Day.After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Victory Day military parade in modern Russia was toned down much to the acceptance of the world to show the obviation of old communistic ways. Until the recent year, Victory Day parades were mainly of the army marching.Russian soldiers goose-stepping with much dexterity at the modern day parade.Further away from the capital, the people of Kursk also celebrated Victory Day, albeit in a more sober fashion without the pomp and grandeur of Moscow.The day started of at about 9:30 a.m. at the junction of Karl Marx Street and Lenin Street. When I arrived at the scene, people had already gathered and the crowd was ballooning by the moment. People were wearing ribbons of orange and black stripes and holding flowers.Young cadets to the fore with wreaths.Karl Marx Street was closed off from motorists in the morning to make way for the march. At exactly 10:00 a.m., the march began with the military band leading crowd.The customary brass band. I have a feeling that they are the same guys on Labour Day.Following closely behind the brass band were officers bearing flags of the military, the country, the former Soviet Union, and the state.Colourful flags decorated the formation.Most of the participants at the head of the march were war veterans dressed smartly in their uniforms, widows and widowers of the fallen, important people and senior citizens.Flowers and medals, don't leave home without them.The second contingent following the march was, of course, Medvedev's own political party – United Russia. The crowed was awashed with the colours of red, white and blue; the evident presence of who's in charge."Happy Victory Holiday!" Where there is the ruling party, the Opposition would closely follow. Members of the ever watchful Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) trailed behind as the march moved on.Raise the[...]



Spaghetti Bolognese

2008-12-10T09:09:47.149-08:00

Bolognese sauce (ragù alla bolognese in Italian, also known by its French name sauce bolognaise) is a meat-based sauce for pasta originating in Bologna, Italy. Bolognese sauce is sometimes taken to be a tomato sauce but authentic recipes have only a very small amount of tomato, perhaps a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste.While going through some facts about bolognese, I'd decided to pamper myself to some spaghetti bolognese.A good rummage through the refridgerator and I quickly assembled the necessary ingredients.Let's try some home-cooking!IngredientsGroup 1:3 tablespoons of cooking oil.1 onion, chopped.1 carrot, chopped.2 cloves garlic, minced.Group 2:200 grams pork, minced.Group 3:½ cup white wine.Group 4:½ cup milk.1¼ tablespoon salt.¾ tablespoon pepper.1 pinch nutmeg.Group 5:1 medium size tomato, chopped.2 tablespoons tomato paste.2 tablespoons Heinz® bolognese sauce (this ingredient is cheating, but heck).Group 6:200 grams spaghetti.Group 7:1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated1 fresh parsley, chopped.Get your ingredients prepared!RecipeGroup 1:Cook for 5 minutes.Group 2:Add to broth and cook till no longer pink, but do not brown. Drain excess fat.Group 3:Add to broth and cook till evaporated.Group 4:Add to broth and cook till evaporated.Group 5:Add to broth and boil for 2 hours at medium heat.Your bolognese sauce should look like this.Group 6:Prepare by boiling till soft.You're almost there.Then add bolognese sauce by mixing half to spaghetti and topping with another half.Group 7:Top to meal for taste and appearance.Spaghetti bolognese.Serve meal for 2 person.Mix well.Bon appétit.[...]



Victory Avenue

2008-12-10T09:09:49.880-08:00

I took a walk at a beautiful memorial park at the northern most edge of the city of Kursk, which was named The Victory Avenue.Facing northward, it is the gateway to Kursk and greets travellers from the next major neighbouring town of Orel.Because of this, many of us who travel from Moscow southward to Kursk by land transportation nickname this park 'the Kursk Gate'.Victory Avenue – a green park; war machines facing north towards the Triumph Arch located beyond the cathedral.Kursk is well-known for being the site of the largest tank battle in history (during World War 2) with 2700 Nazi tanks and 3600 Soviet tanks involved. This battle is known as the Battle of Kursk.To commemorate this battle, this park was built and several important monuments erected.At its closer end to the city, a total of 8 weapons of war that contributed to the victory of the Battle of Kursk are showcased, each lined up one by one facing northward.A Soviet mobile rocket launcher.Such examples are the Soviet mobile rocket launcher, mobile anti-air battery, mobile artillery and the famous T-35 heavy battle tank.A Soviet mobile anti-air battery.These vehicles displayed serve as a reminder of the sacrifices and brutality of war.A Soviet mobile artillery piece.Even so, victory was their greatest pride despite the lost of 27 million Soviet lives at the end of the war, a number exceeding the population of Malaysia today.The signature T-34 main battle tank of the Battle of Kursk.Many engraved stones were erected in memory of those who lost their lives during the war, like the one below.Written in both Russian and Hebrew, "Right here, in the days of occupation of Kursk by the German-facist aggressors, 443 Soviet civilians were executed by gun-point shooting."A cathedral was built at this site to commemorate the events that transpired during World War 2.The cathedral at the memorial park.It had been under construction for a very long time; for a while works were put on hold due to the lack of fundings, but now as Russia's economy stabilised, work had resumed and it is now on the verge of completion.A close up view of the achitecture of the cathedral.The interior of the cathedral was meticulously done, although not yet finished, I predicted that it would be very beautiful upon completion. On the walls of the cathedral, names of fallen soldiers and civilians were engraved from floor to ceiling in their memory.The painting of 8 angels on the ceiling of the dome.The area around this memorial park is of high value, and is home to the richer minority of the city, which also complemented its beautiful surrounding and landscape.Bungalows that lined the side of the park.Further on, I reached the another World War 2 monument that honoured fallen Soviet soldiers. Here, the Eternal Flame burnt ceaselessly for the Unknown Soldier.One of the many WW2 monuments bearing the Eternal Flame all over Kursk, and the rest of Russia.Finally, that the most distant end of the park stands the focus of my trip: the Triumph Arch, the gateway to Kursk. Built after World War 2 and the re-establishment of the city, this structure is one of the major landmarks of Kursk.A statue of a horse-riding knight slaying the serpent at the top; 4 warrior of various ages guarding the 4 corners of the arch.Before mass transportation was commonplace, vehicles used to pass underneath the arch to the city of Kursk; now it has become a monument, symbol of victory of a war long passed.The statue of Marshal Zhukov, the Triumph Arch and the cathedral at the distant.As the park reached an end, so did my evening stroll at the park.The Triumph Arch, the complete picture.What a long walk. I guess I'll take a bus home.[...]



Labour Day

2008-12-10T09:09:53.540-08:00

Labour Day is an annual holiday celebrated all over the world that resulted from efforts of the labour union movement, to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. The majority of countries celebrate Labour Day on May 1, and it is popularly known as May Day and International Workers' Day.The celebration of Labour Day has its origins in the eight hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.Today was yet another Labour Day at the Russian Federation. Cities and major towns in every state held events and celebrations for the entire day. Parades were a show of esteem and confidence of the working class.The morning started off damp and chilly, but everyone in Kursk was ready and charged up for the parade.Another damp day for a supposingly great morning.Most large organisations in Kursk sent a contingent, including my university. Russian and foreign international students alike gathered at the university facade with flags of respective homelands before feeding into the march. The KSMU contingent's theme was to show the diversity of races and nationalities of the university.All geared up – the KSMU contingent ready to march.Our contingent march started off at the junction of Karl Marx Street and Lenin Street.After a short stride, I realised that we were the last in line. If I were to move with them, I would miss the parade ahead – so I hurriedly and unconventionally broke off line and headed frontward as the parade moved.It wasn't moving any faster, the impatient me thought.Just in front of the KSMU contingent were the contingents of the local police and army from the Kursk barracks, dressed smartly in their training uniform.Young police cadets and military conscripts.Much ahead, the parade was more civilian-friendly. People of all age groups and all walks of life moved with the parade; with friends, families and fellow comrades. The mood was generally light and cheerful.Colourful balloons and banners decorated the street.Further on was the contingent of the Federation of the Regional Trade Unions; dressed in their working outfit, carrying banners and placards."The rise in prices is outstripping the growth of salary!" – Federation of the Regional Trade Unions.In front of them was the contingent of Putin's own political party – United Russia. Most of its participants were youths – young and beaming with energy. The choice of the younger generation of Russia."We trust in Russia, we trust in ourselves!" – United Russia.Along the sidewalk of the street were bystanders and onlookers, all cheering as the parade passed by.Nice flags. I wonder where they got them.The pace and atmosphere of the parade was set by the military brass band which led the contingents to the tune and beat of military march. As always, the pieced played were spirit-lifting and inspiring.A parade is never complete without the customary brass band.Leading the parade were the motorcade consisting of locally made cars, the Lada, and light vehicles, as well as the ever-present, ubiquitous and omnipresent propaganda van with hailing loudspeakers echoing encouragement, aspiration and the nation's pride and hopes.Let the flags wave with pride.Written on the vehicles were greetings and well-wishes of Labour Day."Happy Spring and Labour Day!"As I have already overtaken the parade, I realised that it was a matter of time before it reached its destination – the Red Square of Kursk. So I made my way there and anticipated its arrival.Officers, security and the stage at the Red Square.As the parade approached, photographers, journalists, reporters and newscasters were seen taking positions and linking up.If I didn't stand so far, I would be on national TV.All too soon, the motorcade leading the parade crossed the Red Square with splendour, with the statue of Lenin and the House of Soviets at the background.Old and new: Modern Russian cars bearing flags of the Russian Federa[...]



Easter Bread

2008-12-10T09:09:54.767-08:00

During Easter, it is common sight to be given easter eggs. However, it is more common to see the kulich, or Easter bread, a type of sweet Russian bread topped with icing sugar and colourful candies.The kulich, or Easter bread. Note the 'ХВ' marking on top.In many European countries, there are various traditions surrounding the use of bread during the Easter holiday.Kulich (Russian for 'Easter cake') is a kind of Easter bread, traditional in the Orthodox Christian faith – Russia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Serbia, Ukraine etc.Kulich sold at the confectionary. Traditionally during the Easter service, the kulich, which has been put into a basket and decorated with colourful flowers, is blessed by the priest. Leftover kulich that isn't blessed is eaten with Paskha (Russian for 'Easter') for dessert. Blessed kulich is eaten before breakfast each day.Kulich sold at the supermarket.It is baked in tall, cylindrical tins, and when cooled is decorated with white icing (which is slightly drizzled down the sides), colourful flowers, and the Cyrillic alphabets ХВ (Khristos Vaskresye greeting, Russian for 'Christ is Risen') is decorated on the side. Kulich is only eaten during the 40 days after Paskha until Pentecost.One of the many varieties of kulich toppings.Many food stores and confectionaries sold this particular bread on this day. Kulich of varying sizes, shapes and colours as well as decorations replaced the common breads on their shelves.Kulich sold by the roadside.I got my own kulich today. I must say, it was one of the best tasting bread I've ever tried in Russia. It's interior was soft and filled with sweet raisins. A humble bread but highly appetising.My very own kulich.[...]



