Monday, 2 July 2007

Googling Earth for ICCS Part II - Google Maps

It's Google Maps time after my first run of the ICCS maps on Google Earth. Basically, Google Maps is rather similar to Google Earth. The main difference is that Google Maps can be viewed online while Google Earth needs to be downloaded.

Google Maps.

You can mark down the places just like how you would for Google Earth and save it online or as a KML file. Sharing Google Maps is easy too; you can either send it as a hyperlink (to be viewed online) or as a KML file (to be viewed on Google Earth).

After exploring Google Maps, I realised one horrible truth: Landmarks that are marked down in Google Maps can be saved as a KML file and view in Google Earth. However, landmarks that are marked down in Google Earth and saved as a KMZ file cannot be viewed in Google Maps. *GASP*

You must be wondering why it is horrible to me. Siva once told me that not all people would know how to use Google Earth and majority of them wouldn't even spend the time downloading the program. An online interactive map is in fact better and could reach out to more people. Therefore, now, there's a high chance that I may be remarking the same landmarks on Google Maps. *Cries*

Unless I'm wrong with the fact that KMZ file cannot be viewed in Google Maps. Or maybe there's some way in which i can intergrate Google Earth maps into Google Maps.

Calling all Google Earth/Maps geeks out there! Please Save Me!!!

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Mini Tutorial on Google Earth By a So-So Google Earth User

I've advanced from a Google Earth viewer to a Google Earth user, credits to the assignment Siva had entrusted me with. Now, please give a chance to pass these skills to people who are interested to be a Google Earth user too!

An overview of Google Earth. The globe greets you once you start the program.

Google Earth isn't a difficult program to use. Perhaps, you could try to find your home and get yourself familiarize with the navigation control and the program itself.

If you are overwhelmed with all the trees, buildings and roads that you see at the satellite level, and had no idea what the place you are staring at is, no worries! You could switch on useful layers such as the roads, borders, populated places, and Google earth community. These will show you the landmarks and road names. Alternatively, you can download Singapore Placemarks Version 4.12. This will give you major landmarks and even MRT routes; it's definitely a very useful tool and worth downloading. =D

The layers control is at the bottom left hand side of the screen (as shown in the picture).

After you are done with exploring Google Earth, it's serious business time - marking places on it. I will show how to put a pin and make a path in this post.

Click to enlarge the picture. Follow the instructions in the picture to put a pin on a landmark. If you need to do amendments, right click on the pin and choose 'properties' (for Windows). For Mac users, choose 'get info'.

Click to enlarge the picture. Follow the instructions in the picture to draw a path.

Now, after all the pins and paths are in position, it's time to save your file and perhaps share it with others! Firstly, you've got to create a folder in say 'My Places'. Then drag all the items that you had created into this new folder.

Click to enlarge the picture. Follow the instructions in the picture to create a folder.

Now, you can save it as a KMZ file and share it with your friends! Simply attach the KMZ file to you email and you're done!

Click to enlarge the picture. Follow the instructions in the picture to save as a KMZ file.

It's the end of the tutorial! You are now certified as a Google Earth User! Congratulations!

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Colours on a gloomy day

I had nothing ahead of me except press articles to scan and a schedule to chase. That was probably why the hot shining day seemed gloomy.

Nevertheless amidst my dulled senses, my attention was captured by this!

As if the blinding sun wasn't enough, I saw this blooming lotus outside the Department of Biological Science. It was initially just a bud on Monday. But when I went down on Wednesday - volia!

It's big, pink and blooming in action.

I couldn't help but take a few shots. The fact that I'd finished scanning the articles probably added to my photo-taking mood. =)

Here's the last picture of the lotus, sun kissed and smiling for the camera.

This was taken on the 27th July. I guess the flower's still there for those who want to see it, but no guarentees. So hurry down now to Level 5 Blk S2 Science Drive 4, The National University of Singapore to catch the flower in full bloom!

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Googling Earth for ICCS

Siva decided to give the maps in International Coastal Cleanup, Singapore (ICCS) website an overhaul – an upgrade from the maps to Google Earth – and he entrusted me with this major map revamp assignment. After giving me a mini Google Earth tutorial, I was left to figure out the rest on my own.

I got to the ICCS website immediately and looked at the maps for each zones. (Gulp! Gonna have a tough time…)

ICCS map for Changi Zone. Imagine this in Google Earth.

Shock time over, and I began marking down the places steadily in Google Earth. It’s not so horrifying after all because I’m armed with the latest Singapore Street Directory 2007!

I started marking down on 19 June 2007 and am finally done with the first run on 26 June 2007. A little preview on the future ICCS maps and my lovely artwork:

The same Changi Zone in Google Earth.

Hooray! Hooray!! First run is finally over! No more popping eyes and mad shuffling between ICCS website, Google Earth, and Singapore Street Directory 2007!

However, just when I’m on cloud nine, Siva called for me: ‘Wenxian, go find out about Google Maps and see how these Google Earth maps can be integrated into it.’ *Gulp.*

(Sequel coming soon!)

