Let Me Dream - Don't Wake Me Up Too Soon

on Saturday, December 30, 2006

I had a bad case of writer's block tonight. It wasn't that I had no ideas at all but I did not feel sufficiently inspired or perhaps prepared to write on some of the topics that came to mind. Among topics I had considered writing about were my favourite TV shows, movies, an odd story about a friend and even about my unusual hobby of visiting gravesites. Somehow none seemed right for this night.

Then as I struggled in total silence, I heard a whisper of a tune. At first, it was a broken tune, incomplete; the words were not coming through but it soon drew its parts together from the coils of my memory, rising like a Phoenix reborn from the dust and ashes. I watched its rebirth with wonder as first the tune began to take shape and then I recalled the entire last line of lyrics and finally I recognised it. A friend from the past. A song I do not consciously remember singing since I was thirteen or fourteen.

Why this sprite from my past? Readers of this blog will know that there was recent discussion about keeping the innocence of children for as long as possible and giving them a nurturing and empowering environment. Somehow, all that had resonated a chord in my memory and brought this to the surface. This song was always able and is still able to bring tears to my eyes; the regrets of lost innocence, I think.

It is a song by Neil Sedaka entitled "Super Bird".

When I was young, no worries in my head,

I used to flap my arms, and fly around the bed,

Just like a super bird, zoom, zoom, zoom.

Up and down the chandelier, all around the room.

When I told the people that I could really fly,

They said that little boys ain't supposed to lie.

Poor little super bird sitting on the ground,

No zoom, zoom, zoom, when anyone's around.

Fly, fly, fly super bird, super bird.

While you're young super bird, super bird.

There's time enough to wreck your dreams.

Have your fun, super bird.

They said I couldn't, so what did I do then?

I cried myself to sleep and never tried again.

Poor little super bird they woke you up too soon.

No Santa Claus or green cheese on the moon.

It skipped my mind for years, at least until tonight,

When I tucked the kids in bed and I turned out the light.

There at the doorway, you'll never guess what I heard,

"Zoom, zoom, zoom, super bird."

Fly, fly, fly super bird, super bird.

While you're young super bird, super bird.

There's time enough to wreck your dreams,

Have your fun, super bird.

World Food Spot 4 : Pommes Frites

on Thursday, December 28, 2006

Some tempers and patriotic fervor may still be flying high over whether fried strands of potatoes should be called “French” fries or “freedom” fries, but in the culinary arena it is of little consequence because the champion is Belgian and the name is “Pommes frites”.

Frites are thick strips of potatoes which are fried twice to give its characteristic crispy outside and soft insides. It is often served in a paper cone with a dollop of sauce on top. It is the wonderful choices of sauces that add to the charm of frites. British like their “chips” soggy and soaked in salt and vinegar; Americans like their fries sized up and dipped in tomato sauce; Malaysians would prefer sweet chilli sauce. Frites connoisseurs can chose from scores of sauces.

The origin of frites are somewhat debated between the French, Belgian and even the Dutch. The Belgians are given the benefit of the doubt as they are by far the largest consumers of frites and of potatoes per capita. The Belgians also have a strong tradition of having stalls selling frites in every town. These are more than 7000 of these “ frite kots“ in Belgium and they can have a lot of character. The Belgians even tell a little story about its origins. During winter, a certain village traditionally fried small fish which was available from a river near. However, one year due to harsh weather, the villagers did not have any fish. Somebody tried frying potatoes cut into strips like fish and that is how the pommes frites began.

Back to the variety of sauces. Frites have begun to invade USA and one shop in New York offers about 30 of these sauces and these have been rated for us by Geegaw and friends. They are all Americans so their taste may not really represent the global view but it was the only taste test I could find on the web. I remember trying and enjoying the following; tartar sauce, rosemary garlic mayo, pesto mayo, Dijon garlic mustard, Curry Ketchup Special and curry sauce.

Another regional variation which merits some attention is poutine which is a French Canadian staple and a welcome body warmer against the bitingly cold Canadian winter. Poutine is like thick frites but it is always accompanied by beef or chicken gravy and cheese curds. Probably a nutritionist’s nightmare but all the more reason it comes highly recommended.

Gross, Messy, Unhealthy but DeliciousPoutine

If one of your new year resolutions is to eat healthier, then the good news is that you still have a few days to try pommes frites and poutine.

Grumpy after Christmas

on Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It’s the day after Christmas and I am GRUMPY. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good Christmas which started with a church service in which the young people did a wonderful sketch or skit in which the local Bethlehem newspaper reporters try to get a photo of the birth of Christ. They start off well, talking about the importance and uniqueness of Christ and try to take a photo of the baby Jesus in the manger with Mary and Joseph behind looking at him, the parents – to get the family angle. Then the photographer decides to emphasise that the birth is in a manger by trying to place the cow and the donkey in the picture.

“Well, if you are going to have the cow and donkey, then I insist we include the shepherds and their flocks of sheep.” retorts the reporter and she invites the shepherds to line up for the photograph.

Well, next the three wisemen arrive and they cannot be left out of the picture and if them, why not invite jolly Santa as well. Then if Santa is in the picture, the story would not be complete if there was no Christmas tree, presents, kids having fun or mother’s baking cookies. Let’s not forget to include the business angle too with shop owners and businesses offering discounts and holiday offers.

And so on and so forth, until there is a huge crowd of characters all trying to crowd into the picture. The photographer tries to frame the picture and asks the reporter for advice. They both agree the picture is too cluttered and decide to remove the baby and the manger so that everyone else can move closer together and be included in the picture. So finally, reporter and photographer have an article about how everyone else had been involved in Christmas without the inconvenience of having to cover a story about a tiny baby and what he became.

Okay back to being GRUMPY!. I also had a wonderful Briayni Rice dinner with close friends, drank merry measures of Australian and French wines, and perhaps slept a little too late. So perhaps the late night led partially to a grumpy morning since over here it is not a holiday and I had to work.

But the number one reason that I am GRUMPY is because of children’s books. My host for Christmas dinner, has a cute little three year old minx named, Emma. Emma loves parties and had a great time greeting guests at the door, relieving them of Christmas presents and placing the presents under the Christmas tree. Unusual for a child her age, she had no great urge to rip open the presents, preferring to decorate the tree with them.

Nevertheless, when I dropped by early this morning before I went to work, she had unwrapped several books. I, of course, obliged when she asked me to read a short children’s book to her. I read the book aloud with gusto, giving different voices to the different weird characters in the tale. However, long before I reached the end of the story I was dismayed.

The story was about a starving anteater who meets characters like the umbrella eater and the sticky tape sucker and the walking stick licker and the encyclopedia chomper. He asks each of them in turn if they have any ants as he is starving but they either don’t care or don’t bother to understand his needs and the anteater has misadventures trying to eat umbrellas, suck sticky tapes, lick walking sticks and chomp encyclopedias. At last he meets one creature who takes him home and there in his home was an ants nest and the anteater gratefully feasted on the ants until he was no longer starving but was full and plump. At this point, he thanks his benefactor and asks how is it there is an ants nest in his house. The benefactor then reveals that he has the ants nest as he is an anteater eater and proceeds to eat our anteater.

Why? Why would someone write a story like that for children? It does not teach compassion for the starving anteater but it teaches fear of strangers and not to trust anyone’s benevolence. The child is invited to laugh at the anteater’s misfortunes, ridicule and ultimately his death.

I brought it to the attention of Emma’s mother who informed me that she had already banned another book earlier that morning. In this other book, the hero of the story refers to the other characters as Stupid. Why would we want our children to learn to call other children “hey Stupid.” Why would anyone write this for children?

I never believed that we had to ban books or watch what our children read until now. Watching out for trash in children’s literature? Well, sign me up.

Now that’s why I am GRUMPY one day after Christmas.

Meet Grumpy, the Children's Literature Watchdog

A Quiet Family Christmas

on Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Awww, Mother and Child.....

.........God bless.

Christmas Day 2006

on Monday, December 25, 2006

Wishing one and all, a Blessed Christmas.

Not a Creature was Stirring

on Saturday, December 23, 2006

What Creature Stirred and Left These Mysterious Trails....

photocredits: Deep river

"Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse…….."

(Excerpt from poem by Clement Clarke Moore; 1822)

Snow had fallen thickly during the night and the wind had blown fiercely with its own melancholic howling through the trees. I was glad to have been tucked in bed that night safe and snug. Christmas was a couple of days away and when I drifted off to sleep, I was soon in a dream world filled with the visions of the expected wonders of warm fellowship and the joys of the season.

I awoke the early the next day while the morning light was still dim, feeling fully rested and fresh. I excitedly went to my small basement window and as expected the night’s storm had dusted everything with an inch or two of snow, creating a wonderland. The distant streetlamps were still able to cast sufficient light on the newly fallen snow that everything seemed to sparkle like diamonds.

It was then I realized that someone had already been up and about before my eyes had opened to the new day. Just in front of the window was a wooden walkway and a small bush. Both were coated in snow but clearly visible all around them were tiny tracks. Spikey had already come by.
Grey Squirrels do not hibernate. They remain active during winter and are most active during the daytime when it is warmer. I had continued to feed Spikey during winter with nuts. Initially, I left them in a pile on the wooden walkway. However, I soon realized this exposed the poor creature to the blowing wind. I eventually found a large rock that was suitable as a feeding table because it had a shallow hollow on its top surface which was ideal for placing the nuts. I placed it next to a small bush.

I had chosen the bush because its network of leaves and branches created a scaffold for the snow to layer upon creating a snow igloo of sorts with the interior spacious and ice-free. Spikey was able to enter and shelter under the snow-covered bush and feed while reasonably protected by the elements. The bush was also within easy view of my window which enabled me to observe squirrel behavior throughout the winter.

At the Feeding Station

photocredit: drroz2

Drawing from Anonymous. Animal Tracks, Stackpole Co., 1954.

The tracks of the grey squirrel in the snow is fairly easy to recognize and has been described as the double exclamation marks, “!!”. This pattern stems from the gait of the squirrel who first plants its two small front paws in the snow and pushes himself forward before his hind legs land in the snow, just ahead of where the front paws first was planted. The long strokes of the double exclamation mark is made by the relatively long hind paws while the front paws provide the periods for the exclamation mark.

For me, seeing a trail of “!!” was a real heart warmer on a cold winter’s morning.

Dying for canada

on Friday, December 22, 2006

'What will your obituary say?' at QuizGalaxy.com

"Who knew, the cat cared?"

Okay, I know this is silly nonsense but when I saw it over at canada's site, I was intrigued. I was so surprised by the cat's sentiments that I had to post it here.

3 Crisises, 6 dogs and 1 tree

on Thursday, December 21, 2006

There's a Squirrel family reunion tonight on account of my mother's 85th birthday. So no blogging thoughts tonight. Instead, standing in for me tonight shall be 3 Santas, 6 dogs, 1 tree, some reindeer and a bulky Kiwi with a razor. Good viewing and good night.

5 Christmas Songs

on Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Photocredit: wendyrosko

And another first for me. Daysgoby tagged me to do this. First time, that I’ve been tagged. How exciting.

5 Favourite Christmas Songs

1. O Little Town of Bethlehem (lyrics: Rector Phillips Brookes; music: Lewes Redner; 1867)
This hymn uses a lot of contrasts, such as “dark streets” contrasted with “everlasting light”, “mortal men sleep” while “angels keep watch”. But the one phrase that is very meaningful to me is “ the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
Christ’s coming has an eternal significance and it has to do with removing fear and giving hope for all mankind. For me, this is the spirit of Christmas.

2. O Holy Night (lyrics in French: Placide Cappeau; Translation: John Dwight; Music: Adolphe Adam; 1847)
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul it felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

Again, a reminder of the big difference, Christ’s birth has made to those who believe. A historical footnote: some say that this was the very first melody played on radio.

3. Little Drummer Boy (Lyrics and music: Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone; 1958)
It was a hit for a number of artists including Bing Crosby. However, my attachment to this song is because it was the song that my late favorite uncle would always insist I sing at family gatherings at this time of the year. I would squeal it out and be rewarded by a pat on the head by him. I will still do this for pats, old habits die hard. For a young kid, it was an easy song to learn as most of it consists of “pa rum pum pum pum”.

