In brief...

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
My interests vary from conservation to education to heritage to Nature (biodiversity & wildlife) to outdoor activities to life in general.
They occupy most of my waking moment.
Do read my blogs, follow me on Twitter (@jocelynesze) and friend me on Facebook (subject to my discretion). Visit my Nature blog, Nature Rambles, at http://natureramble.wordpress.com.

UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit jocelynesze.wordpress.com if you're interested in more recent writing.

Friday, June 24, 2016

This world we live in.

I've always been rather pleased I ended up doing my undergraduate degree in the UK than the US. Every time reports of mass shootings and ridiculous politics in the US filtered through my newsfeed, it made me glad I was in a country which seemed rather more sensible. Where the people I met in the countryside (when I went for hikes/field trips) were so nice and welcoming, rather than backward and xenophobic. No longer, I guess.

I always thought I was quite moderate in my views, quite in tandem with most people. Only on my Facebook/Twitter I guess; nothing I ever voted for won, my views clearly don't reflect the majority.

It's honestly quite scary and alarming to be living in this world, where people can inflict so much pain and suffering and misery on others, whether directly or indirectly, individually or en masse. Maybe I've just been reading too many negative news articles - child abuse, sexual assaults, discrimination against LGBT+/the mentally ill, racist or xenophobic comments. Coral bleaching, deforestation, murders of environmental activists, wildlife abuse.

None of it is new, or exclusive to this age we live in. People being horrible to each other and to the environment have been going on since the emergence of human kind. We have progressed since then, with the outlaw of slavery, the improvement of human and animal rights. Still though, we'll never get rid of xenophobia will we. There'll always be an 'us' vs 'them', 'fellow countrymen' vs 'outsiders'/'foreigners'/'aliens'. Cos we all want to feel like we belong somewhere, something exclusive and private. 'Global citizens', 'the world is my oyster', 'the world is my home' etc, they're just catch phrases for a small group of (usually privileged) individuals who are able to move around, or perhaps cannot settle down.

I need to surround myself with more positivity and hope. Happy fluffy animals, cute chubby kids, and (seemingly rare) acts of kindness and love are about all that make me smile now.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

In or Out.

Today the UK holds its third referendum - whether to remain in the EU, or to leave. There's been much hype about it over the past few months, especially in the last few weeks. And because Brits once claimed Singapore as their own, as a current resident in their country now, I get to vote too. It's (probably) going to be my last vote here in the UK, and it's such an important vote too. Most people usually hope that their vote wins, but I'm usually not too fussed about the results - after all, politicians come and go, parties stay in power for a term of four or five years, not that much changes. This time though, I really really hope the UK votes to remain. As do most people of my demographic. Can't really be bothered going into detail about UK politics. I'm just rather pleased about being able to exercise my postcolonial rights.

Monday, June 13, 2016

ups and downs; bits and bobs.

Too many shootings and rapes/sexual assaults recently. Then again, it happens all the time, everywhere, usually unnoticed. And war, and terrorist attacks, and all sorts of human unhappiness and misery. It is overwhelming, and I often feel reduced to despair after reading articles like this. I simply cannot understand how the human capacity to love and empathise comes with the human capacity to hate and cause such destruction and suffering. (Well I do get it, that 'only in darkness does light shine'. But still.)

And it's not human destruction, but environmental destruction too.


My project is on deforestation, but I spend hours just sitting at my desk, reading up on (spatial) statistical models, their differences and assumptions. And I feel like I'm not doing enough, I'm not doing anything. And I think, maybe I should. Maybe a PhD isn't for me, maybe I should go join Greenpeace or some other activist group.

I've asked some friends about their experience doing PhDs, and one of them warned about depression. And I can see why; thoughts can run so wild, and emotions are so difficult to control.


Anyway, some photos of when I'm not project-ing.
Cecil Street, near Leicester Square, with lots of antique bookshops
One nice sunny day and everyone's out, at Gordon Square Garden opposite UCL

Field of poppies in Silwood Park :) 
Not too bad an attempt at a leopard?
Not too bad an attempt at a golden-headed lion tamarin?

Blanching vegetables to freeze them so they keep longer
Courgette pesto pasta bake
Attempt at 铁板豆腐 (hotplate tofu), using Quorn mince
Sushi :) Found inari at Japan Centre. With tamagoyaki, avocado, and cucumber filling

Monday, June 06, 2016

First aid course and helplessness.

I realised at the end of a two-day outdoors/field work first aid course that I just attended this weekend, that a huge motivation for doing what I do is disliking the feeling of being helpless. I always try to learn new skills, especially technical outdoor skills, mainly because I don't ever want to be in a situation where I don't know what to do. In part, perhaps because I don't trust the people I'm with to be able to get things done, but also because I don't want to have to rely on others all the time. Not if my life depends on it, not if it means I'll be restricted in what I can/cannot do. Having been 'trained' (read: gone out with friends who are instructors and learned as much as possible from them) in rope work means I can go outdoors to climb and am quite happy and comfortable bringing other people with less experience out. Instead of having to wait for someone with more experience than me (which can be strangely rare, though I'm not even certified or properly trained) to take me out.

The first aid course was immensely useful. I think I'm fairly well-trained in first aid (though any certification I had expired long ago), to the point that I always have a personal first aid kit when I go outdoors/travel (and I don't get why people don't usually have this). Nonetheless, there is plenty that I had forgotten, or never really knew. And I realised while we were practising scenarios, that though I thought my first aid skills were quite up to par, when you're actually faced with a proper crisis (not just a sprain while walking on the English hills), with blood gushing out and a panicking casualty, it's really difficult to think properly and get the necessary information out to make a proper assessment of the issue. I'm really hoping I never come across situations where I'd have to employ these skills.

Attending a first aid course (even a most basic one) should be necessary for everyone, I think. And if you go outdoors at all, an outdoors first aid course really ought to be mandatory. The people that get me most are those who overestimate their abilities, whether due to arrogance/pride/ignorance/lack of preparation, and inadvertently put themselves at more risk than is necessary.

Not knowing what to do is a most debilitating feeling I think. I suppose that's why I try to keep myself busy usually, so I don't get myself into situations where I don't know what to do too often. Being in Silwood, that has been rather difficult to achieve, but I'm making it up with improving my cooking/baking skills, and possibly drawing too.