We Now Return You to the Scheduled Static

on Monday, September 29, 2008

Dear Friends,

"We now return you to the scheduled static." is my way of saying that I need to take a break from blogging for about 2-3 weeks. There is just too many competing matters in my life right now and I need the time to deal with them.

I will still be around and will visit your blogs when I can. I hope to come back with fresh ideas for this blog too.

Now that is the mundane explanation for my coming absence but here in the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel, we try to banish the mundane. Therefore, the official press statement from the Realm is as follows........

"THE PEASANTS ARE REVOLTING!" There are unconfirmed reports from the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel that the unwashed masses are dissatisfied with the on-going nut credit crisis brought about by exposure to the U.S. Sub-prime crisis. Unlike the U.S. which is able to conjure and print up a batch of 700 billion dollars to help with the crisis, nuts only grow on trees and it will take a lot of squirrels many, many days to collect that many nuts.

When told that the peasants are revolting, the High Lord All Exalted King of the Realm replied, "They are indeed". When asked what he would do to address the situation, his Highness replied, "Giving them all a bath would be a good first step...........Oh, you mean the nut crisis! I am afraid that I will have to stop blogging for 2-3 weeks to marshal our nut harvesting efforts.

And so, farewwll and see you all at the other end of the three weeks.

The Hotel That Got Away

on Monday, September 22, 2008

It was 1994, I had been studying in Ottawa on a scholarship for more than 3 years. My stay in Canada was coming to an end and I saved up money so that my wife and I could enjoy one big Canadian travel adventure before we had to leave. My brother and his wife also was keen to visit Canada while we were there. So it was agreed that we would meet in Vancouver and drive through the Canadian Rockies to Banff and then on to Calgary.

While I was definitely excited about this and sharing the car rental helped a lot to stretch my limited resources, choosing accommodation became a problem. My brother and his wife were accustomed to a better quality or level of accommodation whereas I was more concerned about the costs.

As the date neared, I desperately scoured the Internet for information on the best deals for accommodation. In Vancouver, I narrowed it down to two places. The first was Sylvia Hotel. It seemed too good to be true. From the pictures, it looked like it had a lot of character and the price was incredibly reasonable. I could not believe the price and I suspected a con job. Back then, the web pages were not as interactive as today's travel pages and more importantly it did not have comments from previous customers. If we had that, I am sure we would have gone for it.

Instead, I delayed making a decision and lost the rooms. I eventually chose a place called Shatto Inn which was a bargain and near Stanley Park but it was not Sylvia Inn. When we finally arrived in Vancouver and saw Sylvia Hotel for ourselves, we could find nothing wrong with the place. It would become, in our family lore, the great hotel that got away.

A funny side-story was that I spoke to my brother on the telephone and told him to make his way to Shatto Inn when he arrived as our flight would arrive some 6 hours later. He thought he heard "Chateau Inn" which conjured up some thoughts of a rather opulent establishment and was therefore a little taken aback when the taxi took him to Shatto Inn - a three star rather than five star establishment.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, A Majority of Two, posted about the Sylvia Hotel and talked about the hotel in detail, even about a cat called Mister Got to Go. Please follow the link to read more about it. At that time, I mentioned that there was a song by Cheryl Wheeler about the Hotel and the cat is even mentioned.

Here is the only version I could find which is a cover version by a German fan who actually got to stay at the hotel. She heard the song first and was determined to see the hotel whereas, the squirrel never got to stay at the hotel but got to hear the song. Be warned that it is a soppy, sad, emotional type song and that it gets more interesting after the cat appears. Enjoy.

Unburied Nuts from 11th May 2007 : Anxiety Attack or Psycho 101

on Saturday, September 20, 2008

Squirrels often bury their nuts and when needed unearth them once again for consumption. On that flimsy excuse, I occasionally re-post something from the earlier stages of this blog which I think deserves a second chance in the limelight. It seems like the right thing to do again this lazy Saturday afternoon. Hope you will enjoy this.


I just wanted to get a post out tonight. Yet when I came to the keyboard, I could not decide what to write about. I had so many ideas and yet none seemed right for the moment. I soon realised that I was suffering from an anxiety attack. I wanted so much to post something and to make sure it was an awesome post that in the end I am paralysed with indecision. This form of anxiety is known as performance anxiety. In my opinion, this tends to affect men more than women. Worse, women have no sympathy at all for male sufferers.

