Sunday, January 27, 2008

Motion to Energy (M2E)

There was some talk quite some time ago on Sustainable dance clubs...

and People powered gyms...

but this... is what I really hope will become a reality...

"New startup M2E (Motion 2 Energy) has developed a technology which converts the kinetic energy from minor movement into an electrical charge to power mobile communication devices: meaning in just a few years, we could all toss out our cellphone chargers and charge up our phones simply by walking around with them during the day!" - Inhabitat
Life without 'oh shit.. low batt' and 'damn.. i forgot to bring my charger'.... Sweeeeeet.

You're better off by bike

chanced upon this video on Gemssty (a friend's design blog and one of the funkiest blogs ever):
an advertisement encouraging pple to bike abt in London.

which brings me to think.. wish singapore was a little more bike friendly. and i'm not even talking abt more bike lanes, just simple additions like places to lock your bike at bus stops, neighbouring malls, etc. not very sure how many Sgreans bike ard but one thing i'm sure is that if u're 10 minutes walk from the nearest bus stop (like me), it sure is much more convenient having a bike.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sharkwater - the movie

So i caught Sharkwater with H last night. It was an amazing showcase of how majestic these gentle creatures are and of coz all the gross misconceptions people have about them. Winner of 22 international film awards.. you've got to catch this documentary.

a few takeaways i gotta mention:
  • elephants kill more people than sharks
  • shark populations have declined 90% in the last 30 years
  • shark fins being just cartilage (aka the same stuff your ear is made of), has no medicinal value or taste whatsoever
  • they really STILL do cut off the fins and throw the poor finless shark (still alive) back into the sea
  • Galapagos (and other nature/marine reserves) are not as protected as we think/tourism boards make us think they are.
Other after-movie thoughts...
  • Rob Stewart is inspirational.. and cute to boot
  • 'Jaws' the movie, is evil
  • The conservation movement seriously needs more money
  • The MD of Rabbit Brand Sharkfin is a joke
With this MD's heavy Singaporean accent, it's so obvious he's from Singapore. And his ignorance about sharks - talking about sharkfins' magic medicinal prowess (well can't blame him given he has to SELL it), everytime he came on screen - laughter all abound. But being Singaporean too, couldn't help but feel like burying my head under the ground. Oh well, just hope the Asian mindset will change.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Marathon Walk in Central SG

I've never walked for so looong in.. forever I think. haha. but it was really fruitful. Our day started from 6.30am at Lower Pierce, then we went on towards Venus Link near Macritchie and after a lunch break, chugged on to Bishan Park's Herbal Garden. About 9 hours of walking in all.. !!! My virgin terrestrial exploration so forgive me for the 101 things I can't/ mis-ID. Help in ID would be greatly appreciated! :)

= Lower Pierce =

Short-horned grasshopper (ID?)

  • grasshoppers are diurnal (active in the day) and crickets are mostly nocturnal (active at night)
  • grasshoppers blend into the grass and crickets tend to be dark to blend into the shadows or are pale green or brown to blend into the vegetation.
  • grasshoppers fly and crickets have wings that are either absent or atrophied and they don't fly
  • grasshoppers have shorter antennae than crickets
  • grasshopper's 'ears' are at its abdomen and cricket's are located in its legs


native land snail.
LK told us the genus but.. *sheepish grin* i forgot.

cricket nymph
Mr Cool - assassin bug
damselfly (ID?)

*back blogged* thanks SJ for correcting me.
The difference between damselflies and dragonflies:
  • When at rest, dragonflies almost always have their wings spread fully open, while damselflies habitually close their wings and hold them over their 'backs'
  • Dragonflies have broad wings, broadest where they meet the 'body' (thorax) while damselflies have narrow wings, narrowest where they meet the thorax.
  • Dragonflies are generally bigger with a thicker abdomen.
  • Dragonflies have huge eyes which take up much of their face and join in the middle on top of the head while damselflies have eyes which protrude from the sides of the head, almost as if on stalks.
See that intricate pattern of white in the middle of the web? It's the stabilimenta of some white spider. Cool shit right. Here's what I've learnt from LynnK (and from surfing) on the function of this structure: there are a few theories:
  • as the name suggests, stabilimenta adds extra structural support to the web
  • helps attract prey to the web
  • helps to make the web more conspicuous so that birds don't crash into it
read more about it here (blog of a US bio undergrad tt I chanced upon).

oh oh and! did you know that... (sorry if this is obvious to some of you... spider lab pple do correct me if i'm wrong): only female spiders make webs! males are kinda just existing to mate. -ha.

= Bishan Park =

from left: S, R, LK, LynnK
contemplating the qn: how many types of ferns can there be on a single tree?
5 different ferns spotted (clockwise from top left):
ribbon fern, staghorn fern, rabbit's foot fern, shoe string fern, oakleaf fern
many birds spotted too.. all around one island in the middle of a pond. But my lousy camera can't capture it. Here's link to mantablog and tide chaser's blog for the bird photos.

