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2012 in review

December 31, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 38,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 9 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Every Little Thing

January 4, 2012

[By a former volunteer of Singapore International Foundation in the SIF Commemorative Book published in 2011]

My helping a group of students came about entirely by chance.

I had just relocated from Botswana to Pretoria, South Africa. At a public swimming pool I used to frequent in my free time, I started chatting with some youths who were keen to learn to swim. They were refugees from neighbouring countries Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

I’d decided to visit them at their regular student association meetings and met more of their friends. Over time, a handful of these youths shared with me their family backgrounds and the financial obstacles they faced, especially with regard to their education.

Since then, I’ve been only too happy to help these students purchase basics things like stationery and school uniforms, and to tutor them in maths and science. We even have an arrangement where I sponsor sports equipment in exchange for them achieving better exam grades.

Small acts like attending their football games and giving out photos of them at matches are other forms of encouragement I give in the hope of making their goals in life seem just a bit more attainable.

I don’t plan to change the world – I honestly wouldn’t know how. This is just me, doing my little part to help others. Maybe that’s enough.

Take Action!
Do something nice for someone else. It doesn’t have to take a special occasion to start paying attention to the people around you. See someone looking a little discouraged or isolated? Think about what you can do to help. It can be as simple as buying them lunch or starting a conversation with them. A better world is a happier one.

2010 in review

January 20, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 34,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.


In 2010, there were 217 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 1,023 posts. There were 2 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb.

The busiest day of the year was February 25th with 325 views. The most popular post that day was Quotes from

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for, cookies, quotes, pravsworld, and palm massage.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Quotes from August 2007


7 Principles Of An Eagle – Dr. Myles Monroe August 2007


Keep Walking May 2007


Lemon Grass prompt cancer cells to commit suicide October 2007
14 comments and 1 Like on,


The Art of Being Well — Dr. Dráuzio Varella October 2007

Cauliflower: The Cancer-Fighting Crucifer

January 27, 2010

[ By Chef Cary Neff , Experience Life ]

Cauliflower is often relegated to the veggies-and-dip tray, but this nutritional powerhouse deserves a place of honor at every dinner table. Raw or roasted, steamed or sautéed, it can be incorporated into delicious dishes that please the palate while promoting vibrant health.

Food Basics

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable with a mild, slightly nutty flavor. White cauliflower is the most readily available in grocery stores, but there are also green, orange and purple varieties. Green cauliflower — a cross between cauliflower and broccoli — is slightly sweeter than white cauliflower when raw and tastes more like broccoli when steamed. The orange variety is also slightly sweeter than white cauliflower, and the purple variety has a milder flavor. Purple cauliflower cooks a little faster than its white cousin and turns green when heated. When purchasing, look for firm cauliflower with compact florets. The leaves should be green and crisp.

Nutritional Know-How

Cauliflower contains glucosinolates and thiocyanates — both sulfur-containing phytonutrients — that cleanse the body of damaging free radicals. These phytonutrients encourage the body to ramp up its production of enzymes that aid in detoxification and even kill some tumors and cancer cells. Studies have shown that eating three to five servings of cruciferous vegetables each week can significantly lower the risk of several types of cancer. Researchers believe that, when combined with turmeric, cauliflower may help prevent (or stop the spread of) prostate cancer. Orange cauliflower has slightly higher levels of beta-carotene, and purple cauliflower contains the flavonoid anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant. A 1-cup serving of boiled cauliflower contains a whopping 91.5 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.

Eat Up!

Cauliflower can be eaten raw, and steamed, sautéed, stir-fried, fried, boiled or roasted. You can cook the cauliflower as a whole head or cut into florets.

  • Cauliflower is uncommonly delicious when roasted. Cut one head into small, even florets. Toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper and dried red pepper to taste; or toss with olive oil, 1/4-cup soy sauce and a dash of pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking tray and cook at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden around the edges.
  • Chop raw cauliflower into different sizes and add it to salads. Add small florets to your favorite bean salad for extra crunch.
  • To add texture to your next stir-fry dish, cut the whole cauliflower into 1/2-inch slices, break into florets and stir-fry according to your favorite recipe. Flat slices of cauliflower cook quickly and have more surface area for the sauce to cling to.

Kitchen Tricks

  • Fix quick, healthy snacks by preparing cauliflower as soon as you bring it home from the store. Clean and cut into florets, then store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to four days.
  • To clean, remove the leaves and gently scrape off any brown spots with a knife. Place the cauliflower upside down on a cutting board and carefully cut around and remove the core that keeps the florets intact.
  • Avoid cooking cauliflower in aluminum or iron pots. When chemical compounds in cauliflower come in contact with aluminum, the vegetable will yellow. When they come in contact with iron, cauliflower turns brown or blue-green.


