Monday, August 24, 2009

The Most Sensible Advice About H1N1!

I received this email on prevention of H1N1, so I am sharing it here.

How to prevent H1N1 – An eMail forward is reproduced below:


Thanks to media hype about H1N1, several people who trust me have either approached or called me to advice. The hype in media about the utility of face masks and N95 respirators as a tool for general protection against H1N1 can't be deplored enough.

Yesterday, a friend who listened wanted me to write down briefly what I advised so that he could tell others in similar words. Hence this short email to friends whom I have advised recently (and others whom I haven't yet).

Please realize that this is not an official advice, especially the one about face masks or N95. Most N95 respirators are designed to filter 95% particulates of 0.3µ, while the size of H1N1 virus is about 0.1µ. Hence, dependence on N95 to protect against H1N1 is like protecting against rain with an umbrella made of mosquito net.

Tamiflu does not kill but prevents H1N1 from further proliferation till the virus limits itself in about 1-2 weeks (its natural cycle). H1N1, like other Influenza A viruses, only infects the upper respiratory tract and proliferates (only) there. The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/ throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions.

Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.

While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps - not fully highlighted in most official communications - can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):

1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).

2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat or bathe).

3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.

5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.

Amla is the small yellow preserved fruit we use to get from those tit bits stalls. Alternatively get them from the Himalaya's pure herbs, Amalaki.

6. Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

7. All these are simple ways to prevent, within means of most households, and certainly much less painful than to wait in long queues outside public hospitals.

Happy breathing!

Best regards,
Dr.Ashutosh Mundkur

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Last Saturday, 28 March 2009 was Earth Hour. Is your house light off?

I didn't expect my father to understand. After all, I explained to him why I chose to wash my car with 2 buckets of water instead of using the hose. I speak about how we need to conserve energy and water for the future generation or how we should reduce the use of plastic bags. He never gets it. I was contented that during Earth Hour, I can turned off all power except for the living room, where he will sits in. So it was to my surprise that at about 8.00pm on Earth Hour day, he asked if we can at least leave the fan on. I pondered and told him the switching off the light exercise of Earth Hour is not mandatory and to my delight, he said he knows but he wanted to play a part. What a surprise indeed.It also happened that I needed to visit a client's house to pick up a cheque. I arrived just as the clock struck 8.30pm and his place is lit with but 2 candles. Mind you, his wife just gave birth 3 months ago but they are still doing their parts.

I read of 2 Earth Hour events taking place in Malaysia that night. Host for one the event Stephanie Chai said it best when she reminded us that Earth Hour is not about saving that one hour worth of energy all around the world, even if that amount is quite significant. Rather, it's about creating awareness and getting more people to participate in all effort to preserve earth. Another host, Lina Teoh mentioned she would prefer to drive an ecologically friendly car but she could not afford one (hey, is she fishing for sponsorship?). But lets share some facts. The most environmentally friendly car available in Malaysia is probably the Honda Civic Hybrid, initially introduced with a price tag of about RM180,000 (about USD49,300). If I have any reader from outside Malaysia, they probably wonder why the Civic costs so much here in Malaysia but that would be story for another day. Back to Lina Teoh, probably one of the most recognised face in the country and she said she can't afford a Honda. That is so sad to hear since it really leave us wondering about the rest of us ordinary people. Sigh.

Speaking of Honda, there was also an Earth Hour special pullout in a local newspaper and Honda was one of its sponsors. One of only two sponsors that took part in fact, which I guess strongly imply environmental awareness in Malaysia is still very low and any dedication to save the earth may in fact be a weak selling point for any company seeking to compete in the local market. Double sigh. The other sponsor was Bonuslink, with its GM speaking passionately about the importance of doing everything we can to preserve the earth and that even as individual, each of our affort can make a difference. He also expressed how much he hated seeing people using more toilet paper that is necessary. seriuosly, that really do make a difference. I saw once a young man pulled out 3 pieces of tissue paper from the tissue box of a foodstall, crumbled them all and wipe his mouth in one quick swipe before discarding them. Was that necessary? I usually used only half. But such is the mentality of Asian in general. If it's free, use as much as you like, even more than you need. They thought it's only right, since they already paid for the food, they are entitled to use as much as they like. I just think that was a lack of class.

