December 31, 2003

dec 2003

[021203] from some forum: 'women are nothing but trouble, men are nothing but trouble seekers' - wah can laugh until cry *grin*

[061203] laptop computers: another nice & warm place to snooze apart from e bonnets of parked cars....shut eye after shut down =)


To Treasure Everything (in this moment) as All is Transient;
To be Unattached to Everything (in this moment) as All is Transient

- from Be A Lamp Upon Yourself eliminating e wrong conception[sic] of permanance & e afflictive emotions which arise depending on it....mind becomes clearer & more capable of enjoying things for what they more in e present, appreciating things as they are now, without fantasies about what they are or will be....worry less about small matters....become less ego-sensitive to every action other people do in relation to us

- from I Wonder Why by Thubten Chodron

[101203] something from e California trip - click on e images.

(below left) in e courtyard - Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University; (below right) in guess where? - Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University:


(above left) banana peel sculpture made to look like a dancer dancing across e courtyard; (above right) at e washbasin in e loo

(below left) sis + cat - Exploratorium, San Francisco; (below right) Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco:

(above left) glass panel doors of e Exploratorium entrance; (above right) if you can't find me here, I'm in e middle of e top row of glass panels - attracted a LOT of stares while shooting this pic *grin*

inspiration for these pics: an accidental self-portrait (below) taken back in May 2002 while fixing my camera in a ladies powder room in e National Museum for Emerging Science & Innovation, Tokyo =D

anyway so many many people have hit upon this idea before:

corgito ergo sum - I think, therefore I am....

....NOT one of those dodos behind e culling of stray cats, e EZ-link system, e NUS admin, e chopping down of e Changi tree, e withdrawal of bus services running parallel to e North-East Line, primary school streaming exams, e incessant ringing of handphones on buses & trains, e censorship of Royston Tan's 15, e shrinking size of HDB flats, e CPF cuts, e NUS RHAPS system for readmission into campus housing, e anti-dialect (aka. communication breakdown with grandparents) policy, e building of more golf courses in land-scarce Singapore, e x*xxxx human resource policies....

christmas wishes: [1] that e transport minister & LTA bosses be banned from owning cars, but allowed to have as many EZ-link cards as they like to get around on public transport, [2] that e kids of e education minister & MOE policymakers study only in neighbourhood schools & local universities (this could apply to e dons of local unis too!! if they think their uni is world-cRass, why do they send their kids abroad?), & [3] that e MND & HDB bosses be allowed to live only in HDB flats =P


The proud ones do not last forever, but are like the dream of a spring night. Even the mighty will perish, just like dust before the wind.

- quote from National Geographic article on samurai

[151203] like this Japanese woodblock print cos of how e waves tower above Mt Fuji, e sense of distance from e mountain & e closeness & fury of e pounding waves, & e contrast between e sheer power of e forces of nature (e waves) & puny man (e flimsy boats), who always thinks he's so great:

The Great Wave at Kanagawa (from a Series of Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji) by Katsushika Hokusai

[171203] got bored after finishing experiments for e day. damn boh liao, but here goes....

game can be found here

[301203] first few shots =)

[L] another of my papercuts; [R] mother cat + 3 kittens by a kerb @ Dover:

overnight in SPS - Huegesh, sootty, Gaurav, Boy, Kamalesh & e cat (Mahesh asleep thus not in either photo):

playing around with night scene mode while waiting for bus at Kent Ridge terminal:

[311203] found e Sony Ericsson tv advert song!! for once there's something nice & cute to watch on TV mobile - can listen to this song for hours *grin* - SonyAdvert.mp3 & Sony Advert.mpg

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 + cats1 + music1 + art1 + california_2003 ]

November 27, 2003

nov 2003

[041103] once upon a time, I envied 4th kor cos he had his own bar of soap. e rest of us in e house of 11 had to share, whereas he had e luxury of having his own bar AND his own soap dish. one day, his half-used bar of soap was fished out from e dustbin. apparently he had used it until it was reduced to e shape of a dog's bone, & then thrown it away. in no time he was dragged to e kitchen & soundly beaten up for having e nerve to waste. more than 15 years later, in this age of liquid creme soaps in dispenser bottles, nothing can beat e satisfaction of having your own bar of soap. still feel happy whenever I get to open a brand new bar when e old one has been used up. & each time I do so, I think of how eldest kor tried to mould together tiny bits of soap into larger pieces so that they could still be used, & this incident comes to mind.

