Sunday, August 31, 2008

Teochew spread

Goodness me! Look at the time! Da and I overslept this morning and woke up only at 11+ am.

I contacted my mother and found out that my youngest brother is on overnight duty at reservist. So Da and I brought my mother and my youngest brother's girlfriend for lunch at Katong Shopping Centre ("KSC"). Do you know that there were plans last year for a collective sale of KSC? Just imagine - no more clothes alteration, no more delicious chicken rice, no more tasty Western food, no more mini hot pot noodles.... boo hoo hoo!

After lunch, Da decided to cut his hair at one of the hair salons at KSC. This hair salon used to be located at Parkway Parade. I guess the rent hike affects every one of us and in particular, those in the retail trade. Knowing how long the salon boss takes to cut his customers' hair, the rest of us browsed around the other shops before sitting down in a nearby cafe for drinks. There was a little girl sitting at a nearby table who kept coming to our table to smile at us.

Finally, after 1 hour (yes, that is how long the salon boss took to cut Da's hair! In fact, according to my mother, the salon takes 2 hours to cut my youngest brother's hair - that would give you an inkling of how thick and unmanageable his hair is!), we left KSC.

The Nike run took place today! Way to go, fellas! Fortunately, the weather was lovely for a run.

After church, Da and I met my family for Teochew porridge buffet at Orchard Grand Court. Although one member of our family was absent due to reservist duties, the rest of us had a roaring good time. Next time, bro! We ate an extra portion of food on your behalf.

We are burden-free

The Lord is an awesome God. When you see Him for who He truly is, you begin to have a good opinion of God.

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is the Son of God.

Do not have an old covenant mindset of judgment. Jesus did not come to judge sin. Jesus came to put an end to sin by being the fulfilment of the law.

Allow the covenant of grace to be what we totally believe to be.

We receive the unmerited favour of God. We get what we do not deserve. Keep seeing Jesus unveiled.

God wants to cut a covenant with us. God knows that for Him, He is sure. God will manage us. Our sins and our lawless deeds, God will remember no more. When we are in need, God will show up with His miracle cutting power.

Old covenant is "YOU DO" whereas new covenant is "GOD DOES". Old covenant stirs up the flesh. The essence of flesh is the works of the flesh. Flesh is nothing more than depending on oneself and this produces sin. When we depend on ourselves, we get angry, bitter, wounded and fed up.

The most spiritual person on earth is the one who receives from God. He does not depend on himself and instead depends and receives from God. When we receive from God, there is no need to sin, no need to get angry with our friends and no need to get jealous about someone. God can fill us with what we do not have. The more we receive from God, sin has no more consciousness for us. Sin shall not have dominion over us for we are not under law but under grace.

What if we still have the behaviours of the flesh? Keep feeding on Jesus and keep seeing Jesus. Knowing that we are under grace liberates us to reign in life by one Christ Jesus.

We still have challenges today but we are burden-free. We do not carry the challenges any more. Jesus carried our challenges on the Cross.

We are under a system where we receive, receive and keep receiving. Christian life is one of receiving.

Faith works by love. It is about God's love for us and not our love for God. Faith works when we know that God loves us. When we are under crisis, God's perfect love gives us ability to rise up and say that as Jesus is full of resurrection life, so are we in this world. This is the awesome love of God.

When sin abounds (increases), grace super abounds. The heart of God is not that He likes us to sin so that when we sin, He gives us more grace. God's heart is that when we sin, He knows that we need super abounding grace, so He pours that super abounding grace on us. The message sounds so good, too good, but it is all true.

We need to see God's love every day. Jesus expressed God's heart. Jesus is God in the flesh.

When the prodigal son failed and turned back to go home, the father ran to him, hugged him and kissed him. The father threw the robe of righteousness around the son because the father knew that the son will feel condemned.

We have a righteousness that is unchanging. We do not have to feel condemned or guilty. God has given us the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Today, it is a great insult for us to feel condemned, guilty or lousy.

God has a loving kindness. God gave us His peace. We have shoes that protect our walk every day. What an awesome saviour we have! Jesus died so that we can celebrate. He died that we might not just live but that we might celebrate. He has provided for us everything. This is the heart of the Father. Just rest and be confident in Jesus' love. As we look to Jesus, draw from Jesus, feed on Jesus and feed on Jesus' love, God's strength will begin to manifest in our situation.

God has given us His shalom peace so that we can walk into our place of victory. As Jesus is, so am I in this world. God is able to perform what He has promised.

Experience the life of rest and receiving.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Goodbye Beijing, Hello London!

Da and I were on the way to church yesterday when my mother called me. She said that my brother was going to display his culinary skills and cook dinner that night.

My brother specialises in pasta. His Aglio Olio is superb! It is rare that my brother decides to cook a Chinese meal. This I had try!

After church, Da and I went to the gym. Instead of our usual walking on the treadmill, I decided to be more adventurous and jog. So, after about 20 minutes of brisk walking on the treadmill, I increased the speed on the treadmill and started to jog. I am so grateful for the invention of the ipod! Without the ipod plugged to my ears, I doubt I would have been able to jog for 20 minutes. In fact, at the end of the 20 minutes of jogging, I was still raring to go. However, it was time to stop as we had a dinner feast awaiting us!

So off we went to my mother's place. Goodness me! My brother was serious about cooking dinner! The food that he was preparing looked sufficient to feed an army. My mother, my brother and my brother's girlfriend looked very busy in the kitchen, so after half-heartedly offering my help (heehee!), I sauntered to my mother's room and started to blog my usual Sunday worship blog (please see my post on 24 August 2008). I have more to add to the topic of the anointing oil and I shall be posting some testimonies soon.

While waiting for dinner, I switched on the television and started watching the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony. After the pomp and splendour of the opening ceremony, I have to say that the closing ceremony was a bit of a let-down. Furthermore, as the singers were performing, I could not help wondering whether they were really singing or were merely lip-synching. Tsk.... such cynicism! Did you notice the little kids at the closing ceremony? They all looked alike! Goodness!

We could have done better at the 2008 Olympics but we should not downplay the achievements of our table-tennis players who came back with a Silver medal (which we waited more than 40 years for). Special mention should also be made to our swimmer, Tao Li, who apparently broke the Asian record twice. Well done, girls! Keep the faith and I am sure that we will perform better in the 2012 Olympics to be held in London.

London bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down... London bridge is falling down, my fair lady!

As aromatic smells were waffling from the kitchen, my brother's girlfriend started bringing out the dishes and placing them on the table. Goodness me! My brother had outdone himself this round! Accompanying steamed rice were:-
(a) garden salad with thousand island dressing
(b) stir-fried chicken fillet
(c) chai-por omelette
(d) stir-fried capsicum, carrots and preserved meat (the meat was given by my mother's customer who lives in Canada)
(e) stir-fried cabbage (note: I suggested to my brother that the next time he wants to slice the cabbage thinly and fry them, to consider frying them with tumeric and mustard seeds - I learned this recipe from Da's friend in Perth)
(f) braised chicken

Well done, bro! It was an excellent meal!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sin has no dominion over my life

I am too blessed to be stressed!

The No. 1 killer in Singapore is heart failure. We should be a Martha on the outside and a Mary on the inside. Let us live the "let go" life. Let us sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to the Word.

We give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.

It is not the mercy of God that forgave us of our sins. We are made righteous by His righteousness. The holiness of God is now on our side because of the blood of Jesus. His holiness will secure us.

The Cross of Jesus is the full vindication of God's love. God is satisfied with what Christ has done. It would be unjust for God to exact judgement on Jesus at the Cross and exact judgement again on us.

As the anointed word of God goes forth, minds are changing. God blesses us and the goodness of God causes us to change and will lead us to repentance.

The Lord Jesus knows everything about us. He knows how sinful we are and yet He came into our boat. Why should we shrink from Him?

The moment we experience God's grace, we cannot earn anymore. We are forgiven based on God's perfect knowledge of all our sins. When the Bible says that He put away sins, it is put away. Our sins, God will remember no more.

Jesus cried "It is finished!" at the Cross and God is satisfied. Jesus has perfectly met all the claims of divine holiness on our behalf. God forgave us of all our sins when Jesus died on the Cross. When we fall, we declare that "Father, I thank You for You have forgiven me.".

God is dealing with us based on the sacrifice of Christ. God has not beheld iniquity in us by virtue of the sacrifice. God sees the beauty of Christ imputed in His people. Jesus bore our sins in His body. Jesus became sin but it was a sin most holy. We are not making light of sin. We are making much of grace. Sin will have no power when we are under grace. There is a sanctifying elevating influence of grace.

