Friday, October 26, 2007

Use Twitter in Crises

As previously during the earthquake in Sumatra leading to tremors in Singapore, Twitter has again come of use during yet another times of crises. This time, not just by users but by emergency services.

KPBS is the local San Diego news station and they have taken on to Twitter as well during this time of fire crises in the San Diego county. Notices of road closures yesterday and today, messages to evacuated residents to return home!

Even at night it keeps burning. I can't imagine how it's like there right now, full of ash and dust. Worse than our haze. Source: sarah.c

For me in Singapore, it is the only way to get in touch with the news in San Diego where my fiance and his family lives! Most of the news in Singapore focus on the south Los Angeles county mega-homes while the lives of displaced farm workers in San Diego goes unnoticed.

I could of course sit in front of the computer all day and try to look out for depressing news as they get updated regularly. Alternatively, I could go about my work and get messages sent to my phone via Twitter. Otherwise I just check on twitter every so often together with the rest of my twitter messages online.

W's family lives near the area being evacuated. Source: Eric Byers

This is a perfect case study of how twitter can be of use in a productive and efficient manner. Twitter updates can be sent directly to subscribers' cellphones and even if power is out, you have no Internet access at home, you can still get these messages on your phone. Of course, for those with relatives in San Diego but unable to find out news on their local television network, this is also perfect. There was power outage in the beginning of the fire and I know that some of the local news websites were down. Also, twitter allows for short messages which may not fit into the scheme of things in an actual news website.

The sky over Chula Visa. I'm visiting in 2 months. I wonder if the air quality is going to be just as bad. Source: rennae_lc

Of course radio is still the preferred tool of communications in event of crises but not everybody hangs on to the radio. Twitter now proves to be the new alternative in emergency communications. It also shows how mainstream media is now integrating with web 2.0 technology for more effective communication. After all you stop drawing the line between mainstream and web media when a crisis is at hand!

Read full article here

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

11th Hour

Read full article here

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tissue for thought

Today is blog action day and in support of this day and the environment, the monkey wishes to bring everybody's attention to the most insignificant, often overlooked daily hygiene product that you cannot live without.

The Toilet Paper.

Tissue Paper, Tisu, Kitchen Towel, Kleenex, Toilet Roll, Facial tissue, or whichever name you know it by. All of the above.

In a survey conducted on 1683 students and staff of the National University of Singapore, 21% (353) said that they "love soft, strong and white tissue paper". Only a miserable 5% disagree with the statement while the rest of the 95% weigh heavily on strongly agree (21%), agree (31%) or neutral (34%).

Why does this matter? What's the big deal with liking some comfort on my sensitive skin? It's just a piece of paper which we wipe and throw away without even thinking of it. Personally, I am guilty of consuming large amounts of facial tissue due to my chronic sinus problem. In fact, every time I visit the toilet, I could am flushing a forest down Singapore's excellent sewage system.

According to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF):

"Every day, about 270,000 trees are flushed down the drain or end up as garbage all over the world.

In fact, every time you use a toilet roll or other tissue products you might be directly contributing to this environmental destruction.

Source: WWF

Tissue products, such as toilet paper, handkerchiefs, kitchen towels and napkins cannot be recycled after their use, for understandable reasons!

So it is important to ensure that the tissue products you buy contain a high level of recycled content.

To make your facial tissue, large areas of virgin forests may have been cut and burnt to make room for fast growing Eucalyptus plantations."
When I first read this website, that image above woke me up. But it was not until I was in Sabah, that the image of deforestation from Borneo's virgin rainforest that really sank it in.

Scenes of deforestation in Borneo. Photo taken in Feb 2007

Every single dead tree lying there are potentially going to end up in our toilets, on our toilet roll and before you know it, flushed down the pipes!

Lumberyard in Sabah Borneo. Photo taken in Feb 2007

Lumberyard like these were easily seen in Borneo. Scenes of deforested areas were dime a dozen. Had it been for something less trivial a reason, perhaps it wouldn't seem so senseless. But did you know that while 25% of the wood fibre imports for tissues in Europe come from regions with mainly plantation forestry for pulp (US, Brazil, Chile, South Africa), and a significant part comes from countries where illegal logging is a big problem like Indonesia, Russia, and the Baltic States. (Source: WWF)

At the same time, it is paper pulp mills that is potentially causing the haze in Singapore due to the scorching of land in Indonesia? It could even be burning to clear the land for paper plantations! A tropical rainforest is high in its diversity of plants which then provide homes to an equally high diversity of wildlife. Do you think a monoculture of tree plantation can provide the same?

