servicefromheart

Postcards from our first desert safari in UAE

It was my second time visiting the desert and our first desert safari. The early spring weather was good, and I highly recommend you to experience a desert safari at least once in a lifetime.


I hope our future generations will be able to see almost extinct Arabian Oryx.
desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

“The next time that boy pursues you, he better do it like a dying man looking for water in a desert. When it’s the right guy, you’ll know, because he’ll cherish you.” ~ Karen Kingsbury
desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

Desert is one of the extreme, harsh and unforgiving environments on our mother earth. I always put my hat off to those who are brave enough to live in the desert; but after experiencing desert myself, I respect them more than ever.

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

Some people have no choice; they were born in the land of desert, they must adapt to survive. To quote Sir Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

The second journey to the desert reminded me on the article about Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger, that I first read during our first business class flight with Etihad Airways .

Thesiger (19100603-20030824), also known as Mubarak bin London, was a British explorer and travel writer. His classic travel book Arabian Sands was dubbed by the National Geography as one of the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time. It describes both his travels in the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula (between 1945-1950) and the traditional life of the Bedu (Bedouin) people whose “spirit once lit the desert like a flame.” Such an approach of living is perhaps now lost forever, in accordance to Michael Asher.

Few hours before my first trip to the desert in 2014, Professor L who also loves photography, enthusiastically showed me the book, with many beautiful black-and-white photographs of the desert.

I deeply like the following paragraph written by Thesiger, affirming my choice of minimalist lifestyle and striving to give more than what I have received in this life.

“In the desert I had found a freedom unattainable in civilization; a life unhampered by possessions, since everything that was not a necessity was an encumbrance. I had found, too, a comradeship inherent in the circumstances, and the belief that tranquility was to be found there. I had learnt the satisfaction which comes from hardship and the pleasure which derives from abstinence; the contentment of a full belly; the richness of meat; the taste of clean water; the ecstasy of surrender when the craving of sleep becomes a torment; the warmth of a fire in the chill of dawn.”

His writing in crystal-clear prose echoes some interesting phenomena that I experience or observe.

Human beings often do not cherish what they get too easily, these include a lover, a talent, a friend, a career or a prize. In the age of grade inflation, students often think that they deserve an A or A+, when they have not put sufficient efforts to achieve what they desire. After they graduate, some if not many, think that they are entitled to a well-paid job. In reality, it is not our education certificates that will open doors, but our passion and commitment in whatever we do, that will bring life satisfaction.

It is harmonious to remind ourselves that satisfaction in attaining a goal was directly proportional to the hardship and challenge involved in getting there, as Thesiger had realized many decades ago.

The desert experience also reminds me on a senior friend of mine, who shared that our first desert trip is reminiscent of the song Olive Tree (橄榄树). The lyrics were written in 1978 by San Mao (三毛), when she was wandering in the Western Sahara desert. San Mao’s husband, Jose Maria Quero y Ruiz hailed from Spain, where there are abundant of olive trees, that San Mao dearly loves.

My favorite Chinese version of the song Olive Tree is sung by Chyi Yu (齐豫).

橄榄树

不要问我从哪里来 我的故乡在远方
为什么流浪 流浪远方 流浪
为了天空飞翔的小鸟 为了山间轻流的小溪
为了宽阔的草原 流浪远方 流浪
还有还有 为了梦中的橄榄树橄榄树
不要问我从哪里来 我的故乡在远方
为什么流浪 为什么流浪 远方
为了我 梦中的橄榄树

I also love the English version of the song Olive Tree, sung by Sally Yeh (叶蒨文)

There is a farmer,who walks on the road,
Stranger,why do you wander?
Don’t ask from where I have come,
My home is far,far away
Why do you wander so far,
Wander so far,wander so far?
For the little bird free I wander,
For the medow green and wide,
For the mountain high and blue
I wander,wander so far
Then,is there more?
Yes,for the olive tree of my dream.
Don’t ask from where I have come,
My home is far,far away.
Why do you wander,
Why do you wander so far,far away?
For the Olive tree of my dream.
Don’t ask from where I have come,
My home is far,far away,
Why do you wander so far,
Wander so far,wander so far

Our gratitude list:
♥ people who have made our trip memorable and pleasant
♥ dune bashing
♥ sand boarding (an item of my bucket list was checked)
♥ camel riding
♥ saw the Arabian Oryx
♥ good value of money (each of us paid AED50 for the entire event)

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart
desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20150306
20150508

Losing everything is not the end

In the early December 2014, one of my best friends shared with me about her worry. She learned that her parents are likely to lose a major proportion of their savings due to unfavorable investment.

