Sunday, 18 December 2011

Three Months in Vancouver...and Counting...



Wahliau. I have ignored this blog for a very long time!


The good news is, I've survived 3 months of work! So what have I learned in this past 3 months?




1) I could work for Xerox some day...or the Manuals for Dummies book...


The time machine...

For some reason, my boss put me in charge of the new office printer. The CAN$20K printer (yes, it costs that much!) has been nicknamed "the time-machine" by the people in the lab, as it looks it is capable of it. I mused the first time I saw that the lab has its own personal printer (the rest of the department shares a printer which is smaller than it!), but judging by the amount of work we churn out, it's a good thing we have one.


My boss has also put me in charge of writing manuals for everything in the lab. Her reason was I have to learn from scratch anyway, so I might as well put it in writing so people that come after me can benefit.


So if academia fails (touch wood!), I might be able to work for Xerox...or the manual for dummies people.




2) You can take a Malaysian out of Malaysia, but not the stomach...




Nasi lemak! The whole works...


Malaysians naturally look for Malaysian food everywhere they go. And if they can't find it, they cook it themselves. The above was a product of 3 Malaysians coming together to satisfy our Malaysian taste buds, while introducing Malaysian food to a Persian family.


And lucky for me, there's a lot more Malaysian restaurants in Vancouver than Toronto. In fact, for our next lab outing, we're having Malaysian food at a quite-pricey joint! And the boss is paying :)




3) I want to learn how to ski...




At the Peak-to-Peak Gondola at Whistler-Blackcombe...

I went to famous ski-slopes Whistler for a visit with my cousin. Felt kind of silly at parts as we were a few of the only people who didn't know how to ski or snowboard. Really want to take it up, but heck, it's expensive! And there's the issue of me being quite injury-prone...


Which leads us to point 4:



4) I cannot avoid the injury-proneness...


The doctor at urgent care who saw me for my back injury took one look at my back and said: "Uh-oh, that doesn't look right." When I came back from getting treated (our lab is right next to urgent care, which is very convenient, teehee), my boss asked for an update. 


When she heard what the doctor said, she snorted and said "I can tell something is wrong just by looking at the front!"




5) I cannot resist animals...


Sleigh-ride at Whistler...

Horseys! Enough said...




6) A warm drink with whip-cream is the perfect thing for a cold winter day...



Hot peppermint chocolate...Yum...


Starbucks is making a profit from the cold, that I can tell you. I'm usually too cheap to pay for a drink as the cost really adds up, but in the winter, I make a beeline for hot chocolate and specialty drinks to warm up. It's nice people notice and I've been getting gift cards for Starbucks for Christmas (that and a co-worker gave me and another co-worker a gigantic Starbucks mug)...


It's amazing how popular this chain is in Vancouver. Torontonians drink a lot more Tim Hortons. But geez, I can barely find Timmies here for some reason. Walk into the lab any day, and you'd find practically all the regulars there holding a cup of java from Starbucks. Come to think of it, I might be the only one who doesn't...


Hmmm...



Tuesday, 25 October 2011

You Never Know Where You Might Meet a Friend...



Yesterday, I followed the people I stay with to Costco (it's where you buy everything in bulk). As usual, I was looking for food.


Found some Ferrero Rocher for a good deal, so got some. And while I was wondering around aimlessly, I saw some coats on sale. Now, I needed a rain coat, and have had good experience with a winter jacket I found at Costco so I went to look. 


Incidentally, this lady who was totting her little baby in a carrier around her back was also looking at coats. We both liked the same coat and I tried mine and was on my merry way.


Then I realised this lady could not try on her coat because her infant was strapped to her.  I asked if she wanted someone to hold the little tyke and she was so surprised, her eyes nearly popped out.


But she accepted (oh, she did ME the favour--I've been dying to hold babies). So I had this super cute baby who's all of 5-months to play with for a while while mummy tried on the jacket. He just looked at me with this oogy-woogy eyes and kept smiling. Such lovely temperament!


Mummy and I got to talking and it turns out she came from Tanzania last year.


And before we parted ways, she gave me her phone number and told me to give her a call and I am welcome to come visit her.


