Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Inspiring Words by Young Writers & Responding with Encouragement

30 Jan 2008
Dear young writers,

some of you are quite creative in using monikers. I especially like this Jediforce70! So cool!Wonder if Jediforce70 owns a light saber like all the Star War heroes. : )

Thank you for sharing with us your experiences at Changi Beach in your respective blog. I look forward to seeing you more at future shore walks and yes... more writings on your blogs too!

See below: another six young writers I have provided comments for.

Uncle Joe : )

Comments for Jabez:
Dear Jabez, you must be one of the youngest bloggers in town! Wow! I am glad you enjoyed blogging and 'typing' away at the computer. Writing is fun but let me tell you a secret of mine - something that helps me in my writing. I think it will help you alot too. You see, my 'secret weapon' is my trusty notebook. In fact, I have so many; each special in its own way. Whenever I read or see or hear or thought about something interesting, I write it down in my little notebook. I also draw or sketch inside. If you ask me how my notebooks have helped me in my writing, I must confess to you that I am quite forgetful. By recording interesting facts and words in my notebook, I know I will be able to find them again if I need them. You see, I often use facts and words that I have recorded long ago... even several years ago. So, do keep a notebook. That's the way to write. When you have finished writing, for example, a story about a snail you have seen, you can ask your mum or dad to allow you to type it into the blog on your computer. Now that I have shared my 'secret weapon' with you, keep writing and keep smiling! : )
January 29, 2008 10:50 AM

Comments for Jared:
Wow! What a beautiful hymn! Even without the music, I could hear the rhythm of the beautiful lines in my head. Thanks for sharing it with us. Jared, I must say I am very impressed by your English Language proficiency. I can tell, not only by the natural way you write, but by the way you speak. If you keep at writing, I believe you will be even better. So, keep on writing and keep on smiling. I like saying this to children because I truly believe a happy writer always writes well. Try writing a poem, will you? I believe you can. : )
January 30, 2008 2:26 AM

Comments for Jediforce70:
Ha ha! You are so chirpy and so honest! I feel happy reading your blog. : ) Well done! I am also pleasantly surprised by your snake blog. What an expert you are with snakes! If you like to learn more about snakes, or have a snake you like to identify, please ask your mum or dad to visit a very interesting blog with you. It is called SLOG. The link is: http://singaporesnakes.blogspot.comYou will definitely find SLOG incredibly informative. It has lots of interesting photos of snakes in Singapore. In the meantime, keep writing and keep smiling, ok? : ) Uncle Joe
January 29, 2008 9:16 AM

Comments for Natasha:
Hi Natasha! This is Uncle Joe. : )You are most polite to thank me, aunty Ria, ko ko July and jie jie November. We would also like to thank you and your family for coming along with us to Changi Beach. Do you know why? It is because it makes us very happy just by showing children the marine creatures that are living in the shallow seas around our home country Singapore. You see, all these creatures are alive and have been living here long long ago. If you ask me how long, I would say 'millions of years ago!' The place where they live is called their Habitat. Have you come across this word? Animals - whether in the seas or on land or in the air - share the same habitat as us human beings. So, in taking care of the animals and their habitat, we are also taking care of ourselves. We share the same habitat call Earth. Isn't it wonderful to be surrounded by so many interesting animals! I look forward to another shore walk with you and your family. In the meantime, keep writing and keep smiling! : )
January 29, 2008 8:56 AM

Comments for Tze Kay:
Hello, Mousey! hee hee! : ) That is a cute moniker that you have chosen for your blog. A moniker is not a monkey, ok. It is a nickname, a 'fun' name, that you and I call ourselves. But sometimes, other people give affectionate monikers to us instead, esp. to children. My aunties and uncles used to call me 'egg' because I was crazy over eggs when I was very young. Hee hee! I eat lots of them - steamed eggs, boiled or half-boiled eggs, tea-eggs, and even century eggs and salted eggs. Every time I eat eggs, I must eat two at once. So greedy, me! Well, enough about me. I think your little sister is so cute and so inquisitive too. Please do explore more beaches with your mum and dad, but do take care of your little sister, ok. Sometimes, sea snails can give a nasty sting. So, never ever pick one with your bare hands, ok? I like your writing, so keep writing and keep smiling! : )
29 January 2008 08:26

Comments for Masterblogger:
Hi Masterblogger! : ) You know what? You have just inspired me with a wonderful idea! Just imagine how nice it would be if I could convince our national parks authority to put up educational signages that are written by children like yourself. I think your message would be double or triple times more crystal clear and powerful in moving the adults into positive actions. Yes, I truly believe in this. Your well-taken photo also show how pollution really looks like! Yaks!That's another powerful way to tell the sad story of our polluted environment. But with you and other young writers writing, we can change the world for the better! Yes, keep writing and keep smiling! : )
January 29, 2008 8:06 AM

Monday, January 28, 2008

Heartfelt Comments for Young Writers and Bloggers

29 Jan 2008
Dearest young writers and bloggers,

I am looking through your new blogs one by one. It makes me very happy to see how well you write and how much you enjoyed our little shore walk in Changi, as well as, learning how to blog! : ) I have posted the following 6 comments - one each for Vere, Vera, Ezekiel, Juni, Flipper and Zack (aka Kidshark!).

