Lost in Thought


Tradition is important here in the Realm.  And so, it is time for my semi-annual, very occasional, sometime, when I remember to do it and am not too lazy, once in a blue moon event.  I refer, of course, to my tribute to the funny one-liner.  The last time I did it was here, “one-liner-or-two”.

Yes, every year during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, some critics sift through all the comedy routines performing, nominate 5 one-liners each, which are then put to a panel of 2000 people for voting, and out comes the official pick for the best one-liners.

Here are some of my favorites from the list;

1. “My dad has suggested that I register for a donor card. He’s a man after my own heart.” Masai Graham

2. “Why is it old people say ‘there’s no place like home’, yet when you put them in one …” Stuart Mitchell

3. “I’ve been happily married for four years – out of a total of 10.” Mark Watson

4. “Brexit is a terrible name, sounds like cereal you eat when you are constipated.” Tiff Stevenson

5. “Is it possible to mistake schizophrenia for telepathy, I hear you ask.” Jordan Brookes

6. “My motto in life is always give 100%. Which makes blood donation quite tricky.” Tony Cowards

And then there were the one liners which caused the most groans from the crowd like Darren Walsh‘s gem; “What do you call three members of Abba in a French slaughterhouse? Abba trois.”

In case you were wondering about the title of this post, “Lost in Thought”, it is a quote from one of my favorite one liners of all time which is “I just got lost in thought……it was unfamiliar territory.”

(feature post image of squirrel from The Business Insider Australia)

Unburied Nuts from 22nd May 2009:- Basic Squirrel 101


It is the habit of squirrels to bury nuts in the ground and when they think the nuts have sufficiently “aged”, to dig them up again. On this flimsy pretext, I occasionally “dig up” an old post that I feel deserves to see the light of day again.  This post happens to be all about squirrels or “Everything you wanted to know about squirrels but were afraid to ask!”

Today, a work colleague came up to ask me to identify a squirrel. He said that he heard that I was into squirrels. I was taken aback. Evidently my secret identity as the Lone Grey Squirrel was not so secret after all and someone has made the connection between my internet alter ego and my real identity. Hmmmm. In hindsight, I’m so glad I decided against posting up the photo of me dressed as a squirrel wearing only a red underwear and a cape. Those things have a way of coming back to haunt you.

The other reason I was taken aback was that I did not know the answer! Shock horror! Anyway, I did a little research but I think I now know the answer. Apparently, he took a photograph of a squirrel which he thought was a plantain squirrel (which is common in these parts) but whereas the plantain squirrel was marked, this was not marked. His question was what squirrel looks like an unmarked plantain squirrel.

THE ANSWER: PLANTAIN vs PLAIN
The Plantain Squirrel has a grey body and a light brown belly with a white and a black stripe between the two. The plain Slender Squirrel is slightly smaller has a grey body and a pale belly and no markings.


Anyway, since there has been a lot of interest on squirrels lately from readers and visitors to this blog, I have decided to provide a basic introduction to the world of squirrels or Squirrel 101.

SQUIRREL 101:
There are 365 species of squirrel (one for each day of the year!) which belong to seven families. They can be roughly divided into tree squirrels, ground squirrels and flying squirrels. Grey squirrels are tree squirrels and the only group worth discussing further. Ground squirrels may be cute clowns but basically they have become confused between burying nuts in the ground and burying themselves in the ground. On the other hand, flying squirrels are just a bunch of self-absorbed show-offs. So we will now just concentrate on Tree Squirrels.

Tree Squirrels can also be divided into several main groups.

Grey Squirrels
Originally from North America (ranging from the Deep South and all the way to Canada), the grey squirrel has made its way to U.K. and even Italy where they are out competing the local squirrels due to their strong work ethic and cuteness. Grey Squirrels are the liberals and moderates of the squirrel world. Grey squirrels mantra is that “There is no black or white. Instead much of life is grey”. Grey squirrels really range from pepper and salt color, all the way to melanistic black. The paler squirrels are in the Deep South while most of the black squirrels are in Canada. The reason for this is unclear but some say that this is due to the large number of black slave squirrels that were smuggled to freedom in Canada by the Underground Railway in the 19th century.

Red Squirrels
Red Squirrels are found in many parts of the world but the populations of major importance are found in Europe. The European Reds are basically protectionists, left wing, communist unionists who are always protesting about the more hard working Greys!

British Reds have similar political positions but they are better characterised by other major characteristics. Specifically, English Reds are basically soccer fans. Some support the “Reds” (i.e. Liverpool) while others support the “Red Devils” (i.e. Manchester United).

Scottish Reds instead are more concerned with Scottish independence being as they are the proud descendents of the original red-haired Pict squirrels, begorrah. These squirrels were never defeated by the Roman Legions!

Non-Aligned Squirrels
The remaining world squirrels can basically non-aligned, apolitical, third world, hard working squirrels with low carbon pawprints. They are just happy to be left alone and undisturbed.

Disclaimer: No squirrels were injured in this parody. The only thing hurt was the truth.

