St. Andrew’s 150th Anniversary Carnival on Sat 07 Apr 2012: 9am – 5pm

Dear Saints,

A message from the St. Andrew’s Parents-Teacher Association who must be hard at work in preparations for the carnival, now just a week away!

The St Andrew’s 150th Anniversary Carnival will be held on Saturday 7th April 2012: 9am to 5pm at St Andrew’s Village, Potong Pasir Ave 3
For more information, you can call the SAPTA Hotline at 9435 8133,
email or see

Carnival activities include rides, Games, Food, Beverages, Concert, Reunion Square Bistro for Homecoming Saints, photo exhibitions, heritage walkabout and tours.

The Jim Weir Cup, the annual tournament between Saints & Raffles Institution will be held at the SAJC field at these times:

  • Over 35s team playing at 4.00pm
  • Under 35s team playing at 5.00pm

With the U-17 finals on Tue 5th April 2012, this means Saints engage our old rivals the Rafflesians three times next week!

A colourful pdf of events and event locations is attached in this email and available here:

To purchase tickets, these options are avalable:

  • Purchase at the SAJS General Office: Mon – Fri: 7.30am – 1.30pm
  • Buy on site on 7th April 2012
  • Pre-booked Ticket Collection at Reunion Square – Alumni who plan to come for the carnival but are unable to purchase tickets in advance can send an SMS to our Carnival Hotline at 9435 8133 to book your tickets with your name and the amount of tickets. You will receive a code via SMS for easy collection and payment on April 7th at the ticket collection booth located in front of the General office at Reunion Square. (Via SAOBA)

See you at the St Andrew’s 150th Anniversary Carnival!

The St Andrew’s 150th Anniversary Carnival held on Saturday, 7th April is a big festive event organized by SAPTA. Embracing the ‘One Family Unbroken’ motto, this event will be a collaborative effort with SAJS, SASS and SAJC working together, with activities spread across the entire St Andrew’s Village. Even our little ones at Ascension Kindergarten will be involved in the festivities. – SAPTA

Finally! I’m recycling my Macs (1992 Powerbook 140 & 1997 Powerbook 1400cs) into Starhub’s e-waste bins

Earth Hour WWF Singapore

This year, the Earth Hour banner this year bears the phrase “60+”, which means its time to do more beyond the act that started it all – turning off the lights for an hour.

Many will dim lights from 8:30pm till 9:30pm on Saturday 31 March as will StarHub’s retail shops and Customer Service Centres around the island.

Their action beyond the hour is the launch of their electronic waste (e-waste) recycling programme: E-waste recycling bins will be placed at StarHub’s Customer Service Centres at

  1. OUB Centre, Level 5
  2. Plaza Singapura, Level B2
  3. Tampines Mall, Level 2
  4. StarHub Green, Level 3
  5. and the Grid MMS Office at *SCAPE Level 4

“About 50 million cell phones are replaced worldwide every month, and only 10% are recycled,” says StarHub CEO Neil Montefiore. “As a provider of electronic equipment and e-services, we feel that it is only right to provide consumers with an avenue through which they can safely and responsibly dispose of their electronic waste.”

Apparently, e-waste in the form of mobile phones, cable modems, laptops and lithium-ion batteries, accounts for more than 70% of toxic waste in landfills and this improper disposal leads to serious pollution and health problems.

This is a certainly a relief as I missed earlier initiatives and still have my first two Macintosh laptops with me. I did not want to toss them out as they would not be properly disposed which would be pollutive. In this programme, the e-waste collected will be recycled by TES-AMM, a local e-waste recycling company.

In light of WWF’s campaign “I Will If You Will” tagline, if consumers deposit 3,000kg of e-waste into the five bins between Earth Hour and Earth Day (22 April 2012), StarHub will plant 30 trees at a local park. Sweet!

“Recycling bins for paper, plastic and metal are commonplace nowadays, but it is very difficult to find bins in which the average consumer can recycle e-waste,” observed Mr Montefiore. “We’re hoping to provide such channels at easily accessible locations, and eventually inculcate a long-term habit for consumers, whether they are our customers or not, to recycle their e-waste with us.”