[071103 update] realised that e blue plastic dustbin that starred in e above episode is still around. over e years it has moved house with us twice. it now sits in my room, still with e Michelin tyre man sticker that 4th kor pasted onto it more than 15 years ago =)

[071103] according to one of those "419 scam" e-mails spamming inboxes around e world, this is my long lost ang moh twin sister living in Nigeria:

due to e threat of impending civil war, she is seeking my help to transfer USD25 million from her account with e Central Bank of Nigeria out of e country. she has promised to split e moolah between us (55% to her, 45% to me) if I agree to help her out by sending her, within 10 working days, my contact details, bank account number, & USD150000 to cover legal expenses & other costs that may be incurred during e transfer. this is provided she does not die mysteriously in a highway accident along e Sagamu/Lagos Express Road-To-Nowhere or in a plane crash over Sierra Leone. & yup I am supposed to keep a date free to fly over to London to meet up with an intermediary who will be handling e actual transaction, keep this entire transaction confidential, & not inform any US government official.

by e way, this supposed twin of mine practises witchcraft in Lagos, e former capital of Nigeria (FYI, it has been shifted to Abuja), & her work is shown live on national TV (MediaCorp Channel 5) in Singapore every Wednesday night at 10pm (+0800 GMT) in a drama series entitled 'Charmed' *grin*

[111103] for all those who have enjoyed e view from e upper deck of e SBS 2 bus on our way to Changi Village & Ubin for Noordin camping & CJ trips.

[111103] non-MOE definition of 'mother tongue': e language that your mother scolds you in. seriously think most of my Teochew & Hokkien was learnt by listening to big fat scoldings & arguments. & think e fact that I was always yelled at in perfect grammatically-correct English heavily doused with chim words helped a lot in my learning of e else would I have learnt words like indolent, insolent, incompetent & incorrigible? maybe JC GP tutors should focus more on scolding their students - rather than tearing up their essays - in order to brush up their vocabulary & prepare them for e verbal component of e SAT I exam. & yup this is in reference to a certain video clip =P

[151103] a few of e J-dorama with great soundtracks:

Aishiteru no itte kure - e first Japanese dorama that I watched, some time around 1995-6. about a deaf-mute artist & an aspiring actress. apart from sign language, they communicated by fax - like e scene where e artist flooded her fax machine with pages & pages that she joined together with scotch tape to form a drawing of a long snake. brings to mind my big fat cute snake from IKEA =D also remember a scene filmed in a beautiful art museum that first planted e idea of going to Japan in my head. no soundtrack but sis has compilation CDs of Japanese TV serial theme songs that includes e one for this drama, by Dreams Come True

Over Time - didn't watch this, but sis did & bought e soundtrack. it's now with her in California & I miss listening to it

Long Vacation - e best one so far, wonderful & hilarious plot & great soundtrack by CAGNET. e dorama where my sis pointed out e Rainbow bridge & other landmarks in Tokyo to me & explained at length e quirks about Japanese society after her month-long stay there.

Beautiful Life - another one with a great soundtrack, with music that TCS has used for trailers for other shows. 'Night Run' (track 9) makes for damn good listening while in e lab. also have e soundtrack for Kyumei Byoto 24-ji but can't find any pic to post here

[151103] there was this scene in some American show where someone died in a hospital at night, & e camera zoomed out to show e view of e room from outside of e window, & then e building, & then an aerial view of e big fat city with its neon lights, skyscrapers & expressways. struck me how e ward was just a tiny square of light on e building's facade, & how e building was but just a little structure lost somewhere in e mammoth expanse of e city, & how e city was just one of thousands around e world. & thought of how e hundreds of people in e same building were busy doing their own thing, & how e millions of people in e same city were going about their own lives - all anonymous, oblivious & far removed from that tiny square of light that barely registers a blip on e radar screen of e big fat world. & thought of how insignificant our own troubles seem when we take a step back & look at things in a greater context. life goes on, whether you like it or not - e world will not sit down & cry with you. used to imagine how we humans are just little specks on a little planet in a little solar system in a little galaxy in a cluster of galaxies in a supercluster in a big fat universe - makes us insignificant humans seem so ridiculous for e big fat fuss we kick up over anything & everything & e wars we wage. maybe if I were an alien I'd have died from laughing at this silly human race?

[181103] couldn't be a greater contrast: me telling Dr Ge back in 1999, based on e stuff that I'd been taught in secondary school & JC, that Cell Biology was a big fat BORING *yawn* (can still recall e reaction on her face - if looks could kill I'd have lost all 9 of my lives at one shot in her office)....& me choosing to specialise in Cell Biology for honours & postgrad research, & staying awake for every lecture (so far) of e TLL Cell Biology module....