People who know that they are forgiven much will love much. The Christian life is one of "Abba, Father".

We are saved and perfectly accepted by God based on Jesus Christ and His finished work.

It is God who works in us, giving us the willingness and performance to work out our salvation.

Right believing will cause us to live right. We will not be easily ruffled because of grace in our lives.

Let us be certain of our salvation.

Thank You, Father, for Your Son and the Cross.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Butter cookies

It is saturday again! I have come to enjoy the precious 48 hours that we have each weekend.

I decided not to go to work today. I am in a baking mood!

Today, I took out a notebook of recipes that I recorded sometime between 1985 to 1988. As I flipped through the pages, a lot of memories came back to me. In particular, there is a recipe (Chewy Turtle Cake) that my cousin recorded years ago. She passed away suddenly a few years ago from lung cancer. I miss her a lot.
(p.s. I just happened to glance at a headline in the newspapers that Da is reading. It says "Lung Cancer vaccine on the way". Such a bitter feeling I have at this very moment.)

Anyway, I usually have a ready stock of plain flour, castor sugar, etc at home. Today, I decided to bake butter cookies. This recipe was given to me by my Chinese tuition teacher sometime in 1985. You can use margarine if you do not fancy the taste of butter. However, the use of butter makes the cookies very flavourful.

I have made the butter cookies many times in the past. When I just started work, as a trainee, I used to bake cookies and cakes and leave them in the office pantry for my colleagues to sample. Nowadays, I will leave the bottle / container on my secretary's table and leave it to her to distribute the cookies / cakes amongst her buddies. Who knows? Next week, we will be moving back to the building where our office used to be located. Perhaps containers of cookies / cakes may start appearing in the office pantry again?

Enough of nostalgia. For those of you out there who have tried the butter cookies and who are dying to have the recipe and for those of you who want to try out a new recipe, here goes... (note: the recipe below is not the exact recipe that my tuition teacher gave me. I have modified it over the years):-


350g butter (softened)
350g castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
dash of ground cinnamon
dash of ground almond
dash of ground peanuts
chopped peanuts / diced almonds
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
175g corn flour
525g plain flour


1. Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla essence, ground cinnamon, ground almond, ground peanut and chopped peanuts / diced almonds and mix thoroughly.

2. Add the eggs 1 at a time, each time mixing well.

3. Sift the baking powder, corn flour and plain flour and stir into the mixture using a wooden spoon.

4. Roll out to desired size and cut using a cookie cutter.

5. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 190 degrees celsius for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Makan time!

I received a sms from Da this evening. Big Foot had invited the Three Musketeers' family and us to his new home for dinner! He will be cooking tonight.

I heard that Big Foot is an excellent chef, so I am looking forward to the dinner.

More updates coming your way... burp (in anticipation)!


As promised, here is the update!

As it was friday night, we had difficulty hailing a cab from the Central Business District area. Da and I met up at the taxi stand next to my office building's lift lobby. After waiting for some time, I tried to call for a taxi. Even that took awhile but finally, we managed to be allocated a taxi. Guess what? While we were waiting for our taxi, several empty taxis (that were not on call!) drove up to the taxi stand where we were waiting! We were so tempted to board one of those taxis and cancel our booking but that would not have been a nice thing to do.

Our taxi finally arrived. However, goodness me! The traffic jam along Robinson Road was atrocious on a friday night! The traffic was crawling at snail's speed. As we were approaching the padang, we saw numerous police cars along the side of the road. I heard that there was going to be fireworks at 9 pm but I did not have details.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally arrived at Big Foot's home. It is lovely! He had bought a 4-room Housing & Development Board flat. The previous owner had converted the balcony into part of the living room, so his living/dining area is spacious.

Big Foot had outdone himself! He fried beehoon and cooked chilli crabs. The Three Musketeers were at Big Foot's place since the afternoon and Supercute cooked the vegetables (delicious!). The braised duck that ET bought completed the meal. We ended the meal with canned dessert, bananas and gin & lime.

Are you salivating yet? Here is the visual treat:-

Big Foot owns a male poodle named "Ben". Ben is about 14 years in human age, which would make him about 98 years in dog age. He is such a lovely and gentle dog! He had some problems with his hind legs previously and due to the operation that he underwent, his hind legs are a little weak. He is absolutely "manja" and loves to be petted. You can hardly hear him bark unless he is in pain or discomfort. He is such a joy to be around.

Unlike some dogs, Ben loves to eat fruits, especially bananas and apples.

I noticed that Ben appeared to have lost some weight. Big Foot explained that the vet said that Ben has developed some heart problem and is currently on medication, which causes him to eat less. Get well soon, Ben! We love you! Mwah! Mwah!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Congestive cardiomyopathy

My Daddy passed away suddenly at the young age of 47. The cause of death was congestive cardiomyopathy.

We do not know exactly what was the cause of his condition. However, I recall that for 2 years in a row (1989 and 1990), my family spent Christmas in America and my father was caught in very heavy rain while we were in America and developed bronchitis. Perhaps infection set in and attacked his heart muscles. He ended up in hospital when we came back to Singapore on both occasions.

My father was prescribed medication to help his heart pump. What my mother, my brothers and I did not know (perhaps Daddy knew but did not want to worry us) was that a day may come when the medication would not take effect anymore and his heart would simply stop. If we had known, we would have encouraged him to place himself on a waiting list for a donor heart.

He did not die of a heart attack. His heart just stopped one day on 27 November 1992. I remember the day very clearly. I only had 1 lecture in University that day. Normally, I would stay on to study in the library. That morning, for unexplained reasons, I decided to come home after lecture. Not long after I came home, a telephone call came from the police, informing us that Daddy had collapsed at Terminal 2 of the Changi Airport (he was on the way to an overseas trip) and the clinic at Terminal 2 was unable to revive him. I screamed when we got the news and I collapsed in hysterics. I remember Mommy shouting at me to calm down. Just then, my younger brother came back from school. It was the last day of his GCE “O” level examinations. It just tore Mommy apart to break the news to my brother.

Do you know what added salt to the wound? After the funeral, the medical bill arrived from the clinic at Terminal 2, addressed to Daddy, asking for payment for their services rendered that fateful day.

It was very devastating for us when Daddy passed away. My brothers and I were young (my youngest brother was only in secondary 2) and my mother had been a housewife for about 16 years. However, the trauma that my family went through has further strengthened our bond and I thank the Lord that my family is close-knit.

Daddy, I know that you are in heaven with our Lord Jesus Christ. It was no coincidence that Mommy and I had very similar dreams on the 7th day of your death. I think of you often and I am happy that you have eternal life with our Heavenly Father. May His peace be with you always.

I have done some research on congestive cardiomyopathy and it is set out below. I wish that I knew then what I know now about this condition.
(Caveat: The following is not a substitute for medical advice. If you have been diagnosed with congestive cardiomyopathy or you suspect that you have this medical condition, please, please, please consult a heart specialist as soon as possible.)


Cardiomyopathy is a disease in which the heart muscle becomes inflamed and does not work as well as it should. There may be multiple causes including viral infections. Cardiomyopathy can be classified as primary or secondary. Primary cardiomyopathy cannot be attributed to a specific cause, such as high blood pressure, heart valve disease, artery diseases or congenital heart defects. Secondary cardiomyopathy is due to specific causes and is often associated with diseases involving other organs as well as the heart.

Congestive cardiomyopathy is a disease whereby the walls of the heart chambers dilate to hold a greater volume of blood than normal and damages the muscle wall of the lower chambers of the heart. The heart cavity is enlarged and stretched. The heart is weak and does not pump normally. This is the final stage of many heart diseases and the most common condition resulting in congestive heart failure.

When the heart muscle is damaged by a disease process, it cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Uninjured areas of the walls of the two lower heart chambers (known as “ventricles”) stretch to make up for the lost pumping action. At first, the enlarged chambers allow more blood to be pumped with less force. The stretched muscle can also contract more forcefully. Over time, the heart muscle continues to stretch, ultimately becoming weaker. The heart tries to cope with the pumping limitation by further enlarging and stretching and beating faster. Eventually it cannot keep up and blood backs up into the veins, legs, and lungs. When this happens, the condition is called congestive heart failure.

Congestive cardiomyopathy usually affects both ventricles. Blood backed up into the lungs from the left ventricle causes fluid to congest the lung tissue. This is known as “pulmonary edema”. When the right ventricle fails to pump enough blood, blood backs up into the veins causing edema in the legs, feet, ankles and abdomen.

Congestive cardiomyopathy occurs most often in middle-aged people and more often in men than women. However, the disease has been diagnosed in people of all ages, including children.