Yes! Now I feel more like me...I made another friend...:)



Monday, 10 October 2011

Withdrawal...



I love Vancouver! Rain and all too, although it's nice to grumble about it...


I'm getting settled into my work (and love it!), I've gotten quite used to my new supervisor, made new friends, know my peers and colleagues, know my bus routes to my most frequented places, and have already popped my knee. Once I've hobbled in a place, I know I've settled in.


Everything seems perfect, but I feel like my life is somewhat empty.

Why? Because I have not done something for someone else...Favours don't count.

No volunteer work anywhere.


This is ridiculous...I feel like I'm going through withdrawal.



Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away...


I feel like Paddington Bear...


Vancouver is well-known for its rain...Everybody who heard I was moving here gushed about how beautiful it is, and it was immediately followed by a comment about the rain.


My thesis-supervisor told me to buy a BIG umbrella and she warned me I would be looking for Noah and his ark come November because it would have rained so much...


Indeed, it rained the first day I worked. When I came for my interview, the weather behaved and I went home thinking people might have been exaggerating. But true enough, it rained my first day. And I had no umbrella (in my defence, I wanted to know what kind of rain they had before deciding whether I wanted a folded or standard one--I've learnt I might need both). Good thing my co-worker lent me his, and another found me a spare one she kept in her car.

I bought an umbrella from the university bookstore immediately.


Now I need rain boots and I need a rain jacket.

And I feel like Paddington bear...


I've been playing Bobby Vinton's "Rain, Rain, Go Away" the past few days, and today, I wrote my own on the way home on the bus...


Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day,
Rain, rain, go away,
Daphne wants to go and play.

Daphne woke up one day and wanted to go and play,
Mummy looked out the window and said oh dear, it’s raining today,
I don’t want you to catch a cold, so for now, let’s play inside,
That’s too bad, mummy, cos the real fun’s all outside.

Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day,
Rain, rain, go away,
Please let Daphne go and play.

And then the raindrops they stopped, and the clouds they came out white,
The sky was blue again now, and the sun was shining bright,
Mummy looked out the window and said what a beautiful day,
You’ve been a good girl, so let’s go out and play.

Rain, rain, stay away,
Don’t come back for another day,
Rain, rain, stay away,
Thank you for letting me play…

                                                                                ~Daphne Ling~


That cheered me up... :)


Monday, 12 September 2011

"You're the Scooby Doo Girl"...



I was in Peterborough recently for a visit--Peterborough is where I attended university. It was nice to just go back and visit, see friends and some professors. That place has always felt like home and it will remain my first home in Canada.


I had coffee with the puppet coordinator of KOB-CMHA (Kids on the Block-Canadian Mental Health Organization) and he then asked if I will go back to the office and say hello to the volunteer coordinator with him. I was more than happy to go as I had not seen her in a while, so follow him I did.



While we were there, a lady popped her head in and proceeded to do some photocopying (the photocopier is in the room we were in) and she ended up staying to chat.


After about 10 minutes, I realized I hadn't introduced myself, so I extended my hand and introduced myself.


The minute I said my name, she said "I know!" with this look of realization on her face as if it just dawned on her.



I was surprised because I've come into the office only a few times.


And then she said "you were really nice to my daughter in the hospital when she was ill. You're the Scooby-Doo girl! The minute you put your hand out, I knew who you were!".



Oh wow. I remember this kid. She had come in for strep-throat and was such a cheery kid that I stopped to chat with her and brought her popsicles and a drink for her throat. We then got to talking and somehow the conversation of puppets came up and I mentioned I actually worked with them. And then she found out my name and instantly said "Like Scooby-Doo!" and we had to help describe Daphne from the show to the mum as she confused Velma and Daphne up!



Who would have thought? Her mum said she just got a job at CMHA and remembered me when passing the puppets. And she told me her daughter was doing well, which is always a great feeling.


This is something I will sorely miss about Peterborough. The comfy, homey feeling of knowing the people around you.



Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Taking a Chance on Me...


It has been a few years since I came to Canada, and I have been amazed at how different I have become.


