Sunday, May 31, 2009

World Environment Day (June 5, 2009)

I just want to share something with you. Next Friday (June 05) will be the World Environment Day. We all are pretty much acquainted with Earth Day, Aids Day, and Water Day. But, many people have never heard of World Environment Day. Check out this website: http://www.unep.org/wed/2009/english/content/about.asp

We can actually get involved to celebrate that awesome day. You can go green on that day itself OR one week before June 05. Things that you can do (from the same website):

AT HOME…

  • It would seem to go without saying, but many of us forget that we can save water in simple ways like not letting the tap run while shaving, washing your face, or brushing your teeth.
  • Using an electric razor or hand razor with replaceable blades instead of disposable razors goes a long way to cutting back on waste. And plant a tree.
  • Use towels for drying your face and hands instead of tissues that are used and thrown away. Also, hang your towels to dry so that they can be reused several times. You are after all clean when you use them!
  • Juice or yoghurt lovers can do their bit by buying juice in concentrates and yoghurt in reusable containers instead of single serving packages.
  • Many of us like to leaf through the paper as we munch on breakfast, but consider reading the dailies in communal spaces like the office or coffee shops. However, if you prefer to have your own copy, make sure you recycle!
  • When packing your lunch, opt for reusable containers for food storage instead of wrapping the food with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
  • As you leave the house, don’t forget to switch off all the lights and appliances at the wall unit (if you have this feature) and unplug chargers as they continue to consume even if they are not charging; saving energy helps reduce air pollution.

GETTING TO WORK:

  • Don’t go anywhere without your cloth bag so you can just say no to plastic whenever you shop.
  • Radical as it may seem, in today’s “the easier the better” society, the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is by avoiding driving altogether. Power down and Instead try biking, walking, carpooling, public transport or an occasional telecommute.
  • If you’re one of the lucky few blessed with clear stretches of road on your way to work, use cruise control, as it saves fuel and also helps you maintain a constant speed.
  • For those who suffer from road rage, remember that aggressive driving lowers your mileage, so if you want to save on fuel and save the planet while you’re at it, accelerate gradually-- something to keep that in mind the next time that bad driver cuts you off! Just count to 10 and say the planet needs me!

AT WORK:

  • Do you have a morning hot drink routine? Using a washable mug is an environmentally-friendly alternative to non-biodegradable styrofoam or plastic cups.
  • Leave a cup and reusable bottle for water at work to eliminate buying drinks, which get served in plastic cups, or bottled water. 80% of plastic bottles are recyclable but only 20% are actually recycled.
  • When you need a pad for lists and messages, turn over an old document and write on the back of that instead.
  • If there isn’t an office recycling system, start one yourself! Recycling our trash actually contributes to reducing global warming emissions. And it is estimated that 75% of what is thrown in the trash could actually be recycled, though currently only 25% is.
  • When you must have a paper copy, make sure you default your printer option to use both sides. This is an easy tree-saver!
  • Lower your office’s carbon footprint by seeing computers, monitors, printers, copiers, speakers and other business equipment to their energy saving feature and turning them off at the end of the day. And plant a tree!
  • Turning off all unnecessary lights, especially in unused offices and conference rooms is an easy way to save energy.
  • If you’re in search of something to personalize your workspace, look no further than the humble houseplant. Houseplants are good for the environment because they remove quantities of pollutants present in the air.
  • AFTER A LONG DAY:

  • In the summer/warmer months, consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air-conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home. While you’re at it, in winter, lower your thermostat and put on a jumper. In summer, increase it and wear lighter clothes, you will also save money!

  • Don’t place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat as it senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air-conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • When cooking dinner, match the size of the pan to the size of the heating element to lower energy wastage.
  • When you are feeling at your laziest, don’t throw clean clothes in the hamper to avoid hanging them up! Wear jeans more than once…
  • When you wash, use only eco-friendly products in your home. It’s best for you and the environment! And did we mention plant a tree!
Hopefully, you will do one of the many things in the long list to help save the environment. Happy World Environment Day!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Malaysian species among 10 strange species discovered in 2008

As I was procrastinating in lab this afternoon, I Stumbled Upon an article: 10 Strange Species Discovered Last Year, which describes the top 10 species found and described in 2008, according to The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University.

