Wednesday, July 23, 2008

This afternoon, I had lunch with Benjamin, one of my former classmates in TJC during the PAE period. Haven't seen each other face to face for 4-5 months! When we met at Bedok Interchange, that good, old feeling came back.

So we had lunch at Long John Silver's. We passed by KFC, but he said that the food at KFC is more "heaty" than that of Long John Silver's. I don't know how true is that.

We had quite a lot of stuff to exchange. 4, 5 months! We talked for quite a while. It has been so LONG since I sat back, relaxed and chatted with a friend. My lunches in NYP are usually rushed. And of course, the main thing that we chatted about, was school.

He would tell me how's stuff in TJC, and I would share my life in NYP too. He told me that Mr. Iskandar is seriously ill. Really sorry to hear about that. Hope he gets well soon.

I can still vividly remember all the 3 science teachers who taught CG06/08 during the PAE period. Their faces especially. Sigh... I can remember the times with YJ, Ben, Nic, ZY. Especially Ben and Nic. We would have lunch together at the food centre opposite TJC. We just clicked. I need to renew these friendships. Something tells me that if I might regret if I just let these friends pass me. I am not going to let that happen.

When I think about friendships again, I will think about the difference between SJI, TJC and NYP. The type of people and their attitude and the environment. I can analyse and determine who will be my friends for life, who are my true friends who will stick with me through thick and thin. It is best if I don't elaborate too much about this. Those who know me well enough will know what I mean.

I want to meet up with all 4 of them the next time! I am not going to neglect and take my friends for granted. Yea, not going to make a mistake that I will regret. I am going to treasure these people. Good friends are hard to come by.

To my friends in JC: If you didn't do too well for your JCTs, don't fret. Work harder. Press on. I know you guys can do it. Especially those in CG06/08! Come on, triple science! You have my support! Benjamin and Nicholas, yes, you guys will BE BACK.

With that, here's a video from Youtube: That's What Friends Are For.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cycling (East Coast Park to Changi Point)

I met Maverick and Jonathan at Bedok Interchange. We took 196 to Marine Parade (Parkway area), and walked to East Coast Park.

After renting a bicycle each, we embarked on a 4 hour biking trip. We covered a short-medium distance. Starting at around the Mcdonald's area, we cycled all the way to Changi Village via the PCN, stopping at Bedok Jetty for a while. We saw the trees, the birds, the sand, families in the sand, the water, the surfers, the ships, the planes, the Control Tower, the SAF Jetty.

When we reached Changi Village, we headed straight for the food centre. The market was closed then I think. As a matter of fact, not many stalls were open at that time (~5.30pm). We decided to settle down at a Zhi Cha (煮炒) stall (sort of a mini-restaurant). We each had a refreshing ICE-COLD sugarcane juice with a hint of lemon. All that we needed to boost our blood glucose levels.

As soon as we finished, we headed further down to Changi Point, around the Beach walk area. There were people fishing there. We met a couple walking together--not a bad choice, in fact a romantic venue for your Monday evening!

And we cycled back (using the same route), returned the bicycles 15 minutes earlier, and went to the breakwater to sit.

Jonathan & Maverick:

Here's the PCN route, taken from National Park's website:

We should aim to cover the whole loop next time!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I was reading the forums just now, and argh... somone wanted to know how to determine the concentration of a solution without using titration. And another guy came along and suggested the use of uranyl zinc acetate to precipitate out the sodium ions. This farfetched idea was cool... But because it is almost impossible to obtain this in a high school lab, the idea itself totally cracked me up.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It was the first day of school. Microbiology was not bad. Eugene and I managed to get quite a nice slide of Staphylococcus aureus. Normal crystal violet stain. One of the better slides I have prepared so far. The last time I tried to Gram stain in SJI... not too successful though. Probably due to contamination.

And German class was not bad, even though I was quite tired. Maverick made me laugh uncontrollably! We were picking German names. He's Ludwig! And I'm Wolfgang! Ludwig meets Wolfgang. Where music clashes...

I have no idea why Maverick and Jonathan find Wolfgang so funny... Maybe it's the "gang" part? I had that German feeling when I spoke. And I was laughing. It's contagious. The class was also laughing.

