Monday, August 30, 2010

Twin Pregnancy Blog - Aug 29-30 - Week 13 - "Threatened abortion"

Threatened abortion. Never heard of this? Neither have I. Amazingly, I've read through 4 pregnancy books and none of them has mentioned this situation.

It's when the woman is showing of symptoms of a miscarriage while not actually in the process of a miscarriage. It may be a sign of an impending miscarriage or it may be nothing at all. Apparently, up to 20% of pregnancies are affected by this. Most go on to carry out a normal pregnancy. Here for more details.

Anyway, my wife is now in the hospital. She's doing well and the twins are just fine. She's staying there for bed rest and precautionary purposes. What led her to the hospital is a long story...

Sunday afternoon
Massive bleeding prompted us to rush to the hospital ER. Ultrasound scan showed both twins to be fine. Heartbeats were fine and they're both moving around. Doctor diagnosed it as a threatened abortion. Told us there was nothing for him to do. He scheduled us to meet with Obstetrics in the morning. We requested my wife to be admitted overnight for observation. The request was denied.

Sunday evening
Not satisfied with the prognosis, we visited St. Theresa Hospital, a private institution. Initial reaction from the doctor was surprise. She was shocked that public hospital ER didn't admit my wife. Another ultrasound scan was done. And again, it showed the twins to be just fine. A cervical exam showed a benign growth in the region. In 3 seconds, it was removed. As if on cue, the massive bleeding turned to slow drip. We're told that it will take some time for the slight bleeding to stop because of the now exposed blood vessels that were feeding the benign growth. Eventually, the wound will clot and bleeding will stop.
Hospital stay was deemed not necessary since we seem to have found and treated the problem behind everything.

Monday morning
Paid a visit to the OBGYN at Queen Elizabeth. The slow bleeding has not ceased completely yet. In our third ultrasound scan in less than 24hrs, the twins were shown to be again, just fine. They admitted my wife to stay at the hospital for precautionary purposes and observation.
Letter of complaint was sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pao Gasol vs Tim Duncan

Yahoo! Sports has come up with a list of the top Power Forwards in the NBA. It's only for the upcoming season, not an all-time list, so the list has Pao Gasol ahead of Tim Duncan.

Whether or not Gasol is better than Duncan is up for debate. But I feel that recently, people have forgotten the brilliance of Timmy and instead have been fawning over the mundane production of Gasol.

Duncan is 4 years older than Gasol and is unmistakably on the downturn of his career while Gasol has just hit his prime. But to put things into perspective, try to flash forward 4 years from now and ask yourself this: Can Gasol even come close to matching the same accolades that Duncan has?

Here's what's in each of their NBA trophy cases:

Pao Gasol
NBA Championships (x2)
Rookie of the Year
All-Star appearances (x3)
All-NBA Third Team (x2)
All-Rookie First Team

Tim Duncan
NBA Championships (x4)
NBA Finals MVP (x3)
NBA MVP (x2)
Rookie of the Year
All-Star appearances (x12)
All-NBA First Team (x9)
All-NBA Second Team (x3)
All-NBA Third Team
All-Defensive First Team (x8)
All-Defensive Second Team (x5)
All-Rookie First Team
All-Star Game MVP

Friday, August 27, 2010

One Double Stroller or Two Single Strollers for Twins?

We're torn between choosing to buy a double stroller or two single strollers for our twin boys. Here are the pros and cons of each that I can come up with. Am I missing anything?
Pros of a double stroller
Lighter and less bulky than two single strollers.
Allows one parent to do the pushing while the other parent is free to roam (ie, open doors, pick up dropped booties, etc)
Less expensive than two single strollers of comparable brand/quality.

Cons of a double stroller
May be too wide for certain places, especially here in Hong Kong.
The boys will outgrow the double stroller sooner than a single stroller.
Pros of two single strollers
Better maneuverability.
Longevity; it will take longer for each of the boys to outgrow a single stroller.

