My Future as a Soothsayer


Chinese New Year is rolling round next month and this coming year is the Year of the Dog.  I was wondering what I might post about it when I came across a post I did way back in 2009.  In it, I made certain predictions based on the Chinese Zodiac.  I have decided to re-post it here.  Keeping in mind that these predictions were made 9 years ago, I think you will find that they are uncanny.
Pay particular attention to 2016, 2017 and 2018 and tell me if I should not be called “Nutterdamus”.

The Lone Grey Squirrel is upset that the Chinese Zodiac does not include, well, squirrels. However, he will not dwell on this glaring oversight because that is just the graciousness you would come to expect from the Squirrel. Instead, he will make predictions for the coming years at the expense of all the other animals. Without further ado, here are Squirrel Sifu’s predictions.

2009 (Ox) – Normally, one would be tempted to say that during the Year of the Ox, we might expect that there will be a Bull Run on the stock Exchange. However, given the global economic depression, it would not be wise to predict such a thing. So instead, perhaps it is sufficient to say that this will be an Ox-picious year, if for nothing else but as the start of President Obama’s period in Ox-fice.

2010 (Tiger) – This will be a great year cause it is my year and I have waited a long 12 years for it to come round again. Obviously, it will be a TIGER-rific year. It will be a good year to organise parties and large social events as everyone will have a roaring good time.

2011 (Rabbit) – The wild socialising of the previous year will lead to a huge baby boom this year which is most appropriate for the Year of the Rabbit. On the economic front, some Hare-Brained investment schemes will leave many people hopping mad.

2012 (Dragon) – Further economic problems lead to draconian belt-tightening measures. On the romance front, ladies frequenting nightclubs and bars must be especially careful of lounge lizards who tend to be particularly active this year.

2013 (Snake) – Obviously, this is a year to be careful of snake-oil salesmen with forked tongues. The best way to survive this year is to keep low to the ground.

2014 (Horse) – The economy will have finally turned the corner and the stock market will gallop to new highs. However in the rush and euphoria, try to make sure you are not trampled in the stampede. Ladies, this is a good year for Mare-trimony; so start lasso-ing and corralling your stallions.

2015 (Sheep) – Another good year with the economy charging ahead but the Government will raise taxes to fleece the new found wealth of the nouveau rich. Beware of a greater chance of locking horns with family members and its ram-ifications. A good year for insomniacs (think about it or rather, count on it).

2016 (Monkey) – After two terms under President Obama, the political mood swings and unfortunately a monkey is returned as President. In world news, U.N. observers will declare that there was wide-spread monkey business during elections in a South American banana republic.

2017 (Rooster) – A good year to increase your brood. For many, this year will be a wake-up call to the hardships caused by global Warming. Erratic weather make it difficult for farmers to scratch a living. If you work hard though, you’ll have something to crow about before the end of the year.

2018 (Dog) – It will be a tough bitch of a year as businesses fight over a smaller pie. A prominent politician will be dogged by allegations of corruption and the FBI will eventually collar him.

2019 (Pig) – Good times come rolling in but once again the political porkers will dip into the national trough. Health issues arise from excessive pigging out by the masses.

2020 (Rat) – We come full cycle to my cousin the Rat and so does the economy. How bad will it be? Let’s just say that you can see the rats as they abandon the sinking corporate ships. Do not share secrets with colleagues this year. Unfortunately, they will rat on you.

All these predictions are given free and so there is no guarantee given that they will come true. For more detailed and accurate personal predictions, contact the Squirrel at squirrelseesall.com. The more you pay, the more accurate the predictions. This is called the Gross Prophet Margin.

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When I grow up…..


I think I must have seen at least a dozen American movies where some kid is told that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up.  Ah, yes.  Inspirational, motivational movies.

Now it's time to be whatever you want to be.

But is it true, dear readers?  What did you want to be when you were young and in the real world, did you get the support and encouragement to be what you wanted to be or did life slap you down?

My brother wanted to be a veterinarian in his teenage years as he loved animals.  My parents convinced a family friend who was a vet to have a heart to heart with my brother to convince him that it was a bad, bad career choice.  He was told, it was a dirty job with long hours spent with your arms deep inside some animals behind.  Unglamorous and really something only medical school rejects do.  Yup, and he made my parent’s happy when he decided on being a doctor instead.

In my case, my parents did not have to resort to such tactics.  I got my slap down from other sources.

