This week’s curiosity box has

1 – When is a Mr more respectable than a Dr?

2 – What is Kafkaesque?

3 – Should I be concerned about my pH levels?


1 – When is a Mr more respectable than a Dr?

After studying engineering and business, I got an opportunity to attend an exam for surgeons. Before you question it further, I was not taking the exam because I was one of the many case studies that 40 aspiring surgeons had to crack.

As I sat down at the exam centre, I noticed that there was Mr rather than Dr in every doctor’s name tag. The answer I got when I questioned it shocked me. In the world of surgeons, a Mr in front of your name is a mark of achievement.

Why? – The answer lies in history. 

In 1540 the UK Government recognised barbers and surgeons as a collective trade guild called the Company of Barber-Surgeons. These professionals were addressed as surgeon-barbers, and they were skilled at both amputating limbs and giving a decent haircut. Within this group, even butchers were brought in to support because they were adept and skilled at chopping and opening up body parts. 

Yes, physicians cured the sick, but they deemed themselves worthy only for the upper class. So the bulk of the society had to turn to the barber-surgeons for help. The treatment methods were crude and gore, and this naturally did not result in a high success rate. Out of genuine care to provide better treatment, one group within the guild went out of the way to learn more on how to cure the sick. This group eventually split to form a separate group, and that was the start to the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS). 

As the founding members of the RCS were from the trade guild, they were still addressed as Mr. As years passed by, RCS became more important within the field of medicine. New members who wished to join had to undergo rigorous medical training and qualifications.

Like every other group, a budding surgeon can climb to the top with hard work and successes. And the top surgeons in the RCS are considered to be like the original founding members. Therefore their titles change from Dr to Mr as that is a mark of achievement. No wonder they say that old habits die hard.


2. What is Kafkaesque?

Have you ever come across words that perfectly describe a complicated feeling? For example, you would have come across moments in life when you question why you need to follow so many steps for a meaningless task. And the worst case is when you hear people justifying the use of pointless paperwork. 

The one word to describe it is Kafkaesque. 

I discovered this word from Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. The protagonist of the story is a fan of the famous author Franz Kafka. Franz’ stories portray characters who convince themselves with endless reasoning and justifications for pointless bureaucratic processes. His style soon caught on and became a thing because people thought that it was a true reflection of a lot of real-world scenarios.

Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore is on my to-read list because I will be discussing the book with my friends. So for the last two weeks, I invested a lot of time to prepare and to finish reading this book. Some chapters in the book made me cringe, and the experience was uncomfortable. I even began questioning Murakami’s fundamental human nature. Nevertheless, I am powering through to the next chapter so that I can complete the book for the discussion.

And if you realise, my reasoning above as a Kafkaesque nature on its own.


3. Should I be concerned about my pH levels?

For the last two weeks, I got into this habit of having a glass of lemon with warm water first thing in the morning. Although the practice is widely recommended by many from the world of food science, the exact justification is unclear.

My sojourn to find the answer took me to the topic of pH balance in the body. I found myself revisiting steps on how to calculate molar concentration of Hydrogen ions (a Deja vu of my biology and chemistry class).

Except for unique medical conditions, our bodies are naturally adept at balancing pH levels as long as we have a healthy diet. The overall pH level is 7.4, which means our body is slightly basic. 

However, our stomach and skin (including the scalp) need to be slightly acidic for our body to function well. The importance of having a balanced pH is well appreciated in the medical field. So perhaps I guess it was natural for humans to proactively find ways to maintain this pH level.

Unfortunately, the literature for the positive benefits of hot lemon water does not exist. That is why you can find a lot of blogs that give quick and easy tricks to alkalize your body.

Although my rationale did not align to alkalize my body, the practice of having lemon in hot water every morning had one unintended consequence. I have found it easier to reduce the number of coffees I have in a day, which was something I have been trying to do for a long time. I have no clue if my pH is balanced, but I do know that I get through the day with just one cup of coffee


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