Monday 28 November 2011

Medical & Healthy and Fitness: Star Anise As A Cure For Flu

Star Anise
Image from Wikipedia

In fact, I have completed this research long time ago, but there are so many interesting topics that I just have to give them the priority and have to put this one till now.

Recently, I attended student Suki's wedding banquet (Congratulations to Suki and Chiu by the way!) and somehow I must have caught a cold then. When I got home, I started sneezing and blowing my nose non-stop, at one point I couldn't even find time to take my breath. Because of this, I went into the kitchen, got 5 pieces of this miraculous seeds, crushed them, poured half a cup of boiling water into a flask with the seeds, soaked them for 5 minutes or so and drank all the water. I added another half of cup of hot water just in case. In 10 minutes' time, all my symptoms were gone, then after I woke up from sleep that night, I was back to 100%.
Star Anise tea with Cinnemon, lemon and honey
Image from colourbox

Why would I choose this seed? Because it contains Shikimic acid which is a primary ingredient in the anti-influenza medicine Tamiflu, the heroic drug that was used to combat Swine Flu in 2009.

Chinese Five Spice Powder
Image from tumblr

Star Anise, literally "eight-corners" or "eight horns" in Chinese, (Illicium verum, commonly called Star anise, star aniseed, or Chinese star anise) is a spice that has been widely used in many regions of South-East Asia, a key ingredient of the traditional Chinese Five Spice Powder, and is commonly used in Chinese cooking to make the sauce known as "Lou" in "Lou Mei", literally means "marinated dishes".

Lou Mei
Image from

According to Wikipedia's reliable sources,

Image from

"Star anise has been used in a tea as a remedy for rheumatism, and the seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion. As a warm and moving herb, star anise is used to assist in relieving cold-stagnation in the middle jiao, according to Traditional Chinese medicine.

Modern pharmacology studies demonstrated that its crude extracts and active compounds possess wide pharmacological actions, especially in antimicrobial,antibacterial, [1] antioxidant, insecticidal, analgesic, sedative and convulsive activities."

So if you think you are coming down with a cold or a flu, do give this Star Anise water a try! Add some honey to balance the sour taste is a big tip from me! Adding cinnamon will increase the flavour!

rheumatism -- (n) [U] a medical condition that causes stiffness and pain in the joints (= places where two bones are connected) or muscles of the body
stagnation -- (n)[U] staying the same and not grow or develop
antimicrobial -- (adj) kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms[1] such as bacteriafungi, or protozoans.
antibacterial -- (adj) intended to kill or reduce the harmful effects of bacteria especially when used on the skin
antioxidant -- (n) [C] a substance which slows down the rate at which something decays because of oxidization (= combining with oxygen)
insecticidal -- (adj) of a chemical substance made and used for killing insects, especially those which eat plants
analgesic -- (n)[C] (adj) a type of drug which stops you from feeling pain
sedative -- (n)[C] a drug used to calm a person or animal or to make them sleep
convulsive -- (adj) describes sudden uncontrollable movements of the muscles in your body
come down with sth -- (phrasal verb) to start to suffer from an illness, especially one that is not serious

Anise Star @ Wikipedia

Shikimic Acid @ Wikipedia

Tamiflu  @ Wikipedia

Swine Flu @ Wikipedia

Lo Mei @ Wikipedia

Thursday 24 November 2011

Technology & Video: My Samsung Galaxy SII ad (Updated 2011-11-25)

Replaced the 1 minute version to this 1 min 25 sec version. Enjoy!

"I can never get a Samsung, I'm creative!"
"Dude, you are a barista!"

Why Wait? The Next Big Thing Is Already Here @ YouTube

Samsung Galaxy S II ad mocks iPhone line-waiters @ Apple Insider

News & Opinion: Mini-News Digest (24th Nov)

Sorry guys, still quite busy these days and I really can't cope with regular updates. Hope that as my own assignments' deadlines push closer I will be able to write more and regularly soon after that. Mini-News Digest today brings you a number of short news. The first one is from The Standard.