Congestive cardiomyopathy may be caused by a number of conditions. About 80% of all cases of cardiomyopathy do not have a known cause. Many cases of congestive cardiomyopathy may be caused by a viral infection. Because cardiomyopathy may occur many years after a viral infection and viruses sometimes go undetected in laboratory tests, it is difficult to know if a virus is the cause. Some people have a weak heart from advanced coronary artery disease that causes heart muscle damage.

Conditions that can cause congestive cardiomyopathy are:-

(a) coronary artery - Coronary artery disease is one of the most common causes of congestive cardiomyopathy. In coronary artery disease, the arteries supplying blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked. When blood flow to an area of the heart is completely blocked, the person has a heart attack. The heart muscle suffers damage when its blood supply is reduced or blocked. Significant recurrent muscle damage can occur silently. This damage can lead to congestive cardiomyopathy.

(b) infections - Infections caused by bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms can involve the heart, causing inflammation of the heart muscle. The inflammation may damage the heart muscle and cause congestive cardiomyopathy.

(c) alcohol and other drugs or toxins - Prolonged drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can weaken the heart muscle, leading to congestive cardiomyopathy. Other drugs and toxins, such as cocaine, pesticides and other chemicals (such as cobalt, once used in beers), may have the same effect. Some drugs, used to treat a different medical condition (for example, doxorubicin and daunorubicin, both used to treat cancer), also can damage the heart and cause congestive cardiomyopathy.

(d) hypertension - High blood pressure puts extra pressure on blood vessels and the heart. This increased pressure makes the heart work harder to pump blood, which may thicken and damage the chamber walls.

(e) nutritional and metabolic disorders - Severe nutritional deficiencies can weaken the heart muscle and affect its pumping ability. Certain disorders of metabolism, including diabetes and thyroid disorders, can also lead to congestive cardiomyopathy.

(f) pregnancy - Occasionally, inflammation of the heart muscle and congestive cardiomyopathy may develop late in pregnancy or shortly after a woman gives birth. The cause of congestive cardiomyopathy in pregnancy is not known.


Congestive cardiomyopathy usually is a chronic condition, developing gradually over time. Patients with early congestive cardiomyopathy may not have symptoms.

Congestive cardiomyopathy can be present for several years without causing significant symptoms. With time, however, the enlarged heart gradually weakens. This condition is commonly called "heart failure".

The most common symptoms are fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath on exertion or cough (the cough and congestion mimic and therefore can be misdiagnosed as pneumonia or acute bronchitis). Unfortunately, sudden cardiac death is not uncommon with this condition. It stems from irregular heart rhythms in the ventricles.

Congestive cardiomyopathy also produces abnormal weight gain.

Patients with more advanced congestive cardiomyopathy may also have chest or abdominal pains, extreme tiredness, dizziness and swelling of the legs and ankles (resulting from fluid accumulation that may also affect the lungs (congestion) and other parts of the body).

In advanced stages of the disease, some patients develop irregular heartbeats, which can be serious and even life threatening.


Diagnosis of congestive cardiomyopathy is based on:-

(a) symptoms - The diagnosis is based on the patient's symptoms, a complete physical examination and tests that detect abnormalities of the heart chambers. The heart specialist listens to the heart with a stethoscope to detect abnormal heart rhythms and heart sounds. A heart murmur might mean that the heart valves are not closing properly due to the ventricles being enlarged.

(b) medical history

(c) physical examination

(d) chest x ray - A chest x ray can show if the heart is enlarged and if there is fluid in the lungs. Abnormalities of heart valves and other structures may also be seen on a chest x ray.

(e) electrocardiogram (“ECG”) - An electrocardiogram provides a record of electrical changes in the heart muscle during the heartbeat. It gives information on the heart rhythm and can show if the heart chamber is enlarged. An ECG can detect damage to the heart muscle and the amount of damage.

(f) echocardiogram – An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce pictures of the heart. These images can show if the heart wall or chambers are enlarged and if there are any abnormalities of the heart valves. Echocardiography can also evaluate the pumping efficiency of the ventricles.

(g) cardiac catheterization - Cardiac catheterization usually is only used if a diagnosis cannot be made with other methods. In cardiac catheterization, a small tube (known as "catheter") is inserted into an artery and passed into the heart. It is used to measure pressure in the heart and the amount of blood pumped by the heart. A small tissue sample of the heart muscle can be removed through the catheter for examination under a microscope (biopsy). This biopsy can show the type and amount of damage to the heart muscle.


Since congestive cardiomyopathy is difficult to diagnose early, it is rarely treated in its beginning stage.

When a patient is diagnosed with congestive cardiomyopathy, the doctor would try to find out the cause. If coronary artery disease is not the culprit, in most other cases a cause is not identified.

When a condition responsible for the congestive cardiomyopathy is diagnosed, treatment is aimed at correcting the underlying condition. The goal of treatment is to relieve any complicating factor, if known, control the symptoms, and stop the disease's progression.

Therapy begins with the elimination of obvious risk factors, such as alcohol consumption. Congestive cardiomyopathy caused by drinking excess alcohol or by drugs or toxins can be treated by eliminating the alcohol or toxin completely. In some cases, the heart may recover after the toxic substance is removed from the body.

In some cases of congestive cardiomyopathy, there is no cure. Medicines are given to reduce the workload of the heart and to relieve the symptoms.

Certain lifestyle changes may help reduce the workload on the heart and relieve symptoms. Some patients may need to change their diet, stop drinking alcohol, begin a physician-supervised exercise program, and/or stop smoking. Weight loss and dietary changes, especially salt restriction, may also be advised.

Patients with irregular heartbeats may be put on any of various drugs to control the rhythm.

Severe congestive cardiomyopathy usually causes heart failure. When the heart muscle is damaged so severely that medicines cannot help, a heart transplant may be the only remaining treatment to be considered. The patient's heart is replaced with a donor heart. Most heart transplant recipients are under age 60 and are good health other than their diseased heart.


As the heart enlarges, it steadily decreases its efficiency in pumping blood and the amount of blood it can pump. As a result, some patients cannot perform even simple physical activities. However, the disease also may remain fairly stable for years, especially with treatment and regular evaluation by a heart specialist.

The outlook for a patient with congestive cardiomyopathy depends on the severity of the disease and the person's health.

Unfortunately, by the time it is diagnosed, the disease often has reached an advanced stage and heart failure has occurred. Generally, congestive cardiomyopathy worsens over time and the prognosis is not good. About 50% of patients with congestive cardiomyopathy live for five years after the diagnosis. 25% of patients are alive 10 years after diagnosis. Women with congestive cardiomyopathy live twice as long as men with the disease. Many of the deaths are caused by sudden abnormal heart rhythms.

Typically, patients die from a continued decline in heart muscle strength, but some die suddenly of irregular heartbeats.

For patients with advanced disease, heart transplantation greatly improves survival: 75% of patients live 5 years after transplantation. However, the scarcity of donor hearts limits the number of transplantations. Those who qualify for heart transplantation often have to wait months, or even years, for a suitable donor heart. Some patients with congestive cardiomyopathy die awaiting a transplant but others improve enough from aggressive medical treatment to be taken off the waiting list.

Some critically ill cardiomyopathy patients with declining heart function use a small, implanted mechanical pump as a bridge to transplantation. These pumps (known as “left entricular assist devices” or “LVADs”) take over part or virtually all of the heart's blood pumping activity. The devices provided only temporary assistance and are not now used as substitutes for heart transplantation.


There is no sure way to prevent congestive cardiomyopathy. The best way to prevent it is to avoid known causes such as drinking excess alcohol or taking toxic drugs. Eating a nutritious diet and getting regular exercise to improve overall fitness also can help the heart to stay healthy.

Congestive cardiomyopathy may also be prevented by identifying and treating any conditions that might damage the heart muscle, including high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Regular blood pressure checks and obtaining immediate medical care for hypertension and symptoms of coronary artery disease, such as chest pain, are important to keep the heart functioning properly.

Diagnosing and treating congestive cardiomyopathy before the heart becomes severely damaged may improve the outlook.

(1) Encyclopedia of Medicine
(2) American Heart Organisation
(3) Healthlink – Medical College of Wisconsin

Have you ever watched the movie "BEACHES" starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey? The character played by Barbara Hershey had congestive cardiomyopathy. Do get hold of the video if you have never watched the show. You will not have a dry eye at the end of the show. The famous song from the movie is "WIND BENEATH MY WINGS".

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

English Premier League

The Premier League, commonly known as the “Premiership”, is an English professional league for football clubs. It is at the top of the English football league system and is England’s primary football competition. It is contested by 20 clubs, operating a system of promotion and relegation with The Football League.

