I am Squirrel; Hear Me Roar

on Tuesday, February 24, 2009

C'mon! I dare you to try this extreme sport!

On a Wing and a Prayer

on Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eastcoastdweller posted a few weeks ago about the plane that crashed into the icy Hudson River in USA but in which miraculously all passengers and crew survived. In his post, he responded to the outpouring of opinion in the media that the hands of God was protecting that plane and its occupants. He was uncomfortable with that notion and asked, "Why would an impartial God save one plane and allow another to crash?"

It is a very good question because clearly planes crash (although the airplane industry keeps reminding us that we are more likely to die in a car crash going to the airport than in a plane crash). Do we accept that God intervened to save those in the Hudson River crash? Then, what do we tell the relatives of a more recent crash that killed 50 people; that God did not find their loved ones worth saving?

I have pondered about this question before in a different context. I have seen friends whose recovery from terminal cancer baffle doctors and who give thanks to God for the miracle. However, I have also witnessed friends die painfully with their prayers for healing apparently unheeded.

I may not have the answer but here are some of my thoughts;

1. Death and taxes.
We all die eventually. Only Jesus makes the claim of having risen from the dead. No one else in history makes that claim. The reality is that humans all die. If we recognise that, then we recognise that God will not always intervene. If He always intervened, we would never, never die as long as we keep asking for His help. That would be a strange world. One could do every dangerous thing like base jumping or juggling chain-saws and know if we got into a life-threatening situation, God would intervene. Then we would live in a world free from consequences of our actions.

2. Not because they were better or worse.
If we accept that God does not always intervene, then we will realise that the passengers of the plane that perished may not be better or worse than those in the plane that survived. When applied to terminally ill patients it can be so cruel. Imagine being told that God has not answered your prayers for healing because you are not good enough or you do not have enough faith. Instead, God intervenes only when He wants and according to His plan.

3. Jesus' example.
In the Gospels, we read of Jesus performing many miracles and healings but an important point to note is that he did not heal all. Sometimes, even when there were still more to be healed, he retreats from the crowd and goes away. The bible makes it clear that our time on earth is temporary and after that our soul faces eternity. Jesus (and therefore God) is more interested in saving our eternal soul than saving our temporal bodies.

4. Example of the Apostles.
In the Book of Acts, we read how God again and again rescued apostles from prison and execution. Yet eventually most of them would be killed for their faith and they expected it. So God can act miraculously at one point in our lives and not deliver us at another. Stephen was killed early on while others were being saved but God was pleased with Stephen. It was not because Stephen had annoyed God that God let him die. Rather Stephen prays for God to receive his spirit.

5. Earth versus Heaven
Christians believe that Heaven is a far better place than Earth. If we truly believe this, we would desire to be in heaven with God. If God intervenes and delays our death, we might even ask, why aren't you allowing me to enter heaven yet?

6. God's sovereign and mysterious will.
In the end, why does God chose to save one and not the other or why He saves at one instant and not another? Who are we to ask God to explain Himself? Surely, His ways are higher than ours and we would not understand. But I believe, God does spare some people because they are to do something important or have a role to play that will bring benefit to others and glory to God in accordance with His plan. God even allowed Jesus to die painfully and in humiliation because He had an important and wonderful plan of salvation to accomplish.

Those are just some thoughts. Have you asked the same question? What answers did you consider?

Interesting......Very Interesting

on Monday, February 16, 2009

Hi guys,

My intentions was to post my second installment on Barcelona, Spain but the masterly crafted MTV style video featuring scantily clad squirrels dancing around on the old cobbled streets of Barcelona will have to wait at least another week before it can be unleashed to the unsuspecting public. Unfortunately the computer in the laboratory from which I plot world conquest has been infected!!!! (and I wonder if I picked it up from any of you????)

Yes, now whenever I switch it on and attempt to retrieve said video, something strange happens which I can only describe as "groovy"; i.e. it looks like Windows that is tripping on LSD. I fear that I may have to send said computer to rehabilitation and who knows how long that will take.

So here I was, with no means to plot world domination when suddenly, sweet Marja of Dutchcorner, gives me this wonderful award for "Interesting Blog 2009" which originated from BlueDreamer . Thank you Marja. Without knowing it, you have given me much appreciated encouragement and have averted world conquest.........if only the free world knew how much it owed you.