If you think that performance anxiety is just the whimperings and imaginations of a weak mind, you should try and pee at this lavoratory pictured below. Women are very often the cause of this form of anxiety.

Anxiety is often linked to paranoia; the mistaken belief that everyone is in a conspiracy to get you. Again, to those who are free of such ailments, paranoia anxiety seems so silly. What makes you think that you are so special that everybody even notices you, let alone conspire against you? However, if you have paranoia anxiety, you see evidence for this conspiracy everywhere. I noticed this advert recently. Being ethnic Chinese, I had to wonder why 30 Chinamen (and a zeppelin) was needed. Should I take offence, be worried? I am all of that but I am also very curious on how this practical joke will work.

Finally, anxieties tend to make me seek comfort in eating. Paradoxically, this can lead to its own set of problems in the form of food or diet anxieties. I worry and therefore I eat. But I eat so much that I worry. However, it is really, really bad if others worry about what you eat too.

Squirrels need to take care of their anxieties cause they already spend too much time with nuts.

Wise Sayings.........Not!

on Tuesday, September 16, 2008

As you would have learnt from my last post, I recently had one of those astronomical anomalies called a birthday which continues to push me somewhere beyond teenager and closer to old geezer. As one grows old, one can either become wiser or one can become more cynical. I choose to be more cynical cause it is a lot harder work pretending to be wise.

So here for your reading pleasure is my cynical take on some famous wise sayings.

"The first step is always the hardest"
LGS says, "This is hard to believe after watching people try to complete marathons. Those last steps seem pretty difficult too."

"Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."
LGS says, "Just try to scratch my back and I'll have you up on sexual harassment charges."

"Make hay while the sun shines"
LGS says, "Make liquor at night and call it moonshine."

"There is no smoke without fire"
LGS says, "Then why does the smoke detector alarm go off sometimes even when there is no fire?"

"The early bird gets the worm"
LGS says, "And why would I want to get the worm? Eaughhh!"

"Many hands make light work."
LGS says, "Is this another way of asking how many politicians does it take to change a light bulb?"

"Give him an inch and he'll take a yard."
LGS says, "Maybe he gets confused between the metric and imperial systems. It happens."

"Two heads are better than one."
LGS says, "What strange world two-headed world do you live in?"

"Walls have ears."
LGS says, "So that's what they put into those WALLS sausages."

"What you don't know, can't hurt you."
LGS says, "Then why do they always ask you about those things in the exams?"

"You can't have your cake and eat it too."
LGS says, "Well, you certainly can't eat your cake if you don't have it! What is this all about?"

"There's a black sheep in every flock."
LGS says, "Isn't this an example of politically incorrect racial profiling?"

"Blood is thicker than water."
LGS says, "And maple syrup is thicker than blood. What is your point?"

Another Year Older

on Monday, September 15, 2008

September 13th has just come and gone. I was born on that date many years ago but for most years, it is not marked by anything out of the ordinary. My family was never really very big on celebrating birthdays for the kids although we were expected to remember the birthdays of our elders.

The family album would suggest that there was a celebration of sorts until I was about six. I would be dressed in some outlandish costume - one of the best was this cowboy outfit, there would be a present - the one I remember most would be a small pedal car and there would be lots of cake with candles. I really have little memory of my early childhood and certainly remember little of these early birthdays. The kid in the picture seems happy and smiling but I think, a little lonely. There were no other kids to play with at these celebrations - just photos with my mother and sister.

When I was 12 years old, my sister was allowed a big birthday party on her turning 18. As our birthdays are just 2 days apart, I was allowed to invite five friends and have a piggy-back party concurrently. I guess I was excited at the time but looking back it was not much of a party. It was held in the afternoon but apart from food, there was very little to do. There were no games or such. My sister's friends were happy sitting around and chatting girl talk. That was the only birthday party I had as a child.

Before starting the final year of university, I decided to go on a journey of self-discovery while traipsing across Europe. So at one time, I found myself somewhere in Brussels, Belgium. I was trying to register to spend the night at a Youth Hostel. I filled up the registration form rather mechanically as it was getting late and I was tired, dirty and smelly. The clerk took a look and handed the form back to me. He said, "I think you have made a mistake. You filled birthday as same day as registration."

