Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Life So Far....

I'm a woman in her mid-30s who was diagnosed with SLE in 1997. In 2004, I started HD. I've now been a HD patient for more than five years! Whew! how time flies!

Now, how was it discovered I had SLE? Allow me to explain. I had just graduated at that time, I applied for a job in a big company and there was a compulsory health screening.

During the urine test, it was discovered that my urine had traces of kidney failure. Because the clinic would not proceed without payment, I shifted my investigation to a government hospital. And I was fortunate that I was diagnosed early without the usual running around departments in the hospital that some SLE patients face because SLE is known as the disease with many faces that is, its' symptoms are similar to many other conditions, so it's very difficult to pinpoint accurately.

Then came my next challenge : delaying dialysis for as long as possible. I was immediately advised to adopt the renal diet, which isn't as fun as the normal person's balanced diet. Which meant I had to watch my sodium, potassium & phosphate levels. I had to eat less salt, certain vegetables and fruits (potassium) and also less beans, nuts, soy products, dairy products and even mushrooms (phosphate). I was also advised to drink less fluids. I struggled with the diet for seven years but, even though I tried my best to be obedient to the renal diet, eventually my kidneys failed and I had to start HD (hemodialysis).

It has now been slightly more than five years, and the dialysis center I go to has become like a second home, all the nurses and staff there have become my close friends.

Before I started HD, people used to tell me that HD was 4 hours of suffering, but it isn't! There's the initial pain of the prick of two needles but after that, you don't feel a thing. Then there's also the initial stage of successfully creating a fistula or graft for the HD access. It involves waiting and certain complications but once that hurdle is over, HD can become a part of your weekly routine.

What I'm trying to say is, being a dialysis patient is not so bad once you've stopped complaining and accepted it. I thank God that he has opened my eyes and heart to realize how fortunate and blessed I am despite all this.

So, if you have been diagnosed with a major chronic illness, don't fret, it's just another doorway to another life, which may not be so bad after all. We are all sojourners in this world, our REAL life begins after we die. Yes, I am a Christian, and I believe our real home is in Heaven.......

Thank you for reading my blog. I will write more from time to time, watch this blog.....

Writer: eowyn

What do you think of being a Christian?

I was wondering why Christians make such a fuss about regular pop music. Sure, the lyrics aren't exactly what you would call holy, but I find that if you close one ear it's not too bad. I certainly don't believe that all Christians should shut their ears totally to secular music and just listen to praise & worship or hymns alone. To me, that would be boring and I, for one refuse to do that.

Of course, I don't listen to the really profane like heavy metal or (I don't know what they call it) music that has lyrics relating to satanic worship or the like.

I just think that we Christians should be set apart for Christ but don't forget, we're still living in this world for now. So, should we go through life with blinkers on our eyes or earmuffs on our ears? I don't know about you but I don't think so! While we're here on Earth, we might as well enjoy what it has to offer but of course, make sure that it doesn't lead to sin, remember, I'm Christian too, despite being a little liberal when it comes to pop!

Till the next blog! Stay healthy & happy!

Writer: eowyn

Happily Ever After?

Have you ever been in a relationship that ended and you were left wondering what went wrong? Or have you found yourself experiencing one failed relationship after another and you just couldn’t figure out what the problem was?

If you believe that relationships are anything like you see in the movies, all lovey-dovey and everything is perfect and romantic all the time, you need a serious reality check! There is a lot more to relationships that happiness and bliss and everything going your way all the time.

Relationships are no easy matter, and both parties need to work at it in order for it to work out. Lots of couples have long and happy relationships, and there is no magic formula there, just plain hard work. They’ve had their tough times and differences too, but the difference is that they managed to work it out despite the odds and that is what made the relationship last.

So do these happy couples have any tips for us on how we can make our relationship a long and happy one too? They certainly did! And after asking around a few happy couples that I know who have been in a relationship for what seems like ages, here’s what they have to say:

Secret #1 - Talk Things Over
When you get into an argument of disagreement, don’t immediately start shouting at one another and throwing accusations about. Or when one of you is upset, don’t keep it to yourself and expect your partner to perform some magic mind-reading act and figure it out. You’ll just make things worse. Instead, whenever there is a problem, both partners should sit down face to face and talk it over and reach a compromise.