Guava

2008-12-10T09:09:54.911-08:00

The guava fruit is edible, round to pear-shaped, from 3-10 cm in diameter. It has a thin delicate rind, pale green to yellow at maturity in some species, pink to red in others, a creamy white or orange-salmon flesh with many small hard seeds, and a strong, characteristic aroma that is hard to describe.

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Green guava – the whole fruit is edible.

The whole fruit is edible, from seeds to rind, but many people choose to cut out the middle which contains hard seeds embedded in the surrounding pulp. The pulp is sweetest and most delicious in the center, with the outer layer being sour and gritty like young pears, while the peel (fruit) is sour in taste but richest in phytochemicals; it is usually discarded but can be eaten as an enriched source of essential nutrients and polyphenols.

In short, the guava is an obscure tropical food that's subtly acidic, with sweetness that intensifies as you eat your way to the center.

Why it's healthy:
Guava has a higher concentration of lycopene – an antioxidant that fights prostate cancer – than any other plant fruit, includint tomatoes and watermelon.

In addition, 1 cup of the stuff provides 687 milligrams of potassium, which is 62 percent more than you'll find in a medium banana. And guava may be the ultimate high-fiber food: There's almost 8 grams of fiber in every cup.

Guavas are often considered superfruits, being rich in vitamins A and C, omega-3 and -6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and especially high levels of dietary fiber. Containing about half the amount (37 mg per 100 g) of vitamin C as a raw orange, a single strawberry guava also has good levels of the dietary minerals, potassium and magnesium, and otherwise a broad, low-calorie profile of essential nutrients. Common guava has generally a more diverse and dense nutrient content, including extraordinary richness of vitamin C (228 mg per 100 g).

Guavas contain both major classes of antioxidant pigments – carotenoids and polyphenols, giving them relatively high dietary antioxidant value among plant foods.

How to eat it:
Down the entire fruit, from the rind to the seeds. It's all edible – and nutritious. The rind alone has more vitamin C than you'd find in the flesh of an orange. You can score guava in the produce section of higher-end supermarkets or tropical fruit stalls.



Soviet Propaganda

2008-12-10T09:09:56.718-08:00

Lenin created the first truly modern propaganda machine, and its most colourful, dramatic and original form was the poster."For the Motherland! For Stalin! For the World! For Communism!"Through it, the greatest artists of the time proclaimed government policies, asked for support, and demanded greater efforts – all with the goal of building Soviet power."Under the banner of Lenin, under the leadership of Stalin – Forward, to the Victory of Communism!"Soviet posters are a relatively new area of collecting as they were virtually unavailable in the West until Perestroika. With the decline of Communism, there is more interest than ever in the images from this bold social experiment."Under the leadership of the Great Stalin – Forward to Communism!"Although most Soviet posters were issued in editions of 5000 to 50000, they are extremely rare today. The primary reason is that most posters – as intended – were posted, and survived only weeks or months. They usually were recycled or lost due to the ravages of war or neglect, while others were destroyed for political reasons."In countries of Capitalism – Road of Talent; In countries of Socialism – Road to Talents!"The Soviet art of propaganda falls into six main periods:The Bolshevik Era (1917-1921) was a life and death struggle for the Bolsheviks and their ideology. Helping to fight enemies within and without, the early Soviet poster was remarkable for its revolutionary fervour and powerful symbolism."To whom does the national income go? In capitalist countries, the lion's share goes to the exploiters; In USSR – the working class."The New Economic Policy (1921-1927) was a period of recovery and relative freedom for a country ravaged by war, famine and bitter discontent. The commercial and film posters of the 'Roaring Twenties' were remarkable for their avant-garde constructivist style."Don't be naughty!" – A Soviet officer (holding a book on Soviet WWII victory) to a malicious, atomic-bomb-wielding, American Uncle Sam.The First and Second Five Year Plans (1928-1937) were Stalin's draconian push to convert Russia into a fully communist industrialised power. The great photomontage posters of the First Five Year plan echoed the heroic side of this effort, only to be followed by the purges of the late '30s and the retreat from avant-garde art in the Second Plan period."Nations of the world do not want the recurrences of disasters of war."The Great Patriotic War (WWII) (1939-1945) brought a revival of the great age of the Bolshevik poster. The Soviet struggle for survival forced a return to symbolism that fanned the patriotic fires of the heartland."The sniper hits from afar, but always for sure!"The Cold War (1946-1984) brought a return to 'Social Realism', with utopian views of Russia and Joseph Stalin predominating. In its middle years, the best images featured Vietnam and the space race. As Perestroika (1984-present) dawned, the most powerful images were protest posters created and posted at great personal risk."USSR – Long live the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union!"[...]



