Steph's Friend

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sleeping With Bugs

There was this nest of don't-know-what that I found just BEHIND my bed!! I couldn't believe it when I saw it. It was found when our (my brother and mine) beds were cleaned. I took the whole nest thingy and decided to examine it. When I split opened the cell-like structure...this was what I saw...

Apparently there were dead spiders and what seemed like an exoskeleton of some bug. The nest was made of dried mud. What an amazing find.


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Thursday, July 28, 2005


It's been quite some time since my last post.'s because I was recently hospitalised for acute asthma attack. I went to NUH A&E (National University Hospital - Accident and Emergency) on Friday night (22 July 05). They gave me the nubuliser treatment (the one where they fix this gas mask on you and ask you to breathe in some smokey looking gas) and some steroids to clear my airway. However I did not respond to the treatment. So they decided to hospitalise me. My parents were outside waiting anxiously for me...I still remember how my mother cried. Sad.

I was warded to Ward 54 Bed 17. It was already around 1.00 am at that time...very sleepy and still having difficulty breathing. My parents stayed on awhile before leaving home.

The next day, I woke up and saw the people around me. Reminded me of my BMT (Basic Military Training) days where I sleep with fellow recruits who lie on their bed coughing from the "Tekong cough". They were different in the sense that they were in their 70s - this means that I am the youngest in the ward. Feels strange huh?

Anyway, there are a lot of interesting people that I met and interacted with in my stay. Talking and having them around sure made the stay less lonely (and they were saying that there's a generation

Bed 18: A weird guy

This guy is weird...real weird...and he's just beside my bed. When I first saw him, he was very pitiful as he had this device stuck to his throat. I heard something about he not being able to clear phlegm from his throat or something like that and the doctors were afraid that he would choke and die. Hence they inserted this tube which is suppose to help him breathe...but from the looks of it...he sure has a hard time talking. Because of this, he would make strange noises with his mouth like "cluck cluck" or use his cup and hit the table or even slap on his bed making "thud thud" noises. After awhile it gets irritating. This is bad for our ward as the people can't really sleep that well. When people try to help him, he made gestures and sounds. But those helping him can't understand what he's trying to bring across.

Bed 19: The guy with the long eyebrows

His eyebrows are looong. That's the most distinguishable feature he has. He's a nice guy who talks to me. In fact he's the one who talked the most while the others occasionally talk to me. He would ask me how I am (" an cua?") and from there a conversation will start. A nice guy. He was discharged the same day as me.

Bed 20: The first to get discharge

Don't really know him as he's the first one to be discharged. In fact he was disharged on my first day in hospital. Lol. Anyway I was transferred to his bed later on as my bed was occupied by someone else later on in the week.

Bed 21: A nice guy also

This guy is nice also. At times he would comment on the nurses in our ward.

"This guy arh...he very nice one. Very gentle and kind. He must be a Filipino."

"That lady irritating. Any-o-how disturb me when I sleep. She must be Singaporean."

So are Filipinos more gentle and kind than Singaporeans? Lol.

Bed 22: Mao Ze Dong

I tell you that this guy looks A LOT like Mao. After sleeping he will just sit and smile and look around. It's his smile that makes him look a lot like Mao. He and Bed 18 have some kind of grudge I think as he would laugh or smile whenever Bed 18 has some problem trying to communicate with the nurses.

"Ni bu yao guan ta" (Just ignore him...referring to Bed 18)

Bed 23: Foul-mouthed senior citizen

A comical old ah-beng. He was warded later on in the week. He sure talks like an ah-beng with a "knn" here and a "*****" there. But he's nice towards the people around. I guess it's just the way he talks.

Bed 24: Silent

When I was warded, there was this guy in Bed 24. He had a supportive family (his wife and daughter) who stayed with him through the whole night. The daughter would read to him while his wife would support him. However, later on at around 4.00 am to 5.00 am I could hear cries and mourning from their bed. I guess he must have left them.

"Ni bu yao zou a. Kuai dien hui lai!"

" bu yao zhe yang ke yi ma? Rang ta zou ba"

It was a sad scene.

Later on in the morning, the whole family came to see him. After that the hospital personnel came and collected the body.

After one or two days, another guy was warded to the same bed. He looks lifeless and was not responsive to anything. When the doctor came to do his rounds, he was still lying there...sleeping or unconscious. But what I know is that he slept the whole time I was the day I was discharged.