Secret #2 – Trust and Respect
Trust and respect are essential to building a good relationship. You need to trust your partner, or you’re going to find you’ll get into a lot more unnecessary arguments and fights a lot more often. Keep the jealousy down to a minimum too, and remember to give your partner the benefit of the doubt before jumping to your own conclusions.

Secret #3 – Do Away With The Ego Issues
The days where men and women are stereotyped are long gone. Men and women have come so far since then, and on some levels they are even considered equal. So do away with the old fashion thinking and be more open minded about things. If you genuinely love your partner, you want the very best for them, right? So be genuinely happy for them. For example, if the woman gets promoted to a higher position, the man should genuinely be happy for her instead of holding a resentful grudge. So what if she is earning more than you? Instead of letting it bruise your male ego, use to help motivate yourself to do better and at the same time, be happy and encouraging towards your partner. Bitterness only eats you up inside sooner or later.

Secret #4 – Be Each Other’s Best Friend
Having your partner as your best friend is totally different from your best girl friends, or in the case of the guy, the best mates. Your partner should be the one person you can talk to about anything, be yourself no matter what and most importantly, someone who you know you can confide safely, knowing that they won’t use it against you.

Secret #5 – Support Each Other, Good Or Bad
A partner who is just there for the good times, but runs away or breaks up with you the minute times get tough is not someone you can build a lasting relationship with. It may not be easy, and sometimes it can really push your limits, but partners should stick together and support each other through the hard times as best they can. Even if you are there merely as moral support, it makes a world of difference, so be someone that your partner can count on when times get rough.

Author: Yet Mee

How to Spot Fakes?

We have finally decided to let go of our love for fakes. But what do we do about those fakes being disguised as the real thing? I have a friend who bid for a Prada clutch on eBay just to find out upon arrival that it was actually a ‘replica’. Yes, they use word like ‘replica’ these days. Maybe to make it sounds less obvious.

But not to worry because there are methods which can be used to spot the fakes.

1. The outrageously low prices. Like, hello?! You don’t get an original Fendi or D&G for 150 bucks for sure. The best thing to do is always check the price of the item from the official website of the brand. If the price offered to you is ridiculously low or lower than 30% of the original, it’s a surefire sign that you were about to add a counterfeit to your shopping cart.

2. Check the material and craftsmanship. If the leather feels like PVC instead of lambskin, then it’s not the real thing. Look closely at the stitching as well as the lining. Brands like Coach for instance, have serial numbers stamped on the inside of their bags, but the counterfeit normally will either leave out the serial number or just paint them onto the leather without creating an indentation into the fabric. Aside from that, if your Coach bag doesn’t have the microscopic letters “YKK,” embossed into the zipper, I hate to say this but it is counterfeit.

3. This one is a no brainer. Just be careful with where you buy the item. Street market? Come on! You don’t go to the street market to buy original watch, bag and shoes. Unless they’re used, most designer items are only available at their boutiques and official websites. And brands like Louis Vuitton for instance, never sell discounted items because they don’t do discount! So, if a friend came back from a holiday with her ‘discounted’ LV bag. You can be sure that it’s fake.

4. Most designer items come in proper packaging. Gucci shoes for instance, come with identification card, dust bag and original Gucci box. Counterfeit items on the other hand, always come in clear, cheap plastic bags.

5. And finally, always do your research. It’s best to go to websites like http://www.vogue.com/, http://www.style.com/ and the official websites of the designers themselves to check the details of the product that you’re planning to buy. Style for instance, always have detail shots of handbags, shoes, and whatever new items showcased on the runway. Check the lining, stitches, logos, handle, buckle…everything! Just make sure that the thousands that you forked out is worth it.

Author: Yet Mee

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tips On Creating Your Own Blog

Peniaga bertanya, "Bagaimana cara pertama saya dapat membuka blog sendiri?"

Blog dapat dihasilkan menggunakan Blogspot di blogger.com.

Kunci bagi memasuki sistem blog ini adalah dengan mempunyai akaun Google. Melalui akaun Google juga, kita dapat mengakses kepada aplikasi-aplikasi lain yang dapat digunakan bersama blog yang dihasilkan.

Akaun Google yang dimaksudkan menggunakan perkhidmatan emel yang disediakan dalam Gmail.

Gmail adalah kawalan kepada semua aplikasi yang ada. Kita andaikan ia sebagai kunci kepada pintu-pintu lain dalam Google. Tanpa kunci ini, kita dapat masuk ke dalam dan menggunakan apa-apa aplikasi yang disediakan Google secara efisien.