In Singapore, the Premiership is popularly known as “EPL”, which stands for “English Premier League”.

The EPL started in the 1992-1993 season. Prior to this, the league was known as First Division.

The EPL has since become the world's most watched sporting league and is arguably the world's most lucrative football league. It is currently ranked ahead of the Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A in the Union of European Football Associations (“UEFA”) rankings of leagues based on performances in European competitions over the last 5 years.

Over the years, it has even become fashionable for EPL players to not only play good football but also to look good. Have you heard of the ‘Spice Boys’ from Liverpool (ie. Jamie Redknapp, Robbie Fowler (with the perpetual plaster on his nose to aid in his breathing!), Steven MacManaman and David James)? Good-looking and talented EPL players often land themselves with lucrative advertising endorsements, although a call-girl has been reported as saying that there is a particular EPL player (who is highly talented and frankly speaking, not that bad looking, although he does have quite a temper) whom she can recognise even in the dark as “no one is as ugly as him”.

So far, only 4 clubs have won the Premiership title, namely, Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal and Chelsea. The current champions are Manchester United, who won their tenth EPL title in the 2007-2008 season, the most of any EPL team. Glory, Glory, Man United!

There are 20 clubs in the EPL. During the course of a season, which lasts from August to May, each club plays the others twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents, for a total of 38 games. Teams receive 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference and then goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned champion. If points are equal, the goal difference and then goals scored determine the winner. If still equal, teams are deemed to occupy the same position. If there is a tie for the championship, for relegation, or for qualification to other competitions, a play-off match at a neutral venue decides rank. The 3 lowest placed teams are relegated into the Football League Championship and the top 2 teams from the Championship, together with the winner of play-offs involving the 3rd to 6th placed Championship clubs, are promoted in their place.

The top 4 teams in the EPL qualify for the UEFA Champions League, with the top 2 teams directly entering the group phase. The 3rd and 4th placed teams enter the competition at the 3rd qualifying round and must win a two-legged knockout tie in order to enter the group phase. However, this has changed as of the 2008-2009 season, so that the top 3 teams enter the 2009–2010 UEFA Champions League at the group stage, and the 4th placed team enters the 3rd qualifying round for non-champions. The 5th placed team automatically qualifies for the UEFA Cup (which is different from the UEFA Champions League) and the 6th and 7th placed teams can also qualify, depending on what happens in the two domestic cup competitions.

If the Football Association Challenge Cup (commonly known as “FA Cup”) winners qualify for the Champions League, the runner-up is awarded the UEFA Cup place; if the runner-up has also qualified for the Champions League, the spot goes to the next-highest placed league finisher not already qualified for Europe. If the Football League Cup (commonly known as “League Cup”) is won by a team that has already qualified for Europe, the League Cup's UEFA Cup spot also goes to the next highest placed team in the League.

The EPL was recently promoted to the top of the UEFA rankings of European leagues based on their performances in European competitions over a 5-year period. This broke the 8-year dominance of the Spanish league, La Liga. The top 3 leagues in Europe are currently allowed to enter 4 teams into the Champions League. The 3rd-placed team in the EPL would receive automatic qualification for the group stages, rather than entry into the 3rd Qualifying Round as at present, while the 4th-placed team would enter a redesigned two tiered qualification round against a team from a higher ranked nation than they had previously been under the old rules.

The EPL is the world's most popular and most watched sporting league worldwide. It is particularly popular in Asia where it is the most widely distributed sports programme. In Singapore alone, there is even a channel known as “Football Channel” for cable television, in addition to other sports channels. This shows how serious we are about football.

Since the 2007-2008 season, the EPL has been sponsored by Barclays. Hence, the EPL is currently known as “Barclays Premier League”.

One of the main criticisms levelled at the EPL is the increasing gulf between the EPL and the Football League. Owing in large part to the disparity in revenue from television rights between the leagues, many newly promoted teams have found it difficult to avoid relegation in their 1st season in the EPL. Judging by the standards of the current 3 teams from the Football League who have been promoted to the EPL, it would not be surprising if all 3 teams get relegated to the Football League at the end of this season.

The most successful EPL team is undoubtedly Manchester United. Sir Alex Fergueson’s boys are currently going for a record-breaking 18th league title (ie. 7 titles under the old First Division and 10 titles under the current EPL). This is, however, still short of Liverpool’s 18 league titles. Not to worry – it is only a matter of time before the Red Devils overtake Liverpool as the most successful English club ever! Until then, Sir Alex, do not even think about retirement until the boys have won at least 20 league titles!

Another major criticism is the development of the "Big Four" clubs. Since Blackburn Rover lifted the trophy in 1994-1995, only 3 clubs have won the EPL title - Manchester United (10 times), Arsenal (3 times) and Chelsea (2 times). In addition, Manchester United have not finished outside the top 3 since the formation of the EPL, with Arsenal finishing inside the top 5 in all but 2 seasons, while Liverpool, without an EPL title since the pre-EPL era (but regular winners of the UEFA Champions League), have not finished lower than 5th since 1999. In recent years, the success of these clubs has led to these 4 teams being increasingly referred to as the "Big Four". The Big Four clubs have finished in the first 4 positions for the last 3 seasons, therefore they have all qualified for the last 3 seasons of the Champions League and receive the financial benefits of such qualification. The benefits, especially increased revenue, is believed to have widened the gap between the Big Four clubs and the rest of the EPL.

EPL clubs have almost complete freedom to sign whatever number and category of players they wish. There is no team or individual salary cap, no squad size limit, no age restrictions other than those applied by general employment law, no restrictions on the overall number of foreign players, and few restrictions on individual foreign players — all players with European Union (“EU”) nationality, including those able to claim an EU passport through a parent or grandparent, are eligible to play, and top players from outside the EU are able to obtain UK work permits. It is due to this freedom that at one stage, Arsenal did not have a single English player in their first team.

As a result of the increasingly lucrative television deals, player wages rose sharply following the formation of the EPL. The record transfer fee for an EPL has been broken several times over the lifetime of the competition. Prior to the start of the first EPL season Alan Shearer became the first British player to command a £3 million-plus transfer fee. The record rose steadily in the EPL’s first few seasons, until Alan Shearer made a world record breaking £15 million move to Newcastle United in 1996. This stood as a British record for four years until it was eclipsed by the £18 million Leeds United paid West Ham United for Rio Ferdinand. Manchester United subsequently broke the record three times by signing Ruud van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastian Veron and Rio Ferdinand. As of 2007, the current record holder is Andriv Shevchenko, who joined Chelsea from AC Milan in May 2006. The exact figure of the transfer fee was not disclosed, but was reported as being around £30 million.

The 2008-2009 season of EPL started on 16 August 2008 (Saturday). The Manchester United vs Newcastle match was closely watched. Alas! The reigning champions could only manage a draw against Newcastle. It was disappointing. However, it was understandable as many of Manchester United’s first team players were not playing due to injuries, suspensions and international duty. In fact, 2 young Man U players made their premiership debuts when they came on as substitutes during the match.

Sir Alex has recently promoted to the first team squad, a pair of 17-year old Brazilian twins, Rafael and Fabio Da Silva, who play right and left-back. Hmm... does this combination remind you of another pair of brothers?

(1) Wikipedia
(2) Barclays Premier League website
(3) Ninja

Monday, August 18, 2008

In God I trust

Life, as you know, is full of ups and downs.

However, what do you do when certain things seem to be going out of control and you feel so frustrated? There are people who seem to be against you for reasons beyond your comprehension and you are not getting through some other people.

Isn't it interesting that when we learn a gospel truth in church on sunday, the devil tries to attack us the following week? He simply has no originality!

The Bible does not say that there will be no weapon formed against us. However, the Bible says clearly in Psalm 91 that no weapon that is formed against us shall prosper.

It is not easy to remember this when things seem to be going wrong and you wonder what you every did to a particular person to make him/her want to sabotage you or to pull rank on you. I guess we will never understand the complexities of the human mind. It is easy to say that we should be magnanimous and be a Good Neighbour but it is so difficult for our weak nature to execute this.

What hurts a lot is when people whom you would expect to understand your predicament appear to turn their head and seem to be blinded to the truth. You can scream and shout in frustration but you will merely come across as a complaining person. When will the truth ever shed light? Your guess is as good as mine.

What do you do when you reach the stage where you feel so demoralised that you just want to give up? What do you do when listening to worship songs just makes you burst into uncontrollable tears?