The list of recyclable items for StarHub E-Waste Recycling Bins include

  • Hard Drives,
  • Keyboards,
  • Laptops,
  • Li-ion Batteries,
  • Mobile Phones,
  • Modems.

See the full list at Zero Waste Singapore.

In my other blogs….

  • “Find your passion with the rejuvenated Raffles Museum Toddycats!” – Raffles Museum Toddycats, 29 Mar 2012: link
  • “Bike Hour is not complicated – “just get on your bike and pedal the sucker” – Cycling in Singapore, 19 Mar 2012: link
  • “Rent a bicycle and ride along Sungei Punggol and Sungei Serangoon (North-Eastern Riverine Loop) – Cycling in Singapore, 19 Mar 2012: link
  • Runkeeper to the rescue; does better than Apple’s “Find iPhone”. Zendogs 2.0, 24 Mar 2012 – link
  • “Rambling Librarian will ride!.” Zendogs 2.0, 24 Mar 2012 – link
  • “Zendogs at the NERL Punggol Waterway / Serangoon River Viewing Dec, 18 Mar 2012”. Zendogs 2.0, 29 Mar 2012 – link

Where is pigboy?!

First posted in NUS’ “The Change is Me“, 30 Mar 2012

We adopt the names of the animals we research, so I go by the name Otterman. My students are variously branded Ottergirl, Smammal girl, catboy, civetgirls, catgirl and the wild pig research student, Ong Say Lin, was gleefully branded “pigboy” by Smammal Girl.

Since last semester, Say Lin has explored the reappearance of wild pigs (Sus scrofa) in mainland Singapore, setting out to ask some obvious questions, like their distribution, numbers, group demographics, impact and interaction with man. Research students typically begin with a simple question which inevitably becomes complex and ends up requiring lots of work.

IMG_0161-1yw01lz.jpg 2,048ձ,536 pixels
Wild pig foraging in the forests of mainland Singapore.

So Say Lin has been in the field, setting up camera traps, talking to fellow researchers and the public, following up on records and examining maps. However, he disappeared a week before report submission!

His project, part of the Undergraduate Research Programme in Science, requires that he submit his two-semester, 8-modular credit report next week, by 2nd April 2012.

Where is pigboy?

Well ACRES announced the reason for his absence today with, “A warm welcome to Say Lin to ACRES. He will be the Director of ACRES Lao PDR!”

Say Lin & Louis
Say Lin and Louis in Laos PDR. Photo by ACRES.

Isn’t that lovely? Say Lin aka pigboy is in Laos PDR for the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Singapore) (ACRES) and Laos Zoo for the establishment of the first Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre there. This was accomplished with the support and partnership of the Thai wildlife organization called Love Wildlife Foundation.

See all the news reports on WildSingaporeNews.

Seeing bears permanently in cage to be milked for their bile is heart wrenching. Say Lin will be able to do something about it directly now and help many other animals in abject conditions as well.

Thoughout his undergraduate years, Say Lin has had many mentors because he stepped forward, got engaged, sought help, reflected on his experiences and kept the plight of animals in his heart to help him maintain his focus.

Sun Bear at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC)
Rescued Sun Bear at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Photo by Ong Say Lin

One of his mentors was Dr Wong Siew Te, founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). Siew Te spoke passionately in Singapore in 2007 and the impact of his talk would result in Say Lin spending five weeks in internship at BSBCC on husbandry, volunteer management and communication about sun bears (Helarctos malayanus).

Still, going to Laos to be the director of an animal rescue centre was no easy decision. Say Lin reflects about this in his personal blog a few days ago:

“Never in my life have I experienced each week passing by so quickly. This year has been filled with a whirlwind of activities for me, and my eyes widen upon the reminder that it is only March. Perhaps I should not have signed up for so many things in the first place, but nothing would have prepared me for the tonne of opportunities that landed on my plate.

Right this moment, I am 4 days away from my first trip to Lao PDR. The thought process that led me to take up this job offer has been cycling through my head the past 2 months. I have reasoned it out with my closest friends, and I find it worthwhile to record it down here.

