Celebrating Natalie.....a Squirrel's Tribute

on Saturday, May 31, 2008

Some of you may be aware that I am a sometime contributor on the blog "For The Love of Woman". This blog was set up by Eastcoastdweller and is meant to celebrate women.

Sometime back on that blog, Kat very kindly posted a slideshow tribute to Natalie Wood because she knew I am a big fan of Natalie. It all started because I had made a comment about Natalie Wood that "She seems to embody the elemental beauty, strength, energy and at the same time vulnerability of women."

That slideshow tribute was set to Frankie Avalon's Venus as the background melody. That was a very nice gesture and I really appreciated it. In fact, after watching it for the umpteenth time, it occurred to me to look at what other offerings might be found on YouTube.

I found these three additional offerings which appealed to me as a fan as they showed the beauty, range and versatility of Natalie Wood. The first one is set to the tune of "Time" by the Alan Parson's Project which seemed like a wonderfully appropriate music for the tribute.

This second video starts with the quote "...the prettiest girl I have ever seen..." which was made by Roddy McDowall. That would be how I would describe Natalie Wood.

The final offering is from her role of Gypsy Rose Lee in the movie Gypsy. This clip shows her character evolve from an innocent and naive new-comer to become the queen of burlesque striptease. Her beauty and inner spark is well displayed in this video.

Come Fly With Me

on Thursday, May 29, 2008

My favorite flash animator is Eclectech who are the creative brains behind the hit punk squirrel band, "The Nutz". (you have to go to the end of that post to click the link).

Now they have come out with another squirrel inspired musical of a more traditional mainstream type. Nevertheless, you are warned that you watch this video at your own risk and that the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel accepts no responsibility for any hallucinations or nightmares and will not be liable to pay for any psychiatric treatment. Sinatra fans, this warning is especially for you.


World Food Spot 10: Pan Mee

on Sunday, May 25, 2008

My wife and I followed the directions given and we drove some 20 minutes from our home to a less frequented and older section of town which was located more at the periphery of the city. We were on the quest of a special pan mee shop at the recommendation of a blogger friend. Finally we arrived and parked opposite a wet market.

As we walked down the tree lined street, I was immediately taken in by the pleasant ambiance of the neighbourhood. It was busy but yet calm. Businesses were doing business but children ran in and out of the shops laughing and playing. In short, it reminded me of an older Kuala Lumpur; the city as it was in the 1970s when the more sedate village life was still apparent in the big city. Much of that is now lost under the noise and bustle of a modern city rushing about its business.

There was even a lorry, parked and delivering fresh coconuts by the basketful. A sight that is rare in the city these days.

However, I digress. I wanted to share with you about Pan Mee which is most simply described as hand-stretched flat noodles. My wife's family really loves this dish and I grew to like it very much too. In my wife's family, making this dish is an opportunity for family bonding as everyone shares in the tasks for preparing the dish. Although there is a dry variety of this dish in which the cooked noodles are tossed with specially seasoned soya sauce mix, we mostly cook the noodles in a broth which is accompanied by fried anchovies, minced pork and fried shallots.

The trick is making the dough and the recipe for the dough is often strongly guarded family secrets. The really fun part is when everyone pinches a small palm full of dough and then flatten it by pinching. The resulting product is supposed to be roughly an elongated oval or similar to the shape of a Pringle potato chip. In reality, you could (and we did) make some more entertaining shapes. When all was ready and the broth was boiling, we would all gather round to slip our dough creations into the cooking pot.

A good pan mee noodle should be firm and yet easy to break and feels smooth in the mouth. It is a fun dish to make and to eat.

Commercially available pan mee is often processed through a noodle making machine which cuts it into long ribbons. The purists would however seek out the hand pinched and pulled version when ever possible.

In this shop we went to, not only were the noodles hand pulled, it was trying for a record in length. You can see that the noodles could be as long as 50 cm and it was both smooth and firm.
My final word to you is "Yummmmmmy!"