4. Night Before Christmas (music and lyrics: Carly Simon)
It’s a folksy song which I first heard on the soundtrack of that Steve Martin movie about black comedy about depression and murder around Christmas time entitled “Mixed Nuts”. I just like the music and especially the lyrics below which speak and reach out to those alone at Christmas.

“If you're heart's been longing, And you've been afraid to try
Sorrow's kept you company, And the dance has passed you by
I'll lift you up and blaze with you, Across the moonlit sky
On the night before Christmas

'Cause you don't have to be an angel
To sing in harmony
And you don't have to be a child to love the mystery
And you don't have to be a wise man, On bended knee
The heart of this Christmas is in you and me

The heart of this Christmas is in you and me
The night before Christmas
The night before Christmas”

5. Santa Baby (music and lyrics: Joan Jarvits, Philip Springer and Tony Springer)
Performed by the incomparable Eartha Kitt, this is my humorous antidote to the rife consumerism and promotion of the Jolly Santa that is occurring today. Plus she just sings it so, so well.

World Food Spot 3 : Mangrove Crabs

Bottom view

Top view

Mangrove Crabs are Ecologically significant........

"Mangrove crabs have been shown to be ecologically significant in many ways. They keep much of the energy within the forest by burying and consuming leaf-litter. Furthermore, their feces may form the basis of a coprophagous food chain contributing to mangrove secondary production (Lee, 1997; Gillikin et al., 2001). As mentioned in Robertson et al. (1992), crab larvae are the major source of food for juvenile fish inhabiting the adjacent waterways; indicating that crabs also help nearshore fisheries. Crabs themselves are food for threatened species such as the crab plover (Seys et al., 1995; Zimmerman et al., 1996). Their burrows alter the topography and sediment grain size of the mangrove (Warren and Underwood, 1986) and help aerate the sediment (Ridd, 1996). Smith et al. (1991) found that removing crabs from an area caused significant increases in sulfides and ammonium concentrations, which in turn affects the productivity and reproductive output of the vegetation. Their findings support the hypothesis that mangrove crabs are a keystone species. (for cited references see www.mangrovecrabs.com).The mud crab, Scylla serrata (family Portunidae) is an economically important mangrove crab found in the estuaries of Africa, Australia and Asia. When they molt their shells, they can be served as a seafood delicacy, one of many types of soft shell crab. "
(This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Mangrove crab". )

...............and Very Tasty!!

I have tried lobster and crayfish. They are good, but the king of the pot amongst the crustaceans for me has to be the mangrove or mud crab. Some skill is needed to eat this as there are a lot of bones or pieces of shell in the way. However, in comparison with lobster, I would say that the meat is smooth, tender to the point of melting in the mouth and sweeter.

The most common way of cooking it is in a chilli sweet and sour, rice vinegar based sauce. This remains my favourite as the sauce seems to complement the sweetness of the crab excellently and the sauce itself is delicious with bread or rice. Other popular ways including steaming with ginger or baked crab - both these methods have the advantage of retaining the natural flavor of the crab as much as possible. The crab can also be served fried with black pepper, fried with curry leaf or fried with butter and egg or even fried with marmite (yeast and vegetable extract for the non-British/Australian/NZ readers).

After View

Photocredit: Bucks in Oz

These crabs used to be plentiful. Today, due to over-harvesting, pollution and clearance of mangroves, in most parts of Malaysia, the remaining crabs are too small and are of poor economic value. The good seafood restaurants have to import the crabs from nearby Indonesia but even there, the crab populations are similarly under threat. For all of us, to continue enjoying this delicious delicacy, we must stop the decline in mangrove forests along the whole equatorial belt. In Malaysia, the mangrove areas have declined 50% in the last 50 years largely because they were considered undesirable and cheap lands for development.
Today we continue to try to pass the message that "Mangroves are not Wastelands" contrary to that, they are important to shoreline stability, removal of pollution, protecting the freshwater table and act as nursery for marine and coral fish and other aquatic organisms. Interestingly, the South Asian Tsunami of 26th December 2004 dramatically demonstrated the importance of mangroves in that many places which still had coastal mangroves including Malaysia did not suffer as seriously from damage and loss of life as areas which had cleared their coastal mangroves.

Squirrel's Secret Spots No:3b (Bali-Ubud & Crafts)

on Monday, December 18, 2006

Photocredit: Baronia Balinese Art

Gold Leaf Being Prepared in Temple Court

Terraced Paddy Fields

Pavilion Dining at Dirty Duck

Ubud Market

Intricate Stone Carvings

If somehow you can tire of the beautiful beaches, it’s time to head into the hills. There are many places you might visit including volcanos, lakes and temples. One popular day-trip from the beaches of Kuta is to take in the craft villages and to end up in the cultural centre of the island in Ubud. Alternatively, many are just as comfortable to stay in Ubud in anything from the most basic but clean accommodation to the most sensual and luxurious spas which are set amidst the forests, jungle streams or over-looking pastoral paddy fields. Ubud is a great base to explore nearby craft villages, for walks in the terraced paddy fields, to sample Balinese art and music or to unwind at a spa.

In the centre of Ubud are several art galleries of note, a crafts market (only for those who do not have time to get bargains from nearby villages), temples, and restaurants. Balinese food is generally mediocre and of suspect hygienic standards in some places. This is because there is a big difference between food prepared for celebrations and those prepared for everyday consumption. Unfortunately, the celebration cuisine invariably involves lots of meat and intensive preparation and unless you get invited to a celebration, most tourists will only get to sample this cuisine at some large, specialist restaurants.

There is one place that I would not hesitate to recommend and that is Bebek Bengil or the Dirty Duck Restaurant. Its specialty is …..crispy, deep-fried spiced duck, of course. Don’t worry though, the name of the restaurant refers to a flock of dirty ducks that entered the restaurant before their official opening and was taken to be a sign of good luck and does not refer to the food being served. Some of you will remember that I am a little partial to poultry but there are other things to eat. However, the number one reason for eating here is the tranquil view of the paddy fields, the swaying leaves of the palm trees, the cool breeze from the forests and if you are lucky you may get to sit in one of the pavilions right over the fields. This is ambience overflowing.

In summary, you can chose to shop for bargains and crafts, you can trek into villages or forests (bird watching is popular and there are lots of monkeys), you can pig out on good food, you can chill and take in the ambience, you can enjoy Balinese art and music or you can do it all.

