Saturday, May 17, 2008

More Infusion Sessions

My logo design for the course, featuring our favourite intstruments
Two or three weeks back I botched up my IV practice and gave Andre a hard time, and got a taste of bitter defeat as I watched coursemates passed it all one by one and were now resting in the shed while I was still out in the open with the course sergeant noting in his idiosyncratically cool manner: "You're still not proficient ah..." In the following week it was Andre who did instead, so I bought him a drink for the trouble.

The previous session was a breezy success; I had hit the vein and shoved the cannula into Zhiheng's arm without much any hassle, before the monitoring sergeants had time to come to my aid with confusing manoeuvres.

The last session is conducted in the darkness of night, wherein general misfiring and panic may ensue.

My left arm does not hurt anymore whenever you push the metal bar into it, so one can practice on me as often as he likes.

Friday, May 09, 2008

La Campagne du Belem de 1902

The ship Belem
The barque named Belem
in Bordeaux moored;
click for more info

A Nantes à Nantes s’est désamarré,
Vive le Belem, hardi les bordées,
Le cap’taine crie « cap sur l’Amérique,
Hisse le grand foc, tout est payé ! »

Le commandant est jeune et bien né,
Vive le Belem, hardi timonier,
Plutôt nous mène au pinard qu’à la trique,
Pour la manoeuvre encourager.

Vite Saint-Nazaire avons dépassé,
Les yeux à bâbord avons détourné :
Le roi d’ici en butte à la panique,
Guerre aux Bretons a déclaré.

Dans la tempête et les vents gelés,
Les côtes d’Angleterre avons abordé,
Chargé du coke et gagné l’Atlantique,
Au Brésil l’avons déchargé.

Et cap au nord sous les alizés,
Le Père-la-ligne nous a baptisés ;
Quand nous fûmes à Saint-Pierre en Martinique,
Tout le mouillage était bondé.

Cherchant abri de l’autre côté,
La Montagne-Pelée avons contourné ;
Nous échappâmes à une fin tragique
Quand le volcan a explosé.

Eruption of Mount Pelee, 1902
The Eruption of Mount Pelee in 1902 that destroyed the entire town of Saint-Pierre, Martinique, and which the barque Belem narrowly missed.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Saint named Sophia

The Wisdom of God cries aloud,
The Lord created me when his purpose first unfolded,
before the oldest of his works.
From everlasting I was firmly set,
from the beginning, before earth came into being.
The deep was not, when I was born,
there were no springs to gush with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
before the hills, I came to birth;
before he made the earth, the countryside,
or the first grains of the world's dust.

When he fixed the heavens firm, I was there,
when he drew a ring on the surface of the deep,
when he thickened the clouds above,
when he fixed fast the springs of the deep,
when he assigned the sea its boundaries
and the waters will not invade the shore --
when he laid down the foundations of the earth,
I was by his side, a master craftsman,
delighting him day after day,
ever at play in his presence,
at play everywhere in his world,
delighting to be with the sons of men.

-- Proverbs 8:22-31
(The Jerusalem Bible)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The poet Örn Úlfar

I: The words of the poet Örn Úlfar to the poet Ólafur Kárason of Ljósavík:
"I remember you once said that what you were most frightened of in Sviðinsvík were the children of the streets," said Örn. "So I can't expect you to enjoy listening to me. I am the children in the streets. I am the child who was brought up in the ditches and on the fences, the child who had everything stolen from him before he was born, the child who has yet another misfortune on top of all the other misfortunes of the family, one handful of dirt to add to the midden on which the cockerels stand and crow.

"But because of that, there's no need to talk to me as if no one has ever recognised the need for a more beautiful world except you. I know just as well as you what beauty is and even what the spirit is, even though you are the Ljósvíkingur himself and I am only called after the eagle and the wolf. Beauty -- that is the earth; it is the grass on the earth. The spirit -- that is the heaven with its light above us, the sky with these white summer clouds which cluster together in banks and then drift apart again. If there were any justice in the world I would have just one wish -- to be allowed to lie on my back on the grass, in this heavenly light, and look at the clouds.