As always, it now falls on me to spread the good mojo. It goes without saying that I like all the blogs on my blogroll and invite you to visit all of them but I would like to highlight the following with this "Interesting Blog 2009" award (in no particular order);

1. Guilty with an Explanation - What isn't interesting about the way Hearts sees life in San Francisco. Why even the title is interesting, don't cha tink?

2. The Unmitigated Word - I generally do not dally long on blogs that pontificate on politics and other heavy issues. So the fact that Andre's blog talks politics and deals with some deep social issues and I find it so interesting, makes this blog real special in my books. Andre covers the issue with real passion and with a great deal of thought and does it very objectively. Two thumbs up, bro.

3. For the Love of Women - This is a work of love by Eastcoastdweller and a small team that he has cobbled together (of which LGS is fortunate to be part of). This is a tribute to women. And aren't women interesting? If you want to learn more about women and their contributions to life on this world then do visit FLOW as we affectionately call it.

4. Gledwood Vol 2 Main Blog - Gledwood's blog has great recipes (for batchlors), has lots of cool videos, has wonderful posts about his Roborovski hamsters and he writes with frankness about his struggles with addiction. In his own words, his blog is about, "HAMSTERS & HEROIN: Not all junkies are purse-snatching grandmother-killing psychos. I'm keeping this blog to bear witness to that fact." Interesting, no?

5. The Molly Bawn Chronicles - Hmmm. So similar to the "Unsinkable Molly Brown". Coincidence? I think not! I am sure Molly Bawn is equally unsinkable! From the very first time I visited her blog, I have enjoyed her stories and her reflections. She's Irish which explains a lot. She does quilting and blogs about it too. Once I made a derogatory remark about quilting and Molly saved me from the lynch mob of her other readers by making me plead insanity so I am indebtted to her. But seriously, her tales of here and now and of yesteryear and of the Ol' Sod are very interesting.

Thanks again Marja and I hope all of you will visit the awardees.

Valentine Love Clinic

on Saturday, February 14, 2009

How are you all? It's hard to believe that it has been one year since the squirrel asked me, Aikenvoodoo-U Cassanova Lovelace the Great Witch Doctor, to give advice to lovers. Valentine's Day has come round again and some of you may do something foolishly romantic and one thing leads to another and before long, marriage is being considered. This is not good. Too many marriages fail today because people are not ready for it or have unrealistic expectations. To help you decide whether you are ready for even a serious relationship, I have prepared a few questions. I hope it will be helpful.


Are you a man?

If your answer was “No” or “Not sure”, there really isn’t much point in discussing this further. If your answer was “Yes”, I would ask to see proof. You see, you are not a man unless you have gone through a rite of passage into manhood. For example, in my village, a young boy would be expected to go out into the wilderness for one week by himself, find a lion to fight with and bring back a handful of hair from the lion’s mane. That handful of lion’s hair woven into a bracelet was proof of our manhood; our certificate and license to marry.

What is your proof of manhood? Of course, I understand that you wimpy city dwellers do not have access to many lions but there must be something that you can do to prove your bravery and strength. Canadians do it by playing ice hockey and their toothless grin is their proof of manhood. If sports is not your thing, going on a holiday with your future mother-in-law is quite close to tangling with lions.

Do you own livestock?

Women like to know that their man can provide financial security. If your answer is “No” then you are not ready for marriage. If you have not even prepared ahead for your dowry, you clearly have not planned for your financial future. My last wife’s dowry cost me 6 cows, 2 goats and 8 chickens which is pretty much the going rate these days. Livestock remains important even in the Western world except that it is represented slightly differently. Believe me, women are more likely to say “yes” to you if you own a 600 horsepower Ferrari rather than a 200 horsepower family van.

What is eix = cos x + i sin x?

If you can’t even understand this simple equation how are you going to understand women. They are far more complex. You are not ready for a relationship with a woman.


Have you ever had a pet?

If you have never taken care of a pet, then you are not yet ready for marriage. Having a pet (preferably a dog) prepares you to cope with a demanding, whiny and dependent individual. You do know that majority of the bachelors out there are not even house trained, don’t you?

Do you believe that you can change your man into Prince Charming?