Abba Father, we know that You care. We do not understand why these things happen but we know that You were not the cause. However, Father, it is very difficult to go through it and the sense of resentment and frustration sometimes gets so bad that we do not know what to do anymore.

Help us, Father. You are our refuge and our strength.

I will dwell in the secret place of the Most High
I will stay in the shadow of Your wings
For Lord You are my refuge, my tower of strength
My hope is in you, secure I stand

You will deliver me
Your truth will be my shield
Jesus you cover me
In your love no fear prevails

I dwell in the secret place of the Most High
I will stay in the shadow of Your wings
For Lord You are my refuge, my tower of strength
My hope is in you, secure I stand

You will deliver me
Your truth will be my shield
Jesus you cover me
In Your love no fear prevails

You will deliver me
Your truth will be my shield
Jesus you cover me
In Your love no fear prevails

No evil, no terror, no arrow, no plague
Shall ever come near me
For You are my safety, my hiding place
Jesus I trust in You

No evil, no terror, no arrow, no plague
Shall ever come near me
For You are my safety, my hiding place
Jesus I trust in You

For Lord You are my refuge, my tower of strength
My hope is in You, secure I stand

You will deliver me
Your truth will be my shield
Jesus You cover me
In Your love no fear prevails

No evil, no terror, no arrow, no plague
Shall ever come near me
For You are my safety, my hiding place
Jesus I trust in You

No evil, no terror, no arrow, no plague
Shall ever come near me
For You are my safety, my hiding place
Jesus I trust in You

Jesus I trust in You

Jesus I trust in You

Sunday, August 17, 2008

One sacrifice forever

There is something powerful that happens when we partake of the Lord's supper. By eating Jesus, we are restored in every aspect of our life.

Our sins have been dealt with at the Cross. Jesus carried the hatefulness of our sins. He became sin on the Cross. Our only contribution to the Cross is our sin. We are not forgiven based on our knowledge of our sins or how perfect our confession is and whether we are in fellowship. We are forgiven based on God's knowledge of our sins. The Lord knows the efficacy of His Son's blood. God is satisfied with what happened on the Cross. We are forgiven according to the richness of His grace. There is no unforgiven Christian. All believers are forgiven eternally.

Take note, however, that wilful sin is the rejection of Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins. There is no forgiveness for this sin.

May the light of Jesus shine into the dark recesses of our lives and drive away every fear.

Anything we do that we deem as achieving self-righteousness, God deems as offal (ie. dung).

Our Saviour's sacrifice is eternal and therefore, our rest is eternal. The blood of Jesus has taken away all sins.

If our sacrifice (ie. Jesus) worked, then why do we still have consciousness of sin? How can we, believing wrong, live right? Believing right will always cause us to live right. The Lord has prepared for us at the Cross every contingency for every emergency. As long as we are uneasy in our consciousness, we cannot worship freely. A heart full of terror cannot worship the Lord. We need to come to the finality of what Jesus did at the Cross. His work is complete and eternal!

Our sins brought Christ down to the Cross. His righteousness brought us up to the Father's throne.

When we come before God, He will not deal with us based on our sin. Our Father loves us and He will not bring up the subject of sin as it is settled once and for all. We can then openly tell God our problems and our weaknesses. We use His grace to overcome the problem or weakness.

Why do some people not want to come to church? They are afraid that if they come before God, the light of God will expose their darkness. This is farther from the truth! For the believer, the light of God will shine on us and show how perfect the work of His Son is. Jesus did His work perfectly. Once Jesus put away sin, God will never again talk about sin.

All our sins have been completely put away by one sacrifice of Jesus. Now, when we sin, we should not go to God with the consciousness of sin. We believe that by one sacrifice, our sins have been put away. We do not feel that we have to pay for our wrongdoing. It is a form of self-righteousness to feel bad before one can feel good. All our diseases came on Jesus and He was slashed so that by His stripes, we are healed. He is worthy and altogether lovely.

Every blessing in this world that is natural (eg. raindrop or sunshine) comes through the blood of Christ. The world has what is good. Believers have what is perfect.

All our sins have been perfectly answered through Jesus' blood. One sacrifice for our sins forever.

God is glorious. His light shining on us exposes how perfect His Son's sacrifice has been in our lives. We can talk to God about our problems and weaknesses without fearing that we will not be accepted.

Knowing that Jesus died for our sins and God will never punish us for our sins does not make us want to sin more. Instead, it makes us want to love Jesus more. Everything was against Jesus on the Cross so that there will be nothing against us today. Our Father's throne is ready for us, His children. He will never judge us again because He has already judged us at the Cross. What about people who claim that they are Christians and yet, they continually do bad things against other people? If this is the case, then they have not truly understood the sacrifice that was made at the Cross. Full understanding that our sins have been forgiven eternally will not make us want to sin more. A person who says that he believes in the Lord and yet, by his action, shows that he is not a Good Neighbour is clearly demonstrating to the world his lack of total understanding of how much the Lord loves us. He should take a second look at himself and ask himself whether he is fit to call himself a Christian. He should not hide behind man-made rules to justify his actions. Do these rules have any basis in the Bible? If not, they are not from God. We are in this world but not of this world. We need to discern and learn to hear the voice of the Lord.

The Lord is a God of judgement but not to me, because of Jesus and what He did at the Cross. Jesus met all of God's judicial claims. I am satisfied that God is satisfied with the work of Christ.

When we feel that things are not going our way and everything seems to be going wrong in our lives, remember that this is only a feeling. It is not true. Everything was against Jesus on the Cross so that everything will go our way. It is not to say that there will be no weapon formed against us in our life. However, any weapon that has been formed WILL NOT PROSPER. The enemies of the Lord's beloved will discover sooner than later that it does not pay to trifle with blessed people for judgement will go their way.

I will keep my mind on the Cross always.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mission accomplished

2 days ago, I sent an sms to my beautician requesting that she slot me in today for a facial. I also mentioned to her that I have been having water retention problem and asked her whether she had any body treatment for this. She replied to say that the bookings were packed but as not everyone had confirmed their appointment, she would revert to me.

I was disappointed that she did not have a ready slot available for me but while I was hopeful of a positive confirmation, I decided that in the worst-case scenario, I would go to the office this morning to clear work.

Yesterday, my beautician sent me an sms to say that she would be able to give me a 10 am appointment for a facial and a body treatment (for my water retention problem). Glory be! I guess it was a sign that today would be "Pamper Pebbles Day".

This morning, Da and I happened to wake up early so we decided to have breakfast at the Haig Road hawker centre before he dropped me off at my office. Office, you say? Didn't I have a 10 am appointment for a facial? Be patient, my friend... you are light enough to be kept in suspense for another paragraph or two.

We had not eaten at Haig Road hawker centre for some time. Most of the stalls there tend to be open for business for lunch or dinner. When we arrived, there were some stalls in the Chinese food section but as Da's favourite porridge stall was closed again (we wonder whether it has closed down), we headed for the Malay / Indian section. I was thinking of eating nasi lemak when I spied at stall selling Masala Thosai. Yummy! My mind was made up. Masala Thosai it would be!

Da ordered the Masala Thosai for me and 2 plain Thosai for himself. We also ordered kopi tarik and teh tarik. No Malay / Indian meal would be complete without a tarik drink.

The Masala Thosai was rather interesting. The filling included cabbage and some other vegetables that are not commonly found in Masala Thosai filling. My favourite Masala Thosai so far is the one sold at Komala Villas but the one I had this morning comes a close second.

After breakfast, Da gave me a lift to my office before he proceed to work. Okay, okay... end of the suspense. I had bought some mooncakes and I wanted to place them on the desks of my secretaries as well as my enbloc team (I have a rather large team working with me for enbloc matters). They are tireless and I thank the Lord that I have such wonderful support from them. I am truly blessed.

Finally..... time for my facial. I arrived at my beauty salon punctually at 10 am as scheduled. I was informed that I would start with the body treatment (for my water retention) and end with a facial. The body treatment was very interesting. Firstly, a fragrant scrub was used to scrub my body. Without rinsing off the scrub, the salon girl then applied some gel on my thighs, tummy and arms. When her back was turned, I picked up the tub of gel and discovered that it was recommended for use in the sauna. Then, industrial cling-wrap was used to wrap around my thighs, tummy and arms before I was asked to step into a machine where I could sit down and every part of me was in the machine save for my head. Goodness me! It was something like a mini-steam room. I think that the intention was for me to perspire (thereby discharging the excess water in my body?). The temperature was slowly increased to about 48 degrees before the 20 minutes in the machine was up. I was asked to rest but it was almost impossible to rest while in the machine! I think I now know how crabs feel when they are boiled alive! Other than the heat, I was uncomfortable in the machine for primarily 2 reasons:-
(a) my knees were reacting to the cling-wrap and they became very itchy; and
(b) my legs were a little cramped in the machine and there was discomfort in my knees.