Typhoid Mary

After being labeled as Typhoid Mary by Siva, this is what I've found:

" Today, a Typhoid Mary is a generic term for a carrier of a dangerous disease who is a danger to the public because they refuse to take appropriate precautions. "

Here's some interesting information about the first identified carrier of typhoid fever. Add the fact that she's always in denial, and you can bring several people seriously down.

I brought down Siva only, but many people seem to be getting the flu these days. So being the pioneer amongst those hit with flu, I guess it's no wonder he referred to me as Typhoid Mary.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Museums galore!

I was doing the administrates for claiming taxi fares when I came across an abbreviation - MOFF. Initially I thought it was some Ministry of bla bla bla. But I just couldn't get my hands on it.

Then, it hit me that it's got to be some Museum. And thanks to the amazing search engine Google, I've found more than I've bargained for - an entire list of museums in Singapore! They've formed an association known as the Museum Roundtable.

Internship's really a discovery process when Siva lets me have the time to explore. =P Else I'd never have known there were these much places holding Singapore's culture and heritage. And some still say Singapore's hopeless for her heritage.

Well, now we know otherwise! 42 museums around Singapore to keep the culture and heritage hungry Singaporean satisfied. Here's the list of Museums along with a general map to let you give you a rough idea of the locations of the museums.

Like me, I guess you readers out there's forgotten the reason why I've stumbled upon this list.

*Imagining Siva berating me for my porous memory* =P

Anyway, there it is. MOFF stands for Memories at Old Ford Factory. Which reminds me that I've got to read up on it. Right Siva? =P

Getting OS X 10.4.10 - Part One

There're two different chips in a Macintosh - one for Intel based Mac computers and another for PowerPC (PPC). Siva's blogged about it in his OS X 10.4.10 - go fetch! post, and also, more download information are available under Apple downloads as well.

Here are 4 easy steps I did to download the new OS X 10.4.10 on the Power Mac G4 I use:

1. Before updating the Mac, go to spotlight in a mac and search out your Disk Utility.

2. Next just proceed to repair disk permissions and wait till it's done.

3. Then carry on to update your Mac.

4. After it's done, Siva recommends to repeat the "repair disk permissions" step again.

Repairing Disk Permissions




This only gets the Combo pack onto the G4. It has to be manually installed. And that will be for another post to come.

URL made cuter

Been looking at Siva's blog and trying to get some interesting (my definition) web tools to play around with. =P

So here's what I've found and thought this is cute and useful at the same time:
It's a really neat tool basically because it tidies up those long URLs you get through surfing the internet, that you want to share with your friends. Instead of a whole chunk, why not shrink it into mouth bites?

Where to get the HTML for your blog or webpage for easy access. And no need to sign up for yet another account. =)

Otterman's 93rd blood donation

In my secondary education days, there would be representatives from the Health Sciences Authority coming down to promote blood donation. I'd always be the one that remains fascinated about the proceedings of it. In fact, all that I have recollection of are the needles and the snacks after that.

So, moving along with Siva on his 93rd donation made me understand a little more than I did about the proceedings of blood donation.

Stage 1
A form's to be filled out to make sure you aren't involved in any promiscuous activity of late. Or early for that matter. Next, you'll get to chat with a doctor personally to make sure the answers are correct and to screen you for your weight. Siva said the 2+ pages worth of questions are gone through one by one. That's how important it is to make sure the blood donated is clean and free from any diseases.

Stage 2
A blood test is done. Your finger gets pricked and blood forced out to be collected in a microtube. Siva said this is the only part of the entire process that hurts. (Can't confirm how true that is. Probably varies with individuals.) Next a tiny drop of blood's dripped into copper sulphate II to ascertain your blood density level's satisfactory for donation. (I've been told Airani has a high rate of failing this test.)

Stage 3
Green light to donate, and you'll proceed into this room with bendy chairs. and two movable arm rests. There's no preference as to which arm to have the needle inserted - all depends on the nurse's ability to get your vein to show itself.

Stage 4
After sterilising the area to have the needle inserted, the nurse delivers local anaesthesia to Siva and inserted the metal needle in. A small portion of blood is directed to a tiny pouch, which I was told for testing purposes. About 3/4 of the blood is used and the rest of blood flow is directed into the larger donation pouch. 450ml of blood's mixed with 46ml of preservative. This pouch is left on a haem-mixer which rocks the pouch gently till 450ml of your blood's inside. It also gives the rate of blood flow into the pouch. All the while, Siva has to squeeze a little sponge provided by the blood bank.

Stage 5
After the pouch fills up and the needle removed, the donor gets to rest for 5 minutes on the bendy chair. Meanwhile, your pouch of blood's whisked away for labeling. A gauze is used and an elastic bandage wrapped around it for flexibility and maximum ventilation for better recovery. And you're good to go!

Siva having donated so many times, has a Champion donor plague on the backdrop of the bloodbank's waiting area. Some photos are available on his blog and more information on his blood page.