Ultimately, my interest lies in conservation, particularly wildlife conservation. Animal welfare is something related that I am passionate about, so working in a field that involves both these disciplines would be a dream. With my current research on wild boars in mainland Singapore, I have gotten a better appreciation of the distinction between academic research and conservation. Neither is better, or more important than the other. However, one can argue which has a more urgent need to be pursued in order to really make a difference.

In order to be in charge of a sanctuary, or any conservation program, I would require a PhD qualification. On top of that, I would also require the credibility and experience in order to be able to approach NGOs, governments and businesses for funding. I am at least 8 years from that.

The bear bile farming industry is a horrific trade. It is the sort of stuff that people 100 years from now would look back and be utterly disgusted that it ever existed, assuming bear bile farming doesn’t exist by then.

I’ve now been given the chance to set up a sanctuary for rescued Asiatic Black Bears as well as revamp a 3rd-world zoo. The task is difficult as it is without a boss who is fiercely optimistic (bordering unrealistic). But hey, there’s a reason why he’s come so far. I need to trust him. I have to. The next 2 years of my life is invested in his and my decisions.

This decision makes sense because it is everything I believe in at this point in life. I am not sure if I will ever get such an opportunity in life, ever. Even with a PhD and multiple published papers wouldn’t secure me such an opportunity. My family is financially secure with no one suffering from any serious illnesses. I am relatively young. I am technically not romantically committed to anyone. If not now, then when? When could I ever afford to do something crazy like this? Last but not least, I won’t be alone up north. I will be with like-minded people, something that I appreciate so much about. It’ll be just like in N.Minnesota. Masters or PhD? I’ll have time for that in the future.

Yes, these are justifications to a decision already made. Whatever I see next week, I am already destined to be there for a while. Things may overwhelm me, but when I enter that first bear farm… The sights, the smells and the sickening groans from imprisoned and mutilated bears… That will remind me that it isn’t about me after all. It isn’t about the money. It is about them. It is about freedom. “

Louis Ng and Ong Say Lin
Louis and Say Lin at University Town, 12 Mar 2012

Louis Ng, his boss, is his senior from NUS Life Sciences from about a decade earlier and is indeed a worthy mentor. Louis embarked on his personal mission even when he was an undergraduate and presented the issues in NUS way back in 2002.

At a recent session in NUS, Louis spoke and engaged with a bunch of students. He engaged them very well, presented his stand and issues clearly, provided solutions and opportunities, was not judgmental yet communicated his passionate stand.

Say Lin has a tough example to live up to but he’s is up for the challenge. In addition to ACRES staff and volunteers in Singapore, he has the support and well wishes of fellow students and staff back in NUS and that of the many naturalists in Singapore who are communicating with him via twitter and facebook.

Despite the heroics, he still has a final report to submit for his UROPS! I will go through the draft with him once he’s back and he will battle corrections during the weekend and I am sure meet the deadline in exhaustion.

That exercise will be yet another arsenal in his array of experiences which he will tap on when he is in Laos championing the cause of animals there.

Pigboy isn’t lost. He’s just becoming Bearboy!

Captive Sun Bear in Laos
Captive Sun Bear in Laos PDR
Photo by Ong Say Lin

You can follow Say Lin’s thoughts on his personal blog and his conservation perspectives and even volunteer at the centre during your holidays. You can follow him on twitter at saylinsays

U@live Featuring Leo Tan, Wed 25 Apr 2012

Leo TanU@live, 25 Apr 2012

Join us in April to meet a relentless champion for the environment and science to hear about his beliefs and values!

Professor Leo Tan graduated in PhD in Science from NUS in 1974. Throughout a distinguished career in research, education and public service, Professor Tan has been a vocal advocate for the environmental cause. Indeed, many of his public policy initiatives have helped to define Singapore’s reputation as a Garden City. 

Professor Tan’s latest ventures include Project Semakau, a three-year research programme with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, and the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, set to open in 2014 with Singapore’s very first permanent exhibit of dinosaur fossils. Being the former National Parks Board chairman and enthusiastic nature lover, he was also devoted to teach and impart knowledge to his students.

Come discover what this pioneering environmentalist has to say about Singapore’s “green” future.

