A Pebble in Time

June 29, 2007

Let me tell you a story.

*takes a pebble out from a small pouch and draws a face on it using a black marker pen*

This is about a guy whom I knew ever since I was in primary school. Don’t like him, never liked him, and probably never would. I suddenly found myself mentally backtracking as an incident which involved him spurred my thoughts.

*sets the pebble on the table with the scrawled face on top*

When I was in primary school, and was about 10 years old or so…there was this male classmate of mine whom was forever picking on me. He sat right behind me in class and would ever so often kicked my chair from behind and sometimes even pulled my hair. Whenever I turned around to face him he’d utter some expletive and would very courteously showed me a rude gesture.

Of course, the situation got worse and I reported him to the class teacher. I remember him getting a shelling; him looking very defiantly at the ground with my then Maths teacher waving a finger at him. I thought he’d know better than to keep pestering and harassing me. Apparently not.

That made it worse somehow. From the way I saw it then, it appeared as though he has since made it his personal vendetta to make my daily school life as miserable as he possibly could. The taunting and bullying got worse. He became more bold and the harassment grew more frequent. I did the same thing over and over again, which was to report him to the teacher but it seems that his “crime” was not severe or worthy enough to warrant a punishment more harsh than a sounding.

I could understand that the grown-ups (teachers/staff) view this as some childish form of misguided play; some even put it down to it being part of a child growing up – they go through bad behaviour. Well, for me it was really quite irritating and most disturbing and I remembered wishing every single day after school that he’d just leave me alone.

End of primary school. Unto secondary school, and voila we both ended up in the same school. The harassment didn’t cease there, in fact it worsened to the point where he’d start physically kicking my shins whenever I walked past him. That left several bruises on my legs, and he was smart enough to only attempt so in the midst of a crowd. Everyone would be too busy or preoccupied to notice his cowardly deed.

He then began to aim rocks at me, I remembered I suddenly felt a sharp sting to my right temple and subsequently hearing a rock rattling as it fell unto the cement ground. I turned around and saw the idiot scuttling off – with a look of triumph on his face. Fortunately, there was no open wound.

What did I do? I proceeded to report him (yet again) to the school’s disciplinary teacher. In the beginning, he got another shelling. But as usual he didn’t end there, hence my reporting went on at regular intervals. There came a point where I knew I was losing when the disciplinary teacher gave me a smile and said:-

“I think he fancies you. That’s why the bullying. You know how boys are”.

Oh, then what? Did your hubby threw a brick at your head when he was interested in you then too?

When she uttered that I knew this is the point where she decides to wash her hands off the situation, and blame it down to just some weird teenage courtship ritual where the guy is expressing himself utilising the wrong method. With an “explanation” like that, I thought she could go kiss my arse too.

Funny, that was the time that I too wanted to try out for school prefectship. The application process went well until the interview, where the candidate has to attend a meeting along with the panel of disciplinary teachers (there were 4 of them). I knew she’s on the panel.

In the beginning, I thought my interview went alright. The teachers took turns quizzing me on various issues, such as the reasons behind my application and my views on the school’s disciplinary system. I gave them my answers and hoped for the best, of course. Then came her turn.

“Is that boy still bullying you?”, said she; smiling nonchalantly.

Ah, the end, I thought. Why is she bringing my personal issue to the table? I may be only 12 years old then, but hey, I know a low blow when I feel one. I just gritted my teeth and muttered something to the likes of the ongoing conflict with him which is something I am now used to. She didn’t ask anything further, it seems that she obviously didn’t think there’d be anything with regards to my application which was worth enquiring.

In an alternate world with no consequences, I would prefer very much to just walk up to him and deliver a sharp blow to his face. I know some people have a better understanding of a fist than words. This guy I feel, was one of those. But then again, in reality, that move would make things more difficult for me with all the negative repercussions it would incur. So no.

Came the interview results. That same disciplinary teacher walked up to my class and summoned me along with another classmate of mine who was also prefect candidate.

“I have something to tell the both of you. Let me remind you that in all applications, not every one would succeed…”

Oh man, I knew it. It is obviously me she’s sending this message to. My friend was called out as a decoy. So horribly obvious, considering my situation with the teacher.

“…so if any of you didn’t get through, don’t worry…there’s always next year. Alright?”

I really felt like just giving her a smirk and say “I’m not that naive as you think, this is such a badly veiled attempt in cushioning the fall for me”. On one hand, I appreciate that she took the trouble to create this diversion to somehow “soften” the blow for me when it comes; on the other hand, I was partially offended and even insulted thinking so this is how you view me now, just because I am being bullied by this jerk? You made it appear as if to report, is to bring my vulnerability to the table.

Needless to say. I lost the prefectship. My other friend who got summoned with me earlier got through. She was so relieved as she thought the teacher was gesturing to her indirectly when she made that “speech”.

If only she knew.

Fortunately, the jerk changed schools the subsequent year much to my relief and immense delight. I made another attempt at the school’s prefectship (the panel of interviewers were now another 4 teachers) and got through. Feels great *grins*

Fast forward 10 years down the road.

I was doing my final year training at this particular hospital and received news that the SAME jerk was hospitalised at the exact same place where I was. He apparently attempted suicide due to a messy break-up with his girlfriend then.

That news made me feel rather weird. Somewhat deja vu. But not quite.

When I was much younger, I’d be so pissed at him that I’d wish for him to just disappear from the face of the earth one day. I seriously meant that at that time as the bullying was pretty traumatising. Little would I know that a decade down the road, he with his own hands almost delivered my initial wish.

I didn’t intend to see him again anyway, as I’ve pretty much lost contact with him (whee) ever since he switched schools. Imagine the so-called tormentor, now being reduced to a pitiful figure of which he chose to be by his own means.

Karma? or his choice? I think it’s a bit of both. An attempt made on his own life, that would have to be something that he has actively decided by himself. Cornered or not, ultimately it is his decision and he chose this path. Would I be wrong if I conclude that this is something which he has brought upon himself, for the sole reason that he had a hand in it?

“Are you gonna say anything or visit him?”, my friend (the bearer of the news) asked.

I just shrugged, gave a sigh, and shook my head. I don’t intend to change anything. This is his course.

Let it be. This is not my burden to bear.

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HAH finally the due date has passed for the submission of the internship applications.

The past few weeks were loaded with a huge amount of rushing left right and center to get my applications done. Suddenly I am writing my CV for the first time; suddenly I am writing my cover letters for the first time too.

A lot of hesitant steps were taken as I attempted both agendas. What kind of format? Must they all fit within a fixed amount of pages? Double spacing? What about the content? Do I take the subtle passive route, do I take the controlled and moderated approach to presenting myself, or do I go all out and pen down whatever amount of “awesomeness” in my paperwork (after all, the purpose of a CV/cover letter is for the prospective employer to gauge how good we are supposedly). Needless to say, I took the middle way. I find the first method of the three not very distinguishing, where as the third mentioned aggressive self-selling method can be a bit too much – too easily overboard; almost as there’s this not-so subliminal message screaming “Super Intern Material, coming to hospitals near you”.

Hahaha.

Not to mention that I have to make sure that I sent the correct cover letter to the designated employer that it is addressed to. It’s not very impressive nor is it very endearing to have one of your prospective employers reading about how wonderful the OTHER prospective employer is. That would be the first step to career suicide.

I remember spending a number of late nights reading and re-reading my CV and cover letter. Not that I am trying to be a perfectionist, but I’m a total newbie so there is this feeling of initial apprehension and a huge amount of uncertainty. So it’s one step at a time with almost nothing to lose at this point.

Now the paranoia.

Since it’s all submitted, here comes the “Did I submit it correctly?”, “Did I mix up anything?”, “What if it got bounced back and I didn’t know?”, so on and so forth. Well, it’s not really a huge concern weighing in my lil’ head but on and off it happens. As quickly as it appears, it disappears just as quickly. More like random transient mini job-associated paranoia of a newbie.

