Friday, September 30, 2005

I came back from a field trip to Taman Negara a few days ago. Was there from Saturday to Tuesday, and got to do some a hiking (and enjoy watching some of my classmates, including myself, become half dead from all the walking. :P) and went into a cave full of cute little bats. And took a heap of photos of insects and other various nature pics. Pictures that of course will take me forever to put up here as usual. What to do with exams coming up and last minute assginments being piled onto me and other various things taking up my time. I did have a pic with a cute praying mantis on my hand looking right at the camera. That was pretty cool. :) And I took a short solo hike the day before me had to leave, which IMHO is the best way to hike coz' with so many people around, we make so much noise, chances of seeing any animals are slimmer coz' they all would heard the noise and ran away. Well, I didn't get to see anything particularly heart-stopping like a tiger or a wild boar or a big snake, but I did see a couple of hornbills flying around. I could hear them calling out to each other with their distinctive whooping noises for a few minutes while they were high up in the high that I couldn't see them until they both took flight, and even then all I could see were two seconds of the bottom of two big black birds flying above me. Not as exciting as the shark I saw on my solo snorkelling trip at Redang, but still pretty cool. Wasn't too fun though, when I had to climb over a fallen tree trunk about waist high that had blocked the path, and I was so smart to jump off, land to hard on my right leg and end up sprawled on the floor wincing in pain coz' of my old knee injury. Til now my knee still hasn't gone back to normal, like it's done the previous times I reinjured it. Maybe I tore a new ligament in there somewhere so it's taking longer to heal. This is gonna be great for my old age, I'm sure.
Anyway, ever since I got back from my trip, I've been busy going out every night preparing for the skit for October 1st, which happens to be.....tomorrow! After quite a few hiccups with the skit - changes to the script, people not coming for practices, some people freaking out a bit about being on stage, spotlight only being functional the day before the skit (which was today), problems with burning a video for the skit onto a cd, no proper and smooth run through of the entire skit and other miscellaneous things, plus of course the fact that suddenly I have all these assignments to do now, and have a busted knee again - after all that, the big day is tomorrow.... and I'm pretty excited about it. Actually I'm not really surprised at all these problems.... I think a lot of people are going to experience something really great from God tomorrow and that dastardly devil is just doing whatever he can to attack me and mess things up since I'm heavily involved in the skit (I'm 3-in-1.... script writer, co-director and actor! :P). I've seen it happen quite a lot with people working to do something big like this in church - they have heaps of problems close to the big event. And I do admit the devil has been doing a fine job of making me super frus, but I've never regretted doing this and I'm still super hyped and looking forward to seeing a great show tomorrow. Not that I will be actually seeing it since I am gonna be acting, but you get the idea.... :P I'm expecting a few more problems tomorrow, but I'm sure it's nothing the big guy up there can't deal with and at the end of it, I'm sure the show will be great. One thing I'm glad about it that my parents haven't been giving me a hard time about going out every night this week, like they normally would. They haven't even asked why I'm always going out, which is highly unusual, and big sigh of relief for me!
Anyway, I got some work to be doing and some sleep to be getting, so gotta go!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Lotsa stress and a little hope

