Thursday, December 15, 2005

LTA saves a tree!

Today on the Channel 8 news (15 Dec 2005), there are reports that LTA has changed the course of a road (Braddell road perhaps?! Bu Lai De Ling?) in order to save a tree!

The tree now stands between 2 lanes of the same direction!

Immediately I thought of Jo-fen who is now the first pioneer environmental engineer that LTA ever hired. She must have been working hard. *proud of her*

Of course I tried hunting for the article online but I couldn't find it on CNA! Then I tried channel 8's news page but they rather have a report on the blind enjoying art than a tree being saved. Bah!

Most unfortunate of all, drivers and the public were complaining that saving the tree and splitting the road is actually a road hazard and advises LTA to draw a balance between conservation and public safety!

WTF! I won't see them saying that LTA is unbalanced when they go outright bulldozing the area and saying they should pay more attention to conservation than convenience.

The tree is an hard wood tree that is big, old and well formed. It is so big that you can see it for miles away. It's not at the end of a blind spot or turn. Why would any drivers who are not drunk and paying attention to the road miss the tree?! If they can actually manage to drive their way into the tree, they really deserve a prize!

A prize for the most kok eye bugger in Singapore that is!

Update (11.42pm): I've just emailed CNA chinese edition asking them to either put this article on their website or email it to me since currently it cannot be found. Hopefully somebody replied *cross fingers*

Update @ May 3, 2006: This is the Angsana tree that you can see as your drive by Braddell road.

Read full article here

Friday, December 02, 2005

Where would you hide?

In the bushes of course!

Today was a really long day from my last examination this morning, then went to help Andrew move a tonne of luggage to Fullerton, checked out the cool view, met Wai at cityhall while having lunch at my favourite japanese restaurant. Then we went to Bugis, found out they only show 3 movies and decided to go Arab Street to buy sarong for Andrew's dad. On the way there we found the abandoned toilet bowl!

Who knows that that is only a precursor of what is to come!

When we arrived at Tampines to set up the Toddycats booth at the Volunteer Fair, we found the World Toilet Organization (WTO) having a booth there right amongst the rest of the environmental group! This would really tickle the duck's feather since he has a feature on poop condition around the world in his blog.

Those lil cut outs are actual illustrated figures of the founder of WTO - Jack Sim! I've seen him several times at various forums such as the Singapore Green Plan public forum and the UN Global Compact Singapore network launch.

I do hope to be introduced to him one day. I've really heard so much about him. He's also the guy who tipped the archaeologists off to the possible existence of the buried Tanjong Katong Fort!

Of course we weren't there just to check out other people's privy. We were hard at work putting up posters amidst overexcited toddycats. It was quite a... spectacle, or should I say, cacophony.

Still, at the end of the day, Toddycats get the work done and always have fun! WHEE!

Read full article here

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Word of the month

Slaughtering Trees:

(v) The act of printing a whole semester worth of lecture notes and other readings days before the final exam in an attempt to make a last minute dash for the finish line or for the purpose of accomodating easy reference in open book exams and in the process, consume several trees worth of paper.

e.g.: I'm going to go slaughter trees in the library on Friday.

On other news:

  • The remote sensing exam was pleasantly uplifting.
  • My application for the NUS Coop Book Grant was unsuccessful.
  • I need to make money. How? SDT? OAR? Tution? Should I try for an internship with URA? I need a job. Everything is so up in the air right now. Sigh. Tomorrow look up the newspaper classifieds.
  • Starhub gave me a $200 voucher for a new phone provided I open a new line. Wonder if its worth it. Must as W.
  • I am cultivating a spot of fungi on the withering bouquet.
  • Don't know what's going on with Toddycats or what I am doing. Dun know. Anything.
  • Reminder: alexander hospital is moving, go dentist soon.
  • I've been posting on Pulau Ubin Stories. Should be doing more of this. Research research research!
  • Got my other intern with OFS to be posting actively on ENA from December on.

    Theres just too much on my mind. *miserable*

    Why do I feel that the end of the exams is going to come too suddenly and I'll be stuck with nothing to do, or caught offguard.

    Read full article here

  • Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    Alas Now I am Likened with Cpt Planet

    S'pore's Captain Planet
    Greenie high-flyer to attend UN Forum
    WHEN she was a child, she wanted to be like Captain Planet, a cartoon super hero who fights to save the planet from environmental problems.
    By Teh Jen Lee

    11 October 2005
    WHEN she was a child, she wanted to be like Captain Planet, a cartoon super hero who fights to save the planet from environmental problems.

    Of course, she doesn't have his super powers, but uses her talents to make an impact on Mother Earth.

    Ms Tan Peng Ting, 24, (left) will attend the first Eco-Minds Youth Forum on sustainable development in Manila at the end of this month.

    This is not the first time she's representing Singapore in such a programme. Last November, she was chosen as a Bayer Young Environmental Envoy for her contributions in promoting the preservation of Pulau Ubin.

    She had set up an online information archive containing personal stories, history and articles about Ubin. She also helped organise Pedal Ubin, a unique guided-tour of the island on bicycle.

    Together with three other Singaporeans, she won a week-long trip to Germany last November, with all expenses paid by Bayer.

    Her older sister, Ms Tan Peng Ling, 32, recalled how Ms Tan loved Captain Planet when she was in Primary Five.

    She said: 'I got her an activity book and mask because I knew she wanted to be Captain Planet when she grew up.'

    The younger Ms Tan still has the mask.

    This year, she impressed the judges again with other environmental programmes.

    The third-year Geography undergraduate from NUS set up a local 'whistle-blower' group with a difference.

    The two-month-old group is called Toddycats Engage and they are open to the 100-plus volunteers with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

    They meet once a month to give feedback and to voice concerns over issues like trees being cut down during estate upgradings and air-conditioning being excessively cold.

    Said Ms Tan Peng Ting: 'We write letters on the spot. It's an avenue for people to express themselves. We hope to build a civil society by giving feedback regularly.

    'We don't just point out the bad, we applaud the good. When people are affirmed, they are more willing to listen to future feedback.'



    ECO-MINDS Forum is a joint youth environmental education programme of the United Nations Environment Program and Bayer.

    Delegates from nine Asia Pacific countries, selected from fields such as natural sciences, engineering and commerce will team up to discuss problems caused by development.

    Read full article here

    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Kinda busy

    Went to the UN Global Compact Singapore Network launch today and took lots of pictures of big shots like Lim Swee Say and Claire Chiang. I am really full of admiration for Claire Chiang now. She is really passionate about sustainability and I guess Banyan tree is really quite good despite their exorbitant prices. Her push for Corporate Social Responsibility with this Global Compact is basically to get the business sector to be more responsible global citizens. It's like fair trade but with more elements such as human, labor, environment and anti-corruption principles. But it also try to make everybody look good because each member is only needed to accomplish juat at least one of the principles and as a collective they appear more successful. Ah well... saw Jack Sim of World Toilet Organization again though. *grin* He is so far a regular in the forums I attend.

