Singing In The Rain

Immediately after the afternoon shower today, I heard the chirping of birds at the back of our house. As I look out the balcony, I saw a bird chirping away nosily. It was drenched but it doesn’t seemed to mind and the scene reminded me of the song Singing In The Rain. -)

So I grabbed my camera and managed to fire a couple of shots. The bird immediately flew off.

Bird Singing In The Rain

Moving House

Spotted this moving item in the NST today:
This is gotong-royong at its best!

Moving House

Moving home: When most of us move house, we pack our furniture and household items and hire a lorry to take them to the new location. But farmer Abu Hasan Ahmad was so attached to his home, he decided to take the whole house with him when he had to move. “We have lived at the old site for more than 20 years, but now we want to be closer to my mother-in-law to take care of her.” The 56- year-old padi farmer said several village elders got about 150 villagers to help with the “big move“. Besides helping to carry the house half-a-kilometre to the new site, the villagers also took part in a gotong-royong to clear the land at the new location. It took over an hour to move the house. — NST picture by Rahmat Othman

Rare Solar halo over Langkawi

Spotted this interesting report about a rare natural phenomenon in the NST today.

LANGKAWI, MON:

The sudden appearance of a solar halo (also known as the parhelic circle) above the skies of Langkawi today caught the attention of participants at the Langkawi International Dialogue (LID) as well as members of the media.

Solar Halo

Dozens of photographers covering LID hurriedly snapped away at the halo encircling the sun at about 2.40 pm, before it disappeared about 20 minutes later.

The photographers were not the only ones captivated by the phenomenon.
Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who is here attending LID, was also among the crowd of onlookers admiring the rare sight.

This phenomenon similar to a rainbow, except it is formed by the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals, instead of raindrops suspended in the air. The ice crystals are from cirrus clouds and have to be of the type with a large radius for the phenomenon to take place.

There must also be no wind and the sun has to be at an altitude of less than 34 degrees for the halo to to occur.

Solar Halo

Living Fossil Caught

Found this very interesting news item in the BBC News today.

Imagine a creature that survives 350 million years virtually unchanged!!

Fisherman catches ‘living fossil’

An extremely rare “living fossil” caught by a fisherman in Indonesia is being examined by scientists.

The 1.3m-long (4.3ft), 50kg (110lb) coelacanth is only the second ever to have been captured in Asia and has been described as a “significant find”. An autopsy and genetic tests are now being carried out to determine more about the specimen.

Coelacanths provide researchers with a window into the past; their fossil record dates back 350 million years.

These fish are odd in appearance, looking almost as if they have legs because of their large-lobed fins – they are sometimes dubbed “old four legs”. The blue fish can also perform headstands, hovering with their head just over the sea floor, possibly to detect food.

Scientists previously thought the fish group had died out about 70 million years ago, but were shocked when in 1938 a species was caught in a fishing net off the east coast of Africa.

Since then, more than 300 of the modern coelacanth species (Latimeria chalumnae) have been found in the waters around the Comoros Islands, which are situated in the Western Indian Ocean, and the eastern coast of Africa.

A living coelacanth (Hans Fricke/Max-Planck Institute)

Their unusual fins make the fish look like they have legs

However, scientists were surprised once again when a coelacanth was discovered thousands of kilometres away in Indonesia in 1998.

It looked similar to the coelacanths found near Africa, but genetic analysis revealed that the genomes differed by about 3.5%, and it was described as a new species called Latimeria menadoensis.

Peter Forey, a coelacanth expert at the Natural History Museum, London, said: “When the Indonesian coelacanth turned up in 1998, lots of people went out to look for more around this area, but nobody ever saw anything until now.

“The fact that another specimen has been found is significant; it confirms that this is a genuine location for another coelacanth’s population.”

A fearsome catch

Justinus Lahama, an Indonesian fisherman, caught the fish two months ago off the coast near Manado, on northern Sulawesi Island.

He told AFP news agency: “It was an enormous fish. It had phosphorescent green eyes and legs.

“If I had pulled it up during the night, I would have been afraid and I would have thrown it back in.”

Justinus Lahama

Justinus Lahama caught the fish

He took the catch back to the port where it remained alive for 17 hours in a netted pool outside of a restaurant. It was then frozen and is now being examined by scientists.

Genetic fingerprinting tests to be carried out by an international team of scientists will confirm if it is the same species as the coelacanth found in 1998.

The tests, said Dr Forey, could also help to reveal more about how and why the two species exist thousands of kilometres apart.

“The fact that the two populations are separated by this enormous gap of thousands of miles begs the question of how long ago and why they separated,” he said.

“Estimates from the genetic fingerprinting carried out on the fish caught in 1998 suggest that they separated about four to five million years ago, however if you look at the geology of the oceans, it suggests that they should have separated about 30 million years ago.

“More sequences taken from this new fish will help us to calibrate these estimates.”

Various efforts to conserve these ancient fish are underway. They are considered to be endangered and are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

On Wednesday, another group of scientists announced that they had discovered a 400-million-year-old fossil of a coelacanth fin.

The find was reported in the journal Evolution and Development.