Four Seasons

2008-12-10T09:09:57.785-08:00

A new life with blossoming buds.

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Spring.

Enduring through the mid-year heat.

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Summer.

Wilting as the late sun sets.

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Autumn.

Gone with the chilling winds.

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Winter.



Sexual Disorders

2008-12-10T09:09:58.915-08:00

Have you ever had trouble making love to your partner? Was your sexual experience an unpleasant one? Have you ever had embarrassing cravings for unnatural sex? Do you feel ashamed of your own sexual organ?Many people experience sexual disorders. Still considered a taboo, most people prefer not to discuss their shame and rather opt to suffer in silence. Therefore, allow me to shed some light on this for the good of everyone.Sexual disorders cover a wide range of aetiological factors and causes, notably the main groups being psychogenic and organic. However, in this article only the psychogenic causes will be discussed.Part 1: Sexual DysfunctionSexual dysfunction covers the various ways in which an individual is unable to participate in a sexual relationship as he or she would wish. There may be lack of interest, lack of enjoyment, failure of the physiological responses necessary for effective sexual interaction (e.g. erection), or inability to control or experience orgasm.Something keeping you from having good sex?Lack or loss of sexual desire:Loss of sexual desire is the principal problem and is not secondary to other sexual difficulties, such as erectile failure or dyspareunia. Lack of sexual desire does not preclude sexual enjoyment or arousal, but makes the initiation of sexual activity less likely. This Includes frigidity (female impotence), and hypoactive sexual desire disorder.Sexual aversion:The prospect of sexual interaction with a partner is associated with strong negative feelings and produces sufficient fear or anxiety that sexual activity is avoided.Lack of sexual enjoyment:Sexual responses occur normally and orgasm is experienced, but there is a lack of appropriate pleasure. This complaint is much more common in women than in men. This includes anhedonia (absense of sexual pleasure).Failure of genital response:In men, the principal problem is erectile dysfunction, i.e. difficulty in developing or maintaining an erection suitable for satisfactory intercourse. If erection occurs normally in certain situations, e.g. during masturbation or sleep or with a different partner, the causation is likely to be psychogenic. Otherwise, the correct diagnosis of nonorganic erectile dysfunction may depend on special investigations (e.g. measurement of nocturnal penile tumescence) or the response to psychological treatment.In women, the principal problem is vaginal dryness or failure of lubrication. The cause can be psychogenic or pathological (e.g. infection) or estrogen deficiency (e.g. postmenopausal). It is unusual for women to complain primarily of vaginal dryness except as a symptom of postmenopausal estrogen deficiency. This Includes female sexual arousal disorder, male erectile disorder, and psychogenic impotence.Orgasmic dysfunction:Orgasm either does not occur or is markedly delayed. This may be situational (i.e. occur only in certain situations), in which case aetiology is likely to be psychogenic, or invariable, when physical or constitutional factors cannot be easily excluded except by a positive response to psychological treatment. Orgasmic dysfunction is more common in women than in men. This Includes inhibited orgasm (for both male and female), and psychogenic anorgasmy.Premature ejaculation:The inability to control ejaculation sufficiently for both partners to enjoy sexual interaction. In severe cases, ejaculation may occur before vaginal entry or in the absence of an erection. Premature ejaculation is unlikely to be of organic origin but can occur as a psychological reaction to organic impairment, e.g. erectile failure or pain. Ejaculation may also appear to be premature if erection requires prolonged stimulation, causing the time interval between satisfactory erection and ejaculation to be shortened; the primary problem in such a case is delayed erection.Nonorganic[...]



Psychiatric Hospital

2008-12-10T09:09:59.956-08:00

My next study of speciality was psychiatry: the branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.Which meant that I had to go to a mental hospital.Welcome to the Asylum of the Insane.The psychiatric hospital which I traveled to was located at the furthest reach of town, at the village of Iskra. This village probably survived on the existance of that hospital alone. I guess they had a reason to build it that far.Many people cringe at the idea of going to a mental hospital. You may think that that is a place where twisted minds and retards are condemned for life; those who do survive in there are either crazy or maliciously mad, and they behave like trapped monkeys which try to claw their way out at every given opportunity. And if you somehow ended up there, you'd turn into one of those zombies yourself.If you think that way, you are probably right.The block where patients lived and were treated.However, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Psychiatric hospitals house many types of mentally challenged patients; from the insane to the ones born autistic. Patients could have become mentally unstable because of stressed due to the lost of love ones, or simply because they got involved in a traumatic accident which injured their brains. It could also be of disease origin, like Alzheimer's disease or toxic induced, like alcoholic syndrome.Lesser known to the public about psychiatric hospitals are actually services that these places offer for treatment of milder mental disorders, such as counselling for those who are depressed or disturbed, those who has personality disorders like aneroxia nervosa or simply for those suffering from all kinds of phobias.Patients of this hospital, like all other psychiatric hospitals, live in sad states of life. Unlike common diseases like pneumonia or hypertension, mental patients are harder to treat because there are no real cures to most of these diseases, diagnosis can sometimes be subjective, and patients are difficult to communicate with and very often they lose their abilities to care for themselves properly. It is because of this, they are sometimes neglected and uncared for emotionally.Many a times, patients spend many long years here without making encouraging progress – as if they were given a life sentence they did not deserve.The study and administration building.Being a staff at the hospital can be challenging as well. Working in a place like this can be depressing at times; doctors and nurses treating these patients must not only conquer the psycho-emotional factor, but also need to tread interpersonal relationship carefully as well. One wrong remark or action can send the patient spiralling down the abyss of depression further, or turn a mild-mannered one aggressive and destructive. Facing those with mental retardation can be frustrating and patience bending.As a student, I myself had a taste of interacting with mentally disabled patients. Some patients suffered from degenerative cerebral diseases due to old age, where making simplest of decisions and conclusions could be painfully difficult due to the affection of logical reasoning. An old lady thought that the hospital was actually a railway station because we students wore white lab coats, but she could not understand why she thought so.The humble staff quarters.Another patient was a adolescent boy whom I painstakingly interviewed for days, because he was mentally retarded with very low IQ. His reactions were slow, his answers uncertain, and he seemed reserved most of the time. A few days later, hospital staff barred me from seeing him again – his mental state had changed; he had become violent, unstable and dangerous.The most interesting case that I've encounter far thus was an interview with a former army officer who had b[...]