Nevertheless, I am taking a break for this few weeks. About time to rest up properly and feed myself with nice home-cooked food (weaning off fast food). The intervals between my posts within this 2-3 weeks would be stretched a little longer than the usual; partly owing to the current instability in the internet connection and also my daily dates with the Nintendo Wii. The new Ninja Turtles game is really cool (although my lil’ bro claims that Zelda is a better game, to which I agree in terms of playability and game lifespan). But controlling masked turtles and scaling buildings while wielding nun-chucks is an image of extreme coolness.

Alrighty folks, I hope my internet connection improves. Getting disconnected every 5 minutes is highly discouraging to anyone.

Curtain call for now. Coolness awaits *grins*

Funny Exam Answers (II)

June 11, 2007

It’s back!

Here again with some actual essay answers compiled from the UK examination system. It is believed that these were first collected and filed by a certain professor of a school in England and their collection has been growing ever since. Teachers have taken notice of it and they too enthusiastically submit their contributions which they feel it would be a good show of humour (and perhaps the result of some possible misguided delivery of education).

Questions and answers below are compiled from papers of varying subjects and range from elementary school to pre-university level.

Q. Name the four seasons. Salt, Pepper, Mustard, and Vinegar

Q. What is a turbine? Something an Arab wears on his head Good way to keep cool

Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink. Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep, and canoe-ists. I agree with this kid as sheeps and canoe-ists would clog up the tap!

Q. Explain the process of ageing. When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental. That’s some fancy constipation.

Q. Name a major disease associated with cigarettes. Premature death

Q. How can you delay the milk from turning sour? Keep it in the cow So true

Q. What does the word ‘benign’ mean? Benign is what you would be after you be eight

Q. (From a philosophy paper) What is courage? This is courage. It was a one-sentence answer for a 50 mark question.

Answers from History/Literature papers:

On the prolific teacher Socrates:-

  • Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.

On Roman history:-

  • Eventually the Romans conquered the Greeks. History calls the people Romans because they never stay at one place for very long.

On Nero:-

  • Nero was a cruel tyranny who would torture his subjects by playing the fiddle to them. Wow, music kills.

 On the famous archer William Tell:-

  • Another story was William Tell, who shot an arrow through an apple while standing on the son’s head.

On Queen Elizabeth:-

  • Queen Elizabeth was the “Virgin Queen”. As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted “hurrah”.

On discoveries of the new world:-

  • It was an age of invention and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure as he invented the cigarettes and started smoking. And Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100 feet clipper.

On William Shakespeare:-

  • The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday (good guess!). He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couplet. Romeo’s last wish was to be laid by Juliet.

On John Smith and the new world:-

  • Later, the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, and this was called Pilgrim’s Progress. the winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers. Many people died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.

On..everything from the Boston Tea Party to the discovery of electricity:-

  • One of the causes of the Revolutionary War was for the British to put tacks on their tea. Also the colonists would send their parcels without stamps. Finally the colonists won the War and no longer had to pay for taxis. Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered eletricity by rubbing two cats backwards (huh??) and declared, “A horse divided against itself cannot stand”. Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

On gravity and Isaac Newton:-

  • Gravity was invented by Isaac Walton. It is chiefly noticeable in autumn when apples are falling off trees.

On Queen Victoria:-

  • Queen Victoria was the longest queen. She sat on a thorn for 63 years. She was a moral woman who practiced virtue. Her death was the final event which ended her reign.

On the agricultural revolution and the invention of the modern-day rapier for harvesting:-

  • The 19th century was a time of great many thoughts an inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused the network of river to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men. A bad typo makes all the difference.

On Egyptian history and their mode of writing, the hieroglyphs:-

  • Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in Sarah Dessert and travelled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

On Homer, the writer of Illiad:-

  • Actually, Homer was not written by Homer, but by another man of that name. The “D’oh!” Homer?

On the Olympics:-

  • In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled the biscuits, and threw the java.

On Julius Caesar:-

  • Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out: “Tee hee, Brutus”. When Julius was stabbed by his aide Brutus, his last words were “Et tu, Brutus” which meant “You too, Brutus?” as during that time Julius discovered that many of his closest aides were plotting his downfall.

On the great composer, Ludwig Beethoven:-

  • Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died of this.