Other Links:
How to be a blood donor
PDF copy of pamphlet blood donation

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Sun Bears without the sun (and warmth)

We had a talk on Malayan sun bears by Mr. Wong Siew Te on Monday (18 June 2007) afternoon. Mr. Wong touched on the ecology and behaviour of sun bears through his picturesque presentation and created awareness to the threats faced by these cuddly forest bears in the later part of the talk. And finally, it is on the conservation of these bears.

Sun bear and its unique chest marking.
(Adapted from:

Sun bear is the smallest and least known bear in the world. It is unique as its chest bears a patch of yellow furs which no two bears have the same patch; it is akin to our fingerprint. Figs are the main food source for these bears though they do set their claws on termite nests too. Apparently, these bears do also have preference for smelly, rotting chicken innards. (Mr. Wong used them to lure the bears to the traps he set up for his research)

During the period from 1997 to 1999, Sun bears were reduced to skin and bones. There was a massive reduction in the production of figs due to El Nino. Hence, famine resulted. Moreover, haze generated from clearing forest land for agriculture had drastic effects on the main pollinators of the fig tree – fig wasps. The fig wasps’ respiratory system gone hay wire and they died. Without these pollinators, it is even more unlikely that figs flowers will fruit. Basically, the sun bears starved; orang utans survived as it got plenty of alternative food source. (Though Mr. Wong doubted they will survive if the famine persisted for a longer period of time).

Bear #120 and its loose skin as a result from starvation.
(Adapted from Mr Wong Siew Te's thesis

Though natural disasters do threaten the livelihood of these bears, it is largely humans’ inconsiderate and selfish desires that eventually drive these bears to desperation. Besides the famine, other human activities which cause the declination in the sun bear population include harvesting the bear’s gallbladder for medicinal uses, keeping the cubs as pets (cause they are extremely cute, and human likes cute stuff), and extracting the bear’s canines to make accessories.

Cuddly Bear's a victim.
(Adapted from:

Poor sun bears. It seemed that their lives and future are not that bright afterall. If only people could put in more effort into conservation (for the bears as well as for the environment).

More blogs on Mr Wong Siew Te's talk on sun bears:
Otterman speaks
The Annotated Budak
Raffles Museum news


Another lesson learnt during internship's to backup my files. Normally, I don't back up because I don't see a need to. It's usually school projects that involve many people. Thus our backup would most probably mean each individual has a copy and that suffices.

Apparently that would be standing at the edge of a 101 level building with an ongoing typhoon when you're in a working environment. Always thinking that the world's going smoothly's just paving a way towards misery later on as I realised. And that is one path Siva's been trying to get us interns out of.

The possibility of accidents happening such as water spilling over the laptop, the dog running over wires and tripping it, the computer crashing or even a power failure, can cause severe and prolonged misery of losing information. I guess that's why there are programs which auto saves information like Blogger.

Anyway aside from that fact, Siva pointed out that I should make a copy of the scanned articles of MoST. Absentmindedly, I gave him his thumb drive without any notice on what's inside. The fact that he could have deleted them to derive more space on his thumb drive didn't hit me then. Well, it certainly dropped an impact when I asked for it yesterday.

I guess backups are apt for people with weak hearts. And for the general population too for that matter. Even if something ominous happens to the file that will get you the million dollar contract, you'll still be able to walk away a happy millionaire. If you backup that is.

Suggestions on what to backup

Monday, 18 June 2007

Crabby Search

Friday's (15.6.2007) field trip was meant for Daniel and his FYP. Despite the heavy rain in the late morning, Mr. Siva, Mr. Yeo, Daniel, and I hopped onto a mini lorry and began our search for fresh water crabs. We dropped off at Dr Ivan’s house first. I was a little puzzled initially as to why we had gone to someone’s house to look for crabs. I thought we may be engaging Dr Ivan’s help on the topic and perhaps moving on to some other place for the search. Little did I know that there is a forest hidden behind Dr Ivan’s house, and that is the forest where we would carry out our search!

The stream where we search for fresh water crabs; it’s long and rocky.

Dr Ivan owned part of the forest while the rest of it belongs to the army. Mr. Siva and Daniel began their search along the stream in the same direction and I followed them. I had no idea how different the fresh water crabs would be like, in terms of size and appearance, as compared to those commonly seen in the market. I was only told briefly to look underneath the rocks.

Soon, Daniel claimed that he had found one tiny crab in a dark moist hole beside the stream. In my excitement, I rushed up to take a look, and alas, I slipped and fell into the stream. Argh! Nevertheless, I managed to catch a glimpse of the mini crab before it scurried away. It was really minute, about 5mm, similar to a household spider. I guessed it must be a baby crab then (maybe it is really a spider?).