After giving up the idea of being a superhero (couldn’t find any radioactive spiders), my very first dream was to grow up to be a psychologist.  My reasoning was sound.  I believed that I had a natural instinct about people; I was fascinated by what motivates people and unlike being a psychiatrist, a psychologist did not need to waste 5 years doing a medical degree and I hated blood.  What else could I possibly want to be?!?!

Well, a group of my friends decided to corner me and stage an intervention.  Basically, they had one important message for me…….”Are You MAD????”  The prevailing attitude to mental health issues in Malaysia at that time was to make nervous jokes and try to lock people away and hide the problem.  Patients and therapists were not highly regarded. Now normally, I wouldn’t have allowed them to do this but there was this cute girl that I wanted to get to know better and she was part of the intervention team and so……….

If only I was a trained psychologist, I would have know how to handle the situation better!

But later, I was certain that I wanted to be a scientist and not just any run of the mill scientist either.  I wanted to be a ‘mad’ scientist.

Now for my Biology course during ‘A’ levels (equivalent to American High School), I was required to do a science project as part of my final evaluation.  I proposed with enthusiasm a project in the area of development biology in which I would study what early life behaviours were instinctive or inherited or learned and whether they could be un-learned.  Without going into detail, suffice to say that it involved baby rats and some judicious application of rewards and positive reinforcements (food) and negative stimuli (electric shocks).

My teacher’s response was “Are You Blinking Mad?”  Well, I mean, that’s the whole point of being a mad scientist, isn’t it?  Anyway he refused to give me permission to do it.  Instead, I had to watch some plants grow ever so slowly under different light conditions which is exactly as boring as it sounds.  And so today I am not the mad scientist I wanted to be.  I blame my teacher.

Were your childhood aspirations similarly thwarted?  Who did this injustice to you?

2017 – The Year That Was


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The First Morning of 2018

As we say goodbye to a mixed bag of nuts that was 2017, I thought I would look back at the year that was………..

January – The year could not have had a better start with the birth of my niece, Sofia.  Shortly, she will be one year old…….a happy, chatty one year old who loves to dance to latin dance tunes. (Well, I’ll be a Monkey’s Uncle)

February – I went to Japan to chill, eat sushi and attain inner peace amidst the zen environments there.  A wonderful experience despite the bitter cold.  Unfortunately, things in Malaysia was very far from at peace.  We were rocked by abductions of church pastors and social activists (who remain missing till today) and by “Cold War” style assassination conducted by agents of North Korea.   (Like in the Movies)

March – A quiet month which I spent daydreaming about my trip to Kyoto, Japan in February and fantasizing about going there again.  My thoughts was particularly on the wonderful bamboo forest made famous in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon . (Bamboo Forest Arashiyama)

AprilJune – This squirrel shook his head at what was going on in the world and decided to curl up in a ball and cover his eyes with his bush tail and tried to wish the bad things away.  I kind of lost my way a bit and did not blog.  Sadly, when I came out of hibernation, the world was not much better and the Twitter-in-Chief was still a twit.

 

July – Still trying to find my blogging feet again, I found solace in the rich biodiversity of Malaysia and celebrated the first successful attempt to capture the beautiful but rare Bornean Bay Cat.  ( B.B.C. – Cool Cat)

August – When things are not going well in the country, there will always be groups of old men sitting in cafes drinking their coffees and gossiping about the scandals while whining and complaining.  Only natural but it is pointless unless more is done and action taken.  Don’t just sit and complain but get up and do something positive to make things better.  So this squirrel resolved to do more to be part of the solution and an important start was to join a 40 day national prayer and fast. (Being a Watchman)

September – Another year older and a computer that decided to throw a hissy-fit.  Despite my best efforts at dropping hints, nobody bought me a new computer as a birthday present.  So another year older with a computer that reminds me about becoming obsolete. (Beyond Road Kill)

October – I went on a pilgrimage to  Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  Some people walk for weeks to complete this long distance pilgrimage.  I kind of just went straight to the final destination by Uber – you know, a short cut!  This squirrel is not just a pretty face!   Part of my little foray into Portugal and Spain.  (The ‘Creaking’ Horror)

November – I was still recovering from the shock of being targeted by light fingered villains in Lisbon.  I’ve been in the market for a good tamper proof backpack ever since.  Despite my best efforts at dropping hints, I did not get said backpack as a Christmas present.  I am beginning to think my friends are either very dense or are ignoring my perfectly reasonable hints.  (A Series of Unfortunate Incidents)

December – This squirrel tried to avoid the trappings of the commercialized Christmas and spent time celebrating with loved ones as well as those going through difficult times; remembering that “the humblest of people catch a glimpse of their worth;
For it isn’t to the palace that the Christ child comes;
But to shepards and street people, hookers and bums. (lyrics from Bruce Cockburn’s Cry of a Tiny Babe)  (Outside Looking In)

Know Your Bear Adversary


We interrupt our regular programme and postponed our scheduled post to bring you the shocking news of a great big Bear Dump over at Debra’s place.  Yes! An enormous big pile of bear!

