Birthday Wish


As I mentioned in passing in my last post, I had my birthday last month.  I did not really celebrate it in anyway as is usually my custom.  However, one of you dear readers wanted to know what I wanted for my birthday.  So here is the answer(s);

1. The PC answer -  “I only wish for world peace.”

2. The megalomaniac answer – “I want to rule the world.”

3. The isolationist answer – “I just want to get away from the world.”

4.  Probably the most heart-felt answer at the moment……… I want one of these………

Model of Eagle Transporter from Space 1999
Model of Eagle Transporter from Space 1999

 

This is my current obsession.  Made worse because I cannot get it.  It’s like an itch that I cannot scratch. Arrrrgh!

Some of you will know or remember Airfix models?  I used to have a few of those kits which you had to assemble yourself with a bit of glue.  It was my childhood passion.

Let’s see I had planes like the Skyhawk, the Saab Viggen and the Jet Provost below;

jetprovost72md_1

I also had model ships like the RMS Mauritania luxury cruiser ……

886-maurentania-model-cruise-ship-model9

and the Graf Spree pocketbattleship…….

Admiral_Graf_Spee_model

Unfortunately, my mother did not share my enthusiasm and considered my models a nuisance that collect dust and take up table and cupboard space.  So eventually, my collection disappeared.

When I was not around, some of the better ones were given away by my mother to obnoxious brats (otherwise known as distant cousins and kids of family friends).

Before they were all given away, I decided to go down with the ship – so to speak.  I personally disposed of my few remaining models in spectacular fashion.

The Pièce de résistance was my sinking of the RMS Mauritania.  I placed ballast in the hold of the ship and floated it in an old abandoned bathtub in an empty lot and then set it on fire.  Then I sat back and watched the thick acrid smoke billow from the many tiny porthole windows until the mighty (model) ship sunk below the waves.  That was the funeral pyre for my model collection.

That was many, many years ago but now that I have a bit more time on my hands, I am hankering to get back into doing these model kits.  Not too many.  Just a select few.  And the one I really want is the Eagle Transporter from the old TV series Space 1999.

1999EagleTrans1

Firstly, I was a fan of the series; secondly, the Eagle is just way cool and has such interesting details and thirdly, it can come in several configurations by having interchangeable central pods.  It could be a standard transporter or it could be a science laboratory or it could be a rescue ship etc.

My problem is that I cannot find this model kit anywhere now.  It’s production probably stopped years ago and the remaining kits still out there are quite rare.

So that’s what I would like to get.  Have you seen one near you?

Gardens by the Bay


Some of you came by and left happy birthday wishes last week.  I was not able to immediately reply because I was in neighboring Singapore and was too skinflint to spring for the cost of wifi.  Nevertheless, thanks for the messages which I appreciated even though I don’t normally observe that day in any special manner.  ( I am still annoyed and have been for many years that I can no longer claim to be an ‘irresponsible’ teenager).

Anyway, I spent most of my birthday on the open road, driving to Singapore.  However, the point of this post is to share with you my experiences at one of Singapore’s more recent attractions, the Gardens by the Bay.

The place is located on reclaimed land within a stone throw away from the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel (well, it’s a stone throw if Hercules was doing the throwing).  There you will find open gardens showcasing different types of flora to which admission is free and is a great place to walk around and get some serenity in the midst of bustling Singapore (avoid school holidays and public holidays though when the people throng through like sardine schools).

However, there are also the very spectacular Supertrees.  These are tall 25 -50 m structures shaped like trees with a spreading canopy but most special of all is that vegetation has been encouraged to grow on the structure creating a natural green and living wall.  At night, the Supertree Grove is lit up and twice a night a very beautiful light show is performed.  The Supertrees are also linked by a walkway that allows you to take in the Supertrees and the view of the gardens from several storeys up.  These Supertrees alone are probably worth making the trip to the Gardens.

However, there are two enormous greenhouse like domes; the Flower Dome and the Cloud Dome.  The former is basically a large climate controlled greenhouse for plants including arid desert plants and flowers.  When I was there, the focus was on orchids.

The Cloud Dome is a massive structure that  houses a huge man-made hill complete with waterfall.  The uniqueness is that the whole structure houses plants normally found in tropical cloud forests.  Apart from the spray from the waterfall, the dome creates its own mist cloud every few hours to keep the riot of vegetation happy.  It is quite the sight.  Walkways bring you in and out of the structure so that you can get views of it from a distance, up close, from above, by its side and from below and every other possible view.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I hope you enjoyed the photos.  It is a great place although the price of admission to the two domes seemed a little bit steep and although the cloud forest dome was very stunning, I found the variety of plants there more limited than I had expected.  As for the Flower Dome, I have seen far more impressive floral displays elsewhere.

So, overall, I think it is worth a visit especially for the Supertrees.  For the rest, I hope they will work at improving it further.