I Get No Respect

on Saturday, December 16, 2006

“I get no respect.” That used to be a catch-phrase for the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield. I know what he means. At least, Rodney had the advantage of an exciting name such as Dangerfield! I regret my given name is no help at all.

My Chinese name carries the meaning of “kind and gentle” or in other words a roll-over. I mean in today’s cut-throat world, one should have a strong name like “brave warrior”. No, even better, “Braveheart”. Yeah! Chinese names can carry slightly different meanings based on dialect and the phonetics. I have heard an alternative interpretation of my name to mean “cool celestial cloud”. If I had run off and joined a hippie commune as I had planned when I was younger, I could be cool with that meaning as it sounds vaguely free spirited and new age. Since I did not do so, that meaning still lags behind “Braveheart”.

When I studied in England, I found people could not get their tongues round my “cool” name which was not so cool. This time I cannot blame my parents cause I chose an Anglicized name myself. I chose the name because mainly, I wanted to be different and no one else I knew had that name. Since then I learned why that name is seldom chosen. Extensive research has brought me to the inescapable conclusion that my chosen name means only one thing, “bald”. I just hope that it's not prophetic.

In Canada, I met up with a first people’s artist by the name of Shingosi. He mistook me as a native brother, probably because I have that down-trodden look. Anyway, after that misunderstanding cleared up, he invited me to his clan's pow-wow and said he would give me an Indian name. I never made it to the pow-wow and missed this wonderful opportunity but I’d like to believe my Algonquin name might be like “Wolf Spirit”. Yeah!

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to seek the combined wisdom of the great Google community as to what might be my other names. If you would like to do the same then follow the links below.

My Squirrel Name is Deputy Nuttykins.
Deputy? I didn't even make sheriff and what kind of family name is Nuttykins. It imples that all my relatives are nut-cases too. Hmm. Not a good start to this new name adventure.

My Native American Name is Grant's Shadowy Pencil.
What?!?! Oh, mannnn! This is awful. Instead of some great warrior name, this name, I don't know, perhaps it alludes to the untrustworthiness of General Grant's treaties with the native peoples. But aw, man! "Shadowy Pencil"? that's not even a pen or a peace pipe. Creator of Indian Name Generator speaks with forked tongue and twisted mind. Beware! I am sending telephatic tomahawks at you.

My Hobbit Name is Samwise Hornblower of Waymoot.
"Samwise"! Hurray! At last a hero's name. Wait a minute. That was Samwise Gamgee! I don't remember any Hornblowers from where? ....Waymoot?

My Elvish Name is Tuor of Nargothrond.
Okay, I can live with that but mainly cause I have no idea what it means. With my luck, Tuor probably means "bald". Can you imagine a bald elf?

My Vampire Name is Consort of Crows.
Apparently, I was known as Sultan of Angels until I was cast out of heaven for being a vampire. What a demotion! From Sultan of Angels to Consort of Crows. That is a bad career move if ever I saw one. I thought all vampires would have cool and powerful names like "Fangs" or "Count Devilishly Charming". I don't think the few friends I have appreciate being refered to as crows either.

My Pirate Name isSharkbait” Doug Grimm.
Give me a break!!! "Sharkbait"?!?! What kind of name is that for a pirate? I'd even settle for a coloured beard like Bluebeard or Silverbeard.

My Name if I were the Pope is
Pope Envious Donald IV.
I really can't get any respect. I get to be the Pope but I apparently am not Pious or Innocent but Envious. So true. I'd be envious of everybody else's nice names.

My Star Wars Jedi Name is Lohch Hakua of the planet Glucophage.
I will settle for small mercies. Planet Glucophage sounds nice. After the other surprises above, I am just glad it isn't Glob Offat from the planet Norespect.

My Fairie Name is Thorn Hailtree, protector of the lonely.
Oh great. When I am trying to be macho, I get wussie names but now that I'm trying to get a fairy name, I get Thorn Hailtree. Sounds butch. I thought fairies should have names like Tinkerbell, Sugerplum or Dewdrop. I'll bet you that I am all alone protecting the lonely too. It's probably one of the least popular fairy jobs to have.

Finally in desperation, I decided to find out what ....
My Porn Name is Orson Swift (if I am a pimp) and Ginger Wide (If I was the star).
I'm not sure but I think I would also get no respect from other pimps with a name like "Swift". Ginger Wide? I'm not that desperate for a new name.

At the end of this exercise, I am resigned to getting no respect and am happy to be known as the Lone Grey Squirrel. I obviosly can do a lot worse.

I'd like to acknowledge my muse Kat who got me thinking by her wonderful coverage of the naming of the panda cub at Atlanta Zoo.

The Soul of a Man

Altar of the Church of the Good Shepard, Tekapo, NZ.

As Christmas approaches, I am reminded that the Christ child came into this world to bring light to the world's darkness and to lead us back to a relationship with God. The Word became flesh and His light lit up our darkness.

This song was originally written by gospel/blues singer Blind Willie Johnson in the 1930s but the lyrics below is from the cover version done by Bruce Cockburn in 1991 in his album, "Nothing but a burning light". Bruce, himself, has travelled a long road of discovery during which he dabbled into the occult and studied Buddhism before becoming a Christian. When he announced that he became a Christian, he lost a number of his humanist fans.

The Soul of a Man
I'm going to ask the question
Please answer if you can
Is there anybody's children can tell me
What is the soul of a man?
Won't somebody tell me
Answer if you can
Won't somebody tell me
Tell me what is the soul of a man?
I've travelled different countries
Travelled to the furthest lands
Couldn't find nobody could tell me
What is the soul of a man
Won't somebody tell me
Answer if you can
Won't somebody tell me
Tell me what is the soul of a man?
I saw a crowd stand talking
I just came up in time
Was teaching the lawyers and the doctors
That a man ain't nothing but his mind
Won't somebody tell me
Answer if you can
Won't somebody tell me
Tell me what is the soul of a man?
I read the Bible often
I try to read it right
As far as I can understand
It's nothing but a burning light
Won't somebody tell me
Answer if you can
Won't somebody tell me
Tell me what is the soul of a man?
When Christ taught in the temple
The people all stood amazed
Was teaching the lawyers and the doctors
How to raise a man from the grave
Won't somebody tell me
Answer if you can
Won't somebody tell me
Tell me what is the soul of a man?

