You know the feeling, when things are just chugging along, run of the mill, grind and grind. So I jumped at the invitation of my japanese housemate to visit his family in Kawagoe, Saitama and participate in their local Matsuri(festival) in October. I also needed some shopping done in Tokyo so the timing is perfect.
I also donned a traditional japanese matsuri outfit(Happi) and was allowed to be a part of the community in the festival. This is a great honor as outsiders, even other japanese are not allowed to join except bystanding.
Japan is really quite amazing, they have the fastest, sleekest, most efficient trains, but they still have paper posters in their subway. They have amazing futuristic architecture, but they also have countless traditional wooden buildings dating back to Edo. They have terribly advanced LTE communications yet a good number of the population still uses traditional clamshell keitais (mobiles) with dangling ornaments on them. They have gotten it right by balancing modern globalization and retaining the very essence of their culture and heritage. It is simply amazing how everyone cleans up after themselves, even sorting their trash by bottles, cans, plastics, paper.
It is very surreal for me to see a old looking train travelling side by side with a futuristic Shinkansen(bullet train) for a few seconds. I am coming from a country where the old gets bulldozed or loosely ‘preserved’.
I am also proud to say that Ive finally stayed in a traditional tatami home, so generously provided to us by my housemate’s family. This is not a commercial inn, but a real home. It is beautiful, terribly beautiful.
Please enjoy some select images from my trip. These images are from the Kawagoe Matsuri, and scenes of Shibuya, Shinjuku and Harajuku. Taken with the Fujifilm X10 Compact.
Chain link bracelets, with colorful threads woven through them, have been popping up here and there. It’s about time we graduate to the ultimate “grown-up” friendship bracelet. With a curb chain bracelet and some embroidery thread, let me show you how to make your own woven chain bracelet. And one for your bestie too, of course.
Cut 2 sets of 15 strands of embroidery thread, with each strand measuring four times the length of the bracelet. Knot the all the threads at the top, leaving about 2 inches of slack. Sandwich each set between a bobby pin – this will help you easily weave the threads through the links of the bracelet. Lay the threads to the left of the bracelet. Pull the first color (coral) from under the first link and over the top of the left side.
Lay the second color (blue) over the first color (coral). Pull the second color (blue) from under the same link and over the top left again. Repeat the steps, moving onto a new link: put the first color (coral) on top of the second color (blue) and pull it out from under the 2nd link and over the top left. Lay the second color (blue) on top of the first color (peach) and pull it out from under the 2nd link and over the top left again. Because the links of this particular bracelet are large, I wove the threads through twice on each link. If you are using a smaller linked bracelet, you should weave through each link once like this.
Repeat the steps until you reach the end of the bracelet. Finish it with a knot and trim the ends.
I saw a romantic (actually is old wives tale) reasoning for why wedding rings are worn on the 4th finger. This is some old Chinese story made up by some bo liao aunty years and years ago I guess.
- The thumb represents your Parents.
- The second (index) finger represents your Siblings.
- The middle finger represents you.
- The fourth (ring) finger represents your Life Partner.
- The last (little) finger represents your children.
Open your palms (face to face), bend the middle fingers and hold them together, knuckle to knuckle. This is you, and you know that you’ll always have your own back.
Then open and hold the remaining three fingers and the thumb – tip to tip.
Now, try to separate your thumbs (representing the parents). They will open, because your parents are not destined to live with you lifelong, and have to leave you sooner or later.
Join your thumbs as before and separate your index fingers (representing siblings). They will also open, because your brothers and sisters will have their own families and will have to lead their separate lives.
Now rejoin the index fingers and separate your little fingers (representing your children). They will open too, because the children also will get married and settle down on their own some day.
Finally, rejoin your little fingers, and try to separate your ring fingers (representing your spouse). You’ll be surprised to see that you just CANNOT, because husband & wife have to remain together all their lives – through thick and thin.
I tried this out for myself and lo and behold, I really couldn’t separate my ring fingers. The only way was to unjoin my pinkies and forcibly move my palms apart. Try it for yourself!
MyFatPocket is doing it again, ladies! This time round, they are giving away 6 luxury bags for us bag whores in just 3 simple steps!