[271103] when things reach e point where they can't get any worse, they can only get better?

if a tree falls in e forest & no one hears it, does it make a sound? - esse is percipi

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 + music1 + labrat ]

November 24, 2003


MONKEY BAR DANGER WARNING - Straits Times 19 Nov 2003
More than 400 children fell from monkey bars and were taken to two hospitals with children's emergency rooms, in the 12 months ending in January this year. Of the 136 that ended up at the National University Hospital's children's emergency department, two-thirds had broken bones, and one in three had to stay in hospital. One was in intensive care. The KK Women's and Children's Hospital A&E attended to 278 children with monkey bar injuries. They made up more than a quarter of the 1,047 children treated for playground injuries. These numbers were revealed in a recent NUH study that recommended children under 10 avoid playing on monkey bars, a popular feature in many public housing estate playgrounds. One of the NUH doctors behind the study, Dr Toh Teck Hock, explained: 'Children under 10 are not so agile and usually don't know how to break a fall.'

HDB said it was looking into whether the bars should be included in future playgrounds. Playground accidents made up about 10 per cent of the 4,600 accident patients seen by NUH, said the report. But home was the biggest danger area, as that was where roughly half the child accident cases seen at NUH happened, including babies falling from sofas or beds. Of the two children who died from accidents, one was a nine-month-old boy who swallowed a screw. Dr Wong Chin Koon, who was also involved in the study, said common sense could have prevented most of the accidents. Put electrical cords out of reach behind furniture, for instance, and remove loose knobs and buttons on furniture that a child can choke on. Dr Wong added: 'You must start planning once you walk down the aisle. It will be very expensive to start child-proofing only when the baby arrives.'

should have seen e look on my mum's face when she read this article....when she finally stopped laughing, she remarked how Singaporean kids nowadays are brought up to be so hopeless & helpless, that before reaching e ripe old age of 10 years, they can sit for primary 3 streaming exams & conquer virtual worlds in computer games, & yet not be able to learn how to judge for their useless (to quote her exact words: 'lua3 boh3 yong3') selves how high they can (or cannot) climb on e monkey bars, or how far they should keep away from e trajectory of a playground swing (in some other article it was mentioned that swings were disappearing from HDB estate playgrounds cos kids were falling off or getting hit by them). & worst of all, in her opinion, these kids were unable to pick themselves up after a fall, & could only sit there & cry (her exact words again: 'zhei3 bang4 tou3 eh2 hi4 dao1 kiu1 kiu1 jiang4') for e maid. yup & she thinks that all those kids who can't learn to take care of themselves (& their parents who can't teach them or simply won't let them learn) deserve all those trips to e A&E. can just imagine how when e boys in this generation reach enlistment age, their parents will probably petition MPs to pressure SAF into doing away with monkey bars & other playground-associated structures from obstacle courses? that will be another big fat round of laughter for my mum =)

e playgrounds in my life:

  • Lagoon View: with monkey bars in e shape of an arch & painted red - my mum would lift me up to cling on for a while long before I dared to try them
  • Laguna Park: best swings with e longest chains ever, could swing till almost parallel to e ground
  • Tung Ling kindergarten: jungle gym that two boys & I would climb up to sit on top out of e teacher's reach so that we could delay going back to class
  • Siglap PCF kindergarten: had chickens & other animals kept by residents of e one-room flats in e same block, hence e stink of chicken poop
  • Changkat Changi Secondary School: obstacle course with plenty of mud. also e first school I ever went to in Singapore, even before starting nursery school or e new 'through-train' system can't match this =)
  • Siglap CC basketball court
  • Good Shepherd kindergarten: no challenge & e structures were unstable plastic rather than metal
  • Tao Nan school: obstacle course where kindergarten friends Terence, Pieter & Bianca taught me how to sit on top of chin-up bars & hang upside down from parallel bars & monkey bars
  • Pasir Ris Park: need more be said about e spider web?
  • Bayshore Park: highest-ever monkey bars =) where I learnt to climb low walls & jump from heights, & where e craze for climbing onto rooftops started (inspired e successful hunt for a way to get to e RGS rooftop)
  • Sentosa Palawan Beach: game station for one of e SPS newbie orientation camps

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 ]

November 17, 2003

yio chu kang kampung

[171103] with places disappearing & people passing away & my memory short-circuiting everyday, I wonder for how long more can I remember all here goes:

e SBS 55 route that links Marine Parade & Bishan is like a journey back in time. from e stop near my present home, it passes by, one by one, e places where my relatives were resettled in when e government took back e kampung land in e mid-'80s - paternal grandaunt's former home next to e present day Maha Bodhi primary school in Kampong Ubi, her present home across e road in Kaki Bukit where she lives with my paternal uncles, second maternal aunt's former home (Blk 101) in Hougang South, late maternal grandma's former home (Blk 232) near Kovan, e nursing home where she spent her last days, & e homes of two maternal cousins (Blk 610 & Blk-I-forgot) in Punggol South just next to e primary & secondary schools that my dad attended.

