What Do They Mean .........?

on Sunday, January 31, 2010

"What DO they mean?" I came across this advertisement panel at my local shopping mall promoting a men's skin care facility. Another service for the enlightened metro-sexual male, no doubt. It even offers a facial and a tummy sculpting for the price of one procedure. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I could probably do with some tummy sculpturing but in my case, the end result will probably still not resemble hard and clearly chiseled sculpture abs like
that of Michelangelo's David; probably more like the abs on the Pilsbury Doughboy. But what really caught my attention was there pledge, boldly emblazoned across the advert, "Looking Good is Not an Option at MSC". Whatever DO they mean?

So, I may not be a hunk but at least I am cute.

Yes? Maybe? A little? Please?

Anyway, it got me thinking of a few examples of other similar failures to communicate appropriately in the English Language.

A common sign that you will see in Malaysian retail stores during our sales season reads, "Buy one free one". I remember one foreign tourist asking the sales clerk to explain; "If it is free, why do I have to buy it?" The intended message would be clearer if it said "Two for the price of one."

Sometimes, you can't be 100% sure that there was a mistake made or that the sign really does mean what it says. When the Petronas Twin Towers (previously the world's tallest building) first opened to the public, not all the lifts and escalators were fully operational. On one such lift which was meant to ferry visitors from the underground carpark up to the lobby was this sigh that read, "Lift is out of order. Any convenience is deeply regretted."

What do you think? A language error or the work of a sadistic maintenance worker?

Another favorite of mine was a sign at a teachers' training workshop which read like this; "After lunch, the Modern Maths workgroup will meet in the larger half of the hall."

The "larger half"? Is that what they mean by "modern" maths or is it that mathematics is finally reconciling itself to the fact that in this world, the reality is that all people are equal but some are more equal than others?

Here Lies Peter Rabbit And His Friends

on Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Note: If the title of this post intrigued you, I'm afraid you will have to read through this long post as I only refer to it at the end. Of course, you could scroll to the end, there-by bypassing all the tripe at the front but that would be cheating and just "not cricket" as the British would say.

One of my unusual hobbies is to visit and photograph cemeteries. Since I started blogging, I have met a few kindred spirits who share in this particular interest.

Of late, I have had very little opportunity to visit interesting graveyards or cemeteries. So during my recent visit to London last month, I was straining at the bit for an opportunity to visit the famous Highgate Cemetery in north London. Unfortunately, I was thwarted by the unholy combination of foul (wet, cold and miserable) weather, inconvenient public transport routes and schedules, and an unwillingness of the guides (which you need to follow if you want to visit the more interesting part of the cemetery) to brave the winter winds except on weekends.

It's a pity. Did you know that you can visit Karl Marx's grave at Highgate Cemetery? But then, some people dismiss it as just another "communist plot". "Communist plot", did you get it? I made a small joke.

Anyway, instead of Highgate Cemetery, I placed my sights on Brompton Cemetery which was just round the corner from where I was staying.

Entrance to Brompton Cemetery (LGS)

Brompton Cemetery is located near Earl's Court in West Brompton which is part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It was part of the Magnificent 7 which were a series of private cemeteries which were commissioned through Parliamentary Bill in 1832 to address the fact that the inner city church graveyards in London were overflowing as result of the big population boom in London in the early part of the 19th Century.

Architecturally, it is interesting as it tried to follow an European layout and the design of its small chapel was meant to mimic St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

View of the Graves and Gravestones (LGS)

Today, the cemetery is managed by the Royal Parks and is open to the public to use as a park although funerals and burials still do occur. It is believed that there is in excess of 50,000 monuments and graves of every imaginable type. Below is a picture of a rather unusual and ornate copper clad coffin.

Ornate Copper Resting Place (LGS)

I particularly like monuments that rather imaginatively record the passing of entire families, like this one below.

The Cross Rises from the Family Plot (LGS)

The Chapel (LGS)

The Spirit Highway (LGS)

This cemetery is quite atmospheric and a real gem right in the middle of modern busy London. It is not surprising therefore that this has been used as a filming location for a number of movies including the films, "The Wisdom of Crocodiles", "Johnny English" and the newly released movie "Sherlock Holmes" (2009) starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law.

The Wilder Side of the Tracks (LGS)

There is a whole list of important and famous people who are buried here. For those of you who may be a dead celebrity watcher or a paparazzi who prefer a stationary target, you can follow this LINK for a list of the famous.

I was interested to learn that the Sioux Chief, Long Wolf, was buried here in 1892. He took part in a tour of the Europe as part of the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show but died of pneumonia. He was buried with a 17 month old Indian girl named Star Ghost Dog who is believed to have fallen from her mother's arms while on horseback. He was finally re-interned on tribal land in South Dakota in 1997 after spending 105 years in England's wet and green lands.

The other notable thing about this place is that it is the resting place of many childhood favorites. It seems that the famous author, Beatrix Potter, lived nearby at 2 Bolton Gardens and was a frequent visitor to Brompton Cemetery. For years there were rumours that she derived some inspiration from what she saw there. In 2001, James Mackay, a member of the Friends of Brompton Cemetery decided to investigate using recently computerised cemetery records and found a startling number of Ms. Potter's story characters were interned there. There is, for example, Peter Rabbett as well as headstones for Mr. Nutkin (which of course inspired the creation of Squirrel Nutkin), Mr. McGregor (whose walled garden is believed to be modeled on the colonnades in Brompton Cemetery), Jeremiah Fisher, Tommy Brock and even a Tod (as opposed to the more commonly used "Todd").

