Sharon Thomas, cycling in Utrecht

My old friend Sharon Thomas from NUS Biology are featured in 100 Portraits of Utrecht with Marc and Maya, how nice! features events for the cycling year 2015 ‘by and for the city’. South of Amsterdam, it’s a lovely place for cycling touring and in the absence of mountains, they suggest some gear-less cycling!

Recalling a wonderful thing which happened last year – students wow the audience at the Evening of Biodiversity II

The mammal seniors of Otterman Holt did well that evening and the crowd amazed us – 400 turned up (we maxed out parking) within a week of the announcement and enjoyed heartening talks of great clarity and pace.

When I ended the Evening of Biodiversity II with a “Aren’t they lovely?”, Prab Nathan positioned behind the table, caught the audience applauding, nice work!

While searching for photos of teaching, I finally really examined this photo. Wow, we did this last April?

2014 04 16 21 03 12 evebiod prab

The Evening of Biodiversity II (16 Apr 2014) featured talks by Amanda Tan, Chloe Tan, Marcus Chua, Meryl Theng, Fung Tze Kwan & Xu Weiting of the Otterman Holt, Department of Biological Sciences, NUS. Hosted by N. Sivasothi aka Otterman.

This was the simple announcement I made on Otterman speaks which we circulated to contributors of mammal records in addition to the usual circulation channels. Some members of the nature community observed happily that the crowd included many new faces, which was a happy indication of having reached people beyond the regular community.

The event was storified by Ivan Kwan and photos taken by Prhabagaran Ramanathan are on Flickr.

The first session in 2010 featured Andie Ang, Marcus Chua, Xu Weiting and Chua Yi Teng. Photos from the Evening of Biodiversity I (16 Apr 2010) are on Flickr.

I guess we’ll do this once in four years? 2018 then!

My research students 2014 04 16 21 24 53 evebiod Prab Nathan

We’re halfway there! The fundraiser for Debby Ng’s Himalayan Mutts: wildlife, livelihoods and dogs

Last month, I blogged about “From Singapore with Love: Wildlife protection and an alternative to the desperate poisoning of dogs in the Himalaya” to raise awareness about my good friend Debby Ng’s effort to stop the cruel culling of dogs with rat poison and drowning in Nepal’s Himalaya. I thought she was in Australia for her studies at the time, actually but saw a Facebook post which revealed her to be right here in Singapore!

So after a flurry of emails, we got a talk setup with NUS Toddycats and NUS PEACE and it’s on for Wednesday. The fund raising is slow this year but at least we’ve reached the half-way mark!

Meanwhile, Debby has spoken on NewsRadio 938fm about the project which you can listen to here.

Join us at NUS LT34 this Wednesday evening an catch up with Debby and friends, register at!

20150209 HMP postcard dog

We are halfway there!
20150209 HMP Debby Ng

Saving wildlife in an endangered habitat
20150209 hmp postcard snow leopard

Recruiting good stuff for our second hand items stall at the Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day, Sun 15 Jun 2014

This started out as Adrian Loo deciding to bake some cookies for his kids to sell at the fair in 2008. Our kakis immediately chipped in and are in our seventh year as Adrian Loo & Kakis, participating once again in the Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day with our second hand stall.

We are recruiting items in good condition from anyone, having exhausted ourselves and our immediate circle, so we are appealing to a wider field this year. See our woefully small pile of items this year!

2014-05-17 21.58-croppedIf you have items lying around the house in good condition which are not being used, its time to declutter!

Give us your items and breathe easy from the freedom of clutter, while we sell it off for a worthy charity.

Contact me at to arrange to send us items from 5th – 14th June 2014.

And if you want to help us sell on the 15th June 2014, join us! Thanks!

Many friends have sent us attractive items to sell off at the charity fair after digging through their cupboards and also from asking other friends to do likewise. The items in good condition which we collect and sell every year include

  • bags,
  • clothes,
  • books,
  • toys,
  • ornaments and trinkets,
  • paintings
  • carpets
  • electronics (in working condition),
  • dinner sets and cutlery,
  • bicycles!

On the morning of the fair, we categorise and arrange items before the crowd comes by 10am and spend a day of sales at bargain prices. It is a fast and furious pace amidst a congenial pasar malam atmosphere surrounded by lovely people and delectable food! Last year some of our sales were extended through LINE!

We usually manage to raise between $1,500 – $2,000 for the hospice and during the process helps friends declutter, recycle items to grateful new buyers and enjoy some shopping and immerse in an enthusiastic and generous fellowship.

We are just one of many stalls and we will take breaks to explore – in previous fairs, this has included Harley Rides, Scooter Rides, Fruit stalls, Kebab, Prata, Vegetarian, Satay, Kopi, Henna, Vadai, Rojak, Yoghurt, Macaroni, Laksa, Bengawan Solo, Ben & Jerry, Pan Pacific & Park Royal Hotels, Chicken Rice, Kopi, Bak Chang , Thosai, Fish & Chips, Chicken Wings, Hotdogs, Mee Goreng, Mee Siam Tent, Trishaw Rides, Massage, Kiddie Craft, 2nd Hand items, Photography, Dunking Tent, Bossaball and Games.