Tan Swee Hee, who sent us the email, says, “The Edmontosaurus thigh bone will be on display!”

Runkeeper to the rescue; does better than Apple’s “Find iPhone”

Kenneth stared at a bare patch on his handlebar at 6.30am this morning in dismay. His encased iPhone was missing!

We fumbled with Apple’s “Find iPhone” but his 1password-generated password was beyond him. He and Dinesh set off to backtrack along his morning ride from Bishan to Holland Village.

As Kevin, Airani and I rode down Dunearn Rode we saw Dinesh’s bright lights pointing back at us – we reached to see them fiddling with Dinesh’s iPhone. Kenneth realized he could track the phone’s position!

Finding lost iPhone

Kenneth says,

“When I saw the track on RunKeeper, I saw the pin was red, but did not realise the implication immediately. When I continued cycling up Kheam Hock Road, it hit me – the tracking had stopped.

This meant one of two things: someone picked up the phone and stopped RunKeeper, or the phone’s GPS function (at very least) was affected by the fall. Thankfully – if someone can be thankful to see his phone crushed – it was the latter.

With the phone in my hands, the data on my phone was not compromised.”

Kenneth's Smashed iPhone

Recovered along Lornie Road, the phone was busted. Airani commented Runkeeper had allowed Kenneth to find his phone, reuse his SIM card and secure his data – all this because Runkeeper provides the last known location of the phone before it was killed by traffic. 

Since Kenneth sets his Runkeepr Elite app to automatically notify Twitter/Facebook when he begins a ride, we could have asked any of his followers to help us locate his phone had we needed to. 

This was a clear illustration that we’d be able to backtrack and check on a missing cyclist easily if they use an app with live tracking.

Zendogs 2.0 all use Runkeeper Elite, essentially paying for live monitoring. This morning it came in helpful further when I used the live tracking to see that Kevin (and Kenneth) had rerouted after recovering the phone. I informed Dinesh and Airani and we could continue instead of waiting; useful!

So my phone is packed for every ride with it’s extra battery.

We’ll keep riding safely and choose our routes well so we don’t have to trace each other in some tragic emergency. But being prepared might help us help others.

Singapore Blood Group ‘O’ stock at critical levels, will 1,000 donors come forward this weekend?

Red Cross, HSA call on blood donors to step forwardI have been donating whole blood regularly four times a year since I turned 18. My next donation will be no. 108 and is scheduled for early April. The regular donations are motivation to stay healthy and out of trouble. In between, I take an interest in how the blood bank is doing and urge my healthy friends to think about donating at least twice a year.

Almost perpetually it seems, our national blood stock is in a state of constant low supply. From time to time, this becomes an acute problem, such as this past week, when national blood stocks of the various blood groups have been at low, very low or critical levels. This problem has in fact been evident since late last year – see these posts from Nov 2011, early Jan 2012 and late Jan 2012.

The persistently very low levels of blood group ‘O’ stock has led to the Red Cross and HSA to appeal island-wide for blood donations through the media [22 Mar 2012; pdf].

“As of today, the national blood stock level is about 1,200 units, enough for the next three to four days. However, to ensure our ability to continue to meet the daily transfusion needs and bleeding emergencies, we aim to bring the current bloodstock level to at least six days’ supply of 1,800 units. (This means that we will need the support of about 1,000 donors over this weekend.)”

Why are the stocks so low?

  • Bleeding emergencies in hospitals.
  • Fewer people donating at community blood mobiles.
  • Slow response to SMS recall of elligible national blood donors.
  • And obviously, a low number of regular donors (who donate at least twice a year).

Who can donate?

If you’re healthy, are between 18 and 60 years old and weigh at least 45 kilogrammes, you are eligible to donate. If you’re a donor, you can only donate 12 weeks after your last whole blood donation.

If you have not donated blood before in Singapore, visit HSA’s informative Who can donate (e.g. six weeks symptom-free after visiting a malaria area). The webpage also has an FAQ section with information about when you may or may not donate.

Health Sciences Authority - Who Can Donate
HSA: Who can Donate?