Women Volleyball

2008-12-10T09:10:01.352-08:00

Volleyball is the national sport of Russia, just as how baseball is to Japan, American football to the United States, and badminton to Malaysia.Volleyball is an indoor sport where the game is played on a court, separated by a high net, and 2 opposing teams face off with 6 players on each side. Each team is required to send the ball over to the opponent's side, and score (within a certain set of rules) by volleying the ball over back and forth, hence the name volleyball.A standard volleyball court.In Russia, the women's national team is particularly of interest as it ranks higher than its male counterpart. It is also one of the top teams in the world.In the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics, the women's national team bagged the silver, while in the 2006 Japan World Championships, it claimed the gold.At university level, superleagues are held among competing teams from states far and wide. Competition is intense, standards are set very highly. Winning teams usually get the priviledge for a shot at the national selection.My university played host to this tournament recently, and I was fortunate enough to bear witness to one of its matches. A team from Tambov faced another from Smolensk in this game. Both teams came from the regions of south western Russia.The team from Tambov poised for the match.Both teams were highly seeded. Action began immediately as soon as the round commenced.The spike and the block. The Tambov team executing a block.The match was filled with fierce attacking, firm defensing, tactical deceptions and valiant saves. Rallies were long, thrilling and suspenseful. Both teams were aggressive, gritty and enduring.Dive! And the point was saved.At the end of the game, the girls from Tambov emerged victorious. The competition was exhausting but spirits were high.Everybody needs good sportsmanship.When the sports hall finally cleared, we resumed our training. A good few Russian players from the university team joined us for the practice.Height is an clearly an advantage, as most Russian volleyball players stand above the 6 feet mark, even for their women's team.A Russian girl in red beside one of my teammates, blue 11.Unless Malaysians breed super tall citizens, there is no hope of us ever facing the Russians at the finals.[...]



Tagged: Improve Your Blog Stats

2008-04-24T04:04:28.918-07:00

TINGhuongyew has tagged me.

I have randomly selected 5 of you below to be tagged and I hope that you will similarly publish this post in your blog. You have to tag 5 other bloggers and
just keep adding on to the list. Do not replace, just keep on adding! Yes let’s
hope a long list! It’s real easy! Tag others and see your Technorati Authority
increase exponentially!

The benefits of Viral Linking:
One of the fastest ways to see your Technorati Authority explode! Increase your Google PageRank fast. Attract large volume of new traffic to your site. Build your community. Make new friends!

And these are the people who already took part on this tag: Blognation, Pinoytek, Reyna, Bluep, Kotsengkuba, Buraot, Iris, Banco De Reyna, Mitch, Tatapilla, HappyMum, Mommy's Little Corner, A Simple Life, moms.... check nyo, Denz Techtronics, Denz Recreational, Sweet Lullaby, Buzzing Around, Beckoning Destiny, Elite Space, Asylum of the Sane, [insert next link here].
Now I'm tagging TINGhuongyew.