All Photos by LGS

Squirrel's Secret Spot 12: Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

on Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Back in 2005, I had exactly half a day during the week and two days over the weekend to sightsee in Washington D.C. I had imagined myself spending one and a half days trying to cram in all the Smithsonian Museums and the final day touring the numerous monuments and memorials. Of the museums, I was targeting the Air and Space Museum and Natural History museum. However, on that first free half day, I stumbled upon the Smithsonian's newest museum, the National Museum of the American Indian (opened in 2004). I liked it so much, I returned the next day and spent another half day there; severely curtailing my visit to the Air and Space Museum to just a couple of hours and causing me to miss the Natural History Museum altogether.

I am not idolising the Native Peoples. They are human as are all of us and because of that, they have their short-comings and flaws. However, also because of that, there is also greatness and as it is in all cultures, there is both common and unique wisdoms and perspectives of life. These are jewels worth preserving and worth knowing and internalising. I am glad that the U.S. finally is promoting and showcasing the cultures of their First Peoples.

The museum is good and has room for improvement. Amongst the first things to try is their cafeteria which gives you an opportunity to try the traditional staples and meats of native peoples throughout the American continent. I could spend a few lunches there.

There were of course many interesting exhibits of the different tribes and peoples. One of my favorite places was this dark chamber where you can sit and listen to different stories and fables. I could fall a sleep and find myself in those stories when I dream.

Of course, the museum has also to deal with the dark truth of the decimation of the native peoples with the coming of the Europeans. There is a wall with all the names of all the tribes and native peoples in the Americas. All have been decimated and many have even ceased to be but their names still live on in the stories told and on the wall was these words, "We are the Evidence." And now, there is this fantastic museum to help keep their names from fading into the mists of time.

The beautiful curves of the Museum

The stylised harmonious first meeting of Whites and Natives (on left is a Chinese U.N. Observer)

The faces of a people....the Yakima.

It is claimed that the U.S. constitution was based on the constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy which included the Mohawk.

My Mohawk Pin-up Girl. (I mean it with the greatest respect. I believe she represents the strength of grace and form, the power of a resilient people.)

The Craftmanship of the Native Peoples

The Superior Killing Technology of the Whites

The Names that call out to be remembered.

All photos by LGS.

300th Post

on Saturday, May 17, 2008

ImageChef.com Flower Text

It's hard to believe but this is the 300th post for this nutty blog. It has been a fascinating one year and seven month journey to get here consisting of a couple of hundred of sleepless nights, being late for work a few hundred occasions, hundreds of mid-night snacks and hot drinks and numerous groggy mornings.

What is this Blog about? I had no real idea what direction this blog would take once it got going. The original premise was "to interpret the world through the observation of squirrels". And what did that mean? One visitor commented, "I thought it was going to be totally about some kook and his squirrel obsession or I would have visited earlier." As it turned out, after 300 posts, my blog was mostly about people I have met (20%) but close on it's heels is a slew of other topics, so it is fence sitting even in this aspect. Humor was an important component but squirrels surprisingly only 8% of the time. I would have thought that squirrels and food would have had a higher number of posts.

What the Blog has been about:
1. People (20%)
2. Humor (19%)
3. Malaysia (13%)
4. Videos (12%)
5. Animals (11%)
6. Reflections (11%)
7. Music (10%)
8. Celebrations (9%)
9. Environment (9%)
10. Travel (9%)
11. Christian Faith (8%)
12. Squirrels (8%)
13. Food (8%).

Why do people visit this blog? Well, I guess only you can answer that with any certainty but these days, I get about 100 visitors daily and as I post this, there would have been in total, 26,353 visitors to this blog. I am grateful for all my visitors but especially my regular visitors who are part of the 27 daily visitors who come by to check on me and read my latest offerings. Thank you very much. You are of course what has made this experience worth while. I enjoy our interaction and your comments ever so much.

Most visited pages daily:
1. The Current Main Page (27%)
2. Dungeons and Dragons Part I (23%)
3. Singapore Girl in Blue (8%)
4. What the World Needs Now.......(Addendum) (4%)
5. The All-Blacks are Winning and the Sun is Shining (3%)
6. Animals Speak of the Human Condition (3%)

I would very much like to say that the other 73 visitors came to one of my 300 posts in search of insightful articles, information from well researched articles or to enjoy my cultural efforts including my poems. Unfortunately, these visitors main aim is to purloin some pictures. The most popular photos by far are the following;

Why this? Perhaps the Male Fantasy Factor?