Bloody good fun in the Faroes, a mean clutch of 18 islands between Scotland and Iceland, as pilot whales are herded into a bay and slaughtered. The killers say they have a right to behave like this once a year as their Viking forefathers were doing it more 1,000 years ago. So this is a cultural event. Anyway, they add, the meat is not sold but divided among those of the Danish-flagged islands' 50,000 people who like the flavor. New Zealanders lately trying to save stranded pilot whales will surely understand.


Still remember the last news digest about the stranded whales in Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand? Those whales' death might have been unfortunately but this slaughter in Scotland and Iceland, is definitely intentional. When rituals come into play, outsiders have little say, all we can wish for is that rituals do not involve death, because a ritual involving killing and deaths, simply can't be a good ritual in today's world.

The second one is on stocks from the Global Post.

Image from Global Post
It's budgets, budgets and budgets. As US Congress failed to agree on the budget cut, world's stock markets continues to plummet. Changing focus back to Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index (HSI) has been dropping for almost the entire month in November. Will it once again test the support 16,170.35 on 4th October?

Image from AAStocks
Lastly, more trouble surrounding Apple's iOS 5.0.1, as I have already shared with you before, if you haven't upgraded to it, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT DOING IT!!! Unfortunately, my own sister hasn't read my blog entry and did the upgrade herself and my suggestion for her was to stay positive and always bring her charger with her. Not upgrading from iOS 5 doesn't seem to guarantee trouble-free.

Image from Product Reviews
Despite an increasing number of battery drains complaints about the iOS 5.0.1, three more troubles pop out from the iOS 5. First being the absence of sounds from the ear piece and, in some, loudspeaker, then came the 404 of the WiFi signals which even the iOS 5.0.1 couldn't solve, and last by also the most notorious one, an Invalid SIM failure error which disallow you to make any calls. So much for the diehard Apple fans!

Could all these have happened if Steve Jobs were still around?

God knows.

But these tips might help you to save some battery juice. If you still think you have learnt something new, then you need to catch up with the technology news.

I'm not so sure about the point when the guy mentioned that you should fully drain your battery to zero once a month, because if you have read my previous entry titled Living & Technology: Lithium Battery Care, Your Phones and Cameras and the extra references I have put up, you'll know that the recharging of the lithium battery is a chemical process. Having used up all the battery and recharging it to the maximum to me sounds more like a chemically damaging process than a beneficial process. So, other than his advice on what to switch off, you shouldn't trust him too much on the chemistry he didn't explain.

clutch -- (n) [C + singular or plural verb] a small group of people or things
herd -- (vb) [I or T + adverb or preposition] to make animals move together as a group
slaughter -- (vb) [T] to kill an animal for meat
forefathers -- (n) plural noun literary someone's relations who lived a long time ago
stranded -- (adj) unable to leave somewhere because of a problem such as not having any transport or money
plummet -- (vb) [I] to fall very quickly and suddenly
404 -- slang, meaning "Not found" in computer terms.
diehard -- (n) [C] disapproving someone who is unwilling to change or give up their ideas or ways of behaving, even when there are good reasons to do so

Potshot @ The Standard

News & Opinions: New Digest (16th,17th & 18th Nov) @ Locky's English Playground

Stocks plummet as Congress debt talks fall apart @ Global Post

Tech Tuesday - Improving Battery Life - CBS 5 Morning News (KPHO) @ YouTube

Living & Technology: Lithium Battery Care, Your Phones and Cameras @ Locky's English Playground

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Technology: iPhone 4S vs Galaxy SII vs Galaxy Nexus

All right! Another entry on the videos I have watched today, now that iPhone 4S has been selling for a week in Hong Kong, it is time to convince my friends again that Galaxy SII should no longer be comparing with iPhone 4 but with the iPhone 4S because Galaxy SII is 1 year old younger than iPhone 4 and it isn't fair to beat up some older guy.

But how about comparing with the new boy iPhone 4S while Galaxy is now 6 months old? Last time round, we already know that the Galaxy SII beats iPhone 4S badly in the drop test, what about comparing the other aspects?

Check the video out below! (The first part is a lot of specification reading.)

If you have not got bored with the facts reading by the guy and have watched the entire video, then you know that the iPhone 4S browsing is very tricky as it actually has't finished loading but it will tell you loading has been completed. Once again, Galaxy SII still beats the new iPhone boy in terms of many aspects, including speed!

Now, iPhone fans don't beat me up, here's another video but the author actually chose iPhone 4S in the end. 

Last but not least, how about the NEW NEW NEW Galaxy Nexus on Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) when compared to iPhone 4S?

Well, as you can see, the Nexus obviously has an advantage over the 4S in terms of speed, but not that much faster. So overall, the Galaxy SII is still the fastest phone when running and there is no cheat during the loading. To find out if your Android phone will be getting the new Ice Cream Sandwich, here is a website that lists out all.

Hope you get enough listening practice this time round!

News & Opinions: iPhone 4 Steve? Siri-ously? What about iPhone 5teve? @ Locky's English Playground

iPhone 4S vs. Samsung Galaxy S 2 @ YouTube

Apple iPhone 4s VS Samsung Galaxy S2 Showdown @ YouTube

iPhone 4S vs Galaxy Nexus: Speed Test @ YouTube

Ice Cream Sandwich: When is it coming to my Android phone and Android tablet? @ Recombu

Wednesday 16 November 2011

News & Opinions: New Digest (16th,17th & 18th Nov)

Drinking McDonald's original coffee after finishing a Big Mac meal, extremely unhealthy and I find no explanation to my action, except that I feel like one, the Big Mac was all right, but the coffee, yucks!!! I'm going back to Starbucks next time even though it asks for triple the price.

Two-days' news digest.
Image from
Twenty-odd whales were stranded on the beach of Macquarie Harbour, near Strahan, Tasmania. From 12 rescuers increased to 30, a rescue crew made up of marine biologists, Parks and Wildlife Service staff and professional fishermen managed to refloat 4 whales and two of them have returned to open waters while the other 24 sperm whales and 2 minke whales have died, adding to the 65 pilot whales deaths (91 in total) in a week in Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania.

Some Whale Types
Image from
In order to understand why whales often beach in groups, we have to read an extract of the news article by NPR,

Paradoxically, mass-strandings in most cases appear to be triggered by the survival strategy of a single whale, said Anton van Helden, a marine mammal expert at New Zealand's Te Papa museum. When a whale is sick or injured, it will often seek shallower water to recover, he said, so it doesn't have to swim so far to reach the surface and breathe.
Unfortunately, he said, a sick whale will often become beached as it tries to recover. It will then send a distress signal to other whales in its pod and they will join it as part of the group's strong social cohesion.
"The key thing about life in the ocean is that whales are highly dependent on one another to deal with any ailment," van Helden said.
He said Farewell Spit provides a "classic whale trap" because it has long, shallow beaches that can confuse whales into thinking they are in open ocean, as well as large tidal variations which can strand whales. The peak time for strandings in the South Pacific is between October and February, van Helden said, as conditions change and whales move closer inshore.
He said that one of the worst mass-strandings in New Zealand occurred in 1918 when about 1,000 pilot whales were beached on the Chatham Islands.
In general, worldwide whale populations have been slowly recovering since major nations agreed to a ban on commercial whaling in 1986. However, some species of whale remain endangered and Japan's practice of hunting whales for what it says are scientific purposes continues to cause controversy.

It turns out that what kills them is the basic instinct that is trying to protect them. All my life, I have loved sharks, dolphins and whales, and having heard this, there is a rush of blood to my chest that I wanted to go and save some whales right now! One day, I will definitely go and save some whales and communicate with them up close, for now, I still need to work hard to earn a living first, and so here is a nice blog by Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDSC) with lots of beautiful pictures of whales in the wild.

