When Men Were Real Men

on Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Do you remember a time when men were real men? Not "soft and sensitive" new age guys or "in touch with their feminine side" metro-sexuals? It was a time when men bravely took charge of the family and led it with a firm and sure hand. A time when they went out into the harsh world and brought back the bacon. A time when they knew how to take care of their women. Today, many men could do with role models on how to be real men in their marraiges....... real men to their wives.

The Lone Grey Squirrel has resorted to scouring the internet and theft (in the tradition of Sneaky) to bring you the best examples of the strong, caring and take charge husband. Please vote for your favorite for the "Husband of the Year" award. (see poll on the sidebar; results will be tabulated after a week).

Here are your "Husband of the Year" Nominees from.......






Sneaky the Burglar

on Thursday, April 23, 2009

It has been awhile since I posted on my extended squirrel family from Ottawa, so here is a quick re-cap. My guide to the squirrel mob is Spikey. His love interest is Loonie while his nemesis is Speedy. Spikey and Loonie came up with their own little mob with daughters, Goldie and Blondie.

Today, I want to introduce you to a squirrel which I named Sneaky on account of his slightly longer snout and beady eyes which makes him look ......well, sneaky. I cannot, of course, be sure but I think Sneaky is related to Spikey in some way; perhaps a younger sibling. I first saw him one early spring day tagging along with Spikey as he came by my little garden. While Spikey came near to do his regular routine of dance and begging for a handout of peanuts from me, Sneaky positioned himself some distance away and seemed to take in Spikey's smooching routine but showing no inclination to follow suit. Despite seeing Spikey's success at getting peanuts, Sneaky soon lost interest and wandered off to a nearby bird feeder which he proceeded to raid.

Sneaky never ever came by for a handout. I got the impression that begging and handouts was just not his scene. He would only do what respectable squirrels have done for generations ......steal from bird feeders.

One spring morning, I observed as Sneaky came by with the two young girls, Goldie and Loonie. The girls were born that spring and were still finding there way around the outside world. Just a couple of weeks earlier, the girls came across the wooden deck where I would place some nuts for the squirrels. This was their first exposure to the wooden deck and they treated it with suspicion. They would dig their feet into the dirt at the edge of the deck and arch their bodies over to take the nuts, taking great care to ensure their bodies do not touch the unfamiliar wooden surface.

Anyway, it was clear that Sneaky seemed to be on baby-sitting duty with the girls and had taken it on himself to introduce them to the bird feeder. Initially, the girls followed him closely until they reached a small bush adjacent to where the bird feeder hung on a long chain from the roof of the house. All three squirrels climbed into the bush.

Sneaky started to cause the bush to sway. As the bush swayed to and fro, the branch on which Sneaky was on was inching closer to the bird feeder. The girls appeared dutifully attentive. With one final effort, Sneaky sprung his coiled body when the branch was close to the feeder and was able to grab hold of it. There he was, holding on to the feeder with his front paws while his feet remained gripping the branch of the bush. While holding this position, he started to chitter at the girls. It seemed clear to me that he wanted the girls to cross over to the feeder while he held it in place for them.

Unfortunately, when Sneaky grabbed the feeder, he inadvertently knocked off some seeds on to the ground below. Instead of crossing on to the feeder, the two girls clambered down the bush and started feasting on the seeds on the ground. Sneaky chittered some more but the girls ignored him.

So for several precious moments, I had a view of this increasingly agitated squirrel stretched between the bush and the feeder chittering at the two younger squirrels who were feeding on the seeds on the ground. After the girls had finished eating their fallen bounty, they just lopped off and disappeared into the distance. All this while, Sneaky was still holding on and chittering but when the girls disappeared from sight, he became silence.

He hung on for a few seconds more. He blinked his beady eyes a couple of times and then must have realised his peculiar position and after awhile, he released his hold on the bush and swung on to the bird feeder. He appeared a little disconcerted that the girls showed little regard to the art of bird feeder raiding. He paused for a moment and seemed to fluff up his fur as he sat there in the warm spring sun. Then with a shake of the head, he dismissed the girls and proceeded to eat his stolen bounty at the bird feeder.