Every Four Years


Every four years, sportsmen and women gather in some corner of the world to “contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play” (plagiarized or Melania Trumpized from the Olympics organisation).

And every four years, everyone seems to be watching the Olympics, talking about the Olympics or blogging about the Olympics.  Bowing to immense pressure from shareholders, the Lone Grey Squirrel has reluctantly agreed to do an Olympics post to boost flagging blog traffic.

But of course, this squirrel’s nod to the Olympics has a nutty flavour.  Without further ado, here is our tip of the hat to the Olympic sport of gymnastics.

Enchanted


You may have noticed that the Squirrel has been missing for awhile.  The excuse truth is that with all the bad stuff happening in the world lately, I was just hiding out in my panic room.  Well, while it is true that the shit  (please excuse my mild Deadpool language) has not stopped flying, the squirrel has decided to surface because there was a spot of light shining.

su lin

I refer to the momentous and happy event of the marriage of two of my young friends. Their combined ages is equivalent to mine.  (Sigh).  In Malaysia, we would call them “young cikus”.  A ciku is a type of fruit – fleshy, sweet and distinctly aromatic.  A “young ciku” has a similar meaning to the phrase “still wet behind the ears”.

Anyway, why has this brought the Squirrel out of his dark hole?  Well, the joy and love from this tying of hearts was truly “uplifting” for all who witnessed it.  I present evidence (see Exhibit A- otherwise known as the photo above) that gravity can truly be conquered by the power of true love.  It was…it was…like a enormous weight had been lifted from us.

But I digress unnecessarily.  I really wanted to share about these two “young cikus”.  Let’s call them Simon and Sue.

Sue is the one in the white gown, in case you hadn’t figured it out.  She is very young; an idealist;  one who believes in fighting for social justice for all and that money holds little value unless it can be used to help others.  And she is an incurable romantic and I mean, of the Disney Princesses’ happily ever after variety.  She has always dreamt of a fairy tale wedding and she wanted to have an enchanted forest theme for her wedding and celebration dinner.

Simon is the one in the grey suit and it is possible there may be a colony on the moon before we see him wear a suit again.  He is a simple man with simple tastes.  Indeed, he seems allergic to many society conventions.  He is his own boss and shows up to work (and indeed to most events) in T-shirt and sandals.  He has learnt to be extremely thrifty; some might even say miserly.  He would rather save money than splash it on a flashy wedding.

And so we witnessed this apparent mismatch; the hopeless romantic dreaming of a fantasy enchanted forest with her Prince Charming and the real world Simple Simon who would like the no-frills package.

Bit by bit we saw Sue’s dream of the enchanted forest slip away.  There would be no big church wedding or wedding dinner at a fancy hotel.  Instead, both would be held at a re-purposed industrial warehouse building. There would be no fancy caterers for the wedding reception but instead cakes and cookies baked by friends.  Decorations, sound system and even photographer were all friends.  Instead of a formal sit-down dinner, there would be a self service buffet.  But if Sue was a little  disappointed, she did not show it.

But Simon really worked hard.  Despite all his cost saving measures, in the end we could all see the thought, effort and love that he put into it.  Sue had wanted a photo booth that was the in-thing for weddings these days but it was deemed too costly to rent.  Well, Simon built a photo booth himself using a camera, a laptop and printer and a wooden box and had the whole thing mounted on a forklift from the warehouse. It was charming in an industrial chic kinda way.

Hats off too for Simon as under his direction, the warehouse was truly transformed into a magical enchanted place for the dinner.  He had done it with just a little budget but with great heart and not a little elbow grease.  It no longer felt like a warehouse but a beer garden in some enchanted woods.

su lin dinner

But there was still more.  Unbeknown to Sue, Simon and his 6 groomsmen had put in long hours of practice.  At the dinner, when Sue thought they were supposed to go round to talk to the guests, Simon took her and sat her in the middle of the room and then he and his backup danced and gyrated for her like court dances performing for the Queen.  It was as risque as a family event would allow and had Sue squealing with glee and the guests cheering.

Then came the speeches.  Sue acknowledged that they had known each other for 8 years and that Simon had been there for her all that time – a rock through thick and thin.  They both thanked their parents.  Simon said that he knew that there would only ever be one person for him and he knew it was Sue from the very beginning.  He then confessed that for him, the whole wedding preparations had been a very difficult experience for him and was so not his scene.  Indeed for someone who has seen his share of difficult times, he said that the whole wedding ceremonies and dinner thing was the hardest thing that he had ever done.  And then he said that he would do it all over again for Sue.

And there was not a dry eye in the house. Even Simon’s eyes were wet but he calmly informed everyone that he had something in his eye.

In the end, Sue had placed her faith in Simon and Simon did his best to live up to that faith.  Spending big money on a wedding isn’t necessary as long as the love is allowed to express itself – the love of the couple for one another and the love of all those gathered there for the newly weds. What a day! What a night! It was enchanted.

And even this cynical old squirrel believes that they had the best start for their life adventure together.

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.

Viewing the World Through the Observation of Squirrels

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