Chew


His name is Chew Keng Lin.   When I think of Chew, I think of a man of simple tastes and a happy disposition; more contented and at ease in the depths of the rainforest than enjoying creature comforts of city dwelling.  He loved nature and being out in nature. In fact, he made protecting nature his life’s work.

chew

I first got to know him at this place – Endau Rompin.

endau rompin

We were on the same team; I was team leader.  Together we contributed to the building of a field centre for scientific research and nature education in a relative pristine forest are. Today, it is part of the National Parks of Johor or “Taman Negara Johor”.

Chew continued on and became a senior officer in the Parks Corporation.

Tomorrow is Chew’s funeral.  He was only in his forty’s.  I don’t know much but was told he had some kidney problem; sudden and unexpected.

Although I have not met up with him for some years, I feel a bond to everyone who worked together on that team.  We accomplished something important and we all did a lot of growing up together.  That means something.

I am sad that he is no longer with us. I am sad that he passed on so young. I am sad that I will not be able to be there at his funeral to honor and remember him.  I pray that he is in a better place.

Resistance is Futile


Okay….. things are a bit slow here and I am having writer’s block.  So I sat here thinking about what to post about.  Thinking…..thinking…..and thinking…….and then some more thinking……. and NOTHING!

So in times like this, I am thankful for posts that I read, which I can sample.  Here is something I came across on someone’s Facebook.  Clearly, the lady has attained wisdom; enlightenment even.  I can only hope that you, dear readers, will follow in her footsteps.

squirrel rockyYes…..stop resisting.  Resistance is futile.

Here We Go Again….


So it is happening again.  First,  Anwar Ibrahim, the main opposition leader in Malaysia, has been in prison since February 2015 after being convicted on sodomy charges.  Many believe that the whole case was arbitrary and politically motivated and that was the conclusion too of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention .

Now, Lim Guan Eng, the Chief Minister of the state of Penang, is being charged with corruption.  Specifically, he is being accused of buying a house from a Ms. Phang Li Khoon for USD 645,000 when the prosecution contends that the market value of the property should be in the region of USD 1,065,000.  It is alleged that this favorable transaction was tied to the Chief Minister asserting influence to have a different piece of land rezoned from agricultural to commercial use.  This is despite the fact that the State Council has said that no such land use conversion had been approved and in fact the application had been rejected.

Lim Guan Eng is another opposition leader.  He is well respected and many people credit him for reducing corruption in state government machinery which has resulted in a the state moving from a large deficit to becoming the most fiscally successful in the country.  So, many are unconvinced that there is a corruption case to be answered.

Many on social media have noted that the Attorney General was quick to bring charges in this case and to bring it to trial.  Yet, in January, the same Attorney General cleared Prime Minister Najib Razak of wrong doing with regards to USD 12.5 billion debts accumulated by the state development fund 1MDB which he set up. This even while 1 MDB is being investigated in at least 5 countries for irregularities and  Swiss authorities have opened criminal proceedings related to 1MDB on “suspected corruption of public foreign officials, dishonest management of public interests and money laundering”.  The Attorney General also accepted that there was no wrong doing when about USD 650 million was paid in to the Prime Minister’s private bank account.

Anyway, an appeal was launched for donations of USD 2.50 each to be collected to pay the  approx. USD 250,000 bail for Lim Guan Eng.  Public support was evident as the target was reached in less than 24 hours.

And so, there is going to be more legal drama and political maneuvering in the near future and for many Malaysians, an extremely bitter taste in the mouth.

New EU Order


I just can’t leave you guys alone, can I?  I mean, I go away for a weekend holiday and BREXIT happens!  I mean, really!!

Anyway, the squirrel is now back and as a public service to those who are still stunned and confused over what happened, here is “Brexit for Dummies”.

#1.  The British held a referendum where they could vote to Remain or to Leave the EU.

#2. Guess what the Brits chose!

#3 The result was a shock to many around the world and gave many politicians, leaders, captains of industry, financiers and ordinary citizens a BIG, BIG headache.

#4. It would seem to me that Britain would be poorer for leaving the EU.

#5.  What followed has been precipitous drops in the value of the British currency and stocks, downgrading of the country’s credit rating and England’s soccer team being knocked out of the Euro 2016 by lowly Iceland.  It has been a bad week all around.

#6.  Finally, as the early impact of the decision is being felt and some Vote Leave politicians backtracking on what the promised could be achieved by leaving the EU, more than 3.5 million Brits have signed a petition asking for a second referendum in what can only be described  as BREGRET.

Embarrassing Moments in Science


Regular readers will know that the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel loves to celebrate excellence……….excellence in failure, that is!  Yes, there is something about epic fails that fills the heart with soul healing mirth and with admiration for the gumption of those who dared to try and fall flat on their faces.  That is why, the IgNobel Awards are frequently feted here.

