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Anatomy Teacher

Sep. 7th, 2010 | 02:20 pm
mood: touchedtouched

Anatomy Teacher

When I touched your hands,
I touched hands that had felt
the chill of 94 winters,
fingers that had stretched in the sunlight
of as many springs.

When I touched your feet,
I touched feet that had walked
the paths of nine decades,
toes curling and uncurling through
the uncertainty of five wars.

When I touched your arms,
touched the arms that had
braced you from and embraced the world,
a world I know only through
historians and faded photographs.

When I stared into the shell of your eyes,
I saw the screen upon which
a million irreplaceable scenes had been played,
visions of a world rapidly changing,
at once both like and unlike my own.

When I held your heart in my hands,
in a moment filled with awe and grace,
I held a heart whose mysteries I will never know,
a heart that gave me the
gift of itself.

When you invited me to know you,
to be a guest in the house that
your spirit left,
to touch your body more intimately
than any lover could, you forever altered my life.

My feet, with the knowledge of yours,
will walk into the future
carrying you with me.

My hands, as they reach out to
comfort and heal,
will do so never forgetting the
delicacy of yours.

My eyes, as they sweep across the
landscapes of my future,
will find in it reflections of
the world I saw as yours.

My heart, in the rhythm of its beating,
will carry with it
the stillness and wonder of your heart,
lying silent in my hands.

—Amy Marie Millikan
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine April 2006

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Once a bio major always a bio major

Feb. 8th, 2010 | 12:29 pm
mood: sicksick

I was cleaning through our old collection of VHS tapes when I found the movie “Jurassic Park” that we once recorded from a TV rerun. I haven’t seen that movie in about five years so I popped it into our VHS player (yes we still have one of those ancients) and proceeded with the now 15 year old movie. As a little pastime, I was also looking up the wikipedia article about the concept of dinosaur cloning on my lap top. Under the heading “Biological Issues in Jurassic Park”, whoever wrote the article details how cloning a real life dinosaur is impossible because of 4 major reasons.

Maybe I’ve been away from my major for way too long but reason number three caught my attention. Here’s the whole paragraph:

The processes of CpG methylation and cytosine deaminization are especially important. The process of CpG methylation is a common regulatory device in eukaryotic DNA, where cytosine immediately preceding a guanine on the same stand is methylated. This acts as a molecular flag to control gene expression. The problem is, over time cytosine deaminization can occur—where a cytosine loses its amine group, which is replaced by a carbonyl group. un-methylated cytosine results in uracil, which is not found in DNA, so can it be assumed to be a de-aminated cytosine. On the other hand, if the cytosine has methylated, then the product of deaminization is thymine, which is found in DNA—so it would be impossible to know which Ts are Ts, and which are de-aminated methyl cytosines.

What made me stop and smile is not because I actually know what this paragraph is talking about. For the record, I only understood about 40% of that. But its the vocabulary that brought a smile to my face. “Methylation” “deamnization” “cytosine” and “gene expression” are what I read and dealt with on a daily basis throughout the 4 years of college.

Most of the time, I was trying my best to push through an incomprehensible scientific article. But today, those words seem like friendly little waves from the computer screen, reminding me that, once upon a time, and some time soon in the near future. I will be surrounded by biochemistry and its complex terminology again, most likely trying to decipher what the question is asking on a test.

6 more months of my year off to go. I am actually dreading the start of medical school. :)

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The wolf is right. The sheep is right too.

Jan. 19th, 2010 | 08:20 pm
mood: confusedconfused
music: Forever ~ Chris Brown

Dinner time at my house usually consists of us having some sort of news on in the background. Most of the time CCTV. The notoriety of the channel is well known as being the only major news channel that feeds information to 1.3 billion people daily. It is universal knowledge that the channel, like other news channels carries bias when delivering world news.

But today, something caught my eye. The story is about the 8 Chinese officials and soldiers who died in the earthquake in Haiti. What surprised me was that, the story focused just as much about the top officials who are leading china right now as the victims of the earthquake. In a 5 minute news story, the chairman, premier and each of the official who came to mourn was mentioned just as much, maybe even more than the names of those who died.

After working as a photo journalist for 3 years, I found this to be ridiculous. I can only assumed that the reporters HAVE to have a premier chinese leader in every shot because if I were sent to cover a story about the people who died in Haiti, I would’ve at least interviewed the surviving family. But nothing was covered, instead, we see in painful detail, each chinese leader shaking hands with a line of grieving family members who has obvious been standing in the funeral home waiting for these old men to show up.

Upon hearing my indignation, my mom calmly replies that this situation makes perfect sense to her. I asked her how she could possibly think that the chinese government is right in this respect. She then tells me that, of course, the point of the story was never “8 chinese workers died in haiti”. The point was always “top chinese officials show compassion and sympathy when 8 chinese workers died in haiti”.

I don’t know where I get an insatiable sense of self-righteousness. But as my mother reminds me, often times, there are no right or wrong in the world. If there is anything i’ve learned from being a bio major, it is that from the sheep’s perspective the wolf may be evil but from the wolf’s perspective, the bloke’s gotta eat.