when e bus enters Hougang Ave 2 & passes by Hougang Stadium, on e left will be a turning into Florence Road. this was once a dirt track that ran through e jungle from Serangoon Road all e way to e kampung & e wooden house built by my maternal grandpa, right smack on e very site where my dad's alma mater is being rebuilt today. e dirt track & jungle have been replaced by HDB blocks 601-632 & Punggol South Park. but Yio Chu Kang primary school (where eldest aunt sold snacks for a living from a little stall under e shade of a tree atop a hill), & Woodbridge Hospital in Buangkok (where an uncle worked) still remain in roughly e same location 20 years later. just that now they are accessible by new roads & buses, instead of e 1+km trudge along dirt paths that tired this preschooler out.

e house that grandpa built was a single-storey wooden structure with an attap roof, bare concrete floors, pale chalk green pillars & walls painted white on e exterior & light blue on e interior. facing e entrance was e altar, & e living area was on e right & all e bedrooms on e left. strangely cannot remember e house having any doors at all, only sheets of cloth that covered e entrance of each bedroom. but in those days nobody in e kampung ever closed e doors of their houses anyway, even at night. dogs simply wandered in & out as they liked. there were snakes & rats around but somehow only snakes were found within e house. probably cos whatever rats that crawled in were eaten by e snakes that slithered in through e gaps in e wooden walls? outside of e main house was e space where e scooters & my eldest maternal uncle's van were parked. right across was a wooden zinc-roofed shed where cooking was done over charcoal stoves. e loo was a shack with a cesspit below a wooden platform, & remember being so scared of losing my footing & falling in. by e time I was born, e government had restricted pig-farming to certain areas to cut down on pollution, & so there were no more pigs in e kampung. but my mum used to have to chop up banana trees & use their trunks to make some kinda mush to feed e pigs before she went to school every morning.

e transition to HDB high-rise living wasn't easy for e older relatives who'd never stepped into a multi-storey anything or taken an elevator ride before. e concept of having e kitchen within e house, suspending laundry poles from outside of e window, even sliding windows, cooker hoods & dustbin chutes confounded a few of them. for many many years to come eldest aunt would persist in setting up her charcoal stove at e staircase landing outside e front door of her flat & cooking up a storm that one could smell from e carpark four stories below. & I recall seeing older folks clinging to e inner walls as they walked along corridors, refusing to go anywhere near e parapet cos of their fear of heights.

[151203 update] The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali:

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat ]

October 31, 2003

oct 2003

[071003] from some forum: I cried because I had no shoes - until I saw a man with no feet

[141003] from a conversation this morning:

I feel as if I spent my two years in JC helping e principal to achieve e school ranking she wanted for e college....two years of my life wasted, that could have been better spent elsewhere....learnt nothing, only enjoyed my ECAs

sounds so sickeningly familiar. too often people always tend to miss e wood for e trees, & students end up as mere generators of results that e school administration needs so badly to trumpet & win accolades from e 'higher ups'? some people need to be taught how to put e interests of students first. big fat *FISH* to those policymakers who keep chanting e familiar robotic 'it's for your own good' mantra....

[141003] PhD research can be so much like playing snakes & ladders....except that it feels like one BIG FAT endless ladder with overgrown snakes lurking at almost every single rung, ready to send you right back to e start. what more, these snakes aren't e kind that can be eaten =P there are days when you lose your sense of direction & have no idea if you are climbing upwards or downwards, days when a sense of 'zero displacement' hits you, & days when you wonder if you could ever fall any harder than you already have. & these are e times when you are so glad to know people who will pick you up & help *KA-BISH* a snake or two, especially when e boss seems so clueless when it comes to dealing with reptiles. so grateful to MUI - meeting up on 091003 helped sort out so much stuff cluttering my mind. too bad you have to return to Berlin yet again. & also grateful to e Swiss postdoc in my lab for being e driving force in e lab & her genuine concern for my work. e weekend of 111003 will go down in record as e time when hope was renewed, & monday 131003 shall be remembered as e time when inspiration was again found =)

[151003] found a pic of e original text after so many years:

[161003] e counter on e index page has jumped by hundreds since e guestbook was last signed on Halloween 2002....wonder who are those who have been 'clicking in & out' & yet refusing to leave any trace? some tell me that they have 'tried to help their friends' by referring them to certain quotes or passages on this particular page (thoughts.html)....well would be nice if others have found it of use to their lives?

[291003] yesterday, this engineer who came to fix e live imaging microscope system walked into e lab & asked me if I had a lighter or matches. showed him a sensor/foot pedal-operated fireboy. told him that it was e only flame source permitted in e labs by safety regulations, & that he could use it if he wanted. should have seen e look on his face when he saw e 10.9 litre BP propane-butane gas cylinder connected to e fireboy. & yup it was only then that I realised e lighter/matches had nothing to do with fixing e microscope - he just wanted to SMOKE....

[311003] redid e angelfire travels page cos I found a long-lost page on e 1999 Oz trip that was done years ago but forgotten about. last bit of e 2003 California trip photos have yet to be developed....& it's been 1.5 months since I got back!

