April 30, 2006

京都 2005 - 36 Kyoto - KIX - KUL - SIN

[271105] standing on platform 6 of Kyoto-eki, facing 原広司 Hara Hiroshi's Kyoto station building:

PB271312 PB271313

Hara Hiroshi is also e architect behind Umeda Sky Building, a place e cat intends to explore when it visits Osaka in e future. read about e construction of e building's sky garden.

waiting for e 新快速 shin kaisoku service bound for 網干 Aboshi in 姫路 Himeji:


hopefully e cat is waiting for e right train at e right place. or it will be a long long way full of wrong trains & wrong connections & missed flights back to Singapore....*touch wood*

where to stand? after two whole weeks e cat finally realises what this bunch of signs hanging at regular intervals along e entire platform mean:


they indicate where to stand in order to board e correct train car - so that you won't end up waiting at e position for carriage #12 for a train that is only 9 carriages long....or settle into a comfy seat in carriage #7, when e train will be 'split' at some other station into carriages #1-6 heading towards your destination without you, & #7-12 heading somewhere else far far away with you on board....e latter almost happened to e Nikko-bound cat in 2002 ;) & if you think this is complex, apparently some services are even more complicated e.g. split into #1-4 headed for A & #5-12 headed for B on weekdays, & #1-7 headed for A & #8-12 headed for B on weekends & public holidays....!

cat barang:


backpack + shoulder sling bag (one of e most practical & heavily utilised birthday gifts ever, from SPS friends *grin*) + 2 carrier bags full of edibles & inedibles (contents revealed further below) for family, friends & colleagues. on hindsight e cat should have bought a lot more matcha & kurogoma edibles & konbini junkfood for itself to lessen e effects of konbini-withdrawal syndrome. especially when it had slightly over SGD200 left from its budget for this trip. & especially when e cat's mum finished off e entire box of kurogoma 八ツ橋 yatsuhashi in e couple of hours after e cat touched down at Changi. when it woke up e next morning only e beautiful box was left *weep*

Kansai International Airport on e artificial island:


here e cat caught e last day of e WW2 60th anniversary exhibition on 'Japan in e Eyes of Americans', a collection of colour photos of postwar Japan taken mostly by US occupation forces between 1945-1951. there photos of scenes like an oxcart along a street in Tokyo's Akihabara, new houses rising from amid burnt rubble, Tokyo's Marunouchi district without any skyscrapers, wreckage of a kamikaze plane, etc.


over (geologic?) time, all of these will sink underwater to become Japan's version of Atlantis? (but Japan already has Yonaguni)

ended up in a bulkhead window seat next to an exit....plenty of legroom for e tall German guy that e cat had to sit next to all e way back to Changi, useless legroom for e katek cat, room in front of us for passengers to queue for e loo, & room for an elderly Japanese oka-san to collapse on top of it when she passed out suddenly (standing up too fast after venous pooling --> syncope?), stunning everyone. e German glanced over & wondered where e cat had gone (UNDERNEATH LAH!!).

e cat had to 'hug' her up into its seat & she recovered after a matter of minutes. damn lucky no DVT, that she was small & light (if not she had better crash onto e German instead =P), & that it wasn't mealtime, or it would have been a waste of good Malaysian Airlines food (even better when e stuff comes from Japanese flight kitchens - could have eaten two whole sets), & e cat's clothes would have been ruined.

cat's loot:

  • scraps of kimono fabric from Kitano-Tenmangu temple fair
  • Uji matcha chocolate
  • assorted wagashi
  • nekobus keychain for Kuan
  • matcha wagashi
  • kyumei byoto 24 ji series 3 OST CD from Tower Records Kawaramachi OPA
  • Hajime Mizoguchi 'Far East' album from Jeugia Sanjo
  • Hajime Mizoguchi 'Espace II' album from Jeugia Shijo
  • leftover Hello Kitty postcards after long distance Hello Kitty-ing e 'family'
  • magazine full of JPMM photos for e 'family' guys
  • wine Kit Kat (didn't know Cold Storage was going to bring it into Singapore) for colleagues & e 'family'
  • o-mamori from Sanzen-in for e cat's mum, LKB & e baby
  • grape Kit Kat (didn't know Watsons was going to bring it into Singapore)
  • maple wagashi
  • new year postcards & cat note paper from Loft @ VIVRE for LKB, PET, littlesunshine, & others
  • matcha + chocolate cake
plus tonnes of beautiful travel/sightseeing brochures, pamphlets & maps, wagashi & obento catalogs (including an Isetan JR Kyoto catalog featuring a JPY126,000 - approx SGD1890 - limited edition obento), 'wrappers' from PET bottles with e monkey, penguin, fox & reindeer 2006 winter edition designs from miruku flavour クー Qoo (there was also polar bear & other animals), & approx 2.5GB worth of photos =)