I was slow to understand what he meant. I stared at the two dates and shook the cobwebs in my head and replied, "No mistake". It was his turn to look surprised but then it dawned on him that I was in fact checking in on my birthday....my 21st Birthday. "Happy Birthday" he chirped.

I was surprised. I had been traveling long enough to have lost the sense of time and I had forgotten that it was my 21st birthday. The 21st birthday is usually an important birthday to celebrate in my part of the world. In retrospect, I would have preferred celebrating it at a more congenial location. Nevertheless, I spent the evening having dinner with a Canadian student, a Welsh Parole officer and an Irish artist.

After I got married, my wife and I would celebrate each other's birthday but it too were usually low key affair in the form of a romantic dinner for two. This year though, my wife thought of throwing me a surprise party. She booked a cosy restaurant and was going to start sending invitations to close friends and church members but I kind of derailed her best laid plans by previously agreeing to emcee a dinner for young people from church at someone's home.

Well, in the end, myself, the host and two young people had to jointly celebrate our birthdays in September with two cakes. It was not what my wife had in mind but I did celebrate my birthday this year with a large crowd of friends and it will be one to remember.

The World is a Funny Place

on Friday, September 12, 2008

"The world is a funny place .........so why am I not laughing." Somebody said that. I mean it is an often quoted quote but I can't remember who it was. It does not really matter who said it but I fully agree with him today. In the last two days I have seen and experienced a number of things which made me one to say just this.

To be fair, when we say the "world is a funny place", perhaps we need to qualify it further. There is always the "funny- haha" but there could also be "funny peculiar" or "funny -alarming".

Let's start with "funny-peculiar". Today, I was at a shopping mall and there was this escalator between the first and second floors. The escalator going up was working but the one that was meant to go down was stopped and obviously not working. As I was waiting for someone for lunch, I casually looked out across the atrium and saw this very well dressed lady in her thirties approach the top of the elevator. When she got there, she saw that the downward escalator was not working. I expected her to just walk down the stopped escalator but that was not what she did.

First, she looked to the right and to the left. Then she turned around and walked away, as if she was uncertain what to do. She came back to the escalator and examined it more closely. She went off to look for a security guard or mall officer but not finding one, she came back again. She even gave the escalator a kick. In all she was there for about five minutes. Finally after seeing someone else walk down the escalator, she too walked down. Now that is funny-peculiar.

For funny-haha, I give you the bizzare story of the impeachment of the Prime Minister of Thailand. Before becoming Prime Minister, Mr. Samak Sundaravej was the host of a popular TV cooking show. He apparently was involved in four episodes after he became Prime Minister. This would seem to contradict the Thai Constitution which states that the Prime Minister must have no other job. So Mr. Samak who has been linked to several bribery and corruption scandals finally is removed from office because he was cooking on TV. The story does not end there because his party is re-nominating him as prime Minister and if his coalition allies support that nomination, he may be returned to that post again. Wow, think about what Clinton got away with during his presidency while the Thai's don't want their PM cooking anything!

Finally, I watched the animated movie "Barnyard" last night. There is something seriously wrong with the animals in the movie, especially the cows. What's wrong? There are no cows and bulls. There are only male cows and female cows. That's right. All the bovine characters have udders which make them all cows but some were clearly male cows and others with ribbons around their ears were clearly girl cows. Where did all those involved with that movie get their education? This is funny-alarming.

Postcard from Luxembourg

on Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I am a little short of time tonight so this won't be a long post. I was also searching for inspiration and thought if I could just select an old photograph from my collection, I might just write a quick story about the photograph. And then my eyes came across an old post card that I picked up 25 years ago. It was a postcard from the small European nation of Luxembourg.

The City of Luxembourg is small but very hilly and wooded and was the very first walled city that I had visited. Its towers, walls and embankments are visible in much of the city which made it very interesting. Here and there, one was filled with the urge to shout " Man the Ramparts!" and rush silly-nilly to the wall and play act at repelling the invaders.

