Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Reflections

On the mornings of Tuesdays and Fridays, I can’t help but smile in anticipation of the “adventure” I will embark upon in the class. My intention of signing up for this module is to enhance my verbal and written skills; reflecting on the works on the past 3 months, I believe I have fulfilled my goal. I’m in fact thankful, because what I am taking with me out of this module is more than that of I bargained for.

I value the opportunity to be able to voice out my opinions in the class freely, and also the chance to work with almost everyone in the class through various group works. The initial stage of writing a research report- from recording minutes, to finalising the topic, and setting up survey questions allowed me to understand the importance of working as a team. Most importantly, the short span of time allocated for the research report taught me how to make the best out of time. The learning process might be tedious, but I definitely picked up countless valuable skills. The fact that our research report was judged based on the 7C’s of writing made it even more enriching, since for once I have to pay attention to my language instead of merely focusing on the facts in the report.

Blogging became the main platform for online interaction between our classmate and the lecturer, Brad. Initially the class was split into 2 blogging groups, but eventually that line dissolved and everyone was making comments on each others’ blog freely. The task of writing blog post every week only enhances the different topics covered in the class, where I got the chance to explore a wide varsity of topics in writing. Brad also gave me countless valuable advices on my language and grammar usage, and I must thank him for his patience and guidance. Reading and making comments on classmates’ blog posts enabled me step out of my narrow view, to see things in different perspective as well.

The job search and mock interviews served as a wake-up call for me, to put some serious thoughts in what path I should take after the NUS days. Writing cover letters and resume also allowed me to see what is lacking in my CV, and the chance to repair the flaws. Having the chance to be in the seat of an interviewer allowed me to understand better what types of questions potential employers would tend to ask. The different interview scenarios I went through also gave me first hand exposure to how real job interviews could be like. This type of exposure is undeniably critical for any undergraduates, where the skills I picked up in school could be directly applicable in real world situations.

All in all, communication and writing skills I picked up from this class are not comparable to the unique bond forged among classmates and the lecturer. It is amazing (and almost touching) to see how the 17 of us evolved from strangers to friends in merely a short 3 months. In one way or another, this bond has facilitated our learning process, and made even the most serious moments less tense. Education is an on-going process, a work in progress, an unfinished masterpiece, something I will continue throughout my entire life. I hope that this class of ES2007S shall stay in touch in the years to come!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mr Paddles Told Me That He Was Sorry For Being Glum On Tuesday.

A few days ago when I was rehearsing my speech with Ash, I jokingly suggested how funny it would be if an acute panic attack suddenly struck me and all I could say was:

“Plastics... heavy sigh.. Plastics... frowns... 3 recommendations... Thank you.”

Of course it was meant to be a joke, but part of me was secretly afraid that this presentation debacle might really come true. For this particular presentation, I didn’t want to rely on scripts or cue cards. Thus, my way of approach was to formulate the main points I want to convey at the back of my head, and slowly develop them- in the bathroom, during lecture breaks, before I sleep- I was talking to myself big time! I’m glad it worked out okay, partly because first of all my portion was manageable, and secondly it also gave me the freedom to elaborate according to my likings. I was terribly afraid that I might bore the audience; that is why I chose to use mainly pictures and as little words as possible.

Before the presentation, the unexpected technical glitch (which was fortunately saved Mr. Daniel) made me pretty upset that the video couldn’t be screened via the OHP, but I guess it was a blessing in disguise. Playing our video on the small laptop screen managed to capture the audiences attention- and I was extremely happy to see everyone squeezing ahead to get a better view.

During the presentation, I was initially flustered- the adrenaline rush made me felt incredibly light weighted. I believe I stumped over a couple of words in the front (perhaps more than I could recall), but after a while I kind of got use to environment and gradually calmed down. At certain point of time I realised I was slurring my words, especially near the end of the sentence. I caught myself playing with that little gadget in my hand as well, pushing in and out the battery cover- I guess nervousness got better out of me. I felt I could have done so much better actually.

Throughout the 8 minutes, I tried to maintain eye contact with the audiences, and attempted to make my delivery livelier by making use of the entire pathway. One thing I had to confess was the notion of passing of the Tupperware to the audiences. This was not something I planned to do; but at that point of time I remember standing in front of Wee Siong and he was staring right at the container in my hand. It seemed almost a reflex action- but I am glad I did so. The Tupperware was the spotlight during the Q&A, and I got to commend my 2 lovely group mates, Mark and Ash, for handling the questions so well.