Being a novice, my search was rather unsuccessful. Feeling a little dismay, I decided to head back to the starting point, partly because the path is getting steeper and my lower leg was hurting from the slip previously. On my way back, I stopped by the hole where Daniel found the tiny crab. This time round, lady luck was on my side, I saw a much bigger crab (I’m quite sure it was a crab and not a spider). But before I could pull out my camera and snap a few shots, it scurried away and disappeared before my eyes. *cries* But to all curious readers who happened to be as ignorant as me, the following pictures may give you an idea on how they looked like:

Top view: Two crabs in a drinking glass. The big one is about 5cm while the small one is about 3cm. The small crab is really active; crawling around restlessly. I guessed it was a little traumatized from being trapped. The big one is rather sedentary. Perhaps there wasn’t much space for it to move too.

Front view of the crabs.

These two crabs were caught by Mr. Yeo. I really wondered how he could spot them as they camouflaged really well. The amazing part is, he found the two crabs within minutes! He’s good, isn’t he! In total, we managed to find about ten to fifthteen crabs in Dr Ivan’s forest in less than two hours.

After biding farewell to Dr Ivan and his family, we continued our search for freshwater crabs along a drain next to Meralodge. Mr. Siva commented that the stream closer to the forest was dry and therefore our search was confined to just a distance away from the drain. There was hardly any crab. Daniel managed to find one juvenile crab, a far cry from the fifty or more that populated the area in the past. The number of fresh water crabs decreases drastically due to pollution such as insecticides and oil. In fact we spotted oil on the soil while we were heading back to the main drain.

All in all, the trip is really an eye opener for an urban kid like me. I have never embarked on such a search before; the closest is Bukit Timah or Pulau Ubin guided trail. *so embarrassing* Moreover, I have a better idea on where to look for fresh water crabs now. Below is a rough guide to the perfect hideouts of the fresh water crabs:

  1. Look for holes (mini caves) along the stream, best if it is dark and moist.
  2. Alternatively, look for moist leaf litter. Be bold enough to rummage through them, though you are most likely to find wriggly worms beneath it.
  3. Look under the rocks. But remember to place the rock back to its original position.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Walking in the Rain

Another activity organised by Siva that got me to work those fats off's Briskwalk. It's refreshing as promised; yet I wouldn't be too sure if it's due to the walk or the shower.

Armed with only a bottle full of water, I had to pick a make-shift umbrella off the leaf litter, which I have to say, worked better against the rain than I expected. Along with me, I have my dad who was lucky enough to find a large leaf with a perpendicular stem. My sis and Wenxian were equipped with rudimentary gear; a cap and a tiny face towel. My mum was the luckiest - she had Wenxian's umbrella!

Leaves as brollies.

Those crazy steep steps.

It was a satisfying morning after the slog in rain and perspiration. And perspire we did - after all those knee high steps and crazy slopes. Finally, we achieved the ultimate aim - reaching the highest topographical location in Singapore!

At the top of Singapore with my mentor

I expected a bird's eye, panaromic view of Singapore, but all there were available were tall thick trees and a whole lot of mist. I guess that's what nature parks should be about anyway - as little human disturbances or evidences of human intrusion as possible.

The summit!

Well, more can be found in habitatnews along with photos available here!

Monday, 11 June 2007

Crocs ahoy! 2

Here's a tiny sequel to the previous post on the little croc we got from Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve (SBWR) for preservation.
"Jeremy Ang (SBWR) dropped it off at the museum on 23 Feb 2007. They had discovered the baby crocodile drowned in a drift net left behind by poachers who frequently enter the reserve from Kranji.

Sungei Buloh will use it as a display specimen for education. There have been crocs in the area for some years, see:
and "
Adapted from Raffles Museum Internship under Comments by Siva.

Having soaked in formalin, the croc specimen needs to be transfered to alcohol for storage purposes. Before that, it was soaked in water for a duration of 5-7 days to get rid of formalin.

According to Mr. Yeo, the best way to gauge is to use your nose. Once the formalin smell is gone, the specimen need not be soaked in water anymore. It can then be transferred into 95% alcohol. Even then, it still needs to be soaked for 5-7 days as well. 95% alcohol's used as it is more concentrated. Thus less water after evaporation as Mr. Yeo explained.

Croc out on the prowl - for a photo.

Formalin can also be used as the medium to hold the specimen but Mr. Yeo recommends alcohol as it will not harden the specimen. He also pushed aside the fact that the colour of the croc will fade as the alcohol he's been changing so far's clear.

A custom made tank according to the vitals provided by Mr. Yeo, will be ready for the croc probably this coming week by the staff from SBWR. After which, silicon will be used to seal it up to prevent alcohol evaporating off and the croc will be ready for display.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Museum Alive

It was a vibrant burst of life when the clock struck 11.40am on late Friday morning. Siva's friend David appeared with his, (if I'm allowed to use this adjective), troop off family members.

The entire family

They brought life with sounds and actions to the otherwise placid and dead quiet museum. It was a refreshing change. Above all, they all had the right responses; gasping and intercepting with oohs and ahhs at the right moment. Moments like when I told them the pasir panjang shark had human remains in its gut. It was the first time I experienced shock disbelief out loud from 14 people in unison - adults and children alike!