So tomorrow's physical chemistry and inorganic chemistry. Great... Thermodynamics, equilibria, rate equations... I am going to know you inside out! And yes, it's back to the basics of sharp, principal, diffuse, fundamental! Pauli exclusion principle! Wolfgang Pauli! Woo! I'm speaking Wolfgang and German again!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Approximately ten excuses for not doing homework:
I accidentally divided by zero and my paper burst into flames.
I could only get arbitrarily close to my textbook. I couldn't actually reach it.
I have the proof, but there isn't room to write it in this margin.
I was watching the World Series and got tied up trying to prove that it converged.
I have a solar powered calculator and it was cloudy.
I locked the paper in my trunk but a four-dimensional dog got in and ate it.
I couldn't figure out whether I am the square of negative one or I am the square root of negative one.
I took time out to snack on a doughnut and a cup of coffee, and then I spent the rest of the night trying to figure which one to dunk.
I could have sworn I put the homework inside a Klein bottle, but this morning I couldn't find it.

Here's another joke:

Get it?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

SCL Orientation '08

I made myself busy at the SCL Orientation 2008 for the past three days.

It's a long way to NYP... It's a long way, to go... I take about 1.5 hours to commute between home and school. It's just a bit longer, compared to SJI. So no grumbles.

No amazing anecdotes from the orientation. But I think my class MB0802 is not bad. And our OGLs, Shang Feng and Aida were very (tending to infinity) friendly.

Last night, a few of us had a mass conversation on MSN that quite rocked. Edwin got nailed by many of us... Haha... I haven't had such a good laugh on MSN for quite some time already. And for that I have to thank my classmates and OGLs.

I am still waiting for the photographs we took outside the library!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Resistant to Base

I actually have tonnes of stuff to talk about. But anyway I will just feature this wonderful video--a parody of "Addicted to Love".

Ain't it lovely? Musically speaking, it may not be the nicest song. However, don't forget it is a parody! My point is that it is creative. "Your stirring bar is dissolving"--haha!

Oh, and recently, I got to know Maverick. Same course, same polytechnic. Alright!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

JI Terrorist Escapes from Detention Centre

Singapore's most wanted JI militant leader Mas Selamat Kastari escaped from Whitley Road Detention Centre yesterday. It has been about a day, and we still have not apprehended him. We deployed the police, the Gurkhas in a massive manhunt, and we still have not caught him.

Oh, and I won't put a picture of him here. My blog doesn't like it.

So as The Straits Times put it, "Security at detention centre is 'very tight'." Yes, I am sure it is very secure. Seems to me like Singapore detention centre is only built for Singaporean detainees. In the first place, why put terrorists in a detainment centre? They deserve to be in a prison with better security. You hope you can change their ways but I'll tell you, it is hard. It is their way of life. And in this case, it backfired. A leopard never change its spots. I see a possible reform in every prisoner but a terrorist. Moreover, Mas Selamat is such a hardcore terrorist.

I heard he escaped during a toilet break (he requested)? Question is, how? How did he even manage to get out of the compound?

Mas Selamat managed to flee from Singapore in December 2001. He was eventually deported to Singapore in February 2006 after serving time in two Indonesian jails for immigration offences. And we let him escape? What kind of "tight security" is this? Some might probably compare this one security breach in Singapore to many breaches in the UK. But hey, this is Singapore. We are smaller? We are safe? And he escaped successfully? Do I have the right to be embarrassed about this? I think so.

Yes, don't be alarmed. He is unarmed. So what? I am not at peace, knowing that a terrorist (JI, Singapore operations) is at large in my country.

Here is a surveillance tape from a JI terrorist in Singapore:

He planned to attack our Yishun MRT Station. And he planned to hijack an aircraft and crash it into Changi Airport. He is still determined to do so. We only have one Changi Airport, one public airport, and we cannot risk it.

Before I forget, have the police searched for possible tunnels present in the cemetery? Who knows, he might be hiding there. And have they searched the basement of the houses in that area? He could be hiding with his fellow secret extremists. Come on, look at this determined Mas Selamat. He probably had a backup plan when he escaped from the detention centre. He probably knows who to meet, who to link up with. He could possibly flee from Singapore (again) within a short period of time! If you think that Singapore is clean and free from extremists, think again.

Would someone just put them in Guantanamo, their home?

I really hope that the Gurkhas and the police can find and capture him in due time. As Dr. Gunaratna said, "every Singaporean must be alert and make a concerted effort to indentify him before he leaves Singapore." Amen.

Further readings:

Mercury in Our Diet

If you eat salmon, king mackerel, shark, swordfish, or tilefish, you are probably putting this into your system as well:

Methylmercury. It's the soluble form. You really don't want to mess with it. It can accumulate in fatty tissues and the mercury can even reach your brain as it has an affinity for sulphur and could irreversibly bind to the thiol groups found in enzyme systems. Not to mention that it could also bind to sulphur containing proteins and denature them. In severe cases, a hapten may form and trigger an immune response.