Gallstones

2008-12-10T09:10:03.646-08:00

Have you ever heard of medical cases where people talked about having stones, or specifically gallstones, extracted from their bodies?Gallbladder opened to show numerous gallstones.In medicine, gallstones are crystalline bodies formed in the gallbladder and the common bile duct by aggregation of bile components. Bile is the greenish-brown fluid secreted by your liver and is stored in the gallbladder. It is needed for emulsion and digestion of fat.The green organ indicates the gallbladder in this schematic.There are 2 major types of gallstone: cholesterol and pigment stones.Cholesterol stones:They are usually greenish-yellowish in colour, large and often solitary. They are made primarily of cholesterol. They account for 80% of gallstone cases.Cholesterol stonesPigment stones:They are small, dark stones, usually friable and irregular. They are made of bilirubin and bile salts that are found in bile. They account for 20% of gallstone cases.Pigment stonesUnlike infectious diseases like tuberculosis, you do not get gallstone disease from another person. This disease is caused within the person himself due to factors like lifestyle and habits. If you get this disease, it your fault.Aetiology:Gallstones develop when bile contains imbalance amount of cholesterol and bile salts. Two other factors are important in causing gallstones. The first is how often and how poorly the gallbladder contracts to overconcentrate and contribute to gallstone formation. The second factor is the presence of proteins that either promote or inhibit cholesterol crystallization into gallstones.Researchers believe that gallstones may be caused by inherited body chemistry, body weight, gallbladder motility (movement), and perhaps diet.Risk factors:Obesity, age, type IV hyperlipidaemia, cirrhosis, smoking, being female, and parity (having given birth).Prevalence:8% of those over the age of 40, where 90% of these people remain asymptomatic.Gallstone disease cause cholecystitis by obstructing bile flow, leading to concentration and stasis of bile, and promoting infection from intestinal microorganisms.It results in cholecystitis, that is the inflammation of the gallbladder.Cholecystitis is a painful disease!Cholecystitis manifests itself in the following ways:Symptoms:Severe and constant pain at the right upper quadrant (RUQ) of the abdomen, fever, vomitting, nausea and anorexia (loss of appetite); which may lead to jaundice and diarrhoea.Pain at the right upper quadrant in cholecystitis.What should you do?Consult a physician immediately, unless you are fond of the severe and constant pain.Always trust your doctors.Your physician would then examine you physically. Special and specific signs are performed to confirm cholecystitis. Signs are diagnostic examinations founded by great physicians of the past and are named in their honour.Murphy's sign:This is the standard sign of cholecystitis worldwide. Pain is felt during inhalation or coughing when the physician palpates your RUQ due to the inflammation of the gallbladder.Murphy's sign: Pain during deep palpation.However, as stated in my previous post, Russians emphasise greatly on the importance of practical skill. Therefore, Russian physicians test not one, but several other signs.Boas' sign:Increased sensitivity below the right scapula.Kalk's sign:Pain during percussion on area of gallbladder.Ker's sign:Pain during simultaneous inhalation and palpation on area of gallbladder.Kurvuasie's sign:Enlarged, distended gallbladder is felt during palpation.Mussi-Georgievsky's sign:Pain during palpation between pedicles of the sternocleidomastoid muscle of the right side.Ortner's sign:Pain during striking of the right costal arch by ulnar margin of the hand.Razba's sig[...]



Regional Hospital

2008-12-10T09:10:05.286-08:00

This the the Regional Hospital of the state of Kursk.Oblastnaya balnitsa, or Regional Hospital in English.It is the largest hospital of the state, and perhaps the most modern of them all.Inside its more modern operating theatres, dozens of surgeries are performed every moment.A procedure of laparoscopic cholecystectomy.There we were, observing our tutor as she assisted the head surgeon, who was meticulously dissecting the bilestone-filled gallbladder of an ill-stricken patient, with the help of the endoscopic video.It was smooth sailing all the way, until the dissected gallbladder slipped from the remote forceps into the abdominal cavity."Uh oh!" we echoed in unison.There was a short moment of silence."Oh, is that the way you express it in English? 'Uh oh'?" one of the surgeons asked. "In Russian we say 'Oi!'"We chuckled lightly while the head surgeon picked the stapled-shut piece of useless appendage from the abdominal cavity and extracted it out from the still unconscious patient. "There, all is fine. Come, follow me and I'll show you the precious gemstones."No matter how modern the operating theatres could be, there would always bound to be 1 or 2 Soviet-era pieces of equipment lying around. In this case, it was the ventilation machine.As long as it works and gets the job done.Sometimes the tools they use were so archaic, that the principle of that particular technology was unheard of in Malaysia. But they're happy as long as its still working.As the operation completed successfully, we moved back to our classroom.Hall of Fame: portraits of great Russian surgeons filled the walls of the hallway.We continue the lesson with more practice of objective examination and diagnostic skills.A mock patient, a student and our tutor.For the Russians, skill is as important as knowledge itself, maybe more. As compared to the western world which is overly dependent on modern examination instruments, the Russians use their healing hands more often."A great physician uses not only his mind, but also his skillful hands. In times of war and difficulty, there would either be not enough instruments or simply no electricity for your MRI machines," a well-respected professor once told us.Patients waiting for their chance at the healing hands.And so that was class at the Regional Hospital, all in a day's work.[...]



Sudden Snow

2008-12-10T09:10:06.357-08:00

Russia is known for its cold, bleak and harsh winter. When one mentions about the country of Russia, it is very often stereotypical for people to associate with Siberia, where winter never seems to end – knee-deep snow in the background of a pounding blizzard.Cliché as it seemed, this assumption is true. Not only is the winter harsh, but also unpredictable. And when it does snow, it comes blitzkrieg-styled. A sudden snowfall today precisely demonstrated this.Be reminded that, as stated in my previous posts, winter has passed and spring has arrived.It was supposed to be a fine sunny afternoon as I was preparing to return home from the hospital after class.Snowflakes are falling on my head.As I turned around, the building roof was already completely covered with snow.People scurrying for cover.As I reached the main road to take the bus, road vehicles were already partially topped with snow.Vehicles usually don't get affected by snow. Their hot running engines thaw snow quicker than snow can accumulate.I'd like icing sugar on my cheesecake, please.As I alighted, I couldn't help but stare in awe of the beauty of the landscape, yet felt disturbed by the result of just one day's worth of snowfall.Boulevard beauty.The wind was howling mad, but wasn't strong enough to shake off so much snow from the tree branches.It was just yesterday that I hoped to see the spring flowers bloom today.Snowfall got heavier as the day progressed.Before I retreated into the refuge of my hostel, I took one last glance over my shoulder.It's all white again.As the entrance door slammed behind me, I found myself drenched wet. But at least I survived the onslaught and lived to tell the tale.Amazing.[...]