All in all, despite the many ways I thought I could have performed better, I must thank my fellow rangers again- Mark and Ash, for the wonderful presentation we put together. I had so much fun, from the planning to the execution of the project, and of course picked up many valuable tips and advices along the way. Lastly a big thank you to ALL OF YOU, my lovely audiences, for paying attention to my ramblings and being enthusiastic throughout the entire presentation!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Pot vending machines take root in Los Angeles

Machines distribute the drug to people with cards authorizing use

Marijuana Vending Machines

Los Angeles medical-cannabis dispensary owner Vincent Mehdizadeh poses with his new Marijuana vending machine installed at the Herbal Nutrition Center in Los Angeles Tuesday.

Damian Dovarganes / AP

updated 7:01 a.m. ET Jan. 30, 2008

LOS ANGELES - The city that popularized the fast food drive-thru has a new innovation: 24-hour medical marijuana vending machines.

Patients suffering from chronic pain, loss of appetite and other ailments that marijuana is said to alleviate can get their pot with a dose of convenience at the Herbal Nutrition Center, where a large machine will dole out the drug around the clock.

"Convenient access, lower prices, safety, anonymity," inventor and owner Vincent Mehdizadeh said, extolling the benefits of the machine.

But federal drug agents say the invention may need unplugging.

"Somebody owns (it), it's on a property and somebody fills it," said DEA Special Agent Jose Martinez. "Once we find out where it's at, we'll look into it and see if they're violating laws."

At least three dispensaries in the city, including two belonging to Mehdizadeh, have installed vending machines to distribute the drug to people who carry cards authorizing marijuana use.

Mehdizadeh said he spent seven months to develop and patent the black, armored box, which he calls the "PVM," or prescription vending machine.

Convenience and privacy
A sliding fence protects the tinted windows of his dispensary, barely distinguishing it from a busy thoroughfare of strip malls, automobile dealers and furniture shops. A box resembling a large refrigerator stands inside the nearly empty shop, near a few shelves stocked with vitamins and herbs.

A guard in a black T-shirt emblazoned with the word "Security" on the front stands at the door. A poster of Bob Marley decorates a back room.

The computerized machine requires fingerprint identification and a prepaid card with a magnetic stripe. Once the card and fingerprint are verified, a bright green envelope with the pot drops down a slot.

Mehdizadeh says any user approved for medical marijuana and registered in a computer database at his dispensaries can pre-purchase the drug and then use the machine to pick up.

The process provides convenience and privacy for users who may otherwise feel uncomfortable about buying marijuana, Mehdizadeh said.

At the Timothy Leary Medical Dispensary in the San Fernando Valley, the vending machine is accessible only during business hours. An employee there said the machine was introduced about five months ago, and provides speedy service.

"It helps a lot of patients who are in a lot of pain and don't want to wait around to get help," Robert Schwartz said. "It's been working out great."

Mehdizadeh said he sought the advice of doctors, and decided to limit the amount of marijuana per user to an ounce per week. Each purchase from the machine yields 1/8th or 2/8th of an ounce. By eliminating a vendor behind the counter, he said, the machine offers users lower drug prices. The 1/8th ounce packet would cost about $40 — $20 lower than the average price at other dispensaries.

'It's to medicate'

A spokesman for a marijuana advocacy group said the machine also benefits dispensary owners.

"It limits the number of workers in the store in the event of a raid, and it'll make it harder for theft," said Nathan Sands, of The Compassionate Coalition.

Marijuana use is illegal under federal law, which does not recognize the medical marijuana laws in California and 11 other states.

The Drug Enforcement Agency and other federal agencies have been actively shutting down major medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state over the last two years and charging their operators with felony distribution charges.

Mehdizadeh said the Herbal Nutrition Center was the target of a federal raid in December. He said no arrests were made and no charges have been filed against him.

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said the machine might benefit those who already know how much and what strain of marijuana they're looking for. But he said others will want to see and smell the drug before they buy it.

A man who said he has been authorized to use medical marijuana as part of his anger management therapy said the vending machine's security measures would at least protect against illicit use of the drug.

