Saturday, March 31, 2012

Poisson D’Avril!

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It’s 1st of April, so let’s skip all the time-travel posts and enjoy such a day! I have always thought April Fools’ was just another day to trick someone else; but I guess for grownups, this might be the day when they have some reason to be less serious. No particular personal bias or whatever, I just noticed that some or many grownups, at least among those around me, had been taking things too seriously. Sometimes, I wished to just ask, “Why so Sirius?” but obviously, I still haven’t do that. Anyway, for you all, old or young, big or small, rich or poor etc, at least for one day – be merry!

Another interesting thing about this day is its tradition in France. In French, people says ‘Poisson D’Avril’ which literally means ‘Fish of the April’. So, what they did was they will actually tag someone’s back with a fish-shaped paper and called ‘Poisson D’Avril’. I’m not sure if the tricks are limited to just sticking a paper fish, but – what a cute calling – Poisson D’Avril!

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Photo taken from http://katieschu.blogspot.com/

And, one more thing to take note is – April Fools’ Day was not celebrated for the full day in some countries, and you could be taunted if you trick people after noon, so check about the country you are in well before deciding the timing of your trick.

Not to write too much, Happy April Fools’ Day!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Not-So Grad Trip: Singapore Cricket Club

Half Day Trip in Singapore

Near the supreme court, or the Victoria concert hall, or anywhere else around that area, you would have recognize this piece of green field. There are in fact two sports club opposite to each other at the two end of the field, the SRC and SCC. I happened to pass by SCC, Singapore Cricket Club, which was quite near the bridge around the corner of Raffles Hotel. I had learned about many things happening in SCC during my Singapore Studies class in NUS. In fact, it is one of the reason people here are still playing crickets and it had become something popular during the British time. As the plate stated, it’s gazetted as well.

Since I am not a member, nor am I invited to visit the place on an official cause, all I can do or dare to do was walk around that building. This led me to find this very interestingly small door. Even at my height, I have to crouch a bit for that. But of course, the instruction showed it was not meant for standing people like me. I guess that’s because the main entrance was a staircase…

Half Day Trip in SingaporeHalf Day Trip in Singapore

Continuing the trip, I could see the gate to the verandah in the club is opened/ajar… I was so tempted to just walk in but to obey the principle, I did not. Instead, I peered a bit over had a look at the sports facility over there. Apparently, it was not just about cricket huh? There are some multi-purpose court in there! And of course, you could still see the field after the court and on the other side, yes, that is the SRC!

Half Day Trip in SingaporeHalf Day Trip in Singapore

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Not-So Grad Trip: Church of Sts Peter and Paul

Not so far from the area I started the journey, I actually noticed the roof of this building before I was even aware of its existence. I think I saw the name on the Google Map, but I didn’t take note of it or anything. So, despite its hiding in the midst of modern buildings, I actually walked extra mile just to have a look of this church, Church of Sts Peter & Paul.

Half Day Trip in Singapore

The plate in front of the church showed a bit of the history. It seemed that this built by a French Mission. What was more interesting was the remark of ‘The French Emperor Napoleon III purportedly paid for the cost of the compound walls’.

Half Day Trip in Singapore

From the entrance, the church looked rather nice, with the delicate design of it. Notice the two sides of ordinary modern square-ish buildings which hid  it from the outside world. I was considering myself lucky to even noticed its roof popping out. For those interested in details, here it is… The photo on the right below showed what I found. There’s a Korean Catholic Community Office in Singapore?! Yes, apparently, according to this plate, there is! I realized there are so many hidden world in this city.

Half Day Trip in SingaporeHalf Day Trip in Singapore

Since they were having mass on a Sunday morning, I strolled to the side building first and saw statues and was attracted by this ‘book’. I understood the left one, but the right? I guess it’s some latin or whatever…

Half Day Trip in Singapore

I did not wait till the end of the mass to intrude the place though. I reckoned I would better move on or I might be behind the time for my scheduled trip. I stood outside the church and heard the choir singing, in quite a high pitch. But of all things, what caught my attention was the stained glass. It was an interesting art with rich history of course. Besides, its mosaic structure did made me thought the art to be partly descended from Byzantium. But anyway, this part of art had definitely flourished through the building of many chapels and churches throughout history.

