Jan 29, 2011

Oxytocin - love potion no. 9

When I was little, my dad used to have a cassette of all the golden oldies with 2 legs till level of midthigh on the cover of the cassette. I really, really like all the songs in the cassette - not because of the cover, of course.

There's this particular song named Love Potion No. 9. The lyrics went:

I took my troubles down to Madame Rue
You know that gypsy with the gold-capped tooth
She's got a pad down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine
Sellin' little bottles of Love Potion Number Nine

I told her that I was a flop with chics
I've been this way since 1956
She looked at my palm and she made a magic sign
She said "What you need is Love Potion Number Nine"

She bent down and turned around and gave me a wink
She said "I'm gonna make it up right here in the sink"
It smelled like turpentine, it looked like Indian ink
I held my nose, I closed my eyes, I took a drink

I didn't know if it was day or night
I started kissin' everything in sight
But when I kissed a cop down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine
He broke my little bottle of Love Potion Number Nine

It was pretty obvious that when there is brewing troubles in the realm of love and relationship, a gypsy with a potion that made you go on a kissing spree ain't the best solution around.

Fast forward to today, in my line of work, day in and day out, I deal with oxytocin, without realizing it is also known as the hormone of love. It is being used to create a much affectionate family/relationship environment, meaning if your partner is strangely cold towards you, it's probably time to jab him/her. Probably.

Primarily, oxytocin or love potion is being used to increase uterine contraction to augment labor to prevent massive blood loss post delivery from a not-so-well contracted uterus.

Basically, the love potion helps to flex the uterine muscle - before birth, to push out the baby and after birth, to clamp down on all the massive bloody vessels of the uterus.

But, in real life, the love potion does more.
Oxytocin is best known for roles in female reproduction: 1) it is released in large amounts after distension of the cervix and uterus during labor, and 2) after stimulation of the nipples, facilitating birth and breastfeeding. Recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin's role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors
Why number 9? Probably, just to rhyme with Thirty-Four and Vine.

If I'm not mistaken, oxytocin is a nonapeptide, peptide of nine amino acids. (That's the remnant of memory of reading too much of basic sciences earlier last year)

Mila's adventure...

Pimped the below collection from somewhere...

Mila may be the happiest baby in the world. Her mother Adele Enersen has captured her daydreams. In the pictures, Mila may ride an elephant, play in blossom as a butterfly, or even fly as a pink superman. From creating ideas to implementation and editing, each of the photos is finished during a few minutes. The items used are just things around us like clothes, towels, umbrellas and toys. Enjoy the lovely photos, and maybe you can create some clever images as well.

A small dose of imagination can go very, very, very far...

Thinkin of ciplak several scene for little Genevieve...

Jan 27, 2011

tis piggy pegi skool

Early this month, my Aedan finally started to go to school!

Not really a school, more of kindy - his first few steps into the beautiful world of education.

He was all happy the few days before the term started but after first few days of disciplined experience in school, he began to rebel against school. Not that all the games in school doesn't attract him, he just wanted more and more and more. Probably every children is like that. Probably.

He was crying, shouting, throwing tantrum and etc (what else is new with a 4 years old kid) whenever he could not have his own way - the perfect freedom at home.

After a few weeks, he was getting more comfy with the whole kindy thingy, but something disturbing happened.

He had some abrasion wound, rather small and minute, 1 centimeter from below his left eye. According to him, someone accidentally poked him.

The next day, he had a deeper but small abrasion wound over his right upper arm and one good bite mark with all teeth impressions over his right forearm.

OMG!!! Eyes rolling..

And finally he told everyone that someone in the kindy bit him,
and that kid is his good friend.

Wow.. talk about kindy politics...

If that kid was a girl, that would be another ball game altogether...

Looks like his thrilling journey into the world of education and friendship starting to glow with excitement.

Jan 24, 2011


In the clinic, it is a rare sight to see people in tears, mainly because if they can come to clinic, they are relatively healthy.

But that day, it was different.

Both my patient and the patient of the junior doctor from my room went out for urine pregnancy test and came back positive.

Both were in tears, driven by different emotions and different reasons.

One was 14 years old, another was 38 years old.

One was overwhelmed with joy, another overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty.

Made me ponder for a while.

For the same thing, perhaps time and age will drive us to tears for different reasons at different level.

Made me ponder.

When will I have my last tear drops in this lifetime...