e cat dreams of transplanting one outlet each of LAWSON, 7-Eleven Japan, ministop, Family Mart & Circle K & SunKus with their entire bento + ice cream + junkfood selections (plus a few hyaku-en shops - Daiso @ IMM isn't enough =P) back to Singapore.

an incredible two weeks, & e cat will be back for MORE!!

[ filed under: kyoto_2005 + japanese1 + architecture1 + catfood ]


[220406] bigfatwhale's friend asked him, what are you proud of in your life? & bigfatwhale threw that big fat question to e cat. & turned out that e cat had e same initial reaction as e water-spouting tailfin-swishing one: don't like e word 'proud', would rather say that am HAPPY that have done this, this & this....

answer that comes to cat's mind = surviving (albeit using up some of its 9 lives)....& having learnt & tried many many things (sometimes on impulse, sometimes just for e heck of it....until it runs out of time to write about them, like e still-incomplete '7 things I jumped into' series of blog entries =P). can die with no regrets. later on, thought about 'managed to help some people in some ways' & 'made some people laugh'?

happy when people say that they have learnt something/how to realise something/how to see something in a different way/thought deeper/felt better able to handle a situation/inspired/etc after talking to e cat/reading what it has written....

happy when e sharing of experiences/thoughts has made someone feel less alone in a world where people surrounded by many many people still feel lonely....

happy when e sharing of scientific observations/theories has led to e demolition of myths & misinformation perpetuated by human bias (e.g. e negative nonsense about homosexuality perpetuated in e press/culling is e best method of controlling e community cat population/wild birds are e primary culprits behind e spread of avian flu/etc)....a big big fat fat reason why e cat has chosen to invest a good part of its remaining lives in Science - can truth be counted as a religion? =P

N.B. e cat does not hope - & thinks that it is none of its business - to change people's minds. cos it believes that people should take responsibility for their own thinking & reason things out for themselves & DIY change their own minds iff they so please; e cat only hopes to lay out facts/point them to resources that could potentially facilitate this.

& also happy because no matter how angry & furious & indignant & blardy pissed it can get, deep down hidden among all e cat fur (sometimes waistlength =P) there remains this baseline level of happiness & peace of mind & a strange calmness & a faith in that 'nothing happens to you that you were not made to tahan' that e cat is keenly aware of. maybe that is why e cat can be incredibly quick to anger & just as incredibly quick to cool down (15 minutes? max 24h =P)? & maybe this is what keeps its fur unruffled (& e centre parting straight *LOL*) even when bombshells drop & e world seems to be coming to an end?

what are you proud (happy) of in your life?

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat ]

April 27, 2006

how not to write a thesis

[270406] are worm-class university Science undergrads taught e finer points of scientific writing...?


Hence, departing from our assumption that the scientific world still has limited knowledge, there is still an open probability to identify novel proteins...

For the A process itself, one B colony consisting C construct and one colony consisting the D construct were taken & dipped together into the E medium...

cell colonies sound like McDonald's chicken McNuggets/fish McDippers, & E medium like BBQ sauce =P (for e record, e colonies are dissociated in e medium by vortexing)

After the initial F experiment finished, some G and H works were done for around 2 months...

The reason why J primers were used was because that the size of K gene was L base pairs and normally one sequencing primer can only give result up to around M base pairs.