Given, I wasn't a bad student when I was back home, but I wasn't the best either. I will say I was slightly above average, but nothing spectacular. And I'm pretty sure you would have found a few teachers who would have said "she can try harder", or "she's not applying herself".


But things have...changed.




I now work my behind off for my grades, and it won't satisfy me till I know I got the best grade I could have gotten. I will review all exams and assignments during my professor's office hours even if the score was as perfect as could be. In fact, I've had a couple of exams where I scored higher than perfect because the professor felt I deserved some "bonus" points.


What changed?




I think it was because I found something I enjoyed. I actually enjoyed the subject material and I enjoyed the way things are structured.


I enjoyed that I could ask as many questions as I wanted, I enjoyed that I could experiment with my own hands, I enjoyed that I could discuss "taboo" subjects without fear of prosecution, and I enjoyed learning that it was okay to share your accomplishments without being labelled a "boaster".



Am I the brightest crayon in the box? No...


Am I the most talented? No...



But I am hardworking and I don't give up easily. And if there's one thing I learned in Canada, it's that it's ok to speak of your strengths and weaknesses.

In fact, my supervisor in university said one of things that helped me land a job was because I could acknowledge my weakness to my supervisor-to-be. 


I've also learned that it's ok to aim far, but you should be prepared to work for it.




Does anyone owe you a living? No.

But someone might just take a chance on you if you work hard, just like they took a chance on me.



Friday, 19 August 2011

Learning to Trust that Things Happen in Due Time...

This time last month, I was stressing like crazy about going to Vancouver for my interview. This time this month, I'm still stressing, but I'm reminded that all things that are meant to happen will find a way of happening.


After my posting about the job, I got an email from a reader of this blog (I'll keep her unnamed since she didn't publish the comment and emailed me instead) sent me an email offering assistance. She is a fellow Malaysian who moved to Vancouver a few years back. We're now already talking about furniture and where to go and eat when I get to Vancouver, and she has even offered to pick me up from the airport if I need it (thank you! I will keep that in mind if I get horribly lost).


Balloons from cousins to celebrate the Snoopy-themed presentation I did for the interview.
It then turned out a friend of mine who is a researcher in a long-term health care facility here told me his wife got her Ph.D. from UBC, and offered assistance. She has been a lot of help advising on neighbourhoods that are safe and close to the university.


My colleague-to-be has also been of tremendous assistance with accommodation and services in Vancouver, which I'm very grateful for.


And then my cousin's friend's friend heard of a Baha'i family doing homestay on the bus-route to UBC. So I will be staying with this family, and having home-cooked food three times a day!


And then I go on to find out that my supervisor/professor stayed in BC for 6 years doing her MA/Ph.D. and had some ideas about life in Vancouver and had some valuable advice about certain things I hadn't thought about.


Now it's just the nitty-gritty paper work and waiting for the work permit to arrive (argh!)...



Sunday, 7 August 2011

Got a Job!



About to cross Capilano Bridge!

I am so happy, I could plotz (I have been watching the Nanny, hence, the Yiddish)!


I just got offered a research-tech position at the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Was in UBC for a few days for an interview and just enjoying Vancouver. It is a beautiful city, with gorgeous greenery and beaches.


I am very excited about the position as I would be able to put to use many of the skills I learned in Trent--I am still finding it hard to believe that I found a lab that I liked that much! I felt at home the minute I walked in (ok, so I am very young at heart)!




Now, I'm stressing about the second big move in three years or so. The first was, of course, moving from Malaysia to Canada. And the first step is to find accommodation...which is ridiculously expensive in Vancouver...

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Hot...Hot...Hot...



I never thought I'd say this, but it is impossibly hot in Toronto! 


We've been having temperatures feeling like 40 degrees (or more, maybe, I haven't listened to the news every day) with humidity. The 'actual' temperature is around 27 degrees.




I've been huddled up like a hermit crab, and indeed, it does feel like the homes have different weather zones with the basements cold and the upper floors like an oven!


It's become a chore to go for daily walks as the heat has been excruciating. We keep hearing on the radio of warnings about the heat and we're asked to check on our elderly friends, family and neighbours. People are advised to stay indoors, wear loose clothing, apply sunscreen and use a hat, or go to the shopping malls.