Beaming for the camera once again

Excited little kids

All in all, the tour ended and everyone was happy to learn something new in one way or another. Even if it's a short one hour of guiding, it definitely made my day. =)

Friday, 8 June 2007


One other web tool specially designed to facilitate scatter brains like mine, is the Ta-da list! It's this cool web tool that loads as soon as you've added your schedule. It's real easy to manipulate. To get started, you just have to sign up here for free!

A glimpse into my third brain - where I store stuff the natural ones can't find space to fit into.

As you can see, it allows you to pen down your schedule. Even stray thoughts. Categories can easily be created and you get to shift your schedule around accordingly to your priorities and style of arrangement. That's under the "Edit" and "Reorder" option at the top.

It also allows you to share the list of things that you have to do. Like during internships, supervisors have to keep an eye on things happening around so ta-da's one way of letting you access how much your intern's getting things done.

Deciding who to share your list with.

Here's what it looks like after you've shared a ta-da list.

Here's a preview of what you need to provide to obtain your own ta-da list!

It's quick, it's easy and it helps! So get orgaanised with ta-da list today!

Thursday, 7 June 2007

How feeds travel

For a computer dummy like me, learning about exporting and importing feeds' just amazing. Danliang and I were supposed to figure it out like 2 weeks ago, but we gave up after failing to discover how it was done.

It's not until today when Siva suddenly wanted me to urgently make the feeds travel that I've finally learned how to do it. It's really simple after he pointed out that the Import and Export functions are under the File tab under NetNewsWire. That was the beginning of the journey of the feeds from my NetNewsWire Lite to my Bloglines account.

Here's a step by step analysis:

First you go under File options in NetNewsWire and find the Export Subscription option.

Second, save it in opml format on your desktop or wherever you want for that matter. Tip: Give the file a specific name so it can be found easily for the steps later on.

Next, go to: Bloglines - Feeds - Edit, and look at the bottom left hand corner of the screen. The option Import Subscriptions screams out at you and you're almost done!

Lastly, having clicked on the import link and coming to the page as shown below, browse through your com for the exported file (that's when precise naming of the file comes in handy!) you just saved minutes ago and import it!

And you're done! The travelling of the feeds made easy to you! And the cool thing about it is that it goes two ways. Travel from NetNewsWire to Bloglines and vice versa. All you got to do's go backwards. Start from Bloglines, export file and so on.

Google Reader's another destination the feeds can travel to too. And the way they travel's universal. So get one method of moving your feeds around and you'll be able to move feeds from whichever feed subscriber you have. =)

Exploring Bloglines

Another web tool introduced to me was Bloglines. So what is it? Here's it all in one breath!
Bloglines is a FREE online service for searching, subscribing, creating and sharing news feeds, blogs and rich web content. With Bloglines, there is no software to download or install -- simply register as a new user and you can instantly begin accessing your account any time, from any computer or mobile device. And it's FREE!
Adapted from About Bloglines.

A screenshot of Bloglines' home page. Kind of like Wikipedia's.

I haven't discovered most of Bloglines yet, but the Feeds section is enough presently to overwhelm me. They allow subscription to sites of your interest right from the beginning so you get started and active on Bloglines straight away.

Here's showing what you can get from the feeds - amazing photos and stories all a click away!

Baby isopod Ceratoserolis. Wonder what it feels like underneath..

Ghostly shrimp-like creature, called Cylindrarcturus.

It's an animal called Ctenocidaris! Thought it was a plant..

Well, that was just a few beautiful pictures I came across while browsing through my National Geographic News : Animals and Nature feed. =)

The feeds section works just like NetNewsWire and Google Reader in addition to other features available on Bloglines. So my guess is that I'm going to stick to Bloglines more frequently!

These feeds can be categorised accordingly to your preferences under playlists. It makes you more organised as your feeds list grows longer and longer.

Another section of Bloglines I stumbled upon's a blog segment. So, now that I'm left to discover Bloglines, I've created another blog for myself accidentally! Like 2 blogs isn't enough to keep me occupied. Then again, Siva has like 16 blogs?! As you can see from the post, I was really lost. I was thinking it could somehow publish a post to the blog over here at the Raffles Museum Internship. Then, the birth of the third blog.

So check out Bloglines and get an account yourself today!

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Sweating the little stuff

Internships don't usually involve profuse emission of sweat. However, interning at the RMBR does apparently.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning that I got to know a fraction of Pulau Ubin. I signed up for Pedal Ubin and roped Wen Xian in, knowing her love for exercise. And it was a mighty one she got too.

After getting our bikes, marking attendance and splitting up into four groups, we were all set to go! We were brought to the East side of Ubin after Siva decided our group was up for a challenging morning. And challenging it was! Treacherous slopes; steep ones going up and down as well. The gravel, pits and bumps on the trail were all over, waiting to bump someone off their bikes. Lucky for the prep talk on gears and brakes, or I'd be flying off my bike. Anyway, just like Siva twittered, I don't think I'd cycle up these steep slopes to see these sights. So it's a bonus that we embarked on the East trail!