With the higher risk of human -bear encounters these days, I thought it only right to re-post this very important bit of information below.

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As you can see, from a squirrel’s perspective, grizzlies are just cute bundles of fur but black bears are clearly to be avoided.

Many years ago, I saved up for a holiday in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.  My brother from Australia came over and joined me there.  Both of us do enjoy the great wilderness experiences but neither of us have had any exposure to being in bear country; there being no bears in Australia and my own dangerous wildlife encounters in Malaysia were more of the tigers, crocodiles and elephant variety.

That being the case, both of us paid attention when a local ranger orientated us to the attractions of Banff National Park as well as gave us practical tips including  how to behave in bear country and stay safe.  Things like, talking or calling out when trekking, keeping food away from sleeping areas and throwing rubbish in bear-proof bins etc.

We listened attentively and at the end of the little lecture, the ranger looked at my brother and decided to add, “You probably shouldn’t dress up in salmon pink shirts either”!

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Salmon Pink?  Maybe not in bear country.

Annnd….we’re off!


Well, my 2018 is already galloping like a runaway horse.  In this first week, there’s been a birth, a wedding and a death – three major milestones of life crammed into the first 7 days.

First, the birth.  It involves the bride from the wedding.  No..no…no….it’s not her baby! Let me finish before you jump to all kinds of wrong impressions. Good grief.

You see, the bride’s cousin couldn’t attend the wedding cause she just gave birth to a baby girl on New Year’s Day and wasn’t feeling up to a long distance journey.  Now for those who like to follow Chinese numerology, a birth on 1/1/18 (d/m/y) is extremely auspicious because in Chinese it sounds similar to the proclamation “definitely will be prosperous”.  The fact that the baby girl entered the world 2 weeks ahead of schedule only adds to the mystique of being fated to be born on that auspicious date.  The really superstitious ones might even be tempted to buy lottery tickets.

Secondly, the wedding.  It was today and it was a great joy for me to have witnessed it.  I have known the bride for many years starting when she was a teenager.  So it was a pleasure to see her embark on this next chapter of her life and wishing her and her new husband that God grant them a long and happy life journey together.  You know how they say long distance relationships are difficult?  Well they made a 16,000 km courtship work. Amazing.

They also did a studio photography session where they get all dressed up and have soft-focus, romantic photos taken.  A very common practice in Asia.  Less common is to have a picture of the newlyweds in their finery but armed to the teeth with swords and bows and arrows, fending off a ravenous T. Rex.  Certainly an experience to remember.

Finally, there was the death of an old gentleman. I attended his wake and funeral.  More about this in a later post cause I had a few thoughts on him that I would like to elaborate.

But these three life milestones just reinforced for me the thoughts I had when the clock went past midnight and into 2018.  I was thinking how time is marching on and for all of us, time will come to an end one day.  We don’t know if that is distant or near.  All the more reason to stop wasting our lives and truly live life to the full.  Also reason to give some thought about facing eternity ; how will we face that.

And, finally, finally, a little comment about the bomb cyclone event in USA and Canada that is causing widespread extreme cold, flooding, freezing, deep, deep snowdrifts and howling winds.  Sorry that you are experiencing all that and sorry for the loss of life.  But once again, wake up to the new reality of increasingly extreme weather events due to global warming.  Here to the clock is ticking.

But finally, finally, the most final of all, I also realise that in the midst of gloom, there is still beauty to be seen.  Hope this video will bring some cheer.  May this really be a Happy New Year for you.

Christmas Wish


Dear readers, what do you want for Christmas?  What is your Christmas wish?  I mean, really.  In all honesty, what is your heart’s greatest desire this season?

You can tell your Uncle Squirrel.  No need to be politically correct.  No judgment here.  Just watch the following video first ……….. and I hope it will inspire you to tell it like it really is.

Viewing the World Through the Observation of Squirrels