As for the rest of you, be patient; I am definitely going to read your blogs one by one and tell you how much I enjoy your writing and give you a tip or two, ok?

Dear parents, see how well the homeschoolers are writing! Be proud! You have done a good job raising them! Go visit their blog [by click on their name below] and give them some encouraging words too! I'll be making permanent links to their blogs in my flying fish friends blog. We will fly together... to greater heights!

Joe Lai : )

Comments for Vere:
hermit crab is a good 're-cycler'. You know why? It does not build its own home, but go around looking for an empty shell to shift into once the shell it is using is too small for its body. It does not bother itself too much about having 'new things' as long as it is a comfortable home. I like a saying that goes - 'A house is not a home'. You know why? A house is just a house. What makes it a home is the people living in it and fill it will love and warmth. It is then a true home, otherwise, a house is just a hollow shell. You see, when we go into wild places - feel the wind, hear the waves, see animals roaming free in their natural home - we not only learn sciences but also about ourselves by staying in touch with our good feelings. It's really wonderful... seeing 'beyond' the hermit crab... and muse! Hee hee! Keep writing and keep smiling! : )
January 28, 2008 8:06 PM

Comments for Vera:
Wow! Thanks for teaching me about the surgeon fish. I have not seen one before. This is because I do not snorkel except once many years ago when I visited Tioman with friends. I can still remember my experience - some 20 years ago, I think! Oops... I am an old man now! How time flies in a wink of the eye. Ha ha! : ) I am glad you are enjoying outdoor adventures with your family. I hope you will write about your coming trip to the sea and share with me and other bloggers your experience. Till then... keep writing and keep smiling! I find you a very good writer indeed.
28 January 2008 07:53

Comments for Ezekiel:
Wow! Wonderful! You have just featured three different marine animals which belong to the same family. In another word, they are related - like 'relatives'! Ha ha!The one that looks like an octopus is called a brittle star. It has long slender arms and a very flat body, and can easily squeeze itself into any cracks or holes in rocks or even corals and sponges. It is hard to imagine how a sea cucumber can be related to the seastar eventhough it is not star-shaped. Why don't you find out more information about the sea cucumber (and the sand dollar too) in your neighbourhood library? Can you do that for me? Keep writing and keep smiling! : )
January 28, 2008 7:39 PM

Comments for Juni:
Wow! It is good you see an animal like the mooncrab burrowing in the sand. You definitely cannot get this kind of experience in a book. You see how fieldwork is so important? You get to find things for yourself and see the 'real stuff'! It is also fun too, especially when you explore nature with your family. For your information, seastar, sea cucumbers, marine worms, solefishes, stingrays - all these, and many more, like to burrow in the sand! ha ha! Keep writing and keep smiling!
January 28, 2008 7:26 PM

Comments for Flipper:
Oh yes, we have to be very careful putting different kinds of creatures in the same viewing container. The poor things... they may attack each other. However, I think it is a valuable experience for you so that you can avoid doing the same thing again the next time. But most important of all, you wrote and shared your experience with others. Wow! By sharing your experience with others, you are also teaching others about the correct way of handling animals. Isn't that great? : ) I am so proud of you! Keep writing and keep smiling!
January 28, 2008 8:16 AM

Comments for Zack aka Kidshark:
Hi Kidshark! : ) I am so proud of your effort. Now that you have written your first blog, can you see how easy it is for you to write a few precious words about nature and inspire people to take care of the environment, esp. our sweet sweet sea! Keep on writing and keep on smiling! I am looking forward to bring you and your family for another shore walk in Singapore soon. : )
January 28, 2008 11:53 PM

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Homeschoolers Celebrated LIFE in IYOR 2008

The Leafmonkey Blogging Workshop (25 Jan 2008)

[More photos at: IYOR08Singapore & NIE Green Club & The Leafmonkey Worshop blogs.]

Dearest friends,

one word - just one word - can sweetly describe last night's blogging session, and that is: CELEBRATION!

Yes, looking on as I did at the happy faces lit up by smiles and laughters that shone through their lively mini-discussions and parent-child communions, I cannot help rejoicing at the purity of human endeavours such as this which embraces the loving heart, the learning mind and the living being. Above the mundancy of everyday life - which so engrosses us at most times - we find ourselves elevated up a plain (with friends & strangers) to find ourselves unified and soaring to the heavens. We became universal brothers and sisters all at once.

So we celebrated... we celebrated parenthood, we celebrated children, we celebrated children's potential, we celebrated writing, we celebrated Nature... our shores and marine life, we celebrated friendship, we celebrated volunteerism... all these unified in our common celebration of the International Year of the Reefs. But above all, we celebrated LIFE together!

May I thank everyone for making these workshop so wonderfully embracing. It is you - people - parents and children - who made our work as nature volunteers so much more meaningful and sanguine. We thank you. I have no doubt I speak for all my nature-volunteer friends that our dedication to our work lies in no other place that in the children and the future before them.

In this and everything, we share with you - as well as to inspire your children with - our joie d' vivre and raison d' etre!

Let us all look forward to more shore walks together in Singapore this IYOR 2008! YAY!!!

Joe Lai : )
26 Jan 2008

ps: thanks a million, Carissa! Thanks for the fine food you brought for us that night!! : )

Friday, January 25, 2008

Price Tagging of Nature? Outrageous!

What Prof Quah proposes is outrageous. Land plots in commerce may have price tags but woes begone to those who think that Nature has a price tag too. And his suggesting that Chek Jawa is too ‘ad hoc in guiding future decisions’ is deadpan irrationality. Anything that is first and defining in occurrence is a possible benchmark. What make Prof Quah think we should follow him to the opposite direction?

Not only is the nerve of reasoning negative, it is also nothing new at all. It is invocating the same old ways of our present economy that is destroying the fabric we call Nature – the very same life-sustaining fabric for human beings, DAH! It is precisely this same old problem we are grabbling to resolve. So, in the end, Prof Quah has really nothing to offer except to say, ‘let’s just carry on what we are doing’. And I may add to his line of thought – ‘…. and die!’

Increasingly, people across the world are beginning to realize that the source of our redemption lies in our most primitive cultures that advocate 'living with Nature'. This is particularly true in eastern philosophy. There is a lot of enlightenment to be found. Prof Quah should look here, not the West for answers (since he is on this side of the globe). However, if he is still inclined towards the West, why, he should look to the American Indians for inspiration, not half-baked new economic models.

The nature of the auction that he advocates is as questionable and controversial as the ‘representative sample of the stake-holding segment’ that he is advancing. Who is he going to ask? Well, don’t ask it in my name. The future of our children cannot be decided this way.

As to Prof Peter Ng’s reported statement, I am a wee-bit confused. But alas, should I be surprised at all by now? Isn’t he part of the team that has pitched for the conversion of the 30ha plot of Mandai forest into a spa? Well, in all eventuality, I think Prof Quah and Prof Ng should make great bedfellows indeed.
Find out what the true value of a forest is at:
& read other comments in Nature Over Man Blog.

Joe Lai

Thursday, January 24, 2008

IYOR 2008: Changi Walk for Homeschool Families

20 Jan 2008, 5-7pm, lowest tide 0.2m

Dearest friends,

may I share with you our joy! We had a terrific time together at the Changi Beach marvelling at the incredibly-diverse marine life found in the intertidal zone.

We found sea hares, seastars, sand dollars, sea cucumbers, sea urchins' tests, cuttlefish 'bones', jellyfishes, sea snails, hermit crabs, flower crabs, elbow crabs, barnacles, fireworms, tubeworms, feather worms, free-swimming anemones, peacock anemones, horseshoe crabs, seaweeds and seagrasses, sponges, gorgeous button shells, etc.... etc.... and oh... a few funny-looking drifts too. [ha ha!]

There were as many as four White-bellied sea-eagles and one Brahminy Kite hovering high above our heads at one point!

I had my hands full in the show-and-tell session, and so, had no spare time to take pictures myself. Luckily, my fellow volunteers - Ria and July - took quite a few happy snapshots of our little outing! [Thanks Ria, July, and of course, not forgeting November! Thank you, November and everyone... for the beautiful memories!]

See other photos / write-up at: WILDFILMS and NIE GREEN CLUB blogs!

This is our first humble outing to our beautiful shores in celebration of our marine life for IYOR 2008! [IYOR 2008 - stands for International Year of the Reefs (2008)]


Joe Lai
[Photo credit (above): taken by July]

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Wedding without wading into Sharkfin Soup

12 January 2008

Dearest friends,

I ate sharkfin soup recently at a wedding dinner. Yes, confess I did. It was a tough decision to make though. Two heavy guilts hung heavy over my head - one, I felt indicted as party to a cruel act; second, I felt it would be a damn shame wasting the food set before me.

You see, I have been brought up not wasting food. I also hate cruelty to the core of my soul. But should I state a conviction in front of my fellow guests and waste food in the process? It would be a double blow to the poor shark, I thought. It's like it died for no reason. So I ate, and I felt lousy inside.

Strangely, it never crossed my mind that not eating the sharkfin soup would amount to insulting my host. On the contrary, it was my host who came around the table and gamely poked fun at my table of 'nature conservationists and activists' by making an audit of guilty part-takers of the soup. I owned up of course. Yet, though I love my host as a wonderful friend, I felt I was fished out of the 'proverbial soup' there and then, and finned like the sharks. It felt sore... really sore. I left the dinner like a shark wriggling in pain outside... in the dark-night-sea and rumbled homeward bound on a bus in deep thought.

The saving grace of this experience is that I learned something I never really thought about. Thanks to the little discourse and debate amongst us 'nature conservationists and activists' at the table that night - and to a very large extend to my good friend Ria Tan - I knew better. Yes, I should know what to do from now on. Never will I be made to feel as I did again.

I learned some simple steps and I want to share them so that you can avoid the pitfall I fell into. It will help, I think, a great deal, i.e. if you want to stop the cruelty of shark-finning. Small steps these are, but I think they will make a big difference.

A) When you receive a wedding invitation card...
1) Call up the host and find out if sharkfin is to be served. If no... great! No problem.
2) If yes... you have to make a decision to go or not. Of course, be tactful. However, if it is a dinner you cannot avoid...
3) Decide whether you want to educate and advice your host. If you do...
4) You could suggest to your host to consider an alternative dish to replace the sharkfin soup. (But please... not turtle soup, ok!)
5) You could also suggest a mock vegetarian 'sharkfin soup'.
6) If you sense you have won over your host - Good! But if your host is not sure, or not agreeable...
7) You could suggest having a table or two which are 'sharkfin-less'. If the host agree... Great! You saved some sharks!
8) Lastly, if you go and still find sharkfin soup served to your face... well, you have arrived at the same dilemma I have just recounted! I cannot advise you... but you can think about me though!

B) When you are the host inviting friends and relatives...
1) Print in no vague statement that 'No Sharkfin Will Be Served' in the invitation card. You could be tactful though, and...
2) Educate them with an attached flyer about shark conservation, the cruelty involved, etc. But...
3) Please... in the absence of sharkfin... do not serve frog legs, turtles and rabbits at your dinner! But then... alas...

Here lies a greater dilemma that is hardest to digest: what about the beef and chicken, etc, that we eat every other day? What do we deem is more cruelly slaughtered or not, what is more painful or not? What is worth saving or not?

I have no answers at the moment. But I do lift my hat to (and salute) all my anti-cruelty-to-all-forms-of-life vegetarian friends for their power of conviction. If, by going through what I just wrote is any indication to go by, maybe I have just taken a little step towards realizing vegetarianism myself. I think this greater dilemma is one everyone should think about when they are thinking about what is happening to the sharks today. Divorced of that, I don't think we can ever teach our children wholesomely what cruelty is... or can we? Don't forget about cruelty inflicted by humans to humans too... Iraq War for instance... Did we speak up then or kept mousy-quiet for fear of being labelled as 'terrorist' sympathisers?

This is just my confession... my learning curve... my honest thoughts. I hope it helps. HOPE - yes. Indeed, we have only recourse to hope in the end.

Joseph Lai
LOVE & PEACE to all

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Beautiful World, Beautiful Children, Beautiful Words

International Year of the Reefs 2008
- Celebrating Nature and Children and Writing

Dearest Friends,
Children are without doubt angels! I know because I am a father! : )
I have been a child before too. I still am... ha ha! : )
The potential in children is so great... it is vaster than the sea... it reaches yonder the horizon... up the star-laden universe... and in the deepest and purest recesses of their happy sparkling eyes too...
I know such things because I am a father.
Children are also expression persona - born to be free... to express, to sing, to draw, to speak, to laugh... to play... to shout from the mountaintop... to be children.
There is something about our beautiful world and our beautiful children... they are one. Can you not see them in the sky and hear laughter in the sea... and vice versa? I do. : )
Let us celebrate the joy of life through writing in year 2008. Let's celebrate the sea together in the International Year of the Reefs. Let's explore in the great outdoor together in Nature's best playground... Chek Jawa, Sungei Buloh, Changi, Sembawang, Southern Islands...
So, can children write? Yes, first, give them the space to be free!
I cannot say it more clearly than from the space of the heart... of a child and a father... than mine. I am sure you will see yours in mine too...
intrigue and perspectives...
planting seeds of love...
the genius, the inventive spirit...
the clown and cheekiness...

the soul of my heart...

me he... who me... he?...
growing up and living it...

Can a child write? YES!!! : )
Joe Lai