Google "mercury poisoning" and you will know what a beast mercury can really be. I don't want to exaggerate the magnitude of this matter, but it is 2008, and I think we are all well aware that our environment is more polluted and males' sperm count and motility are decreasing. Point being- Mercury in our environment could be a bigger problem in the future. Awareness would help.

Yes I know, salmon is too delicious. Too bad the salmon is a big fish. And just like the shark, the bioaccumulative mercury they recieve at the end of the food chain is tremendous. due to the exponential accumulation of mercury down the food chain. And if we eat the big fishes... And considering that we are right at the end of the food chain... Doomed?

You don't have to forgo eating oily fish. In fact, you shouldn't. Eat herring and sardines. They are smaller fish and are considered low-mercury fish. Don't like the Clupeidae family? Then, refer to this list:

Besides, most farmed fish are considered safe. On the other hand, PCBs might be another issue.

"Chinese herbal drugs with measurable amounts of mercury include: Chinese herbal ball preparations containing both mercury and arsenic include:
An Gong Niu Huang Wan
Da Huo Luo Wan
Dendrobium Moniliforme Night Sight pills
Niu Huang Chiang Ya Wan
Niu Huang Chiang Hsin Wan
Ta Huo Lo Tan
Tsai Tsao Wan"

Forget these herbal drugs. They will do more harm than good.
EDTA and DMSA are chelators used in mercury poisoning. Alpha lipoic acid also proved its usefulness as a chelator. It crosses the BBB. It is a cyclic disulphide. And mercury just loves sulphur too much. Instead of binding to the sulphur in our body, the mercury could bind to ALA instead and be eliminated from the body, thus "reversing" the state of mercury poisoning.
EDTA and DMSA coordinating the mercury atom, illustrated here using Chemsketch:

ALA might not be a good idea for chelation. I have read about controversies that ALA could remobilize mercury to the nervous system, which is much worse. Of course, ALA advocates say that proper timely usage of ALA (every 3 hours) will ensure that the mercury is eliminated and not moved somewhere else in the body.

Just watch what you eat and you should be safe. And don't play with mercury. I know it's nice--that mirror-reflective, silvery liquid. And what more can I say? Even Qin Shi Huang thought it could give him eternal life!

Mercury can spontaneously vaporize. It may have a low vapour pressure of 0.0017 torr at 25°C, but it could be way over the exposure limits, especially if ventilation is poor.

Doing this should not harm you much. But then again, why expose yourself to mercury when you have a choice? Out of curiosity? First hand experience? Well, I will leave it for you to decide. Anyway, the video demonstrates the cohesive nature of mercury.

Don't love mercury too much!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New York Philharmonic Plays in North Korea

Yes, the symphony orchestra plays in North Korea. That's DPRK. U.S. to DPRK! Two different worlds!

North Korea. Bet you haven't been there yourself! They don't want you there, and you probably won't want to be there anyway--you might not make it back...

I have heard of quite a number of stories about the life in the DPRK. It is sad that citizens of the DPRK have no freedom. They didn't choose to be born there, did they? Starving citizens, unhealthy babies put to sleep, forced labour...

And dictator Kim Jong Il... Human rights abuses, concentration camps, nuclear testing.

So, not all North Koreans are admitted to Pyongyang, and most of them are probably unaware of this visit from the NYPO. But I support the move in itself (let's not discuss other controversies for the moment). I see it as an opportunity for better relations between the U.S. and the DPRK. It is one step closer to improving the lives of North Koreans. How tiny a step it may seem, it is nevertheless still a step.

Obama: Rough Time in the Campaign

Doubting Obama's Patriotism
1. Obama did not salute the flag.

This video was taken at an event in Indianola, Iowa where six Democratic presidential candidates appeared. It was Iowa Senator Tom Harkin's annual "meat and greet". From left to right: Barack Obama, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Harkin's wife, Ruth, Senator Chris Dodd, Senator John Edwards, Senator Joe Biden.

2. Obama does not wear the American flag pin on his lapel.

3. Michelle, Obama's wife, said in a speech, that she was proud of her country for the first time in her adult life.

Relevant articles:

Rumours about Obama
4. How about he Madrassa smear?

5. And now, Clinton staffers circulate a picture of Obama over the weekend, to fuel the rumours that Obama is still a Muslim.

And the Clinton Campaign said, "We can't be sure that it didn't come from us. It is not the intent of the campaign to release this picture to tarnish Senator Obama in any way, but if someone in the campaign thinks the Obama camp gets treated differently by the media, well, they're right."

