Archive for August, 2007

h1

Drip my Blood

August 26, 2007

Blood Pack
I’ll be donating blood again. Doctors and Medical Technologists would see that it’s properly done.
They’re going to bleed me 450 cc of life giving liquid. They’re going to explain that it’s going to help my body, that it has a cleansing effect. They’re going to get me to answer questionnaires and sign waivers for whatever legal purpose to prevent me from suing them. They’re going to insert a needle into my vein, and let the liquid flow to the clear plastic bags, turning them dark red. They’re going to make me lie down on a folding bed to recuperate. They’re going to feed me cheap snacks, which will remind me of the consuelo de bobo practice of older times. Then they’ll give me the coveted donor card.
The card I was not given the previous time I donated because I gave them too little. It is a condition in my body, or it could be just a Med tech fumble, for my veins to collapse preventing further bleeding. They say that I would have benefits with that card. I trust their word for it. I do not trust their other rubbish.
What I mean by rubbish is what they tell others so that they may donate. I’m not referring to noble self sacrifice, but to the “benefits” of blood letting. Blood letting is not helpful; it has never been helpful. Travel through time to the middle and early modern ages, and you’ll see the devastating effect of blood letting.
George Washington died because of it! He believed in the theory of humors, that sickness was caused by an imbalance of body humors or fluids. Since blood is the easiest humor to remove, then it became standard practice then to bleed patients for a variety of sicknesses.
Now they’re trying that trick again. They’ll say, “We’ll remove your blood, then you’ll be healthier.” I’ll nod my head in pretended acquiescence, and let them do their stuff that I may get the prize, the blood donor card. They should have known better. Blood is continually being replaced whether we bleed or not. Besides, blood letting leaves us weaker. There’d be less oxygen traveling through our circulatory system if there’d be fewer oxygen carriers, the erythrocytes in the blood. And what about the lymphocytes, neutrophils, etc.; our friends who protect us from infection.
So when they bleed me later, I’ll sheepishly nod and grin. I don’t believe in the medical benefits they promise, but I do believe in the benefit of the donor card.

h1

Not Exactly

August 20, 2007

They say that:
“A rolling stone gathers no moss.”
I say:
“Nobody has yet seen a stone rolling so long
moss has started growing in it.”

h1

Spell it Right

August 17, 2007

I think I used to have impeccable (does this have a single c?) spelling skills. People used to ask me about the spellings of difficult words, and I would give them strings of letters that were as canon as your Webster’s Dictionary. But these “difficult” words were, however, difficult only at the age level we were in. I’m not so sure if I could spell words that people in my age level consider “difficult”.

I think I may have regressed to the level of some Americans. I do not generalize all Americans, but many of the Americans I’ve known have bad spelling skills. I think it’s because their spelling usually does not follow the sound of their language. Take “light” as an example. Had English readers not been preconditioned to read it as “lyt”, they would be pronouncing it as “lig-h-t” today. Then what about “plaque”, “char”, and “lead”? And who didn’t have a hard time reconciling “o-n-e” to sound like the number “1”. Plus there are a myriad of these words in the English language!

I blame the call centers for degrading my spelling skills. I think learning “proper” American accent caused me to confuse words and their spellings. Earlier at class, I was stumped by a question in the quiz. I knew the answer was endothelium, but I didn’t know whether it was spelled as “endothilium” or “endothelium”. I replaced one word with the other several times before settling to write the confusing letter as a cross between an i and an e. Besides, my chicken scratch could be interpreted in a million “correct” ways.

Then there was this exam later that day. I had to explain the functions of synarthrosis, amphiarthrosis, and diarthrosis. By the way, the types of joints classified according to the degree of movement that they allow. I knew that synarthrosis are immovable; amphiarthrosis are slightly movable, and diarthrosis are freely movable. I just wasn’t sure if movable was spelled as “moveable” or “movable”. I wrote the confusing word several times on inconspicuous* sides of the paper, and promptly erasing them by overwriting them with random text so as not to tarnish my spelling reputation. It wouldn’t be right for others to doubt my “skills”. Thankfully, I intuitively* settled on the latter spelling, the correct one.

Yet as I was writing this blog, I made a startling discovery. I saw a few stray red lines running beneath some words. So it could not have been the American accent that is degenerating my spelling skills, it could only have been the good old spell checker. I have been so dependent on the bugger that it completely crossed my mind that I’ve even forgotten of its ubiquitous* presence*. Perhaps degenerating spelling skills is a natural product of technology, but I refuse to give in to it. After all, manual written exams still require proper spelling.

*Words I may or may not have spelled correctly before Spell Checker warned me. 😛

h1

Peer Pressure

August 10, 2007

Messiah

In a seemingly coincidental or randomly initiated event, I thought about Handel’s Messiah. Now I absolutely love that piece. Not only does its melody stir the heart, its lyrics also touch the soul. This experience builds up as the music progresses, and climaxes during the chorus when the sound becomes simply heavenly. It is just the most worthy praise for the Messiah who has conquered, all glory to him.

Yet there is a ritual that is done every time the chorus is played. It started when King George II leapt to his feet when he heard the chorus. Since it was not proper for subjects to remain seated while the king was on his feet, everyone stood up. And since that day every time Messiah is played, the audience stands up during the chorus and gives a standing ovation at the close.

Nevertheless, this ritual is quite unknown in this country. A few people know about it, but they are mostly foreigners, formally-Music trained, or taught in foreigner-founded schools (typically American). My mother belongs to the third group. I learned the ritual from her, but the knowledge lay dormant until that moment when I heard the Messiah performed 2 years ago.