Morning Fog

2008-12-10T09:10:08.109-08:00

Ever wondered what are the differences between fog, mist and haze?Fog:Synonymous to a cloud except that it touches the ground. Limits visibility to less than 1 km.Mist:Limits visibility to less than 2 km, looks bluish from a distance.Haze:Looks brownish from a distance.Fog forms when the difference between temperature and dewpoint is 3°C or less, at relative air humidity of 100%. It is because of this total humidity that the air becomes supersaturated, and this moisture condenses into water vapour of fine droplets.Fog happens very rarely at this part of the world due to its geographical location, altitude and low humidity.Inland cities don't get much humidity from the sea.However, it was a foggy morning today.A window shot showing thick fog in the distance.No one knows the mysterious doings of mother nature, and today was one of those days.The experience of seeing your residence shrouded in a blanket of fog was simply surreal.Visibility beyond the yellow van was close to zero.The time was about 9 a.m. in the morning, yet, no sign of the sun.Standing by the main street, one could barely see the end of the road through the thick fog.Life as usual despite the fog.Further away from the town center, the fog persisted still.Fog at the countryside.This reminded of the time when I was much younger, when my family would travel up to Genting Highlands at weekends and spend the cool afternoon in the clouds.Genting Highlands theme park, Malaysia. [...]



Spring Cleaning

2008-12-10T09:10:09.339-08:00

A couple of days back the hostel administration decided to do away with the old wiring system that has been around since Soviet times.We were given a few days of prior notice before renovation began, and we were to be evicted by all means. Old wiring was to be replaced so wall-drilling was to be done, and it would be really messy.Some of us, however, were not given an alternative place to stay for the few nights.My roommates and I weren't pleased, as we went about ranting for a while. But considering the fact that hostel accommodation was partly sponsored by the Russian government, we did shut up a little.We pay MYR600 (approximately USD188) per year in hostel fees. Water and electricity bills are subsidised by the state government.That means we pay only MYR2 (USD0.63) per night for our whole 10 months here!It couldn't get any better than this, unless you enrol yourself in your local town prison.Renovation started with us moving out our belongings and furnitures.Rubbish, furnitures and tools littered the hallway.Furniture that was too large to be removed had to be moved away to from the walls to the center of the room.Beds were made to stand upright.Renovation took 2 days. My wallpaper was ripped apart, walls carved into for new wiring and worst of all, they replaced my bright flourescent lamps for incandescent tungsten lightbulbs!Apparently, Russians love lightbulbs. Its poor lighting hides furniture defects and unsightly uncleanliness of the room, just as the rest of the world is about to phase out lightbulbs.Oh crystalballs of light, tell me when will the Russians ever modernise.We took the entire evening sweeping, vacuuming and moping the floor, and rearranging our furniture.A good spring cleaning for the room.Lastly, it was time to lay the carpet.The last hurdle.Maybe I should have laid it before moving the furniture.What should I do now? I'm already so tired!Sigh.I give up.[...]



Tuberculosis

2008-12-10T09:10:11.117-08:00

Have you ever thought of the possibility of contracting tuberculosis?Do you even know what tuberculosis is?Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the leading infectious cause of death worldwide, with 2 billion infected people and causing 3 million deaths a year.Worldwide cases per 100k; red >300, orange 200-300, yellow 100-200, green 50-100, gray [...]



Food Fest

2008-12-10T09:10:12.224-08:00

The Malaysian Students Association held a food fest Jom Kita Makan-makan today at the multipurpose hall of the Pre-medical Faculty today, with the aim of raising organisation funds and setting up an emergency fund to help the needy.The target group of this fest was obviously Malaysian students, but groups of other nationalities joined the event, notably those of Russian and Asian origin.The even was launched at 1:30 p.m. and saw an encouraging respond from the masses.The large hoard of crowd cramming in the hall.About 8 stalls were set up selling an array of food, from chocolate cookies to fried chicken and from traditional noodle soup to exotic sushi.Can't get too much of curry rice and burgers.You could hear students hawking away for desirous customers and potential buyers striking scrumptious deals.Show me the money: homemade cookies and nasi lemak. People were hungry and would gobble down food like there was famine. Food were snapped up quickly like how food aids to the impoverished were instantly dispersed.Better than hotcakes: sushi was one of the fastest selling.Later I sneaked into the nearest kitchen to see how production was doing.Potential chefs were scrambling to meet the demands of hungry people. It was a frantic rush and food were hurriedly churned out like the once mighty Soviet industrial machinery.Work harder! The daily quota must be met!Towards the end of the fest, a prize giving ceremony was held to award the champions of the recent MyGames!Winter07 Malaysian sporting event.Winners posing smugly for the cameras.The galore was a tastebud teasing event. The crowd was great, and the food was excellent. Just like the good old days of school Hari Kantin.And yes, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I returned home a satisfied man. [...]