November, our guide, was really good; telling stories of ubin to us ignorant people from the mainland. We were brought to the Sensory trail which perked us all up with wonderous smells of lemon grass and pandan leaves. Then it was to observe the rivers of ubin, the sluice gates of the prawn ponds, the mangroves and the remnants of a Malay kampong. We got to see special highlights the oher groups missed out on such as vertical malay tombs of the people from the kampong, and a beautiful quarry that's difficult to access. Also, we were prowling under the mangroves to observe viviparies and were treated to a vision of what's left of the kampong.

Beautiful on the surface, gory beneath it (Ghost town of cranes and diggers are all that's underneath).

Ubin has so much to discover. Going along with these wonderful guides makes the whole experience more enriching. So, sign up for the next pedal ubin which happens quaterly every year to discover the little authentic island!
Visit Pulau Ubin Stories to find out more!

Friday, 1 June 2007

Deffered blog

Part of tasks Siva has added on to my list's to blog about my past working experiences. I figured out it wouldn't be appropriate to put my experiences on an internship blog with the museum so you won't find it anywhere in here. No sweat (Siva), it's just a click away!


I've just returned from the Museum of Shanghai Toys (MoST) with the full intention of promoting that amazing hideout spot! It's located at 83 Rowell Road. Some little shop along Serangoon road. Check out more details on how to get there in the MoST's blog!

The taxi driver and I had a little trouble finding MoST, but we made it and I was opened up into a wonderful place. Marvin the curator and founder of the museum, was very warm and friendly. The reason why this fairyland exists in reality Singapore, is fueled basically by the interest of Marvin. Find out more by clicking here!

It's amazing how many toy soldiers and dolls you can find there. And the age of those toys go way back to the 20's! The layout of the museum is systematic too. The toys were exhibited by themes and there are three levels to it just like RMBR. The bottom level's mainly full of cuddly stuffed animals that people will buy. Come to think of it, it seems like a cross between a display and a souvenir shop.

One feature I like about the first level's that the music's all Disney themed and mostly tunes that I'd come across as a child. It really makes you sink into the tiny form and brain that was once you years ago (if you're an adult now). Another section of the museum that got me excited was the whole range of turnstile machines that the have. I used to go crazy over them when I was a little girl and even when I was budding into my teenage years. And there they have it all splayed in front of me. Pity the mindless desire's gone, else I could have seeked Marvin's and Siva's permission to camp there and drop $1s in till I'm satisfied.

The second floor was exhibition and a little entertainment room for kids. This was mainly the exhibition part where explanations are decked out in white print on red cards. The fraction of fear I have for dolls derived from my close friend Kim Hong from her experience with the movie Chucky, was partially gone as I saw how much love he put in to explain their origins and the history to be delved from each exhibit. It's pretty much like the exhibits in the RMBR. Each has a local story that never fails to bore a curious child. As mentioned, a tiny space allocated for children, to entertain them with black and white cartoons. This really makes you move all the way back into the old times when TV didn't know about rainbows. It was tempting all the same to grab a chair that's small for people with tiny behinds, and see what ancient cartoons people from my dad's era used to watch about.

I wandered into the third level next and found this cool spot where you can sit and relax. In front of this cosy corner is a classroom for little kids to learn how to make toys. Like creating your own teddy bear. It's really cool just thinking how someone with a passion for toys, is doing so much to open his interest to the world. It's like the saying, "Spread the love...".

That was it. A nice little museum with enormous and generous amounts to share with the kid in everybody.

Lunch Bites

I have been looking forward to lunch these few days since Danliang left. It's the only time when interaction begins! Besides work of course. In fact, it's the time when I get to know more people that are linked to the museum; people from the Department of Biological Science. And essentially, more of Siva of course.

I met Lawrence Gwee, a guy who has interesting heritage. His great grandma's a Japanese and she being a Japanese actually saved his grandad from being murdered by the Japanese soldiers during the Japanese occupation when they were in Malaysia. Just how cool and romantic can that get?

The other really interesting story was that Singapore used to have buses with only an opening. I shan't use "door" because they didn't have doors back then! Judging from the way Lawrence and Siva were gesturing about how they would cling to the two bars at the bus' only opening, the image of those buses in lesser developed countries can't stop propping up in my head. I wonder if they actually climb up and sit on the roof of the buses. That would really be too much.

I guess all dangerous elements always has the same proportion of fun and excitement in them. They seem to be reminiscing about the buses. All the description about the bus conductor with his little box of bus tickets. It kind of feels like the Knight bus in Harry Potter, and a little like my conception of buses in British. Except with a little more rowdiness.