Now Watch the Video

Bruce Cockburn speaks about his faith (Excerpts from interviews)

My faith has undergone drastic transformations and reformations. I was brought up as an agnostic, even though we were surrounded by the symbolism, and when I first became a Christian in the Seventies I didn't really know what it was I'd adopted. I've always been aware of the spiritual side to life, and that awareness has sometimes been very tangible and vivid. But it's one thing to have this direct experience of contact with something that appears to be central to existence, but then there's all the uniforms people wear and the customs they adopt. For me, part of the journey has been deciding where I fit in. In the end, I've decided that I don't fit in at all. The proper place for me is outside all the groups.

I still think of myself as a Christian. The only definition of a Christian - I got this from C.S. Lewis - is somebody who accepts the reality of Christ. What is that reality? Well, there we get into fights, don't we? I know my own experience tells me there is somebody - and it's not a thing - at the centre of Christianity. I assume it to be Christ, and assume that's my point of contact with God, whom none of us have a very good definition for. I like to talk about Love rather than God. What we think of as love is his expression of involvement in the universe, and that is the glue that holds everything together, from the subatomic particles up. It is also the hand that breaks us apart, but that has to do with our failure to relate to it properly.

"If I try to understand what it means to be a Christian, I look at the two instructions that were given in the Bible that are paramount, . . . and those are to love God with all your heart and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. That's it."

Elephants of Kuala Gandah

on Thursday, December 14, 2006

Located near Lanchang, Pahang, is Malaysia’s National Elephant Conservation Centre. It is relatively easy to get to by car and is a pleasant 2 hour journey from Kuala Lumpur with great mountain and forest views along the way. I made that journey twice this week to attend a meeting at the National Institute of Biological Diversity or IKB which is nearby.

IKB is relatively new and has little to interest visitors but just 15 minutes away in the National Elephant Conservation Centre which is at a place called Kuala Gandah because it is the point where the Gandah River meets another river. This site was established in 1989 and is now the base for the highly successful elephant relocation program which was started in 1974.

The Centre takes in orphaned young elephants, take care of them and prepare them for release into the wild. The Centre is home to several specially trained older elephants which are used in the relocation program. These special elephants and their trainers were both trained in either India, Burma or both.

They play a very important role in elephant relocation. As the country has opened out its land for housing and cultivation of rubber and oil palm, the rainforest became fragmented and there exists pockets or islands of forests which are no longer contiguous with the main forest and wilderness areas. As development and encroachment continues to chisel away at the size of these forest islands, animals are no longer able to find sufficient food and they invade houses, farms and plantations. This was happening to the elephants. The solution was to catch them and transfer them to protected forests and therefore reduce human-animal confict.

When a problem elephant is spotted, it is tranquilized and nowadays often fitted with a radio-tracking collar. Two specially trained elephants are brought in on either side of the elephant so that it is re-assuringly hemmed in and kept calm by the other two elephants as it recovers from the tranquilizer. In this way, the problem elephant can be relatively controlled and can be transported relatively easily. Some 450 elephants have been translocated by this means. However, as the forests continue to shrink, the remaining wild havens are probably beginning to over-crowd and another solution to the elephant problem should be thought of.

If you visit Kuala Gandah in the afternoon, you can get right up and personal with some of the smaller and friendlier elephants. Watch them feed, touch them and pose for photos with them. You can even ride on their backs. After spending the afternoon obliging tourists and visitors and the elephants trundle down to the river and they hope that visitors will return the favor and pamper them as they bathe. The trainers will tell you what to do. “You, wash behind the ears.” “You can scrub his toenails.”

A great activity for the whole family in nice surroundings. Nearby there is an Orang Asli (aboriginal people) village with some houses still built from tree bark which is their traditional building material. Come, see, learn, enjoy and leave smelling like elephants.

Friendly Thoughts

on Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"The Bestest of Friends"
Today I got an email from my longtime friend, Helen. We’ve known each other for over 20 years but due to distance and the distractions of living, we have been in contact less than ten times in the last 15 years. The last time we met in person, she was still single and obsessively worried that she’d be left on the shelf; something those of us who knew her were sure would not happen. Now she’s been happily married for years and a mother of three.

Anyway, I have been working very hard and very late and was feeling rather tired, when with the perfect timing that lifelong friends have, she sends me this uplifting slideshow by email. The slideshow has some fantastic pictures but it was the words and the message that stand out.

First it challenged the viewer to name the 5 richest men in the world, the last 5 Miss Universe winners, the last 10 winners of the Nobel Prize and the last 10 winners of Best Actor Oscar. I am sure that most of us would find it difficult to give all those answers.

Next it asked the viewer to name 3 teachers that helped direct your life, 3 friends who helped you in your times of need, think of a few people who made you feel special and 5 friends you would like to spend time with. I found this far simpler to answer.

The slideshow suggests that the people who really matter most to us are not those proclaimed the “best”, or those who won prizes or even those with the most money. Rather, they are the ones who cared for us, were there for us and those who stuck by us through thick and thin.

It then asked if we belonged to the first group or the second group. Finally, a message from Helen who said, “Let me give you a hand. You’re not in the rich or famous group but you belong amongst those I would remember to send this message to.”

Thanks Helen for remembering me and for making me feel special.

It reminded me once again that “googles” of money cannot buy happiness but just a better class of enemies. However, friends who do not grow cold and distant despite separation in time and space are precious jewels that adorn our lives and gives our lives sparkle. I know not why I have been so blessed. I don’t know if I deserve it but I do value them.

Fuzzy-Wuzzy Anglo-Egyptian, Greek Goddess, Julie H., Professor Debra, Juliet Nightingale and the Bickley Sisters, Brother It, God of Immunology, H. Lion Baht and the rest. You know who you are. I am thinking of you and saying a prayer for you tonight. God bless you, wherever you are.

A Wasted Education

on Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I was doing my doctorate studies round about the time the two inventors of Google were also in University. I have often regretted that I wasted my time studying and suffering for exams when I should have followed their example and used the time to hone my computer skills by playing computer games. If I have done that, today I might be a famous and rich like them.

But this new discovery that I could have had fun with squirrels and still have gotten a degree is almost too much to bear. I would have been perfect for the job. Alas, I did not see it in any graduate school prospectus. Perhaps the world was not yet ready for such groundbreaking studies then. If you want to know more about this sad discovery, follow the link below.