So this is the small "community" I stayed with. I guess you could say I was the youngest. I was discharged on Sunday afternoon. So during these three days...I sure learnt and seen a lot.

This is the IV stuff that they injected into me. It sure made my life more difficult and painful.

I guess being hospitalised need not necessarily be a sad thing you know. Personally, I got to know more people and learn new stuff (like how old people talk; the different kinds of characters old people have; how people deal with death). I guess it's your outlook towards it that matters.


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Thursday, July 21, 2005

A Prayer

Lord I know that You have prepared a girl somewhere out there...the perfect one for who is compatible with me.
Someone who is able to support me through thick and thin.
Whoever she is and wherever she may be I pray that You will preserve her heart and body and protect her from all harm and danger.
I pray that you will do the same thing to me for her.
I do not know the time and day of our meeting but I know that You have it all thought out.
And I know that that day will be a joyous one for the both of us.
In Your own special time and way You will present her to me and me to her.
Whoever she is and wherever she may be, I pray that you will keep her pure.
For I believe that there is a girl out there whom You have preserved for me.
Help me also Lord that I may keep myself pure for her also.
Lord I pray that as I hand this area of my life - my marriage - up into Your hands...I pray that You will honour my request and bless it.

In Jesus' name I pray...

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

It Is An Asthma Attack!

I saw the doctor just now and she said that it wa is an asthma attack.

"Asthma attack?"

"Yes. Now asthma can be triggered by several factors. They are: cold weather, animal fur, pollutants, work environment..."

The rest was a blur. The words "animal fur" really stunned me.

"But I am a dog handler in a military camp!"

I am like, "I am a dog handler and I can't touch dogs?"...what is this?

When I went in to see the doctor, she asked a few questions and checked my breathing using her stethoscope. She said that my breathing sounded "wheezy" so she sent me for nebuliser treatment (the one with the gas mask worn and you can see smoke coming out of the mask thingy). Then I went for a chest X-ray. Then back to her.

"Hm...your X-ray shows nothing wrong. However, your wheezing sound is still there. So I will send you for another session of nebuliser treatment."

What another one? With each treatment, your heart beats's a side-effect. So you can just imagine how FAST my heart beat was. I even experienced a sharp pain suddenly during the second session. Thank God I am still alive.

"'s still there. but I can't give you another session of nebuliser. Here's a letter to your camp MO (Medical Officer) and you need to rest at home for 2 days. No strenuous activity ok? An if you still suffer another asthma attack, I think you may need to go to the hospital straight away. Come back and see me after 2 days for a follow-up."

After that, we (my father and I) went to this room for counselling. It's some counselling session for people who live with asthma. "It's not curable but it can be prevented," this was what I learnt.

This is roughly what happened. However, what I am more concerned is that whether I can still be a dog handler. I won't want all the training to go to waste. And yet, I am asthmatic. So is it health or duty?

Haiz...I think I will just hand this matter up to God and let His will be done in my life.

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Bad Impression

Imagine this. You have just received this job at a new place. You don't know who your colleagues are. The only ones you know are your three friends who got the same job as you. You get ready for work even though you are sick with a flu. On Monday you arrived at your workplace and worked all the way until it's time to go. However, when you arrived home, you realised that you've overstrained yourself. BAM!!. You are now in a worse condition than before. You decided to go and see a doctor. You are given 3 days medical leave and you wonder if your colleagues that you have just met might accuse you of skiving. Then on the third day of your medical leave, you are still sick with breathing problems and chest pain. So should you go back to work? Or should you see a doctor (your colleagues will think that you are skiving and your superior might not like it)?

Well, that's the type of situation I am facing.

Hopefully my colleagues will understand the situation I am facing. This flu has been going on since last Friday. It stayed as a flu until Monday where the sore throat and cough came in. I wanted to go back to camp to work but the story of the mysterious deaths of NSmen really made me reconsider. So I went to the A&E at NUH (Accident and Emergency at National University Hospital) as the clinics were all closed at that time (it was around 10.30pm). When I saw the doctor, he said that I had a serious throat infection and gave me 3 days of medical leave. It is infectious (now my brother is starting to cough like me...sorry bro). The first day is used in the 10.30pm to 12.00am period. I reached home at around 1.00am which is the second day already. I slept through the whole second day, occasionally walking about in the house for blood circulation.