Countryside Hospital

2008-12-10T09:10:14.184-08:00

The cold winter is gone. It's spring and today is a beautiful day.Our next course of study took us to a remote specialist hospital at the countryside.A bus trip to the terminal brought us to the end of Svetlaya Street, a rural side of town.It's a blast to the past with a car like that.A couple of minutes further from there and we reached a crossroad of a railway track.Railway crossing dead ahead.The railway track, as usually built on raised ground, offered a pleasant view of the vast Russian countryside.A long winding way.Getting to our destination required us to travel along the railway track. Apparently, this railway route has not been used for a long time hence its rusting surface. If locomotion were constant and consistant, the metal bars would be of smooth and shiny surface.Then again, engineers were said to be maintaining it from time to time. Intriguing.Hop over the platforms, tread above the metal bar, or just walk along the dirt trail.An uneventful 20-minutes walk.On one side of the track were village houses dotting the far-stretched land to the forest beyond.Typical land mass of a huge country.And on the other were agricultural farms preparing for cultivation and town development in the distance.Let's pray for a good harvest this year.The last hurdle before reaching our destination was to cross a railway bridge, which stood approximately 150 meters over a river.Like the bridge over the River Kwai.It offered no firm hand rails or sidewalks, and its precariously gaping-spaced wooden planks were all that separated a person from the cold placid water below. A wrong step and one might fall in.Mind your steps.A brisk moment of adrenaline rush and then it's off the railway track into tar road with the hospital in sight.Brown grass, leafless trees of post-winter.The hospital was built during the Soviet era, with characteristic unaesthetic designs and simple architecture.The grand entrance into the hospital.Untouched by the influence of modern day complexity, the interior of the hospital showcased traditional Russian arrangement, not unlike a cosy Russian home.The cafeteria by the hallway.And so this would be travelling to and fro for another 2 weeks. Let's hope the spring flowers bloom soon.[...]



Snowgirl

2008-12-10T09:10:18.096-08:00

What better ways to spend a fine day with a lot of snow outside?Roll them like how dung beatles do.Ah, the fresh winter air. Smelled like some mischief.Lock and loaded. Snowball fight Russian style!It could have been a really awesome snowball fight.But then again, we're already too old for kids' stuff. We do what real men do now.Step 1:Roll huge boulders of solid snow.Step 2:Stack them up together.Snowballs like those could knock anyone out with just one hit.Step 3:Get a lot of auxiliary snow. Loads of it.Our bulldozer. For the snow, or in class.Step 4:Fill in the gaps between the boulders to get a tall, upright, rough figure.Smack them in!Step 5:The secret to all snow sculpting is to use water. It melts and turns snow into slush, and the moment you paste slush onto a cold surface, it freezes into ice. Works fabulously like mortar plaster.Make her wet all over.Step 6:This is what separates the men from the boys. Be reminded that sculpting requires some respectable amount of skill.Every woman's breasts should be firm and symmetrical.Note the meticulous intricacy from the hind view.It probably got so real that they became shy.Especially from the side view.Sadly it was only made of ice.Step 7:Reap the fruit of your labour!Life-sized, human figure snowgirl.We took slightly more than 3 hours with 4 crew members on the job. Few passers-by contributed a little bit, the rest were photo-parasites.More camwhoring.Snowman making is a fun thing to do, and if you ever had the chance at it, I would really recommend that you do. However, be aware that it is also very tedious, laborious and painfully cold.Dress her up like Barbie.What inspired us for this piece of art was what we did 4 years ago. A few of us made a snowman; I guess we all wanted to send a good picture home for our folks to see.Well, you know, one good thing led to another. We just couldn't help it.Archive photo of year 2004. Same mischievious crew.[...]



Pilot

2014-11-11T08:07:01.000-08:00

It's been a while since I last wrote a blog post. I guess if it wasn't for the encouragement of fellow friends, I would have continued to rot, grew moss on my back, and wasted my intellect away.

I used to blog, but only on thoughts and opinions. My blogs were those which were based on abstract thinking, such as opinion, criticism and rhetoric. But those were too deep and difficult to conceive on regular basis. Writing a good one was a tedious process.

I never liked bloggers who talked too much on their mundane daily lives – like what they ate for breakfast, or whether they liked their neighbour's shoes; it felt like being part of their bitching habits. Although I got to say that I do respect their choice and freedom of speech, I do think that the blogger did not understand what good blogging is all about.

My idea of a good blog is one that narrates a meaningful story or event. It should not only tell of a happening of a person's daily life and chores, but should also be accompanied by intellectual opinion, constructive criticism or provocative arguments; and be complemented by creative photography.

Anyway, after a long thought, I've decided to blog again. I don't know how long I would last, or whether I could bear the required tenacity. But I guess time will tell, sooner or later. This time I'll just sit back and relax, and write whatever I think is appropriate – as long as I uphold my principles.

For a start, anything goes, so I'll just introduce some basic essentials about myself.

This is the view from where I live:

(image)
Nice, but too cold to walk out in shorts and flip-flops.

And this is what I wear sometimes:

(image)
I like them green, and they are more comfortable than pyjamas.

Guess where I live and what I do for a living?