Thursday, April 27, 2006

My ideal life

If I have a choice:
My ideal life will be living in a picturesque little valley framed by snow-capped mountains and a placid lake. In the endless expanse of lush green land sits my magnificent castle al la Mr. Darcy’s abode in Pride and Prejudice (with the best spa facilities, riding grounds, tennis courts, private plane hangar and a well-equipped observatory tower for star gazing). All around the estate, a thousand flowers bloom whereby the fragrance of the morning air will rouse me from my slumber and the evening musky scent will bring me restful sleep.

My life will be spent meaningfully devouring knowledge in the impressive library that house the world’s finest collection of literature, from science to astrophysics, to medicine, history, geography, architecture, engineering, business and theology. I can learn all the languages of the world at my own pace. I can take singing lessons from Sarah Brightman in the afternoons; master my piano playing for an hour daily…. And paint the landscape on lazy Fridays. I will cultivate an organic garden housing thyme, rosemary and all the kitchen herbs and vegetables for cooking. I can experiment baking the best tasting brownies in the world for all my friends and family.

Sometimes I can relax in my Olympic-sized Jacuzzi with powerful hydro-jets before having a masseuse give me a Swedish massage; watch the golden sunset with my loved one in a silver Piper plane; spend some quiet nights sipping wine and plotting out the coordinates of the Milky Way; while away the Monday blues (why should I have any in first place) by go-karting around my circuit track; go rowing in the serene lake or spend a Sunday with my beautiful stallion.

Ah…the beauty of imagination and dreaming! That takes all the pain and stress out of my life and offers me respite from the harsh reality of life. Why not?

The perfect setting for spending my ideal life

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Craving for a Good Cup of Milk Tea

Had a sudden craving for milk tea during lunch, so, I tried making a cup for myself in the kitchen. However, the result was not up to my expectation for it was my first time fixing milk tea. Usually, I prefer to drink green tea on its own, or red/ black tea with some of sugar. I did not manage to get the proportion of milk to tea right and it tasted too milky for my liking. Disgusted, I emptied the cup into the sink and gave up for the time being.
The craving hit me again during dinner...What's up with my body? It's so persistent...Ok, to be precise, what's up with my brain? My feet found themselves walking in the direction of the supermarket and that's when I purchased a packet of Lipton Milk Tea. Instant 3-in-1, so I guess it's a no-brainer in terms of the need to get the perfect balance between tea and milk proportions.
Unfortunately, upon drinking the tea, I felt disappointed. I thought Lipton is the market leader for tea beverages. But the Instant Milk Tea fell short of expectations. A good milk tea should allow the drinker to taste the subtle but distinct fragrance of the tea. I cannot pick out any hint of that, even with my sensitive taste buds. I am extremely displeased for I paid good money for inferior tea. =(
If anyone has any recommendations, or method of attaining the perfect cup of milk tea, please write to me. =)

The tea without the Oomph!

Killing ourselves softly…oh, embrace the ASPARTAME-induced sweet death...

Being health conscious has led me to prefer low calorie sweeteners over the natural, but comparatively high calorie sugars. However, in recent times, after my mother has incessantly chided me for using artificial sweeteners, and relating horror stories about friends contracting diabetes and other ailments after long term consumption of a popular brand of sweeteners in Singapore, I cannot ignore her statements anymore. Prove her wrong or at least find out more…For me, conscious ignorance is in the highest form of self-inflicted torture.
After searching for the answer, here’s what I found out:

Summarized Verdict: STOP using artificial sweeteners that contain aspartame NOW! STOP eating sugar-free foods!!!!

That means: No Ricola, No sugar-free Fisherman’s Friend lozenges, Aiyah—all sugar-free SWEETS! Diet Coke and sodas…..And you thought not eating Equal ‘sugar’ solves the problem. Please check ingredients at the back of your food packages.

Harmful Effects of Aspartame:

1. It makes you crave carbohydrates and will make you FAT-ironically.
2. Triggers systemic lupus.
3. Causes methanol toxicity.
4. Gives rise to fibromyalgia symptoms.
5. In layman terms, continued consumption will lead to spasms, shooting pains, numbness in your legs, cramps, vertigo, dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, joint pain, depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, or memory loss.
6. Leads to blindness.
7. Causes birth defects in infants when consumed during pregnancy.
8. There are 92 documented symptoms of ASPARTAME, from coma to death. The majority of them are all neurological, because the ASPARTAME destroys the nervous system.