Now is the third day. Well, I still am experiencing difficulty in breathing and chest pains. Is it that my childhood asthma has come back? I am not too sure. But I know that if this goes on, the people at my camp (my workplace) may have a bad impression of me...thinking that I am trying to chao geng (skive).

Now where did I put my Ventolin...

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Finally Finished The Dog Handler Course

The day has arrived when the 17 of us have become dog longer a trainee anymore. All of us were posted to various places. For me, I am posted to an airbase with three others. Hopefully the work shift there will be manageable.

What kind of dog will I take in my new unit? Hopefully it's a dog which likes me. I can't imagine prowling with a dog who hates you. Especially if it lasts for around 6 hours. From what I heard the dogs there only see their handlers. This will cause the dogs to be suspicious of other humans which is what a guard dog must do. However, when a dog handler reaches his ORD date (it is a day when a national serviceman completes his national service and goes back to the civilian world), the dog will be passed on to the next handler (which in this case happens to be me). So the old handler must familiarise his dog with the new handler for the dog to adjust to its new owner. Hopefully the dog won't have any problems adjusting to me.

My job will be much harder now due to the recent London has been tighten and handlers will be even more busy than before. Most of the times, we are the unsung heroes of the night. We prowl and protect the base from any intruders at night while the others are sleeping peacefully. What I heard is that the Dog Wing guys are now pushing for a "Dog Hanlder" badge in recognition of the service given by dog handlers nationwide. Hopefully it will get through approval.

Looks like it's going to be a new phase of my NS life...a dog handler in Tengah Air Base.

As for Britney (the female Malinois that I handled in my course), well...I am going to miss her. The course ended on Friday (15th July). When I went for kennel duty (It's just cleaning the kennels and feeding the dogs) the next day, Britney was awfully quiet. Normally, she would jump around and greet us (my buddy and me). But this time, she was just laying in one corner. I had a hard time feeding her too. I guess she must be sad knowing that her two handlers are leaving soon. My friend's dog, Daisy a female Malinois also, had a difficult time eating too. I guess the dogs must be all sad. Imagine after bonding with their owners for two weeks and now it's time to's sad man. But I guess it's inevitable...soon Britney will have another owner taking her. I hope that he will treat her in the same way if not better like we treat her. When I left the kennel, she was again alone in her's so un-Britney.

Hope that you will have a better handler in the future Britney.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Dog Handler has been 10 days already since I entered the Dog Handler Course. far things have been going fine except for a few surprises here and there.

Today we just did the Theory Test for our course and I must say that things went well. The test was manageable for that I was able to answer most of the questions (like my rank and name and my IC number). However, others in the same course commented that it was very difficult. It's not surprising as most of us (in fact all of us) did not really study for it. But it's surprising that I was able to do it. I only did some last-minute browsing through just like the others. Well maybe it's because I paid more attention during classes (I did sleep through some's only one).

This reminded me of the days in NJC (National Junior College) when last-minute revision was the most common form of study for most of us.

"Hey, do you know where's the aortic valve located?"

"It's somewhere at your heart."

"I also know it's at your heart. But which part?"

"It's at the aortic valve there."

It's no wonder that some of us failed.

Then there's study groups.

"Hey, what's Fleming's Right Hand Rule for?"

"Hm...not sure. By the way, what if Fleming was handicapped and did not have both hands? Then there won't be all this stuff to study already."

"Hey, you are right...hahahaha."

Now back to the Dog Handler Course...

The Theory Test is now over...what's next is the Practical Test...the Big One...and it falls on...tomorrow. Ouch!

This is the killer one. It is so as you'll be tested on how you prowl with your dog and whether your dog listens to you. As you can see, this test depends heavily on your dog's performance...for me, it's Britney's performance.

There are cases when the dogs decide to "sabotage" the handlers by messing everything up on the test day.

For example, when the handler asked the dog to attack the intruder, the dog would just go over to the intruder...sniff here and there before coming back to the handler. What's worse is that the dog will at times pee right in front of the examiner. Then there's this case when the handler asked the dog to come back to him the dog went to examiner and sat beside him! It's not that the handlers treat their dogs badly. It's just unlucky I would say. Dogs have their moods and's very unpredictable as to how they will behave.

Britney so far has been a good girl in that in practice sessions she behaved very well. Sit when told to sit and stayed when told to stay. I must say that I am happy to have her as my dog for this course. Hopefully she will behave just as well on the test day itself...which is tomorrow.