Jan 19, 2011

painful parenting: is it worth it?

Following a good reckons from scott, I found the following article a worthy read at any time of the year, especially for new parents torn between maintaining the hard solid commando-style conservative Chinese parenting while being constantly challenged by the new-world liberal Western-style parenting.

To be purely frank to everyone, for the past few years, parenting was a roller-coaster ride. Now, it's like the pirate ship ride. The ups and downs are still there, but much more, much much more predictable.

Coercion is everywhere whether you're looking or not. At times, the level of tension that these coercion can bring can be many times the stress level of presenting in a maternal mortality review at every level. At times, you just break down to tears, physically or internally, and try your best to convince yourself, for that moment that you have not lose your sanity. I am blardy sure those who have their children with them in those early years will share the same sentiment.

If anyone would to ask me whether I am a good father, my answer to this blissful question, not out of courtesy or purely being humble or polite, the truth is I am not sure, I am still learning, I am still holding on and I am sure I can fully qualify to be good.

But one thing that I can be sure of, without any doubt, without any reservation, that my dearest is a good mother with a good degree of relevant superiority.

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior By AMY CHUA

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

CAU cover
Amy Chua with her daughters, Louisa and Sophia, at their home in New Haven, Conn.

• attend a sleepover

• have a playdate

• be in a school play

• complain about not being in a school play

• watch TV or play computer games

• choose their own extracurricular activities

• get any grade less than an A

• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama

• play any instrument other than the piano or violin

• not play the piano or violin.

I'm using the term "Chinese mother" loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I'm also using the term "Western parents" loosely. Western parents come in all varieties.

All the same, even when Western parents think they're being strict, they usually don't come close to being Chinese mothers. For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It's hours two and three that get tough.

When it comes to parenting, the Chinese seem to produce children who display academic excellence, musical mastery and professional success - or so the stereotype goes. WSJ's Christina Tsuei speaks to two moms raised by Chinese immigrants who share what it was like growing up and how they hope to raise their children.

Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are tons of studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting. In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that "stressing academic success is not good for children" or that "parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun." By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way. Instead, the vast majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be "the best" students, that "academic achievement reflects successful parenting," and that if children did not excel at school then there was "a problem" and parents "were not doing their job." Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are more likely to participate in sports teams.

What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it's math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more.

Chinese parents can get away with things that Western parents can't. Once when I was young—maybe more than once—when I was extremely disrespectful to my mother, my father angrily called me "garbage" in our native Hokkien dialect. It worked really well. I felt terrible and deeply ashamed of what I had done. But it didn't damage my self-esteem or anything like that. I knew exactly how highly he thought of me. I didn't actually think I was worthless or feel like a piece of garbage.

chau inside

From Ms. Chua's album: 'Mean me with Lulu in hotel room... with score taped to TV!'

As an adult, I once did the same thing to Sophia, calling her garbage in English when she acted extremely disrespectfully toward me. When I mentioned that I had done this at a dinner party, I was immediately ostracized. One guest named Marcy got so upset she broke down in tears and had to leave early. My friend Susan, the host, tried to rehabilitate me with the remaining guests.

The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable—even legally actionable—to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, "Hey fatty—lose some weight." By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of "health" and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image. (I also once heard a Western father toast his adult daughter by calling her "beautiful and incredibly competent." She later told me that made her feel like garbage.)

Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best. Chinese parents can say, "You're lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you." By contrast, Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they're not disappointed about how their kids turned out.

I've thought long and hard about how Chinese parents can get away with what they do. I think there are three big differences between the Chinese and Western parental mind-sets.

First, I've noticed that Western parents are extremely anxious about their children's self-esteem. They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding a mediocre performance on a test or at a recital. In other words, Western parents are concerned about their children's psyches. Chinese parents aren't. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.

For example, if a child comes home with an A-minus on a test, a Western parent will most likely praise the child. The Chinese mother will gasp in horror and ask what went wrong. If the child comes home with a B on the test, some Western parents will still praise the child. Other Western parents will sit their child down and express disapproval, but they will be careful not to make their child feel inadequate or insecure, and they will not call their child "stupid," "worthless" or "a disgrace." Privately, the Western parents may worry that their child does not test well or have aptitude in the subject or that there is something wrong with the curriculum and possibly the whole school. If the child's grades do not improve, they may eventually schedule a meeting with the school principal to challenge the way the subject is being taught or to call into question the teacher's credentials.

