UK

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!

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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

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

Easy drink recipes of dragon fruits

In 2011, an entrepreneurial and creative girlfriend who grew up in Shenzhen, China and did her graduate study in Cambridge, England came to live in Singapore for half a year. Having neither seen nor tasted dragon fruits before, she was fascinated by and loved eating them very much.

You tend to grow loving things and people whom your inspiring friends – your influencers – also love.

Since then, I have developed an appreciation for dragon fruits, also known as pitaya / pitahaya / 龙珠果, which are often served cut in lunch or dinner buffets in Singapore.

You will hardly miss dragon fruits sold in tropical markets or supermarkets, thanks to their beautiful vibrant magenta skin.

In contrast to its eye-catching outer appearance, the mildly sweet flesh of dragon fruits offers delicate aroma. The sweetness reminds me on melon, honeydew and pear, but dragon fruits are softer in texture than them.

Widely grown in the tropics, dragon fruit has been reported as potential anti-cancer (PMID 21535651), thanks to its anti-oxidant phenolic content in both skin / peel (more!) and flesh.

Blending pitaya hopefully helps to break its black and crunchy seeds, which are indigestible unless chewed. Please do not forget to treat your olfactory senses to the subtle fragrance of pitaya, before gulping them down to quench your thirst.

In this post, I lovingly share two drink recipes of dragon fruits. Enjoy!

Easy drink recipes of dragon fruits by ServicefromHeart

Dragonfruit detox juice (火龙果排毒果汁)

Ingredients:
♥ 1 ripe dragonfruit (火龙果)
♥ 1 stalk organic celery (有机芹菜)
♥ 1 tsp honey (蜜糖)
♥ 150 ml water (过滤水)

♥♥♥

Dragonfruit banana smoothie (龙珠果香蕉冰沙)
Ingredients:
♥ 1 ripe dragonfruit (龙珠果)
♥ 1 ripe banana (香蕉)
♥ 100 ml fresh milk (鲜奶)

Directions:
1. Wash dragofruit, cut into halves. Use a large spoon to scoop out its flesh. Trim away any extra inedible skin. Cut into chunks.
2. Peel & chunk banana.
3. Blend dragonfruit, banana, milk together.

Tips: Since the skin has higher anti-oxidant content, consider using its flesh-facing side as a mask before throwing away.

由于火龙果皮肤具有更高的抗氧化剂含量, 扔掉之前, 请考虑使用它的肉面对侧作为面膜

Easy drink recipes of dragon fruits by ServicefromHeart

Other recipes that I love:
Dragonfruit and black sesame mochi ice cream by Maya, a scientist by training @ Foodiva’s Kitchen, Brunei Darussalam, Borneo
♥ Dragon fruit mock mojito by Elizabeth @ Frugal Mom Eh! Canada
♥ Pitaya sorbet by Yolanda Bertaud @ Byzantine Flowers

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
Spring 2014

Postcards from Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Thanks to MRT Downtown Line (coded in blue), the first visit of baby Ren to Marina Bay Sands (MBS / 滨海湾金沙) was a realization. Except for the transport fare, the visit to The Shoppes (shopping mall) in MBS – the world’s most expensive building at US$ 5.5 – 5.7 billion (as of 2010) – is free.

“Everyday is a journey in our lives, and an MRT ride can be an interesting journey.”

每天是一个旅程;乘坐地铁可以是一个有趣的旅程!

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

Spacious seats of MRT serving Downtown Line make us happy! Thank you MRT.

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

We took the MRT Downtown Line from Bugis via Promenade to Bayfront station.

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

♥ ♥ ♥

Designed by Moshe Safdie (an Israeli/Canadian architect) with an inspiration from card decks, MBS is a unique icon of Singapore. “Does it look like ancestral tablets (tombstones)?” a taxi driver once asked me. To me, it looks like an ancient Chinese scholar’s hat (古老的中国学者的帽子).

A canal inside the Marina Bay Sands reminds us on the Venice (Italy) and River Cambridge (England).

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

A tea break by the water side beneath the Rain Oculus created by Ned Kahn – famous for transforming an invisible aspect of nature into visible, is pleasing and relaxing. That day, I had a snack leftover that I bought from near Lavender MRT station whereas baby Ren had grape cuts and a bottle of breast milk.

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

♥ ♥ ♥

Luxurious brands … offer a pleasant opportunity for window shopping! They are sources of inspirations: the creative designs (创意设计), the careful attention to details (精心细节) and exquisite craftsmanship (精湛的工艺).

Dior 

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

A different kind of worlds …

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

Are you interested to hire baby Ren as your little model?

Travel Journal to world most expensive building Marina Bay Sands Singapore by ServicefromHeart

♥ ♥ ♥

I remember …

When baby Ren was in my belly, my maternal grandmother, Dad, Mom and I had a memorable early dinner at Ding Tai Fung (鼎泰豐), Marina Bay Sands. It was a good decision so that we did not have to queue for a table. I did not feel significantly inflated prices as compared to other outlets of Ding Tai Fung, given the posh location.

My family encouraged me to eat more xiaolongbao (小笼包) – my favorite dish. I also like the chilli oil dumplings.

Xiaolongbao was originally from Shanghai and Wuxi, China. Their mini sizes made them so delicate and cherishable to savor.

It is not only about the food, but also the people whom you dine with and the people who transform our food into food art.

“I choose to collect memories instead of things.” ~ Elena Levon

我选择收集回忆,而不是东西。

♥ ♥ ♥

What’s next?