Lo and behold, TWO Malaysian species are among them!

Species #1: Opisthostoma vermiculum























Excerpt from the article:

This strange Malaysian gastropod has a shell that defies the standard laws of shell twisting. It coils along four separate axes, not three like most of its relatives.

Yes, it's the only known gastropod to possess four different coiling axes. Isn't it the craziest-looking thing? (Btw the BIS2C and former BIS1B kids should know this, but in case the others don't know: in simple explanation, gastropods are the class of animals that includes snails, limpets, slugs, etc.) A curious person might be wondering what the *toot* that thing is, so I have conveniently found a page describing this interesting snail.

The Ipoh girls would be proud to know that this snail was found at Gunung Rapat, Perak. The snail "appears to be restricted to a single limestone karst" -- so it must've been found at one of those pretty limestone mountains in Ipoh's vicinity. Genetics and evolution nerds (a subset that includes me) would be interested in the fact that the snail's special shell coils suggest "that the coiling strategy is under some form of strict developmental-gene control". Budding scientists might be interested to read the published paper on this precious snail (main authors are affiliated with WWF-Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Sabah!)

Species #2: Phobaeticus chani (Chan's megastick)




We may not have the tallest skyscraper anymore, nor do we have the biggest cave in the world (since April 2009 -- damn Vietnamese cave) ... but now, we officially have the world's longest insect! YES, HAHA! And it was named after the Malaysian naturalist who found it:
Datuk Chan Chew Lun. Awesome. This stick insect was found at Ulu Moyog, Penampang district, Sabah.

(The article said "Borneo" when they described this insect, and I knew there was 50-50 chance it could be Malaysian!)

I don't know about you guys, but I'm very proud. I've always been proud of the fact that our beautiful country boasts of such vast biodiversity -- a significant portion of which is still untapped and, perhaps, also undiscovered. It's making me all excited again to go back and pursue research to explore and protect Malaysia's rich flora and fauna (after I am done, that is).

Who knows what other endemic species there are to be discovered! Our precious coily snail is already classified as critically endangered by IUCN and is particularly vulnerable to extinction since there is significant quarring activities (horr, aktiviti perlombongan) in the area where it is found. Eek!

Anyhoo, Malaysia is awesome. :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rhinoceros Hornbill on Letterman

This is pretty random, but I was watching The Late Show with David Letterman the other day, and Letterman had the winners of the Piedmont Bird Callers Competition come on his show to showcase their bird-calling talent.

The third place winners did the call of a South American bird, the Horned Screamer. Uhuh.
The second place winners did the Hawaiian Coot. Uhuh.

So, when the first place winners came on, my half-closed eyes popped when they said they were going to do the Rhinoceros Hornbill!!
I, then, paid extra attention to their descriptions and inwardly nodded in approval when they mentioned that the bird is "the emblem of a Malaysian state". Yes, good good.

You can check out the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v77DSE4AERU
If not for the Rhinoceros Hornbill, you can watch it just to see geeky high school kids doing bird calls very animatedly, which makes for a pretty interesting watch.

So, yes, in typical Malaysian fashion, I get excited when some small piece of Malaysia is mentioned somewhere. ^^

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jodha Akbar!

after watching Jodha Akbar two nights ago, I have been totally enchanted by some of the songs in the movie. Of course, Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai were also very charming in the movie...

but anyway, you guys should give these songs a try:
"jashn e baharaa"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrMrDwUghXU

"in lamhon ke daman mein"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EsV0anEqq0&feature=related

and this awesome one "Azeem O Shaan Shahenshah"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dCIANC9XGE&feature=related

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bangun Pagi~ Makan Roti~~

it's now 8.12am, about 12 minutes past the time we planned to meet in I-House and start the day.

haha...

I am still at home eating breakfast...bet everyone's still asleep. All worked late last night.
Kumi and Zain (whom I abruptly woke up) were the only Malaysians I have heard from this morning.

haha....

right, Wake up Peoples! We have a whole day ahead of us ~

Friday, May 1, 2009

Argh~

Some of you should know what this means..... *wink*