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Showing posts from May, 2013

Top 10 road signs/billboards/posters that caught my attention

I tend to notice weird posters, billboards, and road signs while I'm stuck in traffic or in a long queue while waiting for public transportation. Here's my top 10 signs/ posters/ billboards (so far), in no particular order (and what I was thinking when I saw them):
1. "Accident-prone tunnel up ahead."
I was driving back to Laguna along C-5 Road when I saw this sign at the approach to the C-5/ Col. Boni Serrano underpass in Quezon City. As I passed the sign in slow traffic, I thought, "Poor tunnel. It must have gone through a lot of injuries because it's accident-prone." 2. "Slow down race ahead."  As vehicles were being signaled to stop right in front of a grade school along the national highway in Brgy Lalakay, Los Banos, Laguna, I thought that there was a real race going on along this stretch of road. Weird; nobody in his or her right mind would run in that heat on a national highway at that hour. But as the words of the sign sunk in, I gre…

back in the road race: the 2013 Nat Geo Run!!

After several years of waiting until my foot was in any shape for running, I was finally ready for my first road race after physiotherapy: National Geographic's 2013 Earth Day Run (April 28). This came a week after my first off-road race post-therapy (IFSA's Harvest Run). I was so excited! I was a bit nervous too because this was the first time I'd run without a friend in the same run category (Man was running 10k, I was going for 5k).
The route for this year's Earth Day run was a bit tougher than the last 5k I did at the venue: the Bonifacio Global City. Or, perhaps, there were a lot more buildings now so the terrain must have changed a lot... and I didn't recognize the area anymore.

Given that this was my first road run after a long time, I was just happy that I was able to finish it without getting overheated and without getting chills. My cousin, Kuya Rico, had sent over several shirts designed for running in hot conditions while I was still in therapy. The…

pitstop at IFEX Philippines

Late afternoon yesterday, I found myself walking in the cavernous exhibition hall of the SMX Convention Center as a visitor at the 2013 International Food Exhibition Philippines. It was an opportunity for local producers to be exposed to the international market. At the same time, it was a chance for other countries to showcase their food products to current and potential Filipino audiences.

The ~9000 sq.m. hall hosted quite a number of booths, with native ingredients from different regions of the Philippines on display. While browsing through the products, I realized that many of the booths were selling organic colored rice, chocolate tablets, coconut products, seafood, cured meats, and coffee products.
I was particularly curious about the rice grains. I haven't heard of many of the trade names... Among the labels I've encountered were Jasmine Gold, Sampaguita Gold, Black Rice, Heirloom Rice, and (the most intriguing name of all, for me) Rambo Rice. Then there were portmant…

birds of different feathers flock together

... in IRRI's rice fields.

I have a limited awareness about birds. I am familiar with those that are pets, those that are grown for human consumption, those that hunt for other animals, and those that I see normally on electric posts. A very limited list compared to what's out there in the wild. Plus, I'd like to know what the bird that I met up close in a rice paddy is called.
A lot of reasons for me to catch the "Feathers in the Fields: The Birds of IRRI" photo exhibit at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
I was amazed to see that a rice field can host a diverse set of birds. There were some species that consume rice grains (hence the scarecrow was invented and why birdboys earn their keep). But there were a lot more that ate the snails, the frogs, the snakes, and other animals that call the rice paddy their home. With these animals forming part of the food web, the biologist in me started looking for at least a photo of a bird of prey... more sp…

Ambassadors' Day, marketplace-style

Five minutes. That's all the time we were given to show each group of visitors at IRRI's Ambassadors' Day the highlights of our research...
There were eight exhibits and if people stayed too long in one, they might miss out on other research highlights. So, to make sure that everyone got to see everything, the visitors were grouped into eight and "tour guides" stopped them at each of the eight stations... somewhat akin to the "move-system" exam that I used to take back in high school and in college. 

Given the time limit and the rice quality exhibits that we had to show, the team I was in (including Ana, Lenie, Irene, Cindy, and Crystal) was forced to keep our discussions and rice tasting at five minutes. Dr Bruce Tolentino acted as time keeper; he rang a bell when it was time for the visitors to move to the next exhibit. To stay within the time limit required knowing the story we were telling forwards and backwards and only saying the essentials. …

Dr Bob Zeigler showed us how to communicate with non-scientists

On May 3, IRRI welcomed ambassadors and consuls (or their representatives), members of the Los Banos community and of government offices during the Ambassadors' Day. Aside from the indoor exhibits (which included my group), the visitors were also shown the farm where the field experiments were being conducted.

Dr Bob Zeigler, IRRI's Director General, set the tone on how we, the exhibitors, should communicate to these visitors by opening the event with a presentation. Despite talking science, he largely avoided the use of technical jargon. And he talked with the gravitas of a person who leads one of the most important scientific endeavors in the world.
During Dr Zeigler's presentation, he said that the environment is changing (as shown by rising seawater levels, increasingly warmer temperatures, and more occurrences of extreme weather), the fields used to produce rice is shrinking, AND the rice-consuming population is growing. IRRI is contributing science and technology to…

And the countdown begins...

There are days when scientists work like bees in the laboratory and there are times when they show off the fruits of their work to visitors of the International Rice Research Institute. I've never been behind the scenes of the preparations stages so for one such event, this year's Ambassadors' Day, I was really stoked to be part of the exhibit team. Activities like this keep my creative juices flowing specially when faced with the challenge of explaining science to non-scientists.
During the prep stage, I noticed that there wasn't a lot of documentation. So I thought it might be a good idea to take photos as we went along. Here we go...
Friday, April 12
T - 21:05:30
This was a day of firsts (for me). The exhibitors met for the first time to learn the details about the event that were going to participate in and to start thinking about what we were supposed to present, and how.

As embarrassing as it may sound, this also was the first time that I've been inside the B…