Membuka Gmail bermaksud kita mempunyai Google Account sendiri. Akses kepada aplikasi lain sangat bergantung kepada Google Account yang kita wujudkan.

Mendaftar akaun melalui Google

Langkah satu

Layari Gmail.com

Langkah dua

Klik pada Create an account bagi pengguna Gmail untuk pertama kali. Kita akan dibawa masuk ke paparan baru. Isikan setiap satu maklumat yang diingini. Iaitu

First name iaitu nama pertama

Last name: iaitu nama kedua

Desired Login Name iaitu nama yang digunakan pada emel

Choose a password iaitu kata laluan minima lapan aksara

Reenter password iaitu ulang semula kata laluan

Pilih soalan dalam senarai Security Question yang menyenaraikan beberapa soalan. Sertakan bersama jawapan pada soalan yang dipilih di ruangan Answer.

Fungsi Security Question ketika mana kita terlupa password yang digunakan. Kita juga boleh mencipta soalan sendiri menggunakan fungsi ini.

Isikan Secondary email iaitu emel yang sudah ada sebagai langkah persediaan bagi berhadapan situasi yang sama. Ruangan Secondary email hanya dibiarkan kosong jika ini adalah emel pertama kita.

Isikan Location, salin semula imej perkataan pada Word Verification dan klik I Accept. Create my account di bawah Terms of Service. Selesai semuanya, kita sudah mempunyai akaun Gmail untuk tujuan perniagaan.

Akaun Gmail telah berjaya didaftarkan.

Langkah ketiga

Layari blogger.com dan masukkan emel dan password Google yang dihasilkan bagi membuka blog shop yang pertama.

Author: zamrimohamad

Why Buying Fake Goods Is Bad?

Fake, knock-off, imitation, counterfeit… whatever you want to call it. I am the kinda person who would rather tot around an inexpensive bag and shoes from the high-street brands than wear something fake. Regardless of the price, at least I know for sure that they are originals.
It’s just sad to see how people would buy something that they call ‘high-quality fakes’ when they can get items from Guess, Aldo, Topshop, Promod etc for similar price. Does it feel good to have fake stuff on your body? And is there really such a thing as ‘high-quality fakes’?
Do you have any idea where those fake Fendi, Gucci and LV came from?

Most counterfeit merchandise is linked closely to crime rings, child labor, and human trafficking. These handbags and shoes are made in secluded sweatshops by workers who are working long hours in poor conditions. And the most upsetting part is these workers are young children who are being forced to work hours after hours on the old, rusty sewing machine just to produce some fake Ferragamo, Chanel and Hermes. How sad is that?

According to the book ‘Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster’, the writer, Dana Thomas shares her experiences in Thailand, witnessing what these poor little children have to endure. When she walked into a small sweatshop, she saw these child labors all under ten were sitting on the floor assembling counterfeit leather handbags. An investigator told her that ‘the owners had broken the children’s leg and tied their lower legs to the thigh so the bones wouldn’t mend. [They] did it because the children said they wanted to go outside and play’.
Don’t tell me you don’t die a little bit in the inside reading that?

The law has been tightened and changes are currently taking place. LVMH for instance has succeeded in their battle against eBay for fake goods from their brands which were being sold on the website throughout the years. According to LVMH, 9 out of 10 Vuitton and Dior items displayed on eBay were counterfeits.

But the still not all of these changes are positives. The counterfeit industry is still rapidly growing and they are getting better at covering their trail of crime. But the good news is people (particularly consumers) are more aware of what’s going on behind closed door and this ‘fake habit’ has starting to decline.

So just ditch the habit and try to be original. Stop buying from these criminals and when that happen, the industry will collapse and there will be no more children, sewing in the dark with their legs broken.

Author: Yet Mee

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reading and the Stay-at-Home Writer by Avantika

Reading has become a big issue in Malaysia. We even have a reading ambassador: Michelle Yeoh. The Star newspaper reports that she has been appointed ambassador for the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry’s “Come and Read 1Malaysia” campaign.

Daphne Lee has commented on this issue with her own piece, Pretty faces aren’t enough. She says, amongst other things, that the libraries of Malaysia – be it in the schools or elsewhere – are not properly stocked and we should have teachers and librarians who are, themselves, enthusiastic readers. It is the last sentence in her piece that interests me: Instead, give us knowledge, passion, personal commitment and long-term action.