She asked me to pray for her parents, I will be praying everyday! My prayer list is getting very long, but as I have lived longer, I have witnessed that some of my prayers have been answered miraculously. Thank you very much!

servicefromheart the praying hands of baby Ren never lose hope

I know her parents. They are honest and hardworking people, who started from zero and have become a hero and a heroine for their children, their past customers, their subordinates and their suppliers. My friend once shared the secret of their parents being given opportunities by their suppliers: reliability. They always pay their business loans no matter how difficult the circumstances are.

Her mother is a very frugal lady who bought only new clothes for the new year. Nevertheless, when the family went out with friends of their children, the parents would generously treat others.

Her father is in his 60s. In recent years, my friend felt that it is better for her father to enjoy the fruit of his labor and hardwork done over the past years and decades. However, a single turning point in life has changed everything. He left with much little of what he has saved a-dollar by a-dollar, if not cents by cents over years and decades.

I also empathize with my friend and feel her pressure. She belongs to a sandwich generation. She has to support not only two generations before and after her: her parents and her children, respectively, but also her younger sibling. I am proud of my friend, showing the quality of filial piety. I tried to encourage her that bearing a great responsibility is a privilege. Only the capable and the trustworthy are shouldered with such great tasks of life.

We love to and must take inspirations from the past generations who are able to turn adversity into something positive (逢凶化吉).

♥ ♥ ♥

Among many inspiring talks that I attended in Cambridge, UK, was a talk delivered by the extremely intrepid Christina Dodwell, a British explorer, travel writer, and lecturer.

She vividly described her 1975 trip to Africa with a girlfriend and two men. The men stole their jeep, leaving the women stranded with nothing. Her remark, “Losing everything is not the end,” echoes in my mind that is subconsciously searching for stories to encourage my friend. Christina and her friends then found two wild horses to ride; they survived!

♥ ♥ ♥

Another story that I first learned from Hui, is about Lim Tow Yong 林道荣 (1925-20120407), a legendary founder of Emporium Holdings that owned Oriental Emporium (英保良) retail business. Lim lived a roller-coaster life of fortune and success, yet he always show tenacity and never-say-die spirit.

With a humble beginning as a farmer’s son in Suatow (仙都乡), Jinshizhen (金石镇), Chao’An (潮安县), Chaozhou (潮州市), China, Lim ventured to Nanyang in 1940. Hardworking, visionary, charismatic, and a talented polyglot (English, Mandarin, Malay, Hokkien, Cantonese and Hainanese), Lim grew his business, spreading all over Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Hong Kong. It was thriving until 1985.

In 1988, the 63-year-old Lim Tow Yong was declared a bankrupt by Singapore high court. Most people would have given up but not Lim Tow Yong.

In 1990s, Lim started another departmental chain in Sabah, and later Brunei and Labuan, with sheer determination and hardwork. In 1999, Lim Tow Yong was finally discharged from bankruptcy. He sold his business in mid-2000s and became a millionaire once again at 79.

Losing everything is not the end, as long as you are still alive.
Losing everything is not the end, as long as your love, hope, ideas and wisdom are alive in the heart of people whom you care.

♥ ♥ ♥

All these three stories also made me reflect on investment. I was asked by two men older than me, “if you know any safe investment with good return, please let us know.” The eldest, who is going to celebrate his 41st birthday tomorrow, aims to have USD 1million.

You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself.” ~ Good Will Hunting

After thinking and reflecting, I conclude that the best investment is on yourself. Seek knowledge. Master unique skills. Use your knowledge and skills to serve others from the bottom of your heart. Be creative and productive.

You want to transform yourself into a precious talent, such that as you grow older, you become more valuable than ever. As days pass, you become highly desirable to give positively-impactful advice to ordinary people and Fortune 500 companies. As years go, you are wanted for your unique talent and tremendous creativity. As decades change, you give your best to the world, and the world will shower you with more opportunities to make your investment grow many folds.

Invest in goodwill. Love people. Help others and do favors without expecting a favor in return. The power of the universe will do you favors especially when you need it, in unexplainable manners, in unexpected ways.