On Christopher Columbus:-

  • During Renaissance, history began. Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America whilst cursing about the Atlantic.

That’s all for now, folks. This is a tribute to those brave kids who heroically (and maybe unknowingly) sacrificed possible credits for humour. To be honest, I think it is answers like these that brings a smile to the teacher’s face.

Funny Exam Answers

June 5, 2007

Speaking of papers…

I’ve found this stash of answer sheets online which sort of showcase the kind of humour some would bring to the exam with them. Some of them are really, really funny.

The Math/Physics papers

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The Chemistry Papers

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 I think these kids deserve an A+ somewhere!

 

Exams 101

June 4, 2007

It’s the examination season yet again! All of the sudden, people around me are appearing more quiet, more reserved, more docile, and when you grab them by their shoulders and give them a good shake – out it comes; it’s the coming exams everyone’s been stressing about.

I’ve been a student for the most of my life so far (and still am one) and I can vouch that exams can be a huge mental boulder that we all carry in our minds around everywhere with us; it won’t disappear until we’ve finished that final paper or practical. Then, the boulder diminishes and it is then replaced by the ‘Did I screw up?’ boulder. Heavy stuff.

My exams are essentially divided into 2 parts (excluding the continuous assessment which includes assignments, mini-tests, etc). One is the theory paper which is predominantly a multiple-choice questions (MCQ) paper and no, we don’t get even 20-25% chance of getting it right when we stab in the dark if you consider the standard choices of A-D. The standard number choices in my paper is anything ranging from 10-20 choices. I remember there was one question which had answers from A-Y. By the time I read it down to M or N I must admit, I have then completely forgotten what were the choices before. So what do I do? Read again. And again.

That’s the paper. Now comes the practical which is a clinical examination. The clinical examination is conducted in series of ‘stations’ in which within each would have their own set of tasks. At each station, there’s only you, the patient, and the examiner. It’s averaging roughly about 6-8 minutes per station, and I think we could all agree that blanking out during then is not a very fantastic manner of performing. But then again this is student life we’re talking about and unfortunately, blanking out is not even a choice. It just happens.

The thing about me and the clinical examinations is that it has a huge effect on my digestion system. Every morning of a clinical exam, I would wake up feeling nauseous and would not have any appetite to have any breakfast. For this, I learnt to stuff my pockets with sweets or any portable source of glucose so I could pop them into my mouth in between tasks to keep me going. Not only that, my bowels go into overdrive and I often feel as if I could just crap in my pants.

Sounds funny when I tell you about it, definitely not funny when I felt it. Imagine walking up to your exams where the anxiety and concern over “Will I feel like crapping halfway?” is almost equal to the “Will I pass this?” dilemma. How damn inconvenient.

That is my exams. Now on to the various types of examiners. Since clinical examinations are the nature of my course, I therefore would have relatively more exposure and experience with regards to dealing with examiners on a one-on-one basis. It’s almost like a showdown. As usual, some are nice, some are not so nice, and some are not what they appear to be.

Examiner 1: Mr. Need for Speed

Oh my gawd. I had this guy once when I was a junior medical student and he rushes me through everything. My nerves are already on overdrive, and the last thing I needed was for someone to put me on fast forward. I remembered clearly that we were supposed to do three tasks in succession and this examiner wanted me to do almost all simultaneously at once. That particular station required me to interpret a chest X-ray, perform a urine dipstick test, and to measure a patient’s blood pressure.

The examiner told me to smack on my gloves and do the urine dipstick test while explaining to him the abnormalities of the X-ray. It wasn’t too bad except that the gloves didn’t fit very well and I was pulling at the fingers while my brain was racing through the chest anatomy on the X-ray. I remembered alternatingly bobbing my head up and down most of the time. Down, so that I could dip the test-stick properly into the sample of urine; Up, so I could see the X-ray on the viewer. Once I’ve finished my bit with the X-ray, I was prompted to measure blood pressure while waiting for the dipstick results to appear.

I could see Mr. Need for Speed must be brilliant at his time management skills if he is training us to do so much in so little time. But then again, like what I have mentioned – I just felt like crapping then.