"You can be a nut on squirrels and still get a degree!"

Thanks Josie for alerting me to this post.

Answers to "Bugs for Kat"

on Monday, December 11, 2006

My thanks to Kat and Dave for naming most of the butterflies and moths in the pictures in my earlier post entitled "Bugs for Kat". For the answers and for some more background, click on the title of this post and visit Kat's site.

My own knowledge does not extend beyond the Rajah Brooke Birdwings so I trust Kat and Dave know what they are doing.

Culinary Misadventures – the Fowl Years

on Sunday, December 10, 2006

I fancy myself today to be a decent cook albeit a bit out of practice of late. However, that was not always the case and in fact, until I was at University, I had never really cooked an entire, edible meal. I stress both words “entire” and “edible”. This was despite the fact that I had always enjoyed food and therefore I think not surprisingly, was always interested in learning to master the culinary skills in the kitchen.

As even the best of us blame our parents for something, my culinary aspirations was actively thwarted by my mother who felt strongly in the traditionalist conservative maxim that boys should not be in the kitchen. In this she was doubly frustrated by the fact that my older sister showed very little inclination to be found in the kitchen and to learn the recipes pass down from mother to daughter for generations.

I was finally rescued from the wilderness of ‘101 Ways to Cook an Egg for Idiots” by of all people, an impish Irishman who answers to the name of Collum. It was Collum who taught me how to cut and prepare vegetables and meat and how to mix the spices for a nice curry. As curry is so much part of Malaysian life and culture, it is embarrassing that I had to learn it from a “Kwai Lo”. Collum was also a bit of a practical joker which made life a little difficult while understudying his cooking. There was a time when he passed a red-hot bird’s eye chili pepper to an unsuspecting victim as an extremely sweet Chinese Dwarf Carrot, ideal for munching on while dinner was still cooking. I have long since realized that I can take out the Guinness component from most of Collum’s recipes.

I digress as usual. Today, I wanted to relate three stories of culinary shame from my rich history of disasters. They all relate to poultry and poultry products which is why even today, I have a preference for anything other than that meat group.

The Egg Bomb. My sister-in-law was kind enough to teach me how to make a three minute egg and a hard boiled egg. If successful, I was to progress to the “egg sandwich”. She had such high hopes. Well, I thought I did it very well. In fact, I was offering to boil eggs for everyone and at all times. Alas, it was pride before the fall. How could I possibly mess this up? I chose to take an ambitious order of almost a dozen hard-boiled eggs. The occasion was the live telecast of the World Cup finals (soccer, that is). Family and friends were gathered around the television and hungry. At halftime, I promptly offered to make the eggs, ran to the kitchen, got a big pot of water boiling before adding the eggs. As there were so many eggs, the pot was quite a big one. Distracted by the restart of the game and a period of exciting soccer, I completely forgot about the boiling pot. All of a sudden there was a loud explosion from the kitchen. Upon investigation, we learned that I had let the water boil off completely and had charred the eggs until they were hard as stone and everything just flew off the stove. I had to clean up the mess of burnt egg fragments and a chipped tile where the heavy pan had hit the floor. Oh, yes, I also missed the game winning goal.

The Delicious Marinade. In our early teens, a group of guys with high hormonal levels plotted a way to meet girls. Someone suggested a dance party. Someone offered his home – parents were away. Another suggested to save money, we could cook the food ourselves. It seemed like a great idea despite none of us having done it before. Someone’s dad could supply frozen chicken at very low prices. Another knew where we could get a recipe for roast chicken. He said he had seen his aunt do it a number of times and repeated her gems of wisdom, “The secret’s all in the marinade.” and he had the marinade recipe. Just marinade, place in the oven and after one hour, roast chicken perfection. We loved it when a plan came together.

Oh, the memory still brings tears to the eyes. On the day of the party, the cooking team met at noon and planned the strategy but it all went wrong. The chicken arrived frozen solid and we had to try to thaw them in warm water but we never really did. This shortened the time in the wonderful marinade (which I was in charge of making) and lengthened the time needed in the oven to cook. We were running out of time. Then there was the question about all this fat and grease that was dripping off the chicken as it roasted and onto the bottom of the oven and out on to the floor. The recipe book made no mention of this!!!!! By the time we figured that there was a grease pan we could use, the entire kitchen and most of us were well oiled. Oh, and the cleaning up afterwards. Sob.

Three girls showed up for our great dance party surrounded by twenty guys. The decoration and music team held the girls attention while the cooking detailed drowned their sorrows in punch and tried not to smell of chicken fat. As for the food, everyone politely said that the meat was tough as rubber but the marinade was very nice and so the party fizzled out with people sucking on their chickens.

Chicken with Extras. Having erased the previous memory for the sake of sanity, I happily ended up on the cooking team at University in London for the Department Christmas Dinner and Dance. Once again I was facing my nemesis, chicken. However, things did not seem to go to badly. We had at least one experienced female in the team. She did all the recipes and did all the shopping and told us precisely what to do and when. It was a snap. Her team got the chicken from the butchers, gave me and my team of four final instructions and then left to supervise the salad team and the dessert team. Again, the chickens were not cooking fast enough on account of their size but we applied our superior minds and came out with a relay system where we microwaved the chickens first for half an hour before crisping them in the oven. This seemed to go quite well. We were about half way completed when our supervisor returned. She seemed pleased with our efforts but before leaving she asked what we had done with the spare parts. “Hmmmm? “ we asked. “Spare parts. Gizzards and stuff.” She answered.

We then learnt that it was the practice of butchers in England to place these extras into a small plastic bag and to stuff it inside the chicken. Sure enough a close examination of our bronzed birds revealed melted, bubbly plastic inside …..and there was the smell of burnt plastic. There was a long moment silence. We then cleaned the chicken and removed the offensive parts, washed them in water and re-heated them in the oven. We then swore a pact of silence. As I share this now, I feel that the time limitations on that is long over. I never eat much chicken normally anyway, so nobody really wondered why I stayed away from the chicken at the Dinner and Dance.

Bugs for Kat

on Saturday, December 09, 2006

I promised a certain Kat (will squirrels never be free from cat tyranny?) to send some bugs her way,
To brighten up what may otherwise be a dreary, pale winter day.

