May 25th, 2006

krazy koati

And I'm shrinking -- last week I was five foot four

Singapore's National Environment Agency -- partly cooperating with the Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Arts, and more ministries -- has thoughtfully begun sending out informational packets explaining that I may expect any day now to die of a horrible disease. It's coincidental, I suppose, that both arrived within days of the other. They're warning about the hazards of avian flu on the one hand (or wing), and of dengue fever on the other. Avian flu is pretty well-discussed the world over. Dengue fever is a more local concern, as a disease spread by mosquitoes which has been on the rise the past few years. Death is that same old thing.

For avian flu they sent out a booklet, about a hundred pages divided into English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil sections, with helpfully labelled sections like ``What is flu, what is bird flu, and what is a flu pandemic?'', ``How is Singapore preparing for a flu pandemic?'', and ``What impact would a flu pandemic have on live in Singapore?'' They admit a pandemic ``is likely to affect many areas of life in Singapore.'' Possible side effects include ``many workers putting in fewer work days'', ``the number of customers may fall, especially for businesses in the service sector,'' that ``schools, kindergartens, childcare centres, and special schools may need to be closed to minimise such infections'', and due to illness and absenteeism, possibly ``longer waiting times for buses and trains.''

The dengue fever packet is slimmer, with a four-page pamphlet (in four languages) inviting people to be watchful against dengue. It also has a cardboard stock page explaining anti-dengue measures; since dengue is spread by mosquitoes, this amounts to making life less pleasant for mosquitoes -- changing water in vases and emptying flowerpots on alternate days, turning over water storage containers, clearing blocked gutters and covering bamboo pole holders when they're not being used. It also has a small paper pad with the slogan, ``Do the 10-minute Mozzie Wipe-out everyday,'' with pictures of the anti-mosquito measures. It definitely makes dengue look like the more fun disease to avoid. It comes with a comment card, too, offering cash prizes to those who are lucky in draws. No free iPods, though.

Trivia: Eight attempts were needed before the Skylab 2/1's Command Module successfully docked with Skylab, which thus extended Pete Conrad, Joseph Kerwin, and Paul Weitz's first flight work day to 22 hours. Source: Skylab: A Chronology, Courtney G Brooks, Ivan D Ertel, Roland W Newkirk. NASA SP-4011.

Currently Reading: The Box, Marc Levinson.