Interesting how extreme the temperature is in Canada. The winter is freezing cold that entire rivers can freeze and in the summer, it is so hot people can die. And for some reason, the people here are not very good at adapting to the heat. After all, we don't hear of warnings like this in Malaysia. And I know for a fact that humidity in Malaysia is much higher than here and the 'actual' temperatures are higher too.


How did we do it in Malaysia?




I know my heat tolerance has drastically dropped. So much so that I get a headache just going out and start getting drowsy just by getting into the car because I feel like there's too much trapped heat in my body.




How did we do it?!? When I think back to the days where I wore blazers (with lining!!!) to school as part of my Prefect's uniform, with a tie! I'm amazed I didn't collapse of heat stroke when I consider my tolerance now.



Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Male? Female? Not sure?...



I was watching Private Practice online last night, and I randomly clicked "Wait and See" from Season 2. One of the patients was a child who was born with ambiguous genitalia as a result of 11β-Hydroxylase deficient congenital adrenal hyperplasia.


The parents went through a turmoil trying to figure out what was the best for their child (i.e., sex assignment surgery or not, which would indirectly lead to gender assignment), and it was clear that so many things go on in a pregnancy. The parents were lead to believe during baby ultrasounds that their child was a male, and they had even named him Matthew. And that was the identity that they had already created for their child.




The father was having a particular hard time accepting his child, and insisted on the surgery to make him male. This, despite the caution from the doctors that only 30% of children born with this condition orienting towards male. The doctors were sure he would choose female, given the probabilities.


He even said at one point:
"Imagine being a 6-year-old boy with a vagina".


But the doctor had a reply (obviously):
"Imagine being a 20-year-old woman without one".




And the mother who had until now agreed with the husband about choosing 'male' clearly had a moment there where she realised what her decision might do to her child. And she began to identify with the female side of her child, and it hit her as a woman.


It's interesting how we create out entire identities around our sex. We identify with so many things because of our sex, and our gender. And how your entire existence is challenged because of this.




There was a case in Toronto just recently where the parents of a child has refused to let the world know the sex of their child so that he/she could develop his/her own identity. The child has been named Storm.


What do you think? Would the parents be doing harm or good? In this case, the child has genitalia. But what about children who are born with ambiguous genitalia?




I know my parents gave me freedom to wear what I want. There was a period of time when I abhorred skirts and/or dresses (I think Malaysian school uniforms was one reason, lol). Having to attend functions where it was more the norm for a lady to wear a dress was a particular chore, because I didn't have any! I even remember one where I did manage to find a skirt that I actually liked and wore it and everyone was so shocked I wore one!


Things have changed, for sure. I love dresses now, although I still love my jeans and slacks. But I definitely am very comfortable in skirts and dresses now, and would definitely balk if anyone made me change the way I dress.




When did that change happen? Was it because of society? Or was it because I had to learn to grow into my own body as a woman, and love it?



Friday, 10 June 2011

Convocation Pictures!...


Daddy, me and mummy...



My parents are in Canada! Woo-hoo! They came for my convocation last week, and will be staying till the end of the month. I finally sorted through my convocation pictures last night and thought I'd post a few of them up. Many thanks to my cousin, Ee Lynn!



Mummy, Aunty, me, and Ee Lynn...



Me and the Chancellor, Tom Jackson...


Just some flowers I liked of the event...



One of the few pictures I have of my dress without the robe...




Time to go home!


It was a good day altogether, besides the sunburn...But it was definitely worth it!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

I Really Miss Having Animal-Pets...



I had my first dog when I was 5 years old. It was from a friend of my mum's. She was white, had one blue eye, and was a mixed Dachshund-Spitz. We named her Pansy, for her blue-ish eye.

Pansy was later joined by Bronco, a mixed Dachshund-Dunno-what. When Bronco got hit by a car (it was a hit-and-run), we got another dog named Sheba, a mixed Dalmatian-Dunno-what. We subsequently had Princess, a pure-bred Dachshund and then Hazel, another pure-bred Dachshund.