"You have kids that want to get high and that's not what marijuana is for," Robert Miko said. "It's to medicate."


I thought this would be something interesting to share- a vending machine that dispenses pot! Now how cool is that (ok maybe not). Sometimes I really wonder, how weird can this world evolve to, still.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Biodata of a Narcissist

I am a person who is highly motivated, driven to excel and takes pride in her work. I aspire to inspire, and perceives learning as a continuous journey from the bottomless well of knowledge- the world.

As a second year major undergraduate in the National University of Singapore (NUS), I value every opportunity to acquire knowledge as well as experiences that will help develop me as an all-rounder. I constantly explore different channels to enhance my interpersonal communication, correspondence and presentation skills. One of the modules I have taken is Professional Communication, and it intrigued me to explore in depth why conflicts arise from miscommunication, as well as how to be more sensitive when dealing with socio-cultural barriers. This is definitely applicable to everyday life.

In NUS, I have participated in various co-curriculum activities, such as embarking on a 22 days community service trip, regular voluntary service in welfare homes, as well as an orientation councillor in freshman orientation camps. I have also represented my hall in several inter-hall sports events, and did coverage of various NUS events. All these activities summed up to an extraordinary experience of campus life, and equipped me with valuable organisational and managerial skills.

Outside school, I am the director of the Social Development Subgroup (SDS), a sub-branch of the People’s Association Youth Movement (PAYM) in the. Being a director of a youth group further spurs me to refine my EQ and leadership skills. I also have had first hand experiences on chairing meetings, delegating jobs and public speaking.

My previous part time employment during semester breaks have certainly been enriching and fulfilling. The exposure to the outside working life has demonstrated to me how different school life and the working world are. Bearing responsibilities, being accountable to the superior, and to be receptive to critics are some of the lessons I have learnt. Work has certainly brought me out of my comfort zone and opened my eyes. I believe that this will be beneficial to me as a student leader, as well as better prepares me for working life after I graduate.

I am easy going and can get along with people of all types of nature well. Being fluent in both English and Mandarin, I am picking up a Bahasa Indonesia as my third language. Aside from photography, I am also an avid traveller and an aspiring writer. No matter how many obstacles are in my way, I will never hesitate to continue embracing life, because it is my determination and courage that brought me to where I am now.

Friday, March 13, 2009

“Fly, little sister, fly!”

A sibling is defined as one of two or more individuals having one or both parents in common. Though that’s the most obvious definition, I seem to extract a different connotation. Sometimes, I feel that the definition is a means by which one loses any hope of sanity; one you often wished did not have one or both parents in common (syn.: obnoxious). Sure, I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek there, but people with siblings should be able to relate. Communication and maintaining sibling relationships and can be pretty tough at times, but apparently they can’t be weaseled out of, so the best thing to do is make it as good as it can possibly be.

It never fails to annoy me (very much as a matter of fact) when people compared us constantly. Who's prettier? Who's smarter? Who's nicer? When we're doing sports – which one is faster? I think people do that because when they're struck with a similarity, they look for a difference. People naturally assume that no two people who are so alike could be equal. We're not equal, but we're very much alike. We didn't compete with each other but others would do it for us and that was something that I find very painful. It is sure okay with me if she was better, but I found it very hard if they thought I was better. It made me feel guilty and protective of her.

I know of some siblings that strongly dislike each other; I believe hate is a little too extreme of a word to even imply facetiously. Perhaps they do love each other, in the sense that they’re siblings thus felt obligated to, it is definitely indubitable that some form of strife will arise every now and then. That is pretty normal; maintaining your relationship with your siblings is no different from socializing with your friends or colleagues. My sister and I often don’t always see eye to eye in many things, in spite of the astonishingly similar taste we have. To debate over conflicting decisions could be something entertaining (and educational) actually. In fact, I would categorize the art communication with your family as an indication to how successful you will be in life. To bear grudges is bad, to hold grudges against your family will be a major debacle for anyone.

If you have that serious of an influence on anyone, you would want to affect them positively. It is one thing to have a relationship with my sister where we hang out together, randomly go places together, those sorts of wonderful things. Not only are we attached biologically, physically, and emotionally. We’re also attached spiritually, the most significant of all.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Intercultural Differences.