Half Day Trip in Singapore
Half Day Trip in Singapore

And on the side of the entrance, I saw these two statue, which immediately reminded me of St Peter and St Paul. Of course, who else could they be, right? There are even standing banners to talk about their history, how lovely…

Half Day Trip in SingaporeHalf Day Trip in Singapore

Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis

bienvenue_chez_les_ch_tis

Had always been in a confusion when I wanted to write a review for a French movie, because I have no idea if I should have it in French or English. And here I am using English, maybe I should chip in some French later, huh? “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis” was a movie which made known to me through trailers of French movie. There were some which were really funny and this one is one of them.

Cette film est d’un homme qui s’appelle Phillipe. Il est un officier des services postaux dans Salon-de-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône. C’est dans le sud de France. Sa femme a le charactère dépressif. Il veut la faire heureuse par trouver un poste au bord de la Méditerrannée. Pour ça, Phillipe a essayé à tricher son administration en se faisant passer pour un handicapé. Le plan ne succéd pas. Enfin, il est sanctioné d’un mutation disciplinaire de deux ans à Bergues. Bergues est dans le Nord, près de Dunkirque. Normalement, les gens ne veulent pas venir à le Nord parce que des stéréotypes. Au début, Phillipe recontre Antoine et n’a pas une bonne impression de lui. Il y a quelque raisons, par exemple Phillipe pense que Antoine est un gay, et les Ch’tis parlent français avec un accent, les stéréotypes négatifs et etc. Mais, après quelque semaine, toutes les chose va bien. Plus, Phillipe a appris une leçon.

I find the movie not only funny but moving as it has messages to the public, which is really good. Enjoyed the movie, with the soundtrack. Sourire

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Journal Summary: Experimental Evolution of Multicellularity

One of the activity that kept me busy was a preparation for this presentation. It would be easier to get momentum if I were still a student, but it's because I'm now working, I could actually use my time outside working hour to work on that. Some would reckoned why would I want to be in such a business after I could finally throw everything academic behind. But the reason is, I missed academics deeply after graduation. Somehow all those drills and tasks I had been through during my undergraduate years had made me addicted to writing essays, doing presentations, reading stuff and can't really sit still and do nothing unless I am filling something inside my head.
So when I was given a chance to present something in journal club, it was a mixed feeling. It definitely need an effort for me to go back to life reading journals and analyse them, but on the other hand, I enjoyed the chore. I picked up a rather easy one since I started to get confused with those jargon-filled one. It was about evolutionary biology and the presentation read as such:


Source of the journal article:
http://www.pnas.org/content/109/5/1595

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Hunger Games Trilogy: Mockingjay

200px-Mockingjay

I would say it was lucky that Mockingjay was there ever-ready after Catching Fire instead of us waiting another half year for the next book. Mockingjay is the last book of the three in The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, a continuation of the cliffhanger left at the end of the previous book. In this book, the story depicted Katniss’s experience after being rescued by Rebel and into District 13 and her journey portraying as Mockingjay, as in the title. District 13 was the long lost district, which were used to mine graphite and nuclear weapons before the Dark Days. It was revealed that they were not wiped out but stayed underground, under the deal with the Capitol to stay dead. But now, they were ready to rise. Its president, President Coin, was assisted by many others. In this, Katniss was asked to become the icon of uprising, rising the spirit in each district as District 13 overtook other districts. At a comparison, Katniss find District 13, though friendly and safe, was as controlling as the Capitol. President Coin had not gave Katniss a very good impression either. Meanwhile, Peeta was tortured before being rescued back to District 13. Gale helped out in weapon research. In the process, of overtaking the Capitol, Katniss lose her sister, Prim through an attack, which was later revealed by President Snow as an act of President Coin. Katniss then realized either side, President Snow or Coin, both were empowering and cruel and power-hungry. Katniss killed President Coin while President Snow died during the chaos. The story ended with Katniss back in District 12, starting her life again as the Panem formed their new republic. Later she found Peeta too.Katniss couldn’t see Gale as same as before since the bomb that killed Prim might be his creation. Hence, Gale had left and worked in other district. Later in the epilogue, Katniss was a few years older. She had a girl and a boy with Peeta, wondering how would the story, the history of Panem affect her children…

This book, was as good as the first one, from my perspective. The story was superb. It might not be a complicated story but it was really heart capturing.