If you said “No”, you are entering into marriage with your eyes open. You are a realist and know what you are getting into. If you said “Yes”, then you are about to learn that the frog that you kissed and turned into Prince Charming will soon turn back to a toad after marriage. Men are animals. Get used to it.

What is eix = cos x + i sin x?

If you understand this, you are way too intelligent. Men will feel threatened. You can continue your career as a rocket scientist but at home with your husband you need to speak like Jessica Simpson’s Daisy Duke in the Duke of Hazzard. It’s not difficult; just practice.


on Monday, February 09, 2009

This post is a follow on from the last post on the topic of body scars.

This year, the 9th of February so happens to be Thaipusam which is a very special Hindu festival which is especially celebrated by the Tamil peoples throughout the world. It is celebrated on the full moon during the Tamil month of Thai. Pusam refers to a star that reaches its highest elevation in the sky during the festival. The festival honours the birthday of the Lord Murugam and his acquisition of the spear that would enable him to triumph over the evil demon Soorapadman.

Today, the festival has been celebrated in India and nearly every other part of the world where there is a sizeable Tamil community. There are major celebrations in Malaysia and in Singapore. The main site of the celebration in Kuala Lumpur is at the massive limestone outcrop called Batu Caves where today, more than 1.3 million devotees and tourists converged.

One major component of the festival is the carrying of the kavadi. Devotees who have asked favours from or prayed to the Lord Murugam often make pledges to carry the kavadi. The simplest form of the kavadi is a semi-circular frame with a wooden rod which is placed across the shoulders of the devotee. Other forms include piercing the skin and supporting the kavadi with metal spokes or spears. Another variant involves using hooks embedded into the skin to carry heavy objects or to pull a chariot. Other devotees may pass a skewer through their cheeks. Basically, the more pain you endure, the more merit you score.

Kavadi Carrier, Thaipusam Festival, Penang

However, devotees go through a strict purification ritual which includes prayers and specific diets. Special powders are applied and prayers chanted. As a result, most devotees enter a trance-like state where they seem to feel no pain from their self-inflicted wounds.

Dude, do you know you have a bunch of hooks in your back?

These kavadis may be carried along a procession route but in Kuala lumpur, they end up at Batu Caves where they will be carrried up these 272 steps leading to the cave temple complex.

its a long way up, imagine doing this with the spiked kavadi for thaipusam

Another aspect which is very much identified with the festival is the smashing of coconuts as offerings after their prayers. This results in a sea of smashed coconuts which is entusiastically welcomed by resident monkeys but less so by the cleaning crews the next day.

Smashing the coconut

This squirrel has been to Batu Caves a number of times and it certainly worth a visit if you are ever in Kuala Lumpur. However, this squirrel is also smart enough not to be there in the mad crush of 1.3 million people in the equatorial heat and humidity.

That is all for now from this squirrel, reporting from a safe and comfortable distance from the Batu Caves.

Distinguishing Marks

on Sunday, February 08, 2009

Last evening, I had the following conversation with my wife.

Wife: Next time don't volunteer me to do salad for the church gathering.

Me: I thought salad would be easy.

Wife: Easy? Just who is going to grate the carrots.

Me: I'll help and we can get it done in no time.

Wife: You? Grating the carrots?

Me: Why? How difficult can it be? Pass me the grater.

I proceed to grate the carrots on the grater but before long, my grip slips and instead of carrot, I am feeding my thumb into the grater.

Me: OUCH!!!

Wife: How bad is it?

Me: Not too bad. Just a single cut. Look it is barely bleeding.

I keep grating the carrots without incident .....for another couple of minutes. Then, my thumb goes flying into the grater again!

Me: OUCH!!! OUCH!!! and TRIPLE OUCH!!! Man down! Man down! It's a gusher!

This time I achieved three cuts and my thumbnail split down the middle about half way. There's enough blood to get Dracula excited.

Wife: That's it! Stop trying to help me. Get out of the kitchen and stop bleeding into the salad!

And that, is pretty much how my thumb got its new scars. It is throbbing with pain to remind me not to send it into harms way again; which in turn got me thinking about the other silly things that I have done in my life and the various scars that my body sports as a result.

My very first battle scar was when picked up when I was a mere toddler. I declared war on a glass door. Well, actually I am told that the door was closed but I chose to walk right through it. Anyway, the entire glass pane shattered. Again, I am told that I could have been decapitated but I got away with a bad cut on my middle finger on my left hand. It resulted in a 2 cm long scar with a curious knot-like shape in the middle.