With love
ServicefromHeart
20141204

You are always a valuable human being

Do you like to take note when you study, travel, attend an event (talk / conference / party) or after meeting people?

Bill Clinton is known to note down the details of his classmates, professors, political organizers and other acquaintances in index cards, so that he could revise them in the years to come. The index cards contain important interchanges Clinton had had with the person. His diligent and indefatigable habit of taking notes and revising them, has contributed to his charm and charisma, mixing glamour and compassion (in the words of Bel Mooney).

The Renaissance most famous polymath, Leonardo da Vinci, wrote everyday, about his studies, observations, discoveries, inventions, comments, and plans. For his entire life time, Leonardo produced around 13,000 pages of work. A left-handed, Leonardo uniquely wrote, drew, sketched in mirror script. A systematic and an artistic creator of notebooks and journals, Leonardo used notes to link art, science, and engineering, synthesizing novel things such as the Vitruvian Man.

Taking notes can also be a form of journaling, one of the five recommended happiness-generating actions by Shawn Achor. Writing more positive emotion words enhances relationships (PubMed 16913946). I find that writing nourish and heal our soul, mind and body.

♥ ♥ ♥

In my early days living in Cambridge, England, UK, I was given a Bible of New Testament and Psalms. I did not know the giver personally, but the Bible was printed by the Gideons International.

Founded in 1899, the story of the Gideons International began when a boy named John H. Nicholson, promised his dying mother that he would read from the Bible every day for the rest of his life. He kept his word. One night in the autumn of 1898, when staying in the crowded Central Hotel at Boscobel, Wisconsin, John agreed to share a room with Samuel E. Hill. Both Christian men became friends and developed the idea for the future Gideons International to furnish a Bible for each bedroom of the hotels in the United States. Today, copies of the New Testament and Psalms published by the Gideons International are given to people in workplaces, schools and universities. I am grateful that an idea conceived over a century ago, was so powerful that it has benefited me and many other people.

♥ ♥ ♥

There are many breathtakingly beautiful churches in England and Europe. It is indeed a blessing to be able to visit a number of them. Since the Gideon Bible is small and of pocket-size, I could easily carry it while traveling to understand more about Christianity. Sometimes, I just note down interesting inspirations.

Last night, I flipped over my Gideon Bible and re-discovered what I wrote some years ago. The words are very comforting especially if you have been living a compulsively achieving life in the competitive world.

You are always a valuable, worthwhile human being,
not because anybody say so,
not because you’re successful,
not because you make a lot of money,
but because you believe it and for no other reason.

Then, I learn today that the quote is attributed to Dr Wayne Walter Dyer the author of Your Erroneous Zones. Thank you!

There is always be someone better and poorer than us, so stop comparing ourselves to other people. Live in the present moment and focus on using whatever talents and gifts that Allah has given us to serve other people. As long as you are doing better than your previous self, you have fulfilled your responsibility. Surrender your fear, worry, and insecurity to God.

You are always a valuable human being servicefromheart panda singapore river safari
A photograph courtesy of Ren’s paternal grandfather.

♥ ♥ ♥

The words of the re-discovered note also remind me on the movie Lan / 我们天上见 directed by  Jiang Wenli 蒋雯丽.

Since Lan was 3 years old, she was raised by her maternal grandfather Tang. Lan was often mocked by her schoolmates for sharing a surname as Chiang Kai-Shek, a national enemy in China. Lan often felt worthless, and would hide inside the cupboard eating candies.

She discovered hope from the world-champion gymnast, who also shared her surname Jiang. In a hope that she would not be sent to a countryside for tough labor, her grandfather encouraged her to start practicing gymnastics. Her grandfather also lovingly sewed a gymnastic suit and made a practice bar for Lan. However, the teacher thought that Lan was too weak for gymnastic and did not bother to teach her. Other gymnastic students also looked down of her, calling her ‘the amateur’. All these experiences worsened her self-confidence until she stopped going to the gymnasium.

However, Lan later proved to be a precious and valuable human being, especially when her grandfather fell ill. She started to care for him, from cooking meals, bathing him, making funny faces to make him laugh, to  painting their home with plants. Yes, plants are soothing.

An important lesson we can learn from Lan is not to link our self-worth to our achievement, but to link our self-worth to internal security. Always remember that you are a valuable human being.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20141128

Postcards from Abu Dhabi with some tips from Ask Ali

Saying Marhaba (Hello) or As salamu alyakum is a way to greet local people here, so please allow me to greet you with a Marhaba!