Cons of two single strollers
Heavy and bulky compared to a double stroller.
Both parents will be fully occupied in pushing the strollers.
More expensive than a double stroller of comparable brand/quality.

(I'm leaning towards a double at the moment...)

This Sunday won't be a day to remember for Hong Kong people and Filipinos

South China Morning Post reported today that there's going to be demonstration on Sunday. I can't see any good coming from this. This is going to turn ugly. I sincerely hope I'm wrong about this...

Here's an excerpt from the article:

Tens of thousands of marchers are expected to flood Hong Kong streets on Sunday in a demonstration organised by the main political parties to demand justice for those killed in the Manila hostage tragedy.
The march from Victoria Park to the Legislative Council building will be the climax of an outpouring of collective grief and anger in the city at the Philippine government's handling of the tragedy, following a series of protests, petitions and remembrance activities.
Organisers told police they expect 50,000 marchers but the turnout could be much higher. They said they did not expect the march to have a racial element but some have called for restraint because foreign domestic helpers and religious groups will hold their own day-long remembrance in nearby Chater Garden.

Update: Wow, I'm surprised at how peacefully the whole thing went. Nobody got into shouting matches and there were no violent clashes. I've underestimated the abilities of our citizens to stay rational.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Manila Hostage Event - Aftermath - various quotes

Inspector Santiago Pascual - member of the special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team who was relieved of duties because of this incident. (source)
Asked why snipers had not shot the hostage taker during the afternoon, when he was standing exposed in the doorway talking to negotiators, Santiago said: "It is unlawful for us to shoot the person when he is doing no harm to his hostages."
Comment: So, according to Santiago, the hostage-taker was still protected by the law even though he was heavily armed and had hostages. The hostage-taker's life was prioritized ahead of civilians. Perhaps it's because of his twisted thinking that he is now relieved of duties. 

Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz - Philippine National Police spokesman (source)
Cruz said the tidal wave of anger being directed at the police was unfair. "They [the critics] are all in the gallery watching. They should try being in the line of fire and let us see how they react."
Comment: The general public should not "try being in the line of fire" because we are suppose to be protected by Cruz's men, the police. Furthermore, the police should not be "reacting" in the first place. There should have been a plan and that plan should have been executed. Unfortunately, there was no plan and now, the police have effectively caused the death of innocent lives. 

Mei Jianming - Mainland criminologist; associate professor at the Chinese People's Public Security University in Beijing (source)
"The Manila hostage crisis was a typical kidnapping and relatively uncomplicated. However, the amateurish and lackadaisical response by the Philippine police led to the abject failure of the rescue mission."

Lorraine Badoy Partosa - Manila resident (source)
"This country shames me so. I would like to hang my head in deep and utter shame because I am a citizen of a country so rotten, [where] unspeakable tragedies like these are possible."
Comment: It's unfortunate that this event has raised racial hate issues. I sincerely hope that we can all see the truth, which is not every Filipino is to be blamed. They are mourning with us and we have no reason to associate them with their country's incompetent police force.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

4 things that the Philippines National Police should take from this recent incident

I watched the whole fiasco once more thanks to the amazing thing we have known as the internet. Here's are 4 things that the PNP should do right now considering what happened.

1. Get a rubber grip handle for their sledgehammer so that it doesn't fly out of their hands when they use it.

2. Request for more equipment. They were so desperate they were using everything they found in their pockets. Including glowsticks! Did these guys just come from a rave?
3. Request for better equipment. If you want to use rope, get a decent piece of rope. ANY decent piece of rope will do. But the rope they used was apparently so cheap, that it snapped when they used it to attach to a car to try to tow apart the front door of the bus. Face palm!
4. Know the anatomy of a tour bus. There are 2 exits. The main door up front and the emergency hatch towards the rear on the side. Consider entering through the emergency hatch before throwing your sledgehammer and glowsticks and snapping cheap rope uselessly for an hour.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Zhouqu Landslide - update

