Saturday, August 8, 2009

Swine Flu in India - Do we need to Panic?

Here is a concise of my article on Swine Flu.
The original is published here
What are the common SWINE FLU SYMPTOMS?
The symptoms of swine flu are essentially indistinguishable from the familiar misery of seasonal flu: fever, coughing, sore throat, body aches, headache, sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
So which of us need to contact the doctor?
If you have traveled abroad to a country with a large number of Swine Flu cases in the last two weeks, and have Flu like symptoms.
If you have personally met someone who was later diagnosed to have Swine Flu in the last two weeks, & you have flu like symptoms.
Only under these circumstances do you need to worry about Swine Flu in India.
How can I prevent SWINE FLU?
Just like regular seasonal flu virus, the swine flu virus is thought to spread on droplets emitted by coughing and sneezing or deposited on hands and surfaces, then transferred to nose or mouth. Thus, practicing the usual precautions will help prevent its spread:
* Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw it away promptly. If you don’t have a tissue, cough into your sleeve.
* Wash your hands thoroughly and often, especially after sneezing or coughing, using soap and water or an alcohol rub. I personally use non alcoholic hand sanitizer by Himalaya Pharmaceuticals called Pure Hands, this is easily available with your local chemist shop. Any good hand sanitizer would do.
* Wipe surfaces like doorknobs using a regular cleaner.
* If you’re sick with flu-like symptoms, even if you don’t feel sick enough to go to the doctor, stay home from work or school to avoid giving the virus to someone else.
The most effective way to prevent Swine Flu is by STAYING at HOME, and by regular hand washing.
Please remember that as of now there is no vaccination (though one is likely to be available by the end of 2009 or sooner), antiviral medicines are generally not needed, and the disease is generally mild in most people.
For more details, read here

Sunday, June 28, 2009

1 day, 3 movies

So I had a cold the other day. Decided to take a day off from the clinic. Thought should watch a movie on my laptop. Started with 1 , quickly became two, and by the night I had done 3 movies !!!
This has happened after a very long time, but was pretty cool :-)
I saw Fanboys (URL), Coraline , and Tripping the rift.
I love animation and if it involves Neil Gaiman - lips drooling
So Coraline is this gorgeous animated movie that I have discussed in my last blog post. The "other" world for the little Coraline has enough beauty but still gives you a feeling of unease. Suffice to say that it is worth watching for the stunning animation alone.
Fanboys is something that sci-fi fans like me would love. It is unpretentiously geeky, and loads of fun. It is about a group of 4 star wars fans who decide to rob the Skywalker ranch of George Lucas to find & watch the uncut version of the new Star Wars movie before it is released. I never knew that there was so much hostility between Star Trek & the Star Wars universe !
Tripping the rift is another animation sci-fi movie based on a TV series, and it looks the part. It features a group of weirdly shaped aliens lead by a purple colored equivalent of Spongebob Sqaurepants, who are smugglers in the future. It resembles an adult version of Futurama with loads of profanity and nudity but with a sense of humor. They do a good job of making fun of lots of recent movies / TV series including Terminator, Desperate Housewives, Indiana Jones etc. However I did find that the jokes became a bit stale at some point. I prefer Futurama, though I would be interested in watching some of the initial TV series episode of this series.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Coraline - the (small) movie review

Coraline Coraline by Neil Gaiman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

A confession, I actually watched the beautiful animated movie on this one.

I like Neil Gaiman, and I enjoy his flights of fancy.

The movie has gorgeous animation, though of course that is a subject of a different discussion.

The storyline is simple enough for the young leader to enjoy, but as with many Gaiman stories, has enough undercurrent of disturbing allegory that makes it interesting for the adult reader too.