What is this supposed to mean? Does the end result justify the means? I think it is bad taste--probably the result of a desperate democratic race for President (the Texas and Ohio primaries just next week!). Shameful. It will probably backfire on Hillary. Her sympathy is favoured more than what, dirty tactics?

And a coincidental mistake?:
Where's Obama? Osama, you mean. CNN makes an error, putting "Obama" on a photograph of bin Laden. CNN has apologized since:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Upcoming TV Series

New Seasons.
South Park- March 12
The Big Bang Theory- March 17

Can't wait. 2 of my favourite TV programmes.

Comic of a Comic Incident,2933,331543,00.html

"Why does it seem as if most of the decisions in my workplace are made by drunken lemurs?"
"Decisions are made by people who have time, not people who have talent."
"Why are talented people so busy?"
"They're fixing the problems made by people who have time."

Was it funny?

He pinned the Dilbert Comic Strip on the office bulletin last October, hoping that it would brighten the atmosphere in the office. Unfortunately, it didn't.

David Steward was fired from the Catfish Bend Casino at Iowa as the management found the cartoon to be "very offensive".

There might be warnings or disclaimers in the future that a joke is meant to be a joke.

What? I think this is ridiculous. Come on, it is just a joke, and you can see that it is a joke, because you can see it is Dilbert! It just shows narrowmindedness, a lack of humour, and maybe a lack of confidence. If you cannot except the joke because you think it is too insulting and disrepsectful, there's still no need to go to the extent of firing your employee. What a douche.

Dilbert creator Scott Adams says, "and any chance to mock the humourless is worth the effort."

And here's Wednesday's comic strip from Dilbert concerning this issue:

Haha. This is funnier.

10:26 p.m. EST

1. From the American Forces Press Service:
"At approximately 10:26 p.m. EST today, a U.S. Navy AEGIS warship, the USS Lake Erie (CG-70), fired a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) hitting the satellite approximately 247 kilometers (133 nautical miles) over the Pacific Ocean as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph. USS Decatur (DDG-73) and USS Russell (DDG-59) were also part of the task force."
Mission Accomplished. Hooah!

"Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours."

2. A total lunar eclipse occurs (mid eclipse). Depends on your location, of course.

Singapore, Moscow Brace for Youth Games Verdict

"The IOC has said the Youth Games could go to cities with no capacity to stage Olympic Games due to size or financial constraints, an element that could work in Singapore's favour."

It will probably be held at the Kallang area if Singapore wins, I guess? Singapore should win. Look at the pre-celebrations, road closures, even before the results are out! I smell victory. There must be some thing that we do not know. Who wants to bet?

Hope Singapore gets the bid! We will find out in a few hours time...

Edit: Singapore WINS. Singapore will host the 2010 Youth Olympics!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

U.S. to Shoot Down Reconnaissance Satellite

Wikipedia: A Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) missile, with an anti-satellite payload will be launched from the USS Lake Erie by the US Navy to intercept the USA-193 satellite.

"Pentagon sources said the Navy is attempting to take its first shot about 10:30 p.m. ET, or 5:30 p.m. Hawaii time." - CNN

It is going to happen, real soon! Whether the reason is Hydrazine or China, it will happen. We are sending $40 million to the atmosphere.

Also, watch out for the SM-3.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Breaking Chalk

Drop a dustless chalk, held horizontally, at a decent height (say eye level), on a hard surface. Most of the time, it breaks into 3 pieces. Well, it may not surprise you, but I was I knew this phenomenon when I was having a chat with one of my teachers in 2006. He told me about it, but he never proved it or explained it with support. I guess it was either too complex or lengthy.

Recently, I happened to come across some discussions on the net pertaining to breaking chalk.

Some say that the chalk will fragment to pi pieces--meaning 3 pieces and some finer bits.

Some plan to use computer simulation of falling chalk to aid them in the process of proving.

So why 3 or pi pieces?
I look foward to seeing the prove, if there is.

It is unlike Buffon's Needle, which has a solution using geometric probability which obtains:

JAE 2008

I received an SMS from MOE at around dawn, saying that I got into Molecular Biotechnology at NYP. And I just opened Form D as well, pretty much the same thing.

Just can't wait for the term to start.