Perhaps a classier side of the Male Fantasy Factor?

This is a nice photo but it's Gillespies Beach that is the attraction.
Ladislav Kamarad (Gillespies Beach)

The Haka : Perhaps the Female Fantasy Factor?

Obviously the cuteness factor

Which have been Favorite Posts? It is impossible for me to choose. There are some real stinkers but I could not choose my favorites. However, the posts that garnered the most responses from you the readers are listed below. The top three really received a lot of comments. The first was about my spiritual journey from Buddhism to Christianity. The second marked the passing of my father last October (thanks for being so supportive). The third was a post about bears and huskies. The others included a notice that I would be away for a week, a notice that I was not well, a meme (that was a good meme), a folk tale retold, a post stolen from somewhere else, some original writing and I am so glad one of my travel posts also made the top 10.

Most Commented Posts:-
1. Born Buddhist
2. Half Post, Half Mast, Full Life
3. Bears Just Wanna Have Fun
4. One Week
5. Hippie Sick
6. Tag 5
7. Have Gourd Will Travel
8. DAM is a Three Lettered Word
9. Field Report on Manglish
10. Secret Squirrel Spot No: 6 (Canals of England and Wales)

Thanks for coming by and for your interest in the weird and wonderful wanderings of my mind as it finds its way on to this blog. I have made many good friends here and miss those few who have stopped posting regularly. I am surprised to have made it thus far without running out of things to say but will carry on as long as that does not happen. Peace.

David Archuleta Sings Our Song

on Thursday, May 15, 2008

When I left Malaysia to study in Canada, I left my future wife behind. At that time we had been going out together for a while but had made no decisions or commitments to one another. The truth was I had a fear of commitment and our separation seemed like an easy way of letting fate decide.

I had always enjoyed traveling and coming to Canada was a real treat for me but in that first year I came to realise that as much as I enjoyed experiencing Canada, I missed not experiencing it with her. I just knew then that I wanted to experience every joy and every sorrow with her for the rest of my life. It was not fate but God who acted because just as He made me understand this and to recognise my own insecurities about commitment before, He also moved her to make a bold decision to save up and visit me on her own accord.

The timing was perfect. When I was informed that she was coming, I was excited and got prepared. The first day when she arrived I practically showed her the whole of Ottawa as if I was trying to share a year's experience in one day. She gamely put up with it but of course she was tired and she slept soundly that night.

However, I knew what I had to do and so the next day, as soon as she awoke, I proposed to her by singing "And So it Goes" by Billy Joel. I chose this song because the lyrics accurately expressed how I felt in an honest manner that I felt she needed to hear. Needless to say, this song has remained special for us.....our song.

So, we were so pleasantly surprised when we learnt that American Idol this week, Puala Abdul chose this song for David Archuleta (also my wife's favorite contestant) to sing.

And so it goes that ......DAVID ARCHULETA SINGS OUR SONG!!!!

I had posted about this song before and here are the complete lyrics of the song.

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense

And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break

And this is why my eyes are closed
It's just as well for all I've seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows

So I would choose to be with you
That's if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break

And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows.


on Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My wife and I were budging out on DVD's over the weekend. I had just finished watching Vantage Point which was a very interesting action drama. My adrenaline was pumping after watching the movie. Suddenly I had a craving to watch another action movie and for some reason, I thought of watching and old science fiction favorite starring Bruce Willis called "The Fifth Element".

My wife on the other hand had been doing a marathon on chick flicks. As I was scrummaging through our old VCD collection (cause The Fifth Element is THAT old.), she threw me a DVD and told me to watch it.

I had a look at it and said, "No thanks! I have a date with Bruce the Man Willis and The Fifth Element." Alas, I could not find it even though I went through our entire collection.

As I sat frustrated, trying to visualise in my mind's eye where I had last seen that VCD, my wife threw me the DVD again and told me to give up the search and watch that DVD. Once again I told her that I was not in the mood for a romantic chick flick.

