Solving the Mystery


Life is full of mysteries. You know…….like just how something like “Twilight” could have made so much money!  Or why humans with all their stupidity haven’t killed themselves off yet and left the world to the superior squirrels!

I know that I kind of left my readers in a lurch and created a mini-mystery of my own when the Lone Grey Squirrel disappeared for the last 13 months.  Astute readers will point out the similarity between the Squirrel’s disappearance and that of another famous writer. Agatha Christie, whose mysterious and extraordinary 11 day disappearance in 1926 remains unexplained to this day.

The Lone Grey Squirrel had thought of selling the true story behind his disappearance to some tabloid media but decided that he owed his fans and loyal serfs the truth ,,,,,,,,FOC.

The sad explanation is that LGS was just keeping his head down.  Regular readers (all two of them), will know that despite my megalomaniacal desires for world conquest, I am quite mild mannered and not prone to foul language in the slightest.  However, there just is no other appropriate way of saying this ………….

“When the SHIT hits the fan and starts flying, you had better shut your mouth and duck!”

And here in Malaysia where I live, the shit has been flying.

First, we had the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 in March 2014, with 239 souls on board and the accompanying embarrassing public relations fiasco by Malaysian authorities.  LGS worked through the grief and kept blogging.

Before we had time to comprehend what had happened, in July, just 4 short months later, Malaysian Airlines MH 17 was shot down over Ukraine by a missile and the bodies of the 298 who lost their lives had to suffer the indignity of many days unburied due to the conflict of the warring parties in that region.  Like all Malaysians, LGS also tired to keep going through this second and equally unbelievable tragedy.

Until these incidents which were both out of the ordinary, Malaysian Airlines had one of the best safety records around.

Then came, what felt like a knock out blow.  In December 2014. Indonesia Air Asia flight 8501 crashed into the sea in bad weather with the loss of 162 lives.  Thus, Malaysian airlines scored a one – two – three for the worst airplane disasters of 2014.

Things continued to go bad in 2015.  We had political scandals; allegations of misappropriation of billions of dollars worth of funds involving a government run company which is now being investigated in USA, Switzerland, Singapore and Hong Kong; we had massive street protests; we saw a very public rise in racial intolerance and divisive politics; we saw our currency drop some 20% against the US dollar to reach the lowest point in 17 years and earning us the accolade of the worst performing currency in Asia; we saw the introduction of a new goods and service tax, we saw our petrol prices rise even when price of crude fell round the world; we saw our national airline declared technically bankrupt by its new CEO; we learned that our education system continued to fall (coming in at 52nd place out of 65 countries evaluated) with a World Bank economist saying that the situation is alarming etc……..

And starting with the contradicting and sometimes mind boggling stupid and inane statements some government representatives made immediately after the disappearance ofMH 370, a firm track record has been established for laughable statements and excuses by Malaysian politicians, officials and leaders.

People are even beginning to make money selling books such as Unbelievably Stupid, which record the long list of stupid and unintentionally funny statements. Even the Crown Prince of the state of Johor has called for the replacement of government ministers who are considered “jokes” with intelligent people (article here).

I know for many of you, Malaysia is very distant and it is difficult for you to understand what is going on here but it does feel as if the world is laughing at Malaysia right now. Below is an example: it involves a case in New Zealand in which a Malaysian diplomat is accused of breaking and entering and committing indecent assault on a woman.  He apparently stalked the woman, followed her home, watched her from outside her home, pooed on the patio outside her front door, broke in, accosted her in her bedroom while naked from the waist down but fled after a short struggle.  In his defence, he gave the following excuses – i) he had to take an emergency toilet break in her garden which was why his pants were down, ii) he was only doing that because he believed it was part of a black magic ritual to win the love of the woman and finally iii) he was not in the right state of mind at the time.

The following video of this story being reported on a New Zealand news channel sums up how the world seems to be laughing at Malaysia and why the squirrel has been keeping his head down these last 13 months.

Laugh or cry.  Sometimes you just have to do both.

Here’s hoping for a better 2016.

Squirrel Resurfacing – A Media Event


squirrelfbi

Mulder and Scully are back!  The iconic X Files television series has been resurrected after a hiatus of more than 13 years.

Mulder and Scully are back!  Much older……… much, much older! (Hmmm did I also lose my youthful looks in those 13 years?).  But what’s important is that “chemistry”, that “spark”, the “sizzle” between them is still alive and kicking.

Mulder and Scully are back!  And so inspired, the Lone Grey Squirrel has decided to return to the blogosphere after an absence of 13 months (not 13 years!).

The X Files return has been billed as a “Media Event”.  Likewise watch out for the return of the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel – 2016’s Blogosphere Event!  It all happens here …..starting on February 1st.

Remember………the nuts are out there!

 

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.

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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).

Viewing the World Through the Observation of Squirrels

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