Midlife Crisis

November 17, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

In our youth-oriented culture, the process of aging is not honored as it once was.  There have been societies that looked to those who were older for leadership, understanding that their life experiences must have brought some wisdom with them. Our society tends to put more value on looking youthful, so when the time comes that we don’t look, move, or feel the way we once did, this causes a sudden jolt to our perception of ourselves. We can look at this shift as a crisis and fight against change, or we can take the opportunity to transition smoothly to a new phase of life.

We spend our youth learning who we are and what we are capable of accomplishing. As we set and reach our goals, it is easy to identify ourselves by our roles. At some point we may feel very comfortable in the idea that we have a complete understanding of ourselves. This is, inevitably, when things change and we get to see ourselves from a new perspective. Those who have reached their goals may wonder where to go from there, feeling uncomfortable with the new choice of parts to play. Others may have to let go of an identity that was built around a goal that was not reached and decide from what foundation to rebuild. Although it can be challenging to shift into a new expression of self, we may find that we’re better suited for this fresh path of self-discovery and the new perspective it brings.

Whether we find ourselves facing a midlife crisis or any life transition, we can take the time to get in touch with our inner selves. From the unchanging spirit within us, we can accept and embrace the changes that come with the human experience. Examining where we’ve been and what we’ve learned can point in the direction of all that we would like to do now and in the future. When we anchor our identity in our spiritual nature, we understand that physical change does not change who we are, but only offers another perspective from which to experience, understand, and celebrate life.

A Journey of Hope

October 2, 2009

[ Article from AlumNUS – Dr William Tan’s Diary, 15 August 2009 ]

My favourite fish for lunch sat on the hospital’s tray table turning cold and untouched. I have not been able to tolerate any solid food for the last four days. The five days of immunotherapy and chemotherapy treatment have taken a toll on my body. I lay in bed, my whole body covered with Calamine lotion to relieve the itch. I have developed a delayed hypersensitivity reaction from an adverse reaction against Alemtuzumab – one of the monoclonal antibodies which target the CD52+ cancer cells in my body. I had adapted well during the first few cycles of treatment but not this time.

Piling works form the hospital’s nearby construction site together with the itch and the occasional feeling of nausea annoyed me immensely. Giving in, I reached out for the blue kidney dish desperately. For the next 10 minutes, I threw out whatever supplements I had taken earlier. The ondansetron, an anti-vomiting drug, was not helping.

I found comfort just lying curled up in bed. I had no desire for drinks, food or shower any more. This fourth cycle of therapy seems harder than the previous ones. Before all this, life outside the hospital enclosure was starting to feel pleasing and good. I was unwilling to be admitted this time. For the first time, my blood counts result indicated vast improvements. I was eating well and found laksa palatable, a variation from hospital food.

I negotiated with my oncologists, asking them if  I could be spared from the dreadful bone marrow transparent. There is no possible cure otherwise, they said. My bone marrow has turned cancerous and the improvement in my blood count is short-lived. Without the transplant, I will suffer a relapse and the cancer cells can become resistant to treatment.

It has been difficult coming to terms with transforming from a physician to a patient; from a Paralympic athlete, I have become so weak and vulnerable. I have come a long way: from the nose bleed at the Paris Marathon in April to the diagnosis of stage 4 leukaemia to the many cycles of treatment which I have finished. The race had become tougher. My fighting spirit seems to be waning. What has happened to the promising start during the first cycle ?

It is like ” hitting the wall ” along Mile 20 at Heartbreak Hill during the Boston marathons. I had conquered Heartbreak Hill seven times. I can overcome this one too. Some of the medical students are coming to see me in the evening ot discuss our Ride for Hope event on 29 August to raise funds for needy patients at six hospitals and for the National Cancer Centre. I need to stay hydrated even though I have no appetite. Memories of three days of constipation and five hours of manual evacuation of my bowels remain so clear in my mind.

I have to get stronger to tow the child carrier for the Cycle of Hope event to raise money for the Straits Times School Pocket money Fund in November. I am looking forward to this meaningful event. The children give me a sense of hope and purpose.

I must not forget that my family, classmates and friends at NUS, Raffles Institution, the wider school and corporate community are all rooting for me. My oncologists and the nurses have been most caring. I will never forget all their support, prayers and love. Jonathan, one of the medical students, came forward and whispered to me : ” LIVE STRONG, Dr Tan!”

Yes, I will.

Bruno’s Art and Sculture Garden

March 16, 2009

Art work and sculpture in these slides were created by Bruno Torfs at Marysville Victoria, Australia.
On Saturday February 7th 2009, the fires in Victoria completely destroyed his unique forest creation taking over 300 paintings and scuptures.

Kid’s View On Science

February 10, 2009

– When they broke open molecules, they found they were only stuffed with atoms. But when they broke open atoms, they found them stuffed with explosions.

– When people run around and around in circles we say they are crazy. When planets do it we say they are orbiting.

– While the earth seems to be knowingly keeping its distance from the sun, it is really only centrificating.

– Most books now say our sun is a star. But it still knows how to change back into a sun in the daytime.

– A vibration is a motion that cannot make up its mind which way it wants to go.

– Many dead animals of the past changed to fossils, others preferred to be oil.

– Vacuums are nothings. We only mention them to let them know we know they’re there.

– Some people can tell what time it is by looking at the sun. But I have never been able to make out the numbers.

– We say the cause of perfume disappearing is evaporation. Evaporation gets blamed for a lot of things people forget to put the top on.

– I am not sure how clouds get formed. But the clouds know how to do it, and that is the important thing.

– Rain is saved up in cloud banks.

– Cyanide is so poisonous that one drop of it on a dog’s tongue will kill the strongest man.

– Thunder is a rich source of loudness.

Is beautiful music universal?

January 15, 2009

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

— from “Leisure”, by W. H. Davies

Yesterday, I received one of those forwarded emails purportedly about an “experiement in context, perception and priorities” carried out by The Washington Post on January 12, 2007 involving the renowned violinist Joshua Bell.

The amazing tale in the email turned out to be true.


It’s an old epistemological debate, older, actually, than the koan about the tree in the forest. Plato weighed in on it, and philosophers for two millennia afterward: What is beauty? Is it a measurable fact (Gottfried Leibniz), or merely an opinion (David Hume), or is it a little of each, colored by the immediate state of mind of the observer (Immanuel Kant)?

While I find the WP account of the experiment interesting and I think we should pause to admire beauty around us, I disagree with its conclusion which is based on the premise that there is such a thing as universally beautiful music. Call me crass if you like, but I honestly don’t like the selected classical pieces.

“What is love ?” ( Through a child’s eyes )

July 29, 2008

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
Billy- age 7

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”
Karl – age 5

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.”
Chrissy – age 6

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”
Terri – age 4

“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.”
Danny – age 7

“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.”
Nikka – age 6

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.”
Noelle – age 7

“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”
Tommy – age 6

“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.”
Cindy – age 8

“My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.”
Clare – age 6

“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.”
Elaine-age 5

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.”
Chris – age 7

“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”
Mary Ann – age 4

“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.”
Lauren – age 4

“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.”
Karen – age 7

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross.”
Mark – age 6

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.”
Jessica – age 8

Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge.The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.

The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbour was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.

Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.

When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbour, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry”

Inspirational Quotes for Teachers

May 20, 2008

“Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.”

 — Nikos Kazantzakis


“Once children learn how to learn, nothing is going to narrow their mind. The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea spark another.”                                   

— Marva Collins


“The great end of education is to discipline rather than to furnish the mind; to train it to the use of its own powers rather than to fill it with the accumulation of others.”                             

— Tyron Edwards


“Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.”     

 –Josef Albers


Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength of the nation.”                                                                                     

 — John F. Kennedy


“Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.”                         

— John Gardner

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.”     

 –Kahlil Gibran                                                                                 


“A very wise old teacher once said: “I consider a day’s teaching wasted if we do not all have one hearty laugh.” He meant that when people laugh together, they cease to be young and old, master and pupils, jailer and prisoners. They become a single group of human beings enjoying its existence.”

 — Gilbert Highet


“It is not what is poured into a student that counts but what is planted.”               

— Linda Conway

“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”                        

–William Butler Yeats


“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, the excitement, and the mystery of the world we live in.”                                                                                                                        

 –Rachel Carlson


“Education would be much more effective if its purpose was to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they do not know and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.”                                                                                                            

— William Haley


“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

— Albert Einstein


African Oral Tradition

October 17, 2007

There is the spirit of nature, the spirit of the river, the spirit of the mountain. There is the spirit of the animals, of the water, the spirit of the ancestors.

Good is everything that promotes and increases the life force. Bad is everything that hampers and lessens it.

Human beings have mastery of the spoken word; their, then, is the responsibility to direct the life force.

Fear can engender deception because it creates images of thing that do not exist. Fear is one of the grounds for elimination in initiation [ceremony]. Man needs to have the courage and will to confront everything, never mind how strange or unexpected.

Despair and fear have a nullifying effect upon a man’s activity and throw into confusion. That is why initiation [ceremony] always contains a test of courage. It is an exercise of the will, a struggle with oneself. The goal of our journey, our quest, is to penetrate the mystery of life’s events.

Quoting Nelson Mandela:

Only free men can negotiate.

One of our strongest weapons is dialogue.

The fact that courage is expected of you in the face of the unbearable gives you strength for the rest of your life.

I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken away from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.

English Riddle

September 24, 2007

There are three words in the English language that end in “gry”. ONE is angry and the other is hungry. Everyone knows what the third ONE means and what it stands for. Everyone uses them everyday, and if you listened very carefully, I’ve given you the third word. What is it?


August 13, 2007

文字取自於:張忠謀, 攝於陽明山