December 31, 2002

jun - dec 2002

[210602] These pictures were taken almost exactly a year ago during my attachment to PL lab in IMCB under their Summer Research Programme.

early morning in lab:

four Moorhuhn2 addicts - this is where I picked up e game:

[160702] went to Tokyo & Nikko National Park right after my honours exams in May 2002. stuff about e trip's [to be done].

[311002] what I made for my sis for her 22nd bday on Tue 22nd Oct 2002: she cut e birthday cake at 22:22:22pm =) made it in school & carried it over to Arts fac in a big fat black garbage bag that attracted plenty of stares from people on e internal shuttle bus!!

[201102] W.H.Y. crabs/prawns/lobsters turn red when cooked: their shells contain two pigments, blue (crustacyanin) & yellow, which together give e shell a greenish color. both pigments are proteins with e same carotenoid prosthetic group, astaxanthin. interaction of e crustacyanin protein with e red carotenoid causes it to appear blue due to some chemistry that I don't understand =) cooking e crab/prawn/lobster denatures e protein, releasing e red astaxanthin....only if some similar 'indicator' could be incorporated into all sorts of food to make it easier to determine if e food has been thoroughly cooked, much like e way we use pH indicator dyes & autoclave tape in labs?

- inspiration from reading Ann Rev Biochem 1997 vol 67:1-18 just before lunch

[311202] e URA Parks & Waterbodies & Rustic Coasts Plan subject group - experiment with S'pore civil society. picture taken at House No. 1, Tanjong Chek Jawa during our field visit to Changi Village, Pulau Ubin, Coney Island & Punggol:

[311202] after clearing up most of e evidence of our secret Christmas party (boss was overseas) *grin*

[ filed under: 9_lives_2002 + labrat + nature1 + thewonderingstraycat ]

November 14, 2002

high on science

....creativity in science, as in the arts, cannot be organised. It arises spontaeneously from individual talent. Well-run laboratories can foster it, but hierarchical organisation, infelxible, bureaucratic rules, and mountains of futile paperwork can kill it. Discoveries cannot be planned; they pop up, like Puck, in unexpected corners.

....scientists are always wrong, yet they always go on. What makes them continue? Often it is addiction to puzzle-solving and ambition to be recognised by their peers.

....the technology needed to fill the mind with untruth, with a resistance to new learning and to anything that might conduce to improvement has been known for 5000 years or more and is known as "education."

- from 'High On Science', in I Wish I'd Made You Angry Earlier: Essays on Science, Scientists, and Humanity by Max F. Perutz

[ filed under: labrat + thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2002 ]

October 07, 2002


[071002] been having extremely weird dreams. last night I dreamt of thousands & thousands of big fat penguins coming ashore at East Coast Park & charging inland along a canal running next to Siglap Link near Laguna Park & building nests along Marine Parade Rd. My family & I were standing at e Bedok South Ave 1 entrance to Bayshore Park, & my sis & I crossed e road to get to e penguin nests. e first nest we reached was on e grass verge by e pavement opposite Lagoon View, & apart from brown mottled eggs that were cracked & a few small skeletons, there was what looked to me like a yellow adult-sized human brain with blue veins. there was a RMBR (Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research) guy in a blue T-shirt & jeans explaining something about that nest to another guy....

am not sure if this is e cumulative effect of: (1) reading about e WWII Normandy beach landings in one of e recent issues of National Geographic magazine, (2) seeing e big fat (almost a metre tall) stuffed toy penguin that Darwin brought to e SPS room, (3) reading about dissecting mice to obtain their brains for making primary cultures of hippocampal & cerebellar neurons, (4) celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival at Bedok Jetty along East Coast Park with my family - when we looked across e ECP highway to our old homes in Lagoon View & Bayshore Park, & (5) a recent bus ride that took me along Marine Parade Road & Bedok South Ave 1 - when I noticed e drastic changes along Siglap Link due to e new Victoria School campus construction site....

other weird dreams I had many years ago:
....of eating a single neverending strand of yellow noodle (e type used for fried Hokkien mee & prawn noodles) which flavour changed every 1 metre....flavours included chocolate, strawberry & vanilla....
....of coming across Cadbury chocolate for sale at $1.00 per 1 kilogram bar in a New Zealand Countdown supermarket, only to discover that all bars had expired some 17 years ago....

