My student articles where Ria tossed them to –

I just fixed a link to the articles I penned for The Mudskipper (a publication of the now defunct Biological Sciences Society) between 1987 – 1998. The collection includes a few rare articles for publications by Science Club, Chemical Sciences Society and what was then the department of Zoology.

The Mudskipper was the most consistently produced magazine which featured lots of light-hearted articles by students and staff. These were lovingly printed using an offset-printer and the pages were stapled together to be distributed as a free magazine for some 200 society members. Member’s subscription paid for the paper and the department’s Mr Kee, whom we would assist, did the in-house printing for us free.

Well, perhaps a decade ago, before the events of Chek Jawa, the indefatigable Ria Tan stumbled on the collection of my student articles while rummaging my cupboard. She comandeered the file and threw the lot up on the web almost immediately, as she was wont to do in those days, in an effort called “print to web“. Eventually her efforts gave rise to more illustrious projects like putting the mangrove guidebooks online.

Happily, in her teething stages, she left me with a pre-blogging digital archive from my student days.

Principally The Mudskipper is parked at

My Articles

Balm for the soul – The Biology Education Roundtable

I metup with Cheng Puay and Adrian last evening. CP, looking like an army lad with his crew cut, obligingly treated us to coffee at Holland Village Starbucks after postponing the last two meetups. It has been a struggle for us to meet towards the year-end with our heavy teaching schedule and with Cheng Puay’s fifth year in Cambodia.

As a result we hardly scratched the surface on the mac apps we had wanted to discuss, distracted by Lekowala’s enthusiasm for mapmyrun’s live feed which resulted in three new users for Lekowala to experiment on a future run. The weakness to all this? The iPhone’s poor battery life.

Lekowala decided to emphasise his manhood by drinking and espresso and yawning while CP tells us he is going in for reservist duty once again. Well, at least soldiers listen to orders and he is surrounded by singing birdlife. Meanwhile, we find out that the barista is his former student waiting for admission to a university; she comes over to query him about visiting with the Cambodia project once again.

Photo by Ladybug

I did show them Flickery and f.lux before CP left. Before he did, we agreed Prezi was not our cup of tea and then CP threw out Popplet for subsequent investigation. After a few more apps, I got Lekowala onto Wireless@SGX which appeared to work for his black MacBook. We could not find a way to change our passwords on the Singtel webpage though.

Lekowala showed me a back to basics trick for downloading Tubesock-resistant Youtube videos via Safari (see MacWorld), which was something I had long forgotten. I have been using SnapX Pro in many a desperate situation which is tiring in comparison. I returned the favour somewhat with a pointer to J Colas’ Quartz Filters which manages to halve my lecture pdf sizes acceptably and also for file-sharing – they provide 5GB free and its differences from Dropbox may suit his specific situation.

It wasn’t all software as we examined Brandon’s unchallenged and complete dominance of The Biology Refugia and how he seems to blog the very thing I’d think about, before I’d even tweet about it! I also shared the worst of my students’ comments which they enjoyed immensely and sympathetically as any teacher would. And of course we caught up with each others tribulations and triumphs – a necessary stimulus for start of term!

The lads and I have regularly discussed natural history, teaching, macs and web2.0 for well over a decade and it’s a soothing balm for the soul when we meet. And I smile when I look at this reminiscent blog post from 2005.


Zendogs’ New Year’s ride: Northern Park Connector Network

Sun 02 Jan 2010 – Zendogs rode the northern loop of NParks’ Park Connector Network to celebrate the new year.

The group consisted of six Zendogs, five who rode the Western Park Connector Network for last year’s new year ride (Cat, Airani, Chi, Aaron and myself) and Benjamin and three others, Aaron’s friend See Yong Pey and two adventure racers taking it easy with us, Ling the Merciless and Ken Low.

I rode down from Holland Village to meet the Zendogs at Casuarina Road prata shop at 7.30am. We set off after breakfast and headed along the following route and returned the same way for a total of 38.94km. It was a safe and pleasant ride and well recommended.

  • Old Upper Thomson Road
  • Sembawang Road
  • Mandai Avenue
  • Mandai Road
  • Mandai Park Connector
  • Ulu Sembawang Park Connector
  • Woodlands Park Connectors
  • Marsiling Park Connector
  • Admiralty Park
  • Sembawang Park Connector
  • Yishun Park Connector
  • Sembawang Road
  • Old Upper Thomson Road

Chi led us on a route he had recce’d and plotted out. I was taking in the scenery and did not consciously remember the route we took. Hence this is a recollection and might not be exact (*update: Ben and Chi corrected the Woodlands/Yishun and Semwang/Mandai sections*). I plotted the route I took using Bikely, cross-referencing the map on the NParks PCN webpage and grabbed and annotated the final image using Skitch.

Woodlands Waterfront is a nice destination and it is nice to see people relaxing there. We cycled through Admiralty Park to peek at the mangrove there and were getting hungry soon after when a brief shower greeted us near Yishun. Benjamin had a flash of inspiration to detour off the PCN to Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital for lunch and Ladybug, a recent patient there, enthusiastically supported the idea. So we persisted for a lovely lunch at a peaceful setting.

All sizes | 005zendogs-western_pcn-02jan2011 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

All sizes | 040zendogs-western_pcn-02jan2011 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

122zendogs-western_pcn-02jan2011 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

See other photos from the ride at Flickr:
Zendogs New Year's ride on Flickr

Pre-ride cycling checklist

Before a bicycle ride, I conduct a simple check and make preparations the night before to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride. Here are some notes here which I’ll post on a page in the cycling blog later.


  • Lights: rear and front, working, correct number, clear of debris.
  • Speedometer, handphone, borrowed iPhone in waterproofing for runkeeper.
  • Brake pads clean and functioning.
  • Wheels: tyres inflated, rims clean, no oil, turning okay.
  • All cables, brake and gears: clean, oiled, tension adequate.
  • Saddle, correct one for ride, adjusted, tightened.
  • Gears and chain: wipe down, clean, oiled.
  • Water bottles, filled.


  • Helmet, no cracks, no strap entanglement.
  • Helmet rear light working, bright enough.
  • Gloves, socks, shoes.
  • Reflective ankle bands.
  • Jersey with cash and cards in rear pockets.
  • Shorts with keys in zipped pocket.
  • Clear glasses, sun glasses: washed and antifog applied.


  • Spare inner tube, powdered, in ziploc
  • Tyre puncture repair kit complete, adequate condition.
  • Alan key toolkit.
  • Sunblock, Brave Soldier.
  • Bandana and arm-warmers.
  • Crank Brothers pump.
  • Saddle cover.
  • First aid kit.

This is about it and is best done the night before with a clear head. It usually takes about 10mins when I am cycling regularly as maintenance would be fine, the saddle bag up to date, leaving just a few items to be set aside.

“if there is no place for dogs in swarga, then there is no room for me either”

When in primary school in the 70’s, I dug out yet another book in some corner of the house and began reading. The blue and white tome turned out to be C. Rajagopalachari’s abridged retelling of the Mahabharata(1951) (available online).

Many of the short stories therein made a big impression on me. One came to mind tonight, as it has many other times. In Yudhishthira’s final trial, the Pandavas, have given up their kingdom and embarked on a final pilgrimage. Eventually as they climb a final tall mountain, a dog joins and accompanies them. As they make their way up the mountain, they fall in exhaustion, one by one, leaving the dog who survives to accompany Yudhishthira, who has witnessed the demise of his wife and brothers.

As the pair ascend to an even greater height, the story recounts the appearance of Indra, who invites the weary Yudhishthira to ascend his chariot to enter heaven.

“…when Yudhishthira went up to take his seat in Indra’s chariot, the dog also climbed up.

“No, no,” said Indra. “There is no place for dogs in swarga,” and pushed the dog away.

“Then there is no room for me either,” said Yudhishthira, and refused to enter the heavenly chariot if he had to leave his faithful companion behind.”

It turns out after that Dharma, his father, had come to test his son’s loyalty and was pleased with his conduct.

In that moment, I felt that Yudhishthira certainly restored some of the honour he lost when he lied to Drona on the battlefield.

Happy New Year everyone!