If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn't get them, the Chinese parent assumes it's because the child didn't work hard enough. That's why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it. (And when Chinese kids do excel, there is plenty of ego-inflating parental praise lavished in the privacy of the home.)

chau inside
Sophia playing at Carnegie Hall in 2007.

Second, Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything. The reason for this is a little unclear, but it's probably a combination of Confucian filial piety and the fact that the parents have sacrificed and done so much for their children. (And it's true that Chinese mothers get in the trenches, putting in long grueling hours personally tutoring, training, interrogating and spying on their kids.) Anyway, the understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud.

By contrast, I don't think most Westerners have the same view of children being permanently indebted to their parents. My husband, Jed, actually has the opposite view. "Children don't choose their parents," he once said to me. "They don't even choose to be born. It's parents who foist life on their kids, so it's the parents' responsibility to provide for them. Kids don't owe their parents anything. Their duty will be to their own kids." This strikes me as a terrible deal for the Western parent.

Third, Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children's own desires and preferences. That's why Chinese daughters can't have boyfriends in high school and why Chinese kids can't go to sleepaway camp. It's also why no Chinese kid would ever dare say to their mother, "I got a part in the school play! I'm Villager Number Six. I'll have to stay after school for rehearsal every day from 3:00 to 7:00, and I'll also need a ride on weekends." God help any Chinese kid who tried that one.

Don't get me wrong: It's not that Chinese parents don't care about their children. Just the opposite. They would give up anything for their children. It's just an entirely different parenting model.

Here's a story in favor of coercion, Chinese-style. Lulu was about 7, still playing two instruments, and working on a piano piece called "The Little White Donkey" by the French composer Jacques Ibert. The piece is really cute—you can just imagine a little donkey ambling along a country road with its master—but it's also incredibly difficult for young players because the two hands have to keep schizophrenically different rhythms.

Lulu couldn't do it. We worked on it nonstop for a week, drilling each of her hands separately, over and over. But whenever we tried putting the hands together, one always morphed into the other, and everything fell apart. Finally, the day before her lesson, Lulu announced in exasperation that she was giving up and stomped off.

"Get back to the piano now," I ordered.

"You can't make me."

"Oh yes, I can."

Back at the piano, Lulu made me pay. She punched, thrashed and kicked. She grabbed the music score and tore it to shreds. I taped the score back together and encased it in a plastic shield so that it could never be destroyed again. Then I hauled Lulu's dollhouse to the car and told her I'd donate it to the Salvation Army piece by piece if she didn't have "The Little White Donkey" perfect by the next day. When Lulu said, "I thought you were going to the Salvation Army, why are you still here?" I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong, I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn't do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.

Jed took me aside. He told me to stop insulting Lulu—which I wasn't even doing, I was just motivating her—and that he didn't think threatening Lulu was helpful. Also, he said, maybe Lulu really just couldn't do the technique—perhaps she didn't have the coordination yet—had I considered that possibility?

"You just don't believe in her," I accused.

"That's ridiculous," Jed said scornfully. "Of course I do."

"Sophia could play the piece when she was this age."

"But Lulu and Sophia are different people," Jed pointed out.

"Oh no, not this," I said, rolling my eyes. "Everyone is special in their special own way," I mimicked sarcastically. "Even losers are special in their own special way. Well don't worry, you don't have to lift a finger. I'm willing to put in as long as it takes, and I'm happy to be the one hated. And you can be the one they adore because you make them pancakes and take them to Yankees games."

I rolled up my sleeves and went back to Lulu. I used every weapon and tactic I could think of. We worked right through dinner into the night, and I wouldn't let Lulu get up, not for water, not even to go to the bathroom. The house became a war zone, and I lost my voice yelling, but still there seemed to be only negative progress, and even I began to have doubts.

Then, out of the blue, Lulu did it. Her hands suddenly came together—her right and left hands each doing their own imperturbable thing—just like that.

Lulu realized it the same time I did. I held my breath. She tried it tentatively again. Then she played it more confidently and faster, and still the rhythm held. A moment later, she was beaming.

"Mommy, look—it's easy!" After that, she wanted to play the piece over and over and wouldn't leave the piano. That night, she came to sleep in my bed, and we snuggled and hugged, cracking each other up. When she performed "The Little White Donkey" at a recital a few weeks later, parents came up to me and said, "What a perfect piece for Lulu—it's so spunky and so her."

