My Own Happiness Project

My Own Happiness Project
because happiness begins inside and flows out...


ever when i grow up......

Reading through the website of the real Patch Adams leaves me a sobering realisation that whatever he is, I am not. It isn't the most joyous feeling to have to start a weekend with, but impressive enough to know that if I ever want to grow up to be like him, I've got to buck-up, get some serious planning done.... and put on my red nose.

Hunter Campbell "Patch" Adams, M.D. (born May 28, 1945 in Washington, D.C.) is an American physician, social activist, citizen diplomat, professional clown, performer, and author. He founded the Gesundheit! Institute in 1972. Each year he organizes a group of volunteers from around the world to travel to various countries (including post-war Bosnia in 1998) where they dress as clowns, to bring hope and joy to orphans, patients, and other people. His life inspired the film Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams. Adams is currently based in Arlington, Virginia. In collaboration with the institute, he promotes a different health care model (i.e. one not funded by insurance policies).

a word from the real patch adams......

Dear Friends of Gesundheit, I am sorry it has been so long since I have written. There is so much to do and so little time to do it all in—I want to sing sweet gratitude for my life, for friends, for the joy of nature and the arts, and the radiant privilege of working every day for peace and justice for all people.

Just look at the last six weeks: November began with lectures and performances in Mexico, Tennessee, and Nebraska. Then I went on my 25th annual Russian Clown Tour with 36 clowns from 10 countries, ages 16-86. Morrighan Clinco organized the trip with us. We’ve known Morrighan a long time; she first went on the Russia trip thirteen years ago. She was 12 years old. The biggest test for me on the trip was that my 22 year old son, Lars, was my roommate. We were inseparable and seriously into bad behavior. A couple of the highlights: Rosy, from Switzerland, who is in her 70s and on her seventh trip danced a wonderfully hilarious erotic dance using a small Swiss horn at the talent night. 86 year old Freck, from Holland, showed it’s never too late to try something new by doing his first mooning in the annual group mooning shot. Swine flu closed many institutions to us in both cities but opened up some new exciting ones. One of the many delights was in St. Petersburg—the music group CKY was staying at our hotel and late one night I got to play air guitar with their lead singer.

From Russia I went to Poland for four nights in three cities hosted by Alexandra, who was the first Little Person I’ve had the privilege to meet and befriend. It felt like we’d known each other for years. She, at 3 feet, was my translator and we were a pair, engaged 12-16 hours each day. Medical and other students clowned each day with us, enjoying the message of loving, fun care. The friends I made there make me want to return soon.

I then flew to Milan, Italy for two packed days with Cristina, Ginevra and Susan, as well as the School for Designing a Society: Mark, Rob, Danielle, and Bob. For three years, the SDAS has led a week-long activism intensive in Italy. I joined them after Cristina and I did fundraisers at a Homeopathic Factory and a Rotary dinner. Susan and I had created a new four hour workshop “The Emperor’s New Clothes” exploring issues of being silent and speaking up. Particularly in Italy, participants seemed excited to explore these issues.

After Italy, I came home for a few days to catch up on mail, phone, and faxes. And then I was off again for a glorious week of fundraising in Concord, Massachusetts orchestrated by Stuart Weeks, a true transcendentalist. Rarely in our 39 years has someone gone to such an effort to help us. The first day, he drove me to Beacon, New York to spend a long afternoon with Pete Seeger and his wife Toshi in his lovely home on the Hudson. I heard Pete sing in Washington DC in 1963 at Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and have held him in my activist’s heart ever since. I watched Pete, who is 90, running through his house and preparing a salad for a potluck activist’s meeting that night. A truly persistent sandwich. I was thrilled to give Toshi a massage and hear her story. Over the next six days I had forty encounters due to Stuart’s meticulous effort to expose our work in hopeful environments. It began early the first morning at Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grave with Stuart reading his wisdom. From there to Orchard house, the home of Louisa May Alcott, where activism flourished for civil and women’s rights. We met out back with a current version of the School of Philosophy. The week ended on the way to the airport when I met with Ryan, now in Harvard Law School, who was assistant to Bill Gates Sr. I have to thank my hostess Mary Jane who let me stay in her home. AT 75, she still teaches school and is a shining example of why I say the school teacher is the most important member of human culture. And another bow to Mildred, 89, who we visited in her beautiful library (she has more George Gissing novels than anyone I’ve ever met). Her smile gave me life. I came home thinking we can build.

