26 September 2005

Were I Not Alone

Going home by hworks

Were there not loneliness
I would not know
How alone
I am without you
And whom I’m lonely for

Were not the pain
Of longing
So intense, so painful
I would not know
How much I have not you

Were I not alone
I would not know
From whence I came
Where I go
And Whom I’m made for

25 September 2005

SUDOKU addiction

I can't believe it.. I've succumbed to the latest craze all over the world - SUDOKU. Since I found a Palm version last night, I haven't been able to put it down.

The rules of the game couldn't be simpler: 'Enter digits from 1 to 9 into the blank spaces. Every row must contain one of each digit. So must every column, as must every 3x3 square.Each Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically without guessing.'

If you're game for it, try it at Websudoku.com. If you're having trouble and need some powerful weapons for problem-solving, go to Sudoku solver. And if you need to carry it on your Palm for boring meetings and hours-long traffic jams, download Andrew Gregory's free version.

WARNING: This game is HIGHLY ADDICTIVE and is known to cause insomnia, blurred vision, mumbling-to-self, and missing-your-trainstop syndrome.

Don't say I didn't warn you...

The Tent Enlarges

I've revived my photo blog, something I used to do way back in 1999 for the original TENT (which had 9 different secttions!!)

Anyway just to get it going, I did some simple snapping at home today, allowing things to just leap out at me and 'arrest me' so to speak.

The first was just a branch of dead leaves blown in by the wind. I felt a bit like that - drained on the weekend, just wanting to get a little life back in my vine.

The second shot was of a boquet of flowers given to me by my wife on my birthday (that was months ago.) It's drying up nicely now but the colors were still very much intact. I've given it a color spot on black and white tones. Just to say that the kind of beauty infused into a gift like that, never fades...

21 September 2005

A Stopping Place

Photo by faincutI've just returned from a retreat at Frasers' Hill where I was both retreat leader AND participant. It was a very insightful experience for me - both helping others come into a place of rest as well as finding rest and healing for myself. So throughout the two and a half days I would share a few thoughts, lead in the practice of a spiritual discipline, and then settle into reflection and contemplation myself.

The beauty of doing it this way was that we were all journeying together. No one was really the 'guru' or the 'leader' who had all the answers. I wasn't put on a pedestal. We could all be real and see our common struggles breaking through our restlessness to find rest in God.

So after three days of crisp, cold air, birds singing, trees rustling in the wind, bright colored flowers and amazing food, and much time in God's felt presence, I return to the mad city. The paradox is I am deeply refreshed and energized on one level, and also drained and exhausted on another level. I know I'm going to need a few days of quiet and being alone to recover my own space and pace.. If I give in to the seduction of adrenaline (I'm so charged up right now, let's jump into another project!) I will surely raze myself to the ground.

So the invitation to find rest resounds right now and I must not fail to here it and enter it. I need to just stop awhile, not do anything, find stability within before I move on again.

10 September 2005

Fight the flab

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI've been eating without thinking and neglecting exercise for a couple of months now. Chomping my way steadily up 3kgs since I dared look at the scales. Yesterday I started running again and clocked my slowest speed ever in 2 years! 6.6kph for a distance of 5km. That's from a high of 11kph... Sob!

Today, I decided I will start counting again and logging my exercise and intake.

Input today: 2240cals! (from a kong-fu chau for dinner, and McD's double cheeseburger for lunch) Bad, bad, bad. I'm going to try to get back to a sub 1500cal day in order to lose 1kg a week.

Just to remind us how much a Double Cheese-burger McValue meal can set you back, these are the figures:

Double Cheeseburger = 480cals

Coke = 210cals

French Fries = 453 cals

Eat that all... 1143cals! Doesn't leave much space for anything else does it?

Anyone who needs an Excel worksheet (based on Asian foods) to calculate his input vs. output plus a chart to boot, contact me and I'll send you one! Join me on the crusade against obesity! Say TAKNAK GEMUK!

Only One Way

Expressed in many ways, the Word (in Psalm 33-34)continues to assert that there is only one way worth following, and that is God's. Conversely, our short-sighted humanistic purposes he 'foils' and 'thwarts.' We are reminded not to place any confidence in the things that will ultimately fail, like the 'size of his army', 'great strength' of the warrior' or the speed of a 'horse in hope of deliverance.'

No amount of power, ability, influence, possesion can protect you and buy you safety, solace and peace of mind. The psalmist urges us to do the only right thing, and that is 'in him our hearts rejoice, trust in his holy name, put our hope in Him'.

Psalm 34 also reminds us that on this side of heaven, there is no guarantee of a triumphalist, whoopsy-daisy life of comfort. In fact, 'a righteous man may have many troubles'(!) 'But he delivers him from them all.'

That is the thrust of living on hope. It is always a forward looking life. One that does not waste energies in trying to build or recapture a little Eden for ourselves here on earth. But instead is willing to courageously put our hope in a future glory, joy and comfort. This world is truly not our home, we're just a passing through.