"But whoever thinks that beauty is something he can enjoy exclusively for himself just by abandoning other people and closing his eyes to the human life of which he is a part -- he is not the friend of beauty. He ends up either as Pétur Þríhross's poet, or his secretary. He who doesn't fight every day of his life to the last breath against the representatives of evil, against the living images of evil who rule Sviðinsvík -- he blasphemes by taking the word beauty into his mouth"

World Light / Book II: The Palace of the Summerland
(Heimsljós / Höll sumarlandsins)

by Halldór Laxness, translated from Icelandic by Magnus Magnusson

It was a blessing to be given a day with this book in my duty yesterday in camp, beholden neither to my sergeant nor to my laptop. This story, the most vividly emotional in the Laxness novels translated into English, tells the life of Ólafur Kárason of Ljósavík, an aspiring poet from young, and a father and career poet where I left him just now in Book III.

He is a brilliant poet with his head in the air, but with an unfortunate apathy to the lives or happiness of other people, random pretty wenches excepted. This lecture by Örn Úlfar (pen-name of Þórarinn Eyjólfsson). I think it is in Örn one hears a word of caution for the artist: those who in their aloofness distance themselves from the people they are the souls of.

II. Two meetings with friends in The First of May, also the Feast of Saint Joseph, the Ascension of the Lord, and Labour Day:
The first in Bukit Batok with Yee Chien, Xiang and Yuan Yi because we haven't met for so long. It was a good get-together, only it's a pity it won't last the whole year. And then by August or thereafter I'd be sitting somewhere with a rifle in my lap and saying to no-one in particular "sian!" like much everybody else. Finally, after eight months as a soldier! Andy is getting tired.

There was a board game in Xiang's house called True or False? which swamped the players with ridiculous trivia and left it to us to decide whether they're genuine facts. And her brother was playing the generous host. The little fella Huan Huan was so boisterous; he might grow up to be a genius someday.

The second in town, in the restaurant New York, New York with my class, three of which (Lisheng, Desmond, Alex) took up the dare to down a burger the size of a head plus a battalion of fries. I felt full just by looking at them eat (those in the know, they know I did a little more.) The reward for doing so successfully, according to the gleeful manager, was a free root beer float per meal finished. They did, and the mugs of float were shared among the rest of the class.

III. A premonition of a return to my favourite field of science in my primary school days:
The other day we spotted a toucan in camp, feeding upon the berries growing on the palms, yes, the sort of berries which resembled the berries in Sanya in my childhood, and the sort which in Singapore would be consigned to the pavements to be carelessly stepped upon. The toucan fascinated us all, citylubbers with no touch with reality of tropical Southeast asia, with its immense beak, its proud crown and the sound its wings made as it flapped away. Later on an iguana was seen, just under a metre long, and it eyeballed, frilled and bobbed its throat at the onlookers before making off up the tree. More recently a goanna popped out from nowhere, and scared a fellow who was on the way to the toilet. Bloody goannas, now they're everywhere.

We'll be encountering biodiversity sure enough. Possibly it is even more an emphasis for the medics than the others, who must make acquaintance with many of them venomous creatures in order to treat stings and bites. Otherwise, it's a matter of bringing home the, um, bacon. I don't really mind; I've gotten used to eating weird things already.

Eric Lafforgue in North Korea

Referred to by Mr Joshua Snyder in the Western Confucian, who in turn was reffered to it by the Marmot's Hole.

Eric Lafforgue: North Korea

A rare glimpse into the hermit republic; an adventure for the photographer in more ways than getting people to smile at the camera. How did he manage to take all that without being mugged? All the same, it's the pleasant face of the country and its people after all that headaches their leaders have been giving the rest of the world. Give it a look.

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