    Was terribly underdressed but surely felt better the minute I left those suit and ties. Walked through change alley and saw Raffles Hotel Mooncake being sold! After being told by Mrsduck that they had macademia snowskin mooncake, I wanted to investigate. Walking closer, I saw YELLOW boxes being sold. That is from last year! Horror upon horror, I took a picture of the evidence and left. *sigh* Then I heard from another friend today that they DO have macademia and what they didn't was the champagne truffle (which i have!) Regardless, all this only proved that the sales lady who told me they NEVER had macademia snowskin is lying through her teeth.

    Incriminating Evidence

    Read full article here

    Wednesday, July 27, 2005

    Environmental News Archive

    As the environmental news intern for Ocean Futures Society, my job is to compile news articles from numerous sources to educate and update the OFS staff, members and interested individuals.

    Thus, in the spirit of my job, I started the Environmental News Archive for all interested individuals in Singapore to enjoy a summary of weekly environmental news and any other interesting articles I come across in my job.

    In fact, this website also has RSS feed for a change. I do not see damaging effects at the moment since comments are disabled.

    RSS it!

    Read full article here

    Sunday, July 17, 2005

    Importance of a Sensei

    For a while now I have been hearing about the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

    However, as many graduate students have told me, the importance lies not in the school but on who your advisor is. Yes, the importance of the age old concept of a "sensei". The master of whom I shall be apprentice to. The wizard of which I will be mickey mouse... O_O"

    Honestly, today is the first time I looked into the program at Yale and damn I am really impressed by the following three faculty.

    Prof William R. Burch, Jr
    Professor of Natural Resource Management, and Social and POlicy Studies.
    His work on wildland recreation behavior was among the earliest, and it has expanded to include parks, biosphere reserves, and ecotourist regions in rural and urban areas in Asia, South America, and Europe, as well as in North America.
    He conducted some of the original work on community/social forestry systems, which continues with work in Nepal, Thailand, China, and inner cities of the United States. Community forestry strategies for urban neighborhoods have been applied since 1989.
    Another area of research and application has been in developing a unified ecosystem management approach that fully includes human behavioral variables.

    --> He does qualify some of my interests. Ecotourism, community forestry (but less indigenous knowledge) and a holistic management system that includes humans on top of biophysical concerns. He does work in Asia which is important.

    Prof Carol Carpenter
    Lecturer in Natural Resource Social Science and Anthropology.
    Dr. Carpenter’s teaching and research interests focus on theories of social ecology, social aspects of sustainable development and conservation, and gender in agrarian and ecological systems. She spent four years in Indonesia engaged in household and community-level research on rituals and social networks. Her current interests involve the invisibility of women’s economic activities in agrarian households and the implications of this invisibility for sustainable development.
    --> All that "social ecology" thing... I'm not sure what it means. Is that what budak was dissing? I like the sustainable development in community level. There's this woman gender ecofeminism thing which I am not part of but should be? It does involve sustainabel development and it may not be my interest but i recognize its importance. It's calling out to my weak feminist instincts. Satisfied the asia criteria as well. Erm... Poorest of my 3 choices.

    Prof Michael R. Dove
    Professor of Social Ecology
    Professor Dove’s research focuses on the links between the resource-use systems of local communities and wider societies, between urban and rural, rich and poor, and less- and more-developed countries, with a special focus on the environmental relations of local communities. He spent two years in a tribal longhouse in Borneo studying swidden agriculture...
    Recent collaborative research, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, examines the relationship between biodiversity and society in Southeast Asia. Other research and teaching interests include: human use of tropical forests and grasslands; the global circulation of environmental concepts; political dimensions of natural disaster and resource degradation; indigenous environmental knowledge; contemporary and historical environmental relations in South and Southeast Asia; the study of developmental and environmental institutions, discourses, and movements; and the sociology of resource-related sciences.

    --> Again that social ecology thing. O_O" I would normally have thought it a good thing. Am i confusing it with social evolution? whatever. This is one of the strongest contenders - Dove or Burch. He has my favourite indigenous knowledge, rich-poor relationships, focus on asia, political ecology, study of NGO and global institutions, local communities... only problem is he doesn't do ecotourism and he's more on agrarian stuff (which is fine...) but... hmm who sounds stronger? Dove sounds a lot like Dr Carl actually O_O"

    Indigenous work vs ecotourism. ARGH! WHICH DO I CHOOSE?

    [update: reading through that again, im leaning towards ecotourism but im still torn. both dove and burch can do indigenous ecotourism. sianz.]

    [update 2: refer to this phd student page where the main advisors seem to be Burch, Dove and this guy Kellert. Dove has a lot of students under him. And one of them is ecotourism. Sigh. dunno lah sianz. Besides, what the f am i going to be doing my phd on? lol ubin? haha yeah right. how badly do i want to do this? it's gotta mean a lot of time spent in some ulu asian country. sigh. i don't think im at that level yet.]

    [update 3: getting quite depressed. sigh. don't think im ready to look at PHD. maybe just do masters first? sianz. did u know NUS has an env mgmt course? and theres always Schmacher college in Devon, UK. Or Yale straight away? There are scholarships for SEA students... but most of the PHD students listed are americans from the east coast, one california, one pakistani, 3 latinas. THATS IT!? grrr]

    Read full article here

    Lobster Soup to Debut at Hong Kong Disney

    Lobster Soup to Debut at Hong Kong Disney:
    "(07-15) 05:30 PDT HONG KONG, China (AP) --

    Lobster soup and seafood bouillon will replace the controversial shark fin soup at Hong Kong Disneyland wedding banquets, a Disney spokeswoman said Friday.

    Last month, Disney decided to scrap shark fin soup, a symbol of prestige in Chinese banquets, after environmentalists protested and threatened to stage boycotts of the park when it opens Sept. 12. The activists say that the shark fin industry is decimating the shark population.

    The dish will be replaced by lobster soup and a dish with sea whelk, a bouillon with bamboo fungus and crab roe, Disney spokeswoman Irene Chan said.

    'We are confident the change will not affect the attractiveness of our weddings,' Chan said. 'The dishes are specially designed, and these menu alternatives can reflect respect for Chinese culture.'

    Guests waiting in line to have their weddings celebrated at the theme park's hotel when it opens have been notified of the changes and most have responded favorably, she said."

    Wow if only all the sharks fin soup in all chinese restaurants in the world can be replaced by an alternative!!! THAT would be so awesome!

    Read full article here

    Ah, Wilderness!

    Ah, Wilderness! - New York Times

    Very intersting article. A must read especially for those who are interested in the US politics regarding the environment. This is an interview with the secretary of the US Dept of Interior which is ironically in charge of everything outdoors. They are the biggest landholder in the US! :o Something like the SLA I suppose.