When the 20 minutes were up, I was asked to take a quick shower before the salon girl applied massage lotion over my thighs, tummy and arm. I actually fell asleep at this juncture. I only woke up when my beautician tapped my shoulder (by which time her assistant had already washed and scrubbed my face). I was happy to see her. My saviour when it comes to extraction of the pimples on my face! She reminded me that she owed me a 2nd treatment for the pigmentation spot on near my right cheek. Yes, I shall try to find time for the treatment (which only takes 15 to 20 minutes, actually).

After the facial, I detoured to Robinsons at City Hall (before meeting up with Da). I intended to "take a leaf from my own book" (in this case, my post on how to be more feminine) and I proceeded to the ladies' section where I successfully purchased a piece of lingerie that I had in mind to purchase. Ah... the benefits of target shopping.

Da and I had arranged to meet outside Ah Teng's bakery at Raffles Hotel. If you have never tried the pastries at Ah Teng's bakery, you should. Their gigantic-sized chicken pie is simply scrumptious!

Da and I had lunch at Chin Chin restaurant located along Purvis Street. Today, we decided to be adventurous and try the Hainanese mutton stew. It was very nice! The taste of the mutton was not overpowering. It was something like an Irish stew. This is something that we would try again! We also ordered the bittergourd omelette and the Hainanese mixed vegetables. The bittergourd omelette was delicious, as usual. The Hainanese mixed vegetables (which we tried for the first time) resembled the Nonya mixed vegetables (ie. "chap chye").

If you are wondering where all this is leading to, you guessed it correctly. The National Library! I borrowed several romance novels and left the library a very happy girl.

Dinner was our usual gathering at The 3 Musketeers' home. Tiki had used her AMC cookware to make 2 homemade pizzas, using SC's recipe that I posted on my blog last month. In addition, they had made 2 salads and also bought some mini-pastries from Tiong Bahru plaza. mmm... food galore!

The English Premier League season has started again! GLORY, GLORY, MAN UNITED! May the Red Devils triumph again this season!

Friday, August 15, 2008


(Note: this post relates to the topic of feminity in females. I have not discussed the issue of feminity in men. Suffice it to say that femininity in men is often considered to be negative due to its contradiction of traditional roles. Homosexual men are believed to be very effeminate, although this is not always the case.)

What does it mean to be referred to as a “姑娘”? The word “feminine” normally refers to qualities positively associated with women or girls, eg. womanlike or womanly. Such features include gentleness, patience, kindness, nurturing, life-giving qualities, creativity and an openness to those around.

For some people, feminity refers to feminine physical attributes such as baby smooth skin, big eyes, small noses, chins, long eye-lashes, high-pitched voice and buxomy.

Some women have gone to extremes in order to meet the high standards of society of what is considered feminine. Some examples are:-

(1) Cleavage – To enhance their feminity, many women try to emphasize their cleavage by wearing brassieres that push the bust upwards and together. Special pads and inserts in the brassiere can also be used to aid in the positioning of the bust higher. However, despite the increasing popularity of what is now known as “push-up bras”, there have been recent concerns that prolonged wearing of brassieres that contain underwire may be a cause of breast cancer.

(2) Foot binding – For centuries in China, foot binding produced unnaturally small and deformed feet, where toes often rotted due to lack of circulation. Till today, small feet are still considered attractive and one often hears the term “Cinderella feet” being used when referring to a female with small-sized feet.

(3) Corsets – In the old days, women in the western countries wore corsets that restricted their movement and caused a variety of health problems, including shortness of breath, malformed organs and difficulty in labour. Nowadays, whilst it is not popular to wear corsets, brides are still encouraged to wear corsets in order to emphasize their hourglass figure and to look gorgeous in their wedding gowns.

(4) High heels – Ah! Which woman can live without high-heeled shoes? Even for women who are a little on the heavy side and for whom wearing 4-inch stilletto heels would be tantamount to suicide, one cannot resist wearing shoes with at least 1 ½ to 2 inch heels. The discomfort commonly associated with high-heeled shoes is endured for the visual effect of elongated legs. Some models and movie stars have been rumoured to insure their long legs.

(5) Eating disorders – Some women restrict their food intake in an effort to become and remain thin. In extreme cases, this can lead to eating disorders (eg. anorexia or bulimia). The fashion and entertainment industries have often been blamed for promoting underweight, unrealistic and unhealthy ideals of feminine beauty. Do you not remember Twiggy and Kate Moss?

(6) Neck rings - In parts of Africa and Asia, neck rings signify femininity. However, prolonged wearing of neck rings can, in rare cases, leave their wearers crippled.

Why should a female be feminine? It is commonly believed that females should be feminine and a feminine woman is more likely to attract guys and get married. Naturally, this is all very stereotypical as I know of females who are rather tomboyish and yet have been able to find marital bliss. However, since I have been tasked to blog about how to be more feminine, do allow me to be stereotypical and promote my 姑娘学院.

Here are some tongue-in-cheek tips you may like to take note of to assist you in your quest to be more feminine (warning: Follow these tips at your own risk! As in all tips, you may sometimes have to adapt to suit your situation):-

(1) Take care of your hair and make sure it looks silky and smells good. Other than shampooing your hair, it would be advisable to use conditioner as well. Choosing shampoo and conditioner that smells good on its own would ensure that your hair smells just as nice after you have washed your hair. Regular haircuts will keep your hair healthy and allow it to grow faster. Long hair is known to be feminine (I personally have never fancied short hair as I look atrocious with short hair!). Practice good hygiene and in particular, please remember to wash your hands after using the toilet.

(2) Keep make-up minimal. I once read an issue of Archie comics where Archie complained that Veronica spent a lot of money and applied a lot of make-up in order to look natural. It was so ironic! Mascara, eye shadow and lip-gloss/lipstick will make you look great. However, if we were to apply more than that, it is only a matter of time before our skin suffers, which will put you in a vicious cycle of having to put more and more make-up on in order to hide the pimples, etc. Natural beauty is always the best.

(3) Dress in what makes you happy, but make sure you present yourself in a positive light. If, for example, you have what are commonly known as “thunder thighs”, I would recommend that you wear skirts that are A-line or dresses that have “princess cut”. In fact, I would encourage you to get rid of your work pants in favour of dresses and flowing skirts. Naturally, the most appropriate pair of shoes to match would be sling-back shoes.

(4) Present an image of someone who is quiet and happy. Let your inner charm shine and show your sense of humour. Guys love it when you laugh at their jokes (even when the jokes are either not very funny or you have heard the jokes a million times already). Make sure that you have a well-rounded personality.

(5) Behave in a confident manner. Watch how you move, smile, walk and talk. Know that you are wonderful and the Lord’s beloved and do not be bothered by negative comments from others as such comments are likely to stem from jealousy. Remember that it is not possible for everyone to love you. There will always be someone who is unable to tolerate the sight of your face. If, however, someone pays you a compliment, be gracious and say “thank you” instead of the traditional “no, lah.... don’t say this.... pai seh....”.

(6) Wax your underarms. There is nothing more unsightly than underarms that are full of hair. You can shave the hair if you prefer. However, hair that has been shaved tend to grow back coarser and thicker.

(7) Try not to use profanities and do not make it a point to increase your knowledge of profanities. Less awareness is better in this case. A good naughty joke or exclamation (such as “goodness me!”) when you stub your toe or when you receive shocking news is acceptable, but regularly peppering your conversation with swear words makes you look un-姑娘.

(8) Be aware of your posture. Good posture makes you look more alert, confident and approachable. (Oops! I have just caught myself slouching as I am typing this post!)

(9) Be aware of how you carry yourself. Practice walking with grace and taking small steps when you walk. There are enough elephants at the zoo without us adding to the tally.

(10) Improve yourself by attending courses or furthering your studies. When you play down your intelligence, as you grow older you are affecting your own career.

(11) Know when to “act helples” (ie. behave like a damsel in distress). You need to know who you are acting helpless in front of. This does not work on every guy. There are some guys who cannot help but want to “act the hero” in front of a helpless girls. There are other guys who simply will not take the hint. When you have found the correct target audience, you need to get the right attitude, that is, even if the facts are against you, you must maintain that you are right and let your knight in shining armour know your side of the story, the only one that was right in the whole situation.

Have fun!