Although lunch's peppered with perky stories like this (that remains in my memory without me jotting them down), it never could escape from work. *Sigh* =P

Siva has told me to check my father's time out by interviewing him about life in Whampoa in the 60's. I guess that's not much work. But before I can do that, I got to read up blogs. Yes, more blog readings. One blog that I have yet to read but sounds reasonably interesting, is Good Morning Yesterday. It's Mr. Lam evoking the memories of the past in the name of constructing a window for the younger generation to have a peek into the heritage Singapore had. It's good, especially A War Time Love Story. Gives you an idea of how war affects and twists fate.

Besides stories, there were discoveries as well. The best food stall in YIH's the first stall you see when you reach the canteen. Regardless of which entrance you use (Just don't use the back door). I've also found some shortcuts in NUS! It's just beside the little garden, beside the slope up to LT32! And I thought that garden was unkempt and breeding mosquitoes. To Siva's shock of course. =P

Also, I've had the opportunity to meet Kai Yang, who commented that I look like Kai Xin just as Airani had said before. I really have to find out how she looks like. Moving on, I met Annee who's at the Department of Biological Sciences. She's really friendly and my mentor to using the scanning machine in time to come. Which reminds me, I have to get down to the Museum of Shanghai Toys to get press articles! It's all about putting these information up online for people to have easy access. Another thing about the museum's that it's the third museum that's blogging besides us RMBR and the army museum! Check out the blog here! In fact, Siva has it up in's blog. Think he's really excited about it as he can't seem to get more museums to blog effectively.

Alright, I got to fly to the museum now!

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

6 flower crabs and a homosapien

After the TV crew left, there was cleaning up to be done in the preservation room. The remaining crabs had to be preserved as well for exhibition purposes as instructed by Siva. Times like these, I really miss Danliang.

I met Kelvin before I had a chance to finish with any of the crabs and he gave me a few pointers to begin with. A container of 70% alcohol was prepared for me with some guides on where the soft spots of a crab are, and I'm on my own.

The fishy smell was really horrible, but that soon faded as I got used to it. Makes me admire my grandma a whole lot more for the frequent chilli crabs she used to cook us. Anyway, I found a pair of gloves, the syringe and the needle and started injecting away.

It was creepy doing that to six dead crabs. Before, Siva said more was better than less in order to prevent the rotting of the insides of the crab. So I think I flooded the the crabs with alcohol. The needle was hard to work with sometimes. It got stuck and it wouldn't allow the alcohol to flow out. For whatever reasons. That was probably why I had alcohol spurting out of the syringe and all over my shirt. I should have been professional like Joelle and worn a labcoat.

When Kelvin got back, he told me never to force the syringe if it got stuck. That was probably another reason why alcohol was flying everywhere.

Besides lessons on the techniques of preservation learnt, I've also discovered soft sports of a crab. It's via the mouth, the joints, and the back part of the carapace. Basically skin's what you find at the joints.

The experience of alcohol surging through crab meat and the distension of the claws was totally cool. But it left a mark of my hands. The stench of alcohol and dead crabs, yet again. Sigh. More scrubbing and soaking my hands in body shop bath foam to get the stench off!

Brush with the stars..

It all started on the 25th May evening when the scriptwriter of the host show - On the Beat 2 came down to the museum. The museum would be highlighted in the show and he needed to know the interesting stories. Which we have plenty to share of course.

Siva set us on an impromptu tour with Spruce then and we gave him a version of the Heartlander's tour we had rehearsed and presented only the day before. It was different though as he had a lot of questions for us. Embarrassingly, there were some questions that baffled both me and Danliang.

After the tour and chasing Spruce back (because we forgot Siva wanted to review what knowledge he had), most of his questions were answered by Siva himself. He was particularly interested in the pitcher plant and its preference for cheese. That'd have to be confirmed when I make a call to Gwynne.

He was excited upon learning that preservations are done within the museum and after a whole series of finding people to find courage to appear on TV, Joelle , a researcher on crabs finally was game enough to yes.

With questions answered and a demonstration all prepared, all that remains is the filming session on the 29th of May.

The artistes, Vivian Lai, Jeremy Tian and Tang Ling Wi were all bounding with energy. It's amazing how they can keep up so much energy. I guess it's all in their job scope. Among the items that we told Spruce about, he picked the leathery turtle, the leopard, the roadkill leopard cat and the Pasir Panjang shark.

After which we went straight down to level one to demonstrate the preservation of a flower crab that Mr. Yeo has kindly bought from the market only the day before. Joelle did the explanations of preservation in chinese, which I thought was really good! All the complicated terms sounded strange but I guessed she pulled it off. Also, the lab coat and gloves made her look really professional at the same time.

So after a whole lot of NGs, the film finally came to an end. The entire process took about 2 hours. And how long was this going to be featured in the program? "Only 1/4 of the show!" Spruce enlightened me. I guess artistes don't have it easy as well. In fact, they were hurrying off to another location to finish 1/8th of the host program.

Finally, to what you all have been waiting for, the showtime! It airs on Channel U at 8.30pm on the 12th of June. So, remember to turn on your television with the right channel at the precise time to catch a glimpse of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research!

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Holding the fort alone.