I never again saw him try to teach the girls how to raid the feeder. Nor did I see him ever take any of my handouts. Sneaky had no problems with the other squirrels taking the handouts but it was not for him. He prefered the honor and excitement of stealing for a living.

Jo Wants to Know

on Sunday, April 19, 2009

Josie had a great post in which she was interviewed. She seemed to have so much fun answering the questions. Just as we had a great time reading her replies and learning more about her. Anyway, a bunch of masochistic exhibitionists (myself included) excitedly lined up to be interviewed in turn by Josie. So here are her Questions and my answers.

1. Have you ever been influenced by a work of art – music, painting, book – and if so, how?
Music has been very influential in my life but it has always been different songs at different parts of my life. I have posted on this before ( theme songs I and theme songs II). The painting that has had the biggest impact on me is probably Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth. This picture gives a great sense of the challenge of life played in context against the wide canvas of space. It contrasts both the importance and insignificance of human existance. It has helped influence the way I think. As far as the printed word, I would say that apart from the Bible, it would have to be the short story by Maxim Gorky entitled "One Autumn Night" which again reminds us that our fates are not really in our control but we all need the chance encounters with other humans and that we all need acts of kindness and love.

2. If you were a chocolate bar, what type would you be?
I imagine myself to be a pretty straight forward guy; what you see is what you get. No surprises. Perhaps a little understated. I suppose that makes me a plain and perhaps boring milk chocolate bar.

3. What is your secret weapon to lure the opposite sex?
Hmm. I don't really know. Nothing obvious. I have always found it easy to make friends with the opposite sex. Perhaps they find me comforting......like a "milk chocolate bar"?

4. What, in your opinion, is your greatest accomplishment?
I was once involved in getting some young people out of the clutches of a brain-washing cult and stopping their activities in my area. The cult was eventually disbanded a year later when the leaders were arrested after they caused the death of some of their followers' children by refusing them medical treatment. I am glad that God gave me the opportunity and the strength to get those young people out of that potentially dangerous situation.

Doing independent traveling through Europe for a month would be my next choice as it helped build up my self-confidence and strengthen my character. It is an accomplishment that I am proud of and which brings me much satisfaction.

5. How many friends do you have on your Facebook account?
Well, I had about 12 friends on my Facebook account before I pulled the plug because I found that Facebook was taking up too much of my time.

Fuzzy and the Poet Scientist

on Thursday, April 16, 2009

It is sometimes said that scientists lack the heart of a poet and because of that they end up inventing the atomic bomb. Being cold and clinical is just that; cold and clinical. Scientists can excel in the service of mankind only if they retain their contact with humanity and possess the heart of a poet.

Well, if that is true, then I am a very well trained scientist. This is because my mentor and my very first Professor of Biochemistry was indeed a scientist and a poet. Well, more of a songwriter or perhaps a jingle maker. I refer to no less than the highly esteemed Prof. Harold Baum, previously of Chelsea College and now of King's College, University of London.

Every Christmas, Prof. Baum undertakes to write a song which explains an entire complex biochemical pathway in the time it takes him to sit on a bus from his office to his home. This musical treat would then be premiered during the Department Christmas Dinner. As a result, he has actually published a songbook of chemical reactions called The Biochemist's Songbook.

At any rate, the real story for this post starts here. I got an SMS text out of the blue from my good friend, Fuzzy, of whom I have posted about before. Seems he is holidaying in Egypt. Anyway, because of that SMS, I got thinking about another post in the Fuzzy series and decided to focus on Fuzzy and his poetic skills.

Fuzzy is incredibly talented as a poet. It seems to just flow effortlessly from him. When he puts his mind to it, he can really write top notch stuff. Unfortunately, being the eccentric that he is, he often puts his talent to less socially acceptable and productive uses such as writing poems or rhymes on ransom notes for kidnapped stuff toys. Yes, there was a time in our student residences when hard working students were busy kidnapping and holding stuffed toys for ransom to the tune of several Mars Bars or other equivalent snacks, instead of studying hard. Fuzzy's humorous rhymes were often found circulating on these notes.

