Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Over at WordPress


I've just hopped over to WordPress for a bit, testing it out to see if I want to migrate over. All this thanks to Ben when he mentioned WordPress and his upcoming Mohjo website (more info about this later when he actually sets it up).

So, go on over to The Flea Writes on WordPress. See you there!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

TED 2023?

If TED talks are to still exist 20 years on, and if it looks like how the Prometheus producers imagined it to be in this promo video for the movie, I'd be ecstatic. :)

Won't it be cool to quote the end of Peter Weyland's speech in future conferences? My name is *insert-name-here*, and if you'll indulge me, I'd like to change the world.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Alone in the midst of people

Remember when I blogged about being emotionally out of whack roughly a month ago? I was reading Thought Catalogue last night when I came across this article by Molly Gard which accurately describes part of what I felt (and am probably still feeling):

You’re alone all the time.

That’s the well-kept secret. When they talk about living independently for the first time, it’s not about doing your own laundry or waking yourself up in the morning or paying your own utilities. Independent is a fancy word for alone, and that’s why so many capable people struggle. People who thought that they were prepared, that they would flourish under this new system because they had been functioning at such a high level for such a long time. Nobody mentioned that the challenge isn’t functioning. The challenge is doing anything other than functioning. The challenge is to transcend being and start living again.

And maybe it sounds easy because all your basic needs are still being met, and many elements of your former life are still around in one form or another. Look, there’s a soccer game over there, here’s a band you can play in, here’s where you can drink coffee, here’s a camera you can use. It’s all the same, really. What do you mean there’s nothing to take pictures of? There’s buildings and trees and people. Just point and shoot.

So you arrive, after months of waiting and longing, arrive thinking that your new life will be your old life but better, knowing that specifics from your past won’t transfer but hoping that all the important things carry over. And maybe you get lucky. Maybe some do. But maybe nothing feels like home. And that brings us back to the thesis:

You’re alone all the time. At first it’s unbearable and agonizing and physically painful, the sense that you no matter what you do, you will do it in solitude. At first you die a little more every hour on the hour, you cringe whenever something reminds you of the past, which of course happens every moment. But slowly, you adjust. Soon, it’s only the mornings that hurt, when you wake up and realize you’re still alone, and the evenings when you’re tired and you spent all day winding yourself up and you don’t have any more energy to cope. And then, soon enough, the mornings and evenings are bearable too. You learn to use any human interaction as energy to get you through the day, or you learn to survive in isolation, maybe even embrace it. You become more and more comfortable spending hours or entire days without speaking to anyone. Sometimes, when you absolutely cannot take it anymore, you call your mother, or chat with someone who suddenly means more to you than they ever did before. But you function. You make it through. You have good days and bad days, like any other person. Sometimes you laugh at a joke, and then immediately marvel at the miracle of someone making you laugh, of someone else bringing you joy again. Every once in a while, someone might hug you, and it’s the best thing, even if you don’t know why.

So that’s the plateau. Where you’re fine. Where you smile through the good days and wade your way through the bad. And sometimes you feel great, and you chastise yourself for feeling over-dramatic earlier, and your confidence in your new life swells. And sometimes you break, and you consider flying or driving home right that second because you cannot handle another hour of the emptiness gnawing inside you. Gradually, your highs get a little bit higher, and your lows get less frequent, and you start describing life as “good” instead of “fine” and you generally mean it. You’re doing well. Sometimes you even feel alive.

But then your sister comes to visit, or your boyfriend, or some pal from high school. And you remember what it’s like to not just know people but understand them, to know their habits and their preferences, to recognize their shirts, to touch them without thinking about it. You remember how good it feels not being alone, and you try to soak up every moment and absorb enough energy to last the long winter. Often it’s awkward because you have nothing in common but memories and mutual affection, so you spend a lot of time staring at each other and wishing you could think of something more interesting to do, some way to better appreciate your visitors, to better make use of your time. You don’t want to waste this. But maybe you do.

And then they leave, and you break again, and your “good” drops to “fine” and then to “okay, I guess.” But soon enough you trick yourself into forgetting how it feels to see love in someone’s eyes, and you adjust back to solitude.

And that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’m assuming it gets better. I keep reading the same Bukowski poem, the one that goes:

"There are worse things than being alone but it often takes decades to realize this and most often when you do it’s too late and there’s nothing worse than too late."

I try to believe him, but it’s hard when you’re alone all the time.