1. visit Sands SkyPark that connects the 2 hotel towers and is large enough (1.2 hectare) to park four-and-a-half Airbus A380 jumbo jets. Plan your visit at the end of the afternoon before dusk to enjoy the view during daytime and at night. It costs a visitor SG$23 to get to the Skypark by high speed elevator of the middle tower. The ticketing office is not accessible by lift, and a friendly staff kindly offered to carry my pram / stroller, but in the end I decided to visit Sands SkyPark next time.

2. Alternatively, you can take the free elevator (Tower 3) to Ku DÉ Ta Lounge to enjoy some drinks and scenery of Singapore’s cityscape and skyline. PS: casual dress is not allowed, no shorts, slippers, singlets and tank tops plese.

3. swim @ The Infinite Pool on the 57th floor – the largest elevated pool in the world, which is only accessible to the hotel guests.

4. watch Wonder Full: Light Show and Water Show. Each show starts daily at 8pm and 9.30pm. On Friday and Saturday nights, there is another show at 11pm.
To watch the Water Show, be at the Marina Bay Sands side.
To watch the Light Show, cross the Bay.
Please remember to bring your tripod for taking blur-free photography / video.

Address: 10 Bayfront Ave Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018956


Other travel posts that I love:
♥ Ku De Ta by Journeys of the Fabulist
♥ SkyPark Infinity Pool by Escape with Style
♥ Light and Water Show by Rosie and Edmund Tay
♥ our #travelxp posts

With love,
ServicefromHeart
2014

Postcards from St George’s Church, Tanglin, Singapore (圣乔治教堂,新加坡)

Discovering St George’s Church – while walking to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – was a pleasure to me. The Romanesque red bricks captured my attention and I made a mental note to visit this simply beautiful church.

当走向外交部的时候,
很高兴发现圣乔治教堂。 它的罗马式红砖捕获了我的注意,我在心里记下访问这个简单美丽的教堂。

圣乔治教堂外,三角梅 (九重葛花) 点缀 宁静的环境。

Numerous strollers parked outside the church made me wondered if there was a service going on for babies and toddlers. Perhaps mothers’ pray-together session.

许多婴儿车 停在教堂外。

The church was quiet and empty. It offers peaceful moments for a visitor like me.

这座教堂很安静。可能为了像我这样的游客, 提供宁静的时刻。
Walking down the open arched windows of the east side aisle, a middle age man politely inquired me, “are you here for the Japanese fellowship?”

走在东侧通道的开放式拱形窗户,一个中年男人有礼貌地问我,“你在这里参加日本的团契?”

“No, I happened to pass by here. Just visiting,” I replied with a smile.

“不,我碰巧路过这里,只要访问,”我微笑着回答。

Built for the British troops quartered at Tanglin Barracks, St George’s was constructed between 1910 and 1913 from materials imported from England.

专为驻扎在Tanglin军营的英军,圣乔治是1910年和1913年之间从英国进口的材料建造。

St George’s church was gazetted as a monument on 10 November 1978.

1978年11月10日,圣乔治教堂被宪报公布为丰碑。

The timber roof trusses of St. George’s Church are so England to me.

圣乔治教堂的木材屋架给我的感解是如此英格兰风味。

Without air-conditioning, the high ceiling offers huge space to breathe, especially in humid Singapore.

虽然没有空调,高天花板提供了巨大的空间让我们呼吸,尤其是在热和潮湿新加坡。

Beneath the pews, the soft knee-protecting pillows, each uniquely decorated, brought our imaginations to years and decades of prayers said while kneeling on them.

下方的长椅,保护膝枕,独特的装饰。

我们想像几年和几十年跪在枕身上的祷告。

“Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy divine love.”

Beautiful white wooden windows adorning the red brick wall of this barn-shaped church. The beauty of simplicity.

美丽的白色木窗装饰这个谷仓形教堂的红砖墙。简约之美。

Curious about the books and publications. In St George’s newsletter (March/April 2014 issue 20), Sam Blakey introduces a book Raising Children in a Digital Age by Bex Lewis. I added the book into my to-read list simply because I want to focus on making the internet a positive experience for our children.

At the back of the church, I saw many children playing inside glass-covered hall. The voices of two tall women conversing in British English sounded very familiar during a period of my life. Happy Filipino maids were chatting at a corner.

在教堂的后面,我看见许多孩子玩玻璃覆盖的大厅里面玩。

两个高大的女人以英式英语聊天。

在一个角落里,菲佣在快乐地聊天。

The visit reminded me on England, the people and beautiful churches there. In particular, OLEM with its adjacent kindergarten. Little children in red sweater playing and running around are beautiful memories imprinted on my mind.

这次参观使我想起英格兰,那里的人们和美丽的教堂。特别是,OLEM与其相邻的幼儿园。穿着红色的毛衣 的小孩子们正在跑来跑去。美丽的回忆印在我的脑海里。

Before I left, I waived “Bye” to the middle age man, who was sweeping the church floor.

在我离开之前,我向那中年男子挥手“再见” 。


Address: Saint George’s Church, 44 Minden Road, Singapore 248816
Fee: free
Website: www.stgeorges.org.sg

Other travel posts that I love:
♥ Jazz Carols for all @ St. George’s Church (which I first learned through Sassy Mama)
♥ Stephanie Ho’s faith stops @ St George’s Church
♥ our #travelxp posts