This was in fact the reason that Fuzzy got his name. During one such teddy bear kidnapping, the owner did not cough up the required sweet ransom but instead left a threatening note outside Fuzzy's door which read;

Fuzzy Wuzzy stole a bear
Then Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair
That meant he wasn't Fuzzy, was he?

This was a thinly veiled threat that Fuzzy's bushy hair might be removed while he slept if said bear was not returned. Tut. Tut. Such a violent threat and from such an otherwise sweet girl. So the name Fuzzy came from this incident.

Finally, let's get back to the beginning of this post about Prof. Baum and his Christmas Party. Well, one of the things the students tried to do every year was to come up with a less scholastic song in reply to Prof. Baum's newly unveiled chemical tune. Unfortunately, none of us Biochemistry undergrads were good songsmiths and so we had to make Fuzzy (who was actually a rival Immunologist) an honorary biochemist for the purpose of writing these songs. Ah, what fun we had in the rarified air of academia!

Sadly, I cannot remember most of what was written but let me end with just a short sample that I can vaguely recall. This is to be sung to the tune of Jingle Bells, of course.

Jingle Bells, Sulphide Smells,
Azides on the floor,
The Student swallowed cyanide
And he won't work anymore

The cells they came out whole,
The glass was to powder ground,
The centrifuge took off
And hovered six feet off the ground.

Oh, jingle bells...........

If any of you thought that I was a mad scientist, you now know I had a good teacher and super accomplices.

50,000 Nutters Have Come This Way

on Monday, April 13, 2009

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to the new look "Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel". I took your advice (Geewits and Molly) about not using dark backgrounds but went for a template that I had not shown you guys earlier. I hope you like it. I struggled to get this new template done and I appreciated the advice from Janice and Jessica which were helpful. In the end, I gave up trying to transport all my widgets directly but re-built them after the transfer.

Anyway, here we are with the new look and just in time to commemorate the visitors' counter pass the 50,000 mark. I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on what has been of interest to the visitors to this humble blog and also what I have enjoyed posting during this period.

TOP 5 (Comments)
Here are the 5 most popular posts of all time as determined by amount of comments solicited.

1. Half Mast, Half Post, Full Life (post about my dad after his passing away)
2. Bears Just Want to Have Fun ( one of a series of posts about animals but has an amazing video about polar bears and dogs)
3. Born Buddhist (my story about why I became a Christian)
4. Squirrel's Secret Spot 12: Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (one of my Secret Spot series)
5. 300th Post (strangely, it was the post celebrating my 300th post milestone)

TOP 5 (Popular)
Here are the 5 most popular posts as determined by number of visits by the last 500 visitors.

1. Singapore Girl in Blue (ah, my ever popular photos of these popular girls)
2. Tag 5 ( a meme but they come to see my celebrity crushes)
3. My Ass Hurts (seems people like to read about my misfortunes or is it that they like my chocolate bunnies)
4. World Food Spot 8: Belgian Beer (ah, glad to share with fellow beer lovers)
5. Crucifixion I ( a post on Easter and the passion of Christ)

This blog is quite eclectic and represents a very chaotic and wandering mind. However, the top 5 topics or themes are humor, about people, about self, Malaysia and culture. Here just to highlight some of the posts from these themes, are either the most popular posts or my favorite post from within these themes.

1. Working, Working, Working
2. Advice From Dr. Love

1. Odd One Out
2. Fathers and Daughters

1. Hippy Sick
2. Theme Songs II: From My Middle Ages

1. Have Gourd Will Travel
2. Field Report on Manglish

1. Theory of Relativity ......Explained
2. Secret Squirrel Spot No: 6 (Canals of England and Wales)

Thank you for joining my celebration of the 50,000th visitor. Just for fun, here is my own all time favorite video that I have posted so far.

Lip Dub - Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger from amandalynferri on Vimeo.