I am not sure if this revelation is considered a moral enlightenment. I feel as though it is some sort of moral depravity to admit that the murderer might be correct in his own sense too. I’m sure that next year, when I’m memorizing all the muscles in the human body, I won’t have time to ponder things like this.

But wait, I’m going to be a doctor, shouldn’t I already have some sort of morals? Oh dear.....

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bad drivers anonymous

Jan. 12th, 2010 | 09:54 pm
location: LO
mood: tiredtired
music: Iz

 Haven't updated in a while. I don't know if it is because I have nothing to say about my life or that I have been too lazy or that my brain has finally stopped working after 8 months without homework or tests. 

While driving to work today, I was waiting for the light to turn green in a left turn lane, when a lady pulls up along side me... on the wrong side of the road. This is broad daylight on a street with 3 lines going each way. I started laughing to myself as cars around me honked at her trying to get her to swing over to the right side. She remained oblivious until the light turned green and cars from the other side drove up and stopped right in front of her. 

How refreshing it is not to be the person that drives on the wrong side of the road =) 
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Absolutely Priceless

Dec. 18th, 2009 | 10:35 pm
location: honolulu
mood: ecstaticecstatic

This morning, I woke up as the sun rose over diamond head and Waikiki. Our hotel is on the 37th floor of the Pacific Beach Hotel and overlooks the beautiful diamond head national park. Despite still being tired. I sneaked up to take a look at the gorgeous view outside. The ocean was pale lavender and still had a thin layer of mist over the horizon.

As if the view is not enough, I found out the happiest news after turning on my computer. I received the long-awaited acceptance letter to OHSU! After a whole month of checking my email and status page, waiting, hoping and torturously reliving my interview, I can finally lay all my doubts and fears to rest.

I am IN. I got into my top choice school! No longer do I have to drive around Portland, staring at the buildings and the tram wondering when I would be able to step on that campus as a medical student. I still remember years ago, when I worked there as a lowly lab aide, someone there mistook me for a medical student and directed me to the new student orientation. I told him that I am not a medical student. At least, not yet. And next August, I will be there as a student, as a part of that beautiful campus!

Anyway, we happily all headed out to breakfast at McDonalds across the street. The egg McMuffin was pretty solid, apparently, if you get a meal in Hawaii, they include hashbrowns AND Pineapple. Awesomeness? I think so! After breakfast, I was too excited to go back and decided to wander down to the beach for a minute. The palm trees are absolutely gorgeous, set against the turqoise waters and golden sand. I’ve only seen scenes like this from the movies. The pathetic sad little palm trees from LA and SD cannot even compare to this paradise. Hawaii is without a doubt the crown jewel of all tropical vacations.

I might’ve been a little bit too excited… because I wandered too far into the surf, my pants got soaked from the tide. Ah, my first touch of Hawaii’s waves.

For the rest of the morning, we headed up to Diamond head. When we got there, the hike seemed to be way longer than I thought it was going to be. All the way up one huge side of the crater. But as we set out, the slope was not very steep. There was a daunting series of stairs at the end, three separate journeys the most difficult has a straight stairway of 99 steps.

But the view, when we finally reached it after climbing through the old army bunkers and dugouts, is superb. I am glad we went in the morning, when the sun is not shining in your eyes as you are looking toward the soft curve of the Waikiki beach.

The hike down was hard on the knees and it seem to take forever, much longer than the hike up. Anyway, we then decided to search for nearby Chinese food restaurants and found on Kapalaua avenue pretty close to the bottom of diamond head. The food was average, we had a lot left over so we dropped it off at the hotel and then proceeded to the windward side of the island.

East Oahu is dominated by series of beautiful beaches, but the landscape is not that specatular. It looks like someone had spliced central Oregon with the coastline. Not much trees, at least not tall ones, but plenty of white sands. And of course, the color of the ocean is superb.

We stopped at several beaches to take pictures and then to walk along the surf. There were plenty of fisherman along the shores, but I have no idea what kind of fish they are trying to catch, hope its not anything along the lines of nemo.

We were pretty tired at the end of the day, it got pretty cloudy and then windy so around 4:40 we headed on a central high way back to Waikiki. The traffic on a Friday afternoon was horrendous, especially along the main road passing the beach, it took us half an hour to go 2 miles. As a result, I nearly missed my first sunset in Hawaii.

Leftovers are for dinner at night and because I am with parents, there’s no way I can go out dancing so… the night was spent editing pictures and watching “The Wedding Crashers” on cable TV.

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What did I get myself into?

Dec. 17th, 2009 | 10:32 pm
location: middle of the pacific
mood: boredbored

I regret not bringing my little green travel notebook. I’ve always had it with me on every trip and for some unknown reason, I decided to leave it behind because I wanted to update my days electronically via my new macbook. Little did I think that I might want to have a journal with me as I am sitting on the beach in Maui, just like I was writing in that journal as I sat on beside the cam river in Cambridge.

The airport in SF is filled with many international travelers, many of them sounds like they’re from Europe. I always have a very fond feeling for Europeans, always so environmentally conscious and polite. Unlike us redneck Americans. Honestly, compared to the whole of Europe, everyone in America are hillbillies. That’s the way we started out, a refuge for religious outcasts and the society’s criminals.