    Considering I did some research on the Endangered Species Act before, this article proved to be very interesting as she talked about some of the flaws regarding the act and boy are there many!

    Read full article here

    The price of buying organic

    The price of buying organic - Food Inc. -

    "Q: Why does organic food cost more than conventionally grown food?

    A: There are a bushel of reasons why organic food costs more than conventional food.

    For example, organic produce, meat and dairy simply cost more to produce than their conventional counterparts.

    Limits on pesticides, for instance, mean more hand-weeding. They also mean farmers run a higher risk of losing all or part of a year’s crop.

    “There aren’t as many tools in the toolbox to deal with pest outbreaks or diseases,” said Nancy Creamer, director of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems at North Carolina State University.

    Some of the things organic farmers can’t use that conventional farmers can: Sewage sludge, which is cheap to buy, and chemical fertilizers, which are both cheap to buy and cheap to transport. Instead, organic farmers fertilize their land with compost and animal manure, which is bulkier and more expensive to ship, Creamer said.

    While conventional farmers can use every acre to grow the crops that fetch the highest prices, organic farmers use crop rotation to keep their soil healthy. Instead of planting a cash crop on every acre every year, they rotate fields and plant “cover crops” that are plowed to improve the soil’s nutrients for the long term.

    “When you’re rotating crops, you’re not necessarily growing all your highest value crops all the time, which is different than a conventional system,” said Catherine Greene, an agricultural economist at the USDA.

    Organic feed for cattle and other livestock can cost twice as much as conventional feed, said George Siemon, CEO of the Organic Valley co-op, the largest organic farmers’ co-op in the country. A ton of organic cattle feed can cost from $350 to $400 a ton versus $220 or less for a ton of conventional feed, he said.

    Certifying food as organic also involves additional administrative costs.

    The demand for organic food is greater than the supply, Greene said. But she added “we don’t have enough data to tease out how much (of the price difference) is due to higher-cost production versus the imbalance between supply and demand.”

    Some of the cost difference comes from retailers, Siemon said, since some organic products don’t sell as quickly as their conventional counterparts. “The retailer wants to make the same amount of money, per space,” he said.

    Finally, organic farming proponents say conventionally grown food includes invisible costs, including a higher incidence of some cancers and other diseases in farm workers and their children and contamination of water supplies.

    They argue that large corporate farms can make money on high volume and low prices, but those low prices have pushed millions of family farms into bankruptcy.

    Four million farmers have disappeared in the last 40 years, Siemon said.

    “Farmers have seen organics as a glimmer of hope for their economic survival,” he said. “They’re trying to overcome bankruptcy pricing.”

    One tenant of organic farming is sustainability, he said. “Shouldn’t that also be about economic sustainability?”

    Chef Alice Waters, a champion of locally grown and organic foods, justified one farm’s $3 organic peaches to The New York Times.

    “Maybe they’ll make $5,000 more a year,” she said. “Well, hooray. We’re not making millionaires here. We’re supporting sustainable agriculture.”"

    Read full article here

    The Mall That Would Save America

    The Mall That Would Save America - New York Times:
    "More mind-boggling than the sheer scope of Destiny is its agenda. Congel emphasizes that renewable energy alone will power the mall, with its 1,000 shops and restaurants, 80,000 hotel rooms, 40,000-seat arena and Broadway-style theaters. As a result, Congel says, Destiny will jump-start renewable-energy markets nationwide with its investments in solar, wind, fuel cells and other alternative-energy sources. But if Congel does manage to erect his El Dorado, will it really help cure our country's addiction to scarce and highly polluting fossil fuel? Or will it just be a cleverly marketed boondoggle that may create more environmental problems than it solves?

    All by itself, the mall would boost America's solar-electric power capacity by nearly 10 percent. ''On every level, this project astounds,'' Senator Hillary Clinton said in April, claiming that the mall could make the area a hub for clean technologies and deliver a shot of adrenaline to upstate New York's ailing economy. To help foot the bill for Congel's project, Clinton and other politicians successfully persuaded Congress to provide financial incentives for mega-scale green development projects. (Destiny, of course, will face little competition to reap those benefits.)"

    Oh right, a green mall...
    is that an oxymoron?
    The concept of extreme consumerism giving back to the environment through green generation but what of the goods that are being sold?

    "An avid Bush supporter who already has 25 shopping malls to his name, Congel himself is not a man you would expect to entertain an eccentric clean-energy vision. It first seized him in 2001, soon after 9/11 -- and after the project was under way -- during a visit to the D-Day beaches in Normandy. ''There I was looking at those pure white graves of tens of thousands of kids that died for freedom,'' Congel reflects, sitting on the veranda of his 6,000-acre farm just outside Syracuse, where he has imported Russian wild boar and other exotic game for hunting. ''Today our kids are dying in a war for oil. Petroleum addiction is destroying our country, our economy, our environment.''

    Then what of a mall?

    Read full article here

    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    More Golf Courses from now on?

    Natural golf courses redefine green
    More superintendents use fewer chemicals while enjoying the view
    By Pete Iacobelli
    The Associated Press
    Updated: 3:40 p.m. ET July 1, 2005

    OKATIE, S.C. - When Hugh Williams began golfing in his 20s, he was overwhelmed by the Lowcountry beauty that surrounded almost every shot that day at Crooked Oaks Course on Johns Island.

    “Somebody’s got to maintain this and keep it around,” Williams thought, and a vocation came to life.

    Williams, now superintendent at Oldfield Club in Okatie, is part of a growing wave of golf course superintendents, owners and industry leaders who value wildlife and natural habitat as much as low scores and regular customers.

    “I think golfers want more than golf these days,” said Jen Peak with Crescent Resources, which builds homes on the Oldfield property.

    Williams’ course recently was named a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, a designation achieved by fewer than 2 percent of layouts around the world.

    Oldfield became the 13th course in South Carolina to get the stamp of approval from Audubon International, and the group’s Shawn Williams says the numbers are increasing. In the Palmetto State, 49 courses are registered with Audubon on the way to certification, Williams said.

    Audubon International, which is not affiliated with the National Audubon Society, is an environmental education organization dedicated to sustainable development.

    Osprey over the 11th
    Decades ago, course construction often consisted of bulldozing land and mapping out holes with little regard for what was there before. Wildlife? It could find somewhere else to live.

    Marvin Bouknight, Oldfield’s naturalist, said his wife once took a recreational management position in Charleston County up the coast. That county “has golf courses,” Bouknight recalled complaining. “You can bet there won’t be any wildlife out there.”

    Now, Bouknight can look almost anywhere on Oldfield’s 860 acres, including the 18 holes designed by Greg Norman, and find something natural to enjoy.

