Crazy Hazy Days

The days of haze are upon us. Which means that according to a certain pathetic minister from the big brother country of this part of the planet, we should stop behaving like children.

This Hobbit agrees completely. As responsible adults, we should do the following:

a)   Thank Indonesia for sending us the haze in 2013 along with their marines that bombed MacDonald House on Orchard Road in 1965

b)  Tell Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool to cancel their trips to Jakarta in July 2013 because you never know if the haze will suddenly appear there then.

c)   Hope General Zod looks for Superman in Bali

d)  Stop all our dirty old men from spending all their CPF money in Batam on you-know-what.

e)   Tell Indonesia we are a resilient nation and we will survive this. You know Singaporeans are really tough when our Hello Kitty toy queues are longer than our N95 queues.

But seriously, judging from the number of adults queuing up for Hello Kitty toys, one can safely conclude that there are a considerable number of Singaporeans who indeed behave like children. And actually, those that queue up for these toys in the middle of a haze are actually dumber than most children. Most children are smarter. These are idiots. Idiots are by definition adults who have mental age of a three-year-old or with an IQ of less than 25. And the folks who contributed to the situation whereby the police had to be called in probably have an IQ of a mudskipper. Just think of it: don’t the police have lots of better things to do than manage an argument resulting from a queue for Hello Kitty? These folks should be banished together with the aforesaid minister who said we were behaving like children to the Phantom Zone of Riau.

Now, a word about these “haze clinics” which the young, the old and the poor can go to for treatment for haze related problems and pay only ten bucks. This Hobbit thinks it’s a great idea. But we should recognize that these patients often require rather expensive medication like inhalers and nasal sprays.  i.e. the true costs of treating these patients would probably exceed $40.

I think GPs that participate in haze clinics should really be recognized as doing valuable national service. It’s a national crisis and there is nothing wrong with asking GPs to do so for a short time for these haze-afflicted patients, but the authorities should at least recognize the GP’s contribution in all this. You do the math yourselves – one nasal spray plus one eye drop and some simple oral medications would cost $20 to $25. Rental, utilities and clinic assistants’ pay would cost another $15 per consultation easily.  In other words, the doctor is working for free seeing these patients. The bottom line is: $40 is not a good deal at all.  So let’s give credit to these GPs for accepting a short-term bad deal in the interests of the public and the country. If MOH can’t do something concrete like waive my clinic-license fees this round, at least maybe send me a “Thank You” card when all this is over?

When the haze first started, there was really weird advice coming from supposedly very reliable sources. These jaw-dropping advice include:

·     “The N95 mask is necessary for individuals susceptible to the impact of haze, including persons who have chronic medical conditions, especially lung or heart disease, elderly and pregnant women. These individuals should wear N95 masks if they plan to undertake prolonged outdoor activity when the air quality is poor”.

·     “For those that are healthy and would just like to wear a surgical mask, they can do so, but if you are pregnant, a child, an elderly, or have respiratory conditions, please use a N95 mask instead”.

No, I am not making this up. Obviously, terms like de-compensation, cardiac failure, oxygen de-saturation, increased dead space and breathing against resistance didn’t quite come into the picture when such advice was dished out. Common sense has since prevailed and the earlier advice has been thankfully heavily modulated and amended. The N95 can be a dangerous piece of equipment and the public needs to be reminded of this during this haze. In the meantime, please feel free to reduce your dislocated temporal-mandibular joints.

Now, some real and practical advice on living through thishaze:

·     Try not to go to Lorong Chuan anytime soon. It’s “chuan” enough already.

·     Do not give a N95 mask to your 85 year-old mother when she goes outdoors. Give it to your mother-in-law instead.

·     Keep yourself occupied amid all this gloom: Dig your nose frequently. You can go from OM to TDS easily if you are not wearing a N95 mask all the time. (Yes, another very negative side effect of wearing N95 is that it retards the formation of snot drastically)

·     Buy Toto based on the last two digits of the PSI readings at 4 hourly intervals

·     Fart quietly at will outdoors in this foul-smelling haze. No one will know.

While we are still on the subject of N95 mask, it is the subject of some of the most inspiring/moronic scenes (depending how you look atit) I have seen. These include

·     A worker wearing his N95 on his forehead

·     One guy wearing his N95 upside-down

·     People wearing N95 while driving in their air-conditioned cars (rather common)

·     A guy holding a N95 to his mouth and nose with his hand intermittently; the rubber straps on this N95 mask have been removed

·     Some dumb jock wearing his N95 mask and jogging.

·     One genius taking off his N95 to smoke his cigarette outdoors heroically when the PSI was 400. You cannot fault his dedication to his smoking habit.

Amid all this haze, it is heartening to see MOH giving out mobile aircon sets to the nursing homes and the un-air-conditioned wards in general hospitals. But we all know that the real solution is to air-condition permanently all these places in the first place. We have always taken pride in saying that while creature comforts may vary between different classes of wards, the safety/quality is the same. I.e. the chances for morbidity and mortality for a particular person with a particular condition is the same, regardless of the ward class he is staying in. This is no longer true with the haze (or even with SARS for that matter, because your chance of contracting SARS in a single-room is probably lower than if you had stayed in a B2 and C class ward). If we really mean what we say about safety and quality, then all wards should be air-conditioned. The cost increase is probably not that great and with means-testing, the abuse of subsidies is already largely minimized. If the Ministry of Social and Family Development can give subsidies to childcare centres and kindergartens for air-conditioning, surely we can do something permanent for the old and poor in our subsidized wards?

And just when you thought it was safe to go outdoors when the haze situation improved, we were struck by a hailstorm. Raining hail is the meteorological version of shitting bricks. This also takes the concept of Newater to a completely new level.  I have just dug up my old SAF helmet in preparation for the next hailstorm. For those of you who have not been issued a helmet, just use the jockey cap. Singaporeans are not known to be a hardheaded people for nothing. And for those guys waiting out there for your Hello Kitty toys in this haze and hail, you don’t even need to wear a jockey cap. There is probably nothing to protect there anyway.

Have to run. It’s time for a happy meal…..

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