All of which leads me to these closely linked to pictures below. The first one shows my partner in crime. His name is Joseph. He is an American and we met I think on the train and decided to pair up to take in the sights of Luxembourg. What can I say about him? He is pretty much your average American backpacker, full of exuberance and derring-do. Oh, there was one other thing. He was the son of the cartoonist who did the comic strip "Frank and Earnest". My tiny claim to fame!

Okay, back to the story. Since I am telling it, I will say that the innocent Malaysian was led astray by the seasoned American traveler. Yes, that's my story and I will stick by it.

At any rate, we walked around the city the whole day and eventually found our way on a winding road in a heavily wooded area. As we were on a hill, we could make out the city below us in between the top of the trees. The truth was that we were lost and it was getting dark rapidly. We kept on walking. By my reckoning we should have been close to a monument called "Les Trios Glands" or the "Three Acorns" (see last picture below).

Soon we were walking in pitch darkness and not liking it at all. Suddenly through the trees on the slope below us, we saw very bright lights. So Joseph suggested we cut through the woods and go down the slope towards the lights. It seemed like a better option than continuing along the pitch black road.

So off we went, half running, half slithering and half falling (okay, I know my maths ain't great) down that slope. As we were reaching the bottom, we could hardly control our momentum and suddenly we found ourselves launched into the air. Luckily, we did not fall too far but as it turned out, we landed on the top of the roof of the Trios Glands.

We briefly enjoyed the view which few tourists would have enjoyed as the roof of the monument was officially out of bounds and the monument was in fact closed for the night. We stealthily exited by jumping down to the slope on one side of the building. It was very exciting trying not to be caught.

We left the building behind laughing and in good spirits. The adrenaline was high from falling down the slope and then avoiding detection in a prohibited area...........and that is the only reason I have for what happened next..............somehow we accidentally put out the eternal flame that was burning at another monument nearby.

Well, that was my little tale of misbehavior in Luxembourg during my young and foolish days. Nowadays I am still foolish but too old to jump off rooftops. I hope that the Luxembourgian police will not appear outside my door tomorrow morning. If they do, I have only two things to say to them. One "Lighten up" and two "It was all Joseph's idea."

Jedi Squirrel

on Sunday, September 07, 2008

Has it been two weeks? I am so sorry. I meant to put this up earlier but it has been a hectic two weeks. However, I really appreciated it when my friend the Urban Animal gave me this "Kick Ass Blogger" award, coming as it did around the time of the big showdown in my own life. It was indeed a very good and welcome encouragement. I like this award. It makes small tree rodent mammals feel big.

Here are the rules (because there are always rules):

* Choose 5 bloggers that you feel are “Kick Ass Bloggers”
* Let ‘em know in your post or via email, twitter or blog comments that they’ve received an award
* Share the love and link back to both the person who awarded you and back to Mamma Dawg
* Hop on back to the Kick Ass Blogger Club HQ to sign Mr. Linky then pass it on!

Okay for my 5 "Kick Ass Blogger" Inductees (which urban animal would have been one if she hadn't already got the award).

  1. A Little Off Kilter. A single parent building a happy home for her kids and herself. She's come a long way and with much grace in the last year. A kick ass inspiration for us all wrapped up with a blog of wonderfully eclectic content and great pictures.
  2. Trying to Fill the Unforgiving Minute. She's scared of squirrels (can you believe that?!?!), amongst other things but she doesn't let them small matters interfere with her living a sparkling, giving and humor filled life. Another kick ass inspiration with interesting posts on her blog.
  3. The Walking Man. If I met Mark in person, I think I would be definitely intimidated by this man who has seen and done so much with his life, both good and not so good. Such a full experience of life is wonderfully captured in his poems and reflected in the character of the man who has also bravely endured much physical pain over the years. I think he deserves to be called a kick ass salt of the earth character.
  4. Odat's Mumblings. Odat's taking a break from blogging but like many of her readers, I hope she'll be back soon cause there is no denying her inspirational character and her kick ass blog.
  5. A Majority of Two. One blogger, in my opinion, has maintained an incredibly kick ass blog from the days of my first forays into bloggerworld till now and so I'll have her end this list. One of the most personable and humble persons with the most interesting things to say in what she calls "her boring little blog". Well, it's her boring little kick ass blog really!

Well, many thanks for the award again. Here's the best kick ass squirrel picture I could find.