With that in mind, I thought that in this piece, I share with you some of the knowledge I’ve collected about useful books for writers.

Essential Guides for those who would like to write anything at all.
1. Usage and Abusage of the English Language; new edition edited by Janet Whitcut.
At first glance, this book is like a dictionary and can seem like tedious reading. However, as you look through the text, you’ll find yourself pleased that you’ve made the effort. The book provides explanations of when certain words should be used and when they should not. For instance, do you know when to use ‘brief’ and when to use ‘short’? Or, should you write ‘altogether’ or ‘all together’? What words are in vogue right now? What words should be avoided at all costs? This book will certainly help you discover how not to abuse the English language.

2. The Complete Plain Words by Sir Ernest Gowers
In the Introduction, Joseph Epstein writes that ‘THE COMPLETE PLAIN WORDS teaches that careful writing is arrived at by a combination of courtesy and good sense and taking pains with the small details.’ The story goes that Sir Gowers wrote the book, initially, as a guide for Civil Servants and how to write properly in English. It has become a very useful guide for writers of all genre. Very simply put, Sir Ernest Gowers has a set of rules to follow when trying to communicate your thoughts to others. They are as follows:
• Be sure that you know what your correspondent is asking before you begin to answer him.
• Begin by answering his question.
• So far as possible, confine yourself to the facts of the case you are writing about and avoid and general statement about the law.
• Avoid formal framework if you can.
• Be careful to say nothing that might give your correspondents the impression, however mistakenly, that you think it right that they should be put to trouble in order to save you from it.
• Use not more words than necessary to do the job.
• Keep your sentences short.
• Be compact; do not put a strain on your reader’s memory by widely separating parts of a sentence that are closely related to one another.

3. The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.
E. B. White, in the Introduction, writes that he treasures the book ‘for its sharp advice, but I treasure it even more for the audacity and self-confidence or its author.’ This little book – at some 100 pages, it certainly is little – is a gem of a book for any serious writer. If you need to know when to refer to Tan Twan Eng’s novel as The Gift of Rain of Gift of Rain, this is the book for you. The language is simple, the rules easily explained and, all in all, this book is a saving grace for many a writer.

To help you write better fiction.
Write Great Fiction – Plot and Structure – techniques and exercises for creating a plot that grips readers from start to finish by James Scott Bell.
Have you ever watched a movie that had all the elements of a story but you could not follow it well? Well, this is one book that will make sure that any story you choose to tell, especially in written form, will be presented in a proper structure. You’ll learn where each element of a story must be placed to make your tale a sound one.

When you need some comfort.
Creative Visualization for Beginners by Richard Webster.
This is a book for when you’re stuck with a story and can’t move forward. It shows you how other creative people overcame their problems – be they financial, spiritual or even physical adversities – and energised their creative juices to succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

A Cup of Comfort for Writers – edited by Colleen Sell.
This is a collection of short stories and essays from writers all over the world. Some of the stories are sad, some are funny, some poignant and some motivational. Reading them makes you understand that you’re not alone as a writer and that there is hope.

There we are. That’s the list of books I can suggest you read. If you’d like to add to them, by all means, please do so.

Chadian Women and Food as Enterprise

My friend Zhu Jun and I have spent the past few weeks exploring his experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Chad and I wanted to share the final post with the eHomemakers community. (If you'd like to read the full series, you can check it out on my blog.) While there are few business opportunities traditionally open to women in Chad, many have managed to carve out a niche for themselves selling food and drink. Here's Zhu Jun's take on things:

The vast majority of women in Léré and rural Chad are bound by unspoken gender rules that limit the types of entrepreneurship women can engage in. This generally means entrepreneurship for women in Chad is limited to serving food and drink. In streets near transportation centers and well-traveled roads throughout the country, women and girls hawk snacks including fried bean fritters, Chadian doughnuts or beignets, beans and rice, seasonal fruits, palm nuts, grilled chicken, grilled or fried fish, and packs of water.