I would like to know his other books that have been converted in to good movies,

Recommended : For people who enjoy animation, fantasy, Neil Gaiman


View all my reviews.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Little Zizou - its not about the football kids

Just watched a sweet little Indian English Movie today called "Little Zizou". The name is based on the dream of the narrator and main character, a small boy, who wants to meet his hero, Zinedine Zidane (nickname - Zizou), the best footballer in the world. He keeps on praying to his dead mother for Zizou to come to India, and though this does not happen, the movie talks about many simple truths of life in a refreshingly light and attractive way. It uses the background of the Parsi community in Mumbai, with some excellent actors like Boman Irani, Shernaz Patel and Sohrab Ardeshir (for the first time in a main role) seen from the eyes of the young protagonist (Jahan Bativala). It talks about fanaticism, censorship, freedom of the press, family feuds & secrets, and dreams and aspirations of youngsters of the Parsis and people in general. What it does differently is do this in 90 minutes, and in a very breezy way that makes you laugh often. A great Sunday watch in my opinion :-)

Official Website of Little Zizou

IMDB Little Zizou listing

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fried Green Zombies

Since I got my Ipod Touch, I have experienced a new form of entertainment, the audiobook & podcasts. Podcasting was the rage in 2006-2007, and was considered to be the next big thing. As usual I completely missed it! However now in 2009, with my ipod touch, and an FM transmitter (itrip - i have the black one :), I have an easy option to listen to audiobooks and podcasts during my travel in the car, to work and beyond. In normal city drive, concentrating on the "serious stuff" becomes a bit difficult, so I was looking for a light 'hearing book'. Browsing through the excellent site for free audiobooks called Podiobooks, I stumbled upon Fried Green Zombies.

While I do read a lot of fiction, with a large pre-ponderance of sci-fi and fantasy, I have never read anything to do with zombies, nor watched movies regarding the same. However always game for a new experience, I decided to give this a try. As of now I ma half way through and really looking forward to every episode of this fun light read about unemployed construction workers, busty burqa-clad alien called Bob, a crooked sheriff, two procrastinating bumbling aliens in a UFO, a nerd and of course LOTS and LOTS of Zombies.

I guess one of the reason why I found Zombies to be fun was that since they are already dead, and want you dead as well, violence against them seems ... well "harmless" ! And this is far better that hearing trashy repeats of new songs on the various FM channels in Chandigarh's excuse for music.

Before this I finished an excellent audiobook called Hunting Elf. While I have owned both dogs and cats, I guess I am more of a dog person. Hunting Elf is a great romp with Elf, a champion-bred Silky Terrier who lives a dog's life--when he chooses--with hapless Dan McCoy and his capable wife, June, in the leafy suburbs north of New York City. So many of his antics remind of some of the pets that we have had in our childhood days!

Till we meet again - Dasvidanya

Galcon - The MOST addictive game for Ipod touch

I spent the entire afternoon today playing GALCON, a superb, simple and very addictive real-time arcade strategy game that is best played on an Ipod touch/ Iphone. Unlike other computer games that have been ported to the ipod touch, that are not very intuitive, this games actually is played better on an ipod touch. Galcon is short for Galaxy Conquest, and is an awesome high-paced multi-player galactic arcade-strategy game. You send swarms of ships from planet to planet to take over the galaxy. It is very simple to learn with practically no learning curve, each game takes just a couple of minutes, and has so many variations that you can (& I do!) play it for hours. I have not yet tried the multi-player version, but I am sure that it would be even more fun! You can watch a you tube video for galcon here, though trust me it is one of the funnest things that you can do on your ipod touch ;-)

UPDATE: Just started on the multi-player GALCON, and it is even more addictive. Of course it is really tough as most of the other guys are better, but other than that great fun ;-)

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Animated movie Watchmen Tales of the black freighter

tales of the black freighter.jpgI like watching animated movies. In India this is considered to be a bit unusual, and very few full length animation movies are made here, and none for adults. Luckily, my wife enjoys animation movies too. However where we differ is in my interest in watching "serious" animation / adult animation. Today, I had a chance to watch the Watchmen Animated movie, Tales of the Black Freighter (not the one currently running in theatres). I had never heard of Watchmen, and I am not too much into graphic comics, though I have read a bit of Neil Gaiman (Sandman series). The animation of this movie is so beautiful, yet quite horrifying too. While seeing it in my home on a laptop is one thing, I am sure if I had to watch it in a movie hall, it would be quite satifyingly terrrifying. Strong emotions conveyed through animation can be really amazing.