Here's a couple of quotes from Professor Chen Ningsheng about the Zhouqu landslide that left 1785 dead or missing. He's a researcher from the Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment and specializes in mudslide prevention.
"The building quality of these dams was so bad. They were too flimsy to hold the massive avalanche of rocks and mud rolling down from the hills."
"Given the millions of yuan we spent on these projects, the quality of the dams was certainly substandard."
"Apparently there are some problems with the design. For instance, I can't find any sign of auxiliary dams, which are normally built beside the main dams to support them - though it could be that [the auxiliary dams] were completely destroyed by the mudslides."
This just reeks of embezzlement by government officials.
"I certainly hope relevant government departments will look into this and launch an investigation."
Label me a pessimist for this, but from precendence, this isn't going to happen and even if it does, nothing will come of it. The government knows who is at fault (themselves). An investigation will just mean that the government will get someone to act as the scapegoat so they can act like they did something. Remember what happened with the melamine-laced milk powder case? Someone took the fall. And now, there's still melamine-laced milk powder out on the market.
"Some of these structures had been there for 10 years. We wouldn't be able to find out who was in charge of the project at the time."
Wow. I had to read this sentence a couple of times because I kept thinking I was reading it wrong. Note that I'm not blaming Prof Chen here. He's just stating the facts. The fantastic part of this statement is that he's implying that there are no reliable records dating back just 10 years. I can understand if it's 100 or even 50 years. But damn it, 10 years! No one can find out who built a friggen dam just 10 years ago?!

Manila Hostage Event

Seems like something out of Hollywood. By now, everyone in HK knows about the hostage situation that took place last night in Manila, Philippines. It ended in bloodshed with 8 hostages and the gunman perishing.

Surely, there's going to be some backlash against the Filipinos for this. It's not fair, but it's inevitable. I have no problems with the Filipinos. I've been to the country twice. I find them exceptionally friendly. It's the government and the law enforcement that should be the target of anger over this.

Anyone watching this on TV has to agree that the entire situation was poorly handled. A couple of thoughts kept going through my head:
"Is there any planning or coordination?"
"Oh my god, did these idiots even receive proper training?"

The reason I have these thoughts? Here we go...

1. There's a hostage situation. Do we even know what the gunman wants? The news kept saying he wants his job reinstated. Why don't they just agree to whatever he wants? It's not like words are legally binding in a hostage situation. If he wanted to become President of the United States, just say yes! Secure the hostages and then arrest the guy!

2. Look at this picture on the right. Even the cameraman had a direct line to the gunman. Surely, a sniper could have taken him down right there! Why was the shot not taken? Sure, the gunman didn't kill anybody yet. But he was heavily armed and he was holding hostages. That means the hostages must be secured by any means necessary, even if it means taking down the gunman. Oh my god, this just frustrates me! Just take the damn shot!

3. There was about an hour where the police surrounded the bus and tried to break in. This is where my frustration just boiled over and the Filipinos should all be embarrassed to know that they're protected by these buffoons.

They used hammers to try to break the rear window and side windows. It was not effective because the windows were very high up and the hammer wielder just couldn't muster enough force because he was too short by about 2 feet. Why don't they get a stool or something? Drive a car there and stand on the hood! Instead, he just looked like a helpless child trying to get to a cookie jar on the top shelf.
They used the same hammer to try to break the front door down. They succeeded in breaking the door windows but the flimsy looking door was still intact. At that point, I stood up and screamed "Crowbar! Use a crowbar to pry the damn door open!" Amazingly, they decided tie a rope to the door and use a car to yank the door off. The rope promptly snapped.
At one point, they threw a gas grenade into the rear of the bus, only to have it thrown back at their faces.
After a while, they were finally able to open the emergency exit hatch and started to enter the bus. The speed at which they were doing so was ridiculously slow. They fired at the gunman who instinctively fired back. As a result, the 2 officers inside the bus retreated. The speed of the retreat was 50 times faster than their entrance! In other words, they hauled ass! Then, guess what the other officers outside the vehicles were doing! Nothing other than laughing. Yes, seriously.

