My life would make a great comedy movie

I make the strangest mistakes that amuses friends, family and strangers. I once wrote there were 357 days in a leap year having switched the 6 and the 5 around and adding one.

On rainy days I would be running late and slip over, twice, as I try to get up.

I am hopeless at sewing but insist on making things that people wouldn't be caught at home by themselves in.

The movie would be more hilarious than that book, Life According to Garp.

Go on an Antarctica Expedition with... Devorah Bennu!

Devorah Bennu is in a competition to become the blogger from Antarctica for Quark Expeditions.
Antarctica: The Blue Continent
The zoologist and blogger has carried out research on ornithology and photographed wild bisons. Now she is intent on braving the cold to bring us words and pictures from Antarctica. Help Devorah Bennue for this once in a lifetime opportunity!

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Genetics may be partially responsible for autism spectrum disorders.ASDs have
  • affected social behavior,
  • problems in verbal and nonverbal communication,
  • repetitive behavior and/or
  • restricted range of interests.

Original blog post from ScienceBlogs by Greg Laden.
Bucan M., Abrahams B. S., Wang K., Glessner J.T., Herman E.I., et al. (2009) Genome-wide analyses of exonic copy number variants in a family-based study point to novel autism susceptibility genes. PLoS Genet 5(6): e1000536. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000536

Expiration Dates

I avoid food that has passed its expiry date but remember the vegemite that haunted my pantry. Stuff Asian People Like documented Asian habits to use things even though the use-by date has long passed. After all... waste not, want not.

Win your own free mini portrait

Kim Barker is holding a competition for a Free Mini Portrait in June 2009:
  • The mini portrait size is 25cm by 25cm or 10" by 10"
  • The medium is acrylic on gallery wrapped canvass
  • Postage is free
  • It is valued at $250 AUD
  • It would be one person or subject of the winner's choice
  • The winner would be picked randomly at the end of June
  • Ways to enter are
  • Winner will be announced on 1st July


People who lose the ability to speak such as ALS and brain injury sufferers has a new way to communicate. Michael Callahan and Tom Coleman developed Audeo, a human-computer interface for communication.

The current product lets people use all English phonemes, the forty or so sounds that make up words. The output speed is about a fifth of normal speech. It only takes days to learn how to speak in terms of phonemes in order to drive the device.

Original Article from Arie Wijaya
Company website


Babies can distinguish their native language and accent at as early as five months. Ed Yong reviewed on several child development studies...

From 4 to 6 months, infants react when a muted video clip of a person speaking changes language. Babies generally lose this ability at 8 months unless they are expose to multiple languages. Another study showed a child's ability to gesture at 14 months can predict their vocabulary a age 4 and 5. These findings suggest it is important to spend time with your baby and use visual cues and gestures to help them gain skills early on.
Original articles

first language and accent
Early Childhood Gesture and Affluence

Finetune your Mindset

Finetune is a free music player that include major record label artists. The widget below is an example.

Diaspora and me

Rebellious Arab Girl wrote about her diasporic discontent a few days ago. That set me to ponder about my moving experience. I immigrated to New Zealand from Taiwan in 1996.

I am glad that I move to New Zealand. Growing up here provided more opportunities. Asian students are pressured into academic achievement. It is not only competition from over-population, but a cultural hang up. We are programmed to work hard but some fail to understand more stress does not correspond to better performance.

My early days in New Zealand were amazing. I did not speak English but primary school was a lot of fun. The teacher put labels on everything in the classroom e.g. door, desk and cupboard so I can learn what they are as I used them. Everyone got to do proper sports (barefeet!), art and there were camping. I hope Taiwan has a less intense education system now and wish all kids could have as much fun.

The problems I encountered was you can go anywhere in the world but you are still the same person. The mould for my identity changed, but it was difficult to fit into new expectations. Am I a New Zealander or Taiwanese?

Some New Zealand attitudes I fail to grasp are 'she'll be right', 'toughen up' and concepts like No. 8 wire and kiwi ingenuity. I can be creative to a point but laid back plain worries me! What comes naturally to young New Zealanders such as the rites-of-passage Overseas Experience scares me. That is what I admire most and hope one day my future kids will set out to do.

It was hard to change the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and other daily habits. What to study, even what to do for fun came into question. Even though assimilating into New Zealand society is possible, I choose to retain most cultural practices. I have been away for so long that I am losing my heritage.