She persisted. She told me that it had an actor from that testosterone feast of sweaty, glistening male bodies and naked aggression called "300". Not interested was my reply.

"It also has someone from Friends and it has one of your old favorites." she continued.

She can be very persistent and I could read the signs that she would not be stopping on this issue. Finally, I had a look at the DVD and it was a movie entitled "P.S. I love you."

Okay, I thought to myself, that's a dumb unpromising title. Then I checked the actors. The actor from 300 was Gerard Butler. Now granted he is quite the hunk and a feast for the eyes for the ladies but that doesn't do anything for me ( I assure you). The female lead is Hilary Swank. Again, I appreciate that she is a great actress but doesn't she play all these tomboy roles? I just could not imagine her in a romantic story.

Then I discovered that Lisa Kudrow was also in the movie. Now, she's funny. Perhaps the movie had a chance. Ooo, Ooo, and it also has Harry Connick Jr. Now I like him and perhaps he sings or plays the piano in the movie. Okay, this movie's looking more palatable. Ah, but the clincher was when I read James Marster's name in the credits. James was the old favorite that my wife mentioned. James played my favorite character Spike in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now I just had to see James in a movie.

And so, I watched all two hours of it. The movie surprised me almost from the start. I was disappointed that James Marster did not have a bigger role but that was irrelevant to the fact that this movie just touched me from beginning to end. The DVD cover called it a romantic comedy. Then how was it that I cried for most of that two hours. Now I may be a softie but I have never, ever cried right through an entire movie. This had more onion factor than Sleepless in Seattle (onions can make you cry - hence onion factor). Darn it! My wife loves to see me cry. It was entrapment.

I won't tell you the story cause that would take the fun out of it. I will tell you that the movie was based on a book by the same name and it was written by Cecilia Ahern who is the daughter of the previous Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

It did well in the box office and got generally good reviews from cinema goers. The critics on the other hand gave it between a negative review to mixed reviews but then again critics are grouchy individuals who would never admit that they cried.

While I am uncertain that it is best to describe it as a romantic comedy, it is not a romantic tragedy and there are laughs to be had in the movie. It's just that you will still have tears running down your cheeks even when you are laughing.

Watch this movie. I dare you. Just keep the Kleenex handy. As for me, I needed to overdose on Schwarzenegger and the Terminator series to feel like a man again.

War is Stupid and Sweet

on Saturday, May 10, 2008

DONUT WAR I (the story so far)

It all began last Saturday with an unprovoked first strike attack on Canada. The full ghastly details were reported by the Hollydale International. Apparently, Olga the Traveling Bra was pressed ganged into providing essential technology to launch two, we repeat, two intercontinental jelly donuts on an attack on Canada. Substantial damage was done to one of the primary targets but the other donut caused little damage after developing a jelly leak.

Retaliation was not long in coming. On Wednesday, the whole of Chico, California was hit by a sugar bomb causing humans, livestocks and buildings to be covered with powdered sugar. Before the sugar dust had even settled, sticky fingers were pointed at likely perpetrators and bloggers mobilised their forces and took sides .

To avert full scale pie throwing, a secret consortium of allied nations (U.N.A.C. - United Nations Atkin's Coalition) has drafted a document, pledging resources for a peacekeeping mission. Paradise entered the fray and committed their armed forces to the UNAC. Concerned world citizens watch in apprehension as each side continued to unveil confectionery of increasingly greater kilocalories in an apparent show of strength and to intimidate their opponents.

DONUT WAR I (breaking news)
Squirrels have declared war against Paradise and her allies in retaliation for the recent incident in which an innocent squirrel was lured into a dungeon and locked up by Paradise forces. Squirrels dismiss claims that the squirrel was a spy as pure fantasy of the part of the Paradise authorities fueled by a sugar high.

DONUT WAR I (Interview with General McNuts)
General McNuts of the Squirrel forces say that squirrels are not intimidated by the giant kilocalorie confectionery weapons of the enemy saying, "Their intercontinental ballistic donuts and their sugar bombs do not scare us. Squirrels have sugar proof bunkers in almost every other tree and can survive these attacks without getting their fur sticky."

