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我剛看完一本書叫 “Kung Fu: History, Philosophy and Technique” by David Chow and Richard Spangler. 這本書是1977年面世的所以比較老的書. 可是我覺得裡面說的東西得有趣. 這個作者說最早的功夫出現因為中國進入了戰國時代. 貴族需要可以打跟保護貴族的地. 這些人變成武倈(knight errants) 而且他們主要是保護於是俠氣(chivalry)植根了.
少林武功出現當達摩(從印度來的) 發現他的學生都沒有刀氣打禪(meditate), 所以達摩創造少林拳幫學生加強他們的身体. 達摩也很注意呼吸為了提倡Qi. 另外, 功夫明阳和木火土金水的概念被道教增強. 道教也加了“需要才用刀氣” 因為道教是鼓勵不軔手的方法. 要說為什麽功夫有這麽多關于動物的打法呢是因為人看動物怎麽本身的力氣跟它敵人的九氣贏.
最後, 這本書說功夫怎麼進電影工業. 我們會通常想到Bruce Lee. 但是Bruce Lee 之前是Master Kwan (Kwan Tak Hing) 可是他只作中文電影所我們在美國不認識他. 書本說Bruce Lee也很喜歡看Master Kwan 的電影. 所以功夫有很長的歷史在打架方面和娛樂方面. 中國的傳統歌劇本身用功夫. 這不是新的現象.

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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

我跟費老師的武術課先要看兄弟的忠誠. 所以我看了John Woo 的一片電影叫Red Cliff. 我覺得很好看. 看得目前我覺得拍的真棒!從電影看得出來尊重廉潔. 人不會跟著一個領導像Liu Bei 如果這一個人不會保護他們或者相信他. Red Cliff 一開就是Cao Cao 跟Liu Bei 打, Liu Bei 沒有夠士兵打Cao Cao的軍隊 因為Liu Bei 強調要保護流民. Liu Bei 的信徒也後來跟他退避. 而且, Cao Cao 自己也問 “為什麼他下面沒有這麼勇敢的人跟他?” 電影從開到完就是說這兒. 打 Cao Cao 的人都是用公平的方法打战. 然後雖然Cao Cao 有幾十萬人在他的軍隊和海軍, 後來沒贏. 所以電影是講你說或者誓約的話你必須要負責任. 不管是你說三天內你會拿到十萬箭或者說你會合作當同盟國, 你一定要做到底.
我也讀了三國演義的一些部分, 然後我現在了解兄弟和答應的意思. 古代說有些战是為了女生打的. 我覺得也有很多战是為了忠誠打起來的. 比如說, 三國演義有講到用一個兄弟的頭避免打战或者刺激人打架. 所以讀了三國演義, 看得出來兄弟忠誠非常重要. 坦白的說, 有一些部份我讀不太懂因為我讀的部分會條的.可是我訂了書, 所以整個看完應該比較清楚.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Elections

Wow, I have not posted in awhile.

Last week I was in Taipei finishing up the rest of my internship. It was really cold there. Cold and wet. You need to carry and umbrella with you at all times to survive there. I was able to go to the National Palace Museum up there, Taipei 101, and a place called Dan Shui. It was pretty sweet. Aside from the cold…and the rain. I was just unprepared for that kind of weather.

But in other news…today is election day in Taiwan! I’ve never actually been to an election in the States so I can’t really compare but I was able to see how they did things here. 4-5 days before elections, you’re given a slip that says you can vote as well as each candidate’s platforms and etc. Day of, you go to a registered school and show your ID with the slip and proceed inside. For record keeping, you need to bring your signature-stamp before you get the ballots. There are three slips, one of them for the Pres/Vice Pres, one for I guess a congressman, and the other for which party you support. I’m not actually too clear on how the process, nor am I very clear on each candidate’s platforms. However, I do keep on hearing that the largest issue right now is the issue of whether Taiwan is Taiwan, or is Taiwan part of China, or is Taiwanese equivalent to Chinese. That’s basically what the buzz is about.

In the States, the debate for presidency goes from Education, to Health Care, Unemployment, Ethics, Outsourcing, to LGBTQ issues and a whole range of things. The election period is far more heated in the States, I think. But for awhile now, in Taiwan there have been little trucks blaring down the streets about the candidates. Last night, there was a whole procession in the streets cheering for a particular candidate.

The polls close at 4/5ish and I guess we’ll see where Taiwan will be headed then.

Other than that…next next is Lunar New Year….Year of the DRAGON. I hope the celebrations live up to my expectations. I’m really excited.

Cheers!