Fidel Castro Retires

Excerpts of Fidel Castro's letter:
"Dear compatriots,
I promised you on 15 February that in my next reflections I would touch on a subject of interest for many compatriots. This time that reflection takes the form of a message...
I held the honourable position of president for a period of many years... Before that I had held the post of prime minister for nearly 18 years. I always exercised the necessary prerogatives to carry forward our revolutionary work with the support of the vast majority of the people.
Knowing about my critical state of health, many people overseas thought that my provisional resignation from the post of president of the Council of State on 31 July 2006, leaving it in the hands of the First Vice-President, Raul Castro, was definitive. Raul himself, who also holds the post of minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces on his own merit, and my other comrades in the party leadership and the state, were reluctant to think of me removed from my posts despite my precarious state of health...
Preparing the people for my psychological and political absence was my primary obligation after so many years of struggle. I never ceased to say that we were dealing with a recuperation that was "not free from risk". My desire was always to carry out my duties until my final breath. That is what I have to offer.
To my close compatriots, who did me the immense honour in recent days of electing me as a member of parliament, I tell you that I will not aspire to or accept - I repeat - I will not aspire to or accept the post of president of the Council of State and commander-in-chief.
The path will always be difficult and will require the intelligent strength of all of us... Always prepare for the worst scenario. 'Be as prudent in success as you stand firm in adversity' is a principle that must not be forgotten. The adversary we must defeat is extremely strong, but we have kept him at bay for half a century.
I do not bid you farewell. My only wish is to fight as a soldier of ideas. I will continue to write under the title 'Reflections of compadre Fidel'. It will be another weapon in the arsenal on which you will be able to count. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I will be careful."

And what Bush says: "This should be a period of democratic transition for the people of Cuba."

Castro's always strike me as charismatic. He just gives me the revolutionary kind of feeling, especially when he is in his military uniform.
External appearances aside, I am in favour of his resignation. Just two of the many reasons:
1. He is sick for quite some time already. He is 81 years old. It is time for him to past the baton. And it is great that he recognizes that.
2. He has a poor human rights record. Under his leadership, people against his regime can be killed, "counterrevolutionaries" can be imprisonsed without trial. There's more. What's new? Isn't this typical of dictators in general?

49 years.

Is Cuba ready for democracy?

E-waste Kills

I watched "Assignment Africa" on CBS. Dana King was reporting on the electronic wasteland in Ghana.

The pollution there is simply terrifying--the land, water and the air.
"Blackened sludge runs through the dump and out to the ocean. And what look like raindrops on the surface are actually mosquitos, likely carrying malaria."

But what I found most disturbing was that children were burning the scraps of electronic matter to obtain copper, which they can sell later for some money. When electronics are burnt, toxic fumes are produced. Those black fumes ain't just fumes. They are toxic fumes that can bioaccumulate. We know that electronic equipments utilize heavy metals such as lead and mercury, toxic organic materials such as dioxins and PCBs. See the link?

It is poisonous, it is dangerous, so why do they still burn scrap electronics? Perhaps it's the money?

"The Ministry of Education and Sports has a field right next to where people are burning toxic material. The children play soccer in the smoke."

Or maybe not. The people of Agbogbloshie (probably the Ghanaian government as well) are obviously unaware of these health hazards.

How great is the danger?
"In the US alone, an estimated 30 million computers are thrown out every year. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), of this number, only 14% are recycled."
"But from the scientific evidences available in other parts of the world, the probability that e-waste could be a large contributing factor to some illnesses in Ghana is high."

And who do we blame? The EPA, for making loopholes in the definition of hazardous waste? The computer industry? The Ghanaian Government? Or just call it a "rapid advancement in technology"?

Can we consider e-waste dumps in a third world nation to be normal? It has been going on for quite some time now and I would like to emphasize that some e-wastelands are of close proximity to populated areas. Well, are we just going to be passive, or are we going to take action? Obviously, there are already pressures from environmental organizations for the government and computer industry to recycle electronic waste. But the question is, is that enough to make a difference at all?

There is always a financial side to many environmental issues and I will not doubt it. But for the sake of those African children out there who are living in areas polluted with our e-waste, computer industries ought to start recycling responsibly and stop dumping e-waste in poor nations. Hopefully, this problem can be mitigated in time to come.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Presidents' Day 2008

To all Americans: Happy Presidents' Day & God bless America!

Many developments recently:
1. Kosovo is declared independent from Serbia.
2. General Elections are held in Pakistan today after being postponed from 8 Jan.
3. Shootings took place at Northern Illinois University.
4. US orders largest ever beef recall--143 million pounds of frozen beef!

Really eventful.

It is already the 18th of January and yet I feel kind of unaccomplished. Perhaps it's because I am just not actively learning. I feel free. Is this supposed to be good? I don't want to rot. Besides, I am leaving TJC as of tomorrow. I chose to go to NYP instead because I feel that I am ready to specialize. I hope to enroll in the Molecular Biotechnology course. Since polytechnic does not start right after PAE, there is a possibility of rotting away.

I'll try not to.