    There might be an osprey grasping a fish as it glides over the 11th fairway or bobcat footprints in bunkers or cheery colorful plants next to landing areas. On a recent wildlife tour, Bouknight found an atamasco lily, also known as the “naked lady,” next to one hole and was as excited as if he’d notched a double eagle.

    “This is a good find, a real good find,” he said, smiling.

    Audubon certification involves six ongoing steps, including satisfying questions about safe environmental planning, water conservation and wildlife and habitat management.

    “The new-school superintendents, the younger guys coming up, are taught more” about environmental awareness, Shawn Williams said. “What I consider the baby boomer generation, they take a lot of pride in their yards, are more socially aware. They take more awareness about golf’s evolving nature.”

    Sierra Club still critical
    Eric Antebi, a spokesman for the Sierra Club, says the organization hopes golf courses always use environmentally sound tactics and adds that people should not be fooled into thinking courses are part of the natural order of things.

    “The real question is whether or not golf courses are a net positive for the environment, and by and large they are not,” Antebi said by phone from the group’s San Francisco headquarters.

    Chuck Borman is executive director of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association and was chief operating officer for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. He said superintendents and course owners always were strong environmental stewards, but did not have the choices available today.

    Fertilizers that kept fairways lush were potentially harmful to natural habitat and water runoff routes were not as precisely planned as is possible with more modern courses, he said.

    Superintendent budgets, which can range from $100,000 a year for a routine public course to $1 million or more for a high-profile resort layout, also play a role in how environmentally conscious a course can be.

    Controlling pesticide use
    Hugh Williams said letting areas such as banks of water hazards and collection spots around greens remain as they might have been before course construction helps maintain costs and save wildlife.

    “Those are areas where you don’t need things like fertilizers and pesticides,” he said.

    For those areas that do need maintenance, Oldfield picks out individual spots instead of the scatter-gun spray method seen in years past. A computer system allows Williams to control watering time. Sensors tell staffers when watering should stop.

    An irrigation system collects runoff water and filters it so it can be used again. The Ocean Course, Pete Dye’s famed layout on Kiawah Island, uses a similar filtering technique to conserve water.

    These days, wildlife often makes good business sense, too.

    Oldfield’s golfers — the course has a relatively modest 12,000 rounds a year, Williams said — are treated to sights you’re not going to find at the local muni.

    “People love to see wildlife on golf courses,” Borman said. “They love to see birds. They love to see trees.”

    Tips on golfing, nature
    Oldfield goes a step further.

    On one side of the course yardage guide are the usual golf tips such as avoiding the live oak on the front side of the sixth green. On the other side, there are notes about natural attractions.

    “The wildlife found in this area includes foxes, white-tailed deer, fox squirrels and a diverse population of birds including wild turkeys, wood storks and tricolored herons,” the guide says.

    Borman says his organization holds seminars and lectures about the advantages of Audubon’s certification programs. He links interested course owners and superintendents with others who’ve gone through the process.

    Oldfield’s Williams is ready to pass on what he knows.

    “You can’t play a round of golf out here without seeing something you’ll remember,” he said. “That’s what we want.”
    © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    © 2005


    Read full article here

    Wednesday, June 29, 2005

    National Recycling Program

    Probably the most convoluted thing I have to deal with so far - apart from the cutting of trees in my neighborhood during upgrading - the National Recycling Program.

    Most of you probably know of this program which involves a contractor from NEA and the town council that comes around every fortnightly to give a plastic bag where you can contain your recyclables and they will collect it from your door step.

    There has been much grievances between these contractors and my parents. The accusations from my parents are as follows:

    1) They haven't come ever since upgrading started a few months ago.
    2) The last time they put their newspapers (3 or 4 bags of it) out for them to collect, they put it in the lift and forgot to take it away. This resulted in my family being scolded for littering in the lift.
    3) There's only one plastic bag per household! How do we contain all our recyclables? Furthermore I scolded my mom for leaving the "trash" outside without using their bags. How would they identify? She also forgot to empty the recycling bin I set up in my house for other recyclables and I quickly emptied it in the bag provided and tied it to my mom's.

    My personal complaint was:
    3) The bag was only given yesterday for today's collection. It was a bit of a hurry since I only got it at 9pm last night.
    4) On the bag it says 29 June and 1 July. So which exactly is it?
    5) It says leave your recyclables outside at 8.30am and since then I have been staring at the door with no sign of them.

    As the 'newly appointed' project manager for the whistle blower program (ha ha ha) of toddycats, I decided to be extremely proactive and called Altvater Jakob Pte Ltd which was listed as the contractor for my block. The first time I got the voice mail and was exceedingly upset. I left a message and realized that I forgot to leave my number (doh!) and called back again. This time, a lady named Janet answered the phone and was very helpful in answering my questions. My only disappointment in retrospect is that she did not apologized for her men leaving the bags in the lift. However, I was satisfied by her not giving lame excuses but instead sounded appalled that they forgot. She also gave me the impression that she could not forsee what happens in the field. The workers told her they left the bags every fortnightly and she has to take their words for it. In retrospect again, she told me they will replace a bag immediately after collection but I did not see them give me any. Bah. I do not wish to have to call them every alternate week to come and collect.

    I found out a lot of things from my phone conversation with her:

    1) the program at my neighborhood is (just like Budak's whom I got a second opinion from) every alternate wednesdays. She claimed that there were collections on two other occassions this month but then my mother claimed there were no plastic bags given. I will monitor for the next collection.

    2) the collection is not at 8.30am. It is from 8am to 8pm. Leaving it outside the whole day will ensure it to be collected.

    3) They should not have abandoned it in the lift.

    4) The date on the plastic bag is not always accurate. But now that we know it is every alternate wednesdays, it should not be as confusing. Better mark my calendar now.

    5) you need not use their plastic bag only. Each household is only allowed one plastic bag. HOwever, if you use your own plastic bag, all you have to do is put a note there with big bold letters that says RECYCLING and they will collect it.

    6) Sometimes they run out of plastic bags when they distribute and if the date is wrong, it is because they don't have any markers on hand to change the date. Shouldn't that be improved?

    7) I can't know who was right or wrong about the last few months but it was good that I found this bag yesterday. at least now I know I don't have to go all the way to the MRT to dump my drink cans at the recycling bins there. It was also a relieve to see on the bag written that clothes, cans, plastic and glass bottles are also accepted on top of paper products.

    Janet was nice enough to get my block and unit number and within 30 minutes of the call, my recyclables were collected. This makes me a little weary that otherwise it would not have been collected.

    Lets just hope they don't fail me in 2 weeks. I would hate very much to call again. If it does happen that way, I will be sure to complain all the way to NEA and Town Council and I would not hesitate to demand for a change in contractors if they do not improve.

    [update: I just heard a rustle, they came to collect!!! boy my complaint was superbly effective. now i just have to go make sure they don't leave it in the lift or in the void deck.]