Researchers from the University of Chicago said it had been excavated from sediments at Beartooth Butte in northern Wyoming and would reveal more about the evolution of the creatures.

SHOCKING PUNISHMENT over a sanitary pad

Spotted this item in NST today.

I think the warden went overboard and should be boarded out.

This form of extreme punishment should no longer be tolerated in a modern society.

The  students  enduring their punishment in the muddy pond. — Picture courtesy of Borneo Post

The students enduring their punishment in the muddy pond. — Picture courtesy of Borneo Post

KUCHING: Two hundred schoolgirls of a boarding school were forced to squat, neck-deep, in a murky pond after a used sanitary pad was found in a toilet bowl.

The girls were in the pond for an hour during heavy rain while the warden, who meted out the punishment, stood under an umbrella to supervise the punishment.

The punishment, which was described as “improper”, is being investigated by the Education Ministry.

The shocking event at SMK Bawang Assan was captured on camera by the school’s parent-teacher association chairman Jimmy Kiu at 5pm on Wednesday.

Seeing Kiu taking photographs, the warden ordered the girls out of the pond.

By then, several of them complained of itchiness and rashes. Several were also reportedly ill after the incident.

Kiu claimed none of the school officials came to check the situation despite these complaints.

Most of the 500 students in Form One to Five are from the interior areas of Sungei Pasin, Batang Lassa, Nanga Singat, Sungei Lengang, Sungei Belangan and Tanjung Bekakap.

The students from the co-ed school go home on weekends.

“This kind of punishment is inhumane. And it is all over a used sanitary pad in a toilet bowl,” Kiu said.

“The water in the pond is dirty as waste from the canteen flows straight into it.”

A school official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the warden decided to punish all the female students after no one owned up to leaving the used pad in the toilet bowl.

“I think the warden was angry as it is expensive to fix a clogged toilet,” Kiu said.

Sarawak Teachers’ Union president William Ghani Bina expressed his uneasiness with the disciplinary measure applied by the warden.

“The warden’s intentions may have been good, but she should have followed the guidelines on disciplining students,” William said.

“Teachers are humans, too. This warden may have gone overboard in instilling discipline.”

William did not, however, put all the blame on the warden.

He said the student concerned should also take responsibility.

“This incident would not have occurred if school regulations were followed. There are proper bins to dispose of used sanitary pads.”

Sibu deputy police chief Superintendent Zamani Hamdan said they had yet to receive any report over the incident.

Three Legged Chicken

Spotted this unusual item in the NST today:

Three Legged Rooster

FOWL SURPRISE: Chicken trader Shaharnizam Abdul Rahman (right), 32, got the shock of his life when he discovered that a rooster he was about to slaughter had three legs. He had bought the 2.5kg rooster among 30 chickens from a farmer in Guar Chempedak six months ago for rearing. When he caught the rooster to slaughter last week, he realised that it had a third leg, which was the same size as the other two. “I was offered up to RM800 to part with the rooster but decided against it. I consider it a gift from God,” he said, while his friend, Mohd Zaudi Mohd Hashim, looked on. — NST picture by Rahmat Othman.

Student needs Viagra to survive

Spotted this heart-wrenching story in the Star today.

So, Pfizer, have a heart and spare some small change to ease the pain of a young girl?

Student needs Viagra

BUTTERWORTH: For the past one year, Florentina Usun George has been taking Viagra daily, not for the wrong reason but to treat her ASD Pulmonary Hypertension ailment.

The 21-year-old student of Cosmopoint College in Penang needs two Viagra tablets, at RM40 each, daily to keep her going.

Medical problem: Florentina showing a doctor’s letter stating that she has ASD Pulmonary Hypertension at the Penang Umno complaints bureau in Butterworth yesterday. With her are Linda (left) and Farah.

“Without the medicine, I will experience chest pain, breathing difficulty and (feel) weak. It is really painful and I cannot concentrate on my studies,” said the second-year Computer Graphics student.

Florentina, from Miri, Sarawak, said she was diagnosed with the disease when she went for a medical check-up at University Malaya Medical Centre in March last year.

She was told to take Viagra daily to maintain her blood pressure level.

A doctor who declined to be named said Viagra could reduce the pressure on the right side of Florentina’s heart which was high.

The doctor said Viagra was initially introduced for hypertension but it was later found that it could also help patients with erectile dysfunction.

Florentina’s former lecturer Farah Nuzaily Zakaria, 27, said she had taken her to the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur and Island Hospital in Penang, and again was told Florentina had to take Viagra to live.

“We were told that Viagra was the cheapest medication that could help improve her condition,” she said during a press conference held at the Umno Public Complaints Bureau office in Butterworth yesterday.

Forentina’s younger sister, Linda Livan George, 20, is working at a fast food restaurant in Penang to help buy the medication.

Those who wish to help Florentina can send out their cheques made payable to Biro Pengaduan Umno, Tingkat 2, Bangunan Mahkamah Munisipal MPSP, Lorong Kg Jawa, Jalan Bagan Luar, 12000 Butterworth. They should write Florentina’s name on the back of their cheques.