Monday, June 25, 2007

Best Safe Sex Promotion

Now we know why AIDS is still so prevalent despite the free condoms.
From: via Digg


Leaving for Adelaide

I am leaving for Adelaide tomorrow. Getting ready for five days of driving and sightseeing! :)

p/s: There might not be update here from now until 8 Jun, but if I can get my hand on anything online I will still put in a line or two.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Old "My Little Moments"

I started this blog since 2003, and this blog has been my "cyberspace home", an icon of my online presence. But if you think that my cyberspace existence only began since 2003, you are wrong.

Back in 2000, Eric and I were in a craze of making "personal homepages". In that era the word "blog" was still rather unheard of in human civilisation, let alone in the rustic town of Alor Star. In 2000, personal home page was the in thing. I was in Form 3, still chubby and bouncy, and out of narcissism I decided to make myself known in the inter-web. I borrowed a HTML textbook from Chyuan Wei, and I learnt all the HTML tags like <a>, <i>, <u>, <table> etc from scratch. Then, I wrote the whole home page in Geocities using notepad and created the graphics with some free softwares which I have already forgotten. After one to two weeks, the result was what you see in the homepage.

After successfully creating the fancy homepage, somehow I managed to abandon the whole project. The whole homepage degenerated to a faint memory of my bygone enthusiasm. After a few years, I even managed to forget the password to the whole account. It has been 7 years since I last updated the page, and I seldom mention the existence of this homepage to my friends. For some reasons, Geocities has been such a great site that it preserved my site all the while, despite me not maintaining it for seven years. Eric's old homepage, on the other hand, has unfortunately succumbed to the closure of the hosting company, an event which is not terribly rare in the Internet industry.

So you are in luck. Have a good look at Chang Yang's® Personal Homepage. Meanwhile I will forgive you for laughing at my deplorable language. ;)

Thanks to Heng Liang, I am reminded of my old homepage today. After some password-recovery processes, I managed to obtain a new password and now I am a happy owner of the said Geocities account again! Haha I don't know, I might update this site when I am in mood in the future.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Little Moments

I realized that for some reasons my blog has not really been "My Little Moments". Rather, it's become more of "the cool stuff I discovered today in Digg / ReCom / other daily Internet fixes" . But I can't resist the temptation.

I should either change the title or change the content. Perhaps more of the latter.


Monday, June 18, 2007


SMILEWe often smile. Well probably not, some people smile more often than the others. But still, we smile. In a Western country, it's a common virtue to smile to someone you see on the street or in a lift (although it's not advisable to do the same in Malaysia - you get weird stares). You smile when you go for an interview, hoping that it exudes an aura of friendliness.

The issue with smile is, many people fake it. If you think that faking smile is something done by only fake people, you should slap yourself on your face. Because... remember the last time you took a picture? Weren't you squeezing a smile?

Everyone fakes their smiley face when they take pictures. Everyone. Unless you find it amusing every time a cold round lens is pointing at you, of course.

So here comes an interesting problem: how do we differentiate between a genuine smile and fake smile? Do you think that you are good at body language? Do you consider yourself a living lie detector? Have you ever thought that, "Hey, isn't it good if I could tell whether this little cute girl was amused by my lame joke yesterday?"

Let's try this experiment to find out: BBC Science & Nature: Spot the Fake Smile. In this short game, you will be shown brief video clips of people smiling at you, and you will decide whether the smile is real or fake. When you have finished this experiment, share your results here! :)

I got 15 out of 20, which was surprising as I consider myself an obtuse person who's not good at perceiving emotions. I would like to see how everyone fares.

p/s: By the way the BBC Human Body and Mind is a great resource for interactive, educational games. If you have some time to spare, explore a bit and you will certainly be surprised.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Some Things I Never Understood

There are many things that are weaved into the fabric of our permanent memory, but among them there are certain things that we never bothered to understand.