Here I would also like to mention a few other strongly presented beautiful animations that I have nejoyed recently. An animated movie called Metropolis, that was a japanese sci-fi, showing a huge city run by robots, had great emotional scenes between a boy and a girl who turns out to be a robot. Final fantasy-the spirits within was another really enjoyable 3-D animation sci-fi flick. I really enjoyed Persepolis, an Iranian B & W animation about the life of a women before, during and after the revolution. There are certain things that animation can convey so beautifully, probably more vividly, than even real life movies. This was something that I was not aware of.

I look forward to watching the Watchmen on big screen if and when it comes to Chandigarh.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A simple case of misdiagnosis .....

Being a doctor I always feel that there would be less chances of misdiagnosis in my case. I know the doctors, their reputation, and many are friends too. So this weekend when I developed pus in my tonsils, I first took a course of "mild" antibiotic Azithromycin. Since that did not work, I talked to an ENT specialist friend, and he recommended a course of Clindamycin, after having a look and saying that I had a lot of pus in both the tonsils. For those of you who have taken this medicine, you know the gastritis, loose motions etc. that are a part and parcel of taking it. However, I did take this as directed. However after 3 days of continuously missing my clinic practice due to fever, body aches and general malaise, I got a second opinion from another ENT specialist today. He had a look, and immediately exclaimed that this is a VIRAL tonsillopharyngitis, and it would recover faster with just a short course of oral steroids. No need for any antibiotics! This was amazing, and I am starting to feel better already :-)

I asked him and searched online for tips regarding how to differentiate the two conditions, since we do get a lot of purulent tonsillitis in my pediatric practice too.

While of course there are no hard and fast rules, generally viral tonsillitis would have small ulcers else where too, other than the tonsils, and the tonsils would not be angry red or enlarged. There would be more pain during speaking, and lots of malaise, but not very high fever nor toxic look in cases of children with viral tonsillitis. Small ulcerations on the other areas of the throat would be pathognomonic for viral tonsillitis, though in cases of doubt, a simple blood count would help differentiate the two conditions. Scratchy feeling in the throat, and other symptoms like cold, cough etc. are likely to occur. Generally the neck lymphnodes are not significantly enlarged nor painful in viral pharyngitis. Viral purulent tonsillitis is less common in children, and starts appearing in teenagers and older adults.

Strep tonsillitis is the most important differential between commonly occurring between 3-15 years age. Bacterial pharyngitis generally has higher fever, no flu like symptoms, and painful enlarged lymphnodes. There may be a petechial rash over the palate / uvula. Strep throat swabs are not easily available / routinely used in India at present, though this is likely to change, so immediate diagnosis is not possible, and antibiotics are generally given to everyone with purulent tonsillitis.

Well a lesson learnt about viral / bacterial tonsillopharyngitis, and that even simple conditions can be misdiagnosed leading to unnecessary suffering and missed work. While we do read about this, it really hits home when it happens to you I guess!

The other thing that I realized was that even for a "trivial" illness like tonsillitis, finding a better doctor can make such a difference, imagine how much difference it would make for serious and life threatening diseases?!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My search for desktop blogging software

I have been unhappy with the speed of google apps, both blogger and gmail have been extremely slow in the past few weeks. Hence I have shifted to thunderbird as my email client.
This is the reason I decided that I should have a standalone software for writing my blog entries. While I do have the scribefire extension for firefox, I am not very comfortable using, probably because I have to open a browser window and be online while trying to use it, and I do not comment on specific websites in my blog.
Hence I am going to try a different desktop software. As usual I have begin with a google search and here are a few good articles that I have found....
and another one
and what claims to be the ultimate list of desktop blogging applications
I am thinking about Bleezer or Qumana
I generally like single author software for their lack of bloatware, however Bleezer has not been updated in a long time (since 2007). Qumana is in version 3 and looks like a good software. Let me see, I will keep you updated on whatever choice I make,
UPDATE: I have started with RAVEN by Zoundry due to the excellent reviews given at the ultimate list comments section.