General McNuts of the Secret Grey Squad

Asked about the squirrel campaign strategy, General McNuts said,"We do not believe in the effectiveness of using large WMD. Our campaign is based on three strategy. The first is that small donuts are easier to make, transport and use. The second strategy was to have in place a long term trigger mechanism based on the use of mass media to send out subliminal messages.

Subliminal Messages

And finally the third strategy is that the size of the confectionery doesn't matter, it's what's in it that counts! Squirrel scientist first used this special technology to increase the potency of snowcones but it can be used in donuts."

"doesn't matter what size it is, it's what's in it that counts".

Regular readers will know that the Squirrel has been in a bit of a funk over recent world events. While we apologise to those appalled by today's silliness, we actually recommend getting into a food fight as a great way of getting out of a funk.


on Friday, May 09, 2008

Meet Grumbles.......
Grumble....grumble.....grumble. I am grumbling. Why am I grumbling? I am grumbling because of...........

a) Rising Food Prices: - All around the world the price of food and especially staples like rice has been going up in price. In some parts of the world, the price of rice has gone up threefold in the last year. The reason for this price hike may be due to a number of complex issues but it has mainly been due to greed and mismanagement. Reasons such as the loss of agricultural land to industrial development, decades of impoverishing farmers by fixing staple food prices at too low a level to benefit city dwellers, food crops diverted to better paying biofuel production, shortages within food producing countries due to dealers smuggling grain out to sell at higher prices in foreign markets. In Thailand, there is talk of joining forces with other rice producing countries too take advantage of the rising prices by forming a Rice Cartel so that they can force higher prices on importing nations. The Thai Prime Minister asks Thais to eat less rice so that they can profit more from selling the rice. Greed. Greed. Greed and now a global food crisis.
(This is what my meez is protesting about).

b) Military Juntas:- Like the government of Myanmar who show little concern for their people even in the face of a natural catastrophe like Cyclone Nargis. With a death toll climbing into the tens of thousands and an estimated one million without shelter, food or safe water for almost a week, the government is still holding up the entry of international aid by insisting on lengthy negotiations before allowing permits and visas for rescue workers. One report claims that an aid agency was told that financial aid in the form of hard currency could be handed over to the government official but the aid workers and relief supplies cannot enter the country. The military and there soldiers seem to be largely missing from relief efforts. In some villages, the soldiers have not come to help but instead the Buddhist monks that they have been persecuting are the ones on the ground rendering aid and clearing debris.

c) Monsters:- They exist. I refer to those men who prey on helpless children and sexually abuse them. In an update of the sad and tragic story of the Austrian woman who had been sexually abused by her father since she was 11 years old, imprisoned in a cellar for 24 years and forced to bear him seven children, the father has since claimed that he is NOT a monster. He argues that if he was a real monster, he would have killed his daughter and all seven offspring, burned and disposed of all the bodies and he would not have been caught. Instead, he points out that it was he who decided to let her and the children live and therefore, he is not a monster but responsible for sparing their lives! And then there is the pedophile that Interpol is searching for who is believed to have been sexually exploiting countless young children and having the incidents recorded on the internet. Monsters.

Sorrrrry for being so negative but it seems like its been a bad week around the world. Grumble....Grumble.....Grumble.

Cyclone Nargis

on Monday, May 05, 2008

PhotoCredit: AFP/Getty Images

Sadly, once again a severe storm has wrecked havoc and taken many lives. This time it is Cyclone Nargis which struck Myanmar on Saturday. At the moment, the death toll is already estimated at 4,000 but ominously, the BBC reports of fears that in one badly affected town, the death toll there alone may reach 10,000 while a further 3,000 are believed to be missing.

The cyclone reached land on the Irrawady Delta which is the most populated region of Myanmar and is also the country's rice bowl or main rice producing area. Hence loss of life and property could also be followed by food shortages throughout the country.

The amazing thing is that Myanmar's closed and secretive military junta government still insisted in hampering international aid from arriving without negotiations which are aimed at restricting movement and monitoring their activities. As I type this almost 48 hours after the cyclone hit, only several small recce trips by UN officials have been agreed to. Politics seem to be a hindrance even to helping the suffering victims.