One of them is this nursery rhyme: [Update: listen to it here]


青蛙不吃水 太平年
青蛙不吃水 太平年

青蛙不吃水 太平年
青蛙不吃水 太平年

Or, in English:
Frogs Jumping into the Water

One frog, one mouth
Two eyes, four legs,
Off they jump into the water
Frogs don't eat water, peaceful year.
Frogs don't eat water, peaceful year.

Two frog, two mouth
Four eyes, eight legs,
Off they jump into the water
Frogs don't eat water, peaceful year.
Frogs don't eat water, peaceful year.

Frogs jump into the water,
have a great bath.
What the hell is 太平年 doing in this song?


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pre-travelling Preparations

Here I embark on
A road trip to Adelaide
The journey begins.
I will be going on a road trip to Adelaide from 26 to 30 Jun, and along the journey I am looking at visiting Great Ocean Road (a must-visit if you come to Melbourne, arguably the best scenic road in the world), Mount Gambier (which has a spectacular blue lake in summer, and unfortunately it's winter now which means the water is... grey), and Kangaroo Island. My travel mates are Xuan Ni, Yong Chin and Freda.

Xuan Ni and I have been making preparations for the trip since a few days ago, and you know, I never knew that planning trip could take so much effort. Finding the cheapest accommodation, estimating the best time for the ferry trip (to Kangaroo Island), booking the hotels one by one, sketching the itinerary for everyday, discussing the travel route etc - it is consuming quite a considerable amount of my time.

Despite my complaints above, throughout the trip-planning I discovered a good pastime - reading travel blogs. Through my research on the road trip, I found a lot of wonderful travel logs written by travellers like us. I never expected so many people to write about their travel experience at length. Their travel blogs are often enlightening, and some I find absolutely amusing. It's amazing how those people know so much about the places that they are going to, and how much joy they derived from visiting places that I would normally consider mundane - lighthouse, conservation park, animal farm, memorials etc. To them each of those places carried its own meaning and history, and it's from the appreciation of the impacts that greatly enhanced their travel experience. I think I should emulate them in my future trips. All those money spent on travelling should not be wasted on only sight-seeing - I should learn and experience the places too.

I strongly recommend everyone to read travel blogs before they go travelling next time. You will learn a lot in the process. Some interesting blogs I read are this, this, and this.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ever Felt the "Fake Vibration"?

Do you put your mobile phone on your pocket, and sometimes you feel that it vibrated, but when you pick it up there really wasn't any call or message?

I thought I was the only person who felt it. And I thought it was just some vibration introduced by my pants.

But apparently, many other people thought they were the only one as well. A recent news article in USA Today highlighted this interesting issue and provided an explanation:

Some who experienced recurring phantom vibrations wondered whether the phenomenon had physical roots: Was it caused by nerve damage or muscle memory?

But experts say the false alarms simply demonstrate how easily habits are developed.

Psychologically, the key to deciphering phantom vibrations is "hypothesis-guided search," a theory that describes the selective monitoring of physical sensations, says Jeffrey Janata, director of the behavioral medicine program at University Hospitals in Cleveland. It suggests that when cellphone users are alert to vibrations, they are likely to experience sporadic false alarms, he says.

"You come armed with this template that leads you to be attentive to sensations that represent a cellphone vibrating," Janata says. "And it leads you to over-incorporate non-vibratory sensations and attribute them to the idea that you're receiving a phone call."

Alejandro Lleras, a sensation and perception professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, adds that learning to detect rings and vibrations is part of a perceptual learning process.

"When we learn to respond to a cellphone, we're setting perceptual filters so that we can pick out that (ring or vibration), even under noisy conditions," Lleras says. "As the filter is created, it is imperfect, and false alarms will occur. Random noise is interpreted as a real signal, when in fact, it isn't."

Phantom cellphone vibrations also can be explained by neuroplasticity — the brain's ability to form new connections in response to changes in the environment.

When cellphone users regularly experience sensations, such as vibrating, their brains become wired to those sensations, Janata says.

