Where did Carolina go?

Carolina is an exchange student in my LSM1303 Animal Behaviour course. Last week, I talked about visiting Kuala Selangor to see fireflies during the lecture on courtship lecture and Carolina laughed. Now I know why!

Carolina Martina Catharina Kamps reports that a person on a bus one night in Selangor (or perhaps elsewhere) said that “all the fireflies were extinct by pollution”.

Kuala Selangor, Selangor, Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Google Maps

Here is her story, originally in Dutch, translated by Google Translate and some paragraphing thrown in so it does not seem so breathless:

“…finally we went looking for a bus. Because, as we had heard so, there were nearby fireflies. You could by a bus, about 2 hours outside KL to a resort with a boat you could sail through the jungle and then everywhere would see fireflies light up.

Well of course it sounded great so we have checked just after the bus driver, leap around the bus.

Now I would not be myself if it went well. So to cut a long story (slightly) shorter, we were in the wrong bus. The rest of the bus was laughing at us and they had every time we asked said it was still lotssss further.

We were always so nervous because it was getting dark, we sat in a jungle in the middle of nowhere and the bus driver drove off and then on the wrong side of the road. Well turned out, he did go towards the site of the fireflies, but we were still there and need a taxi that would not go so late, and almost all the fireflies were extinct by pollution (which we all had invented with Jackson, our savior that appealed to a random guy who seemed to speak Chinese dialect [Cantonese, I am told]).

So finally we jumped off the bus at the last and only bus back to civilization gone. That stopped in a village now, where we were running a shop and had bought some bread (we were almost dead now because everyone was hungry, tired and had to go to the toilet) but, and I do not know how it was, it was very pleasant.

It was really one of the best outings. Nice games played in the bus and my fellow passengers to get to know. When we finally got home super delicious dinner meal and then to bed.”

The original in Dutch looks like this:

WaarBenJij.Nu | Caroline gaat studeren in Singapore

Natalie graphs her life

Natalie, a marine biolost (in prep.), is graphing her life with numbers she grabs off facebook, her dive computer and anything else that strikes her. See graphingmylife.blogspot.com.

natalie - Emails by Semesters
How fun is this? And a great early warning for newbie TAs in certain modules.

Lekowala pointed me to a blog just now and it struck such a familiar note. I used to make simple comparisons in school, before I encountered statistical tools. I’d compare reading rates by authors, genre and page lengths when we maintained reading lists in Sec 2, compare popular music selections between friends from different backgrounds, speeds and inter-station timings of underground and overhead MRT trains when it first opened and of course, cycling stats.

These days we are surrounded by even more data and Natalie is only doing a better job at all this, she is doing that rare thing as well, blogging.

I regularly encounter undergrads who restrict all mention of biostats to the confines of their module. Natalie’s exertions point to a way to tease the conversation into daily life. They’ll certainly find it fun to use data they are already generating and make comparisons. I’ll buzz their lecturer with this.

If we enhance conversational stats and hence literacy, it will help reduce numberophobia in biology students and facilitate their discovery of numbers in their environment when they tackle their ecology projects.

What was it Darwin wrote? “I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics, for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense.”

Just numbers first, equations later.