The first two bugs, their names I hold,
But am hoping Kat, the others you know.

We challenge others too, to take the test,
And put the mystery of their names to rest.

For no other reason but to pass the time,
And give me a chance to try my rhyme.

If a clue is needed to break the code,
Be aware that Malaysia is their abode.

Another Music Video Because I Can

I am so happy to have stumbled over this site that allows you to post videos on your blog. So in line with my pre-programmed male faults, I am going to play with this new toy. So may I present to you one of my all time favourite videos, its a great song and a funny video. I also identify with it because I have two left feet - another common male genetic disposition.

Save our Rainforest

on Friday, December 08, 2006

I was at a forum today to discuss ways of trying to promote sustainable forest management in Malaysia which has one of the richest species diversity and the world's oldest rainforest. Sadly, there was little concensus or agreement on how to achieve this. Without this agreement, much of the remaining forest may be ravaged by uncontrolled and discriminate logging within the next ten years. The way I see it, economics is driving the destruction of the rainforest and it is economics that can stop it. Consumers in Europe, North America and elsewhere are beginning to say that they want products from sustainably managed forests. I hope consumers will also be willing to back that up by being willing to pay a premium for such products.

I hope you enjoy the video and help get the message spread. I know it's an old video (1988) but I think it is still the anthem for the rainforest. Bruce Cockburn wrote this and is one artiste with a social and environmental consciousness that shows up powerfully in his work. Lyrics are provided below.

Rain forest
Mist and mystery
Teeming green
Green brain facing lobotomy
Climate control centre for the world
Ancient cord of coexistence
Hacked by parasitic greedhead scam -
From Sarawak to Amazonas
Costa Rica to mangy B.C. hills -
Cortege rhythm of falling timber.

What kind of currency grows in these new deserts,
These brand new flood plains?
If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
Anybody hear the forest fall?
Cut and move on
Cut and move on
Take out trees
Take out wildlife at a rate of species every single day
Take out people who've lived with this for 100,000 years -
Inject a billion burgers worth of beef -
Grain eaters - methane dispensers.

Through thinning ozone,
Waves fall on wrinkled earth -
Gravity, light, ancient refuse of stars,
Speak of a drowning -
But this, this is something other.
Busy monster eats dark holes in the spirit world
Where wild things have to go
To disappear
If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
Anybody hear the forest fall?

Squirrel’s Secret Spot 3a. (Bali – beaches)

on Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tanah Lot Sunset

Shopping Near Tanah Lot

Pura Tanah Lot

The Impossibles - big waves for surfing

Bali is a paradise which is located just east of Java in the Indonesian Archipelago. Its image within the world’s consciousness has been tarnished by the two bombings that occurred in Kuta and Jimbaran on the island. These tragedies have very little to do with the local people of the island who are Hindu or animalist by religion and peaceful by nature and who have themselves suffered heavily through loss of life and also loss of their main income which is through tourism.

There is so much to see, to do and to appreciate within a small island. Their culture, dance, arts and crafts are quite exquisite and distinctive. Their religious practices, festivals and temples are colorful and mysterious. The island is also blessed with natural beauty with its beaches, surfing and diving locations, cliffs, forests and volcanic mountains. Even its famous man-made padi terraces are simultaneously inspiring and soothing to the soul. Its also a shopping paradise with cheap bargains to be had.

In fact, there is so much to describe that I will do this over several scattered postings. Today, I will describe some of the wonders along the varied coastline of Bali.

There are many beaches. Kuta, Sanur, Jimbaran and Legian are popular but are relatively crowded. There are plenty of nice beaches further a field. For those willing to part with a bit more money, the tourist enclave in Nusa Dua has great beaches for both courting couples and young families. Jimbaran is popular as a place to get good grilled seafood served to you right on the beach as you watch spectacular sunsets. Some beaches are also great for the surfing crowd.

In many places, there are spectacular seaside cliffs and rock formations formed by the power of the ocean’s waves and almost everywhere there are temples (called Pura) or shrines. One famous coastal temple is the Pura Tanah Lot. This temple occupies the entire tiny island outcrop that is just a stone’s throw from the main island and can be reached by foot at low tide. Surprisingly, the temple island has its own freshwater spring. The surrounding area is also spectacular and is another favorite spot for visitors to take in the spectacular sunsets. For the shopaholics, there are lots of small stalls here too to occupy you for hours.

As nice as the beaches are, I think Bali’s other charms are even more entrancing but that is a story for another time. For all those who are stressed or facing the current winter storm in North America, come with me in your mind’s eye and imagine lying on the sunny beach in Bali. The sea’s waves are lapping gently in a relaxing lullaby. The coconut palm fronds are waving gently in the breeze and its green nut is sitting in the sand next to your hand; its nectar cool and sweet and its fresh and young meat practically melts in your mouth. A local Balinese is expertly giving you a deep, relaxing massage and it’s a balmy 32○ C. That’s right, 32○ C. Got your attention?

Attention Cat -Lovers.

In the interest of Blogging peace, Lone Grey Squirrel, hopes to assure all readers, visitors and cats that he does not really hate cats (just "demon cats" called Cujo).

To demonstrate, his sincerity, Lone Grey Squirrel can be seen here apologising to a representative of cat-kind (but only behind the safety of plate glass window!!!!!).

Photo credit: oddAnimals.com

Cujo or Why I Don’t Like Cats.

Photo credit: bellasproofs2

Squirrels don’t like cats which I think is obvious. It has to do with the way cats are always trying to catch, kill or maim squirrels. However, even my human alter ego is not fond of cats. The reason for this is ……..Cujo.

In the following story, none of the names have been changed to make sure that the guilty are fully embarrassed. There was a time when I shared a small apartment with this dude, Frank, and his cat, Poney. Poney is your typical calico tabby who had been quite used to being the queen of the house with all her needs taken care off and pampered. This living arrangement worked well until that fateful day when Frank called me into the kitchen to introduce me to this cute kitten he had rescued from the local pound.

He called him some sugary sweet name like Prince or Peaches. I cannot remember what it was caused he was soon dubbed Cujo which suited him so . But wait, I hear you protest! “Cujo is not a cat, but a mad dog.’ Believe me when I say that I have not met a cat or a dog before or since which was more psychotic and deserving of the name, Cujo.