"Neurological connections that have been used or formed by the sensation of vibrating are easily activated," he says. "They're over-solidified, and similar sensations are incorporated into that template. They become a habit of the brain."
A whole new dimension has just been added to the adage "it's all in your mind". Allow me to end this post with my first haiku:
A phone vibration
Hurriedly I picked it up
Alas there's nothing.


Monday, June 11, 2007

The End

I have an itchy rash. It's on my dick.
- A random patient
They say one the most ecstatic moments a student could have is right when he finishes an exam. Throughout the years I couldn't testify much to that statement. Yes, during exam preparation I do feel the pain for being stranded at home and cramming in the humongous facts, but when the exams are over, I don't really feel "the greatest joy overwhelming me". Relief, yes; but ecstasy, not really. This time, however, I was beginning to feel a little bit of joy when it all ended.

The exams I just had are not so different from the previous four I had throughout two and a half years in Melbourne Uni's medical course. Hard they are as usual, and I still complain about lots of the questions. But somehow, this time I don't really feel good about my whole performance. Everything went awry since the very first day.

Day 1 - Jun 5 - Defense Mechanism and its Failure (Paper 1)

The subject we are having this semester is basically a combination of three topics - microbiology, immunology, and oncology. For this paper, we are having 100 multiple-choice questions which will translate to 30 marks out of 100 of the whole subject.

The paper felt quite strange to me. When I have most of my exams, I either feel one of two things: confident if the questions are rather do-able, or totally flabbergasted if the questions are nonsensical. But this time I got really, really confused. Some questions were downright evil as usual, especially for the pathology sections; but some questions were supposed to be easy but my drained spirit somehow decided that those questions were something out of my grasp.

At the end of two hours, I felt quite dazed. It's one of the hardest MCQ paper I have ever had, but I guess in medicine you eventually get used to getting double digit wrong answers.

Day 2 - Jun 6 - Health Practice 5

This is one of the most random papers you could imagine. It's hard to describe what this subject actually is, but I think I would just summarize it as "the hodgepodge of all non-scientific medical stuff that they think you ought to learn". That includes medico-legal issues, medical ethics, social aspects of healthcare, and doctor-patient interview. For this particular paper, we have 50 multiple choice questions and three short essays, and the whole paper would determine 50 percent of the subject.

I am not sure, but apparently all our Health Practice lecturers have some morbid fetish of seeing students agonizing over meaningless questions. Continuing the tradition from last year's paper, this year the coordinators decided to put in some more rote-memory questions. For example, one question was like this:
What is the one-month prevalence of medical depression in patients with chronic illness?

a) some random percentage
b) another random percentage
c) the third random percentage
d) a last random percentage

I was like, what the hell, are we supposed to be better students if we could memorize those figures? The worse thing is, the answer to this is not even found in the lecture notes, which are supposed to be the sole source for exam questions. Apparently this fact is hidden somewhere in one of the dozens of reading we are supposed to do to supplement the lectures.

Just try to imagine having 5 such questions, among many other impossible questions. But oh well, nobody cares about HP anyway.

Day 3 - Jun 7 - OSCE

OSCE stands for Objective Structured Clinical Examination, or to put simply, patient interviews and physical examinations.

You know what? I. Screwed. It. Up.

OSCE has always been my most dreaded aspect in medicine course. Somehow I always feel nervous about OSCE, although it usually turned out fine for me (except for the first semester). For this semester, we have a random exam chosen from various kinds of examinations we learnt throughout the last two and a half years - breast exam, abdominal exam, chest exam, hip exam, knee exam, lower limb neurological exam, eye exam or ear exam. Besides, there is a component of patient interview where we are supposed to interview a patient who presents with a medical and/or social issue.

The physical exam was alright, it was a heart exam and a blood pressure taking test. I think I did quite well in it, although I wasn't so confident for the blood pressure reading.

On the other hand, the interview was a tragedy. I actually was the first candidates in the morning when I entered the interview room. My patient greeted me joyously, and after some routine greeting procedures like "Hi my name is XX, I am third year medical student blah blah blah", he told me his problem:
I have an itchy rash. It's on my dick.
Upon hearing the word "rash", my mind kind of flipped on the "allergy history" mode and switched all the others. When I say "mode", I mean one of the major presenting problems we learnt in the past including chest pain, breathing difficulty, diarrhoea etc. For each of those problems, there are some specific questions we should ask in order to get a complete history from the patient.