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Potions Class…minus the Unicorn Hair and Dragon Heartstring

Herbal Pharmacy was kind of like Potions Class and it was very cool. Like I mentioned before, medicine is prescribed according to what category your signs and symptoms fall under and the medicine brings you back to equilibrium. Of course, if this was the only thing you needed to know you wouldn’t need 5 years of training to become a Pharmacist or 7 years to become a TCM physician. The ingredients they use fall under animal, plant, and mineral categories. There are hundreds of ingredients and it got me thinking. Did they have to be ingredients that naturally grow in China to be considered TCM? But for a nation as big as China with such a long history, it is impossible to assume that TCM wasn’t influenced by other countries. So I asked around to find out if TCM can ever evolve in modern times. I mean, the formulas used in TCM today had to be experimented with and the ingredients could not have all been just from China. Do you know what I mean? However, it seems like formulas used now in TCM are set. Herbs found to be useful from other places today can be used but they are considered Herbal Medicine, not TCM.

As part of my internship, I was brought to a lab session in the Pharmacy school. Everyone was given a prepared bag of a certain formula and the students brought other cooking ingredients. TCM is a large part of the culture here, and so a part of that shows up in the food. Cooking TCM with food makes it taste better and more nutritious. What surprised me a little was how much rice wine in cooking the medicine. It’s obviously not used to get drunk; instead, it is added because 1) it has a lower boiling point so the medicine can brew in a shorter time 2) the wine makes you sleepy, which is good when you’re sick. Stacked in a corner of the rooms were crate of rice wine. Something you won’t see in a chemistry lab. The group I worked with brought hotpot ingredients and used the medicine as a hotpot, which was yummy.

The only problem I had was when the teacher announced to the entire class that I was from America and was here to learn about TCM. Right after, a surge of 20 students rushed at me and wanted to take pictures. Haha, but it was fun getting to know people.

I was able to work in a commercial pharmacy as well as the pharmacy in the hospital. The hospital is geared towards producing/bagging medicine at a greater volume so they have a very innovative computerized system for this. For powdered medicine (extracts of the real thing), each bottle has a barcode and the pharmacist responsible for combining the medicine together swipes his card, swipes the prescription, and then swipes each bottle used. If the wrong bottle is swiped, then the computer voices it and when the last bottle is swiped, the computer automatically says the prescription is complete. Each prescription has a total mass on the bottom of the sheet so when the pharmacist is finished with combining all the powders, he/she weighs the whole thing to make sure it has the correct weight. After the medicine is packaged into little bags, there is a weight the medicine (bags and all) should have. This is actually a very clever way to measure performance and to prevent mistakes when things get busy. The computer measures how fast and accurate a pharmacist can put together the medicine. Unfortunately, it’s harder to create a similar system with the section of the pharmacy dealing with TCM with the actual herbs. But, the person who created the system for the powdered medicine is working on it. I’d like to see what he comes with.

A pharmacist has to know where the ingredients come from, as in its original live form. As well as what it should look like when they are prepared. They should know how they are prepared and why. They should be able to identify the ingredient and recognize fakes. An ingredient can be prepared by drying it, “frying it” with honey or stones. Some more toxic ingredients are cooked or prepared to decrease the toxicity level into medicine. After all, all medicine is poison in large amounts. The preparation can bring out the effects of the herb, or dampen it depending on its potency. The pharmacist also learns to identify the herb using spectroscopy methods such as TLC and HPLC, types of chromatography. And of course, they should be able to know what ingredients cross-react with one another. So the amount of information they need to know is quite a lot, just like WM pharmacists.

A shout-out to pharmacists everywhere…kudos.

 

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Christmas Hiking and New Year’s

I thought I was going to be yearning for Christmas and New Year’s back in the States but they were both pretty sweet over here. When I asked around how Christmas and New Year’s are celebrated here, most people said no one really celebrates it and that made me a little bit sad. But I guess you just got to find the right crowd, which is always the case anywhere.

Christmas Eve, I went to a friend’s house (from Germany) and I got introduced to what a Taiwanese Dog is. They have pointy ears, a curled tail and eat just about anything. In the States, pet owners are warned not to give their dogs chicken bones so they don’t choke on the small pieces but here it doesn’t matter. If we accidentally dropped food (or didn’t like the food) the dogs would eat it up. I actually have a German Shepard at home that does the same, but these dogs eat veggies too! It’s actually cool because this way you don’t waste food.

