Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A tiny bug that halted the world

It did not take a nuclear war. The doomsday preppers need not hunker down in their bunkers as yet but I wonder if, even they are sufficiently stocked with hand sanitisers and masks.

Covid-19 is a bug so tiny, you can’t see it through a microscope, you will need an electron microscope to catch a glimpse. You can’t even grow it on a culture like its less fastidious associate, the bacteria.

Covid-19 needs living cells to grow in, and that means WE are its perfect host. When We die, the virus has no more living cells to attack and reproduce in, it will eventually die. So this brings us to today’s scenario “Social Distancing.”


The world population stands at 7.79 billion and since 29 March, 43% (3.38 billion) in at least 78 countries has been asked to STAY HOME. “Flatten the curve” is the current tag phrase. So we stay home to keep infected numbers lower over a longer period. This means we get a chance for better treatment as our health care facilities are less burdened.

Image from Google

I am a scientist and micro-organisms are my work colleagues. I interact with them every day in the lab. I “grow” them and study them. I have the greatest respect for my colleagues but I “exterminate” my colleagues when there is a need to.

E. coli - left; Salmonella - right grown in MacConkey agar

# Direct translation: 
Top      : Temporarily do not come to my home
 Centre: Love me, Love you
 Left     : You come to my home, I get flustered
 Right  : I come to your home, you get nervous

Sunday, March 29, 2020


My brother-in-law in New Zealand share this with me through whats app. Yeah, let us do our bit to flatten the curve, be it through prayers or just practising social distancing. Here are our Candles of Hope from New Zealand and Malaysia:

                                        The Ramsays – Auckland, New Zealand

The Liews – Taman Megah, Petaling Jaya

Boey-Ah Fu – Bungaraya, Saujana, Shah Alam

YOGI Bear – Jasmine Towers, Petaling Jaya

Challs – Kota Damansara

Creative Scientist – Setia Alam

Creative Scientist had birthday candles but no lighter, matches or a gas stove at home. So scientists do what scientists do BEST, INNOVATE.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Someone, play with me

Selamat pagi. I need to work, he wants to play. Thory (named after Thor, God of thunder and lightning, and Snowy, our previous dog) is nothing but a rascal. When Savvy K brought him home, he would run outside in any thunderstorm. He was in his element, doing circles in madness and just lapping it up. He came with batteries included and only occasionally needs charging ... 

… but not this morning... He was FULLY CHARGED.


Being a lecturer has its moments. None can be better than hearing STUDENTs' excuses, which can be brutally honest:

When they have to hand in their project paper …”My computer got virus, cannot print out lah.”

When he did badly for the exams …”Please believe me, I really studied but when I saw the questions I had brain freeze.”

When he presented badly for an ORAL examination … “you know, when I saw that she was my examiner, I just went dumb. Why did you give me that examiner?”

When they cannot observe bacteria using a microscope … “something wrong with this microscope lah.”

When he pleaded to be given a repeat exam … “my grandmother will “pengsan” (collapse) if I told her I failed.

When he missed an exam … “I studied so hard last night, I overslept this morning.”

When they did not complete their assignments during term break … “I had to catch up with my friends and there was so much time, then suddenly there was no time to finish homework.”

When he turned up at 2.45 pm for a 2 pm laboratory class … “after lunch I went back to my dorm to study, I just woke up.”

When he kept failing every exam …”my MOTHER forced me to do this Biomedical Science course, actually I want to be a racing driver.”

These are all TRUE. Eventually, 99% of my students graduate. Of course, some take longer … “no rush teacher, I take minimum credits each semester and get As, why take the full credits and fail.”

Note the male  student behind that photo-bombed this picture. He was deeply frustrated as he could not get his Gram stain of bacteria done correctly.

Most of the above excuses were given by my male students if you had noticed. I have only one classic from a gal:

When she panicked and went slightly hysterical during an exam and I was called in to calm her down … "I cannot score an A for this paper."

Are girls more focused in their studies?

Friday, March 27, 2020

This Zoomer will steal the shirt off my back

   Ah Ahhh… my daughter was given this term of endearment “Martian Girl” when I started this blog in 2009. Then, she was a clueless but adorable teenager. 

   Fast forward to today, she is all grown up and sharp as a  whip. I have got to gift her a more relevant name. I think Savvy K is very apt.