The Nutkin Family (Photo by Rehan Qayoom)

That's me bravely investigating the spookier side of the cemetery. (LGS)

My Year, Baby!

on Friday, January 22, 2010


Princeton's Mascot

It's finally here! My year, baby! On February 14th, the day of lovers (Grrrrr!), the Chinese Lunar Calender roars into the Year of the Tiger. This should tell you just how old I am because I was born in the Year of the Tiger and the Chinese Lunar calender follows a 12 year zodiac cycle.

So Just How Old is the "Grey" Squirrel?
a) Older than the Pyramids
b) Sweet 16
c) 36
d) 48
e) 60
(answers given at the end of the post)

Not only that, this is the first Year of the Tiger for the 21st Century and as a result, nations around the world are also observing 2010 as the Year of the Tiger; a year to push forward with the conservation and protection of the world's remaining 3,200 wild tigers.

So this is my year times two. My year! My year! This year's all mine. If any of you lesser mortals want to use this year for something like going on holidays, getting married or watching Olympics or World Cup football, you will have to ask us Tigers for permission. ........no, seriously. Permission. You may write to me for the appropriate application forms. Permission will not be unreasonably withheld but a little bribe will go a long way towards speeding up the application process. Hint.

Thanks to a number of fellow bloggers and especially SquirrelMama, I came to learn that yesterday, January 21st, was Squirrel Appreciation Day. Wow, a special day for my squirrel alter ego right in the midst of my double Tiger year. Looks like everything is coming up daisies and daffodils. So what did you do yesterday to show your appreciation of squirrels? Don't worry if you did not do anything. It is not too late to make amends. Like any major religious holiday, Squirrel Appreciation Day have some traditions to help you celebrate the day. Here are some suggestions;

1. Bird proof all your bird feeders and leave it to the squirrels.
2. Give out specially knitted woolly jumpers for squirrels on account of the unusually cold winter.
3. De-claw and de-fang your cats.
4. Spend at least a tenth of your grocery monies on nuts for your squirrel friends.
5. Leave everything in your will to the Lone Grey Squirrel Charitable Fund for World Domination.
6. Vote for Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel to win the Oscar.
7. Petition for Lone Grey Squirrel to win a Nobel Prize.

I hope these suggestions have been helpful. If you do some of these, I might consider sharing my year with you.

Here are the answers to the quiz above. If you answered;

a) Why you evil and vile creature! I banish you from this year.

b) That is too deluded even for me and you're not very good at maths, are you?

c) I like you.

d) MUST you always be right!

e) Be warned! Squirrels will pelt you with nuts as you walk by.

Disclaimer: If this year turns out to be a terrible year, I blame Climate Change ........and Avatar! Nothing has been the same since Avatar. If God intended us to watch movies in 3D, we would have been born with 3D glasses.

Squirrel's Secret Spot 14 : Regent Canal and Camden Locks

on Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Hi folks. Sorry I have been away for so long. It hasn't been a great start to the year for me so far and that included being so swamped with work that I haven't been able to even go see "Avatar" for the last three weeks. But that is not the focus of today's post.

Instead, I want to carry on with my series of posts about my recent trip to London, England and coincidentally also add the 14th installment of Squirrel's Secret Spots from around the world (which is another series that I have not posted on for quite awhile).

Well, one fine winter day (which means typical wet, cold and miserable in England), having sated my appetite for tourist attractions and bored myself silly, window shopping along Oxford Street for the umpteenth time, I followed my nose (which was buried in a tour guide) and found myself at a rather interesting place.

I took the Underground to Camden Town, got out and went in the wrong direction and ended walking along the northern end of Regent's Park and took a circuitous route that almost took me back where I started but only after a walk of about 30 minutes. But I did not really mind apart from the bitter wind blowing because this route led me to walk along the blissfully charming Regent's Canal.

The Regent's Canal is a great place in summer to take a water tour by historical canal narrowboats from the Industrial Revolution period of the 19th Century. There is also a tow path that remains open for long walks in relative solitude long after the boating season is over. As the canal meanders its way between fields and buildings, walking along its towpath is like stepping back in time. I am a big fan of canals and canal boats. The calm surroundings, the brightly and gaily painted narrowboats, the often eccentric boat owners as well as the beautiful houses and buildings along the way would be more than enough to make me score this place very highly.

Stepping Back in Time (LGS)

Narrowboats (LGS)

Someone's Traveling Home (LGS)

However, the Regent Canal walk rewards its adventurers by leading them to the Camden Locks. This area was once the confluence of a number of different transportation modes. The Locks themselves were important to allow the canal boats to go upstream to a higher water level. Nearby there were the Camden Stables where many horses were kept. Also nearby are a couple of railway bridges which mark another important transportation mode. At sometime in its history, the area became depressed and many of these facilities fell into disuse. But more recently, the whole area has been revived with a mixture of recreational boating and a lively outdoor and indoor market scene, rich in arts, crafts and souvenirs.

Sure some of the stuff was tacky but a lot of the others were quite imaginative. My wife bought some Lithuanian amber at a great price. I, in turn was rewarded with a taste of Moroccan cuisine for less than 4 pounds sterling. Wonderful. And I ate it sitting on these cute seats made to look like mini-scooters and with a great view of the canal.

I loved it. I'd go back again. And so Regent Canal and Camden Lock Market makes it on to the Squirrel's Secret Spots' list.

Camden Locks in Action (LGS)

Art Climbing the Walls (LGS)

Camden Lock - Also Good Shopping (LGS)

Even the Stables Now Host Shops (LGS)

Art Galloping off the Walls (LGS)

Mini-Scooters by the Canal (LGS)

Oops! I Did It Again

on Sunday, January 03, 2010

I made the following post exactly a year ago but it would seem that somethings never change and it is as relevant today as it was a year ago.......Sadly.


Oh, and may I take this opportunity to wish you all a belated "Happy New Year's" greeting.

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