Shorten the process (secret weapon)

Although the process has taken an hour tops for me so far, you can shorten this. If you are can plan the timing of your visit at HSA to a specific half-hour AND can remember your Singpass password, click the “Make an e-Appointment” link in HSA’s E-services and Forms.

I just made an appointment for my next eligible donation (12 weeks wait for whole blood donations) on 4th April 2012 at 12.30pm. My plan is this – a hearty breakfast at 8.30am while I review my 10.00am Animal Behaviour (LSM1303) lecture at NUS LT33. I’ll hop into a cab by 12.00pm and make it in time for my 108th blood donation appointment!

I’ll be done in under an hour and then into another cab to RGS by 2.00pm for a session on IT Reflections for their Staff Development Day.

Bloodbank queueThe e-Appointment is easy to use and at my last visit, could see it made a significant difference to visit timing. This time, I even filled in the pre-donation questionnaire online to observe how much that speeds up the process.

The new thing at the last visit was an e-ticket system – I found it impersonal and very stressful! Blood donor staff try to calm us by calling us by name after the stressful buzzer startles us! It also looks like the e-ticket system adds to the admin work load of the nurses, and I wonder how that is working out.

Health Sciences Authority - DonorCare@HSA

Where to donate?

Blood donations can be made at the following two centres (bring your NRIC or Passport):

Bloodbank@HSA (closed on Mondays),
11 Outram Road (opposite Outram Park MRT station) – map.

Opening hours are as follows:

  • Tuesdays to Thursdays: 9:00am to 6:30pm
  • Fridays: 9:00am to 8:00pm
  • Saturdays: 9:00am to 4:30pm
  • Sundays: 9:00am to 2:00pm
  • Closed on Mondays and public holidays

Bloodbank@Woodlands (closed on Tuesdays),
900 South Woodlands Drive, Woodlands Civic Centre, #05-07 – map.

Opening hours are as follows:

  • Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: 12:00pm to 8:00pm
  • Saturdays: 9:00am to 5:00pm
  • Sundays: 9:00am to 2:00pm
  • Closed on Tuesdays and public holidays

Or catch a Bloodmobile
See: For example, venues this weekend are at:

Singapore Bloodmobiles 2014 Donorweb

My Bike Hour Ride

I’ve been going on about it in the Cycling in Singapore and worked myself up to run home and jump on my bike. That was actually a little more complicated that it appears, but I did it!

I saw one likely Bike Hour cyclist who smiled and bobbed his head as we passed each other on opposite directions at the Ulu Pandan Canal.

Bike Hour

I used it to get myself on my bicycle for my first mid-week ride. I realise why I have not been doing it sooner though, the air is not wiped (relatively) clean as it is on a Sunday morning and there is plenty of construction along the route. The best part was riding next to a cool forest patch along Clementi Road!

For my mid-week ride to survive, I must plan a route adjacent to forest, well after peak hour for this to work – a Mandai loop beckons.

My tweets:

  • Watch my bike ride right now with @RunKeeper Live #RKLive #RunKeeper
  • Ghim MOH canal sure was busy! #bikehour #zd2 on way to Kranji
  • Jurong in peak hour. Strictly for a niche crowd of cyclists #bikehour
  • Lim Chu Kang us crunching gravel, heavy vehicles, soldiers, aircraft, insect swarm, enthusiastic dogs, street lights of Johor #bikehour #zd2
  • Oops, Bike 3 Hours! Couldn’t resist visiting Kranji: reservoir, workers relaxing, smell of curry, factory dogs, heavy vehicles #bikehour
  • Just completed a 46.17 km bike ride – HV – Ulu Pandan – Boon Lay – LCK – Kranji – Wlands Rd – HV. #RunKeeper
  • Thanks lovely drivers of lorries buses pickups trailers cementmixers cars taxis who changed lanes, slowed, gave me a wide berth #bikehour
  • Two men back home after work made sure I got on the lift w/bike, nodded approvingly at my panting form and said “healthy, very good!” Cool!

Cycling Activity 46.17 km | RunKeeper

Where else did others ride? See the Bike Hour facebook page.

More of my cycling updates at Zendogs 2.0.