Tuesday, October 17, 2017

HOTA

Hi friends,

Have you heard of HOTA? Of course not. I've probably heard of HOTA except I've conveniently forgotten it. HOTA or the Human Organ Transplant Act came into effect in 1987. It is an opt-out system to allow for kidney, liver, heart and cornea in the event of a brain death. I remember back then I felt really yucky about having my organs removed after death but I was too lazy to do the paperwork for opting out of donating my organs. I have to say it was a good call on the part of the committee to come up with an opt-out system. Thanks to it, lazy people automatically become organ donors.

Having forgotten I am an organ donor, I was rudely reminded of it recently when a mail came for my son. He's turning 21 next year (so fast!) and I guess HOTA was in a hurry to reel in one more potential donor. I felt it is my duty as a mom to educate my son about HOTA. So I read through the booklet that came in the mail and I bravely broached the topic of organ donation with son. Surprisingly he couldn't care less. I think he said 'whatever'. So once he turns 21, he becomes an organ donor. Later when I recalled how I broached the subject with son, I realised I forgot to mention he would be saving lives.

I don't know if hubs is an organ donor. When I asked him, he said he had no idea. Knowing him, he probably didn't do the paperwork either. There is one big disadvantage to opting out but I doubt it's something people think about: you receive lower priority on the waiting list should you require an organ.

Not every death results in organ recovery. It has to be a brain death and it must occur in a hospital. The organs need to be suitable and of course there must be suitable recipients.

I read through the history of HOTA and realised that Muslims were excluded at first for religious reasons. In 2004, non-accidental deaths were included. In 2008, HOTA was amended to include Muslims. In 2009, the age limit of 60 was removed.

Interestingly, HOTA using the opt-out system to consent to organ donation did not lead to an increase in organ transplants. With a low opt-out rate, you would think it's a success story. In fact organ transplant has remained low for the past 10 years. 58 transplants were carried out in 2015 compared to 69 in 2006. I read this article that says presumed consent is the issue as the HOTA database does not differentiate between those who did not opt out and those who chose to be a donor. For doctors who are in a position to harvest organs, it becomes an ethical as well as emotive issue.

Last month there was a story in the papers about a heart donor's parents who met with the organ recipient to listen to her heartbeat. To be honest, I was quite emotional when I read the story. After I learnt more about it, I wondered how with donors/recipients info being confidential the recipient manage to "connect the dots" to track down the donor's parents? I also thought about how I would want things if I were in their position. (touch wood) I think this might surprise you but if anyone in my family donated an organ, (again touch wood) I really, really don't want the recipient to track me down. Similarly, should I donate my organs, I don't want the recipients to show up in front of my family. That's too weird.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

September

Hello,

I know it's October. I just wondered where September went. Ah yes, I remember now. It's slowly coming back. I crawled into my cave to work on my bag pattern and before I knew it, I had stayed inside for a month. It seems I'm incapable of multi-tasking. So I had to stop running, eating healthy, clean the house and generally neglect any housework. I did continue with the laundry. The constant rain in September made it a challenge. Once or maybe twice my daughter had to wear a dirty skirt to school. She was pretty upset. I told her that during my school days, I wore the same uniform to school 5 days in a row. It's strange how my daughter doesn't get less upset every time I tell her I had things worse off!

Ah where were we? Yes, it's as if my life had to come to a standstill in order for me to write my bag pattern. Anyway, I've stopped work on the pattern. (No prizes for guessing which bag it is. I've made this one a gazillion times.) Might make some little changes in the layout/instructions before it's published sometime in October? The editing never ends....

https://www.instagram.com/p/BZvspWSD8fx

On Monday I ran for the first time since mid August and I sucked. I couldn't even endure 0.6km more to hit 5km. Yesterday I started wearing my fitbit again and I only registered 2500 steps. I'm so lazy now. Last night I boasted to hubs that I would not go to sleep until I hit 10,000 steps. Oh boy, I hope he was only pretending to listen to me. The only exercise I've been consistent with is my weekly swim. I tried doing it twice a week but it was too much hassle. The swimming is supposed to strengthen my neck muscles and hopefully prevent my headaches. Today is swimming day but it's cold so I'm still thinking about going. I wish we have indoor heated pools. I hate getting brown spots on my face from exposure to the sun. Lately brown spots have been sprouting all over my face. It's like puberty all over again.

I haven't weighed myself in ages. I know I've gained a lot of weight, probably back to 60kg again. I don't want to know. Yet. What about you? Anyone gained weight? No? Just me?

I stopped going for acupuncture. I couldn't tell if it was working. I mean I still get headaches. The doc asked me to take 2 pills when it gets bad. Unfortunately, 2 pills give me terrible nightmares... I'm going to get a new doctor for my headaches. It seems my headaches are not life threatening so I have to see a family doctor instead of a specialist. The new doc is just one train station away so I'm not unhappy about it. All I really want is to stop getting the damn headaches. When I become a senior citizen, I don't want to be whining about headaches. Because I'm sure there will be other ailments to whine about.

via
Speaking of headaches, we had a presidential election in September. Except there was no election. The government decided it wanted a Malay President this round, so you kinda have to be Malay to be in the running. Plus if you are in the private sector, you need to have managed a company with a minimum shareholder equity of S$500 million. The government put up its own candidate, a Speaker in Parliament and also a member of parliament in the constituency I live in. (she resigned to run for president) To cut the story short, 3 candidates submitted their intentions to run for president but only one was considered eligible (the one put up by the government). Which means it was a walkover and that's how we got Halimah Yacob as our new president. In Singapore, our president has some limited power. What her powers are I'm not really sure. It is a very well paid position. I believe her salary is over 1.5 million dollars. (it's less than what the prime minister gets) Anyway, it's a shame how Halimah Yacob became the president. I believe she would have won in an election. I would have voted for her. I mean, first female president, rite?