Cujo was a very young kitten, barely a quarter the size of Poney. He had the red, orange and white colors of a tiger and had both a tiger’s ferocity and appetite. He also introduced fleas into the house and despite dousing him in powder, I would be tormented by itchy bites for weeks. Frank was oblivious to this, entranced as he was by Cujo’s playfulness and energy. Poney and I both knew there was something evil about this kitten.

Poney was the first victim. Cujo plotted to get rid of her. Despite Poney’s size, Cujo took to bullying her at meal times. At first, we would feed them both from separate bowls in the kitchen. That did not work as Cujo would chase Poney away and eat both portions. We then tried distracting Cujo by feeding him upstairs and then feeding Poney downstairs in the kitchen. That also failed because Cujo would actually run up and down the stairs to deprive Poney of either. Then, I locked him in my room while Poney fed in peace and I was rewarded by a well sculptured, steaming mass of cat poop on my bed. Poney loss some weight before we found the solution of locking Poney in a kitchen cupboard with her food where Cujo could not get to her. Apart from meals, Cujo continued to persecute Poney, chasing her from all her favourite spots in the house.

Cujo then decided to move up the food chain and targeted me. His campaign started by regular poop bombardments on my bed. After the fifth time, I declared my room a high security area, a cat free zone and made sure my door was closed 24/7. Frank apologized for his kitten's antics but remained bewitched.

One evening, I was in the kitchen and had a frying pan on the stove and I was frying up a batch of my famously delicious Malaysian Fried Rice. I had fried all the spices, onions and vegetables and had just added the rice. I was stirring the mixture to ensure it cooked without burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cujo jumps up on to the dishwasher which is some distance away but at the same level as the stove and from that vantage point shows interest in my culinary efforts. I wave my spatula at him and tried to shoo him but he ignored me. Then, in a flash, he jumped across and into my frying pan!!! To my surprise, Cujo landed with all four evil paws on my fried rice, stood there and began to eat the meal. That was the last straw. I threw away my delicious smelling fried rice which was now marked by Cujo’s paw prints, laced with some of his red hair and I suspected, also fortified with grit from the kitty litter. Defeated, I left Cujo to rule the kitchen while I went out into the cold autumn night to buy my dinner from the Chinese takeaway.

Cujo, probably decided that at this point he was just one step from being the top cat in the house and started to turn his attention on Frank. He started with sudden playful bites on Frank’s ankles. Frank adapted for awhile during which he would walk in a funny high-stepping manner to make his ankles a harder target. Frank liked to lounge around the house in his terry-cloth robe with nothing underneath. This made it a painful experience when Cujo invented the game of jump onto the robe and start climbing with all claws employed. Even then, Frank was stoic and refused to condemn the cute kitty. Cujo then escalated his campaign by leaving poop on Frank’s bed, in his shoes and on the morning newspaper.

One winter evening about 2 months after Cujo entered our lives, I came in from the cold into the warmth of the kitchen. Frank was standing by the dishwasher in his robe, drinking tea and the newspaper. Poney was curled up on a chair. Everything was peaceful. Without looking up from his paper, Frank said, “I went to the pound today and told them I had found this abandoned kitten and I gave them a donation and asked if they could find it a good home.”

Life was sweet after that but I often wonder whether Cujo lives on, tormenting some other poor household. Sends shivers down my spine.

Thoughts on Happiness and Chasing After Puppies

on Sunday, December 03, 2006

“Felicitas est parvus canis calidus”. This is Latin for “Happiness is a warm puppy.” It is actually a quote from the cartoon strip, Peanuts from the 1950’s. I’m not that old, but I probably came across it in my early teens and somehow that phrase has stuck with me all these years. It is clearer to me today, than all those facts on human metabolism that I spent months revising for my final university exams.

Happiness is a warm puppy. Is this statement true? How many of you would agree with it? The fact that I remember it so well through the flight of time must imply that it has struck a deep chord with me. The pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence as one of the unalienable rights of the people. Honestly, there is a lot of pursuing happiness going on in the world today and it’s not just the Americans but everyone that’s doing it. But are most of us looking in all the wrong places? Might we finally find it in a warm puppy?

Singaporeans used to be told that they need to have the 5C’s in this life and this consideration should guide them in the choice of a life partner. The 5C’s has today increased to 7 C’s and are Cash, Car, Certificate (i.e. University degree), Country club, Credit card, Career and Condominium. (Ladies might even have the 8th C which is Carat, i.e. insist on a diamond ring). The idea is that happiness comes from wealth, prestige, elitism, superior intelligence (with a certificate to prove it), achievements at work and the best creature comforts at home. Singaporeans are also famous for not wanting to keep up with the Joneses. No, Singaporeans strive to be ahead of the Joneses and to rub the Joneses noses in it.

Before, Malaysian-Singaporean relationships deteriorate further, let me say that I use Singaporeans to describe a phenomena that is really spreading throughout much of the world and especially so in Asia. Happiness is cold hard cash, a cool reputation and a classy lifestyle. The pursuit of happiness as envisaged above lead many to put career and wealth ahead of family and friends. Fathers who work hard for their children’s future but do not have time to know their children and for the children to know them. Reminds me of a song called “Cat’s in the cradle” by Harry Chapin.

I have worked with native, jungle dwellers and been part of efforts to assimilate them into modern life so that they might have a better standard of living. While it is true that many will benefit from better health care and better schooling for their children, it is equally clear that they were very happy living in the ways of their ancestors in the jungle and transferring them out of the jungle into settlements has not brought them joy. Often, peaceful communities are torn apart by the introduction of money and the concepts of property amongst peoples who used to share the forests bounty with each other. Some of these projects have improved their economic situation but I really do not know whether it has brought happiness.

So, I return to “Felicitas est Parvus Canis Calidus”. I think it is a beautiful metaphor that all of us need to feel warm, secure and to have the feeling of loving and being loved. It has to do with people; friends and family. Happiness comes from being secure and content while surrounded by the mutual love and support of friends and family. If we are loved and supported for who we are, we do not need wealth or any other trappings to be happy.

So, Snoopy, I think you were right but it was not just because puppies are warm and cute. Perhaps you were more profound than you thought. Cat lovers, I can’t help you.

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