    [update 2: I just did a round downstairs, checked both lifts and found no sign of any bags of recyclables abandoned, but neither do i see any trucks with loads of recyclables. It's gone...!]

    [update 3: I just met the contractor, an old chinese man, who collects things at my block. He came and did a round. Got to talk to him personally and found out that he really didn't do it during upgrading because he felt that because everything was blocked off so nobody would put the recyclables out. I asked him if he had any extra plastic bags and he told me to go downstairs with him to his truck and I got a whole stack from him. The truck is not that big even and is unmarked and he only has one indian worker to help him. I saw that he managed to collect from some others as well which means that there are people who are recycling. That's good to know.]

    Read full article here

    Tuesday, June 28, 2005

    A reminder to myself

    Taiwan's Aboriginals Try to Preserve Traditional Life in Face of Urban Encroachment
    June 22, 2005 — By Annie Huang, Associated Press
    WULAI, Taiwan — In a valley of pristine bamboo and cypress trees, Yasa T'iehmu painstakingly adds tufts of red and yellow flowers to his painting of a slender, nude aboriginal woman.
    The woman has long black hair strangely reminiscent of the surging waterfall in the background.
    "That's a fellow tribal woman I once saw taking a hot spring bath," Yasa says, leaning over a simple wooden table outside his red tin-roofed home in Wulai, a village about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southwest of the Taipei suburb of Xindian.
    Wulai sits in the towering Fushan Mountain Range, seat of the Taiya tribe, one of 11 aboriginal groups whose 430,000 members make up a little less than 2 percent of the 23 million people living on this economically booming island. There are about 60,000 Taiya.
    Anthropologists say the aboriginals' ancestors came to Taiwan from nearby Pacific islands some 6,000 years ago. Other groups -- mostly Han Chinese -- began migrating from the Asian mainland about four centuries ago, but the aboriginals long kept to themselves, hunting and subsistence farming up and down Taiwan's 400-kilometer (240-mile) mountainous spine.
    In recent years, however, as more and more of their people have been assimilated into Taiwan's increasingly complex urban society, the aboriginals have been fighting a losing battle to maintain a separate cultural identity.
    It is a phenomenon that Yasa says his art is dedicated to reversing.
    "I draw from memories," he says, leafing through his rich paintings of tribal people farming, weaving, fishing and courting under a tropical moonlit sky.
    "Our children barely speak the Taiya language. They look at my pictures and exclaim: 'This was how we aboriginals looked in the old days.'"
    Yasa is not alone in seeking to preserve Taiya traditions.
    Deeper in the mountains, T'iehmu A'yung and dozens of his neighbors are determined to keep tranquil Fushan Village isolated from the influences of a tourism center set up 20 kilometers (12 miles) away for visitors who want a look at aboriginal lifestyles.
    Outwardly, however, the aboriginals aren't that different anymore.
    Their bamboo and wooden houses have mostly been replaced by concrete structures equipped with basic modern amenities, although the homes retain traditional slanting roofs to sluice away the frequent downpours in the mountains.
    Face-tattooing was once a symbol of aboriginal adulthood, but it has been given up as a remnant of a barbarous past. Many aboriginals reserve their colorful traditional clothes and elaborate head wear for tribal festivals that feature days of dancing and singing.
    Wulai itself has become a gaudy collection of cheap souvenir shops and uninspiring restaurants catering to tourists from Taipei.
    Yet tourism is a boon for the Taiya, giving them much needed work as tour bus drivers and small scale retailers -- reason enough to stay at home.
    T'iehmu, 46, a small sturdy man, takes hikers on a daylong trek up and down narrow mountain trails. To supply the small restaurant run by his wife, he raises vegetables, traps wild boars and chops logs for growing delectable wild mushrooms.
    He says his three brothers have already moved away from the village and fears his two young children might be tempted to follow them to the bright lights of Taipei.
    He points to his latest overnight catch, a squinting boar trapped in a secure wooden cage.
    "We don't keep more than one or two of these animals for fear of dirtying the water," he says, explaining that the nearby Nanshih River is the main source of tap water for residents in the capital and polluters are subject to severe fines.
    He says his own fishing has recently been confined to a distant creek, because stocks in the Nanshih dwindled and tribal leaders imposed a ban. Now, he says, he treks over several hills to catch shrimp and indigenous fish in his newfound fishing preserve.
    In another part of the village, Kao Chiu-mei is hard at work at the Fumiyo workshop, started with 10 other women to preserve the ancient tradition of weaving floral motifs and other patterns on white linen.
    She says she originally learned the craft from her elderly mother and is committed to ensuring it is passed along to future generations.
    "We would hate to see the art being lost forever," she says.
    Still, with many tribal people attracted by the relatively easy life in Taipei and other Taiwanese cities, the battle may soon be lost.
    "Life is difficult here even if we do have a great natural environment," says Lin Chao-hui, a town official in Wulai.
    Source: Associated Press

    Read full article here

    Sunday, June 05, 2005

    SB Reflections

    I was requested to write a bit about my exchange experience at UCSB by the geography department in NUS for their annual geography handbook.

    After much procrastinating, I got my lazy ass to work.

    Here's an extract:

    Santa Barbara, the American Riviera, home to University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), the oldest environmental studies undergraduate program in the United States, where mountains and the Pacific Ocean are conveniently located in your backyard and the wine country setting for the academy award-winning movie “Sideways”. It is also home to the Channel Islands, an area of high marine biodiversity in the world where whales swim by in their merry way from Baja California, Mexico to Alaska.

    Right... where is it again?

    Most people have never heard of Santa Barbara or UCSB and I surely never heard of it even by reputation. It wasn’t even my first choice when I first applied to go on the Student Exchange Program (SEP)! I was absolutely upset when I got posted to this godforsaken place. Lo and behold, I begin to learn more and more about the place prior to departure that got me rather excited. For one thing, just before departing for USA in December, watching the Nobel Prize laureates on television, I found out that 2 of the winners – one in physics and one in economics – are current UCSB faculty members!


    My time here in Santa Barbara has been the most amazing time of my life. I have never been more independent and more productive while learning the most amazing thing academically and about life at the same time. I met the most amazing group of people, made incredible connections with a wide range of people from world renowned professors to the most dedicated community members and it is almost excruciating painful right now to say my goodbyes. I managed to travel and see a lot of California, a landscape that is so unfamiliar to the girl who came from a tropical island where the highest point is no more than a molehill to these people here. I built my first snowman and saw my first whale. Best of all, I took 11 classes in the time of "one NUS semester" – a feat I would never be able to physically reenact again – while finding the time to pick up a new sport of tennis and earn credits for it! I even found time to publish a transportation alternative newsletter inspired by the relative excellence in transportation in Singapore as compared to California - the land of cars. There is time to work 18 hours a week and still go hiking every Friday, explore a new city every Saturday and visit the farmer’s market every Sunday. Every day seems endless – but it’s probably just daylight saving time “causing” the sun to set only after 8pm.