Back to Earth Hour. The day has passed but if you love Earth, everyday can be Earth Hour. For those of us who can yet afford a Honda Civic Hybrid, there is so much more we can still do:
Don't leave the tap running as we brush our teeth.
Use products - personal or household that create none or minimal damage to the environment.
Reduce use of plastic bag whenever possible.
Reduce usage of any paper - tissue paper, cups, etc.
Basically reduce or stop using anything disposable.
Well, you don't expect me to list down everything right? Go on. Show you care.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

To Read or Not To Read.

A net friend of mine from Thailand will be spending 3 months of her university break in a worthwhile project. The aim of the project is to encourage young people, especially those in the age range of 13 to 15, to read more literary books. That in my opinion is an extremely noble project to pursue but June and her friends face a Herculean task.

The problem most likely begins in childhood, with most parents letting their children watch TV instead of encouraging them to read. Why? Because when children watch the idiot box, they leave their parents alone? Maybe. But without the love of reading instilled in these younger years, it becomes even more difficult as the children enter their teenage years. How do you get them to start reading when these are the years when they begin to become interested in the opposite sex and hence, are more focused in making themselves appeared attractive? After all, reading hasn’t been viewed as cool for a long time. Even Peter Parker was only seen with books when he was just a geeky teenager but as Spiderman, he appeared to have no more need for them. So again the question asks, can these young people be ‘lured’ into giving reading a try?

I have a multiple phases idea I am not sure will work. The internet is a major distraction from reading but used right, it may also become a tool to champion it.
1) Pick about 5 good books
2) Present the story in gist and simplified version via a short animation.
3) Withhold the conclusion, then reveal the book in which people can read the full story.

Of course, packaging is almost everything in today’s world so a plan is not a plan unless the plan has a plan on how to package the plan. Hey, I kinda like how that sounds – can I trademark it? But seriously folks, I do have a plan on how to package this.
1) Actual animation would complicate things and also make file slow to load, not to mention long to produce. Presentation is probably best presented in a series of drawing / pictures
2) The style of the drawing must not be too real or complicated. It should be simple, clean and almost cute, with appeal enough to young people that they will want to forward them to friends.
3) While it may be presented as powerpoint, a video or flv file is preferred. Other than the email route, it may also be uploaded into video community site such as youtube.

But can such a plan work? The creation of these animation file has the following objective.
1) While many people are not interested to read books, most do read their email and forward what they like. The file will hopefully found a percentage of people who might be intrigued enough to check out the book the next time they pass by a bookstore.
2) Discovering the story on one‘s own freewill will hopefully cultivate a genuine love for reading. This way, a person will continue to read for life instead of doing so under a campaign which runs for limited time.
3) A well made animation could continue to circulate as email attachment for years. While the initial result may be small, it will hopefully over a period of time, accumulate to a significant figure.

The whole notion seems so... idealistic. The initial stage may take a lot of work but if it breeds success, everything will be well worth it. The message will continue to go round and round in the cyberspace because someone is bound to forward it. It created first the interest, and if anyone is even intrigued enough to check out the book, it could turns into a lifelong love affair with the beauty of the written words. In the future, writer may even use the same method to promote their new books.

Which give the plan a commercial angle. Couldn’t draw well enough to present the plan? Friends talented in art too busy to help? But could not afford a professional graphic designer to do it? Approach a leading bookstore chain, preferable an international brand. Present this idea to them and I am sure they could see the benefit in store for them. The publicity they will enjoy aside, the file may also place link to the bookstore’s corporate website. Need I mention the increase of interest in reading means the increase of sales for them too?

Can this really work? Someone gimme some comments here. Anyone got any other bright ideas too? C’mon… share your view.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

No to Plastic Bag

I was buying some er... drugs from a pharmacy in Nilai and instead of a plastic bag, they gave me my purchase in this:
One might thought the pharmacy was too cheap to even pays for plastic bags but I am inclined to believe that the owner actually cared for the environment. Afterall, she has a WWF certificate in her name being displayed in the shop. According to her staff, the customers in the area tend to share the same sentiment too.