So yeah, I flipped to allergy mode, and that was the point of no return.

I proceeded the whole interview with mainly allergy-related questions, things like family history, personal history of allergies, any exposure to allergens, visit to animal farms or recent travelling etc. And I actually finished on time and felt rather good about it. In the last minute or so, when I finished the whole interview, I sat there smiling with the patient, feeling happy that I nailed down this case.

The moment of truth came when everyone started discussing the case when they finish their own interviews. Someone came and ask me, "So how much sexual history did you get from your patient?". And I was like "Oh ouhh... " I was overwhelmed by shock. How could I have forgotten about sexual history, when his problem was on his groin area?! Sexual history was like a major part of interview for any genital-related problem, and guess just how many marks I have lost when I was smiling like a fool to my "patient"?

I got rather angry at myself. If you ask me how I felt, it's more of disappointment on myself than unhappiness over the screwed-up interview - the interview is not a hurdle requirement anyway. I tend to view myself as a person who is good at improvising and not stuck in a narrow mindset, but I just made a fool of myself in this interview. I got so engrossed in following the scheme of "allergy mode", so much so that I totally ignored the sexual nature of his problem. And to think that the patient actually said "One of my friends have the same rash", to which I enquired "Do you think you might have gotten the rash from your friend" and he replied "Yea probably."

It's a hard blow on me. It's not the mark, it doesn't matter; it's more about how good a doctor I could be if I am not conscious enough about the communication process which entails keen insight and good observation. Sigh. I need to improve.

Day 4 - Jun 8 - Defense Mechanism and its Failure (Paper 2)

For the last day, we have a 3-hour paper consisting of entirely short-answer questions and essays. This is usually the most dreaded paper by most because all the answers come from your head. If you missed one topic and if it comes up, you are in big trouble.

For this time, however, it wasn't quite hard. In fact it was the best day I had throughout the exam, as I felt rather comfortable answering the majority of questions. Although there are still many things that I was unsure about in the exam, at least it's much better than the three previous days' experience.

At the end of paper, I felt that an invisible burden taken off my shoulder. In fact I felt a little bit happy. This exam is certainly not among the best I had, but it's just scores, I tell myself. I am most concerned about the real aspect of being a doctor, and hopefully I will learn more when I go on to my research year in July, and the coming clinical years.

It's the end of my exams, the fifth semester, the lectures, and probably the campus uni life. But I wish that it's not the end of the bond established between us throughout the years.

Related posts:
Jian Wey - Post-exam Reflection
Ka Lip - Day 1, Day 3


The Tank Man

If you have an hour to spare, watch this video - The Tank Man. His courage almost moved me to tears, and the atrocity in the Tiananmen massacre is told so vividly in this documentary. Watch the first few minutes, and you will not want to stop.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

ReCom - Fully Functional Again!

For some unknown reasons, ReCom has fully recovered from its undiagnosed server illness. It's been back to normal since yesterday, and hopefully it will remain so for a long time.

Rejoice, and do make full use of the biggest Malaysian student forum. I will see you there! :)


The Woes of Swot Vac

When it's near the end of swot vacation, I always feel so repulsive about the whole process. This is basically my daily routine for the last nine days:

  1. Wake up
  2. Dawdle for two hours
  3. Study
  4. Dawdle for another two hours
  5. Eat
  6. Take a nap
  7. Study
  8. Eat snack
  9. Study
  10. Go online
  11. Eat snack
  12. Study
  13. Eat
  14. Study
  15. Go online for an hour
  16. Feel regret about the whole day - study for another three minutes
  17. Submit to fatigue
  18. Rinse and repeat for 10 days.

I don't like swot vac. It's not the study part that I hate, it's the repetitive part and the guilt. And ya, right now I am feeling guilty again.