Assisi Hospice Funday 2014

Assisi Hospice is an outreach service of Mount Alvernia Hospital, was established in 1969 by the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM) Catholic Sisters. We dedicate ourselves to the care of adults and children with life limiting illnesses. In an environment of compassionate and holistic care, we understand the challenges faced by our patients. We are here for all, regardless of financial status, age, race & religion, respecting their faith, culture & values.

The motivation for us to help the hospice is simple: “staff and volunteers of Assisi Hospice have been helping people in Singapore facing death to live life with dignity and to the fullest, for over 20 years” [link]. And the nuns tell all the volunteers at the end, “The success of this event is because of your warm presence, joy and great generosity and love for the needy and terminally ill patients in Assisi.”

Join us on Sunday 15 June 2014 to enjoy the lovely atmosphere, do some shopping and enjoy the festivities in a good cause!

Making sense of it all!
Categoring, arranging and setting up the stall in the morning

Hustle and bustle once the crowds come
Our stall at the Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2013

An amazing diversity of trinkets find new owners, at the fair

Occupy Pavement – handbags and clothes stall need space!

With encouragement come purchases – but we help them avoid defects too!

Book sales promote interesting conversations

It’s a happy day filled with good-humoured people

Leaf Monkey blogs again!

Leaf Monkey, also variously known as comment monkey, pesky monkey, rabid monkey, recycling monkey and wailing monkey, is blogging again at Leaf Monkey Monitor.


Leaf Monkey was fired from project management in 2006 to finish her thesis. She has done all that and more, and joins us once in awhile in regal alumni status these days.

It requires reprogramming to switch from the undergrad affliction to adulthood and she weighs in on exactly this with “5 Tips for staying involved (while balancing work and family)“.

The Intern bugs me about ICCS

The Intern, who is also the Manpower Captain for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore gets to ask, “what happened to the deadline?!”


Photo on 2012-04-19 at 21.41

Soon I shall be a free man, will get ICCS operations up and running and can torment my ICCS Captains.

For now, though, I will lay low.

Meanwhile, Maxine Mowe did a great job of the ICCS Marine Life and Marine Trash talk at CHIJ Toa Payoh, her alma mater. It as a great idea to ask her to do it, while I was at the department retreat. So much better for the girls to see one of their own.

On Monday, The Intern speaks at Queenstown Primary about the same and I do the honours at a Youth for Environment Day event for a bunch of schools hosted by ACS(I) tomorrow.

Ann Yik Seow Hwa, zoology grad turned ice-cream maker, of The Ice Cream Gallery

Ann Yik Seow Hwa is a zoology grad from 1998 and turned ice-cream maker who set up the The Ice Cream Gallery in 2005. How did she learn to do that? Well for the core aspect of making ice cream, she actually apprenticed with an ice-cream maker, working for free in payment for learning the tools of the trade. I marvelled at her entrepreneurship then, and now!

She makes local-flavoured ice-cream and opened her third shop in Tanjong Katong last year (see blog posts at Singapore Actually and Alex.Is).

I must confess I have not actually been to any of the shops but as a good friend and voracious ice-cream eater, I was roped in for feedback about flavours when she started out. She experimented with flavours once she bought her first set of equipment and did it all at home. I did a detailed review as you might expect, of a variety of flavours and remember that her durian ice-cream surprised me then. Only a moderate appreciator of durian, I was blown away by the taste and was an immediate fan.

After her shop opened in 2005, we circulated a list of flavours to department staff and the orders came in fast and furious, even before anyone had tasted any of the ice cream! It included unheard of things at the time like teh tarik but people were game. Seow Hwa could not cope with that sort of volume as her ice cream was home made. Even now, it’s made on site and not stock-piled so freshness is a guarantee. Anyway, with that great reception, it was clear it would sell!

Seow Hwa was relatively early on the scene of local flavous which up to then, I had only thought to get at Happy Kappy, a restaurant of local flavours in Bukit Timah Plaza. This was a regular hangout after forest guiding walks from MacRitchie to Bukit Timah in the 90’s which continued as briskwalks well into the next decade.

Over the years, it has been nice to see her efforts featured from time to time. The year she opened, her shop was featured in 8 Days. I posted this image in my old blog:

 The Ice-cream Gallery and was featured in 8 days (2005)

Earlier this year, Ann was seen in a Channel 5 magazine show (“Small & Beautif”?) demonstrating ice-cream making bemusedly in her droll way to the energetic presenters. One of them mimics a Japanese tourist, for some reason and the while episode was amusing.

Ann Yik Seow Hwa on Ch 5

In the Sunday Times yesterday (01 Apr 2012), I see her soursop ice cream has come out tops! It’s nice to see her thrive and keep to her instincts of freshness and flavourful ice-cream after seven years. It’s about time I visit!

Ice cream showdown