Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sharing Nugget #44

#44: The Power of Hope

Check out this article.,9171,1580392-2,00.html

The Power of Hope
Friday, Jan. 19, 2007 By

David's head was literally stuffed with lung cancer. I was called in to take care of his hip and pelvic bones broken by the growing metastases. His seeming nonchalance about the pain and the surgery was clearly out of concern for his beautiful, young family--his wife Carol, a nurse, and his three kids, who were there every night. He couldn't keep up the carefree charade over the next two weeks, though, as his speech slurred, then became incoherent. He stopped speaking, then moving.

I dreaded making rounds on a patient for whom there was no good news, no good plan. When his doctors rescanned his head, there was barely any brain left. The cerebral machine that talked and wondered, winked and sang, the machine that remembered jokes and birthdays and where the big fish hid on hot days, was nearly gone, replaced by lumps of haphazardly growing gray stuff. Gone with that machine seemed David as well. No expression, no response to anything we did to him. As far as I could tell, he was just not there.

It was particularly bad in the room that Friday when I made evening rounds. The family was there, sad, crying faces on all of them. I fussed with the hip a bit. His respirations had become agonal--the gulping kind of breathing movement that immediately precedes death. I knew Carol had seen this and that she knew what it meant. I said something inane and slid out the door fast, looking importantly at the papers in my hand, striving for the nice, empty corridor. But Carol came after me, needing to catch me away from the kids. Her eyes red-rimmed, she asked me where her husband was. I had noticed the cross around her neck. I said I wasn't sure where he was, but I was pretty sure where he was going. She wanted to believe me, and I think she did.

Saturday morning the sun poured in as I checked the room. The bed was at chest height, made up and empty, with clean, fresh sheets over the vinyl mattress. As I turned to leave, I was blocked by a nurse, an older Irish lady with a doleful look on her face. She had taken care of David last night.

"He woke up, you know, doctor--just after you left--and said goodbye to them all. Like I'm talkin' to you right here. Like a miracle. He talked to them and patted them and smiled for about five minutes. Then he went out again, and he passed in the hour." My eyebrows went up.

Two weeks later I saw Carol in the lobby. It was busy and very public. But before her last "God bless you," I couldn't help asking, "Uh. Carol, did ...?"

She knew my question. With a wide, knowing smile, she nodded and said, "Oh, yes, he sure did." And I believed her.

But it wasn't David's brain that woke him up to say goodbye that Friday. His brain had already been destroyed. Tumor metastases don't simply occupy space and press on things, leaving a whole brain. The metastases actually replace tissue. Where that gray stuff grows, the brain is just not there.

What woke my patient that Friday was simply his mind, forcing its way through a broken brain, a father's final act to comfort his family.

Sharing Nugget #43

#43: Why some people are resistant to change; even if it leads to greater good.

I recently saw Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. Here’s the low-down:

Global Warming:
Is REALLY killing the planet (See for yourself).
Is caused by CO2 emissions.
To reduce CO2 emissions,
We must shift norms.
Norms of using fossil fuels to norms of clean energy
Norms of big oil companies to high tech firms
Norms of people who survives on jobs in the traditional energy industry to high tech energy industry.
But norms are almost impossible to shift.
Because of resistance from capitalists of oil companies,
And from politicians influenced by such capitalists.
Facts on global warming are even suppressed!
The only consequence of shifting norms are the relocation of wealth between capitalists.
And they are only a handful of people,
Their stake is just to stay or become richer.
A handful of people risking the lives of millions globally for material wealth?
Why not win-win?
Current capitalists can capitalize on the need for renewable energy and make money out of it.
Everyone wins!
(Anyway, US emits 30% of CO2.)
And does it mean, without oil politics, less wars?

Anyway, quote of the day:
“Women are just baby machines” – A certain Japanese Minister.

Out come the rotten tomatoes!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sharing Nugget #42

#42: Things that makes me proud to be Singaporean.

Every once in a while, some impossible things happen. And this is one of them. Singapore football makes the headlines of Soccernet. Whoa.

Let us dwell in their glory. Well done Lions! We all rooted for you guys. (My GOAL!!!!! screams for Khairul Amri's strike startled my wife... Then she joined in the histerical dance I was uncontrollably doing.)

Here's a pic. Look at Singapore right up there with the big boys of football.