Ipoh – Food Glorious Food, Fellowship and Fun


A couple of weeks ago, I was absent for a short while as I went along to my church annual family camp. It was a great time of hearing God’s word, fellowship and ‘fai lo’ ship (local slang for sharing meals together). This year our venue was the town of Ipoh.

Ipoh is the capitol of the state of Perak in Malaysia.  At one time, it was one of the richest cities in the region with scores of multimillionaires and resplendent with mansions on large grounds.  It had grown rich on the back of tin mining.  The city then fell into the backwaters when the price of tin fell catastrophically in the 1970′s.

Today, it is seeing a resurgence due to tourism.  It is surrounded by beautiful limestone hills and caves including some interesting temples built into the limestone caves.

However, we were there primarily to receive spiritual food; teaching from God’s word.  We had invited a Singaporean preacher who encouraged us not to be just pew warmers but to be true disciples of Christ, we had to be, well, disciples; following his example and obedient to his teachings and commands.  Specifically, we were challenged to a) have compassion for others and be relevant in our community; b) have a real and living relationship with God through prayer and reading the bible; c) have a vibrant relationship with one another, helping and encouraging one another in our Christian walk and finally d) to obey Christ is actively sharing His Good News to those around us.  We also looked into the book of Nehemiah and how different people (and not necessary the best qualified people) were assigned to rebuild different sections of Jerusalem’s fallen wall.  The important thing was being willing and working as part of a whole effort.

But a very good secondary reason for going to Ipoh is to enjoy the food because Ipoh has its own well know cuisine. Some of it is shown in the photos above. Use your mouse to hover over the photo and you can read the associated caption.

Some of the famous Ipoh cuisine are said to be due to the qualities of the spring water there that is used in the cooking process.  Hence, the Ipoh Hor Fun noodles is extremely soft and silky – unmatched anywhere else in Malaysia.  Similarly, the Beansprouts chicken is great not just because of the way the chicken is cooked but because the special spring water has made the beansprouts particularly plump, crunchy and juicy.  In the same way, the dessert – sweetened soyabean curd is silky smooth.

There are many more Ipoh food highlights including seafood, popiah (a type of soft springroll), beef noodles, Ipoh’s own white coffee, the pomelo fruit…….. the list goes on and on but it serves us all little good to keep talking about it here.  Internet technology hasn’t reach the stage where you can enjoy the food remotely.  You’ll just have to take my word for it ……or go there yourselves.  But be warned, Ipoh is hazardous to weight loss diets.

Automaton


In this Brave New World in which we find ourselves, many human jobs and roles have been taken over by robots.  It was inevitable therefore that the Lone Grey Squirrel too has been replaced with an automaton.

(Merrian-Webster Dictionary:  Automaton – a mechanism that is relatively self-operating; especially : robot)


Photoshopped image: Worth

Once again, I have to make a short trip and will be away for at least a fortnight.  During that time, I may have very limited access to the blogosphere and therefore will be unable to post.

In my absence, the blog management in their ‘wisdom’ have decided not to hire a temp or ghost writer to keep the posts rolling.  Instead, they have decided to try out an automaton – in the form of the WordPress Post Scheduler.

So, you will still see posts appear here at regular intervals during my two week absence but be WARNED……..there is no hot blooded squirrel behind that post button. *SHUDDER*  There will be nothing there but cold electronics.

I hope you will continue to visit and leave comments which I can enjoy later but do not expect any replies as your wit and humor are lost to the cold eyes of the automaton.

I hope to see you guys again in person on the blogosphere in two weeks …………if the powers that be don’t decide to replace me permanently. *SHUDDER*

Kinabalu Fail


It is often said that “a handicap is only a state of mind“.  Boy, I think I have just the tale to regale you with that demonstrates that very point.

I regularly go hiking with a group of friends into the hills near my home city.  However, some of the group have graduated to bigger things (specifically, bigger mountains).  Some went to the Himalayan foothills last year and last week some went to climb to the top of Mount Kinabalu which is the highest peak in South East Asia at 4,095 m asl.  I, of course applauded and cheered them on from the comfort of my armchair.

Anyway, the ascent is normally taken in two stages.  The plan for the first stage was to climb for over 6 hours to the Laban Rata Resthouse at 3,270 metres and then to attempt the second stage to the summit very  early the next day.  The plan is to get to the top while it is still dark and then watch the sunrise.  Apart from being a fantastic sight, going to the summit any later in the day and most likely the view will be blocked by clouds or bad weather.  The following day, they would make a 7.5 hour descent off the mountain.

mountain
Photo credit: Soong Mei Ling

 

view
Majestic View (Photo Credit: Soong Mei Ling)

 

Upon their return to civilization, my friend Timothy, shared with all the armchair travelers, the tales of their adventure.  He told of the hard but rewarding climb to Laban Rata rich with beautiful flora and grand vistas.

