Sound of the West Side Music

September 24, 2008 at 10:50 am | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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Ok, here’s another lobang for free movie! This coming Friday 26 Sep and Saturday 27 Sep, there will be another session of movies Under the Banyan Tree by the National Museum.

Also see related posts:
> Come Drink…and Laugh with Me
> Singing in the Rain Under the Banyan Tree

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Attaining Immortality – Body Preservation

September 23, 2008 at 12:14 am | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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Words of Caution (again..): The following post contains highly graphical imageries not suitable for those squeamish person….read at your own risk…. 8)

Just when I thought being able to hold a huge millipede and the largest cockroach was already quite something for me, what came next was totally unexpected…

Besides the many live specimens of creepy crawlies that we had to handle at the volunteer programme that Itchyfingers joined, we had to help prepare specimen of the dead ones too! Wow! I had seen insect specimens at museums and shops, photographed them and even owned one souvenir keychain with a mini scorpion specimen cast in resin, which I discarded later cos I thought it was a bit gross to keep. :p But to preserve an insect myself…! Totally unexpected!

We entered the room and on the table there was one small box of dead insects in individual plastic bags, all still damp after being thawed. There were big and small insects: a few beetles, a scorpion, butterflies and the hissing cockroaches! We were told to choose one dead insect each. Everyone hesitated for a moment before the lady in charge ‘reminded’ us to start choosing before we were left with no choice but to take the cockroaches…Wow! Immediately people started taking her ‘offer’…:p

For some unknown reason, I found myself immediately raising up my hand when the lady picked up this insect and asked anyone wanted it…

I think I kinda regretted it after taking it…looking at the size….:O


A Junge Nymph…a kinda stick insect


It was bigger than my hand!

After everyone had chosen an insect, the lady did a demo with a beetle. Eeeee….I was getting a bit sqeamish looking at it and gosh! the smell was not very pleasant either! I was so busy switching my camera between still picture and video mode that when she finished and told us to start cutting our insects, I was a bit lost at where to start…!

Luckily, I had grabbed a fellow volunteer earlier who was also feeling a bit grossed out to “share” the huge insect. Still, It took us a while to decide who would be making the cut…:O


Gosh! This thing certainly looked menacing! Look at the spiky thorns!
These were supposed to minic thorny vegetation

Ok, enough of being courteous…or as they always said, “ladies first”. Looking at my fellow male volunteer, who didn’t even dare to sit down to be close to the insect, I took a deep breathe…Ok!! Tisu Girl shall do it! :O


Flipped it over!

It looked as if it was struggling, shouting for help….if only it was alive…


Eeeek! The mouth part looked so strange!

Ok, I took over the scalpel. “Er, cut where?”

“Just cut vertically”, my fellow volunteer replied ‘helpfully’…

I had a nasty injury on my thumb that morning. So clumsily, I made a gently cut. Nothing happen. Thought a scalpel is supposed to be so sharp that it could cut through easily…..I tried again, this time with a little bit more force…and then passed the scalpel to my fellow volunteer to cut horizontally so as to create a flap to empty the stuff inside…


See! A big guy staying on his foot so as not to get too close for comfort
with the insect, nevermind that it was dead and won’t bite back! Aiyo!

Ok, I survived the cutting part, which was not so bad. The next thing that almost took our breathe away was the smell! I couldn’t really describe the smell, but it was certainly quite horrible! And we were not the only ones cutting insects. There were at least six more volunteers sitting in the room cutting different kinds of insects of different sizes! It was so bad that the lady in charge had to spray air refresher a few times throughout the session!

Next come the cleaning of the insect. Using whatever limited and unsuitable tools left, we had to scoop and dig out the guts and whatever sh*t inside so that it would not rot and destroy the finished specimen. I sweared it was really gross having to do this part! And since our insect was such a HUGE one, it was like digging never ending! The stuff inside were mostly creamy colour, so I couldn’t help feeling it was like some kind of food people eat that were wrapped in maybe banana leaf or even crabs, where you had to scrap every bit of the content to savour it! Wow! Gross!


Nothing really suitable for digging and scooping the gross stuff effectively…

Then while we were taking turns digging and complaining why was it so tough to clear the stuff, suddenly I dug out something dark in colour. “Eeee, what’s this???” I exclaimed…and I dug out one, two, three…oh goodness…! What were these??? :O


“Eggs!”

I dun remember who said that. Eeeee! Yeeeks! She still had eggs in her body!


Wow lao! Si bay suay leh! Dunnu why I so itchy fingers chose this
Jungle Nymph to cut!

My fellow volunteers across the room sent me their utmost sincere sympathy… 😮


More eggs…:O

Hearing our ‘misfortune’, my fellow senior volunteer came to give us a helping hand. He took over the half emptied (or so we thought…) insect and skilfully dug really deep inside towards the thorax. When he took it out, me and my fellow volunteer looked at each other, totally wide eyed….I wanted to puke…:O


Eeee…dunnu what was this! Looked like some organ thingy…

Arrrgh…! No choice lor! Already started had to finish it off! So grumpily, the two of us took turns again to continue digging, scooping, pulling and checking if there were anymore gross stuff left to clean…The other folks were already starting to pin down their insects…

When we were quite sure that what could be cleaned was done and with confirmation from the lady in charge, we took some cotton wool to clean and then stuff into the body before injecting some formalin to preserve it. To conceal the cut, we had to glue it carefully. Next, we had to use hairdryer to dry it since we couldn’t afford the time to sun dry it.


Ha! My fellow volunteer finally handled the insect with his hands!
Looked like voodoo doll hor? :p

I took a break while he tried pinning the fella down, to kay poh around the room on how was everyone else doing. Wow, not bad leh!