   Just the other night during dinner, my delectable husband Gizmo Man (termed so in 2009 and still playing with his gadgets today so name change is unnecessary), popped a project to Savvy K, “Girl, I want you to create and manage a website for me to sell my collectibles online, I’ll give you 20% of the profits.” Remember it is MCO and Gizmo Man has been cleaning out 40 years of his precious gadgets and books. 

   I thought that was quite unfair, only 20% to create and manage his website? So mother dearest had to ensure that a fair deal was brokered, “Hey, that’s a bit low, you should give her at least 30% or more.”

   Without a blink of an eyelid, Savvy K replied, “Don’t worry mum, I am managing the site, I can even take 50% of profits as Daddy will not know what is happening and how much I actually sell his stuff for.”

You should have seen Gizmo Man’s eyes popping out and him choking on his lamb curry and rice!!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Someone is gonna report me to Security

   Yep, it’ll happen sooner or later. Does walking around with a pair of binoculars hanging from my neck seem normal? What would you do if you saw a stranger peering with “bins” at your window, roof top, porch and fence.  

   Nothing? YES, at least you are on the same page as me. After all it is Day 10 of the Movement Control Order in Malaysia and people have done crazier stuff, like riding totally naked around town (viral on whats app). I mean Lady Godiva did the same on a horse but her lovely long tresses tumbled onto appropriate parts of her anatomy. 

   I assure you if you had not seen the video, this gentleman was stark naked on his motorbike! This blog is rated G, thus video of gentleman cannot be uploaded!!

   Sassy JAM (that’s what I call myself, JAM’s my initials).. get back to your story please and stop babbling like a babble. So at 7am I am out of the house with my “bins” (that’s what we serious birdwatchers call our binoculars). I can hear bird calls by 6.45 am when they summon me. They are tricky little buggers cos’ they hide in the tree foliage. You can hear ‘em, but you got to find them. And they do a darn good job of playing hide and seek.

   So the trick is, stand at one spot motionless and scan the trees where the music is, watch for the flutter of leaves and BINGO…you might just catch a babbler, sunbird, spiderhunter, woodpecker, bulbul, oriole or kingfisher

Pictures were taken from 2 bird books - Birds of Thailand by Michael Webster/Chew Yen Fook and A Guide to the Common Birds of Singapore published by Singapore Science Centre

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Tua de Langkawi versus Tour de Langkawi

'tis was not the Tour de Langkawi but the Tua de Langkawi, "tua" in Bahasa Malaysia means old. And aptly so, as everyone was 60 years and above!! It started as a reunion for Sahoca College, Class of 73. Then some genius decided, "well, we have bicycles here in the resort, why don't we just cycle  to the Beach." I could feel the rush of …NOT adrenaline...but trepidation surging through the group instantaneously. But did we admit that most of us exercise by  sprawling out on our sofas? NOOO, ...it was our pride as we gave a resounding, "What a great idea!!"

So Tua de Langkawi had an official wave off into the paddy fields for a warm up. A significant start as the Tour de France originated primarily from a French field.  

   Then came the real deal up the puny hills, I had to get off and push my bike. Oh.. my weak pathetic lungs, my bronchioles had constricted and it was not becos of asthma. To add more pain to my already tormented body, the fit “yellow jersey tua” oldies breezed pass ringing their bells giving us the thumbs up. After many rests at the bus stops, coconut water quenchers by the road side stall

I struggled, staggered and collapsed onto the beach, thankfully not beneath my bike. A buffet picnic on “menkuang” (screwpine leaves) mats was laid out for us. 

Tour de France, a 3,500 km race over 23 days, Tua de Langkawi was gruelling, 30km in one morning. Mercy Me, even my helmet fell off.

Only your best friend will...

What do you do when you are "condemn" to social distancing, that you even have to keep away from the neighbours for fear of passing on or contracting the infamous Covid-19. Well, it is Day 8 of the MCO (Movement Control Order) in Malaysia, tempers are not frayed as yet, but when one cannot get to the pub to drink with friends or foe, one must make the best at home. 

Drinking with your Best Friend, the only one who will never abandon you, never betray you, rain or shine, MCO or other wise, he is always by your side. .
              The Samoyed who cannot DRINK with you, but He is always WITH you

Bored and Breaking Out

Oh My Goodness, this is a trial, I have stopped blogging for so long I can t remember how to do a post, not to mention I also forgot my email add and password. But with Malaysia on lock down, i am stuck for something better so here goes. If this post works, I am back to Sassy Jam the blogger