MyFatPocket have also partnered 3 top fashion bloggers in Singapore for this year’s Luxury Bags Giveaway – ONESIXTYNOTEPAD, Miyake and BeautyFool. These 3 top bloggers chose 6 bags from Mulberry, Prada and Celine for you and your friend!
Plagiarism rules today, so my apologies to Sadat Osman for stealing your entire article off inSing.com.
(L) Kai Kai the male panda and (R) Jia Jia the female panda (Photo / Wildlife Reserves Singapore)
Ni hao. People tell me I look like I haven’t slept for 10 years.
That is about the period of time I will be spending in Singapore with my mate, Kai Kai.
Trust me, we sleep, and will be sleeping, quite a bit. So I have no idea what people are talking about when they say that. Especially those cosmetic companies who use the line to sell their products, saying things like, “Get rid of panda eyes.”
That’s not a desirable look for human beings, I suspect.
But look here, I am writing this to mark and record my maiden journey from my homeland to Singapore, so even if I look weird to you, don’t squeal it to my face first thing you see me. A girl can be thinking about such things for days, especially since I do like to pose in front of the camera.
We also don’t like squeals. Or noise. I know it is hard for you to believe. Except when we hear our keeper snapping bamboo for us.
I am not sure why people call us “adorable” or “cute” though. We are animals. Some days, when we feel like it, we whack things. We can be rough. That’s just the way we are. Looks are deceitful. Yes, even panda eyes.
What else do you want to know about us? I love to climb trees and have my lunch up high, enjoying the breeze. Kai Kai also likes to eat, and he is friendlier than I am. I can be quite reserved. He is also called “Onionhead” because he has a tuft of hair on his head that sticks out.
When I woke up one day, Kai Kai told me about our move. I had mixed feelings. I couldn’t believe it because it sounded exciting. But I was also afraid of the unknown, if we will be able to adjust to a foreign place. We will be, gulp, foreigners!
He was sweet enough to arrange a flight for us by Singapore Airlines. He knows I like the good stuff.
When I asked why we were going to Singapore, he explained to me that there are not many of us around anymore – there are fewer than 1,600 of giant pandas left in the wild – and the good people at the Wildlife Reserves Singapore want to ensure we thrive, and, erm, make babies. They are working to promote giant panda research and conservation with similar-minded people from the China Wildlife Conservation Association.
Before we boarded the Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-400 freighter at the Chengdu airport, our friends gave us an amazing farewell. I almost cried. They even loaded our cabin with 90kg of homegrown bamboo, as well as fruit and water to help us through the six-hour flight.
The adrenalin kicked in. When Kai Kai and I finally boarded the plane, I felt pan-tastic!
The best part was how comfy it was even in the crate. The cabin temperature was between 18 and 22°C, just like our natural habitat in Sichuan. A team of keepers and vets from both China and Singapore also kept us company on the flight. The Singapore keepers have been spending time with us for a couple of years now.
Singapore Airlines and SilkAir are also providing air tickets for training and exchange programmes involving zookeepers, veterinarians and researchers from both Singapore and China.
Our journey was so smooth because we were sitting in the most stable (middle) part of the plane. Kai Kai was asleep all the way, but I was eating my butt off.
I was also thinking about our new home, if it would be spacious. Space is a premium in Singapore, I heard. They said we would be in a “climate-controlled zone” in the River Safari near the zoo.
Why is it called the River Safari? I cannot wait to find out myself. From what I heard, it is because the area is designed to a river theme, so well-known rivers from around the world are featured in the landscape, such as Yangtze, Congo, Ganges, Mekong Mississippi, Murray and Nile.
Guess which “river” is next to my pad? If you guess right, Kai Kai may do some squats to strengthen his hind legs. He needs strong legs to mate with me. My mind wanders.
I hope our neighbours wouldn’t mind us. Based on unconfirmed reports of what people are like here, I am hoping they won’t complain that China nationals are noisy, dirty and take away their husbands, CPF savings, jobs, and Olympic medals.
Upon arrival at about 8.20am, we could see many people greeting us. You couldn’t see it but Kai Kai was blushing. Singaporeans were so happy to see us. We felt like rock stars.