On Christmas Day I went to Miaoli and went hiking. It counts to be my first time hiking which was pretty cool. The scenery was amazing. We hiked into a clearing where farmers were growing oranges so we bought a couple and they were super sweet and juicy. I also got to see where papayas come from…I didn’t know they grew on trees. At the end of the hike, we came across a temple with a huge incense burner and so I left a prayer for my friends and family. The way the incense burner is designed, you either pray inwards to the temple or outwards to the sky. The one there was towards the sky and it was pretty cool especially since that day the sky was a clear baby blue.

Last night was New Year’s and I was taken to a place called Tiger City which is like a mall and happens to have a Cold Stone Creamery and a Chili’s as well as movie theaters and of course other eateries. There was a stage set up for a performance and we counted down to the New Year. There were so many people squeezed into that square at a couple of points I felt like a part of a very densely packed solid. Someone planned a proposal at the performance, and we watched her say yes. At midnight, we were treated to a fireworks show and yes…we were right under the fireworks. Wicked cool.

So Christmas and New Year’s were quite fun here. Makes me excited for Lunar New Year. The Year of the Dragon.

Happy New Year everyone!

New Year's at Tiger City

Miaoli

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Singing Garbage Trucks and almost Christmas

Today I woke up to the singing of a nearby temple. Their singing is beautiful. As I was walking back home yesterday I saw them setting up a tent. I don’t know what it’s for but it makes waking up on a Saturday morning really nice.

The people here are lovely. They really are. These are some of the nicest people I’ve met and they are super friendly as well. They make you feel welcome within a few minutes of meeting you. The number of times people have taken me out to eat and treated me is obscene and I try to reciprocate, I really do but then I get yelled at. The culture here is that adults take care of children and the host takes care of the guest. Being that I’m a student I’m not allowed to pay for things. In America, college students are considered adults and we are responsible for our actions and we’re more or less responsible for taking care of ourselves. Here, you can be thirty and parents still consider their children adults. Actually, the children are so sheltered here that they don’t really get to go out until around college. As I’m walking through campus, there are people milling about and they look like middle school or high school students to me but are actually 20-22 years old. Back to hospitality.  People I’ve met for only a few hours say that they’ll take me out and show me a place to eat. The first time I said okay, I thought it meant “I’ll take you out and show you a place and we can both pay for our own food.” Not the case. It’s driving me crazy. The next time we go out I tell them it’s my treat this time but it doesn’t work.

The streets are pretty clean here, you don’t really see gum spots like in NYC but the streets are really really crowded. I mentioned the amount of scooters/motorcycles here and they crowd the streets like no other. Imagine Manhattan and replace the cars with scooters. The only thing about these streets from what I heard is that the sewage system is aboveground not underground so occasionally you the smell of sweet sewage wafts up from the drains. I heard that Taichung is pretty good with the sewage because they cover it, but in other places they don’t cover it. I can’t imagine what it’s like in the summer. It’s definitely colder here and January and February are going to be the coldest months. It feels like a late fall though so the temperature here is still pretty decent. A note about the houses here: they don’t have insulation so on a nice day like today it’s actually colder inside the house than outside the house where there’s sun. Talking about houses, the bathrooms here can be considered “universal design” meaning the light switch is lower on the wall (and actually outside the bathroom and in the hallway) and there’s no bathtub…just a stand-up shower. I noticed this in particular because a) the home care doctor I interned with the past summer stressed how important the design of the house is. When people get to a certain age, the house can become like a jail to them because the stairs they could once climb and the bathtub they could once get into…their limbs no longer let them. I asked about this and I was told that here, they keep the elderly in mind a lot more than in America; which is true. Going back to children being seen as children even when they are twenty and still living at home at the age of thirty…they have stronger ties to their family and there’s just this culture of taking care of your own parents when they grow older. Actually, I happen to be living with a family that is currently taking care of their parents and I think it’s incredible. Even though I spent a summer working with elderly folk, there are some people I can easily talk to and there are others I find myself at a loss for words. Here, however, talking to elderly folk comes naturally to them regardless of their cognitive abilities. I think one of the grandparents had a stroke and I’m not certain of the circumstances for the other one. Granted, there is a slight language barrier because they speak a lot of Taiyu or Taiwanese (which I don’t know) and not Mandarin but I would like to be able to converse with them like the other people here by the end of my stay.

I live right by a park and I go there to exercise in the morning. There are different groups of people all exercising and once I got dragged into one. They used two wooden sticks to exercise and most of the time you’re either in horse stance or bow stance. I actually started sweating after a full set. In the park, you also see a lot of elderly folk exercising and the groups serve as a social gathering as well as an opportunity to exercise. Just two days ago, the people who take care of the park cut down some of the tree branches surrounding the park…kind of like real life bonsai. The garbage trucks that come to collect the garbage are really fun. One of them was playing Fur Elise, and other ones play random songs. I saw a few people standing outside waiting for the garbage truck to come so that they can toss their garbage onto the truck. I haven’t yet figured out if everyone does this or if some people do and the rest the garbage truck people need to pick up.