Alas, We Barely Knew You......

on Thursday, September 04, 2008

Even as the already high rate of species extinction is likely to accelerate with global warming (see previous post), new species continue to be discovered. This shows that we do not know enough about the plants and animals in our world and many are disappearing before we even learn about them. So when new species are discovered, I cheer for the discovery but eventually I get bummed by the thought of species loss. Still, I hope these two recent discoveries will be of interest to you.


Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution have discovered a new
species of bird in Gabon, Africa, that was, until now, unknown to the
scientific community. Their findings were published in the
international science journal Zootaxa today, Aug. 15.

The newly found olive-backed forest robin (Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus)
was named by the scientists for its distinctive olive back and rump.
Adult birds measure 4.5 inches in length and average 18 grams in
weight. Males exhibit a fiery orange throat and breast, yellow belly,
olive back and black feathers on the head. Fem
ales are similar, but
less vibrant. Both sexes have a distinctive white dot on their face in
front of each eye.

PLEASE read the entire article at EurekAlert!


Excerpt from BBC News:

By Jennifer Carpenter

Science reporter, BBC News

The world’s smallest snake, averaging just 10cm (4 inches) and
as thin as a spaghetti noodle, has been discovered on the Caribbean
island of Barbados.

The snake, found beneath a rock in a tiny fragment of threatened
forest, is thought to be at the very limit of how small a snake can
evolve to be.

Females produce only a single, massive egg - and the young hatch at half of their adult body weight.

This new discovery is described in the journal Zootaxa.

The snake - named Leptotyphlops carlae - is the smallest of
the 3,100 known snake species and was uncovered by Dr Blair Hedges, a
biologist from Penn State University, US.

Read the full article at BBC News online.

Melting Point

on Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Doomsday Clock must surely be clicking towards midnight. This year another climate change landmark has been reached and this is a serious cause for concern especially as it has happened way ahead of most projections by at least a decade or two. I refer to the fact that the North Pole has become an island for the first time in human history.

The last time this occurred is estimated at 125,000 years ago. The famed legendary Northwest Passage to the Orient for which so many died, which lies through Canadian waters, is now truly open for sea-traffic and is a reality. The Russian counterpart or the Northeast Passage is also open simultaneously.

What is Big Business' s reaction? The shipping companies are already jumping for joy and are barely able to contain their excitement. The Beluga group, based in Bremen, Germany, plans to send the first ship through the North-East passage next year, cutting 4,000 nautical miles off the voyage from Germany to Japan. Many others are expected to do something similar.

Comediennes might find some humor in suggesting that Santa will have to have a Summer Re-location Sale. Or they might suggest that now is a good time to challenge the records for the quickest walk to the North pole.

However, this truly is a dire development and one that must be seen in that light instead of being touted as a shipping business opportunity. Mark Serreze, a sea ice specialist, described the images as an 'historic event' - but warned they added to fears that the Arctic icecap has entered a 'death spiral'. The next doomsday marker would be the absence of ice altogether at the North Pole during summer. Earlier projections suggested that it would be at least a century away but recent observations raise possibilities that it may occur as recent as in the next 5 years. The more optimistic project the polar meltdown for 2030.

How this massive meltdown and increase in freshwater will affect global climate systems and ecosystems is another serious question? For now though, the plight of the polar bears (my previous post here) is very real and very present. Previously, the ice floes on which they hunt were forming later in the year causing some to starve to death but now even those that make it to the floes are in danger of drowning as the floes melt earlier and more completely.

In a recently reported story, a group of 9 polar bears were found trying to swim to the polar ice cap after the floe on which they were hunting had melted. Solid land lies a mere 60 miles south of their position but they swam north expecting to find the ice cap. However, the receding polar ice cap means that the nearest ice is now 400 miles away. Without help, none of the 9 bears are expected to survive. A different group managed a journey of 100 miles but some in that group drowned. There is now talk of getting a ship up there to pick up the struggling bears.

Four weeks ago, tourists had to be evacuated from Baffin Island's Auyuittuq National Park in northern Canada because of flooding from thawed glaciers. Ironically,the park's name means 'land that never melts'.

I think all of mankind is now on shaky ground and the whole world with us. Our politicians should realise the life and death implications of climate change and stop fighting over small monetary issues. Let us leave a world for our children. Let us act to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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