And there is more you can do to care for other animals really. 

See Mario like never before?
Image from
The new Nintendo Super Mario 3D Land is making many animal lovers, in particular PETA, unhappy as it once again, designed Mario wearing the skin of a Tanooki Dog. As we all know, in reality, the skin of Tanooki Dogs are used as fur in coat and PETA says the new Mario game is trying to promote fur coat, thus the killing of Tanooki Dogs. As many of you should know, the slaying of Tanooki Dogs is extremely inhumane as the dogs are often beaten and skinned alive while the animal is still conscious, leaving the dogs to die in great pain. So, in order to promote FUR-FREE, stop wearing anything that has the fur or leather of an animal, will you?
Image from

If you want to play the anti-Tanooki Dogs killing game, you can go to this PETA website.

Moving onto business news, in these very choppy years, especially in recent months, investors are manipulated badly by the swings of the markets. Finding a good investment is really hard, could gold be the solution? Many authors try to support their arguments and data, which is logical, how else can one make a point? But how many reasons are true? Only the performance is true and author Steve Schaefer has it in this article. Read it if you are interested. 

Image from
Still on business news, title "Temasek Said to Buy China Construction Bank Shares From BofA" of the next news article speaks for itself as Temasek bought 1/3 of the shares from Bank of America Corp. at HK$4.93. The stock reacted positively on the same day as the news was released with the share closing even higher. Today's market price at 12:51pm is HK$5.41. Good choice made by Temasek? Sure! Because they are earning now, good choice for you to buy in now? Unsure.

Image from
Moving onto my recent favourite topic, even though that iPhone 4S is truly disappointing for most non-Apple fan but iPhone 5 "anticipators",  the speculators are still taking big bites out of Apple's (logo?) latest phone. Then on the other hand, statistics are statistics,  Apple's "sales of smartphones decreased to a 7 percent growth rate between Q2 and Q3 of 2011, while still growing 42 percent from the previous year." Don't tell me that there is nothing to do with the disappointment!

Although the article said, "While Samsung became the world’s leading smartphone manufacturer during this time period, shipping 24 million units to Apple’s 17, its sales were down 3 million from the previous quarter,"
let's not forget that the Samsung Galaxy SII was only available in the big market of North America on the 12th October, so there is still a lot of time to show it's power! And FYI, "Samsung overtook Apple in smartphone sales during Q3 2011, with a total market share of 23.8%, compared to Apple's 14.6%."

Way to go, Galaxy SII!!!
Image from
Next, news from heaven, after defeating Adobe in the war of Flash versus HTML 5, Steve Jobs wanted more! He wanted to have his very own network and need not rely on AT&T's network. Will this become true one day? Maybe, since Apple has so much cash on hand. How long will that take? Years maybe, if Steve Jobs were here, things will be done much faster. Now, it is a lot of waiting and waiting...
Image from
Waiting for what? Waiting for iOS 5.0.2. Why? Because iOS 5 drains the battery so much and iOS 5.0.1 which was meant to fix this problem DOESN'T fix it!! Some upgraders even reported that the battery drain problem has got "significantly worst" and author Adrian Kingsley-Hugh of ZDNet argues that iOS 5.0.1 is in fact THE problem! Now that is disappointing! If you haven't upgraded to iOS 5.0.1, here's my advise:


Image from

-odd -- (suffix) informal used after a number, especially a number that can be divided by ten, to show that the exact number is not known
stranded -- (adj) unable to leave somewhere because of a problem such as not having any transport or money
paradoxically -- (adv) paradox (n) [C or Ua situation or statement which seems impossible or is difficult to understand because it contains two opposite facts or characteristics
trigger -- (vb) [T] to cause something bad to start
distress -- (n)[U] when you are suffering or are in great danger and therefore in urgent need of help
tidal -- (adj) relating to the tide (water waves)
variation -- (n) [C or U] a change in amount or level
controversy -- (n) [C or U] a lot of disagreement or argument about something, usually because it affects or is important to many people
inhumane -- (adj) cruel and not finding the suffering of people or animals important
choppy -- (adj) (of sea, lakes or rivers) with a lot of small, rough waves caused by the wind
manipulate -- (vb) [T] mainly disapproving to control something or someone to your advantage, often unfairly or dishonestly
swing -- (n) [C] a change
"anticipator" -- (n) [C] Locky's created word, people who antipcate
significantly -- (adv) in a way that is easy to see or by a large amount