On the way to being shipped to... Singapore?! Photo taken in Feb 2007

And guess what? The whiter your tissue paper is, the more bleach is being used in your paper. That bleach not only can be harmful to our bodies but also to our water supplies when we dispose of the paper.
"Toxic emissions - dioxins and other organochlorines - are produced as by-products of chlorine bleaching, a process that is used by the pulp and paper industry to whiten papers. They are released in waste-water from pulp and paper mills using chlorine chemistry. These harmful chemicals spread everywhere - in our water supply, food chain and bodies." - WWF
Of course WWF kindly provided a list of companies and the amount of recycled fibre they use in their paper products. However, the list does not include Asian brands. As such, I made a point to contact Kimberly Clark which produces the brand Scott and Kleenex which my mother purchase fatefully.

This was their reply:
"Yes, we do use recycled as well as 100% virgin fibre. As a general rule, all tissues bearing our Scott branding, have some recycled material in them with the Scott Extra toilet roll being 100% recycled. However, pls note that the Scott Deluxe is the only exception here, being 100% virgin fibre.

For Kleenex facial and toilet tissues, they are all 100% virgin fibre."
For their honestly, I applaud them. But for their use of 100% virgin fibre, I shudder at how many trees I've been killing without knowing. Understandably virgin fibre just means that no recycled materials are used but whether the fibre came from virgin forests or plantation trees, we don't know. But the impact, though not the same, can be reduced by our action!

So what can we do? Find out how to make a conscious consumer decision to stop buying 100% Soft Strong and White toilet rolls. In addition, we can also, very simply, reduce our use.

Source: WWF

How about handkerchiefs? Or washing with water and drying with a towel? In fact, did you know that a simple hand dryer in the public toilet would potentially help you reduce your impact on the environment compared to that one square of hand towel you would otherwise use?

It has become quite a trend recently to install hand/face towel dispensers in public toilets. I admit, I do prefer that much more to burning my hand on the hand dryer. But this blog comes up with a detailed accounting of why hand dryers are much more beneficial than hand/face towels. It can be easily concluded by this statement:
"The truth is paper towel is one of the things where the useful part of its life is far smaller chunk of its total life (unless large part of such towels is recycled, which is not the case today). Such things are rarely environmentally friendly. So even though, in restroom, electric hand dryer consumes more electric energy than paper towel roll, if you see the big picture, you are better off with electric hand dryer both financially and environmentally." - Saving Energy Blog
This is not even taking into consideration the amount of energy you use to produce the paper!

Or as a green website suggested - why not be patient and just dry your hands off by evaporation as life intends it to be!

So next time you picked up a piece of tissue, think about where it came from. Or perhaps like me, I think I'll go invest in a handkerchief today.

Read full article here

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Going beyond blogger

Last Friday, the monkey under the workshop arm of the Naked Hermit Crabs, organized a workshop on Blogging for Nature for advanced users at NIE/NTU. Many animal friends and naked crabbies were recruited to share on various tools and social network services beyond blogging.

There were buckets of adult humor and geeky web 2.0 fun as typical in any conversation with the monkey. Here above is duck talking about his pussy as a flickr example while the barnacles display their evolved prowess in copulation on youtube!

The workshop was organized in 3 parts - introduction, tools and how to disseminate your content beyond blogs. For continuity and participation beyond the class, the participants get to collaborate on google document for a list of web resources. The class is also supposed to participate in the Blog Action Day for Environment on 15 October.

Originally the idea was for the advanced students to be tutors for the beginner workshop next friday. However, there are just not enough volunteer tutors so I guess we'll have to work doubly hard next week!

Read more about last friday's workshop details on the Naked Hermit Crabs blog. July from NIE Green Club, our host for the event, also blogged about it.

Read full article here

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Blogging for the Environment

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

15 October 2007 is Blog Action Day. This year's theme is the Environment!

"If you have a blog and want to join in, all you have to do is use that day to post something related to the environment, in whatever way, shape, or form you prefer. You can pick an environmental issue that has meaning for you and let us know why it's important. Organize a beach or neighborhood cleanup and tell us about it. If you're into fiction writing, give us a story with an environmental theme. Have a podcast, videoblog, or photoblog? Join the fun! The idea here is to have a mass effect on public awareness by sharing as many ideas in as many ways as possible."
All you have to do is register your blog with Blog Action Day and remember to write about something related to the environment on 15 October itself!

This is coming at such perfect timing because this Friday, we will be having a Blogging for Nature workshop so the homework shall be to blog for the environment on 15 October! What better way to culminate a workshop but to join in the rest of the world and the 7,000+ other blogs who have signed up for this.

Watch this video to learn how the organizers think Blogs will change the world!

Thanks to La Crispa who alerted me to this!

Read full article here

Thursday, October 04, 2007

This Week's Green Initiatives

Aspiring eco-paparazzi monkey spotted a few hot new green initiatives around town this week.


Launched just last week on 30 Sept, there is a new outlet for people interested in finding carpools in Singapore. is transportation matching made easy. In the sgcarpool blog, they even included a list of alternative transportations and carpool etiquette! In the US, there are even carpooling lanes on highways to encourage more people to travel together instead of having single-occupancy vehicles causing traffic jams, wasting time and resources. Not forgetting, polluting our environment and consuming fossil fuel! Carpooling works in many ways - you can rotate drivers, cars or if you don't drive, you can catch a ride with somebody who does! Sharing fuel cost is a common practice unless there is a rotation of cars and drivers.