I went to the Feng Jia Night Market last night again and snapped some pictures. There’s an incredible crowd that gathers there and there are so many stands that sell food. I found a stall that sold Tang Hu Lu which is like candy apples but on a kebab. For those that came to our ASU event…we kind of failed in making the candy but I snapped some pictures so you can see what they are supposed to look like. Just a warning…you’ll get an enormous sugar high from eating them. In addition to the candied fruit kebab, you can choose what sauce to put on it and then they wrap it in edible rice paper. Speaking of fruit…I need to dedicate an entire blog post on fruit because the fruit here is crazy. I love fruit and I’ve had a ball here trying and eating them here. Taiwan has a very strong agriculture and the fruit here are all very sweet, juicy, and delicious. The funny thing is, the fruit aren’t as big as the ones in America but somehow they have more flavor. Boiled peanuts are a thing here and I remember my parents cooking them in America and thinking they weren’t that good but the boiled peanuts here are yummylicious. They’re more starchy and have a distinct flavor. The boiled peanuts I had in America were pretty much flavorless. Speaking of food. The meals here are legit. The norm in America is to eat whatever for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and a sit-down meal for dinner. Here, they have a sit-down meal for every meal. The first week if I ate breakfast I couldn’t eat lunch and if I ate lunch…I couldn’t eat dinner.

Tonight’s Christmas Eve here and so far all I’ve heard is that not many people celebrate Christmas here. I’m also working at the clinic (it’ll be my first time) tonight as part of my internship, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m definitely going to miss Christmas in NYC because well, it’s NYC. I got invited to a hospital end-of the year dinner tomorrow though, so that’ll be fun.

But anyway, pictures to come soon!

Happy Christmas everyone! =]

 

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Classes, classes.

The past few days have been pretty sweet. I’ve been learning so much. On Sunday, I went to an international symposium on TCM. It brought together 5 countries and 7 TCM schools from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Korea, and Australia. It was really interesting. For those who thought otherwise, Traditional Chinese Medicine has a lot of merit. At the conference, they discussed Evidence-Based Medicine and how they designed their research. They also discussed different levels of for lack of a better word “legitimacy” of the research including the differences between single-blind and double-blind. Some of the studies presented included the cessation of smoking using acupressure, studies on COPD patients and studies on Hemorrhoids. Really, all kind of topics. A practicing physician in Australia was doing research on using Acupuncture in the Emergency Room as an alternative for pain reduction. The conference was great. I had no idea there were so many studies involving TCM and that there were so many different applications.

Monday was the start of my internship and classes at TCM. My Acupuncture teacher has been studying and practicing TCM for over thirty years and his breadth and depth of knowledge of the world in general is amazing. First off, before we got down to saying anything, he made tea for us. It was after our first sips of tea that we started talking about acupuncture. Normally, acupuncture takes an entire year to cover so instead we talked about the history of acupuncture and some of the basic theories. My teacher had some very interesting theories about the history of acupuncture and how the Meridian theory came to be. I learned that in TCM, when something like the ‘liver’ is discussed, it doesn’t only involve the organ we immediately think about in Western Medicine. Some terminologies carry a larger meaning than the English translation. In TCM the body’s balance is influenced by Yin-Yang, the cycle of the five elements “wood-fire-water-metal-earth,” and Qi. So a physician has to keep all of these in mind when diagnosing a patient. And of course, all of these influence each other in some way. A very very basic idea of how they treat patients is that if the body is exhibiting too many Yang symptoms, then they prescribe medicine to bring the body back to balance by giving them more Yin medication. In terms of Acupuncture, the meridians are like a highway for Qi. Sometimes the roads intersect and they influence each other, sometimes they cross but do not influence each other. This is why some organs have stronger influences over other ones, like when some has liver failure their eyes turn yellowish. Acupuncture is a way to moderate the flow of Qi and the needle acts as the gate. The technique of how you handle the needle is how you reduce or increase the flow of Qi. My teacher even brought Star Wars into the picture. He said that only a few people truly understand the meaning of Qi. One of them is Yoda. Qi is like some kind of bioenergy.