Although I'm not living in a big city apart from my family, it's still very lonely. Friends I've grown up with have moved away, pursuing their dreams in big cities or faraway lands. Friends from my undergraduate days have, like me, mostly moved back to their hometown all over Malaysia. There will be seasons when childhood friends come back for a visit or when I fly off to the other end of Borneo/the peninsular for brief meet-ups...but sometimes it feels like it's not enough. I may have my family with me, but it's entirely possible to feel lonely without the friends who have been my support system when I was away. But I remembered missing my family like crazy during my "independent" days (which I admit to have enjoyed). I don't get it. It's like having cake and not being able to eat it.

And now I can't wait for the day when I can get away from home again, with the knowledge that I'll probably feel very lonely in that foreign place unless and until I find friends who can fill in those gaps in my life. It's a vicious cycle, really.

But like Molly wrote, I believe it does get better. It just HAS to. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

So you want to know more about the oceans?

I almost forgot that World Ocean's Day falls on June 8th so I was wondering why my Facebook was flooded with this particular picture:

The picture (ad?) is going viral on my news feed with most of my marine friends sharing it again and again which is pretty good I reckon, because plastic is a horrible pollutant which sticks around for a very long time, endangering many marine creatures and making our oceans a very ugly place to swim, snorkel or dive in. Heck, it even looks bad on tourism brochures. So here's how you can take action to prevent plastic from harming ocean life:

Reduce plastic use. Help stop plastic pollution at its source! As consumers, we each have the power to reduce demand. And if you encourage family and friends to do the same, the more the more good we can do to keep the ocean clean and safe. Here are a few disposable plastic products everyone can reduce in our daily lives:

Plastic water bottles. Invest in a reusable water bottle, and filter water if necessary. Help the ocean and save money; it’s a win-win for you and the blue. Let’s turn the tide against wasteful plastic consumption.

Plastic bags. People use nearly 1 trillion plastic bags each year, and unfortunately, many of those end up ingested by sea turtles that mistake plastic for jellyfish. Remember to bring a reusable bag for food (including vegetables) and other shopping and save a life!

Straws, cups to-go, food containers, and utensils. Bring your own reusable products like mugs when you get coffee and take a pass on the plastic utensils when you get take-out food.

Be aware of packaging. Pay attention to how much incidental plastic that comes with what you buy - your candy, headphones, pens, etc., all come in plastic packaging. Strive to cut down on your daily plastic consumption and reward corporations that package responsibly!

Another marine-related PSA which I thought was more fun was a parody of Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know by One World One Ocean:

Sporting lyrics such as, "Vibrant murals of coral reefs, joyful creatures embracing the living sea, humpback whales hum soothing symphonies, dreaming of the ocean that we want to know," I can imagine this short animation to be an outreach/awareness tool geared towards secondary school kids (because I know that I would pay attention if this was played during a biology class back in school!). The YouTube page for this video also has fun facts about ocean-related matters from all around the world.

Then there's also this video from Conservation International about how much we owe to the oceans and seas, and why we must act to save them before its too late:

I hope whoever actually comes around here enjoy the videos because I definitely did! And in line with what I've been harping for the past two weeks (in real life), conservation without awareness is nothing. So make do make use of the social media to let more people know why the oceans is important and to stop polluting them with our rubbish.

Happy World Ocean's Day! :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

A bit of BERSIH, a lot more of other stuff


I was going to write a long post about my participation in the BERSIH 3.0 rally in Kuching last week, but halfway through I just ran out of things to say. I mean, it was for a good cause and all, and I do have strong opinions about it and how the KL rally turned out, but I've already said what I wanted to say on Facebook. I'm still angry with the mainstream media and the people that walk the corridors of power (VERY angry), but if I were to rant, it'll just be angry and depressing all the way. No point.

But just for the heck of it, here's proof of me at the sit-down protest, which was very peaceful in Kuching:

Getting yellow balloons from the person I voted into the State Assembly = fawesome!

I'm sorry for not really updating the blog. School's been rather crazy as my molecular work seem to be working out really well lately (yay!), though that also means that I've a bunch of data (double yay!) to analyse and a responsibility to churn out papers on them if possible. Compared to the final year students who did some pretty similar stuff, my sample size is so HUGE that the work got rather dreary after a while and procrastination started setting in. And then, I started losing focus.

Or maybe it's pre-/post-menstrual syndrome making my emotions go out of whack. But it's been nearly a month. *Insert look of horror here*

I a chicken. A bird with wings, which one would automatically assume, logically speaking, that it could fly. But it can't. For some weird reason, chickens are just confined to the ground, pecking at the dirt, laying eggs everyday, and they can't fly. Yeap, that's how I feel.

A friend who listened to me when I told her that said I'm probably more suited as a penguin. Same concept really, only penguins dive, don't lay eggs everyday and are separated from their partners nearly half the year.

