Monday, July 30, 2007

静心思考 || Reflection

So my birthday came and went quietly, peacefully, with a few well-wishers wishing me a happy birthday. Thank you guys: Rachel, Charles, Joey and Cindy for remembering, as well as Ming Han, my mom and Aunty Amy in Singapore, and Choops in Aussie. Thanks to Leon for bringing me to this awesome Memphis Blues restaurant to feast on meat, something I'd never do regularly.. 4 days later, I have some thoughts. (Yes, I'm very slow.)

I deliberately removed my birth date from Facebook, but I forgot about it on my Blogger profile, therefore, Charles managed to find it in the end, and, together with Joey, they both wrote me a card.

Charles wrote something that struck a chord with me deeply:
"I suppose somewhere along the way of you living independently, birthdays hardly matter as a milestone of development and maturity. You've found work that you love and are already more than capable of setting and achieving your own explicit goals." [Btw, Charles wrote the "E" in my name as a Σ. So typically him. ;-)]

I guess I'm not too sure what "explicit goals" means, but I realized that I've transformed quite a bit. I guess not wrt. birthdays - since I was 14 I've never really wanted any party. All I wanted was my chance to get to eat 2 eggs rather than 1 in the morning, which only occurred on 26 July of each year. Then my classmates would give me a card, and the day would be over quickly.

So, as people may be wondering, on July 26 2007, what did I do? Just another work day, to start. I went to work earlier, because Tim (our PhD student in the lab) and I had stuff to do earlier in the morning, I think. 4 days later on, my memory gets a little gray-ish. But I remember helping out Valeria (our post-doc in the lab) until late - I was doing lots of pipetting and preparing the cells for something else. Thankfully I didn't screw up. I didn't get off at my usual 4.30pm, but rather at 6.00pm. It was fun, though. Another day where I get to apply my knowledge. Then I had dinner and dessert with Leon, and then I looked at the digital SLRs. That's about it. Worked well for me.

Amidst the silence and peace that I get when I don't do any big major partying, I get reflective. Which, I guess, is a good thing. Let's me look back on my life a bit more.

Over the year, I survived Science One, and graduated as an official Science One survivor. I then moved on and screwed up 3 summer courses by deciding to take them all at one go, leaving me not enough time to study for them, and with a bigger gap to fill up for next year's MBIM admissions process.

I made awesome friends in SciOne: top of the list include Charles, Joey, Cindy, Rachel, Si Rim, Sally and Matt, the latter four also part of our in-house Totem Park Musical. May the bunch of us always keep in touch. And to Si Rim and Rachel - WE NEED TO JAM AGAIN.

I became environmentally conscious, and now I intend to make sustainable living a part of my new life at Thunderbird Residence.

By a stroke of luck's big brush, I got a summer research student position at the BC Cancer Research Center, in the TFL's Takei Lab, where I'm being trained and learning more about immunological research. I hope they let me stay on during the winter session - I so totally would, if only Dr. Takei would nod his head.

I learned a lot of life's lessons. Tolerance, effectiveness, fear (in a positive sense), and most importantly, humility. Learning is one thing though. I sometimes wonder if I'm applying them in my daily life, and living out those lessons properly.

I defined my university career goals and life goals properly. I want to be a scientist, to discover and develop a broad-spectrum cancer treatment that targets cancer cells without targeting body cells.

I have enjoyed the company of friends, of visiting their families and homes. I have discovered the hospitality and compassion that they and their families have shown towards me, and I am appreciative of that. Thank you Rachel, Charles and Cindy, I really enjoyed going over to your places. JOEY, YOU'RE NEXT!! =P

I have learned how to cook properly. Well, maybe not properly, I guess. But at least decently, such that I can survive on it. A summer worth of cooking, plus the lessons I learned from so many people - Aunty Mei, Uncle Poh Bin, Chen Bin, Leon, Junning, Zhang Yi...

Random thoughts galore. But I guess none of this has anything to do with Charles' statement, no?

Actually not. These milestones never occurred on 26 July of any year. These milestones always occur throughout the year. They served as more important reminders than my birthday did. I guess it's because nothing really striking or groundbreaking occurs on 26 July. Then again, I never did record the dates of when I felt I learned something from what life had to offer, so the process isn't discrete for me, it's continuous.

That's what I've been reflecting, both subconsciously and consciously, over the past few days.

I'm 20 now, 1 year older than most people in my graduating class. Nobody at Staples believed that I was only 19 when I worked there, and I guess nobody now (except for people that know me) thinks that I'm only 20 years old.

I guess I'm just old.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I just came back this afternoon from Cindy's kitchen. It is AMAZING. Fully-stocked with what you need to do almost any meal. Organized and clean and tidy. BIG! Most importantly, it is logically organized. Spices in one cabinet, knives in another, pots and pans in a third... when I move to Thunderbird, I am so going to organize everything properly.