If you are scientifically inclined, and want the explanation for its harmfulness, here are the details:

When the temperature of ASPARTAME exceeds 86 degrees Fahrenheit (Note: In Singapore and the tropics, the transportation process of Diet Cola will subject it to this 30 Celsius already), the wood alcohol in ASPARTAME coverts to formaldehyde and then to formic acid, which in turn causes metabolic acidosis. (Formic acid is the poison found in the sting of fire ants). The methanol toxicity will lead to many of the deadly effects stated above. The methanol in the ASPARTAME also converts to formaldehyde in the retina of the eye, thereby causing eventual blindness in some people.

Formaldehyde is grouped in the same class of drugs as cyanide and arsenic - DEADLY POISONS!!! Unfortunately, it just takes longer to quietly kill, but it is killing people and causing all kinds of neurological problems.

ASPARTAME changes the brain's chemistry. It is the reason for severe seizures. This drug changes the dopamine level in the brain. Imagine what this drug does to patients suffering from Parkinson's disease.

ASPARTAME is especially deadly for diabetics. All physicians know what wood alcohol will do to a diabetic. ASPARTAME keeps the blood sugar level out of control, causing many patients to go into a coma.

Memory loss is due to the fact that aspartic acid and phenylalanine are neurotoxic without the other amino acids found in protein. Thus it goes past the blood brain barrier and deteriorates the neurons of the brain.

The phenylalanine in ASPARTAME also breaks down the seizure threshold and depletes serotonin, which causes manic depression, panic attacks, rage and violence.

The ingredients stimulate the neurons of the brain to death, causing brain damage of varying degrees.

Consuming ASPARTAME at the time of conception can cause birth defects. Why? The phenylalanine concentrates in the placenta, causing mental retardation, according to Dr. Louis Elsas, Pediatrician Professor of Genetics, at Emory University in his testimony before the American Congress.

The Harsh Reality:

MONSANTO, the creator of ASPARTAME, knows how deadly it is. They fund the American Diabetes Association, American Dietetic Association, Congress, and the Conference of the American College of Physicians. The New York Times, on November 15, 1996, ran an article on how the American Dietetic Association takes money from the food industry to endorse their products. Therefore, they can not criticize any additives or tell about their link to MONSANTO.
There were Congressional Hearings when ASPARTAME was included in 100 different products. Since this initial hearing, there have been two subsequent hearings, but to no avail. Nothing has been done. The drug and chemical lobbies have very deep pockets. Now there are over 5,000 products containing this chemical, and the PATENT HAS EXPIRED!!!!!

Senator Howard Hetzenbaum wrote a bill that would have warned all infants, pregnant mothers and children of the dangers of ASPARTAME. The bill would have also instituted independent studies on the problems existing in the population (seizures, changes in brain chemistry, changes in neurological and behavioural symptoms). It was killed by the powerful drug and chemical lobbies, letting loose the hounds of disease and death on an unsuspecting public.

This poison is now available in 90 PLUS countries worldwide, including our dear sunny island of Singapore.

In Singapore, harmful effects of the artificial sweetener are passed around via word-of-mouth. Without proper education, it may come across more as a myth than a scientific FACT. Moreover, we tend to OVERLOOK the prevalence of Aspartame in our diet and most people will NOT associate their illnesses with the long-term consumption of Aspartame.

For more information, do a google search on this topic, or consult the link below for a very readable article.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Horror flick

On Tuesday, a stroke of inspiration led me to consider penning a potential local horror script …about a psychopath committing heinous, gruesome crimes in the tunnels of our indispensable MRT stations (Mass Rapid Transit). I began an animated discussion with my sister about its convoluted plot. Basically, my imagination went into overdrive (once again and ever too often) and one can almost hear the wheels and axles grinding away (pun unintended). My sister listened with the wry patience of an unfortunate sibling…cursed to live under the same roof as her trying sister. Seemingly, my liking for gore and macabre belies my fragile exterior and the details conjured up for the tale are explicitly ghastly. The lil’ sister occasionally let up some suppressed noises in between the storytelling session and nodded in attentive approval at the NC-16 worthy snippets. And that was my stress relieving fix for the week…. As for writing professionally, that may have to wait, even though I have always harbored a secret (and now, not so secret) desire to write for a weekly column in the national newspapers.