Wow! Can open up wings! Wow, how come we din get to use gloves…?
Less gross….


The male Rhinoceros Beetle


Another Rhinoceros Beetle without opening up the wings


The only scorpion available that day


An incomplete specimen of a Dragon headed Katydid

So after spying around, I went back and told my fellow volunteer that we should try to open up our Jungle Nymph’s small wings. Being Itchyfingers, I tried to make the antennae neater without thinking that it was already dry and stiff and hor, ended up breaking it! :O


Two greenhorns in green tees frantically trying to stick back the broken
antenna of a green fella…


Done!


Yeah! I did this!

Actually we had to sun dry the specimen for few days to make sure they were completely dried up before putting up for display. But no one wanted to bring them home to do it except one senior volunteer who drove. Imagine bringing the huge nymph home….! Think my mother would start screaming…:O


Some of our prized collection…haha…someone actually did the hissing
cockroaches! :O

Here’s a video of the Jungle Nymph. I think I prefer it alive…hahah…:D

Also see related posts:
> Touch No Evil
> Invasion of the Creepy Crawlies
> Sleepless in Siam – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #2

Touch No Evil…

September 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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A lot of people have some inborn fear, phobia or even hatred for the creepy crawlies, especially those which are considered pests in our homes, the most notorious being the cockroaches. I too, have such fear for cockroaches. They are dirty and look disgusting with hairy legs and two antennae sticking out, constantly fiddling around…and when they fly….eeeeek! You dunnu whether they are gonna land on your face or not! The thought of them turns me off! :O

But come to think of it, why are human so afraid of something so much smaller in size? It just doesn’t make sense…hahaha…The hate or dislike for them is quite understandable though, cos many carry diseases and some are even venomous.

As a nature lover, generally I do not detest these creepy crawlies (other than cockroaches!) cos some of them are actually quite beautiful to look at. :p

At a recent volunteer programme that Itchyfingers joined, I had the chance to have a closer contact with some of these creatures. How close leh ? To help overcome our fear of these creepy crawlies, we were asked to hold them in our hands. :O Well, it also gave us a chance to better observe these guys up close and personal…

Most of us had no problem handling or at least taking over the stick insect from another person’s hand, probably cos it is not something portrayed as fearsome or threatening. For me, I find them so amazing, having encountered them about three times in the wild. They are so well camouflaged among the twigs and you really have to be lucky and sharp-eyed in order to spot them! 😀

The caterpillar of the Common Tree Nymph butterfly was another crawlies we had to handle. These guys have long and pointed spike like things on the body that look very menacing but in actual fact they are not poisonous. The black and white stripes merely advertise to potential predators that they do not taste very good.


Hee…he’s actually very soft to touch! Matches my shirt too!

Other crawlies that we had a chance to touch or hold include this one: it is always thought that they have milllion legs but in actual fact each of these guys have about less than 700 legs. If you have the time and patience, you can count the number of segments on its body, as each segment carries two pairs of legs. Yes…you guessed it….it’s the MILLIPEDE! :O


Arrrgh! I actually let it crawl on the back of my hand…feels itchy with
so many legs crawling around…

Millipedes will roll up into a ball when threatened to protect their soft legs. With so many of us taking turns holding it, I think it got fed up and decided to give us some present! When they are continuously disturbed, they will secrete a foul and poisonous substance called the Cyanide through pores on the side of their body. A small amount is not harmful to the human though, but we had to wash away the yellow stain. :p It is best not to handle a millepede next time you see it in the wild, cos some people may be allergic to it!

Ok, I thought it was quite an achievement for me to handle a millipede liao. But what came next was even worse! When we were shown and told to handle these, everyone, including the guys, ran to the back of the queue, trying to escape! So what was it that had such a great effect on everyone??

It’s the COCKROACH! :O (HELLLLLLLLP!!!!!!)

Ok, it’s not the usual American Cockroach or German Cockroach commonly found in our urban dwellings. It is supposed to be a “clean” cockroach, cos it feeds on dead leaves in the forests of Madagascar. But hor, it is still a COCKROACH! And it is the largest cockroach some more! :O

The fact that the whole glass tank was filled with these Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches reminded me of Fear Factors. It was really funny to see the expression of everyone. No one wanted to be the first to hold one…The senior volunteers had to resort to coaxing and persuading, showing us the ‘proper’ way of holding. “Just imagine you are holding a hash brown.” My goodness! Eventually one brave guy plunged the courage and took one in his hand! :O But he threw it back almost immediately! Hahaha….Then there were people who needed to stare very hard at the tank ‘choosing’ the most inactive and “senile” ones to hold. In the meantime, another lady managed to grab one! Then another guy also succeeded and decided to pass it around to people who couldn’t bear to catch one themselves. By this time my legs were shaking and felt so grossed out cos whether it’s clean or not, the fact that the name has a ‘Cockroach’ in it is really scary and disgusting! I wondered how my two female friends could keep these as PETS! So disgusted at the thought of cockroaches as pets that whenever I saw them I would always ask if the roaches were dead liao or not! Hahaha….and now….I was asked to grab them! Eeeeee!

After some dilly-dally, I finally gave in to the ‘kind offer’ of putting one of the hissing guys onto my palm! I wanted to throw it away but my fellow volunteer wanted to take a picture. Arrrrggggh! Hurry Up!



I can’t believe I actually did this! :O Someone help me!!!!! :O People
behind me were still trying hard to grab one! 

Think I washed my hand really clean that day….

What an ordeal! :O

Also see related posts:
> Invasion of the Creepy Crawlies 
> Sleepless in Siam – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #2 

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