However, after doing it for around 2 months from January until February, we did not get many N colonies from transformation...the sequences of the inserts were all wrong and meaningless because they contained many A and T nucleotides. Thus, because time was running out so fast, the P method was changed...

if colonies don't grow well in January & February in e northern hemisphere, try growing them in spring or summer instead? but then again this poor fella was really hard up for time, which was running out so fast ;) if AT-rich sequences are wrong & meaningless, GC-rich sequences have e properties of being right & meaningful, apart from requiring a higher denaturation temperature? =P

The formula that was used to calculate the needed amount for each PCR
product for ligation was obtained from Promega [followed by image of formula presumably copied & pasted from e Promega website]

Promega is not just a biotech company, but e Greek Goddess of molar ratios ;)

The DNA...was taken from the half part of the bacteria colonies....The remaining halves of the colonies were dipped into Q medium...

All of the clones' identities were not disclosed in order to keep
secrecy, except for one clone...

There were some reasons on why only that particular clone was picked for
further analysis. Firstly, considering the nature and time limit for this
project, it is wise if we only work on one....'

as one (very honest =P) boss said, 'we? I didn't do anything!'

The method was stopped and changed into....

The R process that was always failed and had become a bottleneck....

The S cloning was applauded becuase it has given promising results.

The most logical problem would be that there were problems in the T process. However, we already ensured that all of the U buffers and enzymes were in good condition....This failure needs to be studied further and the answers are yet to be discovered.

In the discussion part of this paper, only V is going to be discussed....the remaining....are not going to be discussed further because of the limitation of time for the project. The identities of W are also kept unavowed for the benefit of the lab.

this student has presented scientific journal articles during lab meetings, & has probably read a reasonable number of such articles for coursework modules & in order to cite them as references in e thesis....but somehow nothing about e style of scientific writing was absorbed? were all of this student's lab reports & term papers over e course of e 4 years of undergraduate studies written in e same way? & marked & accepted by tutors/lecturers? or corrected, but e corrections ignored? or never returned to e student?

e cat fears for this student's grade....although this student should have no problem graduating with a BSc(Hons) (how much is e degree worth anyway?). to be fair not all of them produce work like this. there are two FYP theses on e cat's desk, of which one is this masterpiece. e other was written by a student with a far better grasp of scientific language & how to write in 'third person', albeit with far from perfect English grammar (English is not e native language of both students); e cat is not really happy though with e use of its data in e second thesis without permission nor acknowledgement!!

N.B. e cat would like to ban e use/overuse/abuse of e word 'actually', not just in thesis-writing but in any form of writing/speech...

[ filed under: labrat ]

April 26, 2006


FRET workshop + correcting printing errors in workshop booklets for e boss + FCCS practicals (why do guys always forget to take off their big fat watches when working with lasers?) + data processing (why is e default for graphs on Flex black traces on BLACK backgrounds?? *KA-BISH* e DODO who wrote e program!!) + presentation on FCCS + settling 'handovers/takeovers' with honours kids + meeting up with friendsss (MUI: e cat's brain refused to shut down & it remained awake through e night till 08:00AM. koon till 18:00PM after reading e Sunday papers & woke up for dinner =P) + wushu + swimming + yoga-gah-mia-loh + journal club presentation + lab meetings + talk by DPL + seminar on olfactory receptors + collecting lab supplies + long bus rides + + + ....

drafts many many, but brain too busy to distil into words e whirlpool of thoughts swirling around e cat....

meanwhile, something to read & think about:

this entry makes e cat think of Ah Fang, who was 22+ then, when she set e 12 year-old cat off on e path to e conclusion that death is an integral part of life, & that as we live, we are dying, & that death can be a positive thing:

"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

this path also led to e end of a parent's dream that e cat would aspire to be a doctor in a world where life is often unnecessarily prolonged, & medical science too much about delaying e inevitable. malignant transformation & metastasis are after all stochastic processes, & a matter of sooner or later, & whether one dies of something else before cancer hits (interesting point raised by a cancer patient: how can it be proved that every single cancerous cell has been successfully eliminated by treatment, when all we have are surrogate markers? is 'death from old age' e ultimate evidence of a 'cure'?)

on e topic of neoplasia, something e cat unearthed in second year of uni while doing a term paper on metastasis (after it read something about cancers documented in oysters), & e case against shark cartilage.