I think I'm the most stressed out I've been for quite a while. Been lepaking most of this semester, and now suddenly I have a gazillion and one things to do, and uni work is just the half of it. Today, I just found out from one of my lecturers about all the wonderful assignments we have to finish for this one subject, Environmental Chemistry, within the next few weeks (after which ill be exams, by the way). We have two 800-1000 word assignments to do, plus a group project which is worth like 20% of the subject marks, due in just a couple of weeks. The thing that grates my nerves is that all these assignments were supposed to be given to us ages ago, particularly the group project one, but this subject is a brand new subject at the Monash Malaysia campus and the lecturers here are supposed to be getting all the lecture notes and assignments from the Australian lecturers. So because the Aussie people aren't organized enough to give us what we need on time, now the assigments are piled up on us at the time when they should have been finished and we have time to start studying! The group project deadline was supposed to be the 16th of September, and we just GOT the assignment five days after the deadline! And it doesn't help at all that our lecturer is standing up there asking us what we've done about the project when obviously we can't have done anything when we don't even know what we're supposed to do. At one point, I told him straight that we don't even know what we're supposed to put into the project draft, so obviously we can't do it! Then he shows us the assignments details saying that the draft details are up to us to do, and points it out to me, saying "There, that's what you should have done!". Well, yes, it's so helpful of him to tell us that useful piece of information now! Of all the four years I've been at Monash, this subject I'm taking now is completely the most messed up. The lecturers don't have their notes or assignments organized, the notes that we got through are full of completely non-sensical diagrams with no explanantions, and half the time the lecturer doesn't even know what the stuff on the slides are. And NOW they throw all these assignments at us when we should be preparing for exams! I was reasonably patient before this, but after today, I think 'pissed off' is an understatement to describe how I feel about this. At least if the lecturer apologized for the delay or something, it would be something, but he stands up there and expects us to know what should have been done when he himself doesn't know. Argh! If I could start the semester again and be allowed to choose between Environmental Chemistry and one other subject I'm taking called Genetics of Development, I'd gladly go for the latter, even though it's probably the toughest subject ever coz' I have to remember like a gazillion gene names and their functions. But at least I know what I have to do in this subject, not the mess that is Environmental Chemistry....
And that's just the least of my woes...I have this lab report I'm supposed to hand in this Monday for the Genetics subjects I was just talking about, and it's a super long lab which will take me ages to do. BUT I have to go for a field trip from Saturday to Tuesday, leaving me only until Friday to finish it. And my lecturer for this subject won't allow me a extension even though I told him I have a valid excuse! Geez, it's not like he's gonna finish marking all the lab reports on the day he gets them, unless he's a superhuman freak or something. Why can't he let me have a few more days? So unreasonable...
And then there's the skit I'm in charge of. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy working on the skit and am looking forward to see how it'll turn out....but after I finished writing the original 6-page long script, people tell me things that's been forcing me to make major changes to the script. It wouldn't be so bad if the changes were made ages before the event, which is only next Saturday. But people only tell me these things like after I've finished the script or when there are only a few practices left. It is very da exasperating, especially since they have ample time to tell me these things beforehand, but they don't. And when we have practices, people say they cannot come, and end up cannot practice what we need to practice. At this point, less than two weeks before the event, I would've thought everyone involved should have had at least one run through of the entire skit to get the feel of things and work out any little problems. But now we're all still busy brainstorming on what to say and haven't even practiced some of the scenes yet. So you can't blame me for starting to freak out.
But anyway, I heard a nice phrase somewhere recently about how instead of telling God how big our problems are, we should tell our problems how big our God is. Some advice I think I should take at this moment. My stress bar is up to the max, but I have no choice but just trust in Him and believe He's gonna somehow help me get all my work done one time. If not, I might just end up at Tanjung Rambutan. :P

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Not the dog too....

I don't know what the heck has been going with my mum, but she's just been getting more and more exasperating to deal with. It's bad enough that she thinks remarks my family makes that are perfectly innocent are attacks against her. It's worst that she lays the guilt trip on us by saying she doesn't want to care about what we do anymore coz' everytime we disagree with her, she gets angry instead of listening to our opinions. And now, she's even got a thing against our dog because it isn't showing as much affection to her as she wants it to, and instead the dog seems to prefer being around my dad who plays with the dog more. And when I say "a thing" against the dog, I mean my mum says she just wants to ignore the dog coz' she's does all the things to care for the dog like buying its food, feeding it, bathing it, brushing its fur... and the dog prefers to be with my dad instead of her. Good grief, not too long ago, my mum was so happy with our dog, and now she wants to boycott because it hasn't been basking my mum with doggy affection for a while? And she gets mad at it when the dog growls at her whenever she wants to brush out its tangles. I mean, brushing the tangles involves quite a bit of pulling and tugging on the fur, which would hurt the dog. It's not surprising that the dog would react with slight aggression, but my mum just takes it so personally! From a dog that doesn't know anything! It just seems to me that my mum reaction to everybody who doesn't conform to what she wants is just to give them the cold shoulder. My dad isn't the husband who listens to exactly everything shes says and does everything exactly the way she wants, so she can't stand him. I'm not the ever-obedient daughter who says everything so nicely, so she accuses me of being bratty. And now even the dog is getting it from my mum. I mean, sure my dad isn't the greatest husband, and I'm certainly not the perfect daughter, but every family has the same problems. Just because people in our family don't do what we want, it doesn't mean we can just not care anymore about them and just live life our own way. I just don't understand why my mum is behaving so immaturely....and then she accuses ME of being the brat. And when I try to talk to her about the way she behaves, in the nicest way possible, she just takes it like I'm on my father's side and I think my mum is the meanest person on the planet, which is completely not what I think at all. So what can I do except just shut up whenever she gets into one of her moods, in which case she'll continue to get all these ridiculous negatives thoughts in her head about her family. And any attempt to dispell those thoughts causes her to think we're attacking her. I realy don't know what to do with her. I'm suspecting her lack of logic is just due to being in the whole post-menopausal thing. I just really hope she gets past it soon, coz' it's really not doing much good for the family's morale.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ugh, evolution