Something about that name

on Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pure and holy Son of God
Taking on the form of man
Left the glory of His throne
Came to bring salvation plan

Righteous Father, Holy One
Looking down on us in love
Gave to us His only Son
Sent with blessings from above

But we took Him and we nail Him
To a cross made of wood
And we raised it high and dropped it
In the ground where it stood
And the blood that flowed to the earth below
Bought forgiveness for the world
That had treated Him so

Peace on earth, good will to men
At His birth the angels sang
Love and mercy from the throne
Through the earth His message rang

He came in love to bring us light in our darkness
He came in peace to bring release from our pain
He came in joy to bring us rest in our weariness
He came in love to bring us beauty again

(by Jimmy Owens)

Easter almost crept up on me this year. I have been busy at work and hadn't paid attention to the date coming closer. Probably the two most important Christian celebrations are Christmas and Easter. The world in general have made Christmas a big and unfortunately commercialized event but Easter is mostly ignored (although I hear that Americans might hide chocolate eggs in the garden and invoke the Easter Bunny).

Christmas celebrates the birth of a baby, Jesus. Easter remembers the completion of that life and his life's mission which was to die for the sins of all men and to defeat death by rising from the dead after three days. The symbol of Jesus love and suffering would be the cross and the vision of his victory over death would be the empty tomb.

If you know all about Christmas but know little about Easter, I hope you will take the opportunity to go to an Easter service, concert or play and learn more about the ending of the story that began with Christmas. But it is an ending that is really about a new beginning.

I have posted two old favorites of mine from the 1970's. The first song is about the crucifixion of Jesus and the second which is on youtube is about what Jesus wants to do for all of us. Have a blessed Easter.

Shedding Fur

on Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Hi there,

I have been busy making a mess of my blog. I have had this same blog design and template since I started blogging over two years ago and like a squirrel shedding its winter fur, I thought it would be nice to have a new look.

You would think that Blogger would have come out with some nice eye-candy templates to supplement their original 16 but ....oh no, they have not. Don't they understand that the world is in need of constantly changing visual stimuli. Just look at all those "skin" covers they have for handphones these days. Blogger should get the hint.

Anyway, I am sure many of you out there are wizards at HTML and such. For you creating your own Blog template is probably a breeze. I however belong to a generation that still remembers a time when computers used punch cards (that was just after the age of the dinosaurs). As such I am desperately inept at all things HTML.

So instead, I spend a great deal of my weekend scouring the internet for a solution and I find a very good site called BTemplates. It has all these templates created by HTML literate show-offs who decided to throw some crumbs to the HTML-challenged. Okay, okay, I must admit I was grateful for these handouts. So thank you all you HTML geeks.

At last, I picked out a few templates which I thought would be suitable and proceeded to try to dress this blog in new clothes, so to speak. I thought I would be dazzling you with my new livery but instead, I ran into a host of troubles.

First one I tried had all the titles and labels in some obscure language. Next I found a nice one but I could not edit it in any way nor could I make a new post as those buttons were missing. Then I tried another but it had only a small fixed space for the titles of the post and many of my long-winded titles of the post just did not fit. My final attempt also looked very pretty but it wiped out all my widgets, blogroll and even my profile.

Hence I spent the rest of my weekend trying to recover my original template and widgets. What a waste of time it has been! I have decided that the only way that I will get a nice new snazzy blog template is for one of you kind HTML wizards to help me. Any applicants for the job?

In the meantime, here were some of my too good to be true templates. These could have been the new look for the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel....instead of this current coat of paint. Which one would you have liked?




Penguin Surprise

on Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Regular readers may know that from time to time, I will post about some of the weird and wonderful creatures of this world. It is estimated that there could be still up to one hundred thousand species of plants and animals yet to be discovered on our amazing planet. However, some exciting discoveries are not always about new species but about unusual facts about familiar animals.

Perhaps we have been taught that penguins are flightless birds. Well, forget that! Some penguins can fly, as seen in this recent BBC footage.

For me, this amazing discovery is the greatest zoological feat since the discovery of the fabled Lirpa Loof, the strange lavender eating primate from Tibet by the famous scientist, David Bellamy back in the 1980's.

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