However, in the midst of all this, it was still nice to know that the same three people I normally sent SOS signals out to still respond and although they're all far away, they can still make time to listen to me rant and wail while letting me know that I'm loved and dearly missed.

Well, I'm not sure what's the point of this post, but it felt good letting it out. I just may delete this later on, but here you go. Hopefully it'll be better by a week, haha. *Insert fake smile here*

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Toy impresario, wonder afficianado and avid shoe wearer

How apt, that I should re-watch the movie, after so many years, on Easter Day. :)

Happy Easter!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Love poured out

This is an excerpt from a Holy Thursday vigil booklet in my church. I thought it was very very meaningful:
We all know that when we love someone, we want to share with him or her all that we have. We want to belong to each other and want to feel and experience being loved.

However, all of our human experiences of love is only a trace of what God's love really is. God is love without end, without condition, without limit or restraint. God is love without caution or regret, even when we are not faithful or trustworthy, or even when we disappoint Him again and again.

If love is to make a gift of oneself to the beloved, then God is the greatest lover of all time and beyond time. In His love and mercy for all of us, He gave us His only begotten Son, who became like one of us except sin, to teach and guide us, to reveal His love for us, to heal us body and spirit, and to lay down His life got all of us so that we may be saved. By His self-giving and resurrection, we are raised to a new life and made heirs of the Kingdom with Him. By His love, we are no longer called servants but His friends. Any by way of response for all that Jesus has done and is continuing to do for us, God makes upon us the simple demands of love:

"My son, give me your heart," - Proverbs 26:26

Monday, March 26, 2012

An old story about ghost nets

Just a little over a year ago, I was out on a survey dive with my boss at my old workplace at Lankayan Island. I can't remember what it was we were supposed to be looking for, but as I was adjusting my mask underwater, I nearly finned right into a ghost net.

You might be wondering, what's a "ghost net"? Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been left or lost in the sea by fishermen. These nets, often nearly invisible in the dim light, can be left tangled on a rocky reef or drifting in the open sea. They can entangle fish, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, dugongs, crocodiles, seabirds, crabs, and other marine creatures, including the occasional human diver. :-/ (Source: here)

Upon finding the ghost net, we went along the line to find out how long/big it was. It took us nearly 40 minutes (the average time for a dive) to go from one end to the other and along the way, I noted at least five turtle skeletons, presumably from when they got caught in the net and drowned.

The damage to the reef was also quite substantial. We found many overturned corals, probably due to the movement of the net during storms.

So my boss and I went back to the island to recruit some volunteers (most of whom were divers in our dive group that week) and armed with scissors and knifes, we went back to the spot to try get as much of the net out as possible.

It took us four dives over a period of two days to clear the net. There were some left over that was hanging over a cliff at the edge of the reef. It was pretty deep at that part so we didn't continue. The waves were also pretty strong by then so by the last snip, most of the net drifted off into the open ocean. None of us could quite hang on to it. :-/

By the time we were done, most of the holiday for the other divers was over too. I remembered feeling a bit sorry for them because the work was very tiring and they didn't get to explore much of the reefs around the island. However, it was indeed a good opportunity to spread awareness on the effects of destructive fishing methods. All of them left with a sense of accomplishment and of course, free beer that night helped everyone make friends with each other too! ;)

A few days after, a tsunami struck Japan. But that's another story... :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Endless possibilities *scoffs*

I saw something on Facebook which threw me back into a forever-alone-funk, so I texted a close friend about it. Here's what he had to say:

Which brought me to a picture which I got tagged in by another friend:

*Throws hands up in the air*

If I really do turn out to be a bi, I think life might still be the same. Unless girls like me more than guys. *Glares at EJ*

Saturday, March 17, 2012

No spend month: Week 1

Week 1: March 11-17, 2012
Budget: RM70.00
Actual expenditure: RM69.55

*Phew!* There wasn't any big events which required spending this week but I barely made it with my budget due to two things: lunches at Sushi King and NK Food Network. :( However, I thought that both times were good opportunities to socialise with new people, i.e. the new PhD student, Jessica, who will be sharing a lab and an office with me; and some Biotech undergrad freshmen!

Croquette with Japanese curry. It looked 80% like in the menu so I was happy. :)

NK's homemade beef burger - one of the biggest I've seen in Kuching!