Singapore usurp Thailand on their way to the top
Michael Church

"On paper it should never happen, but tiny Singapore have usurped Thailand and their other more illustrious neighbours once again to become South East Asia's pre-eminent footballing power.

Despite being home to just four million people, the city state once referred to by former Indonesia president B.J. Habibie as the 'Little Red Dot' rose above the giants of the region on Sunday to retain the Asean Football Championship title they won two years ago.

In 2005, Indonesia - with a population of over 250 million - were humbled by Raddy Avramovic and his troops and at the Supachalasai Stadium, despite having the baying Bangkok crowd behind them, it was the turn of the Thais to perish at the hands of Singapore.

A 3-2 aggregate win was sealed with a 1-1 draw when Khairul Amri scored the equaliser eight minutes from the end of a game that saw the hopes of Thailand's 70 million football fans dashed.

And with Malaysia and Indonesia having earlier succumbed, Singapore's giant slaying feats are now becoming commonplace.

The win maintained a record run for the Singaporeans, who have now gone 17 games unbeaten in the competition, their last defeat coming in a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of bitter rivals Malaysia in December 2002.

Fifteen of those have been under the command of Avramovic, who has also maintained Singapore's astonishing record of winning the tournament every time they have progressed beyond the group phase.

Sunday's victory was hailed island-wide with Today newspaper proclaiming Avramovic's team the 'kings of South-east Asia', a theme echoed by the nation's leading daily broadsheet, The Straits Times.

But for all the hyperbole, this year's success was built just as much on the forward planning of the national association and the man-management skills of Avramovic as it was on the technical ability of the men in blue shirts.

With a squad that boasts an array of overseas-born talent that has been integrated into the local footballing fabric, the Singaporeans have used their heads as much as their feet to climb the regional ladder.

Midfielder Mustafic Fahrudin, scorer of the controversial and crucial penalty in the first leg of the final against the Thais, is Serbian by birth and was granted Singaporean citizenship as part of the Football Association of Singapore's attempts to deepen the national team's talent pool.

China-born Shi Jiayi, another import, also played a key role while Avramovic's squad also featured Nigerian duo Itimi Dickson and Precious Emuejeraye as well as Daniel Bennett, an Englishman by birth.

The imports have complemented local-born stars such as Indra Sahdan Daud and Noh Alam Shah and under the control of Avramovic the mix has grown increasingly potent.

It is a policy that has provoked scorn throughout the region in the past, but it continues to reap dividends and is providing the platform upon which the nation is building towards its next goal: qualifying for the World Cup.

When Singapore first won the regional championship back in 1998, the country's sights were set on becoming the first country from South East Asia to make it to the finals since Indonesia - then known as the Dutch East Indies - represented Asia in France in 1938.

Disappointing showings in the Asean Championship in 2000 and 2002 suggested those goals were over-ambitious, but the securing of Avramovic's services saw fortunes change.

Victory over Indonesia in the final of the 2004 Tiger Cup reinvigorated the local scene before impressive performances against the likes of Japan, Oman and North Korea in the qualifying tournament for the 2006 World Cup gave an additional boost.

A win over Iraq and a draw with China in the qualifying tournament for this summer's Asian Cup have only added to the sense of progression within Singaporean football and retaining the Asean title - defeating Thailand for the first time in almost 30 years along the way - has cemented their position among the region's leading lights.

A stable structure both within the national side and at league level have paid off for Singapore but the danger now is that they could become a victim of their own success, with Avramovic a likely target for predators from both inside and outside the region.

The Serb is becoming one of Asia's most sought after coaches and, with Thailand's Chanvit Polchovin almost certain to be heading for a lucrative club contract in Vietnam, an opening has appeared at a side that will play at this summer's Asian Cup.

Avramovic's contract expires at the end of the year and the onus is now on the federation to secure his services through to the qualifying rounds for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, a timeframe during which Singapore will be aiming to become the first country to win the Asean title for a third tournament in a row.

But for now the Lions will revel in retaining a title few expected them to win two years ago. And for all the speculating, Avramovic made his immediate plans clear soon after captain Iskandar raised the trophy into the Bangkok sky.

'I need a holiday,' he said. 'After that, we will start planning for the SEA Games and, more importantly, the World Cup qualifiers next year.'

Singapore's football community will be hoping he returns revitalised and ready to lead the nation towards the next step in their football development."