    Read full article here

    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    Singapore, Malaysia Sign Deal Ending Dispute over Land Reclamation

    April 26, 2005 — By Associated Press

    SINGAPORE — Singapore and Malaysia on Tuesday signed an agreement that settles their dispute over Singapore's projects to add land along its coastline near its neighbor.

    Malaysia had said the land reclamation in the Johor Strait would cause environmental degradation and constituted a violation of its territorial waters. Under the deal, Singapore must make some changes to the reclaimed shoreline, and give payments to Malaysian fishermen who stand to lose fishing areas because of the project.

    The deal was signed by representatives of the two countries at Singapore's foreign ministry.

    The dispute arose in December 2002, when land-scarce Singapore began creating artificial land to extend its territory along its Johor Strait coastline. Malaysia referred the dispute to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in October 2003, which directed the countries to conduct a joint study that could lead to a solution.

    The two countries have a number of long-standing spats, including access to Malaysian airspace for Singapore military aircraft, the cost of water that Malaysia sells to Singapore and Malaysia's plan to build another bridge connecting the two.

    Relations have improved since Malaysia's combative former leader, Mahathir Mohamad, retired in 2003 after 22 years in power.

    Singapore was part of the Malaysian Federation in the 1960s, but policy differences broke the union apart and Singapore became an independent city-state in 1965.

    Source: Associated Press

    Read full article here

    Saturday, April 23, 2005

    So much to say...

    ... and so little time and brain cells left by the end of each day.

    Let's back track a little and start from a week ago shall we?

    Saturday 16 April 2005
    UCSB's environmental affairs board had a little crazy earth day event at a park in isla vista. It was a great party and all but the best part of the day is when I barter traded a bottle of beer for a very very sexy and pretty henna drawing of a flower on my ankle.

    It made my day because it made me feel great that the concept of barter trade still prevails in this day and age and beyond craiglist. So that's a bottle of $3 beer for a $15-20 henna art.

    I feel deeply honored.

    Too bad nobody sees it except me.

    Read full article here

    Monday, April 18, 2005

    Sustainable Campuses

    How exciting, I'm taking a class on Sustainable campus indicators and NUS just came out with its first green plan!

    Planning is very important in every community and that includes campus communities.

    For more information:
    NUS's green plan
    UCSB Office of Sustainability - almost can say it's the counterpart of NUS's Campus Green Committee.

    Currently I'm working on sustainable indicators, here are some community/cities/regions examples:
    Buffalo-Niagara Region, New York, USA
    Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
    Seattle, Washington, USA
    Santa Monica, California, USA

    These are the 4 that I'm choosing to do a review on for class. Most probably I'm gonna do Buffalo.

    Read full article here

    Sunday, March 20, 2005

    For future reference

    America's Best Graduate School in:

    Public Affairs Specialties: Environmental Policy & Management
    New! Ranked in 2004*

    1. Indiana University–Bloomington
    2. Duke University (NC)
    3. Syracuse University (NY)

    Engineering Specialties: Environmental/Environmental Health
    New! Ranked in 2004*

    Rank/School Average assessment
    score (5.0=highest)
    1. Stanford University (CA) 4.9
    2. University of California–Berkeley 4.7
    University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign 4.7

    They don't seem to rate anything relevant to what I want to study. bugger

    Speaking of graduate schools, W is applying for the #1 non-US business school in the world as rated by Forbes. Geez! Guess what? this #1 non-US business school has a campus in Singapore. Oh man... Singapore so big face i also didnt know

    According to this slide presentation I found online by a professor from Bren School (UCSB), the leading environment schools in the world are:

    California: Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, at UCSB
    Master of Environmental Science & Management

    Duke: Nicholas School of the Environment
    Master of Environmental Management
    Master of Forestry

    Michigan: School of Natural Resources & Environment
    Master of Science in Natural Resources and Environment
    Master of Landscape Architecture

    Yale: School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
    Master of Environmental Management; Master of Env. Science
    Master of Forestry; Master of Forest Science

    Speaking of which, my TA is from the Duke Env Mgmt program and asked what Duke uni professor siva was bringing around singapore :/ alallalalalla

    check out this slide:

    University of California, Santa Barbara - A Distinguished University

  • Three UCSB Faculty awarded Nobel Prizes in last 5 years.
  • UCSB ranked in the top-ten of US research universities, based on per-faculty research productivity
  • UCSB ranked as #2 public research university in the US, based on per-faculty research productivity (UCB #1)
  • In Sept 2002, Newsweek listed UCSB as one of 12 of “This Year’s Hottest Colleges” based on its impressive academic reputation.

    What Makes Bren Unique
  • Less than ten years old
  • Built from the ground up with new faculty
  • Central emphasis on management AND science
  • NOT a re-branded forestry school
  • Environment is at the top of the public agenda in Coastal California
  • UCSB extremely strong in environmental fields & interdisciplinary studies
  • Modern master’s curriculum delivering breadth of skills.

    but this part sure is discouraging:
    Cost of Attending UCSB
  • California residents: $4000 per year
  • Non-residents and international students: an additional $12,000 per year
  • U.S. residents can establish residency after 12 months
  • Cost of living in Santa Barbara: $15,000 per year

    Oh right, and a GPA of 3.0

    Considering how I am slacking off and not doing my assignment, good bye GPA 3.0 *sigh*

    This ought to teach me to not slack off and hopefully inspire me on. bleh. i doubt it

    Read full article here

  • Tuesday, February 15, 2005

    Roadkill identified

    Opossum found dead along bike lanePosted by Hello

    Remember on Sunday I mentioned that I came across a roadkill on my way back from the farmer's market and I was hoping that a taxonomically trained reader of mine would be able to help me identify it? Well that has been solved!

    Today in class my biogeography teacher was talking about the great america interchange and one of the native species of South America which migrated northwards is the - opossum!

    He showed several pictures of the opossums and voila! Those marsupials who look like a really big rat or a really small dog are really common in North America with a large population in the east and specifically in california as well!

    Incredible... so there are mammals in North America afterall.

    First racoons, now opossums... what next? A mountain lion?

    PS: Of all the mammals that migrated northwards, one of the few that did not move from S. America are the primates! That is why we monkeys like to stay specifically in the sunshine of costa rica.

    was reading up on opossun at and discovered some reasons that explains why the opossum became roadkill!

    1) Solitary and nocturnal: usually slow moving; when frightened and unable to flee may fall into an involuntary shock-like state, "playing 'possum".

    2) Few live beyond the age of 1 year in the environment; rare reports of living 5 to 10 years in captivity. Killed by many predators: humans (and cars), dogs, cats, owls, and larger wildlife.

    At late nights here the roads are dark and that's bound to be when the opossum comes out to play! The car comes at it and it goes into a involuntary shock state and do a deer in the headlights and can't move! BANG. Dead. sigh.