There was also one point in the beginning of the week when I had to drop by the post office and spent quite a bit on courier charges. I wasn't quite sure if it should come from my budget or if I should separate it and put it under my bills etc.. I'm still not sure actually...but since I didn't blow my budget, it's alright I guess. :)

I must mention here that it's been overwhelming getting support from friends who know of my no-spend project and worked around it when it came to lunches and dates. Normally I'll be on a movie or dinner date on Fridays with a few non-university friends to catch up with each other, but this week one of them suggested hanging out at her house to watch The Big Bang Theory while finishing up her Chinese New Year stock of snacks and beer. Good stuff, that. ^^

Week 2 will start tomorrow. I don't foresee any big happenings in the coming week as well so I should be able to keep to the budget. We'll see!~

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The DMC-FT3 and DMW-MCFT3!!

They were not what I really wanted, but they will do as the dive season opens in Kuching. Ah, I'm so happy! All thanks to my parents who thought that by the time I saved enough, dive season will be over and I won't have any nice pictures to show in my presentations. ;p

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

They swim. It's really free. It's a beautiful thing to see. They sing.

The title of this blog post is from "Whale Song" by Pearl Jam. You should check it out because it's a funky cool rock song about whales and whaling. What I really want to post though, is a video of a whale, swimming free and singing its song. 

This film is an encounter with Sweetheart and her calf Heartthrob. An hour long encounter unique in the fact that it was the first time in our twenty years of research that a mother allowed a calf to interact directly with us in total trust. 

We name the whales mnemonically. We give them a name associated with a bodily marking or personality trait which helps us to remember and quickly recognise them in future encounters. 

Sweetheart, the mother, is named after a heart shaped marking she has near her dorsal fin. She is with her new calf Heartthrob who is only a few months old. Calves remain with their mother for about a year. Sweetheart had a calf in 1998 named Heartsong and a calf in 1999 named Heartbeat. The two escorts are also whales that are very well known to us. Their names are Nebo and Demi.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Coral mucus =/= guy semen!

Saw this on Kristen's blog:

Not from 9gag...!

And in agreement with most of Glee casts' WTF expressions...

Chris Colfer ends this because he is epic

I bloody work with coral mucus and I don't think they feel or smell like guy semen. Well, at least my supervisors never said anything about it and I pretty sure they're highly qualified to be able to tell (oh God I can't block certain images from my mind now...).

What is this I don't even... :-/

Thank you, Kristen.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

No spend month

Inspired by Georgette's No Spend Month, I'm gonna attempt this starting tomorrow. It's a pretty good time considering how my scholarship money should be coming in during the coming week (provided it's not late) and I need to save for a proper camera and an underwater housing for my research. By proper camera, I mean one that's not a toy. :)

Also, I figured that I should start saving for other things I might want to get later on this year. There's also at least two weddings I'll have to attend and they require air travel and accommodations. This year doesn't seem to be a cheap year for me. :-/

I'm going to budget myself at RM10 per day. Adding in phone bills at RM150 per month, parking fees at RM40-60 per month, and petrol for the car at RM80 per month, that totals my spending budget to around RM570-590. Scholarship money is only RM900 per month, so do the math. I might need a part time job. *Sigh*

Oh wait, I forgot tithing. That's RM80 per month. *salkdfja;slkfja;lkfj*

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Recesky TLR DIY camera!

It arrived today!! *Whee~~*

However, as I was looking through the contents, I was a little disappointed to see the instructions in Chinese. With me being a banana, I had to play the guessing game and rely on the pictures. :-/ 

Ching chong ling long ting tong!

I also read the Recesky TLR tutorial guide on Lofico while making it but since they only showed how it's supposed to look like, the shutter assembly took nearly an hour.

A bit later on I found out that there are some manuals online which has been translated to English. They are actually based on a Gakkenflex manual (the "original" DIY TLR) but since the Recesky is based on them, they do pretty well! (Source: here and here

There's also a video on how to fix in the shutter springs (the bane of my existence at that time) here.

Three hours and pretty red and sore fingers later, I've gotten it up and running!! :D

Yeah, I can't wait to get pictures with this effect, lol

I know, I know, I can tweak pictures without getting toy cameras like this. But hey, I really enjoyed the DIY (minus the hour of troubleshooting the shutter assembly!) and it is dirt cheap online. A shop at OneJaya, Kuching is selling the kit at RM140 but I got it on the LYN forums for a mere RM50 *cues evil laughter*.

So, I am very very pleased with myself today. ^^

After this, proper old-school film pictures!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

New "project"!

I swear, random buys will be the death of me. But there's much excitement around the house (and frowning from the parents)!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Scientists and tattoos of their science

Over the weekend, I had a chat with some friends on the subject of tattoos. I was never really against it, but I wasn't sure if I like the idea of permanently inking myself on one spot. What if I grow old and my skin got saggy? What if the colour of the ink runs over a period of time? How will I explain to my kids? 

