Saturday, September 29, 2007

Banana Bread part II

Had some leftover bananas from the BBQ last Sunday, and didn't think we'll get to eat all of them before they spoiled, so made banana bread again! Changed the recipe a little though, as I thought the last time I made it, it wasn't banana-y enough, so used 4 bananas in total. Still turned out fully cooked all the way through, heng ah! Isn't the colour bee-ooo-tee-fooo?

International Coastal Clean-up - Carolina Beach

After much internal wrestling with my sleep deprived self, decided to forgo salsa last night and wake up at 7.40am this (Saturday) morning to attend a clean-up at Carolina Beach! I haven't volunteered for such a long time that I was starting to feel a little weird and out of sorts. Was looking forward to getting down and dirty again for the sake of nature!

We were a little worried when we first arrived at Carolina Beach, as it was awfully quiet and lacking in people. But we finally chanced upon the registration booth further along the boardwalk, yay!

Signed up on the spot and free breakfast (pretty good donuts) provided too! Instructions were pretty sparse- just pick up our supplies, fill in the datacard and come back when we're done.

Pre-clean-up beach- doesn't it look absolutely polluted? :)

This event is quite well-supported, and more than 100 people showed up. Look at the advancing horde!

Frankly though, this is the cleanest clean-up I've ever been to. That's Wai and her aunt with our 'bulging' bag of trash after 2 hours of traversing the beach. The weather was sunny, breezy and cool, and I didn't even break into sweat. Where's the mud? The half-buried washing machine? The nets trapping multitudes of crabs? It all felt rather surreal...

Our tally ended with a total of 929 cigarette butts, plenty of plastic odds and ends, 1 piece of glass, 2 fishing lines, a few pieces of styrofoam and a used condom covered with ants which I had to pick up as Wai didn't want to touch it...

Since we had some energy left, we decided to take the car ferry to Southport and drive back to Wilmington from there.

Only $5 for 3 persons and one car! What do you think the breakdown of costs is?

View of the Cape Fear River from the ferry. Pretty!

The Southport-Fort Fisher ferry

Lunch was hotdogs from Trolley Stop. I love my chili dogs :P

We did walk around Southport and stuff, but unfortunately, no more pictures as my camera batteries died out. It's a really quaint and sweet little ole town though, with two major perpendicular streets, old houses, and a rather historical flavour. We contemplated visiting the Boiling Springs Lake on the way back, but couldn't find the entrance to the lake area. Oh well, we'll just have to come back another day.

Went to downtown Wilmington instead and got my Kilwins ice-cream fix (mmm...fudgy goodness....). Thought I'll go home, have a swim, and that'll be the end of the day, but got a call about a Chinese BBQ at Halyburton Park to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival! It's turning out to be a rather full day! But hey, graduate students seldom turn down free food opportunities, hehehe...

Friday, September 21, 2007

How to fritter away a weekend...

It's turning out to be a rather unproductive weekend...Queued up at the university Surplus Sale yesterday morning, and scored a nice dining table for $6! Wahahaha...We can now eat like civilised people, instead of off a cardboard Singpost parcel box. Decided to work from home in the afternoon, and made a split pea soup for dinner, which took 2 hours of simmering on the stove! For something that look like it yielded 3.5 servings...hmmm...would be a while before I do that again...

thedivinebovine decided that she didn't want to go to the ChocQuibTown concert after all, and since it was too late to ask someone else to go, dragged my sorry single loser ass to Kenan Auditorium to attend a hip-hop concert on my own. Um. After dashing to the counter just in time, saw posters stating that the concert was sold out plastered everywhere! Augh, did I just make a wasted trip? Fortunately, some people had released their tickets, and I could go in after all! It was a pretty good concert, since I always like music with a Latin inflection, and percussive rhythms, just hard to get into the grooving mood on my own...I always feel like the lone woman Karen and I usually see swaying to the music by herself when we attend Latin concerts in Singapore, she just stood out so much...The sound mix was a little weird though, the vocals weren't very clear, and the music sounded like it was just coming from the front, as if someone was playing a CD on a stereo. But it was still pretty enjoyable overall.

TDB has been complaining recently about a dearth of wardrobe fillers, and since today was the last day of summer sales at all major department stores around here, thought I would accompany her while she looked for decent t-shirts. Alas the law of shopping states that the 'accompanier' shall inexorably be drawn into a few purchases on her own as well...Bought a couple of cute tees for the boyos, a brown t-shirt (like, what do I need another t-shirt for right?), and a rather cute short skirt, which was a steal at $6, heheh! Unfortunately, we spent the whole day shopping!! Only ate 'lunch' at 4pm, and now, we're supposed to go for contra dance. This is terrible! Tomorrow we're hosting a BBQ, and the prep would take up most of the day. Pffftt....hope to get some reading in tonight then!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fall season...