I perceive the likelihood to be on the low side, since it doesn’t take much of a talent to pen some nonsensical but highly readable entry. Then again, this may be a sweeping statement. I happen to come across some public writings which contain vocabulary boosting an incredible repertoire of ‘happy, cute, sad, nice…and what’s the word—keke’? Simply amazing! Perhaps one should take to reading the thesaurus as a leisure activity should this be the case. And by the way, I can never identify with the use of the word ‘keke’. It does not even belong in the category of onomatopoeia for even a hyena is incapable of producing such a noise! One should just stick with ‘Ha ha’, ‘Hee hee’ and the interesting ‘Hur hur’.

I guess the ‘meanie me’ is taking precedence over my being right now and making me overly critical. The usual benign Ivy tends to like sincere simplicity over bombastic pretentiousness both in speech and writing.
And so, apart from self admonishment, I shall retreat away for a session of confession and repentance. ;-)

Daily Trivia:
Ever wondered how fireflies emit out light?
One kid asked me that, and got me searching….So, here it is:

Fireflies or lightning bugs make light within their bodies. This process is called bioluminescence and is shared by many other organisms, mostly sea-living or marine organisms. Fireflies light up to attract a mate. To do this, the fireflies contain specialized cells in their abdomen that make light.
The cells contain a chemical called luciferin and make an enzyme called luciferase. To make light, the luciferin combines with oxygen to form an inactive molecule called oxyluciferin.
The wavelength of light given off is between 510 and 670 nanometers (pale yellow to reddish green color). The cells that make the light also have uric acid crystals in them that help to reflect the light away from the abdomen.

A beautiful night with fireflies. Have I ever witnessed this before? No, but I hope to in this lifetime...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Ebony and Iv(or)y

The feeling of missing someone strikes me during the most unexpected moments. Today, I was flipping through an expired newspaper when I spotted Jamyee Ong hugging her cat Monet. That was when I experienced a pang of emptiness since the day my neighbourhood cat went away...Or missing.
I have named the estate resident cat "Ebony" due to the coat of glossy midnight black fur she posesses. Every evening when I return home, she will be sitting in a conspicuous corner painstakingly maintaining her beautiful fur. When I try approaching her, she would run into the drain and then curiously peek out. After assessing the stranger from afar, she would then take her chances with the amiable-looking ones, come out of her lair and play with them. The lure of food is never a foolhardy trick to get her. One has to really be nice and persistent. =)

What's endearing about her is that, though wary and shy initially, she recognises me and will walk towards me when beckoned. She is perceptive and will only tug at my legs with her paws on days that I am wearing pants. Bare legs are a no-no. Clever and considerate cat. Apart from that, she likes to snuggle against my legs and curl up in front of me. She even indulges in an occasional game of 'grab-it-if-you-can'.

There is always the question, "Do you prefer cats or dogs?" when it comes to discussions on pets. (wonder why we don't ask "Do you prefer fish or gerbils?" for starters).
Then again, the world appears divided along the fault lines of cats versus dog lovers. Again I wonder why the liking has to be mutually exclusive. However, I am proud to proclaim that I prefer cats to dogs. And I love little kittens!!!

In my opinion,
Cats: They are independent, can take good care of themselves, take pride in grooming themselves, are quieter, possess poise and elegance. Dogs are the anti-thesis of the above, especially the smaller ones. Big pedigree dogs are in a class of their own and I hold them in high esteem.

To many, cats are unloyal and proud creatures but I guess they are just misunderstood. Cats remember their companions too, but they know that loss is something natural that has to be dealt with personally and gracefully. And I always feel that you have to earn the love of a cat. Cats do not dispense out love indiscriminately. Being loved by a cat is a hundred times more satisfying then being salivated upon by a dog. A cat owner needs to be a confident but unassuming person. He needs to know that having a cat is not ownership but quiet companionship. He will have to take heart that he is not the God of his cat and she does not have to appear like she is meeting her favorite idol when he comes home each day.
Before I go on further and enrage accidental readers (cats haters/ dog lovers) who chance upon this entry, I shall end off with a picture of how dear Ebony looks like, together with some cute pictures of cats. I hope that wherever she is, she is still enjoying her days to the fullest. Meow!!

My Ebony:

My Ebony---All curled up in a bed of ivory.

Other cats:

'Hide and Seek' is fun! I am so tiny...find me if you can


Bring me home...Pick one of us!!

adopt your own virtual pet!