There were cameras everywhere and people were watching us being moved around via live streaming on the River Safari website.
We left the airport in a special temperature-controlled truck. As we passed some locations, we saw miniature versions of Kai Kai and I. It was weird. They have plush toys, t-shirts and all kinds of merchandise. Who knows, we may get our own Facebook page.
If we are such celebrities, I really have to ask the River Safari management if they can let us keep a mirror under the rock. After our month-long quarantine, maybe.
Do I really look like I haven’t slept for 10 years?
Come check me out for yourself around December.
(Journey imagined by Sadat Osman, with information from Singapore Airlines and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.)
On another note, check out this video of Jia Jia & Kai Kai’s first view of Singapore. I admit to squee-ing at 1:18, that look is just so cute. It’s all panda-ish “Hmm? Eh?”.
Our $9000 Limited Edition Exclusive Prada Croco Bag Giveaway contest ended last Friday. And just now, a cute little homing pigeon flew by to send a piece of extraordinary news to me. My reaction to that message was:
#1. What You’re Wearing
Researchers tested a group of participants on their brainpower with something called a Stroop test. The only difference between them was that half of them were dressed in a lab coat when they took the test. The results? Those wearing the lab coats only made half the mistakes of those who didn’t wear the coats.
Just to make sure this wasn’t some insane fluke, they made another test, where participants had to find the differences between similar pictures. Some of the participants wore lab coats, but some of them were told they were actually wearing painters’ coats. Again, they found that those who were wearing the lab coats scored significantly higher, even than those who were wearing the same thing but were told they were for painters. What the hell?
The researchers believe that wearing a lab coat simply makes us feel smarter, and as other psychologists have found, simply believing you’re smarter actually makes you smarter.
#2. Being in a Terrible Mood
Everyone prefers to go to work and come home feeling happy. It’s just not always achievable, and indeed, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys your job that much, then you’ll find that most people just want to cut you. But hold it right there, Smiles McHappyWorker — the Negative Nancy in your office is head and shoulders over you intellectually.
In one, Australian researcher Joe Forgas found that “angst and sadness promote ‘information-processing strategies best suited to dealing with more-demanding situations’.” Forgas made participants watch short films about death and cancer, inducing a melancholy mood, and found that those subjected to the depressing short films made fewer arithmetic mistakes and had better judgment in general — they were better at recalling past events and judging the accuracy of rumors, and became less likely to judge strangers.
Then another study from the Columbia Business School found that the act of frowning makes you more attentive and detail-oriented, thus helping you avoid your gut reaction when what you really need to do is think. Researchers had participants in the study give speeches about their dream jobs, and had listeners respond either positively, nodding and smiling, or negatively, shaking their head and frowning. They were then told to record their mood afterward and create a collage. Obviously, the participants who just had to endure a cruel session of harsh judgment as stony-faced scientists stomped on their dreams reported being in a worse mood afterward. These same participants, however, became more focused on their collage, and thus churned out better, more creative work. We just think better when we’re miserable.
Researchers at the University of Amsterdam have actually discovered that the nicotine found in cigarettes enhances both learning and memory. Since learning and memory are key areas of loss in Alzheimer’s patients, researchers tested nicotine patches on elderly people with Alzheimer’s, and found that after regular doses, they were two times faster and significantly more consistent at answering memory-based questions than the control group.
The researchers found that the nicotine was able to do this by improving communication among the learning centers in the brain. But, chances are that, if you still remember the beginning of this sentence, you probably don’t have Alzheimer’s. So this doesn’t apply to regular people, right?
Well, good news! Researchers pumped nicotine into adolescent mice, then tested them on spatial learning and memory later in their adult life and found that those who had received small, steady levels of nicotine learned faster and performed significantly better – months later.
Long time no blog~ the Crew has been extremely busy these few weeks.. anyway, I saw this on my Facebook wall today and thought I’ll share this interesting picture. Now you’ll know what to eat/not eat to reduce those pesky spots!
1 & 2: Digestive System — Eat less processed or junk food, reduce the amount of fat in your diet, step up water intake and opt for cooling things like cucumbers.