But recently, the Squirrel had been alerted to a new source of inspiration.  Fieldwork Fails is a book that has a collection of stories of scientists hard at work in the field collecting data and making a fool of themselves in the process.  Kind of a tribute to those who push the boundaries of science and find that the sometimes the boundaries push back.

Here is a couple of examples from Fieldwork Fails which is compiled and illustrated by Jim Jourdane.

science fails 1

science fail 2.jpg

Now I have a few personal examples that I could add to the compilation on account that I am a scientist, have done fieldwork and have experienced epic fails.  But the following is one of my favorite, true, “cross my heart and hope to die” yarns.

This was early in my career as a conservationist and I joined a scientific expedition to a part of the Malaysian jungle that had been relatively poorly investigated by science.  I was really inexperienced at that time but had the wonderful privilege of being in the company of some very respected biologists and botanists and learning from them.  In return, all these eminent scientists asked of me was to carry all their heavy gear through the hot, steamy jungle.

We operated out of a base camp that was almost totally constructed of jungle material.  We slept on stretcher like cots made out of wooden poles and canvas under a shelter that was constructed from various palm leaves laid over a wooden frame.

On one occasion, I had a chance to follow a group of three entomologists who were leaders in their field.  (Entomologist = someone crazy about insects).  After a long day out in the field collecting insect specimens from various traps, we returned to camp and plopped our tired bodies down on to adjacent cots.

It was there, while we lay in the fading light, nursing our sore muscles, that one of the guys spotted an extremely large stick insect up in the rafters of our crude shelter. Now, Malaysia is famous for its many species of stick insects – some of which are very large.

Cameron Highlands - Stick Insect

Anyway, all four of us continued to lie on our cots exhausted, observing the creature from afar and there then ensured an academic debate as to the identity of the curious visitor in our rafters.  One was sure that it was a rare species.  Another disagreed, citing the proportion of the body to the head did not fit the species characteristics.  The third insisted it was yet another species based on the structure and positioning of the legs.  For once, I was wise enough to keep silent and let the experts argue it out.

After, about 15 minutes of heated discussion, one of the experts declared, “There’s only one way to settle this!”.  With that, he got up, reached for his butterfly net and scooped the insect from the rafters for closer examination.  With the prize in hand, all three gathered round to make the final identification.

That’s when they realised that it wasn’t a stick insect at all, it was a …..stick.

Bitter Searching for Commonwealth


Remembering Orlando……

Remembering Orlando, Paris, Brussels, Syria, Kenya, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Boston, Oslo, Sandy Hill, Virginia Tech, Turkey, Oklahoma City, New York ……………….. so many.

Why so much hate?  Where is the love for brother man?  If we cannot at least respect each other, how can we hope for a better world for our children?

My tribute to those whose lives have been snatched away or shattered……. and my plea to the world……

Poem by F.R. Scott; song by Leonard Cohen.

May we rise, from bitter searching of the heart, to play a greater part that men may know commonwealth again.

Korean War Memorial


bloom county war
Cartoon by Berke Breathed (Bloom County Babylon: Five Years of Basic Naughtiness)

The cartoon kinda sums up my confused state of mind.    When I was a wee lad, I grew up  on a diet of television series like “Combat”, movies like Chuck Norris’ “Missing in Action” and Commando War Comics. All of which tended to give a glorified and sanitized portrayal of war, in that, the bad guys are usually clearly viciously bad and deserve to be killed by the virtuous good guy heroes who almost always just get flesh wounds.

Slide1

And so, I grew up playing soldier and even cowboys and Indians.  Only later did I begin to understand that war is almost never clear cut black and white and it’s not just the bad guys that get killed.  I learned about “collateral damage”, “civilian casualties”, “killing fields” and “genocide”. I began to see that war wasn’t cool.

Today, I consider myself to be firmly in the peace-loving, pacifist, flower-power camp.  Or at least, that’s who I grew up to be.  And yet, I confess that I was excited to have the opportunity, with my brother,  to visit the Korean War Memorial and their open air collection of war machines.  Please forgive this relapsing war-junkie as I guiltily present some photos from that visit.

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Enter Korean War Memorial (Photo by LGS)
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The front of the Monument showing the brave and valiant fighters (Photo by LGS)
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The rear of the Monument showing perhaps the suffering of the people (Photo by LGS)
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F86L Sabre (Photo by LGS’ brother)
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F-51D Mustang (Photo by LGS)
IMG_2772
The opposing MIG 19 (Photo by LGS)
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LGS valiantly defending against air attack (Photo by LGS’ brother)
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The Hardware of War (Photo by LGS)
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American Tanks (Photo by LGS)
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Cool-looking attack boat (Photo by LGS)
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This Patrol Boat actually took place in the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong and still carries the scars of the battle to repel a North Korean naval incursion in 2002 in which 6 South Koreans lost their lives. The red holes are battle damage. (Photo by LGS)

Viewing the World Through the Observation of Squirrels

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