Pansy led a long-life of about 12 years. Bronco's life was shorter-lived, as was Princess, who died as a puppy. Sheba is now about 8 years old, and Hazel is about 7.



In between all this, we had Baby, a cat I inherited from my aunt when she moved. Baby lived with us for about 6 years before we had to euthanize him because he had oral cancer.


As you can see, I've had animals nearly my whole life. Moving away to Canada was difficult for one reason in particular: I missed having them around.

I always stop and look whenever I pass all the dogs wherever I am, whether in university, in town, or out on the nature trails. I will even play with them if their owners look friendly enough that I can ask.


I love visiting homes of people who have animals. If they have cats, I will happily snuggle up to them.


Now that I've moved out of university-residence, one thing keeps popping into my head. I want an animal-companion. I know I can't afford a dog and I know I don't have the time to keep walking them...

But a cat...Cats are, by nature, more independent; I don't have to walk them and they can use a kitty-litter. They also cost way less by virtue of the fact that if you're gone for a whole night, you don't have to board them (just leave enough food and fresh water all over the place and fresh litter), and also because they eat way less.


I know people will say I'm nuts for getting something that I'm completely responsible for (cost, health, boarding when I'm away etc.), but I am actually considering this because I miss them terribly. And I am definitely happier when I'm around them.


I'll have to eventually get my own place if and when I get a job (I'm now living with my aunt). Is it that crazy to come home stressed out from work wanting to cuddle with a cat? Sure, cats can be very aloof, but if you start them young thinking you're their companion, it works!


Honestly, the ONLY issue I can think of right now is if I were to go home or anywhere else for a vacation. What do I do with my cat then?



Saturday, 30 April 2011

I'm Done University!





Home for the past year...



I left the lab for the last time today...No more punching codes to get in...No more working late nights in the lab where the only people walking the hallways are security to check who's still around...No more singing in the hallways at night because I feel like it and I know no one can hear me...

A friend caught me on camera coming out of the lab. Well, at least I have this picture to remind me of how it looks like...






Printed and bound!



And finally, my thesis. Oh dear lord...I'm broke just printing alone (FOUR copies!)...But it's been the most worthwhile task in my undergraduate career...The autonomy, the pride in actually finishing it, the sense of accomplishment, and the skills!



And the culmination of the thesis was the department poster presentation. Each student is required to present to 3 faculty who will grade your work, and anyone else--faculty, staff, student, public--who came by who was interested.

It was the weirdest feeling having to present to your supervisor. Especially since she knows everything there is to know about your project! But it was definitely good practice!






My poster on presentation day...




Along with my fellow lab mate (each faculty takes on 2 thesis students), I will be presenting my thesis at the 72nd Canadian Psychological Association conference in June. It's pretty cool both our thesis got accepted! So any practice is good...





But yeah! I'm done!



Friday, 15 April 2011

Most Injured During Time at University...;)



I'm enjoying my 'noodle'!



I honestly think if there was an award for 'most injured during time at university', I would win hands-down. But I'm cool with it because hey, I'm unique that way.


I had a fall last weekend, and have a 'potentially' fractured rib. They say it's 'potentially fractured' because apparently X-Rays can't always see a fracture--the doctor also said something about too much swelling and inflammation over the ribs to tell. My pain was consistent with a fracture though, so they're treating it as such.


I am really enjoying the SwimEx pool on campus as such--nice, pulsating bubbles and currents at a nice warm temperature really feels nice for a sore chest. I can do some light exercise in there too, and it's just relaxing to sit on my 'noodle' and feel the currents.


I think I'll try doing the treadmill and the bike in the water next.



Maybe I should try writing my thesis in the water. Out of water, it's either writing in discomfort/pain or writing while doped/loopy. Lol!




Saturday, 26 March 2011

Of Chocolate, Cheese and Donuts!




Wow, it's been over a month since I posted. It's the final month in university, so things are crazy busy. I was also down with some nasty tummy bug so that left me out of commission for a while.

Besides being busy with school and volunteer work and being sick, what have I been up to?








