Alternate Reality is Real


Do you believe in all this mumbo-jumbo about alternative universes, where things are just a little bit different from our own reality?  Well, Steven Hawking believes they exist so that MUST make it true.

Anyway, for all you skeptics, the Lone Grey Squirrel would like to share some observations that prove that not only do these alternate universes exist, sometimes they spill over into our world.

(Cue Twilight Zone theme music and Rod Serling’s voice:  “Ladies and Gentlemen, sometimes the best intentions can be twisted.  I present for your consideration……one lone grey squirrel and his love advice given a technical makeover in …..the Twilight Zone!”

Back in February 10th, 2008, this very blog introduced Dr. Love, a famous witch doctor from Namibia who is his renowned for his advice on love (Advice from Dr. Love).   Remember you heard all that good advice here first.  Then, recently, the esteemed BBC did a report on Dr. Love………only he wasn’t the same guy and he was from Congo and not Namibia!  Instead of dispensing love potions and traditional wisdom, he was giving out scientific advice and using mobile apps! What is going on?  Alternate reality surely!

In the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel, this is the charming and mystical Dr. Love (or Aikenvoodoo-U Cassanova Lovelace the Great).

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And this is the guy from the BBC alternative reality report, the rather normal and scientific Dr. Love (or Dr. Aimé Lokulutu).  If you want to see the original unbelievable BBC Report, follow this link.

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And that’s not the only strange thing that’s been going on.  I love Oprah.  In my world, Oprah is a well respected, successful, media celebrity and all round good person.  But suddenly, this alternative Oprah appears on the news and it seems this version is a political Oprah who might run for President of the USA.  But the really strange thing is that  this Oprah has three hands………..surely….only…in the Twilight Zone.

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Picture from the cover of Vanity Fair’s 24th Annual Oscar Issue:-  Oprah’s hands:- Number 1 is on her hip, Number 2 is on her thigh and Number 3 is on Reese Witherspoon’s waist.
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Traveling Cheaply


Dear friends,

By the time you read this, I will actually be on the road, traveling with my wife. Of late, I have become somewhat of a frequent traveler and so I decided to share with you some of the wisdom that I have gleaned from my experiences.  Consider it a preview of my up and coming self help bestseller entitled “Tips on how to travel cheaply with your spouse”.

In my younger, foolish days, I used to believe that “two can live as cheaply as one” and that that applies to traveling too.  For example, with accommodation, the cost per person drops when you share a room.  Similar savings for hiring a car or joining a tour.  Occasionally, you even stumble on “two for the price of one” offers for restaurants, museums and even airfares.

But don’t be fooled! Unless you plan your trip well, costs can easily escalate.  Here are just a few tips to help lower your travel costs……….

Tip 1 : Choose your destination well

Generally speaking, countryside is cheaper than cities.  Not just because the price of things are generally more in cities but there just aren’t anywhere as many shops for your spouse to be tempted by in the rural boondocks.  Las Vegas, for example, have wonderful, cheap or even sometimes free, all you can eat buffets but it is still to be avoided if you or your spouse are likely to throw good money away at the slot machines or on Elvis impersonators.

Tip 2 : Choose your time well

Congratulations if you managed to plan a holiday in the countryside and away from all the shops.  Still, occasionally, you may have to touch base with an urban area or worse a centre with shopping.  When this happens, try to time the visit on a Sunday when many of the shops are closed.   I did this when we visited pricey Switzerland.  A visit to Bern and the wonderful, UNESCO World Heritage Old Town and its charming,  medieval covered arcades was achieved without too much damage by visiting on a Sunday.

Tip 3 : Choose the right option.

When you plan your itinerary for any given day, you have many options to consider.  Choose wisely.  For example, if you only had time to visit either a diamond centre or a chocolate factory , which one should you choose? (Hint:- one measly, micro diamond is worth the same as many, many crates of chocolates).

Try another one guys; a Swarovski Crystal tour or a beer brewery tour?  A no-brainer, right?

The Post Where I am Befuddled


I am sure you will know by now that I am an amazingly handsome, incredibly sexy, phenomenally intelligent, immensely gifted individual.  And it goes without saying, tremendously humble to boot!  But I will grudgingly admit that I have no business sense.

