Caught a bug

Picked up a really tough strain from someone recently. I had been exhausted and having headaches all last week but I forgot these were early warnings of the flu. Last semester I was largely flu-free since I stayed out of airconditioning and so forgot. So I did not take remedial action and instead battled against it best I could.

So it was downhill all the way after last Saturday’s ICCS Otters meeting which took place in an insanely cold lab. My friends will know, the flu is my Achilles heel, so when it strikes, I am usually out for two weeks.

And this strain was a tough one. It had my chest so congested I was struggling to breathe. The usual cocktails (I keep an arsenal) surprisingly didn’t work at all that night. When I found myself almost choking, I resorted to that homely remedy I reached to by instinct one tortured night many moons ago – I took two cups of hot water liberally doused with pepper and sat up on the sofa. That helped. I welcomed the sun in the morning and the warm day that followed allowed me some shut eye by midday.

The sofa became my base camp since it is the warmest part of the house and used that in combination with the very strong fan I had just bought. I tossed the blanket and sofa covers when the chills went away and instead the fevers returned. Then I turned on that strong fan to combat the fevers. I left my “turban” on though, had to keep the head and chest warm. Since I had to keep hydrating, that had me going to the toilet every hour. My legs and hands felt as if they were on fire so I washed down during each lo visit as well. That helped combat the fever; funny how a miserable flu bug could be so troublesome. Well to some of us at any rate.

So it’s been a drowsy five days. I have a string of postponed meetings and lectures that will be a nightmare to handle next week.

Still, I am pretty happy I shook this off this bug fairly quickly. Tiger has shaken off all his mite-itchiness as well in the meantime. Now I just have to readjust my clock that has me wide awake at 3am. And I guess I am not cycling this week.

Xylo keeps me company in the afternoon.


“Albrecht believes that this is a new type of sadness. People are feeling displaced. They’re suffering symptoms eerily similar to those of indigenous populations that are forcibly removed from their traditional homelands. But nobody is being relocated; they haven’t moved anywhere. It’s just that the familiar markers of their area, the physical and sensory signals that define home, are vanishing. Their environment is moving away from them, and they miss it terribly.

Albrecht has given this syndrome an evocative name: solastalgia. It’s a mashup of the roots solacium (comfort) and algia (pain), which together aptly conjure the word nostalgia. In essence, it’s pining for a lost environment. “Solastalgia,” as he wrote in a scientific paper describing his theory, “is a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at home.'””

– Clive Thompson on “How the Next Victim of Climate Change Will Be Our Minds.” Wired 16.01, 20 Dec 2007.

Tooble for browsing and downloading YouTube videos

Found out about Tooble via ArsTechnica review of best indie software at MacWorld Expo 2008.

“Tooble is a straightforward app that allows you to browse and search YouTube videos, then download, convert, and add them to iTunes for your iPod or iPhone. Unsurprisingly designed by a few high school seniors, tooble in its current form is a free download, with a paid Pro version on its way that will include support for many other video sites.”

I paid for Tubesock earlier and it was helpful during last semester’s teaching. But Tooble allows you to browse YouTube for videos – and then download ’em!

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Pasir Panjang Heritage

I just switched the Pasir Panjang Heritage blog to Blogspot: – so glad I finaly sorted this out. Have more than few things to post there which I’ve put off.

Pasir Panjang Heritage

It used to be on the Habitatnews server (due to limitations with image hosting) but Blogger is faster now and I wanted some of the new template options, which is only possible when you host your blog on blogspot.

I do wish they’d provide templates with at least a 500 pixel width for text – that would allow embedding Flickr images more quickly as 500 pixels is one of Flickr’s default sizes – and that is convenient for MarsEdit too which can reference your Flickr account for recently uploaded images. Anyway I prefer a 500 pixel image to a miserable 400 pixel width image anyday. Grrr…

If I figured out how to widen the template (think I know but it looks like hard work), I’d shift this blog to Blogger in a jiffy! I hate the restrictions in WordPress which prevent me from messing up my sidebar but only inserting widgets they provide. I miss my Jaiku!

For some reason I am thinking of a dock in Beaufort, North Carolina. I must be tired.

“HDB should reconsider replacing ban on cats with ‘motivational’ regulations”

HDB should reconsider replacing ban on cats with ‘motivational’ regulations

Letter from Tan Chek Wee, Straits Times Forum 21 Jan 08

I READ with amusement the article in The Sunday Times about ‘Getting to know your neighbours” with a cartoon by Miel showing a smiling lady poking her head from her flat and a cat beside her (The Sunday Times, Jan 13). The problem we face nowadays is really ‘not knowing your neighbours”.

In my neighbourhood, I am fortunate to share a common concern with a few fellow residents on the plight of the community cats.

Cats are pushed to the brink by an increasing human population and decreasing tolerance. They are killed for reasons ranging from noise made during mating, defecation in ‘upstairs” common areas (usually caused by cat owners who let their cats roam out), residents’ phobia of cats, scratches on cars, etc.

Incensed by the ineffective killing of about 13,000 cats every year for more than two decades and at the public expense of more than half a million dollars annually, we decided to get our butts out of our flats and spent many evenings trapping the cats in our neighbourhood and brought them to the vet to be sterilised.

After about three years, we achieved a near 100 per cent sterilised colony of cats. We also work with the town council to help resolve complaints about cats.

Through this community work, we met fellow residents from all walks of life, of all ages and of all races. We also got to meet residents who complained about cats and residents who owned cats but were unaware of responsible pet ownership (that includes sterilisation and keeping them indoors).

We were touched by the fact that almost all the residents who complained about cats did not want killing as a solution. This was often not known to some town council property officers who assumed that engaging pest controllers to remove ‘downstairs” community cats was the solution. This naturally resulted in a recurrence of complaints. By identifying the right cause of the complaints, we could offer a solution that costs only a bottle of vinegar and a packet of camphor balls (to clear the smell of cat poo and to repel the cats).

However, the lack of HDB regulations on responsible cat ownership is a major setback to the success of a managed colony of cats. Irresponsible owners abandon cats and kittens for reasons ranging from moving house, spring cleaning and unwanted litters from unsterilised home cats.

Irresponsible owners let their cats roam freely, resulting in complaints from neighbours. Town Council officers are reluctant to speak to such owners about pet responsibility because they said that ‘HDB does not allow cats”. Referring such recalcitrant cat owners to their HDB colleagues will only result in the abandonment of these cats in the estate instead. This will only transfer the problem to the Town Council which may then blame the expanding population on caregivers like me and my fellow residents.

I appeal to the HDB to urgently reconsider replacing the ban on cats with regulations so that such irresponsible owners will be ‘motivated” by fines to keep their cats indoors and to have them sterilised. This is a win-win situation to residents in general, to caregivers and also to the property officers in the town council.