    I think this one is a boy coz no pouch. oh well.

    Read full article here

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    An Abstract of thoughts

    Here's what I wrote for this week's reflection Malleable Nature after some thought booster from the talk I attended. I was most mentally challenged by Frans de Waal's speech. Hopefully my teacher would put his powerpoint online and I could share it with all of you!

    Monkeys be damned. Apparently we're the "out-group", lower than those higher primates of apes and chimpanzees. Thus the discriminations continues.

    Hopefully I will share my account of today's very exciting day with all of you later. But a brief of that would be:
    1) being introduced to de Waal and Thompson by my prof
    2) asking de Waal and Thompson some very intelligent or maybe not so intelligent questions. de Waal made me feel proud to be a monkey - empathy and evolution of morality coming from the social responses of monkeysapes afterall. So when I responsed to that photo of the dog being empathetic to a lil girl, that's just the monkey in me responding in empathy? Proud of the animal in me.
    (note to self: de Waal does not believe in the possibility of world peace. he thinks that surely there will be ingroups and outgroups. the egalitarian notion seems to be against monkeyape instinct. it would not be beneficial for random altruism to occur are his exact words i believe. it must be targeted and must serve certain benefits. so there goes my hope of world peace and reconciling the ingroups and outgroups by effectively ending all discrimination. And there I was about to lament the need for hierachies in this world. From social hierachies to taxonomical hierachies... why?!)
    3) meeting some research assistants of the program
    4) meeting a singaporean grad student at UCSB studying evolutionary psychology in anthropology. He was an english major at oxford who taught in HCJC for 8 years before getting a fellowship at UCSB!
    5) bumping into a classmate on the bus home


    "Although this week theme’s Malleable Nature was never dubbed “difficult” in lectures or section unlike last week’s Emergent Nature, I personally found this week’s theme to be extremely challenging.

    It was not challenging so much that I could not grasp the concepts or digest the facts. In fact, it was the clarity of the complexity that twisted my brain into a giant ball of noodles. It challenges categories and “boxes” that we fit things around us in, a tool that we were taught from young to make sense of the things around us. Yet the fact is that, this week’s class laid it so clear that there is no clear distinction between “natural” and “artificial” but yet we still continue to cling on to that desperate need to try to fit a circle into a square. Could it simply be that we, or our brains, require a comprehensive filing cabinet in which we put away sets of information for easy reference in the future? Surely if we were told that there is no clear distinction between a computer and a human, or between a grain and a robot, not only do we need complete reprogramming of our conditioned responses, we would surely go into convulsion due to the level of implications and mostly the lost of human dominance in our environment. Of course, if we could start from scratch in a totally different paradigm, where we could recondition all our programmed responses, such a possibility of accepting Malleable Nature could be possible. However, at this stage in our biological, social and cultural evolution, suggesting that we are no different from a human construct such as a machine or a computer, or between what we commonly see as part of the untouched environment, nature as opposed to something nurtured, to actually not exist at all, it would rather cause the end of hope in our society. It surely stirred such emotions in me as I read Anderson’s article where she wrote that the process of domestication, the earliest process of human intervention in changing ‘nature’ began “some 1100 years ago when Neolithic peoples began to domesticate select species of plants and animals.” Of course ‘nature’ in inverted commas because really, we don’t know what we can or cannot call ‘natural’ anymore.

    Let’s speak of human nature then. What is natural human nature? The animal instincts in us or our superior possession of self-awareness, consciousness and morality? These animal instincts that we try so much to suppress and alter may be as Frans de Waal speak of in the talk “Primate, Monks and the Mind” to be the source of our human empathy and morality! Instead, now we try to engage in a show of dominance by trying to “play god” and alter nature. In a display of omnipotence, humans try to engineer everything from machines to grains to our human offspring! Again, this need to repress the “animal” in us is aided by our ability to genetically modify our children or perhaps by our making humanoids that would represent only the “best parts” of human nature – our ability to love (per the movie A.I.).

    However, once the idea that we are blurring the distinction between natural and artificial begins to occur to the masses, the fear of losing our control and dominance begins to spark fears in people. The media seem to exaggerate these fears while scientists like Dr Foltz emphasizes the aims of “pharming” as pharmaceutical rather than an attempt to play god in cloning humans.

    This need for control may not be so exaggerated (in terms of a Lynn White paradigm) but if we think of it in terms of animalistic terms of “in-groups” or “out-groups”, our animal instinct prevails in requiring that we focus on benefiting only our human groups and keeping other groups of animals or even machines beyond our realm.

    Is the morality or ethical question about genetic engineering or stem cell research really about whether it is right for us to play such a direct role over natural selection or is it just a cautionary alarm going off in our animal core? Or perhaps it is just a resistance towards a paradigm shift of accepting the startling idea of human genomes in sheep? How about eating genetically modified food? Could this be simply a lack of information to aid in this paradigm shift and reconditioning? Surely in a few decades, humans would be accepting the ideas of cultivating or farming stem cells for leukemia patients in farm animals just as we have accepted this widespread dominance of machines in our lives when decades ago, the idea of mass ownership of automobiles would never have occurred to our parents. We are taking domestication to new grounds. What else can we farm next? Or could we farm enlightenment instead and hope to proliferate higher awareness to the masses? Or is that what religious institutions have been trying to do in their own ways for centuries – trying to farm a thought in millions?"

    Read full article here

    Sunday, January 30, 2005

    Utilitarianist vs Preservationist - Mouse may jump off endangered list - Jan 28, 2005

    The Preble's meadow jumping mouse.

    "Environmentalist groups called Interior's decision a political one."

    Hell yeah of course! Tracing back the history of environmental movements and the role of science in policy making in the united states, this reeks of manipulated science in the act of trying to get more land for the "Fish and Wildlife Service".

    The fish and wildlife service, like the forestry department, claims to be environmentalists who simply want to preserve the land for further human exploitation, be it at a sustainable growth or what not.

    1) This study was PAID funded by the fish and wildlife services
    2) The mouse has been in their way to developing the area.
    3) From "endangered" to "common" overnight!

    True, science has been known to screw up but one cannot help but feel that this is a political stint. Sounds just like bush trying to open up the alaska reserve for oil drilling. Bah!

    Colorado Front Range - home of the mouse.

    "Builders, landowners and local governments have spent as much as $100 million by some estimates protecting the Preble's meadow jumping mouse since it was added to the federal list in 1998 as a species whose survival was considered "threatened."

    On the other hand, if it really is a "common critter", think of how embarrassed these big macho developers are going to feel and even if its not really all that common, they'd just go way out to kill them all. It has always been a fight between the cost of being sustainable and conservation. But still, I am sure it hasn't done that all that much harm to take into consideration the environment around them, than not.