As a dessert this last weekend, one of our youth clowns, Lily Huggins, threw a fundraiser for us at the Boyd Theater in Richmond where Lydia and I had our first date in 1971. Levi was there selling the Gesundheit t-shirts and scrubs he and his father, David, have created for us as a fundraising effort. When enough friends help as these dear souls have, we will get built.

And to finish these six weeks off—my beloved Susan came yesterday for our annual 10 weeks together over the winter. Yum.

Dear friends … help me. As we enter our 40th year let’s get ready to build this coming summer. This puny, embarrassing, meaningless media around health care reform would never have happened had our model been up and showing a hospital operating at 10% of the cost where staff and patients are blessed and having fun. Until we show them an alternative, the insurance and pharmaceutical companies can buy our inability to care for our people. Feel the thrill of persistence. Taste it on your tongue.

Please help us.

Dr Patch Adams, 23Dec2009

arteo finally bakes, move aside anna olson.....

In 2008 I made myself a resolution, that was to make cookies. At least once. So I went out to Penampang Survey with my siblings, and got myself a box of (almost) instant cookie mix, chocolate flavour, and hopefully I would cross out the to-do item that year. Unfortunately the cookie flour expired before I got to work, and I bought another box in 2009, with a renewed resolution to bake that year. The same fate befalls that box of cookie mix. The Penampang Servay even was burned down in a fire since then, and still I haven't baked the cookies yet.

Few weeks back, on the same day I got Yiyi her pet fish (now dead), I also gave a third attempt on the cookie business, this time I got myself some butter, and hopefully a stronger will to not let this one go expired again.

The only ingredient needed to make the cookies: an egg, 150gms of butter, and the box of (almost) instant cookie mix. I've been buying this stuff for 3 years in a row, and I've seen how the price has gone up over this period of time. Sigh.

First, to melt the butter to room temperature. I just took this one out of the fridge so it took a while for it to soften.

In order to work fast before my mood for baking goes off, I attempted softening it with a little help from Sandra's hair blower.

It was not much help, even after about 10 minutes later, it only melted a small fraction of the butter. But the room smells like a bakery at that time.

So the more rational method to have a pre-soften butter to work with, was to break it up with a spoon, and let it sit in the kitchen for 1/2 hour while I'm watching the Hokkien mini-series on TV.

After the butter has nicely soften (like it says on the box) I put in the cookie mix into the mixing bowl, and start working on mixing it.

Then slowly pour in the lightly beaten egg.

Vigorously mix and knead the mixture until doughy.

Like this.

Then divide the dough into bite size pieces. A box of that should yield more or less 50 pieces of cookies.

To add colours to my cookies, I am going to sprinkle it with some colourful candy beads.

Sprinkling may prove harder to do in practice compared to theory, so I resorted to pressing it onto the beads instead. Yiyi's gonna just love this methodology.

Ready for the oven.

I was quite disappointed to learn that the box of cookie mix did not come with chocolate chips, since the picture in front of the box shows cookies with choc-chips. I felt cheated, but luckily Sandra has some stock at home.

The finished products. Taa-daa.....

Things to do: Bake Cookies

I gave myself 7.8 stars from the bake-off, so Anna should really think of something else she can do.

By the way, I've recruited her into my Red Nose Project, hope she doesn't mind ;op


oh no.......

Found out today that Yiyi's fish - IkanFish - died in peace, cause of death: overfeeding

Maybe I should keep that in mind the next time I feel like taking a muffin to my face.

Heh... maybe I'll get her a new one on Friday. Let's see if she's a good girl tomorrow...


yiyi's pet fish.......

Two Fridays ago, I brought Yiyi out for an outing to the post-office in Damai. Just because she behaved well the whole time, I took that as an excuse to buy her KFC at Foh Sang for lunch (keyword: excuse) and we stopped by at the petshop just to have a look at puppies wagging their tails.

Yiyi was so excited with the visit to the petshop I could not resist getting her a pet for herself. This was supposed to be a mini-koi but Ben confirmed that it wasn't and I was ripped. Anyway it's only RM3.50...

We got all creative in naming the fish -- Ikan-Fish!


where's your red nose?..........

Okay, I think I've owed more than a few of you the explanation of the Red Nose phenomena that's sweeping some circles of facebookers -- although disappointingly slowly, but I hope more will catch the Red Nose and be counted in the Red Nose epidemic casualty list -- because we're all going to go to the hospital together for it!

Here's what's happening.