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 + labrat + art1 ]

October 17, 2003

thai silk

[171003] have been fascinated by Thai silk since I was a little girl. e 2003 calendar at has wonderful pictures of it, especially my favourite yok cloth (pictured in April, July & December). spent my primary school holidays in Bangkok, helping out in a machine embroidery factory in Sukhumvit. it was full of migrant workers from Isaan (northeast Thailand) & e Thai-Burmese border regions, girls who seemed as young as 15 years & kept e factory running around e clock. it was housed in a few shophouses that were linked together & had wooden floors that creaked with each step. all of us lived on e second floor of e shophouses & ate, slept & lived with e constant drumming of e factory machines that made e floorboards vibrate.

also helped out in a shop along an alley in Yaowarat, Bangkok's Chinatown area, that sold machine embroidered iron-on patches produced by e factory. plus another shop near Saphaan Khwaay (Buffalo Bridge?) along Pahonyonthin Road that sold buttons, textiles, lace, wool, thread, pins, thimbles, needles & all sorts of other stuff needed by e seamstresses & tailors that came to us. they would bring along little square pieces of cloth samples & standing on e bales of cloth, we would search for a colour & texture that matched & cut out e desired length. this was where I learnt how to cut & tear cloth, sort buttons into bags of 144 plus 2 extra (to ensure that you never undercut your customers), custom-make cloth buttons & belt buckles, speak rudimentary Bangkok Thai to customers, & count & handle more money than I ever had seen in my life. was about 6+ years old when I first started helping out, & still remember e time when Jiim's mother held up a 1000 baht note & asked me if I'd ever seen a piece of paper worth that much before. at today's rates it is worth around SGD44, but to a 6-year-old, 4 digits was like e biggest number ever =)

[301003 update] another thing I loved as a kid (& still do):

phuang malai are garlands of fresh jasmine flower buds & roses, chrysanthemums & other flowers painstakingly threaded together & used as offerings in temples & spirit houses everywhere in Thailand.

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 + art1 + thai1 ]

October 15, 2003

cat friends

[081003] two damn attitude cats on St John's Island:


The greatness of a nation and its moral progress
can be judged by the way its animals are treated

~ Mahatma Gandhi

e cats that had names:
  • Tommy was Andrea's good-natured & fat ginger & white tom cat that ate chocolate & lazed around e letterboxes of Aquamarine Tower in Bayshore Park before he passed away.
  • Kopi-o, Milk Tea & San1 He2 Yi1 are e black, ginger & tricolour black+brown+white kittens that were born in e garden, named by my sis, but have since disappeared.
  • Bumpy was e grey & white KE7 tabby cat that hung around B & C blocks of East Wing, came into my room at night & walked all over my notes on my desk, & was fed by Chiew Boon next door.
  • Meow meow is e affectionate white tabby cat with a few black & brown patches & blue eyes that was named by my mum & sis, used to sleep on e rug outside e front door, & was adopted & taken away by Jasmine when she moved out of e neighbourhood.
e cats that had no names:
  • e fragile ci2 dun4 ginger kitten that was born in e garden, appeared to be deaf & dumb & oblivious to e roar of car engines, runt of e litter that had to be fed milk, that died before dawn & had its tiny stiff body placed (before we rushed off for school) in a Teva shoebox for burial, but was thrown away by e time we got home from school.
  • e black & white cat along Telok Kurau Road that followed my sis so closely after she patted it that she freaked out & I had to carry it away.
  • e black & white cat along e alley linking Martia Road & Jalan Tamban, that freaked my sis out in e exact same way.
  • e black kitten with yellow eyes that hid from e rain by sleeping under my dad's car or on e towel outside e front door.
  • e too-cute-for-its-own-good white kitten with sapphire blue eyes that was born in e garden, attracted so much attention from everyone who walked past e house - was kidnapped & never seen again when a car suddenly stopped by e gate & a pair of hands reached out to pick it up before zooming off.
  • e friendly brownish-grey mother cat that led me to her 4 kittens in e longkang along Martia Road.
  • e grey & white 'bus stop' cat that always crossed East Coast Road using e overhead bridge.
  • e grey & white kitten that followed my sis & I home on our way back from e Shell petrol station.
  • e quiet Russian Blue cat with yellow eyes that invited herself into e Bayshore house one night as we were preparing dinner & toured e rooms & stopped to admire herself in e mirror.
  • e friendly brown & white, black & white, tricolour black+brown+white & ginger kittens that lived along e alley linking Martia Road & Jalan Tamban & in e garden of e corner house & drank Cream of Campbell's oxtail soup.
  • e kittens that used to play in e old tables of NUS Science canteen.
    countless other cats & kittens that have come up to me or were spotted from e bus on long bus journeys.
[ filed under: cats1 + thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 ]