The Hunger Games Trilogy: Catching Fire

Catching_fire

After The Hunger Games, the story sounded somehow completed, but it was not. Here we are, with Catching Fire, we sees the continuation of The Hunger Games, making us to realize it was all not just about a happy ending story. Catching Fire started with the depiction of the life of Katniss and Peeta after the Games. They stayed with their own family in Vistor Village, joining the ever alone Haymitch, who was their mentor in the Games. However, their portrayal as a pair of lovers to end the Games alive as a pair was reckoned by President Snow as a hint of rebel. In some way, Katniss, the girl on fire, had became the icon of rebel against the over-controlling Capitol over the districts. Not only that, the two had to cope with their emotion and psychology aftermath of the Games due to the events of gruesome and stressed experience to survive the game. Katniss, though very confused between choosing Gale, her hunting partner, and Peeta, realized she was forced to be arrange the marriage with Peeta to cease rebel spirit among the districts. The two victors went around Panem for their Victor Tour to realize more and more about other districts and the reign of the Capitol, with their peacekeeper. This book slowly transformed into a sense of rebellion when the Quarter Quell was held and their changed the rules to reap tributes from existing pool of victor. Haymitch was reaped, volunteered by Peeta while Katniss was automatically reaped since she was the only female victor in District 12. Katniss, the girl on fire, burns on… Katniss started realized her and her mockingjay pin were the symbol of rebel but nothing happened until she defied the game by breaking the force field in the arena. A couple of the tributes were rescued by the rebel, which included Katniss; while Peeta and some others were captured by the Capitol. This book, stopped here with a cliffhanger.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to be read alone, because in my opinion, it served as a transformation from the first book to the ending. In this one, it tells more about the after effect and more about things that happened elsewhere, not just herself her family – but the whole Panem. It was as though the author increased the scale of the story as Katniss grew from a girl who volunteered in Reaping to a national symbol of rebel. Nonetheless, it’s still a good read although it might not be my best choice among its peers.

The Hunger Games Trilogy: The Hunger Games

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First of the trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games had definitely gained popularity first through their making into a film, which is due to release soon this year. After the viewing of the official movie trailer and several positive comments on it, many turned to seek more about the storyline through the book. This book had definitely attracted my attention. The book sees a girl, Katniss Everdeen, living in District 12 of Panem. Under the reign of Capitol, the life in these districts were not as lively as it should have been. Every year, there will be the Hunger Games. It was a game to remind the rest district of the failed rebel of District 13, the Dark Days, reminding them the cost to pay if any of them would consider a rebel. In this game, one girl and one boy between the age of twelve and eighteen will be reaped from the whole population of kids of that age range in each district, and they will be sent to the Capitol to participate in the Hunger Games. Now, you might thought, if the price to pay was just playing a few tricks in a game, which you might start to think of Olympics Games or the Commonwealth Games, then you are terribly away of the question. In this Hunger Games, life and death is a real deal. There will only be one survivor out of the twenty four tributes, the victor. So, when the reaping day came, Katniss, who had her name entered for more than normal times to get some food for her family, hoped she won’t be chosen as the tribute. And Effie Trinket reaped to find Prim Everdeen, Katniss’s younger sister’s name was on it. Out of her love for her sister, Katniss volunteered and went on to the journey of Hunger Games, with her fellow tribute from District 12, Peeta Mellark, who loved this girls since young without Katniss knowing it. Twist and turn, friendship, romance and betrayal… Somehow, Katniss and Peeta managed to survived and out of the blue, became the only games with two victor. But of course, this will only lead to more trouble. That’s why we had two more books following up! END. There won’t be too much details here to avoid spoilers, sorry!

In a whole, this book was good. Especially during the starting, the emotions came in. When then story went on, the emotions were mixed with thoughts about the world, the fabulous imagination that set off to see the story unfolds. It is definitely a story worth thinking about. Although, due to the story was delivered from Katniss’s first hand perspective, the other characters or events, might not be portrayed as detailed or properly addressed. But it was the first hand view that made the reader feel how Katniss feels. sees what she sees, understanding human nature from her character. If you find yourself too lazy to finish all three books, at least - start this one!

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