Sunday, May 29, 2011

10 Reasons Why You Should Not Get A Doctor As Your Girlfriend

Disclaimer: I am not held responsible for any damages in their relationship or loss of love as a result of this entry, which also marks the 800th entry of my blog.

Only God knows how many hundred days already since I penned down a lovey dovey entry in my blog. I know it will be not that appropriate to show PDA (public display of affection) in public, especially in a blog that is accessible by anyone, anywhere on this planet, but just gimme this one little rare chance, alright? I promise I won't go overboard haha!

Today is May 30th, and I hereby dedicate this entry to the girlfriend who has unconditionally (on some rare occasions, conditionally haha!) given me 1400 days (I will be honest here; I used a count down software from some random sites to calculate the number of days since July 30th, 2007, and "1400-days" is not just a random figure I simply came out with haha!) of tender loving care and affection. Exactly forty-six months ago, we got together and despite the distance and our busy routine, we are still going strong. But it comes with a heavy price at the same time. This time, instead of writing in a lovey dovey tone, I will do the opposite. Sorry miss girlfriend =b

Here are 10 good reasons why I think you should NOT get a girlfriend who is a doctor, based from my personal experience.

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# ONE - She comes back from work, and the topic of the conversation during dinner will be nothing but hospital stuff; about how many litres of blood she brought to the OT, how she double-counted the surgery equipments before the surgeon sewed up the patients body, to make sure no scissors or knife is left inside the poor patients body, etc. I get to hear to a few new stories every day, that I guess sooner than later, I will be able to write a book about it.
# TWO - While you are enjoying your delicious rendang chicken and asam fish, she will be describing in detail how the procedures of a surgery to you; like how they cut open the flesh, saw a few layers of yellowish fats below the skin, did some digging inside, and completed the surgery by sewing back the cut. All these interesting when I am having my meals.
# THREE - You will be put to a "learn-a-medical-word-a-day". The bad news is, most of the terms are usually too long or short, hard to pronunce, and it is very rare that I understand them. Every time I ask her to use more common terms that normal people understand, she will insist that the terms she used are very common. You tell me, are words like "eclampsia", "atopic dermatitis", "hydrocortisone 0.1%" very common? When the word is short, it is too short, like "EOD" for example, which by the way, stands for "every other day".
# FOUR - It is like so hard to spend time with her, especially when she is on-call. It is even worse if the on-call nights come in consecutive days. She goes on-calls for one to two times weekly on average and every cycle is working non-stop for thirty-six hours - seven in the morning until five in the evening the next day. By the time she is back home, she will lie down on the floor at the living hall and pengsan straight away.
# FIVE - This brings me to my next point, that is the difficulty to get her out on a date because she barely has days-off. Only eight days of leave in four months! That is freakin' crazy and if anyone still question about government doctors getting high pays, think again because they really have to work their socks off for every single cent they are paid for.
# SIX - It is almost impossible to talk to her on the phone for more than three minutes if she is at work. I know I should not be calling her when she is busy attending her patients, but it appears that her work is a never-ending one. So, it makes not much difference even if I call her during her lunch break. Talk a few seconds, and she will tell me she needs to hang up the call because the baby is crying.
# SEVEN - The fact that we are still on a LDR (long-distance relationship) is not really helping because it cuts down the time we get to spend together physically. So, it has been always been her colleagues who will go for outings with her, say to have ikan bakar, or movie together, although I'd wish it was me who accompanies her instead.
# EIGHT - Being a person with such busy schedule, she will always have extra excuses whenever you ask her for a favour. Excuses like "I'll do it later" and "I'm tired". Here is a good example - a message she sent me recently: "just came back... sleepy zzzz.. but since u have been pestering me for an update.. actually can i continue this later..". I was anticipating for an update already, only to see that last sentence =.=
# NINE - This might be rare, but if the girlfriend shares the same passion as you in watching football, that is great. But is it not that great when she supports any other teams but your team. Best example was a couple of nights ago, when the mighty Barcelona beat Manchester United in the Champions League final. The next morning, I got a message on my Facebook Wall that read: "Man u lost!! Muahaha :p".
# TEN - She is and will never be able to explain the "offside" rule in football period.
    So, there you are, ten reasons which you should consider first if you are planning to date a doctor. So Michelle Gan, I have done my entry and now it is time for you to do the same thing. Please don't use point #8 again as an excuse.

    And Happy 46th-Month Anniversary!