has it been 15 years liao? wonder if Ah Fang's parents still offer her McDonald's....& after so long e state of palliative care here still leaves a lot to be desired, & there is still a lot of unnecessary & inadequately managed pain....something e cat wanted to write about weeks ago, & also about dyslexia - after reading about e national grandfather's speech at some Singapore American School function, & correctly predicting its dyslexic sibling's reaction to e news article - & many other such stuff that have affected people around e cat....one thing common to all of them is strength - e formidable strength to face up to & live with whatever has been thrown at you by life/fate/karma/whatever you may attribute it to =)

[ filed under: 9_lives_2006 + thewonderingstraycat ]

April 23, 2006

京都 2005 - 35 Kyodai

[261105] 5 days ago e cat had to leave its camera at 光楽堂 Korakudo (at 京都市左京区北白川西町82 Kyoto-shi Sakyo-ku Kita-Shirakawa Nishi-cho 82) for 2 hours while e helpful staff there transferred 1+GB of photos from its xD cards onto CD....

camera-less, it popped into e Kyodai campus nearby, & explored e university museum & co-op (check out e co-op homepage & their location map for different types of recycling bins - JP only). both are housed in e university's Clock Tower Centennial Hall, a really happening place in e past where it was e scene of protests, barricaded by students & flooded by water cannons =P

this evening e cat decided to visit Kyodai again since it was in e vicinity of Higashi-Ichijo-dori, one of e main streets cutting across e Yoshida campus:


walking east towards e daimonji (above), it came across e man-maid:


a university health service (MC-dispensing service) run by falcons? ;)

heading towards e University Clock Tower Centennial Building that it didn't get to photograph e other day, e cat stumbled upon something that instantly lifted its spirits:


e last day of e 47th Kyoto University 'November festival' (direct translation) =))

just beyond this main gate (above) of e Yoshida-South campus is e Faculty of Integrated Human Studies building (hidden on left), where Orita-sensei's statue used to stand.....Mr Orita was a principal of e Third High School affiliated to Kyodai that eventually became e university's College of Liberal Arts. in 1991, Kyodai students decided to start 'decorating' his statue like this (Ultraman), this (Sailor Moon), this & this (Easter Island moai) =P

apparently e university authorities were rather tolerant....e worm-class university in Singapore would have put up fences + CCTV camera + signs warning of stiff penalties? still, it got to e point where e university finally removed e statue (to give e poor thing a break?). but e students simply responded by creating their own replacements like this (reminds e cat of many of e NUS Rag & Flag floats), this (Superman), this & this (Nausicaa - a Miyazaki Hayao anime) *LOL*

could we do this to e Merlion?

no statue today, but plenty of people feasting on snacks from stalls run by students from various university clubs & societies & even high schools:




across e road from e Yoshida-South campus:


Astronomy Club?


sake on offer?


can someone translate? 狂言 = farce??


Clock Tower Centennial Hall building:


cute cat!! if they don't want this signboard after e festival is over, can e cat find a way to bring it home?



beautifully-lit at night (above), & standing calm amid e chaos rampaging around....some of e funfair stalls had interesting stuff on offer, like e chance to be carried around on a sedan chair by 6-8 guys, & to get into e driver's seat of some uber-cool racing car & blast your eardrums revving e souped-up engine, apart from e usual food & game & song dedication stalls & music perfomances. there were e staples like hotdogs, waffles & takoyaki, & heavenly aromas wafting through e campus from sizzling griddles....everyone was having a great time =))


recycling bins (above) for up to 7 different catergories of trash were set up everywhere, with teams of students clearing them from time to time. towards e end groups of students ran around screaming out last minute offers for e remaining food. one of e more aggressive stalls that tried to grab hold of e cat:


e mess of bicycles:


ghostly tree:


Kita-Shirakawa bus stop in between e main campus & north campus:


this display informs waiting passengers of e approximate arrival time of their bus....right now e #3 Kyoto City bus from Kitano-Tenmangu-mae heading in e direction of Nishinokyo Enmachi was about a minute away from e Ginkakuji-michi stop, & ~3 minutes from this stop:


so much for e information....buses came & went & there were none that anyone could squeeze onto, especially e #17 service that serves e famous temples of e northern part of Higashiyama, & that would take e cat back to K's House hostel. resorted to squeezing on e first bus that had space to get somewhere where it could change to another bus to get back. hopped off after 4 stops at Kawaramachi-Imadegawa (for fear of continuing further west into e deep unknown of some unfamiliar part of Kyoto city), where it explored a little shopping arcade & found this on its way to Aoibashi Nishizume:


all too soon, e cat would be heading back to a part of e world where people understand what 'tidak apa apa' is =|