WARNING: Boring scientific discussion in this blog entry. :P

You know, one topic I have to face all the time when studying environmental management is evolution. These days so many lecturers and students accept evolution as a fact and INSIST it's a fact even though it is just still a theory. Just the other day, one of the more famously cynical of my lecturers was teaching us about organic chemistry in this useless first year subject that I still have to take due to some silly restructuring of course structure by the Monash science people..... and at one point, my lecturer was talking about evolution and said that evolution is a FACT and those religious people need to get that into our heads and accept that 'fact'.
Well, I'm far from 'religious' (since Christians shouldn't be religious in the first place, but that's another discussion I've been into before), but I'm not quite so sure that evolution is the FACT that everyone seems to think it is. I DO however, believe that an important aspect of the volution theory - natural selection - is a fact. But everyone seems to think that evolution and natural selection are the same thing, when it really isn't. For those who aren't science geeks like me, natural selection in the process where individuals in a species with certain traits that give them a survival advantage over other members of their species will be 'selected' to survive more than others, so that that trait they have is retained in the species. As such, organisms become more and more better adapted to survive in their environments. For example, if a whole bunch of white moths live in an environment of trees with dark trunks, this makes the moths highly conspicuous to predators out for a meal. But if one or two of these moths have a mutation that causes them to turn black, and thus making them less noticable, the predators don't see these black moths and they survive to propagate while the white moths are all eaten. Thus the black moths grow in numbers while the while moths decline, making the entire moth populations turn black over time. We can see such examples of natural selection happening all the time, so I don't dispute that natural selection is a fact.
BUT the evolution theory is a whole different ball game. The whole evolution theory evokes images of humans evolving from monkeys, which evolved from dogs, which evolved from fish, which evolved from plankton, which evolved from bacteria, or something like that, through the process of natural selection. Which is a nice theory and all, but quite frankly, from what I've read, the fossil record doesn't fit the theory all too well due to the lack of fossils with traits showing a definite transition between the evolution of one animal to another. Plus, the theory of evolution states hinges on different animals evolving new features or traits through genetic mutations that are retained over generations. While mutations can explain certain changes like changes in colour for the moths, some features of organisms are just too complicated to have been produced through million of years of chance mutations. Take for instance, just one simple cell. Some cells have long 'tails' called flagella that allow them to swim everywhere...the flagella requires several different components to work properly. Even if one of those components had evolved by chance mutations, the others would have taken many more years to 'evolve' by which the time the first component would have been eliminated through natural selection coz' it serves no function without the other components. And even if the first component DID serve an important function and was retained over generations, the other components would have to evolve and be retained in a similar way, but at the end, each component would have to somehow join together to become a functioning flagella. Such super complexity in just ONE cell! Imagine, how on earth did birds evolve feathers, or animals evolve eyes, when these body parts need a whole bunch of components to have 'evolved' simulaneously to form a functioning body part. Natural selection doesn't explain this. So unfortunately, I am unable to subscribe to the notion that evolution is a 'fact'. The only reason people think it's a fact is because the idea has been drilled into everyone's head so much in schools that they think it must be real (just like everything else we learn in school. Probably a heckuva lot of other things out there people think are facts, but actually are completely WRONG). I don't think I'd be ruining my scientific credibility by believing in creation as opposed to evolution. I don't think God created ALL the animals present in the world today (it would be mind-boggling getting all of them onto the Ark, I would think), but that He initially created certain animals, and these adapted through natural selection to different environments to gradually become different species. Like the horse, zebra, and donkeys would have all come from the same original animal. In a way, this is sort of like evolution, but certainly not in the sense of horses evolving from bacteria, but rather one animal 'evolving' into several different but closely related species. I don't know why people who believe in creation are always accused of ignoring the 'facts' of science, when in fact we look at the facts and come to the conclusion that creation is the best explanation. The non-creationists can just as easily interpret the 'facts' to mean whatever they want. But you know, Ockham's Razor is a nice rule to live by...the simplest explanation is probably the right one. And the simplest explanation is that God created everything! And that doesn't makes me any less of a scientist, coz' I like to find out how the world works, just like any other scientist.
So anyway, knowing my stance on evolution, I kind of have to roll my eyes everytime I sit in a lecture and hear the word 'evolve'. Would be interesting to have a nice debate on the evolution thing sometime.