Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year

Full of promise.
Pregnant with anticipation.
The grass will be greener.

Nothing looks impossible from here.

- me, 2 years ago, upon entering the UK.


New Year? Asleep recovering from jet lag.

But that's no reason why everyone else shouldn't have a good time:-)

Happy 2008 !

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What I've Been up to 3

I spent most of MOnday watching Anne of Green Gables on youtube. They actually have the whole of the first two films at 10 min clips. I remember we recorded it long ago on VCR and thinking it was hilarious to watch. After reading the books written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, I was enthralled.

Went on Wed to watch The Golden Compass as planned. It's actually based on a trilogy of books (aren't all movies nowadays?) called His Dark Materials, written by this chap called Phillip Pullman. The first book titled The Northern Lights is what the movie is based on. I'd read the book about 2 years ago and had forgotten most of what the story was about, but the trailer looked fairly interesting, so I expected the movie to be pretty good.

Maybe it was the hype, or maybe I'd thought too highly of the trailer, but, just as with Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, I was disappointed. The movie was ok, with a lot of detail being put into the alternate world in which people have daemons, the graphics were good, the fight scenes were well shot, with the daemons' disintegration into dust making up for the lack of blood, big name actors and actresses were present, but I couldn't help feeling the lack of the 'wow' factor.

It didn't help that whenever Lyra (the main character) travelled on the armoured bear, it looked impressive from the front, but when the camera swiveled to a rear view, it just looked funny. Think Winne-the-pooh loping along on four legs. I suppose its not their fault polar bears look less impressive from the rear.

Much has been made of the fact that Philip Pullman is an outspoken atheist and that he has purportedly written the books 'to undermine the basis of Christian belief'. So much so, that emails have been circulated warning people against this movie, and how it could in some way, subversively turn people against God. I admit to feeling a little uncomfortable when I read the books, that's how obvious the allegory is. But I personally think the movie, if anything, should be watched and discussed to show how different the 'god' in Pullman's universe differs from the God I believe in. For example, the 'authority' in the film (the Magisterium) are seen as suppressing freedom because they 'exist to stop people from doing things that could harm themselves'. Looking at the state of affairs today, it is obvious that the God of this universe gave us the capability to choose for ourselves what to do/believe in, and did not force us to blindly obey him.

Anyway, before I get too carried away, the movie left me slightly unsatisfied, probably because the final fight scene was not as epic as I'd pictured it to be. I liked the Ian Mckellen voiceover of Iorek Brynison though.

Much better in my opinion was Stardust, which I'd watched earlier. We also watched Hitman that same night before the Golden Compass. Despite both of us having heard of the game, Jack and I spent the hour or so before TGC sitting over hot chocolate trying to make sense of Hitman. The fight scenes were so-so, but we felt an older Hitman, with a deeper voice (!) would have carried the character off better. And he should have showed even less emotion..,especially with the girl.

Am blogging from Dubai International Airport, where I've just visited the restaurant that allows passengers with a stopover time of over 5 hours a free meal. Brilliant.

Malaysia beckons. Another 10-12 hours...

Monday, December 10, 2007

What I've been up to 2

A busy final week of term, in which I had a final presentation to prepare, a final assessment to do, a Christmas event to organize in the midst of going into A&E.

I've really enjoyed working in the Royal Liverpool's A&E department. Its probably because of all the stuff they got us doing, which made us feel more involved even as students. After a slow start and shaky hands, I got in great suturing practice, was able to catheterise patients without traumatising myself each time, and on my last day *cough cough*, did my first manual reduction of a Colle's fracture. Still recall how numb I felt while doing that, its something I do to myself when doing procedures on patients. Great relief on seeing the ultrasound of the corrected wrist. And for the medically inclined, yes, an ultrasound. The doc i was with was trialling use of ultrasound to check results of manual reduction of fractures.

Friday's Christmas night in church was good. We managed to get a team of singers together at the last minute, and actually sang a song in parts! It was Newsong's 'The Song of Christmas', and I think having it at the end rounded things off nicely. Besides the nicely decorated hall ('snowdrop lights' and a tree supplied by Lydia and Julia plus candles all around), Becky and the rest of the YAGS (young adults group) came up with Christmassy food, which turned out nicely balanced on the Table Of Equilibrium, so named for the even numbers of food on all sides.

Watched Stardust on my laptop on Saturday night, and was enthralled, despite hearing less-than-stellar reviews about it. I think there should be more movies made like this. I like that they didn't speak funny, and there were plenty of quirky bits balancing the outright magic-ness of the movie. Plus the guy acting as a goat was a bonus, as we Robert De Niro's screentime. The coronation scene was the only scene that felt slightly uncomfortable during the whole movie, I felt.

Will be watching The Golden Compass on Wednesday at half price! I've already read 1 1/2 of the trilogy, and heard something of the hype surrounding it, so lets see how the movie strikes me.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

What I've been up to 1

I think I'm a few posts overdue, so since I've got a few days before heading back home, will be updating daily.

Last Sunday morning was wet and cold. Just like any normal morning in Liverpool around this time of year. The only difference was the city was dotted with specks of red.

The Liverpool Santa Dash 2007 was on, and if you're wondering what it would take to get grown-ups and children together on a wet morning, this would be it.

A 5km run for charity in full Santa regalia, complete with white whiskers. Definitely something to try at least once. And to be honest, we were more excited about the novelty of running as Santa than contributing to various charities! We being Ed, Jack, HP, Richard, AiWei, Gil and myself.

The other fun thing was that Liverpool was out to regain the crown for the most Santas completing the run from Las Vegas; we were aiming for around 7000 Santas or so.

It certainly seemed like Liverpool tried its best to meet the challenge. On the morning, there were so many Santas it was hard trying to pick one another out from amongst the crowd! Ed brought along his blue backpack and I wore a white Santa hat in a effort to stand out (haha knew the hat would come in useful someday squeaks and shubz!).

At the starting line, Santas of all shapes and sizes gathered. An obviously pumped-up chairperson led the proceedings, urging us to smile for the camera, reminding us that the sky, previously dark and cloudy had now turned to rays of sun, and that "God was in His heaven", wounding up by a frantic cheer for Liverpool, set us off.

And so the huffing and puffing began.

I'm not fit at the best of times, and this wasn't me at my best, so I settled down to a steady pace, jogging alongside Gil and Ed. Jack and HP meanwhile, had disappeared into the sea of Santas. Ai Wei and Richard hung back, preferring to take things easy. As we wound along the streets of Liverpool, we encountered various curious bystanders who cheered us on. Cars honked at us, either irritated that we were blocking the roads, or encouraging us on.

About halfway through, some Santas were beginning to flag. We passed by a number of Santas who were busily disrobing. Off came Santa cloaks and whiskers. No one complained about the cold, everyone was busy trying to cool down. Judging by the numerous plastic belts and hats littering the road, more than one Santa was more concerned with finishing the run than how they looked.

On we puffed, till we rounded a corner and saw the finish line ahead. With a blower emitting gusts of fake snow, and an enthusiastic chap on a loudspeaker, we crossed the finish line in fine style.

Looking back, I saw people in wheelchairs, people running with kids, people pushing prams and a whole contingent of schoolchildren. The pubs were full of Santas that morning. As for us, we headed to a pub for some food. Fish and chips never tasted better.