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Monday, May 31, 2010

Massimo Gammacurta

Gotta love these lollipop logos by Italian photographer Massimo Gammacurta.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Battle with Thyroidism

May 25 to 31, as most of you would know, is International Thyroid Awareness Week. I'm posting this because through my experiences with the disease, I know how important it is that the symptoms are recognized and treated as early as possible.

I started feeling unwell when I was in my early twenties. I didn't know then that I was suffering from hyperthyroidism - a condition when your body produces an excess of the thyroid hormone. I was nervous, irritable and imsoniac. My hands were trembling and I was always feeling hot. I ate like a horse but was losing weight and my heart was beating at an alarming rate. I felt like a time-bomb and my colleagues thought I was volatile and quarrelsome.
A visit from Mom ended with her dragging me to a clinic for a medical check-up. Mom was a nurse and she recognized the symptoms immediately. As usual, she was always right. I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.

To bring my thyroid hormone levels under control, I was treated with a high dosage of carbimazole tablets which would inevitably lead to hypothyroidism - the complete opposite of hyperthyroidism.
As expected, I developed hypothyroidism - my face puffed up with the weight gain and my lush hair was falling out and I felt like a zombie - weak, lethargic, intolerant to cold and depressed. My life was on a 'slow-forward'. I also suffered memory and appetite loss and muscular weakness. My wedding was just a few months away and no matter what I ate, my weight escalated. In a desperate attempt to lose weight, I resorted to drinking some kind of slimming tea that nearly cost me my kidneys.
The medication gradually tapered and I was back to my normal self but not for long. My hyperthyroidism returned and it was back to the whole cycle all over again - hyper and then hypo and hyper again..... It was all very frustrating and I totally hated living my life like a pendulum that was swinging in opposite extremes.
The last straw was when I suffered 3 miscarriages. I then decided to have part of my thyroid gland surgically removed and 20 years and 2 boys later, I've achieved 'Euthyroid' status (the state of having normal thyroid gland function). I've never felt better except for my intolerance to cold.
Although my symptoms are now under control, I have a legacy of stretch marks (due to my weight fluctuations), a scarred neck (the surgery) and a right eye that's slightly bigger than the left (exophthalmos - an abnormal protrusion of the eyeball from the eye socket/orbit, which can be associated with Graves' thyroidtoxicosis disease).

Here are some interesting facts I learned about the disease.

Foods that depress thyroid activity are broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, spinach, turnips, soy, beans, and mustard greens. These foods should be included in the diet for hyperthyroid conditions and avoided for people with hypothyroidism.

Studies have suggested a link between Germans and hypothyroidism due to their high intake of sauerkraut (finely shredded fermented cabbage). Cabbage may also act as a goitrogen. It blocks organification in thyroid cells, thus inhibiting the production of the thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). The result is an increased secretion of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) due to low thyroid hormone levels. This increase in TSH results in an enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter). Salad lovers, beware!

Some experts have suggested that autoimmune thyroid disease develops as a result of iodine overconsumption. Both the U.S. and Japan have high levels of iodine consumption and of autoimmune thyroid disease. Japanese people consume iodine because of their traditional diet that is rich in seafood and seaweed and Americans do because salt is iodinated and the food industry uses iodine as a machine wash.
You might want to go easy on the sushi if you have an overactive thyroid.

I wish I had known these facts earlier.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nathan Vincent

Nathan Vincent challenges feminine and masculine stereotypes by crocheting to make stereotypical masculine objects.
"My work explores gender permissions and the challenges that arise from straying from the prescribed norms. It questions the qualities of gender by considering what constitutes masculine and feminine. It critiques stereotypical gender mediums by creating "masculine objects" using "feminine processes" such as crochet, sewing, and applique."

Manly doilies

Hmmm.. I wonder if Grandma would approve

Condo Cat - Part II

I'm back to blogosphere and with great news. Condo Cat had given birth to 3 beautiful kitties. Yes, she was pregnant and I didn't have a clue! I merely thought that she had an over-indulged belly that resulted from all the food we've been smuggling for her! Duh!
Several weeks ago, Condo Cat went missing. Rumour had it that she had been adopted. What I didn't know was that she had been hidden by the security guards and cleaners in a secluded spot in the condo so she could be ensured of a safe nesting place.
Somehow, word got out and everyone wanted to visit her and her babies. It was really heartwarming to know that the security guards on duty had appointed themselves as her personal 'body guards". They would shoo the kids away each time someone attempted to go near her secret hideout, especially the amorous tom cat that made his nocturnal visits.