[ filed under: thewanderingstraycat + kyoto_2005 + japanese1 ]


= 'are you cold?' in Akha language, a phrase that pops up in e cat's mind whenever anyone mentions e word 'yoga'....

just like how e mention of ii3 zu (Akha for water) makes it think of 水 mizu (Japanese for water), despite e slight difference in how e 'zu' is pronounced....

ii3 long1 (Akha for hot water) --> ilang/hilang (lost/disappear in Malay....e cat has forgotten which is e spelling used in Singapore after living with 5 Indonesians for some years - Luthien can kindly correct me?)

นึง nirng3 (one in Thai) --> nirng2 (Teochew for egg)

zir1 ger2 (Akha for less) --> 资格 zi1 ge2 (qualifications in Chinese)

ขนมเบื้อง kha4nom2 beuang1 (Thai snack) --> buang (throw in Malay) --> mental image of Thai street hawkers flinging pieces of khanom beuang all over e place =P

ma1 ger4 (Akha for don't want) --> chao4 mugger (Singlish) --> 小马哥 xiao3 ma3 ge1 restaurant in Mae Salong, Chiang Rai (to be written about another day)

dou4 koon3 (Teochew for hungry) --> tor4 koon (lit. 'sleeping stomach' in Hokkien)

สำคัญ saam2 khan1 (important/significant in Thai) --> Sarmakand (ancient Silk Road city in present day Uzbekistan)

does anyone else make such (silly) associations between e different languages they learn?


back to yoga-gah-mia-loh....

tried hatha yoga for e first time on Friday. e lesson was in e same building as e cat's lab, so no travelling time involved =) but still, e cat & a new ang moh postdoc from a neighbouring lab were slightly late & missed e intro....if there was any at all!

it was supposedly e first lesson of a beginner's course, but as time went by it appeared that some participants weren't beginners....& we both ended up 'monkey-seeing monkey-doing' whatever was going on as e names of e asanas swirled above our heads. had no idea that we were supposed to bring towels with us for e class....but no problem for a short-legged cat that can hold onto its toes with its front paws =P

kinda deja vu, jumping into yoga just like how e cat jumped into wushu 7 (going on 8) years ago - knowing next to nothing about it, attracted by & enjoying e stretching (a very cat thing *grin*), having a lot of trouble with e terminology (even though e instructor was using English names)....

& kinda interesting to find many of e asanas in that lesson somewhat similar to some of e stretches done while warming up for wushu....& e focus on breathing movements very much like anapana sati in Vipassana meditation....& some of e points to watch out for in terms of posture e same as in wushu....

& it made e cat think about how going (& thinking) through each 细节 (fine detail - position, angle/tilt, degree, depth, direction, strength, grace, 柔 softness, sharpness, continuity, abruptness, etc of fingers, palms, elbows, arms, shoulders, neck, 眼神, head, back, hips, trunk, legs, knees, feet) of each movement & transition of a 50-60+ step wushu taolu seems like a form of training of samadhi (concentration of e mind)....think e baby once said something about how she enjoyed 'losing' herself in a taolu?

anyway, an 'instant' benefit from yoga lesson #1 - a way to 'open up' e less flexible left hip joint that helped a lot for left 外摆 wai4 bai3 in wushu e next day =)

[ filed under: thai1 + japanese1 + 9_lives_2006 ]

April 22, 2006

京都 2005 - 34 Kamogawa

[261105] a walk along e 鴨川 Kamo-gawa river from Kamigamo-jinja to 出町柳 Demachiyanagi, passing under several bridges, watching Kyoto residents spend a late Saturday afternoon by e river, & simply basking in & soaking up as much of e 'feel' of e city as e cat could before its return to Singapore....a walk recommended by KK (10-Q!), although he probably covered another section of this river, & in a different season (winter).