Next, I got a scar in the shape of an eye and about the same size on my right calf. I think that was from a bicycle accident. Then, I picked up my third scar when they abducted me when I was eleven and they did all kinds of weird experiments on me which they collectively referred to as an appendectomy.

My first visit to the British Council when I was twelve, to see a concert, left me with a chipped tooth after I missed a step coming down the stairs and decided to try to take a bite out of glorious Ol' England. Tooth versus concrete was not really a fair fight.

Bad shoes have left me with misshapen feet. Playing basketball and an ill conceived stunt involving jumping down a stairwell has left me with damaged ankles but you cannot see it on the outside. Well, since we have entered the body cavity, I might as well throw in the fact that I have 3 prolapsed and herniated spinal discs.

I think that is about it. Bet all of these are going to ache more as I grow older. How about you? Any distinguishing marks or scars with stories to share?

Emergency Exits

on Monday, February 02, 2009

Spikey, the vagabond clown and professional smoocher, was my original guide into the neighbourhood world of squirrels. I first started feeding him in early autumn and I got into the habit of leaving him some peanuts on a small rock with a concave surface which just the right height to act like a feeding bowl for squirrels. He would come by in the morning and also in the evening before sunset and feed from this feeding station.

This feeding rock just happened to be right next to the base of a small, one foot high evergreen bush. When winter came and the snow arrived, the whole garden would be covered in white. However, the small evergreen bush with its tight interlacing branches and leaves was only covered with snow on the outside, leaving its interior snow-free. In a sense, it became a miniature igloo with one opening which was just the right size and location that Spikey could reach the peanuts on the feeding stone and yet be mostly protected from the bitter winter winds. It became routine to see the little rapscallion installed in his place there, sheltered and comfortably feeding at the station.

One evening, I happened to be watching from the window as Spikey took his usual spot. He was happily munching away for several minutes when suddenly he straightened up in alarm so that his head was fully visible above the surrounding snow. I scanned around to see what had got his attention. There was some movement amongst the bushes further down the path. I watched and soon a large squirrel appeared on the path.

It was Speedy. Speedy is a large and rather fearless squirrel. He had been seen standing his ground and fighting off crows. He was also a bit of a bully with the other squirrels and was very much Spikey's nemesis. He would occasionally chase Spikey away from enjoying the bounty of hard earned peanuts from his begging and clown routines. Nobody stood up to Speedy.

This was the first time though that I was witnessing a Spikey - Speedy encounter in the winter snow. As Speedy ran up the path to the feeding station, I quickly realised that Spikey had disappeared from the entrance of the snow igloo. I would have seen him and so would have Speedy if he had tried to run out. It was therefore reasonable to assume that he had sought refuge inside the interior of the snow igloo.

I watched with interest as Speedy, quite unaware of Spikey's presence, came up to the feeding station. To my amusement, Speedy came and took over the same spot at the entrance of the igloo and began feedingon the peanuts. I was transfixed. I knew that my charming Spikey was a bit of a chicken-heart when it came to facing up to Speedy so I was imagining the state of panic he would be feeling as he found himself in the dark interior of the bush with the only entrance blocked by the huge bulk of Speedy.

I watched in wonderment and interest wondering what Spikey would do next. The minutes began to tick onwards and Speedy showed no hurry to leave, happily devouring the peanuts. Maybe about 10 immensely stressful minutes had passed when suddenly there appeared to be an "explosion" of snow flying into the air from the back of the bush. Out came a flying, snow covered Spikey. It was over in seconds and Spikey disappeared into the distance. It happened so fast that Speedy didn't even understand what happened. He stopped for a moment but then went back to his feeding. I, on the other hand was on the floor rolling in laughter at the image of the snow-covered squirrel flying out in the explosion of snow. Priceless.

The very next morning, I had a close look at the feeding bush on my way to work. To my surprise and amusement, I found that some squirrel (most likely Spikey) had during the night, dug an additional three exit tunnels from the feeding bush. He was probably thinking, "Never again! Never again will I be caught like a rat in a trap!" And indeed he never had another such noghtmare experience with Speedy blocking his escape!


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