I often come across businesses and business models that seem to me, doomed for disaster.  Yet to my surprise, they turn out to be mega successes.

For example, I wondered what silly company chooses a logo of a partly eaten apple to represent it!  And how could some Mickey Mouse outfit make it big in the cut throat world of movie making?  And Hello Kitty, what is that weird merchandising blockbuster – is it a cat, is it a girl, why are people buying that thing?  Why are shops like “Hush Puppies” and “Nose” selling shoes and not puppies or nose-thingeys?

Yup, I just don’t have a mind for business.  And here is another example that confounds me……

I recently went to a store and since they refused to pay me anything for writing about them, I will just call them “Brand X”.  I wanted a particular shirt but they did not have it in my size.  I asked if any of their other outlets had the item in my size and they checked.

Apparently, none of the local outlets had the item but the helpful sales clerk pointed out that it was available from Brand X’s online shop.  Great! He even helped me put in the online order.  So far, exemplary service.  Then it starts to get weird.

He asked for my address so that it could be delivered to my home.  However, as I am usually not at home when such deliveries are made, and I had bad experiences in the past when packages ended up not being delivered.  So I asked him if the item could be delivered to the shop and I could pick it up.

He said that regrettably, the shop only gets delivery of items monthly and if I chose for that arrangement, my item will only be included in next month’s delivery.

“Well, that won’t do” I said.

He then offered me an alternative.  He told me that “Brand X” has an arrangement with a local pharmacy chain where items can be sent by “Brand X”  to any of their pharmacies, as selected by the buyer, for pick up within 24 hours.

And so, I selected the pharmacy and less than 24 hours later, I picked up my item from the pharmacy………….WHICH HAPPENS TO BE NEXT DOOR TO THE BRAND X STORE!

As I said, I just don’t have the mind to wrap around modern business practices.

The Ending


I recently attended a wake for an 89 year old woman from my neighborhood.  I did not really know her but once I happened to be on hand when she had a blackout in the street and I had accompanied her to hospital.  She spoke no English and my very poor Mandarin meant our communication was very limited.

She was often seen walking around the neighborhood, going to the shops for her meals.  She had no children, her husband passed on quite some time ago and she had long outlived the rest of her immediate family.  Some of her distant family had taken care of her out of family obligation but it was an uneasy arrangement and something of a burden to them.  It is said that she was  difficult, cranky and hard to like but I wouldn’t really know.

Then her health failed and she spent her last two years at a facility for the elderly where she had few visitors.

At her wake, there was no one who had a memory or a story to share.  No one wanted to give an eulogy.  Those that attended seem to be just going through the motions.  The minister leading the service had a real difficult time.

On the coffin was a picture of her in her youth.  She was a beauty.  I reflected on how it must have seen to her when her picture was taken that the adventure of life still lay before her.  What dreams she must have had, what hopes. I sat there at the wake feeling really sad at how at the end, she was being sent off, not by loved ones but by those who hardly knew her or those that did not particularly care.  But the worse was yet to come.

The wake service was being held in a building adjacent to the crematorium.  Actually it was more like a shelter with a roof but open on three sides.  As the minister led us to sing a final hymn, a stray dog came in and before our unbelieving eyes, peed on the pedestal on which the coffin lay.

We were all stunned.  It was like the world gave a final insult.

Like the minister shared, our hope is that she is  in a better place now where she is enjoying the love and care of her Creator.

I found the whole thing quite unsettling.  I realise that the reality is that for many, the final years may be ones stripped of dignity.  It is sobering to know that “there but the grace of God go I”.  But it also reminds us to be thankful for every loved one and friend that we have and to treasure them like jewels.

Squirrel Rising


Okay, yesterday was Squirrel Appreciation Day! Did you know that?  If you did, then where are all my prezzies?

Squirrel Appreciation Day, huh?  I guess it’s a start but really, squirrels should be appreciated every single day of the year.

So start laying out the nuts, the presents and the tributes.  Chop. Chop. We, squirrels, better start feeling mighty appreciated ………. or else, we might have to take action.  We are already assembling our air power.  Be afraid……be very afraid.

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.

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?

Viewing the World Through the Observation of Squirrels