Playing with my friend's super handsome, rescued from the ditch cat, Finnigan...Love him! Been playing with lotsa animals lately for some reason...








Attended a thank you party (see the cupcake) at the Disability Services Office on campus. The party was for the volunteers...







Visited a cheese factory in Campbellford with the people from the puppet program (Oh my God!!!) and got so lost in happy thoughts in there, it wasn't even funny. I finally settled for some roasted-garlic-cheese-curds and some jalapenos-and-red-chilli cheese!







Visited Doohers Bakery in Campbellford, that serves the most sinfully delicious cream-donuts. I also got some awesome nanaimo bars (dessert made of chocolate, custard and coconut)...


The trip to Campbellford is my once-a-year guilt pleasure trip. They also have a chocolate factory! And you wonder why it is a guilt-pleasure trip! Chocolate, cheese and donuts, all on the same day!






And after all that sinful eating, it's gym time! Hehe...



Thursday, 24 February 2011

Oohlala, This Feels Good!



I wish someone had told me sooner that my insurance covers massages--yeah, yeah, I should have investigated.



I went for a massage today after getting a prescription (only covers you if you have a doctor's prescription) from the doctor. With my thesis in full-swing and me up at odd hours of the night and sometimes in the lab till 10pm, the doctor didn't even blink when I asked her how do I go about if I wanted a massage.

She just said "oh, you need a prescription" and handed me one.


The massage therapist asked what my complaint was and when I said "STRESS!", laughed and said "fair enough!".


By the looks of how much the plan covers, I might actually be able to squeeze in a massage once every week before school ends in about 2 months! This is taking into account the fact that I have to pay about $10 per visit (co-pay).

Woohoo!




Sunday, 13 February 2011

Skating on the Trent Canal...




Skating on the Trent Canal...



Ok, I finally did it!


It's been about 3 years since I've been to Canada and this is the first time I've gone skating. The last time I skated, it was probably like, 10 or 12 years ago (in Sunway Pyramid)!

But like riding the bike, you never completely forget...That and the fact that I can kind of roller-blade ;)


It was a pretty lovely day out. It was relatively warm outside with a low of about -3 degrees (that's warm for Canadian winter)...


I started out walking like a duck on the ice, and the two little kids and teenager who were there with me were laughing...I had gone with the family whom I work with for Kinark Child and Family Services (no pictures of them for confidentiality reasons); they were really awesome and had even brought an extra pair of skates for me to wear.


And then after that when I figured out (somewhat!) how to stop, we went all the way down the river until the signs told us to stop. The kids were having a great time falling and sliding all over the ice, and towards the end, there was a huge gust of wind that sent me wham onto my bum.

So much for saying just minutes earlier that I hadn't fallen on the ice.


When we finally had enough, we made it back to where we had left our boots, and as I tried to stop myself from going headlong onto the bench (I also had to navigate snow that had piled around the bench), I took another mighty big, spectacular splat onto the ice. The elderly men around had a nice laugh as my feet went up into the air...



You know, as much as we complain about the winter here in Canada, it can be quite fun! Heeeheee...


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Healthcare, anyone?




For things like prescription drugs, we pay 20% here in Ontario...



One thing which fascinates me to no end is how two countries which are separated by just a border can be so different (of course there are similarities!). Think Malaysia and Singapore...

I can see that over here in North America too. Although Canada has many similarities to the US, there are some things which are very different. Healthcare comes to mind...



I hear my friends and/or acquaintances in the States grumbling about healthcare and how it is exorbitantly expensive to seek medical care. Many don't have insurance.

And I realise how lucky I am to be here in Canada.




Canadians pay alot when it comes to taxes, especially here in Ontario where the tax is 13%. So everything that you plan to buy, be prepared to add an additional 13% to the price tag. Needless to say, shopping ain't much fun.

But healthcare, especially if you need regular healthcare, is great. The waitlist is long, and it is a pain that you need a referal for everything, but when you do get in, it's awesome!



I go for physiotherapy and hydrotherapy now (Note: At least in Ontario--I don't know about other provinces--services such as physio, occupational therapy, dental and prescription drugs require the patient to pay 20%; other services like hospital/doctor visits, diagnostic tests/bloodwork are free) for my double joints, in addition to my ballet. And in just these short 6 months, I can already see the difference.