= Herbal Garden =

welcome to herbal garden, where a TCM practitioner comes every Sunday to give guided walks.. have yet to go on one of those walks though so here's the plants without explanations of their medicinal purposes.

the garden is small but has a wide variety of herbs
mostly chinese labels
love this lovely heart-shaped fruity thing
literal translation from chinese: lantern grass (herb)
the fruit inside (from plant above) tastes like tomato
now you know who's been eating your curry leaves
lynx spider?
Wasp moth (Amata huebneri)
this was the moth I used to catch in primary school, coz it flies really slow :)

About plastic bags

A question from Ms AngKH:
"If we cut down on use of plastic bags, what are we to use for our rubbish?"
I kinda don't have the problem at home coz no matter how much my family cuts down on use of plastic bags we also seem to have enough spares (those collected when we forget to bring cloth bags out and such) for rubbish. but yes someone please help solve Ms AngKH's problem.

Friday, January 4, 2008

MPA's reply to the labrador issue

My email to MPA

Dear Sir/Madam,

I chanced upon a fellow singaporean's blog commenting on the sad state of labrador beach due to the tearing down of concrete structures.

During my undergraduate years in NUS I was part of a team that studied the biodiversity of animals on Labrador beach. Our study had revealed the rich diversity of the area [D. Huang., L.M . Chou, P.A. Todd, K.H. Ang, P.Y. Boon and L. Cheng. Algal and Invertebrate Diversity of the Intertidal Zone at Labrador Nature Reserve, Singapore (2006) Malayan Nature Journal 59(1), 93-102] and it pained me to see the beach in its current state. May I enquire why the contractors were allowed to leave debris lying about in this manner as it is no doubt destroying the fragile coast.

From MPA's contacts website I was not sure which person to contact regarding this matter but I would appreciate it if you could help to forward this email to the person in-charge if I have sent this email to the wrong department. I (and many other nature-lovers in Singapore) look forward to MPA's favourable reply.

a concerned Singaporean

MPA's reply

Dear Ms Boon,

1 Thank you for the feedback dated 30 Dec 07.

2 The MPA is concerned with protecting the marine environment, and had taken pre-emptive measures to conserve the environment in the affected area in Labrador Park, even before the works began. One such measure was to translocate the corals in the area to an artificial reef. This project was led by local marine expert, Prof Chou Loke Ming. The corals will be returned to their original site once the works in the area are fully completed. An article regarding this project was recently published in the Straits Times. We attach the article for your information.

3 Since early Dec 07, our contractor has stepped up the maintenance of the beach in the work area and has been assisting to clear the debris brought in by the tides.

4 The contractor is currently in the process of removing the cofferdam, and all construction debris including the concrete blocks will be removed and disposed properly. The removal of the cofferdam is expected to be completed in end Jan 08, and we will ensure that the cofferdam work area is cleared of all debris before it is returned to the National Parks Board's management. Please be assured that conserving and sustaining the environment is an important consideration in the planning and execution of our works.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


hearing like a dolphin

It is well known that cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises) hear with their lower jawbone. More specifically, the fat-filled lower jawbone conducts sound waves through the jaw to bones in the middle ears. With that in mind.. doesn't this look familiar?

"User can hear voice of caller only by contacting the bone conduction speaker on his/her head…to solve problem of communication in noisy place and for old people and people with auditory handicap." - Pantech
Talk about biomimicry. haha.

'Greening' my diet

One of my new year resolutions is to be vegetarian at least once a week. In fact.. the long term (ideal) plan is to go full-fledged vegetarian in 5 years.

Thinking of gg vegetarian not only for vanity reasons. some interesting well-referenced facts from :
  • 2006 UN report: Raising animals for food, the report said, is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems"
  • more than 70 percent of the grains and cereals we grow go to farmed animals
  • fish on fish farms must be fed 5 pounds of wild-caught fish to produce one pound of farmed fish flesh
  • An area of rainforest the size of seven football fields is destroyed every minute to make room for grazing cattle, but each vegetarian saves 1 acre of trees every year
  • You save more water by not eating pound a beef than you do by not showering for an entire year
Of course, the biggest reason for me to go vegetarian is that the world is running out of fish. then you may ask why don't I just stop eating seafood and continue guzzling meat. well, for the simple and not very well known reason (proven by the exclamation on my brother's face) that the use of fish meal in animal feed is one of the contributing factors of overfishing.

I'm sure there are people like me who know how bad meat eating is for the environment and want to change their diet, but we just can't bear to give it up.. I have to admit that even though I'm not a big fan of meat, its been hard for me even to go vegetarian once a week - especially when I meet friends to eat out at least once a day. Reminder to self: don't go to Adam Road Food Market on my veg-day. No vegetarian options AT ALL. Well, alternatively I can opt to eat meats and fish that have been farmed in a environmentally friendly manner. but.. seriously in Singapore the consumer awareness is just not there. and when pple don't demand for such information, no one bothers to advertise it.

Guess I'll just have to stick to the vegetarian diet.

Baby steps man.. baby steps.