Danliang's stopped internship early to help her dad out. Her schedule's really tight as the deadline to get the textbooks done is this June. So it's just left with me and Siva.

Nevertheless, she couldn't shake away bits and pieces of internship at RMBR. A review on the internship was tasked upon her at the last hour. Only given 2 hours to summarise an eventful three weeks, she churned out a blog styled review. Totally not what Siva wanted - a report styled review.

Anyway he assured her having content and things to write about was at least good enough. He went through the review with us and decided he should change the "review" title to "final analysis". That was after realising we don't analyse events and situations happening around us. The problem is we don't delve into things as much as we should. In fact, I'd say I'm a surface scraper. So yea.

Also, I have to give tribute to this point Siva never mention to stress. My porus memory. It's like things thrown at me from Siva goes through the huge pores of my spongy brain. Well, some get caught but most get out fromt he other side. That was probably the reason why he got me a Ta-da list and emphasized yet again on using the handy dandy notebook. And that's also probably why he kept emphasizing the importance of precision to us. Talk about the headache he had..

Anyway, besides trying to get us to scratch deeper, he touched a lot on relationships and how we must be able to observe people, interact with them and empathise with them. Putting myself into other's shoes, showing respect in different ways to mentors or friends, giving up egos while on apprenticeship, and interacting face to face with other people are amongst the many relationship lessons he touched on. If I were to carry on in detail, I guess you readers out there would wither like how Danliang and I did.

Danliang had to re-do the analysis and send it to Siva again. I guess she'd be occupied with that and her dad's work. So after the disappearing footsteps of Danliang, I'm left wondering how miserable I'd be, as Siva promised, from that day onwards. Not too bad I suppose. Even with the critcs we got from Siva, there were approvals as well. It's this motivation which got me more prepped up than I would be after knowing I'm going to work alone. The world really works on motivation as Siva said.

Okay. Enough said, more to be found in future posts. =)

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Crocs ahoy!

Is it even dead?!

Was saying to YC the other day that we had a chance to see a baby crocodile undergoing preservation by Mr Yeo, one of our museum curators, and the first thing he said was: gross!

Kind of, in my opinion. Especially at the part where blood and waste was spurting out of its mouth and genital opening. And the smell of rotting fish, combined with the sickly sweet smell of formalin... But you'll get used to it, I did so, anyway. Cheers to my blocked nose :p But all in all, it was quite fun and very fascinating.

(Ed: A short snippet on stuff I missed out:
The crocodile was from Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve. It was discovered "drowned in a drift net left behind by poachers who frequently enter the reserve from Kranji." (quoted from comment by Siva, see below) SBWR plans on using the crocodile as a display specimen for education, hence SBWR staff Jeremy Ang brought it to the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity for preservation on 23rd Feb 2007. Erm.. I do not know the reason why the preservation is only done now, but well.. the museum is very active, and there are many ongoing events, so.. yea..)

Let me outline the basic procedures here:

1) The crocodile was taken out of its newspaper wrapping and allowed to thaw under running water for around 45min. That's important for the step where Mr Yeo had to inject formalin into the body. If the body is hard the formalin won't go in.

Curled innocently after being thawed in a tub.

2) 15% formalin was prepared from the standard stock of formaldehyde using a big measuring cylinder. Formalin is basically formaldehyde diluted with water. Usually 10% is sufficient but Mr Yeo uses 15% just to be on the safe side. Formalin is used to preserve the tissues to prevent decomposition, but it also hardens the tissue, so the concentration mustn't be too high as the tissue will become brittle and break off easily.

Measurement of pure formaldehyde to prepare the 15% formalin.

3) The height and weight of the crocodile was taken using a long ruler and a weighing scale respectively. The total length (snout to end of tail) is 75.2cm, body length (snout to beginning of tail) is 37cm and the weight is 942g. These information are recorded down on a label, together with the species name and where it was found.

Taking the vitals of the croc.

Intent upon weighing it, here's a photo of Mr. Yeo in concentration.

4) A plastic syringe was used to inject formalin throughout the length of the body. Mr Yeo prefers to start from small parts such as the tail and limbs before moving on to the head and stomach. He injects at half to one inch intervals. Usually he will cut open the body to pour formalin in, as plain injection does not usually get enough formalin into the body cavities which can result in partial rotting, but it is not possible in this case. (Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve wants the croc back whole) Therefore, he massaged the entire length of the croc to ensure that there is formalin throughout. He also poured formalin through the mouth down the throat.

Getting it inbetween the tough plates..
5) Because formalin hardens the tissue, Mr Yeo put the croc on a styrofoam board, arranged it into a natural-looking position with head propped up using styrofoam and limbs fixed on the ground using pins to maintain a climbing stance. Then he put the entire thing into a box and submerged the croc with 15% formalin. To prevent the structure from floating, he weighed down the styrofoam board with bricks.

Mr. Yeo pinning little croc down with precise posturing!

All ready to be submerged in tub of formalin!

Nailed down by bricks.
Work done! ^^