(1) Wikipedia
(2) WikiHow
(3) 姑娘学院秘秘书本

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Huff & puff

I have been wondering lately whether I have developed a water retention problem. My metabolic rate seems to have slowed down lately (not that it was high to begin with). Furthermore, I feel bloated even when I have not drunk any water nor eaten any food. Whilst I do not think that I have increased my food intake recently (and in fact, I have cut down on double-chocolate muffins ever since my “muffin-suppliers” left), I seem to have gained some weight. Furthermore, I have seen some pimples appearing on my face in the past few days (something that has not happened for some time). To make things worse, my face seems to be more puffy nowadays, I seem to have developed sinus-like problem (although I am not sure whether this is a flu virus that has to date not gone away since the time I came down with flu when I was caught in a very heavy rain in Bangkok in May 2008), my eyes have been extremely dry and itchy lately, I have had on and off headache recently (which could, of course, be due to the fact that I have been terribly pissed at something this week) and my eczema seems to have recurred. As I understand it, all these are classic symptoms of water retention.

Could this problem have been caused by:-
(a) insufficient intake of fluid;
(b) excess intake of salt; or
(c) allergic reaction to certain types of food?

I am not sure. Analysing the possible causes above:-
(a) I know for a fact that I do not drink enough water a day. I doubt that I meet the recommended minimum of 8 glasses! Isn’t it ironic that water retention can be caused by insufficient intake of fluid and not excessive intake of fluid?
(b) I do not favour food that is very salt nor very sweet. Having said this, I think that it is unavoidable that if you do not eat homecooked food, food that is sold commercially tends to have high levels of monosodium glutamate (or “MSG” for short).
(c) I am not aware that I am allergic to any type of food. However, as my family as a history of eczema, I do try to avoid prawns. My eczema is usually triggered by stress but there is no necessity to take chances, is there?

I have been told that I need to drink more water to fool my body into thinking that I have too much water and hence, there is no necessity to retain any water. This is an interesting theory. I tried to drink more water today and I ended up feeling more bloated. I do not know whether the feeling of bloatedness was due to water retention or excessive drinking!

On the topic of food, it seems that if you are suffering from a water retention problem, it would be advisable to avoid caffeine, alcohol, salt, fried food, dairy products, white sugar, white flour, chocolate, olives, pickles and soy sauce as these have been observed to worse the water retention problem. Gasp! How can we avoid salt and soy sauce unless we cook our own meals? Food that we buy commercially usually tends to have salt and/or soy sauce added.

Of course, the age-old cure to water retention (and just about every other health problem, it seems) is.... you guessed it correctly. Exercise! Gosh, I am the last person on earth who would welcome this “dirty” word with open arms. My friends, wouldn’t liposuction be easier and faster? sigh.... I guess when one is desperate, one would resort to even... ugh... exercising. For a start, Da and I have been going to the track that is located next to the MRT station near our home and walking around it 6 times a night. Da estimated the distance (albeit with good-natured grumbling) and said that 6 rounds would be about 2.4 kilometres. The track surrounds a football field and a small basketball court.

We started our after-dinner walk on 12 August 2008. I have since noticed that the people who live around our area tend to stick to schedule. We meet the same people at the same time each night, either walking, jogging or running around the track. In fact, we also meet the same dog-owners taking their dogs for a walk around the same time. I can point out a young man wearing a sleeveless tank-top with the word “NAVY” emblazoned at the back and running around the track each night. I can also recognise an elderly couple (the wife is Chinese and the husband is Caucasian) taking a stroll around the track. I have not yet noticed whether it is the same group of boys who play basketball at 10+ pm each night but perhaps in time, I may be able to recognise them.

Supporters of exercise would tell you that exercise enhances or maintains our physical fitness and overall health, strengthens our muscles and our cardiovascular system, aids in weight loss, boosts our immune system and helps prevent heart diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity, improves our mental health and even helps prevent depression (although I have to say that it is actually quite depressing knowing that I have only walked 2 rounds around the track and I have 4 more rounds to go!).

As I understand it, my fellow Ds (ie. LSD, BD and SPD) exercise regularly. Good for you, kiddos! You have to remind me to 加油 when it comes to exercise because this is one aspect of my life that I tend to procrastinate.

So far so good when it comes to our nightly walks around the track. I have now even managed to perspire during the walk! On the first night that we walked, I did not perspire at all.

As you know, exercise is only 1 part of the equation. In addition to exercise, one should also maintain a good diet. Highly recommended, of course, would be sandwiches from Hans (where else?) I personally prefer the sandwiches sold at Hans (as compared to some of those specialty sandwich shops) because the portion is more manageable and you do not end up feeling overly full. You even have a choice of white bread or wholemeal bread, toasted or not toasted.

A healthy diet involves eating appropriate amounts from all of the food groups (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals) and drinking enough water (at least 8 glasses a day, remember?). Some people have said that it is more beneficial to have 6 smaller meals a day instead of 3 full main meals a day. What do you think?

In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, it is believed that for certain types of ailment, there are certain dietary and behavioural tips that can help tackle the problem. For example:-

(1) CONSTIPATION => drink plenty of fluids (but avoid caffeine), increase the intake of high fiber foods (eg. fresh fruits and vegetable, cooked whole-grain cereals with added bran and other foods containing whole grains such as oat bran and rye, barley, bran muffins, legumes, cooked prunes and prune juice), drink hot water or tea, exercise daily (eg. ½ hour walk after meals) and eat regularly.

(2) WATER RETENTION / EXCESSIVE SALT => stay away from the salt shaker, omit salt from recipes and food preparation, cook without salt or with only small amounts of added salt, flavoring foods with herbs, spices, and lemon juice, rinsing canned vegetables and fish, seasoning or marinating meat, poultry, and fish ahead of time with onion, garlic and herbs before cooking, using lower sodium products, saving chicken broth from a chicken you cook at home rather than buying a canned, powdered or cube broth.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Perling getaway

In the afternoon of 9 August 2008 (Saturday), I received a “mass sms” from my youngest brother informing my other brother and me that mom would be returning from Muar to Johor Bahru in the evening of 10 August 2008 (Sunday) and requesting either one of us to fetch mom from Perling, Johor Bahru as he was not free.

I perked up. I have always enjoyed the little getaways to Perling (where my aunt lives). There is a coffeeshop near my aunt’s home called “Queen Park” selling some of the nicest food in Johor Bahru.

As my other brother was not free on 10 August 2008 (the poor boy had to work!), the “ahmad” role fell on Da and me.

I was apprehensive. It had been some time since Da and I had driven to Perling so I was not entirely sure of the route as there is a new highway built near my aunt’s place and some of the traffic may be diverted. Da is even less familiar with the route and usually relies on me to give directions.

Gosh! This reminds me of the phrase “blind leading the blind”! My relatives used to tease me that I only know 1 route – “straight, straight”! They are very amused when I tell them that the route from the ECP (in Singapore) to my grandma’s place (in Muar) is “straight all the way, with only 1 left turn at Air Hitam (when you exit the North-South Highway) and 1 right turn at Batu Pahat (at the junction where the mosque is located)”. I am not kidding! It is easier to drive to grandma’s place in Muar (from Singapore) than from my place (in the East part of Singapore) to my brother’s place (in the West part of Singapore).

Trust my youngest brother to come to my rescue! He has fetched mom home from Perling so many times that I think he would be able to drive to Perling from Singapore with his eyes closed! Da and I met my youngest brother and his girlfriend for lunch on 10 August 2008 at one of our usual haunts – the food court located at the basement level of Katong Shopping Centre (note: for the uninitiated, you have to try the chicken rice and the western food at this food court. I even know of colleagues who patronise this food court frequently.). At the end of the lunch, my dear brother handed me a home-made map that he had drawn of the route from the Tuas checkpoint all the way to the “Queen Park” coffeeshop in Perling! I have included a photograph of the map in the slideshow in this post.

After lunch, Da and I went to church. Amongst the songs that were sung during the Praise & Worship segment, there was 1 song that I could not get out of my head and I continued to sing it till today. It was only yesterday that I realised that the name of the song is “Jesus You’re my Lord” and this song is a new composition. I have added this song to my “Praise & Worship” playlist.

After church, Da and I made our way to Perling with the aid of my youngest brother’s map. Along the way, I could not resist taking photographs of the scenery, all the way from the Shell petrol station near Tang Dynasty in Singapore to the “Queen Park” coffeeshop. You can see the photographs in the slideshow. Do not be misled by some of the signboards that you see in the slideshow – some of the signboards are actually located in Malaysia (even though the signboard referred to “Tuas”, “Woodlands” and “Jurong”)!

Due to the ¾ tank rule, Da and I stopped at the Shell petrol station near the Tang Dynasty in Singapore to top up our petrol tank to full before we approached the Tuas customs checkpoint.