Note: Word got around that one student got so nervous that the entire urine container was spilled. Oops.

Mr. Deathstare

Ever been questioned by an examiner whose eyes wouldn’t leave you, even for one second? I am guessing that this examiner must have been a practising psychiatrist out there or something. You could feel him watching your every move, and it’s almost guaranteed that he could tell when you’re guessing (bull-shitting) your way through. The manner of this examiner speaking to you is very cool and calculated, almost robotic in a sense that each of his words is carefully chosen and passed through to you. If he also had a drawling voice then I would have thought he’s Darth Vader himself.

The thing about this kind of examiners is that no matter what you do, you would feel uncomfortable anyway. From what I have learnt, one of the worst things that you could do when you’re stabbing your way through is to follow it up with a smile.

Mr. Deathstare: So what are the serious implications of disease X?

Candidate: Uh…it’s A…and B…and also C. Yah that’s it.

Mr. Deathstare: *says nothing*

Candidate: Uh..*smiles sheepishly*

Mr. Deathstare: *says nothing*

Candidate: …*s-h-i-t*

Mr. Saviour

Help from above. The kind of examiner who in the beginning appears nonchalant, but takes it upon himself to guide you when he sees you fumbling your way through. Exceptionally talented or gifted in all manner of subtle hinting to the candidate. This includes anything from a “Are you sure it’s the liver?” to clearing his throat to remind the candidate to query the production of phlegm in the patient. The examiner with the auto-saviour mode would often consistently and determinedly hint the candidate until he or she blurts out the correct answer or performs the correct procedure/examination.

Some may call it unfair. We, the saved ones, call it good fortune.

Mr. Say what

The easily distracted examiner. It could work out to your advantage or disadvantage depending on how one looks at it. For some, all good answers and examination techniques go unnoticed. For other some, all bad answers and bad examination techniques go unnoticed too. Each of us had our fair share of the distracted/disinterested examiner. I recall one guy who spent more than half the time gazing out of the window while I was examining the patient. I remembered speaking much louder than I normally would so even if the examiner don’t really see what I’m doing, at least I can be sure that he could hear what I’m supposed to be doing. I hope.

I also had another examiner who was fussing with his checkered socks the entire time. I had no idea why on earth did he chose to check out his socks during such a crucial time (for me!). It’s quite discouraging when the person who’s assessing you is more concerned about his footwear than your answers. Sheesh.

Another friend was telling me that his examiner was intently reading the morning newspaper the entire time when he was presenting his case. Hmm.

Anxiety Bloopers

Ah…apart from getting nature to ring me every few minutes, anxiety also causes mind bombs in most of us. I remember there was a time when I was required to advise a patient who has Irritable Bowel Syndrome. At the end of the simulated consultation, I wanted to finish it up by telling the patient to have a good diet but alas, it came out as “have a good diarrhea” instead. It was a genuine mistake, the patient has been telling me about his diarrhea problems for a good part of the time so there you go. Thankfully, the examiner and the patient both laughed their butts off – they knew it was unintentional. Phew.

Another time I remembered was when we were required to examine the patient’s range of movement with regards to the shoulder joint. The examination is ideally going through the different planes of movement and testing them separately, at the same time briefing the examiner on the kinds of movement that you are testing for (e.g. abduction, adduction, etc). I was doing fine that time but I realised that I missed out a plane of movement. Time was running and I still couldn’t recall what it was, so I told the patient to swing his shoulders in all directions in a bid that somehow somewhere – I would be testing it hence possibly could be marked for it.

It worked to a certain degree. I could see the examiner and even the patient himself was trying not to laugh as I just succeeded in making the patient look like a flapping chicken. Oh well, it turned out fine in the end so yay! That’s all that matters hah! *grins*

Some years back we had this question in our paper that required us to describe the course of a particular main superficial vein in the legs. I had a coursemate who folded up his pants and started tracing for the vein on his leg in the middle of the exam. I thought that was both resourceful and amusing 😀

I’m in the middle of compiling funny exam answers for my next entry. I leave you with one of the many :

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More to come next time!