4. A bus is not a very secure spot for a hostage-taker. There are windows everywhere. So everything is in clear sight. Knowing this, the gunman drew down all the shades. What about the front windshield? Why can't a sniper just shoot through the front windshield at the gunman?

5. Surely it would be advantageous to be able to see what's going on inside the bus. The shades were drawn but are you telling me that a cheap piece of fabric is going to stop you? Just line up 3 or 4 cars on one side of the bus with their high beams on. You'll be able to clearly see any movement inside the bus from the other side.

6. They brought lunch to the bus at the request of the gunman. Why not drug the food with a mild sedative to knock everyone out. Sure, there's a risk of allergic reactions but isn't that a risk you would be willing to take to ensure everybody's safety?

7. No media-blackout? Apparently, the gunman can watch every single move the police made on the tv inside the bus!

8. Check out the picture here. I don't care who this guy is, but he needs to be fired. He approached the dead gunman, confirmed that he's indeed dead, and then he started smiling and waving his hands to give the all-clear signal and to tell everyone to come over. And I mean everyone! That is, cops, ambulance, media, bystanders, everyone! Of course, he needed everyone to come over because that will only help in getting the injured survivors off the bus. Hoards of useless people will never impede progress...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Twin Pregnancy Blog - Aug 23 2010 - Week 12 - "Bring on the baby blues"

Just came back from Queen Elizabeth Hospital. We had another ultrasound scan. Our last scan was not that long ago. This scan was just so that the hospital can see for themselves that they're dealing with monozygotic twins here (since the nurse didn't believe us a couple days ago!). So, we were not really expecting much of anything.

The doctor examined the womb and the placenta shape. She determined that they're most likely monozygotic (which is exactly what we told the nurse a couple of days ago!).
The babies were measured. They're now 6cm long which is just about right for their gestation period. We saw them move around. At that point, it was mostly just more of the same since the last scan.

Then, surprisingly, the doctor presented a question. It was a question we didn't expect until several more weeks later. And it was a question that we desperately wanted to know the answer of.
"Would you like to know the sex of the babies?"
We looked at each other for just a split second before responding simultaneously "Yes!"

Our gut feelings were confirmed. In Feb next year, my wife will be giving birth to identical twin boys!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Twin Pregnancy Blog - Aug 21 2010 - Week 11 - "Hospital visit"

Made a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Aug 20 to arrange for prenatal/delivery/antenatal care. We went during lunch. My wife said that I didn't have to accompany her and that she can handle it herself. But I went along anyway. Main reason is because I didn't want people to think she's a single mother!

Registration was simple enough. We just had to provide ID, proof of address, and our doctor's recommendation letter. We noticed on a sign that the hospital was fully booked for deliveries up to October. Our babies are due for February, so we breathed a sigh of relief.

We scheduled a mid-wives booking clinic for the next day on Aug 21. It's meant to be for informative purposes only. They talk to you about Down's Syndrome and perform a blood test. And they give you some information on the hospital and on breastfeeding. Since we already conducted the blood test and Down's screening, we didn't have to go through that again.

The nurse we met with asked if we knew whether our twins are monozygotic (ie, identical) or dizygotic (ie, fraternal). Since our private doctor told us she was 90% certain they're monozygotic, that's what we told the nurse. But she doesn't seem to believe us, so she scheduled us for an ultrasound for Aug 23 (Monday).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Twin Pregnancy Blog - Aug 17 2010 - Week 11 - "OSCAR"

My wife is clearly showing a bump by now. Today, we went in for an OSCAR test (stands for One-Stop-Clinical-Assessment-of-Risk and it's for accessing the risk of the child having Down's Syndrome). See here for some info on what's actually done. Currently just awaiting results of a blood test. But so far, everything else checked out just fine. (Update: blood tests checked out fine too. The twins are classified as low risk for Down's; probability is 1 in 10,000)

Each baby is now over 5cm long. That's nearly twice as large as they were 2 weeks ago! (We're advised by the doctor that their size is pretty good.) They were very energetic during the ultrasound. They kept waving their hands and feet, twisting and turning their bodies! We were able to make out their spinal cords, brains, and other various organs. Their hearts were beating strong at about 190 bpm which we're told is normal. Their heart rate will slow down as they grow.

