Otterman speaks... (2003-2007)
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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Wed 25 Jan 2006

A distracted day

Category : Singapore Naturalist

I have an email to finish. But then I switch to the outline of a mangrove workshop I would be conducting later in the afternoon. I figured I had four hours to do this.

Then Heok emails me a pdf of a paper that was just released. I was only slightly curious - "another new species?" This is reasonably common place in the Raffles Museum, and testament to the bewildering biodiversity in Southeast Asia that is disappearing even as we describe them.

But I glance through the paper and think, "how interesting" and post the abstract to the ecotax mailing list; this is a list started in 1998 that circulates slightly more technical news and seminar announcements to the interested community in Singapore. They'd be interested to know.

MFA calls about some marine project we talked about last year. That's the Ex Anambas connection at work here. I promise a review by early next week.

Then I grab a photo from the pdf, remove the figure numbers, plug the gaps and upload a post to Raffles Museum News, mainly with Mr Budak in mind since he likes tiny fish and will pick up the RSS feed.

I go back to my writing but our indicipherable attendant NSK asks for intervention and I walk out to find Rhet Harrison at the office, complete with luggage! He is looking for a non-existent botanist just before he flies off. I get him settled with some coffee, try all the numbers but his chap is at some emergency meeting about an up and coming exhibition.

I go back to the computer but Rhett is talking with TSH about scanning and my ears prick up - I have an ongoing project so I join them. I usually learn interesting pointers this way and was encouraged to put up papers that I got verbal permission for. Then Rhett talks about EndNote which I am interested to try so my computer waits for me even longer...

Then I drag myself away when a phone call comes and a long-lost friend who has just NUS-searched my name first complains about a call I did not receive several years ago. Then she asks me about mentoring students (a colleague's kid and friend, I think) for some mangrove project. And finally we agree to meet in a week's time to explain why she is changing her job. It promises to be a long story...

I have less than an hour left to write the workshop outline.

Then Alvin in Beijing sends me an AFP article about the story and I am surprised. They are so quick and very interested. Apparently the story has excited their palate and they do a good write up - so good that I decide to forward it to department staff and Toddycats.

So I update Raffles Museum news and email them all.

I see a law academic and old friend in our meeting room, and promise her two students for one of her courses.

Deadline up and I am eating into my buffer hour. Hurry, hurry! In the midst of it, I just have to show micro-flower guy (fig) Rhett the micro-fish entry and he is really amazed!

NSK, our attendant returns from the co-op with the mahjong paper and marker pens that I asked her to help me get. But she has too much change and is quite distressed and incomprehensible again. I realize they only charged her for three marker pens and not the 7 or 8 she bought. I reassure I will sort it out and she relaxes. I will have to do this tomorrow.

20 minutes before I must finally leave for the mangroves, I start xeroxing the completed notes. Luckily its only 11 copies. Then I find out a missing section was not written so I return to quickly plug the gap. Its now nine pages and I decide to save paper and manage to manipulate our old xerox machine to produce double-sided copies.

In the midst of it all (the machine is slow), I receive from Joelle, a photo of Maurice Kottelat and Peter Ng using a top half of a stereo microscope and a binoculars to see the tiny Paedocypris progenetica. It's from way back, is hilarious and I just have to upload it.

The xeroxing is over and I complete the post at 2.06 pm. I grab my things, rush out and a cab get me to Sungei Buloh by 2.30pm, before the teachers come.So I grab ice-cream as there is no food ready in the small cafe. Meanwhile, fellow RMBR staff WLK who organised the workshop shows me a photo of a Griffon Vulture stranded in Singapore recently. Have to get that photo for Habitatnews.

As usual, I have planned for much more than is really needed. This lot are really trying to learn and are good humoured. But they are so interested in everything that they are terribly distracted. I feel bad at forcing the pace a little and get quite exhausted trying to corrall them to the relevant sections. Still we mange to cover pretty much everything I intended to but without doing the mahjong paper drawing exercises.

Instead I sit on the floor of the main hide and review the afternoon's content by making drawings on the mahjong paper. Even though I say its okay to illustrate, I really wish I could draw! I am surprised when they roll the three sheets up to take home with them.

They learnt a lot this lot but I doubt their own students will be half as cooperative. Still, they can but try and I admire that. Already they are plotting methods.

I was quite beat and thankfully KPW picked me up in her beat up car (to be scrapped 31 Aug 2006) for a belated birthday dinner. But first we hung out at Buloh until 7pm. The bridge over the river was just too relaxing to leave and we explored the macro photography for her research specimens there before heading to Wishbone.

Back home, I find the AFP coverage of Heok's paper has been picked up by European and Australian news agencies and Al Jazeera and by CNA - and he appears on Ch 5.

The young students have written a nice email about finding a project mentor. A major project of mine seems just about dead in the water, and I not sure to be relieved, but another is full steam ahead and I find I may return to Berkeley in May. A WWII exhibition gallery 'Memories at Old Ford Factory' will open in mid-Feb; can't miss that opening. NHQ wants seaweed identified. He'll have to get a permit for Labrador.

I get two more requests to do coastal cleanups and the museum blog thing is taking off with a formal meeting in early Feb at SMU (my first visit). I will go for that of course; how I could I not? A writer doing the rounds for MR will come to the gallery tomorrow morning.

Meawhile, Mr Budak has posted links to Aquatic Quotient and his own blog.

I'll get back to that email tomorrow morning. It's been a month already and I really must finish it.

Posted at 4:49PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .