Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tagore: My Heart Beats her Waves at the Shore

The world speaks to me in pictures,

my soul answers in music.

Wayside grass, love the star, then your dreams

will come out in flowers.

My heart beats her waves at the shore of the world

and writes upon it her signature in tears

with the words, 'I love thee.'

Let my love, like sunlight, surround you and

yet give you illumined freedom.

He who does good comes to the temple gate,

He who loves reaches the shrine.

- Whisperings of Rabindranath Tagore -
Footnote: See corals and other marine treasures of the seagrass lagoon of Semakau at my album

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Embracing Nature Conservation: How?

Dave Santucci's ready label for critics as 'elitist' should meet with his own label 'parochial'. His view has no logic and does not deserve any rigorous debate. [See reports here]

Look to Jacques-Yves Cousteau and other universal beings like him instead for true goodness-to-nature education and stewardship - yes, minus all the 'carnival' and dark logic. Then, go and explore your local beach, and take your time to sample the wonderous arrays of marine animals found there. Make sure you enjoy the wind, the sky, the waves and the sand beneath your feet too. Then tell me, please tell me, do you need to see and ride a whale to appreciate it or nature better?

Nature appreciation is such: it is eclectic in spirit and allows you to embrace universal truths about nature conservation, our world, our home, our heart, without molestation and self-centeredness. It frees us - not entrap us.

See through the bright lights of the carnival and teach our children well.

'Do not linger to gather flowers to keep them, but walk on, for flowers will keep themselves blooming all your way.' - Whisperings of Rabindranath Tagore

1) Read a hilariously written rebuttal to Santucci's argument at:
Hell Hath No Fury Like Nature Scorned Blog

2) May I invite you to read what it takes to be The Stupa Man - in an unpublished cautionary landscape-essay of mine : )

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Two Prolific Young Writers Rising from the Horizon!

Dearest young writers,

I like to inspire all of you with the recent discoveries and writings of our mutual friends - Blue T. Rex and Vere Nathan.

Blue T. Rex's Blog is Nautilus. << Click here.
He has recently visited Pulau Ubin and also a coral reef in Sentosa! Wow!

Vere Nathan's Blog is Naturalsea. << Click here.
He has had some exciting experiences to share from the seas off Kuantan!

Thanks, Blue T. Rex and Vere.

Keep writing and keep smiling!

Uncle Joe : )

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Didactic Short Films of Lasting Values

Dear friends,

lately I have become a fan of Petronas's 'Meaningful Ads' series (Iklan Raya Petronas, Malaysia). My son and I enjoy watching them together. They are not commercial advertisements but didactic short films that teach values such as compassion, filial piety, courage etc. I highly recommend them for children.

Delightfully, many of the main actors are children themselves. The stories revolve around the family and the community against the rich tapestry of our shared asian heritage.

Difficult themes like racial harmony, childhood, identity crisis, aging, are so well explored by some. By contrast, our Singapore TV channels look terribly poor and 'vulgar'. And the few short films by our local schools that came through are overtly 'patriotic', I find. Yaks!

I have linked a few below for your sampling. Just click on them to view. Happy Viewing with your children!

Filial Piety: We will be old too one day

Identity: Be proud of who you are

Racial Harmony: We can live as one

Love: Life lesson from Granny

Filial Piety: The reality of loneliness

A Sea of Compassion: Raising the universal soul

Home Capsule: Are we in a hurry to leave it?

Filial Piety: True reward for our aged parents

Filial Piety: A father's love revisited

Joy of having children: Beef... not the whole cow!

Love is Forever: Our shared journey

Filial Piety: Love is priceless

Common Humanity: Children, angels, our light of hope!

Family Bondage: True Legacy and Endearment

Charity: A lesson on humility

Deepavali: The Light of Goodness

Virtue of Hard Work: Reap what you sow

Filial Piety: A Mother's Love is Forever

Children: Our one true United Nation!

Courage: Don't let setbacks stop you moving forward

Family: Lessons from an orphan

Hope: For our angels... our sleeping beauties

Please share these beautiful short films with your loved ones.

Joe Lai : )

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Photos: Massive Reclamation off Labrador

Dear friends,

I was exploring Siloso last Friday morning (1 Feb 2008) when I spied a few large barges in the distance off Labrador. The huge granite rocks they were carrying glared white-hot against the greying sea. Several tugboats were in attendance and keeping the barges in position. In fact, the whole sea lane off Pasir Panjang Wharf and Labrador was abuzz with boat activities. Small harbour (personnel) crafts were criss-crossing about between the stationary vessels and the bouy and mooring system. I also caught sight of a long floatline flagging an 'all red' notice of retricted waters around what seemed like a dredger-cum-piling platform. It was like a gigantic floating factory of sort.