After we cleared the Malaysian customs, it was smooth-sailing all the way to Perling. As we have a “Touch and Go” card, it was easy for us to pay the toll along the Malaysian highway as we only needed to tap the card against the card reader instead of queuing up to pay the toll in cash.

We had a wonderful dinner with mom and my aunt. My aunt and I each ordered the maggi mee goreng (hers with chilli and mine without), mom had char kway teow (comment: I think mom probably conveniently forgot that char kway teow is high cholesterol food!) and Da ordered the duck noodles. As the portion of the duck noodles was quite small, Da also ordered the century egg porridge (cooked Hokkien style and not Cantonese style) as well. I have included photographs of the maggi mee goreng and the century egg porridge in my slideshow.

What was interesting about the maggi mee goreng that we ate was that the ingredients included bite-sized pieces of roti prata! In Malaysia, roti prata is known as roti canai whereas roti prata with egg is known as roti telur.

The highlight of the dinner was when we ordered the crispy pancake to end our meal. The crispy pancake was simply delicious! They were sold at 3 big pieces for RM2.50. According to the big poster on the wall of the coffeeshop, there is even a Singapore franchise. You can find something similar sold at Jolly Bean stalls in Singapore but the size of the crispy pancake sold here is a fraction of the size of the crispy pancake that we tried at the coffeeshop.

After dinner, we adjourned to my aunt’s place as mom’s purchases from her week-long stay in Muar were at my aunt’s home. My aunt lives in a single-storey intermediate terrace house whose ceiling is so high that you can build a 2nd storey within the house! However, she is happy to leave her house as it is and enjoy the coolness of the house (due to the high ceiling).

Mom passed to me a plastic bag containing 3 glass bottles wrapped securely in newspaper. According to her, these are the black sauce (2 bottles) that I requested her to look out for in Muar. Mom managed to locate the light sauce of the same brand as well, so she bought 1 bottle for me. hmm... “kong bak pau”, “kong bak pau”, “kong bak pau”... hint! hint!

All too soon, it was time to drive back to Singapore. What marred a lovely evening was the jam at the Singapore Tuas customs. We took more than 3 hours to clear the jam. During the jam, a car hit our car from behind. However, as the queue was moving (albeit at a slow pace), it was impossible for us to stop our car and get out to check the damage to the car. Da had a look at the back of the car when we arrived in Singapore. Praise the Lord that there was no damage! The Lord Jesus Christ has indeed protected our car.

And now... for the visual treat of our little getaway...... enjoy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fireworks and more

Did you enjoy the National Day parade broadcast live on television on 9 August 2008?

Hi Eddie, I am waiting for your post on the National Day parade!

For those of you who want a 2nd look at the magnificence of the parade, here you go... enjoy!

Monday, August 11, 2008


What is dishonesty?

General definition

Dishonesty means the lack of honesty, to cheat, lying or being deliberately deceptive; lacking in integrity; to be corrupt, treacherous or fraudulent.

Dishonesty in criminal law

Dishonesty is the fundamental component of a majority of offences in criminal law.

Academic dishonesty

There can even be dishonesty in the academic sense, eg. plagarism, fabrication, deception, cheating and even sabotage. Today, academic institutions take a very strong view against academic dishonesty and students have been known to be expelled for such behaviour or not allowed to pass their examinations due to plagarism.

What causes academic dishonesty? The world is increasingly becoming a rat race and there is a lot of competition in schools and pressure for good grades. It also does not help that due to society becoming more affluent and parents spending less and less time with their children and inculcating ethical values among their children, many children grow up being very selfish and interested only in furthering their own goals at any cost.

What can schools do to tackle the problem? The teachers should be trained to detect academic dishonesty. Students should be advised of the standards required for conduct in school and they should be taught the repercussions of dishonesty. Perhaps the school could also take steps to minimise the opportunities for cheating and plagiarism. If cheating occurs, the school should respond swiftly with disciplinary measures and formal action.

Dishonesty in the workplace

What about in the workplace? In the old days, workers had more integrity and the key to success was sheer hard work. Nowadays, some workers will not hesitate to resort to flattery, dishonesty, scheming and back-stabbing to climb the corporate ladder to reach wherever it is that they are aiming to reach. Due to this, cliques are increasingly being formed in the workplace and schemes plotted in order to bring about the perceived downfall of a rival.

Everyday examples of lying in the workplace include embellishing the truth on personal resumes (quare: when was the last time you did not attach a glamour-shot photograph to your resume?) and company track records; suggesting to customers that a product is better than it actually is, telling tall tales to the boss, sabotaging a colleague, etc.

(1) Wikipedia
(2) Merriam-Webster dictionary)

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Several years ago, one of my colleagues gave me a pot of African Violets. From then started a love affair with Saintpaulia (commonly known as African Violet).

I was drawn to the African Violet’s furry soft leaves and beautiful and dainty flowers. The African Violet is one of those rare house plants that really is easy to look after (although you do have to give them daily care) and if you are fortunate enough to own the correct variety, it will bloom continuously every day. My 1st pot of African Violet (given to me by my colleague) was of such a variety. I have since had other varieties of African Violets that do not bloom every day but will bloom very often.

African Violet is a genus of 6 species of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the family Gesneriaceae, native to Tanzania and adjacent southeastern Kenya in eastern tropical Africa, with a concentration of species in the Nguru mountains of Tanzania. The common name “Violet” was given due to a superficial resemblance to true violets. No prizes for guessing where the name “African” came from.

African Violets are generally cultivated as house plants although increasingly, they have been found in offices as well. It seems that they thrive in air-conditioning environment. It is, however, important, to ensure that they come into contact with bright light but not in extreme heat and humidity. The best spot to place your pot of African Violet would therefore be at the window sill although the African Violet would also bloom under fluorescent light.

African Violets are flowering plants. The flowers range in colour from white, pink, violet, dark red, yellow, and some even green, and the flowers may be either single (five petals) or double (more than five). The flowers are not always a solid colour, but can also be found in the "fantasy" variety where the petals have strips of colours going down them.

How does one propagate African Violets? For someone like me who does not have “green thumbs”, I would say that it is as easy as A-B-C! Although we can propagate African Violets by seed, the easier method is by leaf cuttings. What you need to do is to cut off a leaf (with the stem) from an existing African Violet plant, then soak the stem in water until roots appear. Thereafter, plant the leaf into a pot of soil. You can actually cut the leaf and plant it directly in a pot of soil but it would be preferably if you were to soak the stem in water first until roots appear as this way, the plant is more likely to grow. As it is so easy to propagate African Violets and they grow so easily, at one time, I had more than 20 pots of African Violets in my office! Each morning, I took at least 15 minutes to water my plants before I could sit down and start work.

How do we maintain the African Violets? All they require is for you to wet the soil each morning with tap water. Do not over water the African Violets as this will kill them. African violets are highly subject to root and crown rot if they are over watered. We should use room temperature water when watering the plant because cold water causes irregular-shaped, white-coloured spots to form on the leaves. Yellow or white ring and line patterns on leaves are also caused by contact with cold water.

It would be best to plant your African Violet in a pot that has drainage at the bottom of the pot so that excess water can flow out from the drainage hole and you can pour away the excess water.

We need to eat to live and African Violets are no different. Once a week, you should feed your African Violets with liquid fertilisers. I usually buy the “Loving Care” brand of African Violet fertilisers that are sold at Carrefour or NTUC. What you can do is to re-use a 500ml mineral water bottle by filling it with tap water and two squirts of the fertiliser (if you are using the type of liquid fertiliser that you see in the picture above).

What about potting, you may ask? You can use normal soil (that already contains fertilisers) but if you are able to buy the type of fertilised soil that are meant for African Violets, that would be preferable. I used to buy such soil from Carrefour. There is a picture of an African Violet on the packet. I have not purchased the soil from Carrefour recently so I do not have a photograph of the packet of soil. However, I intend to make a trip to Carrefour when we have moved office and settled down.

Other than the problem of over-watering or cold water, African Violets are also susceptible to other problems. Leaf stems in contact with clay pots may be killed by accumulated salts on the pot. Thin, dark green leaves or a reduction in flowering are an indication of inadequate light.

How long can your African Violet live? Well, as I understand it, African violets are indeterminate as to age. They live as long as the care is proper. Naturally, it would be advisable to talk to your plant as well. As much as we pooh-pooh such superstition, my friend saw miracles happen after she started talking to her pot of African Violet and say “nice words” to her African Violet. Not only did it start growing and get stronger, it starting flowering as well!

(1) Wikipedia
(4) my personal experience
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