This is the first post from our adventures in Middle East, starting from United Arab Emirates (UAE) where we arrived in the scorching and highly humid summer 2014.

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Corniche
Our first summer in Abu Dhabi: admiring 123-m flagpole on Marina Island across from Marina Mall. 
Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Grand Millennium Al Wahda Hotel
A bird view of Abu Dhabi City from Grand Millennium Al Wahda Hotel, where we lived happily for almost 4% of our days this year.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque where we learned from a funny tour guide who is also a civil engineer.
Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Madinat Zayed
Madinat Zayed

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Abu Dhabi Mall
Abu Dhabi Mall

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Marina Mall
Marina Mall has a Carrefour.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Khalidiyah Mall
Khalidiyah Mall where I attended a worship in a cinema for the first time of my life.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Reem Island Sun Sky sea Gate Towers
A bird view of Reem Island, where we live in 2014.
Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Gate Towers like Marina Bay Sands
The Gate Towers reminds us on Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Gate Towers like Marina Bay Sands
Another view of the Gate Towers and their reflections on the Arc Towers.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Reem Island
Dramatic reflection of sunrise as viewed in Reem Island is always inspiring. 

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Reem Island
Night view of Reem Island.

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart public bus
Public buses e.g. bus 54 of Abu Dhabi cost only 2 dirhams / passenger.

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart St Joseph's Cathedral Catholics
St Joseph’s Cathedral of Abu Dhabi.

Hand shakes
Remember to shake firmly. If you are a man, it is impolite to offer your hand to a local woman. If a local woman offers her hand, it is then OK to reciprocate. Some Arab men will shake non-local women’s hands, some will not (it is ok too)!

Learn some Arabic words. Based on my experience living in Abu Dhabi, one can survive in Abu Dhabi without knowing Arabic, but it is always wonderful to learn some Arabic words.
Yes : Na’am / Aywah
No : Laa
Bon appetit : Bel Aaafiya
My name is : Ana esmi
Congratulation : Mabrook
Thank you : Shukran
Sorry : Asif / Asifa

Respect – a universal value – for each other’s differences requires open-mindedness, tolerance, adaptability and obedience. Although I have not lived long enough to give wise advice, I have found that respecting yourself and other people (regardless of their social, economic, education status) is among the best policies. Ask Ali also highlights that it is “illegal to defame any member of the ruling families of any of the emirates.”

Be thoughtful. “Even if you must compromise, don’t embarrass your Arab colleagues in public.”
Depending on the context, the opposites may be right.
In Arabic culture, it is impolite not to answer a phone call during meetings.
In Western culture, it is impolite to answer a phone call during meetings.
What if you are in a meeting with both Arabic and Western colleagues?
I remember a meeting that I attended in my first week working in Abu Dhabi. Half-way through the meeting, a phone rang. The most important person (who was originally from USA) said, “I’m glad it’s not mine.”

Arab people may raise their voices when they speak, not out of anger, but to emphasize a point.

Trust Arab people like to do business with those they trust (those whom they know or wit whom they have friends in common). Arab people don’t like to do business over the phone or without initially meeting you.

Local values that I hope to learn more:
respect
generosity / ikramiya
modesty / humility
trust

***

Social media that I follow:
www.emiratweet.com : a virtual majlis of events, news, street talk about Emirati individuals and society.
www.sailemagazine.com : about successful entrepreneurial Emiratis.
The National : an English newspaper of UAE

***

Things that I add to the bucket list:

    1. visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the UAE and the eighth largest mosque in the world. It also has a Center library. Gently step on the wool carpet (the most comfortable one I have ever had the blessing to walk on) in the main prayer hall. Admire the Swarovski crystals-decorated chandeliers.
    2. learn Arabic calligraphy as a way of learning Arabic culture.
    3. enjoy a cup of coffee sprinkled with gold leaves @ Emirates Palace with classic luxurious stairwell.
    4. attend exhibitions (and if possible, weddings) @ Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC).
    5. desert safari / dune bashing @ Liwa Oasis ~ 2 hours drive from Abu Dhabi. Imagine a roller-coaster ride over sand dunes accompanied by sunset.
    6. ride a camel.
***

First and finally, please remember the followings:

  1. Stand up when someone approaches you to say hello.
  2. Use your right hand to pick things up or accept things.
  3. Reshuffle your position (at an elevator, a doorway) to place an important person / guest to your right.
  4. Dress modestly.
  5. Remove your shoes before entering your host’s home.
  6. Refer the gulf as Arabian Gulf (not Persian gulf!)
  7. Send a Ramadan Kareem (Blessed Ramadan) card at the beginning of the Ramadan month or an Eid Mubarak (Happy Mubarak) at the end of Ramadan, to your Muslim friends.
  8. Wait until after Ramadan to approach Muslim businessmen with new ideas.
  9. Offer local friends food – a symbol of goodwill and friendship, especially home-cooked food if you know how to cook. Remember to exclude pork or alcohol (even in chocolates)!
  10. Do not touch anyone of the opposite sex. No gentle pat.
  11. Do not schedule any meeting / gathering / sport event on Fridays, at least not until after 4 pm because, to respect people’s need of praying.
  12. Do not leave your host’s home before coffee and Arabic sweets are served (or else they may feel that they have not completed their hospitality duties; hospitality is an important value here, rooted in the harsh desert conditions).
  13. Do not point your soles / the bottom of your fee towards anyone, especially someone’s face.
  14. Do not say Mashallah when praising something beautiful to an Arab.
  15. Do not say swear words.
  16. Do not post sexually suggesting, politically / religiously controversial material.
  17. Do not take photographs of a local person (especially women and families) without asking for a permission.
  18. Do not take photographs of Muslims praying.
  19. Do not take photographs of military sites, the royal family’s palaces, government buildings (e.g. airports, police headquarters).
  20. Do not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public during Ramadan.
  21. Women traveling alone in taxi should sit in the back and not make conversation with the cabbies, as drivers may misinterpret friendliness.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
201410
Last updated 20141026

Interview: Professor Athene Donald on connecting people and interdisciplinary scientific fields

In 2009, I helped a student-run publication to interview and photograph Professor Dame Athene Donald. When I embark on a (lifelong) project to learn about being creative and transforming our creativity into a reality, I strongly feel that her story of connecting her body of work is inspiring courage and creativity in others.

In her office at the legendary Cavendish Laboratory in West Cambridge, she generously shared her insights (some are applicable to life) and hopes for our future creative generations, especially those who are interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

♥♥♥

ServicefromHeart interview Professor Dame Athene Donald Cambridge Cavendish Laboratory

In the 800th anniversary year of the University of Cambridge, Professor Athene Donald of the Cavendish Laboratory, has received the 2009 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award. The awards established by the cosmetics company L’Oreal jointly with UNESCO, on the premise that the world needs science … science needs women, have annually celebrated the achievements of five leading women scientists – one scientist from each continent. Dubbed as the Nobel Prize for Women in Science, the award aims to change the perception of women in science.

Could you please tell us about your scientific contributions which have led to your L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award? 

Athene: “I found this a very difficult question, because I think it’s a lot of different thing and it’s the sum of all that I do. I have had a career where I have worked in lots of different area, and my strength is making connections between different fields.

I have done lots of works in electron microscopy, developed a technique known as environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) for samples which are traditionally very difficult to look at using an ordinary scanning electron microscope, which works in a vacuum.  If you are looking at wet or biological samples, you have to do a lot of sample preparation first. ESEM allows you to look at biological materials without drying them out and killing them.

We have also been looking at how native proteins stick together. When we deliberately denature proteins, they unfold and start to behave like synthetic polymers (plastics), which formed part of my earlier career. We use the ideas of polymer physics and apply them to biological materials.

By moving from traditional physics to non-traditional areas, you open up a lot of new opportunities. One of the things that I am very proud of is that we used Small Angle X¬–ray scattering to study the starch granule. We developed a structural model for how the starch granules are put together, and at one point this was being taught at Part IB Plant Sciences. I thought it was wonderful to be able to bridge into a different discipline!

How do you nurture inter-disciplinary collaborations? 

Athene: “Within the university, we have a lot of brilliant people. One of the challenges is finding someone to spend some time talking to you to the point that they understand what you are saying and vice versa. Sitting in committees with different people has helped to find new contacts. It takes time to do inter-disciplinary work. A key thing in my inter-disciplinary work is finding people who you like, who share ways of thinking about the world, and who are prepared to commit the necessary time.”