The scene before my eyes took on an ominous sign as the backdrop of the western sky darkened with approaching rain. It must be the staging of a huge reclamation operation readying itself to bury the sea below, I told myself. As I watched from atop the sheer Siloso cliff, I issued a silent prayer hoping no marine animals, no dugongs or otters, would be within the zone when they start dumping the rocks. It was then that the sky parted and started to drizzle as if in reply. I gave the scene a last look, and stowing away my trusty camera, I headed back to mainland.

Below are some of my photos for the history books. Ria Tan has posted details on the impending reclamation around Singapore at her Wildfilms Blog:

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Young Writers: Notes to Angels

Dear friends,

I like to call children angels. I am sure you will agree. They have wings... wings of bright-eyed wonder, quite naturally. And with a healthy dose of encouragement, they can indeed soar to the highest heights with them! I like one particular advice that goes... 'Give your child two most important gifts: roots of love and wings of imagination.' Yes, even Albert Einstein pitched in, saying, 'Imagination is better than knowledge.' Imagine that!!

In writing, we find both... readily shared! : ) May I introduce to you three more young writers below. Do share some encouraging words with them, will you? : )

Joe Lai

Comments to Ethan:
Hi Ethan, I am so glad to see you at the blogging workshop. I hope you found it interesting. Did you like it? I think you did. I saw you smiling all the time during the workshop. In fact, all the kids were - grinning from ear to ear! Ha Ha! Me too! And who's not? Everyone looked so happy that night. I think we can call it the 'Smiling Workshop' instead! Ha Ha! It is so wonderful to share happiness, don't you agree, Ethan? : ) It is like seeing a rainbow suddenly and pointing it out to others to see too. Writing can be like that too, Ethan. When we write about the rainbow or the seas or the tall majestic mountains or the wonderous night sky of twinkle twinkle little stars, we are like pointing them out to others. It is like saying to them, 'Look.. look how beautiful and special they are!' Wow! I feel so happy already, just by writing this note to you! Thanks Ethan, for being the special 'you' and giving me the chance to write to you and feel this happiness. Do keep writing and do keep smiling and help spread this special joy to everyone. Yes! We can! YAY! : )
February 3, 2008 11:38 AM

Comments to Luke aka Gold Shark:
Hello there, Gold Shark! Wow! It looks like sharks are quite popular with boys, isn't it? Besides you, there's 'Kidshark' in our blogging workshop too. I wonder why... hmm? It is because they are fearsome and powerful predators of the seas? Am I correct? : ) They are indeed magnificent creatures. Part of their beauty lies in their awesome strength. As for me, I am fascinated by their great diversity. 'Diversity' means many and different. Yes, there are as many as 400 species of sharks as there are in rays (i.e. stingrays) in the world. Every species is special not only in the way they look, but also, the way they behave - i.e. the way they find food, the way they reproduce, the way they do their everyday things in the seas and the different places they hang out on their own or with a great many others of their own kind in the oceans. This is what we would call the natural history of sharks. It is the study of everything that they do as sharks. I find them very special... oh, yes, as special as you, Gold Shark! In fact, all you young writers are special to me. I am looking forward to hear from you and read what you write in your newfound blogs. So keep on writing and keep smiling! Ok? : )
February 3, 2008 10:57 AM

Comments to Mark:
Hi Mark, you are right. : ) The seashore is truly an amazing place to visit. Exploring it is similar to going on an adventure. You will encounter things which will be new and exciting to you. The seashore never fails to excite me too. I have found sea creatures looking so strange that sometimes I wondered if they had actually fallen down to earth from outerspace like some alien creatures from the other side of the universe. Ha Ha! : ) They are so weird... so bewildering... so... monster-like... especially if you see them up close with a magnifying glass. Oh yes, it is such a fantastic tool to have - the magnifying glass. Can you imagine yourself staring down the wide open mouth of a worm and seeing the rows of teeth moving about as if they are snapping at you! Wow! Believe me, if you want real excitement, don't forget to bring along a magnifying glass to the seashore the next time you visit it with your family. In the meantime, do keep writing and keep smiling! : )
February 3, 2008 12:52 AM