It's my favourite time of the year...when there's a slight nip in the air, it's breezy but not chilly, and the grass is warm and dry. I can sit and read outdoors without getting a sunburn on the back of my neck, or feeling rivulets of sweat running down the side of my face.

It's seems to be shopping season too! Bought myself a secondhand Schwinn Mesa yesterday! I was so excited about finally finding a decent MTB in my size that I didn't even take it for a test ride! did have new front disc brakes, new tires, and looked reasonably well taken care of. Al frame too, and I've been scanning ads on craigslist and other sites for months, finding only cromoly or steel frames for my price range. I can't wait to adjust the bike to my specs and ride it to work! Yay bike!

Dazed after a morning of struggling to understand the IPCC Chapter 2 on Radiative Forcing (all 88 pages), and the derivation of Fisher's Least Significant Difference multiple comparisons test, wasn't at my perkiest and keenest at the end of the day. But accompanied Wai to the music workshop by the Afro-Colombian band ChocQuibTown anyway. Had to concentrate quite a bit on the explanations behind the various rhythms, but they play some funky music! Hip hop and rap overlaid over percussive Latin rhythms. Am looking forward to their concert this Friday evening...

After such a full day, we really couldn't bring ourselves to cook. So we had a 'convenience foods' night! Tried the Michelina's frozen pasta dish, which is strongly reminiscent of the stuff that appeared on my tray on the flight back to Wilmington from Panama...The Pictsweet steamed veggies went down much better, with the exception of salt laden bits hidden between innocuous looking veggie morsels. What to do but fall back on my lazy favourite tater tots! Can't go much wrong with crispy bits of potatoes, mm mm....

Sunday, September 16, 2007

KL environment ministry loses appetite for shark's fin soup
text at

Wow. I'm astounded by this article. This is great news! Given how shark's fins are such a status symbol, it's incredible that a government agency would take this step, especially since we're taught in class that political groups tend to favour short-term policies over long-term gains. I'm glad to see that some messages have gone through in some way, and really, kudos to the ministry for taking such a bold step.

I wonder when we'll see this happen in S'pore too? ;)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The wonders of Google Earth

I can even see the individual buildings at STRI Bocas! The long one is the laboratory complex, where I spent many 'happy' hours extracting sponge metabolites with ether, and many actual happy hours studying about sponge taxonomy and ecology. A little cayman lives in the pond in front of the lab, and I know it's not a fake because it scooted into the pond from the bank before I could creep up to it at night and take a photo. The mangroves to the left across from the dock were an amazing place to snorkel, both in the day and night...though the first time I went at night, I bumped my head numerous times on the mangrove roots, and struggled to stay above the fire corals in 50cm of water...

Grabbed a bunch of GPS readings from Google Earth itself. That's just fantastic! Can even download satellite images of my study sites and mark them out if I want...hmmm

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bocas recap

Looks like blogging about my entire experience in Bocas would be some massive effort...and from experience it means that it's probably not going to happen! (Look at my non-existent Kilimanjaro blog entry...). In the meantime, I've uploaded photos here, and decided to spare you the albums of sponge ID shots!

Maybe sometime this year I would have uploaded the Kili album too ;)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Going home

Sitting at the Tocumen airport in Panama waiting for my flight to take off. Woke up at 5am this morning, bleary-eyed, with a slight sangria headache, probably because I forgot to buy water (or local beer as a souvenir, damn!) to drink last night, meaning, earlier this morning. Uff...after the lazy sun dappled last few days at Bocas, Panama City in one night was a frenzied affair involving angry taxi drivers swerving crazily through the streets, and a whirlwind tour of the old city, Casco Viejo. The buildings were muy nice, but the sun had set more than an hour ago and my teeny flash wasn't going to cut it. So we just walked and talked, and looked out for muggers hiding in the small dark alleys.

Since I was in Latin America, really wanted to check out the local nightlife. After all, have been listening to lots of salsa, bachata, etc over the radio, in taxicabs, spilling out of hard could it be to find a place with live salsa band and great dancing to watch huh? As it turned out, it was pretty hard. The one name I got off the web was closed for the past year, and the security guard on the street recommended another place which Gideon refused to enter, as he had gone in last night, and found it filled with deafening music, unfriendly bouncers, and worst of all, scantily-clad women with appreciably enhanced assets. Wandered the side streets for a while, which were filled with Chinese restaurants, before admitting defeat. We did find a nice restaurant that had live guitar music which was really good, and excellent sangria, so the night wasn't a total loss, heh. But I still don't believe that isn't a single nice salsa place in the city!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Time flies when...

Yesterday was the last day of the sponge course here at Bocas, and half the course participants went off today, leaving the station strangely empty and quiet. The days were packed with projects and things to do, but the learning was inspiring and the company was nothing short of great. Spongers are really cool people :). We're already making plans to meet up at a conference somewhere in the near future.

Will blog about the course soon, haven't had many free nights since I landed here, and diving again tomorrow!