I would never understand why Europeans want to travel to America. They have the ruins, the cathedrals, the mountains in Switzerland, the beaches in the Mediterranean. They have the good healthy food in France and the beer in Germany. And best of all the, super fast trains that connect each major city.

We have another 4 hours till we reach the island and I am missing Portland already. Yes, its always raining and cold. But I have never let that stop me from salsa. It was 20 degrees out with a chance of freezing rain and I still manage to go out twice that week. I am fast becoming a salsa addict.

Every time I am on a plane, I wish I could be sitting in the cockpit. Unfortunately, neither of the pilots of my two flights turned on the flight deck channel nine. I am left to my own imaginations of what kinds of conversations they have up in the cockpit.

To compensate, I suppose, they decided to create a little game for the rest of us to calculate what time it will be when we pass the half way point between SF and Hawai’i. Thanks to annoying talking parents, I missed the headwind speed which will throw off my calculations by a lot I assume. Its times like these that I wish I had paid a bit more attention to vector analysis in physics. If the plane’s ground speed is 470 mph and the headwind is at 70 mph. then the net speed is 400 mph right? Ah, I wish I had my pilot friend with me to help me win that free CD. =)

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simply be

Dec. 5th, 2009 | 01:40 am
mood: soresore

I had written this huge long entry but then realized that I was doing exactly what I don't want to be doing.
As I went to delete it, I felt bad that all those phrases and sentences are going to waste. And so, this is simply a bookmark for the virtual pages torn out of my journal.

What was gone wasn't special, what is important is that, despite what i see around the clubs, I never need to get a drink before dancing. Somehow, I went from all the awkwardness of HS winter formals to being comfortable in my own skin on a dance floor. If nothing else, that is what I'm taking with me from my odd little gap year.

And tonight....
Tonight was good. Lets just leave it at that. =)

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old friends. new adventures.

Nov. 26th, 2009 | 11:01 pm
location: LO
mood: thankfulthankful
music: Congratulations ~ Blue October

My 14th Thanksgiving in America. From my very first holiday season soaked to my bones by the rains in the Northwest, to driving around the Columbia gorge on a beautiful day, this has been quite a journey. Never had I imagined that I would be spending Thanksgiving this year with my oldest friend, Robert, shopping and exploring Portland in its classic NW beauty.

I have much to give thanks for.My family, the trees along the gorge, bernadette's brownie boat at Pied cow, cute black skirts I found at forever 21, the misty fog hanging over the valley at eagle creek, and hanging with an old pal I've known since first grade =)

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bendita tu luz

Nov. 15th, 2009 | 10:53 pm
mood: touchedtouched
music: Bendita Tu Luz

Ah. Bachata. I feel like I owe this form of latin dance its own separate entry because of the way its danced, the soft romantic music and its tendency to make every girl who is sitting down for that song oddly lonely. Many people consider bachata the "sleazy" form of latin dance. True, you are a lot closer to your partner than salsa or cha cha (albeit, you are not standing face to face but offset a bit from your lead). What is also true is the hip movements can be very sensual and some people at the clubs choose to dance it like that.

Again, I am odd in that what I love most about bachata is how relaxing it is. A lot of the dance is about the sway and getting lost in the soft music. After series of fast-paced salsa where I am always super focused on my steps and trying to anticipate what the leads are gonna do next, bachata is a wonderful break.

The music of course is half of what makes this dance amazing. Here's a youtube MV of one of my favorite songs by Mana, "Bendita Tu Luz" or "Blessed, your light". There's something about not understanding the language that makes you appreciate the sound of it, if you listen closely to the lyrics (the tones, the inflections and vowels), i think you'll find spanish a beautiful language.

The full translation of the lyrics are HERE. I am not Christian but I've been to plenty of evensongs at many grand cathedrals to appreciate the magnificence of the music that was inspired by this ancient religion. If you read the translations of many bachata songs (especially songs by Mana) they tend to be a bittersweet and forlorn. But "Bendita Tu Luz" is absolutely beautiful and about that simple moment where the world just lights up all around you, as if 1000 fireflys are there dancing too.

Blessed be the light, blessed be the light of your gaze.
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Lemon Tart

Nov. 3rd, 2009 | 10:45 pm
mood: contemplativecontemplative

I actually made this about 3 weeks ago but somehow never got around to penning down this simple deliciousness. What you're seeing is a Lemon tart made from real lemon juice (I squeezed about 6 lemons) and lemon zest made from the peel. The tart is more difficult to bake than cookies or cupcakes because it involves first baking the crust, whipping up some heavy cream and then mixing it with the lemon juice, sugar, baking powder etc.

The crust! I love the wavy edges of the tart pan.

Pre-bake. the filling has the same consistency as milk. scared the crap outta me.

The Finished product! Sprinkled with powdered sugar. Note: only a 1/3 of it is left thanks to my darling father who decides he's going to have a bite for breakfast before I had the chance to take pictures. -.-

Oh well. Baking endeavor #2. Success!
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