September 19, 2003

aug - sep 2003

[010803] was reading a Nature article about a protein named Elmo, & started thinking of Sesame Street, Jim Henson's muppets, & my favourite TV show that I watched as a kid, Fraggle Rock. somehow most people seem to remember Sesame Street but not Fraggle Rock - click on e image below to learn more:

[180803] 'I remember everyone who leaves.' - Lilo in Lilo & Stitch

I like airports. departure halls. arrival halls. viewing galleries. transit lounges. glass panels through which people wave to someone as (s)he walks away, until they are left waving to their own reflections. giant overhead boards that display arrival & departure schedules that are constantly updated ever so frequently, banishing away all traces of previous arrivals & departures. baggage claim belts that trundle on endlessly long after the last bag has been picked up. a blurring of time zones, the imperceptible merging of night into day & back into night again. a sense of timelessness, seamlessness. arrivals & departures. comings & goings. meetings & partings. beginnings & endings. somehow airports are like a microcosm of life?

[300803] I lost this sad. & I didn't get a chance to take a photo of it before it was gone. wonder if people fear loss cos they fear that memory will fade with time, & that they will forget how something looked/felt/smelt/sounded like?

once upon a time I had no clue that this unidentifiable species had a name, or that it was Korean, or that it loves food & lives in a refrigerator munching on watermelon slices, doughnuts & other stuff. just knew that its eyes were e perfect reflection of how I appear during lectures. had a little stuffed toy version of this guy (hugging a pink & white bolster, hence e name 'sleepyhead')....until it disappeared on 270803. resulted in a trip to Heeren to search for a replacement, & that's how I came to discover so much more about it - only after I lost it. ironic. by e way this guy's called Foody.

[081003] discovered that sleepyhead aka. Foody had modeled in two photos of Guanghao's birthday gift - sitting on e tail of a model F-16 fighter jet - & here are e edited pics =)

[180903] for Rhan, laoda, css, LKY, Ling, mr doraemon, liangyeo, limkokfa, Samuel, littlesunshine, Indonesian penguin, lauweeli, kuan, limgekho, 'uh-oh!', Kelken, sootty, Huegesh, Gaurav, Hoi Nam & all other SPSians who have helped me (& many others) in one way or another with comp stuff:

[190903] my black friend used to weigh more than 10 times my weight & tower above me when we first got to know each other. almost 20 years later, this friend now weighs roughly four times my weight & I've finally emerged as e taller-but-still-not-so-tall one. we've grown up together & over e years, its teeth have yellowed & voice has changed. if this friend of mine sounds like a victim of some long-term weight loss program gone wrong, well its a Yamaha upright piano. till this day I still cannot make sense of dried tadpoles stranded across swimming pools lane markers (i.e. read music scores), but this has never stopped my friend & I from spending endless hours together lost in our own world. have spent bits of time with my friend's counterparts in e RGS school hall, VJC LT4 & backstage of e KE7 comm hall, but none of them can share e happy memories of e times when my feet could finally reach e pedals or fingers could stretch an octave or I could finally see my own reflection above e open keyboard lid =)

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 + music1 ]

August 11, 2003

education + commencement

[160603] why is so much of e education here focused on learning about stuff that already exists, rather than learning how to learn about stuff that may come to exist only tomorrow? it was with an overwhelming sense of relief that I entered university back in July 1998, more than glad to be finally free from e education system. or so I thought. this mindset of learning for e sake of learning seems so deeply ingrained in just about everywhere I look in this graduate mass-production line, & beyond. glad that have ended up as a manufacturing defect, due to:

1. e idea of learning how to learn, planted in my head back in secondary school,
2. e absolute frustration with e system reaching a 12-year peak in JC,
3. e idea of knowing how to access information being far more important than knowing e information itself, pointed out to me by my JC librarian,
4. e (lack of) quality of teaching in most of my undergrad modules, which left independent learning as e most (& only) viable option, &
5. SPS, which provided e environment needed for #3, as well as e idea of taking charge of one's own education, instead of letting others ruin it for you.

perhaps #6 would be e 12 years of e education system itself, for it was that which provided e opportunities to learn several times over how to fail.