Even Jed gave me credit for that one. Western parents worry a lot about their children's self-esteem. But as a parent, one of the worst things you can do for your child's self-esteem is to let them give up. On the flip side, there's nothing better for building confidence than learning you can do something you thought you couldn't.

There are all these new books out there portraying Asian mothers as scheming, callous, overdriven people indifferent to their kids' true interests. For their part, many Chinese secretly believe that they care more about their children and are willing to sacrifice much more for them than Westerners, who seem perfectly content to let their children turn out badly. I think it's a misunderstanding on both sides. All decent parents want to do what's best for their children. The Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that.

Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they're capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.

—Amy Chua is a professor at Yale Law School and author of "Day of Empire" and "World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability." This essay is excerpted from "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua, to be published Tuesday by the Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 2011 by Amy Chua.

Clearly, boons stand out in both the Chinese and Western ways. But the Western parents' view of children being not in debt to parents does, at the simplest logic and common sense - a terrible deal for the parents.

Something from the Buddha scripts once mentioned, even if you carry your mother in left shoulder and your father in the right, and to walk for 10 years, you still can't repay your parents.

Every child like to go against the parents. It's not only a cool thing to do, but it's something that feel right at some point of time.


Nevertheless, at any level, overindulgence of disobedience of a child, no matter at a teenager or as an adult, is a crime in the first degree, being amnesic of all the sacrifices that parents had made over the decades, especially those early painstaking early years.

Jan 14, 2011

the weight of matter

after my achilles tendon repair, it is vital that I lose weight, mainly to avoid the nightmare of rerupture. I think it is more than a nightmare if I were to rerupture, it's a catastrophe.

losing weight can be a daunting task for me for 2 reasons.

first, heavy calories-losing sports are simply out of the plan mainly because my previous injury. it's a 9 months ban from my surgeon. it's a 1 year ban from myself. it's a probably lifetime ban from my dearest, considering the agony that I had put her through having to have it at such a bad time of the year. talk about going through thick and thin.

second, good food are everywhere in Penang. and i mean, really good food. plus, the wedding dinner marathon scattered around december.

my dearest is the overlord of weight-losing and master of calory-counting and her hellish high-stress diet plan doesn't really fit my happy-go-lucky profile.

Anyway, I rejoiced this morning, having to know I lost 5kgs over 3 months, using the simple plan of having lower calories breakfast, high protein dinner and weigh myself daily.

I hope my fairytale will continue.

Jan 7, 2011


Never thought I would share a song here... but somehow I love this song very much...

小情歌 by 蘇打綠

我想我很快樂 當有你的溫熱 腳邊的空氣轉了

我想我很適合 當一個歌頌者 青春在風中飄著
你知道 就算大雨讓整座城市顛倒 我會給你懷抱
受不了 看見你背影來到
寫下我 度秒如年難捱的離騷
就算整個世界被寂寞綁票 我也不會奔跑
逃不了 最後誰也都蒼老
寫下我 時間和琴聲交錯的城堡

你知道 就算大雨讓整座城市顛倒 我會給你懷抱
受不了 看見你背影來到
寫下我 度秒如年難捱的離騷
就算整個世界被寂寞綁票 我也不會奔跑
最後誰也都蒼老 寫下我
時間和琴聲交錯 的城堡

Jan 4, 2011

screwing up is not part of life

Not been writing much lately. probably it's a good thing, because I found that some visitors who found their way to my blog are googling up the wrong version of my name.

Thus, I can safely conclude that those people are not really close to me, but wish to read into some of my personal thoughts and opinions.

Somehow, I guess I am just being paranoia. You never really know how people who can find their way through to others or their family online and affect their life in a major way.

But anyway, at times, one don't really need someone else to help them screw up their life.

Some people are just super talented in screwing up their own life.

New face

I guess at this point, I choose to keep quiet and stand beside that person and be an entertained audience.

Sad Girl

From the beginning, I had always known it to be a tearjerker black comedy movie, masquerading as a lovely fairytale.

It is my personal opinion NOT to deprive anyone of the bitterness in life.

I will keep my fingers crossed that this bitterness will not be a permanent scar that swallows up whatever nice parts of this person's life.

P.S. a scar with mouth can be pretty scary.

epic fail photos - church marquee fail

probably a good advice...