On Tuesday, I learned about Internal Medicine. This is actually where I learned about how certain organs have a greater connection to some organs over others. I also learned that in prescribing medicine there are the five elements as well as the five flavors (salty, sweet, pungency, bitter, sour). Depending on what the problem the patient has and what it is considered, something is prescribed to extinguish or counter the problem. For example, an infection or an inflammation is considered “fire” and something with “cold” properties is prescribed. You would also be warned to stay away from certain foods that are associated with “fire” because adding fire to fire would make the problem worse. We also talked about diagnosing patients and what kinds of questions you would ask when a patient walks through the door. The questions are really all the same with regards to patient history; it’s only some diagnostic techniques that are different. I think the key difference is that because TCM uses a lot of the 5 senses to diagnose the patient such as observing the patient’s gait, the doctor takes in more information about the patient as the patient walks in as opposed in the US where we call in the patient and let them wait while we finish up some paperwork in the meantime. In western medicine, we also are not trained to notice certain aspects of a person. During my class, two students came into the office to ask my professor a question and right off the bat my professor asked the girl why she looked paler today. Turns out the girl was having her period. On Wednesday we happened to all run into each other again and my professor noticed immediately that the girl had more color in her cheeks. Apparently she finished her period the night before. I saw absolutely no difference, but I also have not been doing TCM for twenty-some odd years. It’s incredible how much they know just by feeling your pulse or looking at your tongue.

Wednesday, I started my rotation in the Herbal Pharmacy and it was very interesting. The pharmacy I worked at had those old-school cabinets and it smells very earthy and woody in there. Again, every ingredient had its own properties (cold, hot, salty, etc.) and they are prescribed according to the signs and symptoms. This pharmacy, however, did not just deal with prescriptions from doctors. There’s nothing that isn’t over the counter and plenty of times people would just walk in with a sheet of ingredients they wanted and we would put it together for them. A lot of these Chinese Herbal Remedies are cooked into the food so that a) there’s more nutrition and b) it tastes better. This has also been so ingrained into the culture that it’s normal to just want to make Chicken Soup with Chinese Herbal Medicine. I actually got to learn how they did this on Thursday (yesterday), it was pretty doggone cool. I’m sure you’ve seen bottles of Chinese Medicine somewhere, and if you haven’t…they usually contain some kind of brownish powder. Those are extracts of the original herbal stuff and there’s a saying here that says the powders are for convenience (because there’s no need to make soup out of it) but the herbs in the cabinet are for curing (because they are stronger than the powders). The herbs are also a lot more expensive but worth it for the real deal. They have all kinds of herbs in the store including some fancy Chinese name for what actually is poop. There are plant, animal and mineral herbs. Yes, some of the “animal” herbs are dried snails or dried worms and even their feces. It makes sense though. They use animal feces because there are some things we human cannot digest (like cellulose) and so the idea is to let someone else to digest it for us and we eat the fruits of their labor. Here, they package the medicine for the patient so all the person has to do is dump it into water to cook or eat all the powder at once. I asked whether or not they had certain meds that require them to eat it once in the morning and then once again at night or anything like that and apparently they don’t. It definitely makes for an easier time for the patient to keep track of what meds they need to take: just eat an entire bag a day!

Thursday, I had my Traumatology class and we learned what it entailed from before up until the present day. Back then, Traumatology included surgery and so doctors carried around scalpel and suture-like tools in their little black bag. However, now most surgeries are done in WM. Traumatology includes repairing fractures, wounds, skin lesions/burns, and things like that. It also includes “massage” or “manipulation” or “chiropractice,” apparently many of the techniques are the same. Traumatology includes cupping, acupuncture, and wound dressing. I was shown an AMAZING series of picture of how a lady with an ENORMOUS bedsore was helped by TCM. I’ll definitely post up the pictures sometime this weekend, but this lady had a bed sore starting from her upper back, down past her left butt cheek and to her upper thigh. You could see muscle and sinew and everything. No joke. After a month under WM care, the wound was still just as bad so she was transferred to TCM. They put on dressings with Chinese Medicine and within a month, the wound started closing up. Within 6-7 months it was down to the size of a bar of soap. It was incredible.

Just a note about the medical students at CMU…the amount of material we need to know in the States pales in comparison to what they need to know here. At this school at least, in both the 7 and 8 year program the students learn both WM and TCM side by side. So they not only need to learn things that we need to know they need to learn about TCM theory and how to identify the herbs and everything. Kudos to them, really. The difference between the 7 year program and the 8 year program is that you can only become a TCM doctor in the 7 yr program. After the 8 yr program, however, you can choose to be either a TCM doctor or a WM doctor. That’s just crazy.

Anyway, I think I may have overloaded you guys on TCM stuff for now. I’ve been so busy going to classes to internship but I’ll try to update this blog more than once every 8 days so I don’t need to cram everything together.

Cheers!

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Uncategorized