Plastic bags usage indeed has a role in the rapidly declining state of our environment but in a recent article in the Star, local plastic bags manufacturers defended themselves, reminding us that the environmental problem brought by plastic bags usage should not lies solely on them but also on the consumers, who usually discarded the bag after use without a second thought. The waste management in the country also created a problem as wastes cannot decompose without water and light. In fact, it was reported that 40 plus years old newspaper has been found intact beneath mountain of waste.

I don't know how rampant the problem is in other country but in mine, this lack of civic mindedness is indeed a cause for concern. I regularly see on the road litter being thrown out from a moving car - cigarette butt, tissue paper, empty drink package, plastic bag. and don't even get me started on the drain here. Why would someone throw anything into the drain is beneath me. Don't they know this will taint water that will eventually find their ways back to our pipeline? Or that they may clog our already compromised drainage system, making floods all the easier to occur?

Too often, people just said that one people cannot make a difference but really, they just couldn't care less. If only one person of 30 million Malaysian stop using plastic bag, that is 365 plastic bags saved and not discarded in a year. If every Malaysian adopt the same mindset, that is 300,000 plastic bags a day. This message comes from someone in the local group One Buck Short through Hitz FM. Sorry, I can't remember who but I don't know local group well. Will support them though, that's my New Year resolution 2010 :-)

But seriously folks, I already started by not littering around and declining a plastic bag for anything I bought that I can carry with my bare hands. I still forget to bring my own shopping bag but hey, at least I already have one. What are you doing to help preserve the environment?

ps: Don't worry about the street sweeper. They will be able to keep their job sweeping leaves that falls from trees naturally.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Life Is Either A Daring Adventure Or Nothing.

Wow.. I haven’t updated in a while. I haven’t dated in a while too but that’s another story for another day.

I didn’t even write about my first time playing paintball or the movie review for Mamma Mia and many more that I have watched. That’s everyone’s main gripe isn’t it? Silas especially, been telling me I wrote too many movie reviews. Due to time constraint, I haven’t been watching many movies but I have been reading more. Does that mean I will be writing books reviews instead? Maybe, or maybe not. I don’t know but I thought I just come back to blogging with a positive note. I came across the following phrases recently. Enjoy.

Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
Satchel Paige

If you think education is expensive- try ignorance.
Derek Bok

God is not a cosmic bellboy for whom we can press a button to get things done.
Harry Emerson Fosdick

It is our choices... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
J.K. Rowling

There are things I can't force. I must adjust. There are times when the greatest change needed is a change of my viewpoint.
Denis Diderot

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.Don't complain.

Maya Angelou

If you are not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative.
Woody Allen

Think you can, think you can't. Either way, you are right. Henry Ford

The most successful people are those who are good at Plan B.

Do the thing you fear most and the Death of fear is certain.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Ride the Bull and arrive in the Valley of Happiness sandwiched by the Mountains of Prosperity. Wishing you a Happy & Prosperous Chinese New Year. Kong He Fatt Choy!!!

ok- I nicked that from a SMS greeeting I received :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Struck by Lightning.

Well.. not me.

There was a heavy thunderstorm 2 Saturdays ago in my neighbourhood and one particular strike of lightning was followed by an almost deafening roar of thunder. I was taking a nap and the first thing that crossed my mind is thanks God I turned off the computer and its power disconnected. So I continued my sleep.

I only found out later in the evening that a house in the neighbourhood was struck and its roofs damaged. I would have take a photo but it was already dark. The next morning was greeted by another discovery as I tried unsuccessfully to go online. There was no light on my modem. A quick check revealed that the DSL filter was exposed and when I found the cover, it was immediately obvious why.

Apparently, the phone line was struck too and the overload of power is so great that the line burst and blew open the cover. The line connected to the modem is also burnt off so my modem is damaged now. I must have replaced the modem less than a year ago, the last which was also damaged by lightning. I never learnt my lesson.

Better get the modem replaced ASAP, with a lightning protector of course, or my only way to go online would be the cybercafe.