I started decluttering like crazy recently. I'm making up for neglecting my home in September. My efforts at decluttering will not result in any major visible changes in my home because we have reached hoarding level. Still, I try.

Yesterday I decided I will get rid of most of the cards (a few hundred) I had kept in a large container - stuff from my teenage years to early twenties. The reason? I wanted to use the container. I read through every card I was throwing and believe it or not I had forgotten most of the people who had sent them to me. I don't know if it's old age or amnesia from the medication I took in the past but I have no recollection at all. As I was going through the cards, I found a "hidden" declaration of love from a guy I had no romantic interest in mostly because he was always, always trying to get me to love Jesus. There was also a very weird card from this person (I can't remember who as there was no name, just a signature) asking me to call him if I wanted to "tie the knot". Is that a marriage proposal? I haven't the faintest idea who the person is.

Not long ago I told hubs about this classmate I was close to in secondary school and I was telling him it was weird that we didn't keep in touch at all but out of the blue I was invited to attend her wedding decades ago. Then when I showed up at her wedding, she forgot who I was. Anyway, I realised that we never lost touch at all. In fact, she sent me many cards over the years and in each card she would write about what she was doing. From the things she wrote I could tell we still remained sort of close. Strangely, I never remembered that. In my memory, we never kept in touch after we left school.

Another amnesia story - this girl, Irene was my best friend in secondary school until one day we were caught playing truant <cough, cough>. She was the mastermind and also the big fat mouth who got us caught. Anyway, I was punished severely by my teacher and family. She on the other hand denied everything and got away with it! She told me I was dumb for admitting it. Anyway, I thought we never kept in touch after the incident but it turned out she had sent me a card a few years later asking me to double date with her ex-boyfriend (on/off). Her ex wanted to introduce a guy to me. I have no memory of any double date with them so I must have declined. I do remember her ex-boyfriend was very gangster like. In my memory, we never communicated again after the truant incident. I think our brain is quite selective about which memory we choose to keep!

I found many cards from this very sweet guy I used to know. Have you ever done this? Facebook stalk a person you used to know? I searched his name and ridiculously he existed at my first try! There were a couple of photos and man does he look old now! I wonder if anyone has Facebook stalked me?

In the end, I kept some of the cards because they were too precious to throw! But it's a tiny fraction of the original number, around 50 or so. In another 10 years, I should make another attempt to throw the rest of the cards. By then, I may have totally forgotten everyone.

This trip down memory lane has made me remember how much life has changed since internet and social media. Do people still send cards nowadays? I get digital cards now and then and don't be surprised but I get very angry when I receive them. Because it's such a hassle to unlock it. So don't send me any.

Catch you soon.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Milk Kefir Bread

To be honest, I have some doubts about milk kefir used as a leavening agent for bread. If you search the net, you will notice that many milk kefir bread recipes include the use of a tiny bit of yeast. At Bakerzwork class, the one recipe I made which used milk kefir did not turn out well. It was heavy and under baked.

Over the weekend, I made a Milk Kefir bread using this recipe I found online. I never got to the stage of baking because after mixing, the dough was very limp. I gave it a lot of time to develop but in the end, the dough had no strength at all and I was certain it would be a failure. So I dumped it.

Yesterday I decided to give Milk Kefir another shot. This time I did something differently. When making the milk kefir starter(or levain), I used very strong bread flour.

I used Waitrose white bread flour which had a 14.9% protein. I usually use Prima Unbleached Bread flour which had a 13.1% protein. I'm not entirely sure about this but I believe a higher protein flour generates more gluten. Based on my first milk kefir failure, there seems to be a lack of gluten in the dough. For my main dough, I still used Prima Unbleached Bread flour.

This is my milk kefir. I did not really pay attention to how long I fermented my milk kefir grains. I do know it was definitely less than 24 hours. When I remembered to harvest it, there was some separation of whey. I was given a tiny teaspoon worth of milk grains at Bakerzwork. At first the grains did not grow at all. I was a bit worried but at last count, I have 2 tablespoon's worth. Unlike water kefir grains, my milk kefir grains multiply rather slowly.

This is my milk kefir starter after sitting on a table overnight. The weird holes you see are the bubbles. This starter is quite active.

I was feeling rather adventurous and decided to put all my money on this recipe I found online.

The amount of dough was enough to make a sandwich loaf (680g) in my pullman tin and the leftover I made a boule. Which was a mistake. I'll explain later.

 My boule after shaping.
My boule before baking.

I baked the sandwich loaf first. I shaped the dough into a batard which surprisingly fit the size of the pullman tin. After a few hours, the dough only rose a bit but I was tired of waiting so I baked it.


The bread turned out quite well. The only mistake I made was after removing the bread from the tin, I returned it to the oven to brown the top, I placed it upside down. Unfortunately, the top was not stable enough and when I removed the bread later, the top had become lop sided.

This was the first slice I ate, still warm and it was delicious. The crust was very nice and I felt a bit guilty I didn't leave it for hubs.

Remember I have a boule. The mistake I made was this. I wanted to bake the boule on my baking stone and to get the baking stone hot enough takes time. Meanwhile my dough was ballooning up. I think it was over proofed.

In the oven, it didn't spring up much but it got wider. I thought it was gonna spill out of the oven because my oven is not very deep.

I didn't try the boule last night because it was late. This morning I had a slice and I have to say, it's not as good as it looks. There's a bit of under baking near the bottom. Demmit! After all that effort to get the baking stone hot enough...

Overall, the taste of my milk kefir bread, both sandwich and boule is not as good as the sourdough bread I made last Friday. At this point, I don't know if I will pursue milk kefir bread. I think I may have bread fatigue.
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