Funny moment of the day!
The doctor used the ultrasound transducer to look at one twin before going on to the next. When he shifted to the next twin, that twin was positioned such that he wasn't able to get a clear picture. But suddenly as if on cue,  the baby twisted and positioned itself perfectly for the ultrasound. That twin is going to be quite the photogenic one!

On a more serious note, we now have to plan for where we're going to have the babies delivered. We've made a booking at a private hospital. But we're advised by 2 separate doctors that we should make reservations as a public hospital as well. This is because the facilities as a public hospital is better equipped to handle twins. And if the twins are delivered premature (which will happen more often than not with multiples) at a private hospital, it's going to cost a fortune...yikes!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why did the Zhouqu landslide happen?

There's been a lot of coverage recently on the landslide in Zhouqu, China. 1,700 people are either dead or missing after the tragedy.

The news coverage all seem to be in heavy praise for the leadership of the Communist Party in directing their massive rescue and recovery efforts. There are impressive photos and videos of hoards of soldiers with shovels digging and carrying out survivors. Truckloads of supplies are being directed to the area. Certainly, it's good to see this type of effort and response from the federal government. But hang on...

Why did this event happen in the first place? What the government wants the media to report is that record rainfall and the Sichuan earthquake (for loosening the geological structure) is to be blamed. See here for details.

The following are quoted from an article from the South China Morning Post dated 16 Aug 2010.

"Two years ago, geological experts recommended the town be moved because of growing safety concerns that were almost impossible to eliminate."
"...the ministry listed Zhouqu, in a valley between two mountains, as a key site prone to landslides. There can be no question, therefore, that the authorities were fully aware of the growing danger, yet they did nothing."
"...the risk had been exacerbated by reckless development leading to erosion and ecological damage, such as a rash of dam-building and logging, which deforested the mountainsides for 20-odd years until 1998. Since then, it has continued in defiance of a central government ban."
"The excuse of lack of funds to relocate Zhouqu, while real enough, raises complex questions about the nation's priorities. Surely, with all the money that is being spent on the Shanghai World Expo, or on the high-speed rail network, some can be found for urgent measures to protect people's lives. Co-incidentally, with the raised profile of the threat to Zhouqu two years ago, Beijing launched a four trillion yuan economic stimulus package to counter the global financial crisis. Government officials around the country lavished money on infrastructure projects, including their own pet schemes. Sadly, saving Zhouqu was not one of them, though the cost of making a start on it would have been a drop in the bucket."
"an explosion at a Henan coal mine last June that killed 49 workers. The mine probably should not have been operating, after a gas leak killed 12 men two months earlier. But official pressure and hush money was used to cover up the accident. Transparency and a proper inquiry could have saved a lot of lives."

So, where is the backlash against the government? 1,700 lives were lost because of government inaction. Why is nobody upset over this?

Let's compare this with Hurrican Katrina. Or even the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane was an act of nature. The oil spill was because of BP, a British company. Yet, the United States government took massive criticism. I'm not saying the US didn't deserve the criticism; they certainly did. But my point is, why is China able to walk away from this looking like the good guy when it's obvious they shirked their responsibilities?

As former US President George W. Bush would say, "China, you're doing a heck of a job."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Twin Pregnancy Blog - Aug 4 2010 - Week 9 - "First signs of movement"

Some slight spotting triggered some panic and consequently a premature revisit to the doctor. Fortunately, our concerns were unfounded. Both our babies were doing just fine. In fact, they've grown tremendously since last week. They're just over 2cm long and we could clearly make out their heads, arms and legs. They're facing each other inside. We even caught a glimpse of each of them moving around! I can't really describe what we were feeling at that point. It was very euphoric. Seemed as if time stood still and nothing else in the world mattered anymore...