My earliest understanding of carpools came from the comic strip Blondie and Dagwood where Dagwood is seen every morning, rushing out of the house to catch the carpool or as in the following strip depicts, he forgets that it's his turn to pick the carpool up!

So far my own experience in carpooling has been very positive especially in the US where there is no public transport to the nature reserve near UCSB. Thankfully, the volunteer docents were kind retirees who did not mind picking this monkey up every friday to go for the training sessions!

Likewise in Singapore, I am embarrassed to say that I often depend on friends who drive to give me a ride to out of way places. While I've resisted driving for 26 years, I do acknowledge now that driving is a necessary skill and in fact, I may be learning how to drive this December. Like Dagwood, I realize that carpooling doesn't have to be a one way street, sometimes I can actually be the one driving others to return the favour. Hopefully I won't be as blur as him!

CCO Blog Launch

Speaking of driving, one of the biggest challenges to sustainable mobility is the contribution of greenhouse gases and subsequently climate change.

The climate change organization (CCO) in Singapore has come up with a new initiative to bring greater awareness of climate change to Singaporeans! This Saturday, CCO will be launching a group blog penned by the big wigs of the environment circle such as Dr Geh Min and Mr Howard Shaw - head of Nature Society (Singapore) and Singapore Environment Council respectively.

Unfortunately, I have my fair share of green activities that day and will very unfortunately, be unable to attend the launch. Guess I'll have to miss out on taking photos with the CCO Mascot, Snowball the Penguin. I do so love mascots after all!

Blogging Workshop

Blogging is the rage these days but content specific blogs like the CCO blog are very much in need! The Naked Hermit Crabs are organizing a series of blogging workshops hosted by the NIE Green Club in the following fridays 12th and 19th October 2007. Of course being such a fan of carpooling, we will be arranging for carpooling to the workshop as well! If you are interested to know more details of the workshops, leave a comment below.

Read full article here

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Monkey's Animal Friends Fund

I first had the idea for Monkey's Animal Friends Fund (MAFF) as early as June 2007. It all began with a friend's email. This friend of mine in Philippines has been asking friends and family to plant a tree for every birthday that she had since the age of 10!

Likewise, I was inspired to celebrate my 26th birthday through celebrating a worthy cause instead of asking for birthday presents this year. In fact, I will be giving up the purchase of a new phone - and instead donating the cost of the phone to the monkey animal friends fund. I've been tempted to buy a Nokia N-Series for the longest time but I'm pledging instead to donate the cost of a phone to the fund.

Think of it as a birthday gift to me or simply contributing to a good cause!

In June, I sent this message to all my friends:

"This year my birthday, instead of asking for gifts for myself, I am asking my friends to pledge to the Monkey's Animal Friends Fund which will donate to ACRES towards the building of a monkey enclosure at their wildlife rescue center. My target is $6000 and will end on my birthday 14 Nov 2007.

You could pledge any of the following:
1) Pledge a sum of your choice
2) Pledge to save $0.50 or $1 everyday till November 14
3) Pledge my age ($26) or double my age ($52)
4) Pledge the meaning of life ($42)"
All the money will go towards Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres)'s Wildlife Rescue Centre. The Acres Wildlife Rescue Centre (AWRC) is almost complete and is slated to open in the middle of next month. But it is still in dire need of funds.
"The centre has raised $627,000 since October last year and needs another $460,000 to cover operations costs. But while donations from the public, which has donated 46 per cent of the money raised so far, corporations have not been as forthcoming, contributing to about 25 per cent."

Excerpt from "Little help for our wild friends"
By Sheralyn Tay
TODAY, 27 September 2007

Read more about the AWRC here.

AWRC at night

At the moment, I have collected pledges amounting to SGD$1116.50, with about $300 already collected. Of course that is a little to go a long way but I am hoping to raise enough to sponsor a monkey enclosure. The little teary monkey above was drawn by me to be the mascot of MAFF. He represent all the smuggled and now homeless monkey, unable to return to their homeland, and possibly having to be put to sleep if not for places like the AWRC. Please put a smile on his face and contribute to the MAFF!

Of course it is partly also because I am a monkey and it would be rather quaint for the monkey to help other monkeys. Best of all, I am hoping that on my birthday, we can all go down to ACRES and help paint or work on an enclosure with them in addition to just giving them the money so we would all feel like we have a stake in helping the animals.

Adorable monkeys drawn by students at the AWRC

To find out more about ACRES, visit their website

To contribute to the MAFF, email me at isid0rette at yahoo dot com or leave me your contact information in the comments section of this post. ACRES is a registered charity and all donations are tax deductible! Let me know if you need a receipt.

If you prefer to donate directly to ACRES, please go ahead but do drop me a note so I know you've thought of monkey :)

Thank you!

Read full article here