I fell just the other day that resulted in a big bruise on my knee. But unlike the previous times where I would have limped quite a bit for some days, this time, I was able to walk just fine. In fact, I could even go for ballet just a couple days after and jump around.

And I really like my physiotherapist because she tailors my exercise such that I can do it in the university gym (which is connected to the physiotherapy clinic) or at home with regular things like textbooks.



The healthcare Canada provides (remember we pay a substantially high tax) is a welcome blessing, although the waitlist is a real pain. Regardless of the waitlist, if it weren't for the healthplan, I'm sure many students like me will shun hospitals even when we're horribly ill. Like when I needed the hospital in my first year (a real bad case of the flu), I could at least rest assured I won't get a heart attack when the bill came.

All I had to pay was 20% of the ambulance fee--I paid $45 in case anyone's wondering.



Which I found out THIS year, my extended coverage plan would have covered the other 20% (Darn!)...



Saturday, 22 January 2011

Seizure=Squiggly Lines...


I was in the hospital the other day, and somebody had a seizure. Now, for those of you who haven't seen real life seizures, they often aren't as dramatic as what you see on television. True, there is the stereotypical rhythmic convulsions, but as opposed to what the media sometimes portrays, it isn't like someone getting possessed.

As I watched bits and pieces of the seizure, all I could think about was brain waves.


I'm taking a class in Sleep & Arousal (so cool!) this year, and we had just finished a class on basic brain waves.



All I could see as the seizure happened was squiggly lines, and trying to imagine what would the EEG look like if the person had been hooked up to an EEG-machine. I kinda wished my professor had been there to explain the different changes in brain waves as it happened. Of course, I could watch from a distance (I was talking to a relative of the person who was talking about the person's epilepsy) because it's a hospital and there are people who can take care of the person.



But it does make you wonder. How much work it takes our body-and in this case, the brain-to maintain control over what seems like 'nothing'. It's nothing to most of us because our bodies function just fine. But just watch what happens in a disease, and you will see how much we need our bodies to maintain control and balance (i.e., homeostasis).

It's also amazing that even in a state of crisis, the body has protective mechanisms. Because most seizures spontaneously remit. So somewhere inside, we must have some system that works to get the body back to normal even as it is out of whack.


Funny how a class can make you see things from a different perspective. I would have just seen the person a while ago. Now I'm seeing squiggly lines as well.


Sunday, 2 January 2011

Excellent Customer Service...



Customer service can make a difference, and having nice customer service is just awesome.

Last year, my cousin's family and I went to Red Lobster to celebrate a birthday, and my cousin and I decided to share our meal. So we ordered everything and told the waiter we were sharing everything so he could give us a plate.



I was pleasantly surprised when the kitchen took the trouble to split the soup we ordered into two different bowls so we didn't have to do it ourselves. We then ordered a bowl of mussels, and the waiter apologetically returned to say there were no more mussels, but while we wait for our other dish, here was some Caesar salad on the house (and yes, he split it up into two for us too).


This year, we went to The Keg to celebrate a birthday, and again, my cousin and I shared a meal. Imagine my surprise two plates of food came for us. The food was not split. We got an extra twice-baked potato filled with bacon bits (yum) and a half baked tomato with cheese. I looked at my cousin and we wondered how it happened, since the meal we ordered only came with one potato.

At the entrance, my cousin had told them we were celebrating a birthday and wanted to order two pieces of cake. The cake came with sparklers on top, but that wasn't the surprise.

When the bill came, the cakes and the extra potato? Free of charge!!!


We got about $20 worth of food yesterday, and they didn't even ask to see proof that there was a birthday. How trusting.

Fair enough, our bill at The Keg was high, and they might not give free stuff if it was just two people sharing a meal, but, fact is, they did not have to give any free food!


How's that for customer service?


P.s., If you're eating at restaurants in Canada, I would suggest trying to share a meal because they are massive servings. The customary tip (unless you were dissatisfied with the service) is at least 10%.