this upper section of e 鴨川 Kamo-gawa is also called 賀茂川 Kamo-gawa - different kanji characters but same romaji spelling:


starting point = little red dot. ~4km & 7 bridges to cross under before reaching Demachiyanagi at e confluence with e 高野川 Takano-gawa:


船形大文字 funagata daimonji on e slope of 西賀茂船山 Nishigamo Funa-yama:


along e Kamo-gawa:


e glorious sky above, painted with swift brushstrokes of clouds:



why this river is called 鴨川:


bottoms up (below left) & pigeons kooning beneath a bridge (below right):

PB261219 PB261216

friend =)) with a 阴阳 'yin-yang' face:


& then e cat looked up & realised that its new acquaintance belonged to one of e homeless men living beneath one of e bridges:

PB261249a PB261249b

a pair of washed trackshoes drying in e sun, aluminum drink cans & PET bottles collected & sorted for sale to recycling companies (above left), washed gloves hanging out to dry, dustcart neatly covered with blue tarpaulin, & some sort of clothing hanging in home-made 'suit covers' fashioned from e same type of blue canvas sheet (above right). homeless they may be, he & his friends (there are other homeless men living beneath this & nearby bridges) are still incredibly neat & 'house'-proud.

here he is, neatly dressed & in e very Japanese combination of socks & 'bedroom' slippers, enjoying a book, like any other Japanese uncle spending a Saturday afternoon in e comfort of his living room:


& he was happy to meet this gaikokujin cat, & allowed it to take photos of his humble abode & furry companion.

Kyoto City bus on one of e bridges:


e cat has been taking buses here at least twice a day for e past two weeks during e morning & evening rush hours. & it has yet to see any standing passenger thrown off balance (daily sight on Singapore buses). instead, it has watched a schoolgirl eat cup noodles with chopsticks while standing on board a Kyoto City bus, & elderly passengers with walking aids make their way along e aisle of a moving bus without stumbling.

buses here glide so smoothly to a stop, many a times e cat thought that e driver had stopped for e lights....only to hear him/her announce e name of e stop & e sound of e doors sliding open, & realise that e bus had pulled up at a bus stop.

a real contrast to e SBS32 driver who sped into a bus stop & crashed his vehicle into a stationary bus in front, bruising most passengers (including e cat) & covering them with broken glass. & sending a lady flying straight into e two smashed windscreens, embedding plenty of shards into her that e SGH A&E doctors couldn't remove. & then denying all responsibility for e accident & trying to persuade/threaten e cat to change its version of events in its statement to blame his colleague, e driver of e bus in front. NO #$*!&@^ WAY - not even if he promised e cat a lifetime supply of fish *GRRRRRRRR*

when will SBS/TIBS drivers realise that it is possible to drive without those sudden jerks & stops?

tennis court + open space for soccer & baseball on e opposite bank:


& beautiful trees =)


e setting sun - a reminder that this trip is coming to an end:

PB261225 PB261227

interesting plant:


in someone's garden:


e evil ginkgo that will grow & grow & grow, one day it will be so big fat it will eat up e house behind it, gorging on e humans within, & then *MUNCH* start preying on unsuspecting *MUNCH* Kyoto residents strolling past along *CRUNCH* e Kamo-gawa:




stepping stones - one small step for humans, & a not-so-giant leap for dog-kind:


nice to see people 'getting involved' with e river instead of just keeping to e pavements on either bank & telling kids not to touch e water 'cos you will get wet' (super *DUH* things e cat has heard many times in Singapore) & 'it's dirty'. & nice to see a waterway not barricaded by ugly green railings (which have gaps big enough for kids to fall through anyway - when that is something they are supposed to prevent?).

fellow biologist spotted! checking her line transects:


also an indication that e cat was reaching e confluence at Demachiyanagi, where e Kyodai campus is.

practising some classical piece:


she is really good, & many stopped in their tracks to listen & join her in getting carried away on e beautiful stream of notes that flowed forth from her instrument =)

e confluence:


looking upriver along e Takano-gawa:


there is something beautifully poignant about sunsets:


& e cat's heart sank lower & lower with e glowing sun as e sky breathed its last orange hues of life =| something that always happens when e cat has to return to Singapore.

[ filed under: thewanderingstraycat + kyoto_2005 + japanese1 + nature1 + cats1 ]