It has been said that the primary function of schools is to impart enough facts to make children stop asking questions. Some, with whom the schools do not succeed, become scientists.
- Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, The Camel's Nose: Memoirs of a curious scientist

[280603] do you have a dream? do you even dream? do you even dare dream in e first place? last September, was looking at e snaking queue of graduands in gowns & mortarboards lining up for e commencement ceremony, & wondered how many among them were actively chasing their own dreams, & how many were just going through e paces & acting out e standard script written jointly by our society & e guys to whom we pay our taxes. no, I did not mention e word 'government', did I? *wink*

[020703] was directed to e NUS Commencement 2002 website where e video of e live webcast interviews inflicted on us has been made available for download. remember e interviewers & cameramen closing in on e front of e queue on e 2nd level of e UCC to pick out victims based on e academic honours they'd won. since when did students matter so much to NUS? now understand what my mum & sis were talking about when they said they rolled with laughter in e UCC hall on watching a larger-than-life Chin Ann ('chim-ing' out his interviewer by talking about his Maths thesis) & me (showing a truly SBS or 'si beh sian' face) on e giant video screen during our interviews =P

[250703] approx 7.5 years since e 3 of us graduated together from secondary school....& e 2 who sat together in class & slept through 2 years worth of O level Bio lessons (& concussed through another 2 years of A level Bio lectures) are now a doctor & a biologist, while e one who conscientiously kept awake is now an electrical engineer =D

[110803] SPS @ Science Honours commencement 230703:

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + labrat + 9_lives_2003 ]

July 23, 2003

jul 2003

[080703] finally found this poem that I read some more than 12 years ago, which captures so well e transience of all things good & beautiful in life:

It is not growing like a tree
In bulk doth make men better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night;
It was the plant and flower of light.
In small proportions we just beauty see;
And in short measure life may perfect be.

- Ben Johnson

[081203 update] Lokuttaradhamma (insights into the transcendental nature of all worldly phenomena) is wealth attainable by everyone - Lord Buddha

[140703] The Buddha said, 'Man must be strong enough to know when he is weak, brave enough to encounter fear, dignified and having moral courage in honest defeat, humble and gentle in victory.'

[230703] going through e worst & living to tell e tale, hitting rock bottom & climbing out of e abyss to see light again, having been right to e edge & this strange immunity against fear. cos u can seek comfort in e fact that u have faced up to e worst that there can be, made your peace, & lived on. like what they say, what cannot kill you can only make you stronger?

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + art1 + 9_lives_2003 ]

June 03, 2003


one can be only as happy as one allows oneself to be. as a kid, always wondered why humans seemed so unhappy. does e true source of unhappiness come from within? e inability to look beyond oneself & one's own problems? a distortion of perception whereby one wallows in self-pity & magnifies one's own problems beyond proportion? how far can you see? how far does your 'worldview' (to borrow a Physics term for lack of a better word) extend? no further than your own nose, or far enough to provide a balanced perspective of things? to give yourself a chance at thinking rationally? life can be like shit. but at least like all organic matter, shit decomposes =P

[140703 update]

The Buddha said, 'No enemy can harm one as much as one's own thoughts of craving, thoughts of hate, thoughts of jealousy and so on.'
- from 'How To Overcome Your Difficulties' by Ven Dr K. Sri Dhammananda

freely distributed by Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery. other meaningful reading material can be downloaded in PDF format at their website.

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 + art1 ]


[030603] money is a fickle companion, but it stays longest by e side of those who truly understand & respect its value.

[140703 update]

Some people have the blessings of sudden wealth through chance or inheritance, but not many are endowed with the wisdom to protect it, conserve it or put it to good use. Anything that is not earned through the sweat of hard work tends to be squandered through abuse.
- Ven Dr K. Sri. Dhammananda

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 ]

May 13, 2003

apr - may 2003

[050403] Found out at Action City (e Heeren Annex shop selling anime stuffed toys & figurines) that I share e same birthday as e Japanese cartoon character Astro Boy =)

Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find you cannot eat money

- Cree prophecy

[230403] have you heard e footsteps (hindpaw-steps?) of a cat? its one thing that never fails to amaze they can come & go like your shadow

[240403] latest 'craze' after my fascination with koi nobori - e little ornaments sewn from kimono cloth that people in Inatori, Japan hang during hina no tsurushi kazari matsuri, their version of the Doll's Festival

[130503 update] 'kimono cloth' drawstring flower sewn for Mothers' Day: closed configuration (left) & open configuration (right). couldn't find kimono cloth in Singapore, so settled for half-priced cloth remnants from Orchard Point Spotlight. no point buying metres of cloth at full-price unless I intend to sew a giant Rafflesia flower =P flower design pattern is from a Japanese book on traditional kimono cloth handicrafts from Ngee Ann City Kinokuniya. (thanks to man-maid for his digital camera)

[290403] impermanence, a concept that never fails to fascinate me:

Bare feet tickled by the powdery sand
Pressing footprints along the shore
A vain attempt to leave a testament
That I walked this path before
Will you remember
Will you remember me
My face on the water
Wrinkles with the tide
And vanishes from the ocean's silver screen
Like stars sprinkled in the sky
Forgotten when the sun appears
Will you remember
Will you remember

- excerpt from Will You Remember Me by Corrinne Foo

[040503] another nohohon, but not a cat:

nohohon-zoku - this little solar-powered guy sits there holding a fishing rod, nodding away ever so peacefully