    Saturday, May 28, 2011

    Winter Tour Around Nagaoka

    Once upon a time, I joined a group of international students for a tour around Nagaoka, organised by the International Affairs Division of Nagaoka City Office. I used the phrase "once upon a time" to refer to this trip because it is a fact that this trip was held many many many months ago haha! February 2010, to be exact; that is equivalent to fifteen months ago! 

    Since my final semester had ended and I was left with nothing much to do except for waiting to move to Chiba and my graduation ceremony a few weeks later, I nearly reached the stage of bored to death. Fortunately, this trip, alongside my trip to see the hot-air balloon in Ojiya the previous day, came to my rescue.

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    Our first stop was Echigo Hillside Park.

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    Just look at how thick the snow is. That is easily more than half a meter high.

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    The equipments for an interesting adventure we gonna embark on. Guess what will that be?

    We were given a warm welcome by several staffs from the park, who were already there waiting for us when we arrived. First up was to get into the office to go through all those formalities - welcoming speech, briefings on the activities we gonna experience, etc. Only then that they told us we will be taken for a walk through the reserve forest at the park.

    In winter, the area is covered with thick layer of snow - hence we will have to gear ourselves with special snowshoes.

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    Everyone, equipped with their snowshoes, walking towards the starting point of the hike.

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    Time to put on our showshoes. For first-timers like most of us there, it feels a little awkward to walk on that snowshoe but we gradually got used to it
    once we stepped onto the snow.

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    My bright red penguin shoes haha!

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    These snowshoes are specially designed in a way that it distribute the weight of the person over a large area so that the person's foot doesn't sink completely into the snow.

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    A group photo with the coordinator and our guide before we started our journey.

    Along the journey, we were given a brief description about the history of the area, introduced to various species of trees, plants and wildlife found there, plus their importance and how they relate to each other in maintaining a balanced ecosystem within the area. We would stopped at several spots every few minutes to be given a short explanation about those stuff.

    It is kinda impressive to see how informative they are, as every single details are at their fingertips; something like a talking-encyclopedia haha! Just show them a random leave and they will tell you what plant it comes from. I wonder if I'd showed him a durian leave, will he be able to tell me it's from a durian tree haha!

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    Saw some small leg-prints on the snow (centre of the photo). Those are leg-prints of foxes.

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    Rows of Cryptomeria, more commonly known as sugi () in Japanese.

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    A branch which was still fresh from being bitten by a rabbit.

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    Taking a look at a dried plant, which propagating mechanism is by popping its dried seed around.

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    There was already another group ahead of us.

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    The most fresh hazelnut you can get - from the wild.

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    Guess what hole is this. It's where the musang sleeps and eat dinner, in other words, their house haha!

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    Our guide showing another plant, which branch produce some nice smell.

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    And everyone tried to smell it. I think I didn't smell anything at all lol!

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    Woodpecker's house.

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    Rabbits footprints. One thing about rabbit is that when they hop, they trust their back legs to the front first, followed by their front legs.

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    Our journey continued with a short hike up a hill.

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    One of the first few early flowers to bloom before spring arrives.

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    At the top of the world haha wtf!

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    Guess what animal left these footprints? The answer - Homo sapiens haha!

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    What goes up, comes down. But if you aren't careful, you will come crashing down haha! It was fun actually to throw your body on the soft and fluffy snow.

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    Bidding farewell to my penguin snowshoes. Thanks to it, I didn't sink on the snow despite my gigantic size lol!

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    Each of us were given some souvenirs - a key chain made of some nuts and a packet of forest rice, planted at Satoyama field museum.

    Next, we moved over to the other side of Echigo Hillside Park, to take our lunch. It was bento set brought along by the staff from the city office. After our wonderful lunch, we wandered around the place. Coincidentally, there was a flower exhibition going on there.

    Commonly known as hellebores, members of the genus Helleborus comprise approximately 20 species of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae, within which it gave its name to the tribe of Helleboreae. Many species are poisonous. Although the flowers of some species may resemble wild roses and despite some of their common names, such as "Christmas rose" and "Lenten rose", hellebores do not belong to the rose family (Rosaceae).

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    The view at Echigo Hillside Park during winter is totally different than spring, when the place is beautifully decorated with colourful tulips.

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    Free bento set lunch for us.

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    Annual events held at Echigo Hillside Park.

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    The distribution of Christmas rose, which is native to much of Europe.

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    Double blossoms varieties, known as yaezaki (八重咲き), where the petals blooms in several layers.

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    Hellebores are widely grown in gardens for decorative purposes, as well as for their purported medicinal abilities.