The first group of people who stood up were those who knew the ritual, and were itching to do it at first chorus sound. They probably thought, “I’m standing up as is proper. Everyone should stand when the Hallelujah Chorus is played.”

The second group of people who stood up were those who knew the ritual, forgot about it, and promptly remembered it. They probably thought, “I knew I should have stood up at first sound. I just forgot for a moment. Good thing I remembered it just in time.”

The third group of people who stood up didn’t know the ritual, but simply stood up because everyone was doing it. They probably thought, “Wow. This performance must be really good. Everyone else thinks so. I must also think that it is so.”

The fourth group of people who stood up didn’t know the ritual, but stood up because they could no longer see the performers. They probably thought, “Hey, what are those people doing? I better stand up; I can’t see from here.”

I belonged to the second group. I met some people from the third group later, or they could have belonged to the fourth group. I’m not sure. Like I said, the ritual is not very well known here.

h1

Kuya Tutor

August 9, 2007

I have a degree in Engineering. I was trained with the skills of an engineer, and something once learned is very difficult to unlearn especially if you get to teach others about it. Take this incident in one of my Anatomy and Physiology classes.

“I still haven’t finished my assignment,” said one girl. “I’ve had some help in the other room but it’s still not done.”

“I can help,” I offered as I leaned close to the paper bearing their dreaded questions.

“Are you good in Math,” asked another girl.

“Yes,” I answered hesitantly. I knew that it was no time to be modest, but proclaiming what I believed to be true still left a bitter taste in my mouth. Besides, hey wouldn’t have agreed to have me help if I hadn’t made that pronouncement.

And thus was my fate sealed. All eyes in the class were peeled on me as I dissected problem after problem. It was about radicals, and I love radicals. I solved them in my usual pace, not hurrying or slowing down. Solving was routine, but the expressions from my classmates were far from it.

“Wow. You’re so fast,” said another classmate.

“It’s like he’s not even thinking about it at all,” added another.

“Can you wear a kumbong* and take the exam for me,” an apparently Muslim girl said to the laughter of the class.

So I smiled and grunted a little, never slowing down my pace until it was done.

“There,” I said. “That’s about it.”

“Your final answer is 1?” asked the girl who was given this assignment.

“Yeah,” I continued, “Oops, it’s 3. I forgot to multiply it to 3.”

“Yey, I’m right,” she told her friend. “I told you it was 3; you just didn’t believe me.”

And so I became a tutor for a few minutes, and I was surprised by the surprise I saw in their reactions. I don’t think they lack mental skills. I think they are just so ingrained with self defeating thoughts of math incompetence that they’ve taught themselves to not learn Math. They’re not the only ones. I’ve seen a whole lot of people like them in UP, especially CAL students.

Revealing my Math skills was not the only thing I revealed that day. Now they know that I’ve already finished Engineering. And now they call me kuya**. I can no longer pretend to be one of them, and that sucks. Now, I’ll have to do way better than I used to. It wouldn’t be right for an Engineering degree holder to get a low grade in something as “simple” as Anatomy and Physiology.

*The veil a Muslim woman wears to cover her face.

** Big brother. An honorific for guys older than the speaker.

h1

Conscious

August 7, 2007

I’ve always wondered why God did not see fit to give us complete control over our body functions. While we can think, move, and act voluntarily; we do not have a say on the regulation of thyroxine hormones, production of Adenosine Triphosphate, and management of beta-oxidation among other things.

In fact, even breathing is not fully voluntary! Try committing suicide by holding your breath, and if by sheer force of will you pass the point of unconsciousness, your medulla oblongata, denied the power to override your will, takes over your breathing control with a vengeance and you end up breathing normally.

And it is this act of breathing that made me spend minutes in a few days thinking about breathing, and I discovered something trivially profound (or profoundly trivial) from those sessions. It is impossible to be conscious of involuntary breathing. The moment you become aware of breathing is the moment breathing becomes voluntary.

Now this fact made me wonder what made the experts conclude that breathing can be an involuntary act considering that they could have never observed involuntary breathing in themselves. Now I don’t know how they actually did it. I’m thinking it has to do with sleep.

“Since we are unconscious while we sleep” the expert continued, “but we still breathe during that time, then we must be capable of involuntary breathing. “

Or it could have went like this, “What makes us breathe when we don’t think about breathing,” said one expert to another as the topic made them both gain control of their breathing.

“I don’t know,” said the other expert. “Perhaps some part of our brain does it for us whenever we’re too lazy to notice.”

“Ahh,” said the first expert as both he and the other expert tried desperately to discover the point where they could notice involuntary mechanisms to take control of their breathing.

Perhaps it took a few decades, several centuries, or many a millenia; but technology finally gave us the answer. Electric brain analysis tells us that the medulla oblongata and the pons, both component parts of the brain, regulate involuntary breathing.

Now this got me thinking. Perhaps one reason why God didn’t give us complete control over all our body functions, besides the fact that this would point us to seek a Sovereign God who controls everything, is so that we wouldn’t be boggled by too many decisions. Considering that we can be boggled by breathing, what more if we had control over other functions.

“I have to increase my pulse to 130 beats per minute; my brain is not getting enough ketone bodies.”

“I must not pee, better produce Anti-Diuretic Hormone, but I could suffer from urine back flow. I’d better reabsorb this excess water with <insert hormone name> hormone.”