    Just because there is another species some way away, does not mean that it is really all that common in the world. Of course, unless it's as much of a nuisance as crows, then oh lord, imagine the shame.

    Read full article here

    Friday, January 28, 2005

    Ecology, Complexity, and Metaphor

    For you bio/evolution/religious/whats the meaning of life people out there, here's the talk I went for this evening. I think that some of my readers would find it more interesting and more enlightening than me and my cohorts found it. Amazingly I still managed to spit out a question at the end even though the 4 of us was wondering what "stochasticity" was or even how to spell it! *PHEW* It was a rough night on the mind.

    Website on Ecology, Complexity, and Metaphor

    The talk was by Simon Levin of Princeton and Evelyn Fox Keller from MIT. For you informed people out there, you'd probably have heard of them. Levin is unable to come to our class tomorrow as scheduled due to the fact that, very unfortunately, his father in law passed away yesterday but it'd be nice to have Keller in the class with us! Looking forward to tomorrow already despite my midterm at 11am.

    I guess it would have been rude to ask how death amounts into the multicellularity explanation of life and self organization concept. Afterall, in the theory of evolution, humans might just "benefit" ourselves into extinction.

    I guess a person can die from having too much fun!

    Read full article here

    Thursday, January 20, 2005

    Walk in walk out

    Tomorrow is G.W. Bush's inaugaration ceremony and the students at UCSB is organizing a "Walk Out".

    2003 UCSB Student Walk Out in protest of Iraq War

    If you're like me and have no clue what a walk out is, well here's what the poor hassled flyer distributer told me when i badgered him with that question.

    A walk out is when students walk out of class to protest something, in this case, the inaugaration of the current president of USA. Sounds stupid? Yeah, basically they gather together and march in protest. In 2002, the staff and lecturers walked out, literally walked out of their office and had a strike for 3 days. In 2003, students had a walk out in protest of the war. (I really think it's easier for students to walk out. Afterall, like me, tomorrow during the "walk out", I have no class to walk out from!)

    This Walk Out must be what every singaporean dream's the freedom of speech! Just think of flouting that illegal gathering and public protest law in Singapore will get any long deprived of political activism Singaporean into a rabid frenzy.

    ... Ok so maybe not but hey it's my only chance to experience a rally and "peace march" even if it is a complete waste of time. It's so much a waste of time that I'm seriously consider walking out of the walk out.

    Read full article here

    Monday, January 17, 2005

    Mushroom Hunting

    At this moment in time, I really do not think I am ever cut out to be a hunter gatherer. In fact, to prove the point of survivor of the fittest, considering how difficult it is to find food in the wild, it really takes superb ability and skill, observation and stamina to be able to survive as a hunter gatherer. Therefore, our ancestors (that is assuming we were not evolved from the parasite of the community), must have been the best of the best in order to have us in this form today. Talk about gene pool!

    To cut the long story short, I didn't manage to get a single mushroom.

    You must be laughing right now because most of you who know me will know that I'm really not too good physically and maybe as erkie said, I'm really an urban girl afterall. I could go up a hill but I can't come down one. But then I already know this about myself in Thailand. Hey I'm really trying to work on this. I do love being in the "wilderness". I did find a lot of other type of mushrooms but I didn't find the one we were looking for (which is this gourmet Chanterelle Mushrooms which cost $15/lbs supposedly). At least I wasn't the only one. Perhaps I was just one step behind the entire time. I only go to places after another had gone and honestly, those were the people with the big bags! 20 mushrooms/bag while I had nothing but an empty bag with a plastic knife which never saw any action.

    Still, I had so much fun today! You wouldn't believe it. Probably the first time since I'm here that I really had fun. Honest to goodness fun. Good natured, clean healthy fun! Hiking, talking about organic food, farming, environmental issues, fishing without a license on a longboard(!) It's just a crazy crazy day! I am glad I was in a car pool with some really interesting people. Yingchuan managed to come with us too! Hopefully I didn't really leave him out in my eagerness to know more greenie people. I definitely talked too much today. Too eager. Like an over enthusiastic golden retriever puppy you know? Slobbering all over.

    Even then, I think I made an ok impression. We even went wine tasting at Los Olivos (I didn't, one of the guys Aaron did) which is the setting for the movie Side Ways!!! I even downloaded the map of the different wineries and vineyards that the characters went in the movie and too bad I didn't have it with me today! It was so exciting. Everything was a dream. The landscape was so incredible and it was just stupid that I left my camera behind. Still, here are some photos that Yingchuan took today!

    We found a wild boar skull! That's Aaron with the blue shirt and tied up hair. Soumil my classmate blocked by the skull. Alison the Chair of EAB with the hat and Christine in the white shirt back facing us who found A LOT of mushrooms. Oh yeah, it was Aaron who found the skull really.

    Number of animals saw today:
    1) Horses
    2) Miniature ponies
    3) Cows
    4) white tailed kite(?)
    5) deer (i saw the trail and bed and Ed the video guy filmed it!)
    6) wild boar (just the skull! see photo)
    7) rats (at the newman co-op, somebody had them)
    8) cat (a very fat beautiful calico cat at the wine tasting room)
    9) dog (a very big golden retriever type dog)

    Number of times the word organic was mentioned:

    I went to the Co-op in Isla Vista (IV) today and I just saw so many fresh produce and incredibly amount of organic product that it's crazy!!! They even have the products that erkie uses which I almost had to buy online! One short point is that - it cost a bomb.

    Since I didn't get any mushroom in the field today, I'm going for the cook-out/cook-off? at Newman in about 30 minutes. Newman is a housing co-op that most of the people in the Environmental Affairs Board (EAB) lives at. It's really cool. Quite cheap and internet, waste and water is paid for. You only have to pay additional gas and electricity.

    Also found out that there is such an acitivity called WOLFing which is where you work in an orchard picking fruits and I guess you get to take the fruits! Basically, it's a fruit picking thing. Got to remember to check back with this girl Shelly about this.

    Kameron, the guy who was sitting beside me in the car, also introduced me to this great lecture series on sustainable food productions. It's just once a week and I'm gonna go take some notes for erkie since she's really interested in such thing. However, I don't think I'm gonna do it for credits even though I could squeeze in one more. heh. I'm nuts. Turning into HQ and his 9 modules! *grin*

    Sedgwick Reserve - 6000ha of land gifted to UCSB. It's a dream.

    Most of these people are really interesting and I just can't wait to learn more from them! I also introduced them to the Sedgwick volunteer thing and hopefully I can see some familiar faces when I go for the training sessions starting 28 Jan. It was just so amazing how beautiful Sedgwick is. I am glad I am going to be volunteering there and even without the mushrooms, today was a good introduction to the area.

    Enough of me now. BTW, I've heard so many comments from all of you (at least 5 persons now) that my blog now looks really zen! Honestly, it's not intentional. I was just going for plain and generic! I guess minimalism can always pass off for class.

    Read full article here