Athene is also the director of a newly-established Physics of Medicine Initiative in the University. She continued, “We try to bring physicists, biologists, and clinicians together. The traditional medical physics discipline is aimed at developing techniques, such as MRI and ultrasound, and to apply them in clinics. That’s what I would refer to as Medical Physics, and is not what we are doing.

We intend to take a different set of tools to solve biological problems, for example to use lasers to deform cells in order to distinguish healthy from cancerous cells. This is one step back from the clinic, but will give us a profound insight into what is going on. This is rather different from traditional medical physics. It is harder to find clinicians than scientists, who are willing to share what they need with us.”

Her secret is to be constantly innovative.

“I have never stayed working in a single area for very long. I always started working in a new area before I drop one. For me, I have never wanted to know absolutely everything about a very small area. I am much more interested in taking a broad approach. It’s risky.

Sometimes I am not always successful, but that way you get new ideas and new challenges. I started researching starch in 1986, it went on for 20 years, and now I am not working on it at all.

Knowing when to stop is important. Now, I am working on proteins, cells, and also photovoltaics. My projects tend to have about a ten-year lifespan. We take a technique, start off in a very simple system, and then make it more complex.”

How can we attract more female students to pursue science? 

Athene: “The first challenge is in school. Science is not a very popular subject, it seems hard and people don’t know what it can be used for in a career.

The second challenge is not to lose women at the later stages, when you are 25 and upwards. You talk to up and coming female researchers, who ask how can I manage to have a family and an academic career?

You don’t necessarily get your permanent position until you are in your 30s. There are too many people out there saying you can’t do it.

We need to counter that view, and there are many different ways of achieving your goals. If you want to be an academic scientist, it’s very hard work, you probably have to give up other things like much of a social life, but it’s not impossible.”

How do you combine family and work?

Athene shared, “my family is very important to me. My husband is a mathematician, so we can understand each other’s science up to a point. My husband has been fantastically supportive.

As a woman and a scientist, you really need a supportive partner. My husband actually stopped his career, he became the primary carer. Not every couple will find that solution acceptable, you have to find the right solution for you, and that’s going to vary for everyone.”

On renewable energy, Athene thinks that we need to do a better job in researching on energy, because the world is going to have problems if scientists can’t solve that. If we don’t solve the energy crisis, we may end up having to go back to living in something like Victorian-time conditions.

In the next ten years, Athene will continue to use microscopy and microrheology (a non-invasive technique to analyze the visco-elastic properties of complex fluids) for understanding particle diffusion in cellular systems.

At the time of this interview (200902), Athene and her collaborators, Viji Draviam at the Department of Genetics in the University of Cambridge, have just begun a project to make patterns on which to stick cells and to investigate on how the patterns affect cell divisions and the implications in cancer.

You may be interested in their 2013 publication on live imaging of the spindle orientation during cell division (mitosis) to determine the function of LGN – a protein that is critical for spindle positioning.

A final take home message : Athene advised that everyone should know that it’s okay to ask questions. Most people need help.

This piece of advice also reminds me on a Chinese idiom 不耻下问, which literally means No Shame To Question.
Never feel embarrassed to ask and learn.
♥♥♥

Many thanks
ServicefromHeart
201406

Thank you post to Jen

Dear Jen

I hope you are doing very well.

This week, I attended a talk by a charming professor from Korea, who looks like a slender Korean pop star. She is 45 years old but appears as youthful as 30s.

Professor Ham immediately reminded me on you, Jen! Both Professor Ham and you are highly enthusiastic, confident and knowledgeable.

ServicefromHeart Thank you post to Jen be like water

I would also not forget how Sir went an extra mile to dim the projector by climbing onto the table.  It is an inspiration for delivering service from our most sincere hearts.

Both you and Professor Ham are interested in the molecular mechanism of amyloid-beta in the Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

Sadly, most people will develop Alzheimer’s, if they live long enough.  But again, this experience beats the other alternative – dying young.

Of course, everyone wants to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.  Recently, I learned that just by inheriting a copy of APOE4 allele (alternative form of the gene) on chromosome 19, increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  About a quarter of people carry an APOE4 allele, that codes for the ApoE4 protein.

The ApoE4 protein strongly promotes the deposition of amyloid-beta in the brain, and ApoE are made by neurons under stress. No matter what happens, let us calm down and be stress-free. Choose and decide on happiness.

In the middle of Professor Ham’s talk, she gave us a quiz. Simply put, she asked a question to reinforce the concepts that she was sharing.