In response to another piece of scripture: "Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground." Ps 143:10

Your will,
Not my own
Your thoughts
Higher than mine
Your lead
I shall follow

Not the will of man
Not my selfish dreams or foolish ambitions
Not the pace of the world
Only YOUR will

For you are my God
No other God and no other shall I follow

08 September 2005

Getting away

Decided on a whim to get out of the city and look down on it, at it, away from it, just not be in it, for a while. And oh what a wonderful experience it was. We drove up the Hulu Langat hills, and just less than 10km from where the road leaves Cheras is this small clearing where we can plant ourselves and just stare at KL city in all its madness.

It was great just to feel apart from it for a while. And the continuous chilly breeze was lovely too. That's what I call regaining sanity. And in an act of saintliness, I lifted my hand in benediction, 'All you mad people in the mad city,.. God bless you.'

Take a close look at this picture and you can see two planets - Jupiter above and Venus below - shining down on the city. The only celestial lights you can see with our level of light pollution..

06 September 2005

The Levitical Mystery

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe instructions to the priesthood and prescriptions for correct temple protocol found in the book of Leviticus is laborious and wearisome to work through. It is hard to understand the God of the New Testament who is one of grace and freedom encumbering the Israelites of the Old with such huge burdens and near-impossible legalism.

But there are the occasional hints that clues us in on the basis for such elaborate institutions. Like Lev 17:11, where the LORD declares that 'the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.'

Or this paradoxical declaration at the end of Lev 22, after a long list of what makes a sacrifice acceptable or unacceptable, a priest clean or unclean: 'I am the LORD, who makes you holy and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God.' Imagine that - to say that after all that has been done, none of it makes you holy - only He does.

The shedding of blood. A perfect sacrifice. The imputation of righteousness. It's all there and more.

I get the impression that the whole concept and institution of an atoning sacrifice is being systematically programmed into the consciousness and culture of the Israelites. And a perfect sacrifice at that. Truly this is God at work in history - hinting at the future when one such perfect sacrifice will come. Encrypted in this codec of levitical practice is every facet and nuance of Christ's atoning work on the Cross. It is a depth worth plumbing for such gold.

02 September 2005

Much Ado About MDs

It seems like there's a new wave of M.D. shows on TV. With the demise of Chicago Hope and E.R., and only Becker surviving the times, we now have two brand new, swanky doctor shows - SCRUBS and HOUSE.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comFor the unacquainted, SCRUBS revolves around a few interns with overactive imaginations, hip lives, and a great zest for people. In short - a myth. But, hey, who among us MDs don't wish our lives were a little like that. I liked today's episode on Astro, actually, where a dying patient taught an intern that it was ok to rest.

That he needed to give himself permission to go lie on the grass and relax for awhile. We MDs do become so obsessed and entrapped in our work sometimes as not to be able to see the bigger picture or to find ourselves apart from it.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comHOUSE, on the other hand, glorifies a team of diagnosticians whose expertise is solving the unsolvable cases. Those that, in our real life hospitals, normally go quietly unsolved. Labelled 'SEPTICEMIA' or 'M.I.'. These guys however, come up with high flung diagnoses like cerebral cysticercosis, or colchicine-poisoning. I understand that the whole point of this series is that - the diagnostic genius of Dr. House and his dream team. What is unrealistic is how these guys run ALL the lab tests themselves! From gene sequencing to viral antibody titres! That's really taking it too far.

What I DO like about it, is the FED-UPness of House (which is true of all of us after seeing one patient too many) and the METICULOUSNESS of his problem-solving. I've seen more than one technique that we actually employ in real life, being used. One is the acronym for pathologies - he uses MIDNIGHT (for metabolic, infective, degenerative, neoplastic, etc.), and the other is the Venn diagram for looking for the disease that accounts for ALL presenting symptoms. Also the mention of Occam's razor was very gratifying to me - the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one.

As doctors we may pooh-pooh the idealism, unreal-ness, or far-fetchedness of some of the stories, but let's not deny that in some way it validates our lives as human beings. That's what I like about these shows - they portray us frail, vulnerable, and confused like everyone else. And even if it doesn't change public perception, I hope it helps us to accept ourselves better.

Perfect Discovery

I'm so proud of what I've done with SALIVATE, my food indulgence blog. Not that many people actually go to it to look for places to eat. Not that I've reviewed that many places. It's just that the ROJAK shot looks so damned good there, I salivate when I look at it. And I've been able to put in a map and satellite photo to show how to fly in also. Now that's an achievement! Hah.

Good friend Fook Meng from Melaka congratulated me for finding the 'places off the beaten path'. Precisely why it was such a wonderful experience for Joan and I. Truth is we were driving around the cemetery, a little lost, looking for a place to park when the two stalls just sprang into view. We screeched to a halt on a whim, and my, what a wonderful discovery it was! The backdrop of a cemetery, the simplicity of the 2 stalls, the magnificence of the food, and the chance find made it all a perfect moment for us. One of the simple highlights of our journey to Melaka last week.