[ filed under: 9_lives_2002 + thewonderingstraycat ]

July 23, 2002


[230702] "It was the poet Basho who wrote:

Listen! a frog
Jumping into the silence
Of an ancient pond

- Basho

Yet the phenomenon of a frog jumping into a pond must have been seen by many others. Down through the ages & in the whole world, Watt & Newton cannot have been the only ones to notice the steam from a boiling kettle or observe an apple fall. Having eyes, but not seeing beauty; having ears, but not hearing music; having minds, but not perceiving truth; having hearts that are never moved & therefore never set on fire. These are the things to fear...."

- excerpt from Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi

[160703 update] till this day, Totto-chan still brings tears to e eyes each time it is read. hard to explain, but such is e frustration that remains this fresh - 12 years after leaving primary school, 8 years after leaving secondary school, & 6 years after escaping from JC. perhaps it is a curse to be in possession of a sentient mind, when trapped in such a damning environment. is it any wonder that my favourite periods in e timetable throughout those 12 years were PE & recess?

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2002 + art1 + japanese1 ]

July 14, 2002


[140702] earlier part of this page disappeared in a disastrous editing error back around 2000. by some miracle, managed to salvage the [211198] entry, but a good part remains lost on holiday to never-never-land. 'recreated' part of an earlier entry in an email to a friend, abridged version here:

DEATH. more than 4 letters, why is it such a dirty word? spent a great deal of time thinking about death when I was a kid, much to e consternation of certain primary school teachers who marked down my compositions where characters just had to die in e endings. I didn't & still don't believe that all car accidents that occur in primary school essays should have zero fatalities, nor that all murder attempts in that context should be unsuccessful.

death fascinated me as a kid, after seeing relatives & friends die, cos it's one of e few things in which all men seem truly equal. maybe grown-ups simply have a problem confronting & accepting reality. maybe because they are e ones who are closer to having to confront & accept (whether willingly or unwillingly) their own 'realities'? in a secondary school essay I once remarked that family photo albums aren't a true reflection of life - they depict only the happy moments like birthdays & weddings. why e self-imposed 'censorship'? glad that my mum doesn't have such hang-ups. she never hid me from relatives' funerals, & I remember her taking photos at a cousin's funeral.

don't see death as anything bad, but an integral part of life. stories have endings, pets die, snails get crushed underfoot on pavements, speeding cars kiss stray cats e wrong way, leaves fall. life is transient, people come, people go, like actors entering & exiting life's stage.

April - June 2001: with each trip to e NUH RTC, new faces appear, wondering how long or short ahead e road is for them. & at e same time old faces disappear - some faces, having completed their course of treatment, will reappear with gifts to thank e staff & fellow patients & their relatives for e emotional support over e months, & continue on e road ahead of them. others faces, having reached e end of e road, will & can never appear again.

many seem scared of death, be it their own or other people's. is it because we humans are such control freaks (our craze with technology, conquering nature etc), smthg in which we seem to have no control over (eg. death) freaks us out? or because humans are greedy, with our insatiable want for more of everything, be it $$$ or life, & are unhappy when we can't get e limitless amount we wish so hard for? maybe that explains why so many cultures have legends with e recurring theme of e quest for immortality. people always ask for answers, but I wonder, why must there always be an answer?

have you tried to make e most of your life? living without regrets, not waiting till tomorrow to try smthg new tt you have e chance to try today, not passing up chances to 'make memories' cos that's what lasts long after e people are gone, & be happy despite living in a world where there's always unhappiness around us? or have you been so caught up with life you've forgetten how to really live? will you realise this only when it's gonna end?

"Belief in our mortality, the sense that we are eventually going to crack up & be extinguished like the flame of a candle, I say, is a gloriously fine thing. It makes us sober; it makes us a little sad; & many of us it makes poetic. But above all, it makes it possible for us to make up our mind & arrange to live sensibly, truthfully & always with a sense of our own limitations. It gives peace also, because true peace of mind comes from accepting the worst."- Lin Yutang, The Importance Of Living

first read this passage in Reader's Digest in 1991, when it was still relatively affordable to read. & it has stuck with me ever since. anyway I think it's good to think about death, too many ppl sweep it under e carpet, & conveniently forget about what I think is an important part of their life. when time's up, I want to die happily =)

[151203 update] In this lifetime, we die only once, so do it well - Phra Paisal Visalo

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2002 + art1 ]