I have an idea. Let's come together one day, and throw a party, a Kids' Party, at KK's Women and Children Hospital in Likas (formerly known as Hospital Pakar, and before that, the old SMC). Imagine this -- there will be clowns, and balloon twisting! We'll play games, run around, maybe sing along a song or two! Let's throw in some magic tricks, and perhaps a puppet show. There will be food and cakes and sugary drinks! We'll have presents for all the kids there, and not forgetting the ones in the ward who couldn't join us! It will be a day where kids will feel better even before they've seen the doctors. And everyone will be spotting a Red Nose on that day.

When? I'm thinking 1st of April. Let's do up our own Red Nose Day, make some kids (and parents) happy, and throw them some fun, fun, fun! After all, it's supposed to be a fun day, anyway, right?

So who's with me? Put on your Red Nose, and let's do this!
We need a plan to be put up soon, please leave a message here at the blog, or leave me a remark on the facebook comments if you're interested to join in making this party happen.
And fellow Red Nose army - do spread this word around


arteo goes for aerobics class.....

It isn't something I am proudest to admit, but yeah, I've joined the housewives club doing aerobics exercise at Likas Gym, and today was my second day there. I have to say, it was terribly intimidating to know and witness that middle age aunties (okay la, at this age maybe I should say middle age sisters) doing better at stability and having better endurance to complete the workout.

not quite!

I had a few people jokingly tease me that I'm there to do eye-laundry, but believe me friends, that's not quite the place to go eye-laundering for. Even if there was a couple of 'em eye-candies around, it's like being in a hall full of chaperons. Now that should should dry up any form of juices in your fantasy! Haha..

The worst thing was doing all that steps after a session of amateur weight lifting the evening before, leaving my shoulders and arms sore and weak even after a couple of sets. It made me think twice if I would ever undermine those pink little rubber coated dumbbells again.

Okay la, maybe the worst was when the instructor, Jane, says to make sure we keep our ball below the knees. Now, that would be a challenge!

Aerobics class is actually open to both men and women, with sessions at 9am, 5pm and 5:45pm weekdays. Daily membership, RM4 per session.


inspector gadget strikes again........

Going through some hidden and forgotten pile of mess under a bookshelf the other day, I happen to unearth one of my first gadgets from the last millenium, and I'm not kidding.

It is a PDA, or personal digital assistant, but I don't think people call it by its long name anymore. I remember getting it for RM300, no colour, doesn't play music and ran on 2xAA batteries. The spec may be pitiful today, but then it was something to envy of, hehe.

I've since moved on promiscuously from one gadget to another and my latest indulgence came about as a subtle rebellion against the iPhone nation, of which Ben has recently joined last weekend.

I wanted to enroll to the BlackBerry community, but the stiff competition from Nokia made me think a while (like, 45 minutes of phonecall to Ben and Jey), so finally decided to complete the round and come back to Nokia. I was off Nokia loyalty in 2004, moved on to Motorola, then to Sony Ericsson, landed on HTC once and then now back to Nokia again.

Nokia E72 wins just because it can do video call.

From now on, it's going to be living on bread without the luxury of butter. No more gadgets of any sort until July.

Alright, maybe June.


life is like a (cup) of (drinking) chocolate...

Found this article while blog-rolling earlier... The next time you enjoy a cup of hot cocoa, or mocha for that matter (in my case, mostly) remember this story...

A group of graduates, well established in their careers, were talking at a reunion and decided to go visit their old university professor, now retired. During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in their work and lives. Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an assortment of cups - porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the hot chocolate.

When they all had a cup of hot chocolate in hand, the professor said: "Notice that all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. The cup that you're drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot chocolate. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups... And then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the hot chocolate; your job, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life. The cup you have does not define, nor change the quality of life you have. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot chocolate God has provided us. God makes the hot chocolate, man chooses the cups. The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything that they have. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. And enjoy your hot chocolate.

a sobering mistake...

Not mine though... I had a birthday wish from an old friend earlier, thinking that it was yesterday. Not a big problem though, but it got me thinking, gosh, yeah, another month to go... it's been a year since I've gained membership of the 30s club.

Some said life begins at 30... I'm just wondering, have I lived yet.


good piece of old news.....

...or old piece of good news.

I was just surfing away on topics related to coffee earlier and found a blogger that talks about his first experience of Tenom coffee. He swears off all other coffee and all other alcoholic drinks after tasting Tenom coffee (for real? Come on...)

But more surprisingly, he linked his article to another entry from another blog that explains about the differences between coffee beans... and to my surprise, it was my blog!! My old old blog!!

That made my day.