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    They are particularly valued by gardeners for their winter and early spring flowering period; the plants are surprisingly frost-resistant and many are evergreen.

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    The flowers have five "petals" (actually sepals) surrounding a ring of small, cup-like nectaries (petals modified to hold nectar). The sepals do not fall as petals would,
    but remain on the plant, sometimes for many months.

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    Recent research in Spain suggests that the persistent calyx contributes to the development of the seeds (Herrera 2005).

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    Six characteristics that make Christmas rose special.

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    The city office bus that took us around during the half-day tour.

    After spending some time admiring those flowers, we make a return to the city office in the town to continue with a few more activities. As it was the heading towards the end of February, there was a special corner at the city office, where they decorated the place with Hinamatsuri dolls, which is associated with Japanese Dolls Festival or Girls' Day celebrated on March 3.

    This is a day to pray for young girl's growth and happiness. It is also called "Momo no sekku (Peach Festival)" because of the peach blossom season on the old lunar calendar. Most families with girls display "hina-ningyo" (special dolls for Hinamatsuri) and dedicate peach blossoms to them. They are usually arranged on a five or seven-tiered stand covered with a red carpet. At the top are the Emperor and Empress. The next step contains three court ladies (sannin-kanjo), followed by five musicians (gonin-bayashi), two ministers (udaijin and sadaijin), and three helpers or samurai ending the bottom row in a five-tiered display. There are also small pieces of miniature furniture, tools, carriages, small meal dishes, etc displayed on the sixth and seventh tiers.

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    The term for the platform in Japanese is hina dan (雛壇). The layer of covering is called dankake (段掛) or simply hi-mōsen (緋毛氈), a red carpet with rainbow stripes at the bottom. All this colourful Japanese dolls are individually hand-made.

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    The dolls are dressed in costumes from the Heien period (794-1192). The princess, for example, wears Juni-Hitoe, a very intricate kimono with 12 layers of fabric. 
    This style of kimono is now only used in royal wedding ceremonies.

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    Hina-Ningyo are taken out only once a year for this day before being stored away for another year. They say that if the dolls are not stored soon after the festival, 
    the girl will be doomed to marry late.

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    Due to the high price of a full set (some sets costing over one million yen) and the small living space in many Japanese apartments, some people buy a set that includes only the royal couple. The girls' parents will usually add one or two dolls to the collection each year until the set is completed.

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    Some girls are given an heirloom set that belonged to their mother or grandmother. The dolls are very special and the girl will pass her dolls on 
    to one of her own daughters one day.

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    A set of dolls to celebrate the Childrens' Day or Kodomo no hi, where the koinobori can be spotted hanging from the bamboo pole.

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    A cetak rompak set of Hinamatsuri dolls by the kids from a local school haha! Looks like Humpty Dumpty to me lol!

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    A message on a card written with well-wishes for everyone.

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    The card is then hung in between the branches of a stack of miniature tree.

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    Next up was a demonstration of the Japanese traditional tea ceremony. This tea ceremony-cum-story telling event is held in-conjunction of the Hinamatsuri Festival 
    at the Citizen Centre of the city office.

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    A piece of small sweet (wagashi) that resembles a peach blossom is given to everyone to be taken before we have our green tea.

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    Forgot already what is this for, but it is one of the equipments used during the tea ceremony.

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    I've seen this quite few times already, but it is always fascinating to see how delicate and detailed the steps involved in preparing a cup of tea are.

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    Even the method of serving the tea has special ways.

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    Thick and tasty matcha or powdered green tea. It was slightly bitter but trust me, it tasted really good!

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    There are also certain ways to do when you drink your cup of tea. It involves some turnings in clockwise and counter-clockwise, and finally the way you place your cup 
    after finishing your tea.

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    One of the expert aunties explaining to us about the different motives of flora on the cup, which represent each season of the year. Seasonality and the changing 
    of the seasons are important in tea ceremony.

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    If I am not wrong, the whole stick of that wooden ladle is made from one same bamboo, which means the handle and the scooping part is not attached with glue or nails.

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    Here comes the cerita dongeng-telling session haha!

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    Just like English, they start their story-telling with the phrase with "tonto mukashi atta to" (とんと昔あったと), which translates "once upon a time".

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    I have to be honest here; I didn't really get most part of the stories told, but when I saw other laughed, I just followed them to laugh haha!

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    The final session was making some decorative stuff using sea shells.

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    This is my masterpiece. It is done in two pieces, so that the other piece can be given to someone you loved.

    The whole trip, which started early in the morning, ended at about four in the evening. It was indeed a fruitful and interesting trip.