Unfortunately, he told us, that on the morning that they were to make their assault on the summit, the weather closed in with rain and mist.  The team leader decided to cancel the final ascent citing “POOR VISIBILITY”.

Poor Visibility at the Top (Photo Credit: Soong Mei Ling)
Poor Visibility at the Top (Photo Credit: Soong Mei Ling)

We all were listening to Timothy’s account with great interest and all commiserated with him and the rest of the team for going so far but yet failing to reach the top due to poor visibility.

Ironically, I came across the following newspaper article a couple of days later about a group of seven climbers that made it to the top the very next day.  Truly, “a handicap is only a state of mind”.

blindnews

Well how about that for “poor visibility”, Timothy?

(Editor’s Note:  Despite giving Timothy a hard time about this, the truth is that the Lone Grey Squirrel was to chicken to even attempt the climb in the first place).

Aye or Naw


Well today is a truly historic day as Scotland goes to the polls to vote on the question; “Should Scotland be an independent country?”   Will it be a vote for independence – an “AYE” or “YES” vote?  Or will it be a vote to remain in the United Kingdom – a “NAW” or “NO” vote?

Recent opinion polls show this to be a very tight race and no one is willing to give a firm prediction on the outcome.

As I have some Scottish relatives so I have to tread a little carefully when posting on this issue.

My Red Squirrel cousins (distant cousins, I might add), consider Scotland to be part of their home domain and have been showing up in droves to support the vote for Scottish independence.

The Feorag as they are known in Scottish gaelic are all about their traditions and clans and claim to trace their ancestry back to the ancient warrior tribe of red-haired Picts that used to live in these parts.  Below is a picture of the Reds rallying for a “YES” vote.

sqwerl-invasion

Grey Squirrels on the other hand tend to have a different political view.    Truth be told, Greys don’t hold our cousins the Reds in very high esteem.  Their official scientific name is Sciurus vulgaris.  Doesn’t the name just say it all?

Gary-red-squirrel-sign

As you can see from the picture above, red squirrels drive slowly.  Actually, Greys think Reds are generally a bit slow.  Enough said.

While I can understand the aspirations of many Scottish folks and Red Squirrels for an independent Scotland, us Grey Squirrels are generally for keeping the union.

In an age of globalisation, the world is a smaller place and our fates seem to be completely intertwined.  We think that strength and prosperity comes from unity and population size.  Take China and India, for example, they are expected to become the largest global economies but that won’t happen if they fracture into smaller independent nations.

Scots are better educated than most in the UK.  They also have lots of oil and let’s not forget the whiskey.  They may fare well as an independent nation but the UK as a whole will definitely be poorer.

If everyone just looked at their own economic interests, then might California or Alaska seceded from the USA?  Hong Kong from China?  Alberta from Canada? Barcelona from Spain?  Disneyland from all the countries they are in?

No!  Grey Squirrels say “No”.  We are for union. Vote for union!

rexsquirrel

But anyway, it won’t make any difference as we Grey Squirrels intend to conquer the world and rule it as one.  So enjoy your freedoms and you referendums while you can.

MWahahahaha! (evil laugh)

I Leave …… You Laugh ……. I Hope


Hi there ladies and gentlemen and others,  the Lone Grey Squirrel will be taking a leave of absence for a few days for some spiritual meditation and good food.

Now I seem to remember some famous saying said by some famous person I think which goes something like this … “Leave them laughing!”

And so as I leave, I hope to leave you laughing.

This is actually something I posted before but I think it is worth repeating.  I challenge you not to laugh.

Funny Laughter

I thought that we could all use a laugh this Monday and so I decided to post on laughter. I admire people who know how to laugh at themselves and know how to make others laugh along. My favorite comediennes all knew not to take themselves seriously. The only thing that they took seriously was the art of making people laugh.

Some comic geniuses take it a step further and make it almost their professional duty to trip up their fellow colleagues and make them laugh. One good example and a favorite of mine was the Carol Burnett Show. As if the skits were not funny enough but the real icing on the cake were the one liner ad lib that the actors would throw out which often caused the other actors in the skit to laugh uncontrollably. Yet as good professionals, they would try to hide their laughter behind straight faces or available props, but often not very successfully. For the audience, the poor attempts to hide their laughter were some of the funniest things ever seen. Occasionally, an actor would lose it and laugh hysterically and that would just ignite the audience with wildfire laughter. When that happened, I would laugh until I cried.

There was something contagious about the laughter. “Laugh and the whole world laughs with you.“, so the saying goes. I present for your amusement, one of the best examples of an infectious laugh. It is a little long but quite worth it. The fun really gets going at the 1.30 minute mark and all decorum goes downhill from there. Enjoy.

Viewing the World Through the Observation of Squirrels

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 173 other followers