Grown men who are not yet married and are thus lacking households of their own (i.e. women to cook for them) often go to "restaurants" run by women, usually simple places where women serve the Chadian staple of okra sauce and boule. In larger, wealthier towns, women and their families may own and operate restaurants that serve more expensive foods such as grilled chicken or fish, French-style baguette sandwiches, or even juice smoothies, made from blenders dating from the '80s that are powered by gas generators. (These smoothies were colloquially known as "Amoeba Juice" by us Peace Corps Volunteers because, although tasty, they were made with unpurified, contaminated water and one would almost certainly contract amoebiasis or giardia and suffer the runs as a consequence.)

But not all food service-related enterprise is created equal.

Bars, or the rural equivalent of bars, are one of the most common and popular informal businesses run by non-Muslim women in smaller towns and villages. The local, home-brewed alcoholic beverage in Chad is known as bili-bili and is fermented from the locally-grown grains, usually sorghum or red or white millet, sometimes maize, or even a mixture of these. Bili-bili is the drink of the people, made from cheap, easily available ingredients. It is also much more affordable and popular than either of the two Western-style bottled beers produced in Chad, Chari or Gala.

As soon as the sun goes down and the oppressive heat of the day dissipates, groups of women, usually relatives or friends working together, begin to make the bili-bili, boiling vast pots over large wood fires. Doing this at dusk helps women avoid working around the large, hot pots during the extreme heat of midday (the cooler, earlier part of the day is reserved for the manual labor of subsistence activities), and provides light, warmth, and a common activity in a town almost entirely without electricity. Once the bili-bili is fermented and ready, usually after several days, it is transferred into large basins and taken to sites all over town by each group of women. The women sell copious amounts of this very cheap beer (half a calabash costs about 100 CFA, or approximately 20 cents) and they share the profits, costs, and labor.

During the afternoon after work, men (and the occasional woman), disperse to these informal "bars" to drink, relax, and socialize. Muslims, who typically abstain from alcohol, gather at tea bars to indulge in syrupy sweet shai akhadar (green tea) or shai amar (red tea). The drinking goes on until the early evening and then, one by one, the drinkers disperse, returning to their homes or going into town.

First, the positive: Drinking bili-bili serves as a cheap method of stress relief, and as a social pastime, it can help to strengthen and maintain relationships. Interestingly, imbibing the homemade brew also helps nourish Chadians who have a very limited diet. Bili-bili contains high levels of protein, minerals, and vitamins which poorer Chadians would otherwise not get from their daily food. The nutritional advantage afforded by the liquor is recognized by Chadians who often and enthusiastically explain, "Ça donne la force!"

Now, the negative: As with small towns in America, one of the factors driving drinking is a lack of other recreational activities and methods of relaxation. This boredom, coupled with an extremely harsh physical environment, the constant possibility of violence, and no laws or restrictions on drinking age in Chad, has resulted in a unhealthy and entrenched drinking culture. There were extremely high levels of alcoholism in town (estimates were in the double digits) and, unfortunately, there were regular incidents of violence against women, children, and, of course, other men.

Two quick stories:

- During my first site visit, there was a commotion as individuals reported to and from my host father, a local chief and a member of the royal family. Apparently, one of his sons, a host brother I hadn’t met, had gotten into a drunken argument with a man and demanded the man's sunglasses. When the man refused, things got physical, and the host brother pulled out a knife and stabbed the man to death. Then, my host brother put on the sunglasses and continued strolling down the street. He was later detained at the jail but was reportedly still so inebriated he didn't understand what was happening to him.

- A young male relative of my host father would visit me often at my house. When he was sober, he was helpful, polite, and serious. Often, however, he would stumble into my living area barely able to stand or walk, his eyes glassy and sometimes even rolled back into the sockets, and alternating between mumbling to himself and making aggressive yet incoherent statements. The boy was only seventeen, but he was frighteningly drunk on a regular basis.

While making and selling bili-bili can be an extremely lucrative undertaking for women, its numerous negative consequences - many of which impact women directly - make me question the mantra that all enterprise is good enterprise.

I do think that supporting women's ideas and businesses in the developing world is often effective in raising their standard of living, increasing educational opportunities (particularly for their daughters), and affording women a measure of financial and personal independence. That said, women in the developing world must also negotiate a complex social and cultural framework and it's important to realize that economics and entrepreneurship are not the silver bullet in every case. Very often, a raised profit margin isn’t enough to ensure the safety and better lives women seek for themselves, their families, and their communities.

(This post originally appeared on http://aditkowsky.wordpress.com. It is reposted with permission.)