When I returned to Taiwan to visit relatives it was like travelling to a foreign country. The nostalgia only deepened. What happens to migrants and refugees is that as we leave our homeland, we no longer belong anywhere.

I guess the only times when I am angry is when other migrants behave badly. It makes the rest of us look bad. It takes decades if not your whole life to finesse that low profile presence in New Zealand. It's easy to say be pleasant to everyone. The truth was migrants represent their country of origin. What if I embarrass myself and turn out to be the only Taiwanese they ever meet?

I have lived in New Zealand more than half of my life and will always look like a visitor to the country. You can say I am an outsider. I reckon I can observe clearly where I am and I like what I see.

Algae Biofuel

Algae can produce natural gas. The Pacific Northwest National Labratory (PNNL) released method to catalytically gasify hydrothermal algae. The relative low temperature process (350oC recycles carbon dioxide waste gas. The yield is 400 times faster than anaerobic digestion.The original article is from in Richland, Washington has a Energy and Environment Directorate with the focus area Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Some of their aims are to convert biomass to fuel and chemicals, and use renewable resources effectively..

New Zealand Hulme Supercar Project

By prorallypix, some rights reserved. This is Denny Hulme in 1967 F1 World Champion.

Jock Freemantle finances 3 prototype cars. The project is named after two-time CanAm winner Denny Hulme designs extreme CanAm, Hulme Spyder and Hulme F1.

Idea from Biofuel News.
Original article from Car Buyer's Notebook.

What do Engineers do?

People often ask me this. Subversive wrote an article to list some types of engineers and what they do.

Original Article from Subversive Guide to Engineering.

Updates Swine Flu

Swine flu is now the first global pandemic of the 21st century. Swine flu has been renamed Swine-Origin Influenza Virus (S-OIV). Gavin Smith et al. found H1N1 had been consorting with others, shown in a hideous diagram from Ed Yong's update on the situation.
Smith, G., Vijaykrishna, D., Bahl, J., Lycett, S., Worobey, M., Pybus, O., et al. (2009). Origins and evolutionary genomics of the 2009 swine-origin H1N1 influenza A epidemic. Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature08182
Would you find out the gender of your unborn baby? IntelliGender is about to be in New Zealand.The kit sells for $125 and works at 90% accuracy. Opponents argue that this product facilitate selective abortion. This cultural practice has skewed male to female ratio in many countries.

There are other methods to determine gender, such as sonography and amniocentesis, but invasive procedures increase the risk of miscarriages and birth defects. This chemical test is a non-invasive option using urine.

Parents carrying the genes with serious genetic disorders could benefit from this test. The genes that cause some life-threatening diseases only appear in one gender.

Original article from
I have a healthy fear of spiders. Ed Yong from Not Exactly Rocket Science wrote that the arachnid Myrmarachne melanotarsa gather to pretend to be ants. I did not know they needed to be more aggressive.
How to Know the Spiders (Pictured Key Nature S.)

Another post by the same author discussed gender gap in maths. This problem also applies to science, technology and engineering. Janet Hyde and Janet Hertz argued that the gender gap is due to social and cultural factors. Some of the resistance encountered were:
  • Lack of attention or encouragement,
  • The effects of stereotypes,
  • Lack of female role models,
  • Willful misogyny,
  • Unconscious biases, and
  • Hostile work environments.

On the opposite end of the scale, I prefer species getting along. My favourite in that post was the rabbit and the dog. Although I have seen rabbits bite dogs where it hurts most on TV.


I am accompanied by a cold. It made me miss the test tutorial this morning. I am so disappointed at my will power.

Some questions in the test were expected, especially the calculation one. The theory was a widely varied. I was stumped at the first question!

That was my final undergraduate test. Tomorrow I get to see presentations.

Chic and Sassy Design had a makeover. The new look.
I get a sneaking suspicion that I have posted this before. Simone Preuss wrote about 10 Beautiful Cactus Flowers in Environment Graffiti.

Galadarling's Carousal turned up Twitter Zodiac Signs! I didn't get into the Twitter spirit when I joined though. She also introduced Isobel Oval in terms of polyvore by weekdays.

Connie Mitan posted this news report concerning The New Breed of Fairy Cat in China. I think pollution may play a role in these occurrences. The possible reasons for the mutations were:

  1. Grooming habits,
  2. Genetic defect, or
  3. Hereditary skin condition.

On the work front, Chillycraps the job seeker wrote about the process.

Fresh fruit and vegetable month // Bloggers Unite

Fresh fruit and vegetable month // Bloggers Unite

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