Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stargazer

Saw this guy on the sand. This fish looks alive. Its thinking about how wonderful it was swimming in the shallows just a few hours ago.

I have even composed a song about it....ha!

Fish

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Improve your vocab and feed the hungry at the same time!

Was listening to an interview on the BBC about how this guy developed this website to feed the hungry and teach his son some vocabulary. The rice goes to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). Just makes me wonder about the food we waste each day...

Here's a snapshot of the website. Click on image to go there.

freerice.com

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Monday, November 19, 2007

No where to root

Was at Changi beach a few days ago and decided to walk along the strandline, the line of sea debris, usually made of anything washed up the shore. Usually, this means dried fruits, rubbish, straw etc etc. Not surprisingly, I came across Cynometra ramiflora legumes again. This time there were four of them. I was thinking, great, they are pretty common, but where are they gonna take root? Very few back mangroves around now.

Also picked up other interesting stuff like the sea urchin, the fruit of a species of plant (Finlaysonis obovata) from the family Asclepiadaceae.

fruits of the sea

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

A scent-laden mindfulness walk

Its been 6 months since Jen and I took our long walks in the forest. This I call my mindfulness walks and she calls it trail walking.

It was 5.15 pm when we set off from the start of the trail and by 7 pm it got a bit dark. As we were walking along the boardwalk I began to smell the scents of the forest. I remember reading that moth-pollinated flowers tended to maximise their output of floral scents in the evening. Read more about floral scents here at the full content paper in the journal Plant Physiology


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By this time of the walk we were into the 8th kilometre of the walk and so endorphins were kicking in and no doubt we were feeling good. The nice scenery helped


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Here's the lake of reflection. If you read The Monk who sold his Ferrari, there would be mention of a lake where the monks spent the first part of their day, which is early in the morning meditating infront of a still and reflective lake, visualising their goals.

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A Bill Bryson Book - The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Okay, Bill Bryson is officially one of my favourite authors. I am only halfway through "A Short History of Nearly Everything" I think I am only at the part where he was talking about Protists. But that book's great. Bill has a way of presenting facts in a most interesting way. He makes it so easy and interesting to digest scientific facts - like how Isaac Newton used a knitting needle to feel around his eye socket just out of curiosity... this I always tell my friends who do Physics. Anyway, that super informative book's real thick so its used for on the bus reading, plus, its easy to pick up again cos its almost like a reference book.

Anyway, besides reading randomly some serious books i bought in June, I haven't really gotten down to seriously reading, you know, like getting totally immersed into the pages of a book. So I needed something light to get me on a role. My goal is 20 books by the end of the year - so far 2 in the bag. The Buddhist monks believe in reading as a form of lifelong learning. Also this was recommended by Robin Sharma. So at Popular bookshop a few weeks ago, by happenstance, I met "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid"

Abit americanish but still that doesn't take away from the essence of of the book which is basically a humourous reminiscence of his childhood. He's managed to poke fun at his own pubescent years in a really funny way and at the same time provide some nuggets of American history (again in his own interesting style). Every page and then, there are those laugh-out-loud moments and seriously tears down the cheek kind of laughter.

Books read (starting Nov 2007)
1. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - Bill Bryson
2. The Monk who sold his Ferrari - Robin Sharma

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The Monk who sold his Ferrari, Nathaniel's Nutmeg, Pope's bio

I was hoping for a good book recently and when the book fair at the expo came along I bought 3. I finished the Monk who sold his Ferrari in about 3 days cos it was really easy to read and very interesting, just like the title itself.

What I really like about this book is the emphasis on what really matters in life, e.g., family, relationships with others, what you wish to really do in life. Its got also prudent strategies on how to gain self-mastery like, self-reflection, mindfulness. But what really strikes me was how the Sages of Sivana (hill monks in the book) practiced how to banish negative thoughts from their mind so that they could focus.

It was captivating for the 1st half of the book and then it became too familiar for me. But I guess it still is useful as a meaningful guide to try to better oneself.  Read more about the author and his company here --> www.robinsharma.com 

I hope Nathaniel's Nutmeg and the Pope's bio will read even better, especially the latter.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

A rare nut

So, the other day we were at the East Coast Park beach playing with the sand when Josh picks up a "brain", well a hard fruit the size of a lime that looks much like a brain. It took me a while before I did a double take and realised, my goodness, he had picked up a rare legume... the fruit of a member of the bean family.. That family of plants basically contains the peanut, soya beans, rain trees, in essence anything that has a pod, to be more accurate, a legume. the legume is a fruit that has 2 valves that will split along a line and reveal beans, which essentially are seeds. A pod is more layman and can be applied loosely to other fruits.

Anyway, what Josh had picked up was a rare native of Singapore called Cynometra ramiflora L. var. ramiflora, its an inhabitant of back mangroves, which basically means, somewhere behind the mangroves where the ground isn't so muddy anymore and resembles more a a forest.

Why rare? When I revised the group for the Flora of Singapore, I listed it as "probably extinct", following a previous status accorded to it by other botanists. After a few years, someone else spotted it along one of the offshore islands. So it was really great that Josh simply picked up the legume from the strand line along the east coast park beach.

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Here's Josh presenting the rare legume. He had inadvertently picked it up and brought it to the at first unappreciative local authority on the Caesalpinioid legumes of Singapore.

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This is Matt contemplating the size of the fruit. Its hard and corky so definitely buoyant. I am not sure where it came from though but at least it is here.

I looked around the strand line for more of the fruit and found another. How serendipitous.

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Here's my botanical illustration of the species.

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