Monday, October 31, 2005

no tricks, all treat

So Neil and I decided to skip out on all the Halloween parties and take the advice of our massage therapist to spend some quality time on resting and rejuvenation. A quiet weekend at the beach house doing laundry, surfing (well, paddling and getting tossed about in the waves for me), watching movies, sleeping, and yoga. Good stuff. So nice to start the week well-rested, and with clear skin and bright eyes.

On movie I did see was Yi Yi, one of my favorites. I last saw it before I moved to Taiwan four years ago. At that time, I had to read the subtitles to understand the dialogue. Besides playing name-that-place (the movie is filmed in Taipei), I realized this time that I could follow along with mostly everything, even occasionally suggest better translations for the subtitles. Cool beans.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

peanut butter and adzuki beans

This morning, still sleepy, standing at the kitchen counter munching on toast, I realized that peanut butter just isn't that big here. You don't see it in desserts at cafes, peanut butter-chcolate confections, plays on Reese's peanut butter cups. You do see adzuki (red) beans, green tea, mango, mochi.

On the other hand, how surprized was I to find that sweet and sour fish (榶醋魚) is a real Chinese dish, not a Chinese-American creation. Of course here the sweet and sour fish is much better than the one-dimensional sugary mess there. My favorite seafood restaurant (right next to the ocean against the rocks) makes a delightful version: unctuous, tangy, and sweet without being overly so, made with your choice of the day's catch.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Medical Practices, Culture, and Options

An interesting article in today’s Washington Post about one reporter’s ongoing misadventure with Western medicine. My takeaway lessons are: 1) always be wary of surgery, 2) don’t be afraid to question your medical providers, and 3) seek other options, including alternative medicine.

When reading the article, I was struck by how I would’ve reacted differently. After living in Taiwan, I would have also looked into acupuncture, and tuina and baguan (btw, my bruises healed just fine, and I think it was actually speeded along last Friday when I went to get lomi lomi massage, a Polynesian deep muscle massage that I think of as gentle chiropractic treatment). Living here, it's just accepted that one can turn to both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine for treatment.

Anyways, the article also reminded me of two articles I read in the New York Times yesterday. One article was on this year’s Nobel Prize winners in medicine, the other was about the growing number of parents in the U.S. have a diaper-free baby by training themselves to recognize their baby’s signs that she’s about to go, and then bringing the baby to a sink, toilet, or other appropriate spot.

The common thread I found in both articles is that with the two Australian doctors, they suggested a cause and treatment for ulceritis that was vastly different than accepted medical wisdom at the time. Part of the reason that the medical establishment refused to accept their theories at the start was because most of the conventional wisdom had be funded by pharmaceutical companies, which benefitted from the then status quo (recurring prescriptions for their product that relieved the symptoms, but did not actually solve the problem).These companies had a vested interest in making sure other treatment methods were not accepted, since that would hurt sales.

With the diapers, because of our current media and advertising culture, parents think the only options for their babies are cloth or disposable. There’s not even a question of whether their might be alternatives…even though most of the world’s babies go diaperless. It’s just interesting how culture and business interests makes some practices seem completely implausible.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

you mean like a hickey?

Eric's response to my explanation of ba guan, "oh, so you mean like a giant hickey?"

...well, if it helps to think of it that way...another guy's experience with ba guan.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

TCM Turnaround

I remember the first time I saw the effect of ba guan (拔罐), cupping, I was horrified. Dark red circular bruises on a person's skin. I've since learned that ba guan, literally "pulling cups", are part of traditional Chinese medicine. A form of acupuncture, the idea is encourage blood flow. Cups are applied to the affected points in the body, and a partial vacuum is created to draw up underlying tissue and thus, the "bad blood" to the surface. There, the body then naturally disperses this bad blood. It's a kind of deep tissue massage that relieves blockages in the body.

Anyways, I've been feeling tightness around my shoulder blades for the past few weeks. Due to poor ergonomics at work, and not enough exercise, is my guess. Sunday Neil and I went to get traditional Chinese massage. Even after intense massage, I could still feel the knot deep in my shoulders. The masseuse asked if she had my permission to try cupping. Ow, ow, ow!

Afterwards, I had deep purple splotches all over my back. The masseuse pronounced my condition to be very serious. Apparently, the greater the blockage in one's body, the darker the bruise. Neil called me his yakuza girl. The color is supposed to fade in a few days. I'll see then whether I think it is effective or not.

I told Bonnie today I almost feel like an abused woman, keeping my hair down to cover my neck and shoulders. She pointed out that no one would find the circular marks unusual here, since many people go for cupping treatment. So I hope to make it to the pool tonight, to get the circulation going in my shoulders.