Joy as rescuers free stranded whales in Tasmania @

Stranded whale succumbs @ The Sydney Morning Herald

Rescue continues in Tasmania whale tragedy @ YouTube

Final stranded whale dies in Tasmania @ The Age

Last Of 91 Whales Stranded In Australia, NZ Dies @ NPR

WDCS Fieldwork Blog

PETA continues web campaign with Super Mario send-up @ Times Live

Mario Kills Tanooki @

The Gold Debate: Miners Vs. Metal @ Forbes

Temasek Said to Buy China Construction Bank Shares From BofA @ Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Say What? iPhone 4S anticipation slowed global smartphone growth in Q3 @ VentureBeat

Samsung Galaxy SII @ Wikipedia

News & Opinions: News Digest (10th & 11th Nov) @ Locky's English Playground

Steve Jobs Wanted iPhone on Its Own Network, Carrier-Free @  Wired

News & Technology: iPhone 4S Battery Problem? @ Locky's English Playground

Apple's iOS5.0.1 Does *Not* Fix Battery Problems @ Forbes

Another iOS 5 update to address battery issues?

Test suggests iPhone battery issue not a hardware problem @ ZDNet

Song: Colours -- Amos Lee

Image from Wikipedia

Haven't recommended songs for awhile, so it is time for one.
Interesting to know that English speakers have Chinese names? Actually, "Lee" is not a rare surname in English, and "Lee" is not his real surname anyway [1].

Anyway, another nice song I heard from House M.D. Season 2 Episode 7 Hunting, quite a nice little downtempo song, relatively sad, talks about the missing feeling after the girl is gone. The exact case has not been thoroughly described, and the song is a little too short to add more details, but there are a few words to pick up from the song, and the most important of all? It is a song with romantic guitar as melody with some pump-and-release vocal near the end of the song, quite soothing, like the high-key falsetto by Amos, then the second version also features Norah Jones, should be quite some jazz?

Norah Jones
Image from
A special note: Norah Jones is half American and half Indian [2].


Yesterday I got lost in the circus,
feeling like such a mess.
And now I'm down,
I'm just hanging on the corner.
I can't help but reminisce.

Cuz when you're gone,
all the colours fade.
When you're gone,
no New Years day parade.
You're gone,
colours seem to fade.

Your mama called, she said,
that you're downstairs crying.
Feeling like such a mess.
Ya, I hear ya,
in the background bawling.
What happened to your sweet summertime dress.

I know we all,
we all got our faults.
We get locked in our vaults,
and we stay..

When you're gone,
all the colours fade.
When you're gone,
no New Years day parade.
You're gone,
colours seem to fade,
colours seem to fade.

falsetto -- (n)  [C] (plural falsettosa form of singing or speaking by men using an extremely high voice
reminisce -- [I] formal to talk or write about past experiences which you remember with pleasure
parade -- (n)[C] a large number of people walking or in vehicles, all going in the same direction, usually as part of a public celebration of something
bawling -- (vb) [I or T] to shout in a very loud voice
fault -- (n) [U] a mistake, especially something for which you are to blame
vault -- (n)[C] (UK also vaultsa room, especially in a bank, with thick walls and a strong door, which is used to store money or valuable things in safe conditions


Colours - Amos Lee @ YouTube

Amos Lee - Colors (feat. Norah Jones) @ YouTube

AMOS LEE LYRICS @ azlyrics

[1] Amos Lee @ Wikipedia

[2] Norah Jones @ Wikipedia