3: Liver — Cut out the alcohol, greasy food and dairy. This is the zone where food allergies also show up first, so take a look at your ingredients. Besides all this, do 30 minutes of light exercise every day and get adequate sleep so your liver can rest.
4 & 5: Kidneys — Anything around the eyes (including dark circles) point to dehydration. Drink up!
6: Heart — Check your blood pressure (mine was slightly high) and Vitamin B levels. Decrease the intake of spicy or pungent food, cut down on meat and get more fresh air. Besides this, look into ways to lower cholesterol, like replacing “bad fats” with “good fats” such as Omegas 3 and 6 found in nuts, avocados, fish and flax seed. Also, since this area is chock-full of dilated pores, check that your makeup is not past its expiry date or is skin-clogging.
7 & 8: Kidneys — Again, drink up! And cut down on aerated drinks, coffee and alcohol as these will cause further dehydration.
9 & 10: Respiratory system — Do you smoke? Have allergies? This is your problem area for both. If neither of these is the issue, don’t let your body overheat, eat more cooling foods, cut down on sugar and get more fresh air. Also keep the body more alkaline by avoiding foods that make the body acidic (meat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, sugar) and adding more alkalizing foods like green veggies and wheatgrass juice. Another thing that most of forget – dirty cell phones and pillow cases are two of the top acne culprits and this area is what they affect the most!
11 & 12: Hormones — This is the signature zone for stress and hormonal changes. And while both are sometimes unavoidable, you can decrease their effect by getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water, eating leafy veggies and keeping skin scrupulously clean. Another interesting point: breakouts in this area indicate when you are ovulating (and on which side).
13: Stomach — Step up the fibre intake, reduce the toxin overload and drink herbal teas to help with digestion.
14: Illness — Zits here can be a sign that your body is fighting bacteria to avoid illness. Give it a break, take a yoga class, take a nap, take time to breathe deeply, drink plenty of water and know that everything always works out!
LONDON (Reuters) – Sitting in front of a computer or TV screen late into the night or leaving it on when you fall asleep could increase your chances of becoming depressed, according to a study by U.S. scientists.
The study, by a team of neuroscientists at Ohio State University Medical Center partly funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, will give screen-addicted night owls pause for thought.
The researchers – who exposed hamsters to dim light at night and picked up changes in behavior and the brain that bore striking similarities to symptoms in depressed people – said a surge in exposure to artificial light at night in the last 50 years had coincided with rising rates of depression, particularly among women, who are twice as prone as men.
“The results we found in hamsters are consistent with what we know about depression in humans,” said Tracy Bedrosian, who led the study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
Although exposure to night-time light has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and obesity, the relationship with mood disorders is poorly understood.
The hamsters involved in the experiment were exposed for four weeks to dim light at night – equivalent to a television screen in a darkened room – and the results compared to a control group exposed to a normal light-dark cycle.
The experimental group was then moved back onto a normal cycle for one, two or four weeks before they were tested.
The results showed they were less active and had a lower than usual interest in drinking sugar water – both symptoms are comparable to signs of depression in people.
The similarity extended to their biological make-up. The researchers found changes in the hippocampus – a part of the brain – that were consistent with people suffering depression.
The hamsters exposed to dim light at night were also shown to produce more of a protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a chemical messenger that is mobilized when the body is injured or infected and causes inflammation in its efforts to repair the damage.
“Researchers have found a strong association in people between chronic inflammation and depression,” said Randy Nelson, who also worked on the study. “That’s why it is very significant that we found this relationship between dim light at night and increased expression of TNF.”
The scientists found that blocking the effects of TNF with a drug prevented signs of depression in the hamsters, though some other indicators in the structure of the brain were unaffected.
For instance, hamsters that were exposed to dim light at night still showed a much reduced density of dendritic spines – hairlike growths on brain cells that are used to send chemical messages from one cell to another.
The overall symptoms of depression were reversible, the researchers said. Those hamsters returned to a normal light-dark cycle saw both their TNF levels and the density of their dendritic spines return to normal after about two weeks.
“The good news is that people who stay up late in front of the television and computer may be able to undo some of the harmful effects just by going back to a regular light-dark cycle and minimizing their exposure to artificial light at night,” Bedrosian said.