Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ryan's off to Round Island


Originally uploaded by lekowala.

A farewell dinner for Ryan Ramjan at Zam Zam followed by tea at some Turkish cafe. He's taken to drinking pondan tea (floral type without milk...unheard of!) Ah well, people mellow... ha ha

Well Ryan isn't mellow. He is fiery, all heart and passionate about snake research, loves kids and volunteers for social work. Last year he took up social work and went around HDB estates to get youth who were loitering around to engage in meaninnful activities.

He got a job as a warden at Round Island, near his home.
All the best Ryan. It was a great dinner and also most of us spoke about our time at the labs in NUS and spoke also of the future. It seemed like there was a nice closure to that period of our lives. Most of us had more or less gone on our own paths and it seemed like a good time to regroup. It was nice to share and it became apparent that in many ways, we had depended on each other for support and meaning during our research years. Its surprising the effect you have on someone else. COSY, HL and FY (former hons students) were there too cos we sort of went through that period of our lives together. HL and FY were really great students to have and when I got them as students, I thought they were special and true enuff the journey with them was probably at the most interesting/trying in my life.  They made me also realise what my real interests were.   COSY as usual was her happy self and is looking at a very interesting job that really suits her very well. I am still convinced its a camping man or some mountain climbing person you'll meet.

Its been a great blessing knowing you guys.  All the best in this next leg.

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Scented walk in the forest


Originally uploaded by lekowala.

This morning's walk with Ladybug and Otterman from Macritchie to Bukit Timah summit was really very pleasant. The air was cool from last night's rain and this flowers were in bloom and released a jasmine-like fragrance. I remarked about the nice scent permeating the forest at Sime Road but alas to the zoologist like Otterman, he commented that it was like Macaque urine. It belongs to a vine and was flowering in synchrony along the forest patches we walked through. Figs and the Bat lily seem to be flowering as well. Another masting event, albeit a low-key one?

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matt's stuck

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bat lily in flower

Quite a few of these individuals (Tacca integrifolia) were in in flower a couple of days ago at BTNR.


Barbecued Brinjal


A camp out just by the sea at East Coast. A barbecue is one of the most fun things to do. You are just in the flow and turning the food over and over, placing it on the plate and then eating it. A must have on the grill is of course a large eggplant/ aubergine/ brinjal (Solanum melongena)After it is nicely cooked over the charcoal, the tasty berry takes on the smoke of the charcoal and really is in a class of its own in terms of taste. Number 2 on the list would be sotong (can wikipedia "sotong"),   seasoned with just about any spice you can find and wrapped in tinfoil with a bunch of herbs... yummilicious.

This is then followed by setting up the tent, mats and a few candles lit on the sand and a kooning session under a Rhu tree, Casuarina equisetifolia, and the gentle sounds of the waves crashing nearby, staring into space, counting the stars, recounting them just to make sure the numbers are correct.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beautiful Music

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Whilst we worry about mundane things...

"One woman told how her son was beheaded. Another described how her husband was tortured, tied to a tree, his eyes gouged out and then drowned. A third recalled how her husband was killed – his eyes torn out, his ears and lips cut off."  Read more here...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fishing at Chickenless Pulau Ubin


Originally uploaded by lekowala.

Josh and Matt have never seen a live chicken running around in a kampong. Matt has been reminding us and so that was part of our doomed mission on Pulau Ubin ( I was hoping that there were one or 2 around). But of course Pulau Ubin is chickenless... I did ask the friendly people there and they laughed at me... zhen4 fu3 na2 jou3 le4 (han yu pinyin for "Gahmen took away" - bird flu lah) . I would really hate to have to bring them to the zoo or seng choon farm to see a chicken. But still we got to fish and caught a nice spotted sand whiting which Grandma cooked later at night and Matt and Josh got to eat it (I stressed upon them the need to eat your catch to honour the fish's life, if not then set the fish free). Actually we also caught a Therapon jarbua but let it go cause it was small and looked like it would grow to put up a better fight another day.

Luckily there was that wild boar in the pen of the drinks seller. At least that wild element of being on the island was suitably impressed upon the kids.

Anyway, it was nice to have the kiddies see how people lived in the past, and enjoy the rustic charm of Pulau Ubin.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Here's one cool lady

"Letters from Burma" is nice to read.  I recommend it to students doing their GP.  Its better than reading dry essays from "model essays" as there are nuggets of information about politics and history all interwoven into the everyday life of the people.   It exudes such an aura of buddhist calm that I was reminded of my readings in Mindfulness and the Eightfold  Noble Path.  She drew inspiration from the Mahatma hence her non-violent (ahimsa) approach.

Smells of lemon grass

This was a nice book to read.  Everytime I read the lines, smells of lemon grass wafted about.  Its about poor farmers in 1970s Thailand that had to pay landlords 2/3 of their harvest as rent and student activists who tried to fight for  the farmers' rights.  These students were usually from the city who knew nothing about rural life but still driven by keen social awareness to rouse the farmers into some proactivty.

Still the parts about the villagers struggling through poor harvests are heartwrenching but interesting to read.

There was a part where the daughter of the village head was cooking breakfast and all she could cook was rice gruel in water with lemon grass.  Well that sort of scene really gets stuck in one's head.  There was one where her sister was trying to feed the baby but was producing no milk so couldn't nurse the baby....  Lots of those in this book.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

proteins and an antibody

proteins and an antibody

Originally uploaded by lekowala.

I was numbering my proteins in this cartoon for the next set of lectures when the I felt the tremors today... except that I thought my colleague in the next cube was shaking my chair. I turned round and saw him quite far away. He didn't feel the tremor nor did our friend who was talking to him. I guess numbering the proteins helped me detect the movement. I thought "that's it, I've been staring at the screen too long and need to take a break"

Poor Indonesians, its just one thing after the other.

I just happened to be reading A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson a few days ago and reached the part about earthquakes. The Richter Scale was actually called the Magnitude scale by the people who invented it (Richter and Gutenberg) and the scale is logarithmic which means each increase of 1 in the scale represent a 10-fold increase in energy.