Is this cyclone another sign of climate change? It would be impossible to say that with 100 % certainty but I believe so. I do not recall any cyclone as severe hitting Myanmar in the last century. Certainly, as a result of climate change, we will see more of these devastating storms.

Will it make a difference to the oppressive political regime? Sadly, probably not as long as their leaders are more concerned about their own well-being and position than the needs of their people.

In Malaysia, we have a large number of Myanmarese. All of them are here to try to make a better economic future for themselves and their families and some are here to escape persecution and political oppression. Some are here legally but most are probably here illegally having trekked through hundreds of kilometers of jungle and possibly braving the sea in small boats. They are very much at the bottom of the pecking order in Malaysia but they have generally made a reputation for themselves as hard workers and honest too. As difficult as their working conditions are in Malaysia, their job provides a hope for a better future for themselves and the families they left behind in Myanmar. Today, many will have the extra burden of fear and uncertainty and even grief as they await news and worry about their families at home.

Join me in praying for them; praying for many lives to be spared, for international medical and rescue help to arrive quickly, for political change and healing for the country and the people.

Ming Dynasty - Tea Ceremony

on Sunday, May 04, 2008

Regular readers will remember that I was in Australia at the end of last year. The reason I was there was to help with the preparations and to witness the wedding of my nephew, Ming. Despite the distance, I would like to think that we have always remained quite close even as the boy grew up to be a man. In our culture, we often refer to the couple on their wedding day as King and Queen for a day. So indeed, I feel that with his wedding to his lovely wife Jean, old foggies like myself begin to slide into the sunset to make way for a new exciting chapter in the family history ......the Dynasty of Ming!

The wedding is in three parts; the tea ceremony, the exchange of vows and the wedding dinner. The newly wed couple cannot immediately begin reigning their own household until they pay homage to their parents and elders which they do so by offering cups of tea to their elders as a symbol of servitude and respect. In turn, the parents and elders will give them a symbolic gift or "ang pow" (red packet filled with money) to signal acceptance into the family and also to wish them good fortune in their new life together.

This wedding was also exceptional as the groom was from a Malaysian Chinese culture and the bride was Korean. Hence, the day was full of colourful representation of both rich cultures.

Ming & Jean - the King and Queen for the day, making their entrance

The Tea Ceremony - for Ming's parents

The Korean side of the Dynasty in colourful traditional dress (hanbok)

Malaysian relatives
(Chinese Cheong-sam - ladies at both ends of the line)
(Peranakan Sarong Kebaya - the two ladies 2nd and 3rd from left)
(Batik Shirt - sole gentleman amongst the ladies)

Fruits and cakes from both cultures

Emperor Ming discovers Korean Tradition of carrying Mother-in-law!

All photos are by LGS.

A Lifetime in Six Words

on Thursday, May 01, 2008

Open Grove Claudia likes to drag me out on a limb (which seems to be one of her favorite places) and leave me dangling, exposed for the blogging community to see. This time she has tagged me to do a six word memoir. After spending three sleepless nights thinking about this, I finally came out with "Not Capable of Writing Short Sentences". As you can see Houston (and Denver), we have a problem.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of things, I deprived myself of sleep for yet another night to come up with the following six word gems. I decided to address separately, my three aspects of being which is the body, spirit and soul. (Alert readers will probably realise already that this means I get to use 18 words). Oooookay, here goes.

Body: - This one is easy. Easy but kind of sad.
"Photos prove I was skinny once."

Soul:- I understand this to mean my eternal, indestructible soul.
"Undeserving Sinner Saved by God's Grace."

Spirit:- I take this to mean my being, character and unique personality.
"Trying to live life beyond ordinary."

I almost forgot my alter ego;
"Shy Squirrel finds voice in blogosphere."

Thanks for reading (readers who are still awake would have realised that I sneaked in another 6 words). Now it is time to tag six others.

Dave (Bang on My Drum), Dr. John (Dr. John's Fortress), Gina (I, G-Clair), Claire (Notes from a Wildcats Fan), Proxima (The Echo Tree) and the thinker (Theory of Thought) should you choose to accept this mission, please link back to this post and also let me know that you have done the dastardly deed. Thanking you in advance.

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