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My Friend Is A Gay

I am so very shocked.

This is my first time being so close with such a kind of person. He looks like an average nice and amicable kind of guy. He is also very soft-spoken. But only today did I get to find out that he (You replace the "u" in "guy" with an "a" and you get "gay").

Anyway...I was giving Britney some water after her meal today (Britney is a female Malinois that I share with my buddy, G, in our dog handling course) when I heard my buddy and another bunk mate, K, talking with GY (the gay).

"So how is he? Is he handsome?" G and K were asking.

"Erm...yah. He is my gay friend. By the way, I am gay. Hehe." GY replied.

I am like so very cold. I didn't know that GY was gay...only until then. I was also very I have heard of gays and their communities in Singapore but have not really came so close to one and knowing it.

He is a nice and quiet guy who helps us out when we needed help. For example, he lent his civilian clothes to this guy, M, when he didn't bring his so that M could book-out in civilian. He also help us to clean the area whenever there's area cleaning. He also accompanied me for breakfast when everyone else was still asleep in the morning. A real nice guy.

Hey...I am not gay ok. But this really put me in a dilemma. He is our bunk mate who sleeps in the same room with us and a gay also.

It's gonna be very weird from now on. People will definitely treat him differently after knowing it. Whether it's for the better or for the worse depends on their views on gay.

Personally, I will definitely still treat him as a friend. But if he crosses the line...that's it man. As for the breakfast-with-him thingy...hopefully he still remains the same as before and not try anything funny.


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Monday, July 11, 2005

NTU to set up institute for Nobel Laureates

This is good news for me :)

Hopefully I may be a Nobel Laureate one day...HAHAHAHA. (Pretty ambitious for a dog handler)

"All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible." - Orison Swett Marden

May I emphasis the part which says "seemed impossible". Honestly speaking, It does seem impossible for an average student-who-is-now-in-NS to be a Nobel Laureate. But I really do dream (and hopefully it comes true :)) of being one. It's gonna be tough and the road seems long but least I put the effort to try man. I don't really know if this drive in me would last me all the way to that day or die off. Well, I guess time will tell.

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." - Les Brown

And even though I don't get to be a Nobel Laureate, at least I may have achieve something on my road there. Hopefully I will reach the moon. If not, the stars aren't bad either.


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Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Yay!! Another night's off today.

Today was very exciting for me, my buddy, G, and Britney. Why? Because we had baiting lessons today.

So what's it all about? Well, we practiced on how to use our dogs to attack huh? Everyone gets a chance to be the handler and the baiter (the one who gets bitten).

I was chosen to be the handler while G was chosen to be the baiter. However, G would not be the baiter for Britney as he is one of her handlers with me. So my baiter was another guy. While G was baiter for Marco...a big German Shephard.

When it was my turn to practice, I brought Britney out of her kennel. After that I stood beside her waiting for the baiter to come out. However, Britney kept looking backwards (I think she knew that there's a baiter there). She was fierce and kept tugging on the leash.

Then when the baiter came out and shouted at us, Britney became even more excited. I held her back before she could attack the baiter. Then I warned the baiter that I will release the dog. He still refuse to listen (he is suppose to do that by the way). Hence I released the dog.

What followed was chaos...the baiter was screaming (ARGHH!!....UGHHH!!'s fake screaming to make it more dramatic), Britney was in a frenzy biting at the baiter's protected sleeve (the sleeve is suppose to protect the baiter...this is a practice...not a real one) and the rest were behind watching and if they were watching a soccer match.

After a few seconds (around 10 seconds), I called Britney back. The baiter ran back to his place.

Next was Karto...a big German Shephard, his baiter was this guy called O. This practice group was more funny.

O was a big sized guy. However, he is also very blur (sorry offence).

Why do I say that he is blur? Well because he himself has confessed it

"Don't ask me...I very blur one...everything also don't know", Ong.

And secondly, an incident which almost caused his buddy, Teo, to be bitten by their dog Balto, a German Shephard.

The incident goes like this. Both of them were in the kennel playing with Balto. Teo was petting his head while Ong was playing with the tail. Then Ong went to touch some part of Balto (which I still do not know where). This caused Balto to growl. Two trainees in a small kennel with an angry dog. Would you be scared? They sure are. Ong immediately went out of the cage and locked it. He forgot that his buddy Teo is still inside. Teo started to panic. Luckliy, Balto stopped the growling and went back to normal. Teo was relieved that he was not bitten. He turned to look at Ong who was just outside the kennel...what followed was vulgarities and shouts from Teo (this was what attracted my attention and this was how I got to know of this incident). Ong just smiled and laughed.