And the dishes that Cindy, Charles and I made were amazing too. I couldn't believe that we actually have so much artistic culinary talent lying around here in Sci1. Imagine - spinach dip with crusted bagels for an appetizer, berry smoothies with homemade nachos as a starter, and then sundried tomato pasta with roast chicken as our main dish, and then green tea chocolate dipped berries and a white chocolate blueberry crumble as dessert - it is mind-blowing. Couple that with lunch on the balcony, a gathering of the Sci1-ers who are, as Mark Ho called us, "normal", sea view, sunshine, music (from my MacBook, of course!) and chit-chat. It was an amazing afternoon of friendship and food.

In fact, it was an amazing night over with Charles and Cindy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Very interesting... I've memorized my credit card number... next number: debit card number.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pride, Elation, and Happiness

I am proud, I declare to the world, I am proud.

I am proud of Hwa Chong's track and field team. Their dominance in Singapore's school track and field scene is amazing - while I was there, we did the double of the B and C div championships, but when I left, the amazing juniors who, in 2002, broke 13 national records including overall team score picked up where my batch didn't, and finally clinched the A division championships. At the same time, in the past three years, they have done the treble thrice - a treble of trebles. Amazing.

I am proud of the achievements of my school. We continue to go from strength to strength, in sports, in academics, in leadership, in community service, we continue to lead other schools. Hwa Chong is definitely the school to be in, I must say.

I must say that my junior, Jin Yang, must be very proud to be on the podium to lift the trophy on behalf of the school. Way to go, JoY!

Sunday, July 22, 2007


So today, I came out with Charles after a sleepover at his place. (Cindy, yours is next week =P) We went to the UBC Bookstore and hung out, found Celeste and talked briefly with her before her kids started to ask to continue on the scavenger hunt. He bought Harry Potter, and I said, "Charles, man, I'm about to order it online at, where I can get it for 1/2 price, not just 30% off." So I did that, and got him an extra copy as well. It should come about July 30th latest.

Now, Charles is one heck of an amazing soccer player - on the Nintendo Gamecube! lolz. I was out-passed, out-classed and out-shot in a match between Man Utd and Juventus that ended 0-1. Haha, if only he was a better player in real life - it'd be an amazing one-on-one tackler if he played defense against my attack.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


So I'm sleeping over at Charles' place tonight. We made our own dinner, and dessert. It tasted pretty darned good, so I'm planning to look for those ingredients we used today to try it out.

Dig this: add the chocolate drizzle with a flourish, and it becomes a dish that one can eat at a restaurant for $4, maybe even $5. Man, the usefulness of putting a little more thought and effort.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I finally did one run of a PCR entirely on my own - from taking the DNA, to putting in the master mix, to running the gel, and I obtained a result! Feels good to have known that I did the PCR properly - next step is for me to practice extracting DNA.

Next week, I've got a number of things I want to learn how to do, and one of them is to properly thaw and culture OP9 cells. (OP9 cells are stromal cells which have an "immortalization" mutation; they are grown as cells that help NK cells mature.)

This is what the gel looks like:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Thoughts at work on a rainy day

It has been raining pretty badly these few days. Well, badly compared to the relative heat that has been scorching over Vancouver. But I must say, it has been a refreshing change... if the heat of the day is bad, then rain must be a good thing.

I've been in the lab reading, cleaning, pipetting, running gels... to many, it sounds boring, because it's so repetitive. But I'm enjoying it a lot. I have my own cell culture to maintain -- it's like keeping a pet! -- and I run PCR gels for other people in the lab. I do want to get trained in other areas though, like doing an actual PCR for myself, making single-cell suspensions from tissues, and best of all, sorting. Cell sorting. But I guess it'll take me about 2 months to be able to do that.

Like I mentioned before, I hope that within the next month or so I can prove myself worthy of being able to carry out my own project independently. It would be something I'd just love to do.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

PCR... PCR...

Okay, so here I am waiting for my PCR product to be finished. The first one that Tim, the PhD student looking after my training on the job right now, and I did failed... we had no marks on the gel when exposed to UV light. So I asked him if I could do it with another sample, just to practice and to fill up some time... otherwise I'd be sitting around doing nothing again...

I know I've probably messed up the first 3 wells, which are ladder 1, sample 1 and sample 2. But hopefully I've gotten the other 8 wells done right.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

First Day at BCCRC

So I ended my last post with thoughts on leaving Staples. Today was an exciting day, on the other hand, as I embarked on my first day at the BCCRC.

I biked there in the morning, really nice weather for biking, so I enjoyed it a lot. Then I went through some orientation on lab safety and admin procedures, and got straight down to work - PCR. Did a bit of the pipetting, learned some of the technique, and then completed it with lunch and some resting in the afternoon. Quite a day for the first day of work - less than I expected. But I hope for more to come later on.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

It seems that rich text availability for Safari hasn't come out yet on Blogger. I guess I'll just have to switch to Firefox whenever I want to blog.