During our Youth Expedition Project (YEP) to Cambodia last year, our team was told that Cambodia shared many of the same attitudes to dress and social taboos as other Southeast Asian cultures. Cambodians are extremely conservative, and naturally we would gain more respect if we're well turned out and modest in our dress. In general men should wear tops and women should avoid skimpy tops and tight shorts. However under the scorching sun of nearly 38ÂșC, it seemed that even gulping down a gallon or two of iced water didn’t help much to relieve the heat. It was during one occasion when one of the girls, Jenny, decided to challenge the tabooed.

That morning she emerged from her sleeping tent wearing a T-shirt with jean shorts. Most of us were bewildered; wasn’t the instruction not clear enough to forbid us from wearing any thing revealing in the village? A few friends and I went up to her and advised her to change out of her jean shorts to pants or three-quarters, yet she was adamantly unmoved. Her explanation was wearing long pants will only aggravate the condition of her heat rashes.

As we walked across the village to the pavilion for breakfast, we couldn’t help but notice how the locals were staring and pin-pointing at Jenny. It began to stir up some sort of frenzy, and did not take long before the village chief; a pleasant looking elderly man in his 60’s, arrived at the pavilion and interrupted our breakfast.

Our interpreter, Tim, explained that the jeans short Jenny wore brought grave disapproval from the locals as being offensive and disrespectful. Tim proceeded to apologise to the village chief on behalf of the team and Jenny, and reassured him that it was a mistake made in a moment of folly. We were lucky that the village chief was amicable in resolving this issue, for he didn’t persist in perusing the matter any further after Jenny immediately changed out of her shorts. Jenny certainly was taken aback by the degree of seriousness a pair of shorts could implicate, and it was indeed a lesson learnt for Jenny and the team.

Intercultural difference is something we cannot overlook nor take lightly; a simple show of affection may be ordinary in Singapore yet it is particularly offensive to Cambodians. Any display of public affection between men and women, even seeing foreigners holding hands is a source of acute embarrassment to them. We are just so glad that the incident did not affect our relationship with the villagers. It reinforced the point that to be responsible adults, we have to take particular caution in understanding and adhering to the different cultures’ ideology so as to avoid any unnecessary trouble. There have been instances where slight religious or cultural conflicts lead to fights and even escalating into war. All of these should be avoided, shouldn’t it?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dentist fear led to girl's death.

The following is a report from the BBC News online I thought worth sharing. Reading global news never fails to snap me back to reality- life is not just about results and studies.

An eight-year-old girl starved to death at home because she refused to open her mouth after a dental operation, an inquest heard.

Sophie Waller, from St Dennis, Cornwall, was so afraid of dentists she was sent to the Royal Cornwall Hospital to have her milk teeth taken out. Afterwards, she would not open her mouth and was given a feeding tube. The inquest heard that she died at home about three weeks later from acute renal failure.

Health deteriorated

Her parents, Richard and Janet Waller, told the inquest in Truro that Sophie had been scared of dentists and had refused to eat or talk when a milk tooth became loose. The inquest was told it had happened before but this time her GP arranged for her to go to the Royal Cornwall Hospital for the tooth to be removed under general anaesthetic. She was admitted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital on 7 November 2005.

Sophie's treatment:
7 November: Sophie admitted to hospital for dental operation
9 November: Sophie given feeding tube after refusing to eat
17 November: Sophie discharged from hospital
2 December: Sophie found dead at home

In fact, eight teeth were taken out so that she would not have to go through the trauma of losing a tooth again. After the operation on 9 November, Sophie would not open her mouth to eat or talk and was given a feeding tube on the ward.

She was discharged on 17 November and was taken home on the understanding a bed would still be waiting for her in hospital. Despite attempts to feed her and contact with a psychologist, Sophie's health deteriorated and eventually she could hardly walk.

She was found dead in her bed at home on 2 December.

Her parents said that four days before Sophie's death they rang the hospital to say they were bringing her back in but were told they could not. A pathologist, Dr Marion Brundell, told the inquest that Sophie had died of acute renal failure from dehydration and starvation.

The hearing continues.

I would love to hear what you have to say about this case. Who should be responsible for the little girl’s death? Should we always place absolute (and unquestionable) trust in the doctor's verdict? If you were the mom/dad, what would you have done instead?