[130503] for those who talk to me over ICQ/MSN, these 2 guys are who you've actually been chatting with, especially when I'm away getting a drink or doing something else:

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 + cats1 + art1 ]

May 08, 2003


[080503] while waiting for e bus home at Kent Ridge terminal yesterday, saw a pigeon sleeping in, of all places, e middle of e bus bay. a bus came along & hit e startled bird, but though injured, it managed to flap away to a bush by a fence behind e bus shelter. out of nowhere a ginger cat appeared from behind Eusoff Hall, shot through a hole in e fence & got e pigeon by e neck.

e pigeon had to sleep at that time of e day. it had to sleep in e middle of e road. it had to be deaf to e roar of e bus engine & screams from 2 girls waiting at e terminal. it had to fly into that bush. e hole in e fence had to be right next to where e bush was. it had to be big enough for e cat. e cat had to be lying there in wait. just wasn't e bird's day, but definitely e cat's.

[200503 update] found a tiny green praying mantis (yellow & red eyes, a damaged wing & missing one hindleg) in SPS. on my way to release it at the plants around MD4 (fewer birds there to munch on it), saw a Calotes lizard on a hibiscus branch....with a much smaller lizard between its jaws.

[210703 update] last Saturday afternoon while waiting for the bus at Dover, watched a Calotes lizard run down from a tree to nab & wolf down a small cockroach. was a bit of a struggle for e lizard cos e roach was kinda big & struggling - by e time my bus came it was still in e middle of e pavement trying to get e roach down its throat.

[091003 update] on Tuesday evening, came across two mynahs sharing a black & white butterfly for dinner. first time seeing something black & white eating something black & white....zebras don't eat oreo cookies do they? =P

[010304 update] last Friday night after training, saw a lizard with a wriggling squirming struggling slug-like worm between its jaws trying to drag it up one of e pillars of e internal shuttle bus stop outside e former Kent Ridge Hall. e worm was at least twice e size of e lizard's head....can't imagine trying to drag something twice e size of my own head using just my teeth while climbing up a pillar, much less finish it in a single meal =P

[ filed under: nature1 + thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 + 9_lives_2004 ]

March 30, 2003

jan - mar 2003

[080103] The scientific explanation of one of Nature’s wonderful phenomena has never left it standing like an unmasked sorcerer who has lost his reputation for magic. The real causes are always grander, more awe-inspiring even than the most beautiful myths.

- Konrad Lorenz

[100103] my current research is on axon guidance, e process by which nerve cells grow in e correct direction to connect e right places: [1] what are e signals that tell e nerve cells to grow, stop, or change direction? & [2] how do e nerve cells receive & interpret these signals?

African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) embryo, viewed under 40X magnification:

actual size is less than 2mm in length, & I have to isolate spinal nerve cells from it.

[050203] yesterday was e fourth day of e first lunar month, year of e water goat. I left IMCB at 8pm after reading 15 journal papers on Xenopus & zebrafish early embryogenesis & gastrulation - when I looked up to e sky & saw e crescent moon, e first thing that came to mind was a zebrafish embryo at e end of gastrulation....

[250303] e latest cat I've 'adopted' - Shima, a stuffed toy cat from e nohohon ('without a care') character series. according to e nohohon website: 'Shima ia a liberal, optimistic cat that expresses her emotion honestly. She is always positive and constructive.'

[300303] happy things:

one day Pig-pig & I walked into a giftshop at Centrepoint & got addicted to e scent in e air....walked around hunting for e source until we found a big fat scented candle burning near e cashier's till....

thanks to Kayla for introducing me to 'mochi ice cream' at China Square Central Sushi Tei *grin*

[270403 update] even better: yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit that looks like small yellow mandarin oranges) ice cream, also from Sushi Tei =) extremely satisfied cat!!

[ filed under: labrat + thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 + cats1 + catfood ]

March 11, 2003

if we hold on together

[110303] something meaningful that e whole school was made to sing together back in RGS. think this song is from e movie 'The Land Before Time':

Don't lose your way with each passing day
You've come so far don't throw it away
Live believing dreams are for weaving
Wonders are waiting to start
Live your story, faith, hope & glory
Hold to the truth in your heart
If we hold on together
I know our dreams will never die
Dreams see us through to forever
Where clouds roll by
For you and I

Souls in the wind must learn how to bend
Seek out a star hold on to the end
Valley, mountain, there is a fountain
Washes our tears all away
Words are swaying, someone is praying
Please let us come home to stay

If we hold on together
I know our dreams will never die
Dreams see us through to forever
Where clouds roll by
For you and I

When we are out there in the dark
We'll dream about the sun
In the dark we'll feel the light
Warm our hearts, everyone

If we hold on together
I know our dreams will never die
Dreams see us through to forever
As high as souls can fly
The clouds roll by
For you and I

- Diana Ross

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 ]