But those questions aside, I might get one which really means something to me. So I thought about what I love and won't mind having on one part of my body "forever": turtles. They helped me form my passion in marine biology when I was feeling a little lost in my first semester and started off everything for me - opening up many opportunities to learn, travel and meet people who played important roles in my life. Without turtles, I won't be who I am today! :)

And I found a nice turtle tattoo that I like. Kristen's gonna do some slight modifications to it and I'm gonna sit on that idea for at least six months, letting my inner conscience debate it out.

In the meantime, I found that lots of scientists do get tattoos related to the science they're doing! The Science Tattoo Emporium at The Loom has a collection of such tattoos contributed by scientists around the world. It was cool to see some marine-related ones! 

A career in the sea

Just follow the light

Honu the turtle

Would you ever consider getting a tattoo of your science? Or whatever you're working on in life?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Act of valor

Soldier movies... :-/

And that *points to above sentence* was my exact reaction when I got dragged into watching Act of Valor with a couple of friends after finishing lab last night. When I hear of soldier movies, I think of Black Hawk Down and the like - definitely not my cup of tea. But Darren insisted that it's awesome because 80% of it was filmed using Canon dSLRs (source). Okay, so I was a tad bit impressed. Then Alayne said it's not a soldier movie because they're not really soldiers - they're navy SEALs! Which I figured I was supposed to be impressed with.

What I was really impressed with though, wasn't the battle between the SEALs and the Islamo-terrorists/narco terrorists/arms smugglers/etc.. The scene with the SWCC boats (don't ask me what they mean, I have no idea) was really cool and I felt like I was playing Red Alert on crack. The action scenes failed to put me to sleep so I guess they're better than Transformers. There was even an eyeball popping out... What really made a big impact on me at the end of it all was a poem by Tecumseh, whom Wikipedia describes as "a Native American mystic, warrior, and military leader of the Shawnee and a large tribal confederacy that opposed the United States during Tecumseh's War and the War of 1812" (Source: here).

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.
When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.
Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.
When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.
 -  Tecumseh, Native American leader, Shawnee mystic and warrior (1768 - 1813)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Game changers/curve-balls

I watch Fringe and I freaking LOVE it. Getting a curve-ball last week made me bite my pillows (I watch the series in my room, on my bed) out of sheer geram-ness. But the preview for this week is making me jump around in annoyance because I can only download the episode tomorrow, AFTER it gets shown in the US. Streaming just sucks at home. >:(

And WHAT is with ALL the other series I watch (Glee, The Mentalist) hitting curve-balls this week? They're all giving me an unnecessary headache. :-/ 

Saturday, February 18, 2012


As I bid farewell to the last of my oldest friends as she leaves for Melbourne, I once again feel a strong desire to fly off to distant lands. The only problem is that whenever I feel like this, it is accompanied with a severe sense of frustration as I have no idea how I'll ever quench this lust.

Oh, and because I seem to be forever stuck here and everyone else seems pleased about it except me, so I have to put up a facade of eternal happiness.

Well. I suppose there is an element of joy in what I currently do, but honestly, I'm running out of friends (let's not even talk about "like-minded friends") and making new ones takes time and a lot of effort. Not that I mind, but as I have always observed, in small cities like Kuching, where everybody knows everybody, cliques have been formed and it's almost impossible to join one. Especially if you've been gone for five years and lost touch/switch interests with most friends.

Ah well. So help me, God.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Effing your brain with more anti-finning propaganda

If you don't know what shark finning is already, this infographic courtesy of WildAid should create some awareness in you. :)

Do help by signing their pledge and lend your voice to the 73 million sharks that are slaughtered every year for measly bowls of soup.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chinese weddings and shark fins

I've been attending a lot of wedding dinners recently, the Chinese kind. It's annoying because it means I've to put in effort to dress a little nicer and socialise with people who don't get my interests and think it's pfft. That pretty much means that most of the time I've to don a fake smile and pretend that I'm okay with them putting me down...

But that's still bearable. Shark fin soup, however, is NOT.

And they don't get why I refuse to drink up and accuse me of wastage. WTF indeed.

So for my wedding (if I'll ever have one), I will not serve shark fin soup, and in place of that, when the (vegetarian?) soup is being served, I will air a short video on shark finning which will hopefully be as graphic as possible so that everyone, young and old, will understand why we have to protect sharks and stop the cruel practice of finning. When the demand stops, the finning will stop too.

And if the young ones can be made to emphatise with the sharks, they will be agents of change because they have the uncanny ability of embarassing adults who do bad things. ;)