Now back to our baiting lesson.

The handler came out with Karto. When O charged out, Karto was ready to attack. However, when his handler gave the "Attack" command, O moved back. Karto couldn't reach O as he was still tied to his leash (In this practice session all of us were required to leash our dogs still as it was the first time we were doing this). Then the IC went to O and told him that he should let the dog bite him and not run away. So everything was restarted.

However, this time, when Karto was told to attack, Karto just walked to O and sniffed around before returning to the handler. We were all like "What?!" and started to laugh. So the IC gave O a long stick to hit Karto in order to agitate it to attack. So everthing was restarted again.

This time, O charge with his stick. We all shouted at him to use the stick, knowing that he is very blur and will forget. However, O looked at us and said "Orh"...then he dropped the stick on the floor. Now we laughed even harder. "You are suppose to hit the dog with it and not drop it on the floor!!" they all shouted. He looked at us and said "Orh" again. As you might have expect, everything was restarted.

This time O charged with his stick. He stretched his stick out and almost hit Karto. Guess what...Karto ran back to the owner...I guess Karto is afraid of the stick. How is Karto ever going to be a guard dog?

This time, the IC gave up and asked the next practice group to come in.


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Monday, July 04, 2005

Belgian Malinois

Guess what!? I have been chosen to be a dog handler. Am I lucky? Not too sure about that. But I met the dog assigned to me today.

Her name is Britney, a Belgian Malinois with yellowish-brown fur.

(Picture from American Kennel Club)

When I was small, I was chased by a dog...this left me with a traumatic experience with dogs. Now, I am a dog ironic. But nevertheless, I need to overcome this phobia of dogs.

Well, what we did today was just an introduction to dogs. My buddy, G, and I were allocated to Britney. We were allowed to enter the kennel one at a time to talk and bond with the dog. She was nice and gentle. Unlike the other dogs that bark a lot and terrified their handlers. There was even one dog who bit the cuff of my friend's uniform...just imagine the terror he experienced. And it was his first time touching a dog...sad case man for him.

When I entered the kennel, I was scared as it was my first time in such close proximity with a dog...not knowing whether she would attack or just stay there. She walked to me and I just stroke her was that simple. And I thought...hey it's that simple! looks like a good start for the both of us. My buddy was also comfortable with the dog we had. He was more confident than me as he like dogs and is not afraid of them.

After the bonding session, we cleaned their kennel. Luckily Britney is a hygienic dog...her kennel is quite clean. This makes our job much easier. What followed was feeding time. Britney ate 200g of Science Diet. It was nice to look at her eat. I guess I am starting to like dogs...and overcome my fear of them. After her meal, we waited one hour before giving her water to eat.

Well...I hope that the remaining 2 weeks of course will be an enjoyable time.

Good girl Britney

(To find out more about the Belgian Malinois, you can go here)

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Young Child

I went to the bank today with my father to activate my ATM card. Just right in front of us was this mother and her child...aged around 2 years. A child who has only been in the world for around 2 years. He looked cute and form of evil can be found in him.

This made me recall my childhood.

I was young and naive then...crying for everything that I wanted. If that didn't achieve my goal, I would cry louder. However, most of the times, my parents were firm with me. A no is a no and a yes is a yes. There is no such thing as a no that soon becomes a yes or a yes that turns to no later. So there's no point in crying anymore and I would just stop.

The next thing I knew was that the child in front of us cried! I guess he wanted something but his mother didn't give it to him. Everyone in the bank turned their eyes to the embarrassed mother and her child. His cry was loud and obviously attention-catching even the police guarding the bank turned to see...and he even gave a smile!

I wondered what should a parent do if faced with such a situation. Should the parent walk away and save everyone in the bank the child's cry? Or should she continue on in the queue? I may face the same problem one day if I am married with a family. So which option is the best?

Just as I was thinking of the answer to my question, the mother in front of us went out with her child, leaving us as the nest in-line. We settled my ATM card and went out of the bank.

Outside, I asked my father what he would do if he was in her position. He said that he would just stay in the queue. Either, my father was unaffected by the stares around or my cry was not loud

It's hard to be a we should appreciate them even more.


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