Awwwwww!! Look what I found this morning when we came back from our Chinese New Year break! The kids from the condo made this for Cantik's kitties. Yes, that's her name now as given by the residents. Cantik means 'beautiful' in Malay and I can't think of a more appropriate name. Peering inside the 'house', I saw the names 'Jojo', 'Blacky' and 'Snowy' !!

Cantik was nursing her kittens inside a box when I visited. Unsure if her maternal instincts would kick in, I kept my distance. And I wondered. Does she now perceive me as a threat to her young? Will my scent trigger her protective instinct to eat her babies?
As soon as she saw me, she bounced to her feet, padding towards me. Purring, she gently nudged me across the room to her nest. How could I have doubted her? It was such a tender moment for the both of us. I felt like a proud granny!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Xiao Qiang

Meet Xiao Qiang, a male whale that's making splashes in the art world. According to the keepers in the Qingdao Polar Ocean World in eastern China, it all started when the beluga simply grabbed a paint brush left behind by a visitor and started playing with it

However, Xiao Qiang is not the world’s first painting mammal, the painting elephants of Thailand and Cholla, the painting horse have similar talents.

Paper Sculptures - Alexei Lyapunov and Lena Ehrlich

The intricacy of these whimsical paper sculptures is unbelievable. They are the creations of Russian artists Alexei Lyapunov and Lena Ehrlich

The tools used for the paper sculptures

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Real Questions to Travel Agents

Here's another forwarded e-mail to share.


The following are actual stories provided by travel agents:

I had someone ask for an aisle seats so that his or her hair wouldn't get messed up by being near the window.

A client called in inquiring about a package to Hawaii. After going over all the cost info, she asked, "Would it be cheaper to fly to California and then take the train to Hawaii?"

I got a call from a woman who wanted to go to Capetown. I started to explain the length of the flight and the passport information when she interrupted me with "I'm not trying to make you look stupid, but Capetown is in Massachusetts. "Without trying to make her look like the stupid one, I calmly explained, "Capecod is in Massachusetts, Capetown is in Africa." Her response ... click.

A man called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain that is not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. He replied, "Don't lie to me. I looked on the map and Florida is a very thin state."

I got a call from a man who asked, "Is it possible to see England from Canada?" I said, "No." He said "But they look so close on the map."

Another man called and asked if he could rent a car in Dallas. When I pulled up the reservation, I noticed he had a 1-hour lay over in Dallas. When I asked him why he wanted to rent a car, he said, "I heard Dallas was a big airport, and I need a car to drive between the gates to save time."

A nice lady just called. She needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:20am and got into Chicago at 8:33am. I tried to explain that Michigan was an hour ahead of llinois, but she could not understand the concept of time zones. Finally I told her the plane went very fast, and she bought that.

A woman called and asked, "Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know who's luggage belongs to who?" I said, "No, why do you ask?" She replied, "Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said FAT, and I'm overweight, is there any connection?" After putting her on hold for a minute while I "looked into it" (I was actually laughing) I came back and explained the city code for Fresno is FAT, and that the airline was just putting a destination tag on her luggage.

I just got off the phone with a man who asked, "How do I know which plane to get on?" I asked him what exactly he meant, which he replied, "I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these darn planes have numbers on them."

A woman called and said, "I need to fly to Pepsi-cola on one of those computer planes." I asked if she meant to fly to Pensacola on a commuter plane. She said, "Yeah, whatever."

A businessman called and had a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded him he needed a visa. "Oh no I don't, I've been to China many times and never had to have one of those." I double checked and sure enough, his stay required a visa. When I told him this he said, "Look, I've been to China four times and every time they have accepted my American Express."

A woman called to make reservations, "I want to go from Chicago to Hippopotamus, New York" The agent was at a loss for words. Finally, the agent: "Are you sure that's the name of the town?" "Yes, what flights do you have?" replied the customer. After some searching, the agent came back with, "I'm sorry, ma'am, I've looked up every airport code in the country and can't find a Hippopotamus anywhere." The customer retorted, "Oh don't be silly. Everyone knows where it is. Check your map!" The agent scoured a map of the state of New York and finally offered, "You don't mean Buffalo, do you?" "That's it! I knew it was a big animal!"

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ben Heine - Pencil vs Camera

Belgian painter, illustrator, portraitist, caricaturist and photographer Ben Heine matches detailed hand drawings to the photos he takes to create these clever effects.