While a student, I have been trained rigorously to find patterns (including similarities) in my study projects. I could not help noticing that both Prof Ham and you have beautiful eyes and long delicate fingers with a ring and polished nails, that both of you use aptly to explain some (difficult) concepts.

Recalling how we met, it was a serendipitous one for me at the staircase outside the CyberCafe that encircles the pyramid. Thank you for offering your help in the technical details of my projects. You were a God-sent angel to me, then a struggling student.

I must also credit you for introducing me to Andy, from whom I get to know other awesome mentors.

Herein, I express how much I am thankful for your early guidance in my formative years in Cambridge.

Many thanks
ServicefromHeart
20140602

chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios

In the early spring 2014, I received a request to prepare two types of desserts for a friend’s birthday. The first one is for adults only: Irish cream Baileys tiramisu (an easy recipe here). The second one is for little guests, so it must be children-friendly.

After a brief brainstorming on a MRT train ride, I designed a dessert of chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios.

chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios by ServicefromHeart

***

Agar has multiple uses, from culinary to scientific ones.

Agar is a gelatinous substance derived from the polysaccharide agarose, which forms the supporting structure in the cell walls of particular algae / seaweed (e.g. Gelidium amansii).

Agar (a Indonesian / Malay word) is also known as:

kanten / 寒天/ かんてん, literally means cold winter in Japan

China grass in India

About a decade ago, I was fortunate to have a brief experience of using agar, as a culture media, to grow some harmless bacteria to express proteins of interest. The particular proteins were then purified prior to subsequent experiments. To prevent the proteins from denaturation (melted) and hence unfunctional, I did the purification in a cold room at 4C! The experience made me appreciate agar even more than ever. Thank you Dr. Tan!

In term of its biochemistry, agarose is a linear polymer made up of the repeating monomeric unit of agarobiose. Agarobiose is a disaccharide made up of D-galactose and 3,6-anhydro-L-galactopyranose.

For culinary uses, agar desserts are relatively easy to prepare: bake-free. Agar is also a less heaty choice of children-friendly snack.

chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios by ServicefromHeart

Agar desserts (jellies, puddings, and custards) can be prepared the day or the night before birthday parties, casual parties, Christmas, Easter, Halloween or Valentine’s Day or barbeque (BBQ) events. Serve chilled.

An alternative to the animal-derived gelatin, agar is also suitable for our friends and family members who are vegetarians.
chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios by ServicefromHeart

Since agar is 80% fiber, it is good for laxative purpose. When our little ones suffer from constipation, I will prepare agar desserts, which are more appealing than medicines.

chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios by ServicefromHeart

***

For all of you who love chocolate drinks, including MILO lovers, I lovingly present a recipe of chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios.

Servings: 8

Preparation & cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

♥ 4-5g agar seaweed powder

♥ 8 tsp glucolin

♥ 2 tsp cocoa powder

♥ 250 ml fresh milk*

♥ 250 ml water

♥ Cheerios O rings, to taste

* If you want a creamier version of the pudding, use 500 ml fresh milk and no water.

Directions:

1. Dissolve agar powder in water & milk.

2. Bring to a boil over low heat & simmer.

3. Stir in glucolin and cocoa powder.

4. While the mixture is hot, pour it onto containers / moulds.

5. Decorate with Cheerios O rings.



Glucolin is suitable for days when we have poor appetite and feel low on energy. When we suffered from diarrhoea, our parents used to feed us glocolin water. Please consume in moderation because an excess intake of sugar can lead to unintentional weight gain.

You can substitute glucolin with sugar. I used glucolin because

1. Glucolin is mainly glucose, but it also comes with calcium and vitamin D3. For every 100g, glucolin has 0.5 g and 500 IU of calcium glycerophosphate and vitamin D3, respectively.

2. It is finer than sugar so it will dissolve faster.

3. I have a tin at home.

chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios by ServicefromHeart

chocolate milk agar pudding with Cheerios by ServicefromHeart

Tips:

♥ Have fun in your kitchen, engage your little ones if they are interested to join in. Mix and match with agar
jelly / pudding of similar / contrasting flavors.

♥ Please ensure dissolving agar powder in enough water or other liquid, to minimize the risks of bowel blockage & trouble swallowing. While the packaging of agar powder that I used for this recipe suggests dissolving 10g agar powder in 1 liter water, sometimes I use slightly more liquid.

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20140601