Category Archives: alter egos

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.

All Rather Confusing Really


These days the world can be a very confusing place; a place of smoke and mirrors.  Things just aren’t what they seem.  Ever heard of the idiom, “call a spade a spade”?  Well apparently most of the world hasn’t heard of it.

I happened to walk around my local shopping mall and I must say it can be bewildering.  There is a shop called “Nose”.  Guess what it sells…………………… it sells shoes.  Why would Nose sell shoes?  What is the connection?  Sure my nose is offended by my sweaty gym shoes but the connection is rather obscure.  I mean, I expect to buy shoes from a place called “Feet” or “Foot Locker” but from “Nose” I would have expected to buy nasal drips or get an operation to make one’s nose more pert and petite.

And this was not isolated.  “Bread and Butter” is not a bakery or a grocery store but sells clothing. Meanwhile “House” doesn’t sell household goods but is a restaurant.  And what would you expect from a place called WWII?  A decade ago, I would have thought it was some museum dedicated to the history of the Second World War but today I know it sells watches.

I have been doing renovation on my home and my foray into the world of building and construction shows it to be a similar world of smoke and shadows.  For example, my new “wooden floor” is actually a piece of vinyl with a printed and embossed wood pattern; all the looks and feel of wood but none of the problems.  I also have ceramic tiles that pretends to be natural limestone.  I also saw cement made to look like wood and wood that was made to look like cement. Huh?

I also followed with amusement the evolution of the telephone.  As you may remember, the old house phones had a handset attached by cord to a base with a rotary dialer. Then we got rid of the rotary dialer and replaced it with push buttons.  This led to a plethora of phones that look like something else. And so we saw phones that look like fruits, animals, household items, Coca Cola cans and other beverages, food ( hamburgers etc) and even body parts.  Then came the smartphones which basically just look like a slim rectangular box.  Of, course that did not last long.  Phone cases and attachments came along to make smartphones look like something else.  But isn’t it ironic that attachments now exist to make smartphones look like………wait for it………….the traditional phone!

New phone pretending to be an older phone
New phone pretending to be an older phone

What a crazy world we live in!!!!

Oh, and I forgot…….. if you came to this blog expecting to read the rantings of a grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), I hope you are not disappointed by the fact that I am a middle-aged pudgy Chinese guy from Malaysia (Homo sapien chinensis malaysiana rotundus).  Yup! It’s all smoke and mirrors.

P.S.  To all you Goon Show fans out there; this reminds me of the episode entitled “The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill-On-Sea“.  Below is the section that I refer to;

Greenslade:
Seagoon and Bluebottle travelled by sea. To avoid detection by enemy U-boats they spoke German throughout the voyage, heavily disguised as Spaniards.

Sellers:
As an added precaution they travelled on separate decks and wore separate shoes on different occasions.

Seagoon:
The ship was disguised as a train, to make the train sea-worthy it was done up to look like a boat and painted to appear like a tram.

Milligan:
All rather confusing really.

Kantoi! Busted!


Dear readers,

The Lone Grey Squirrel has been distracted by the abundance of nuts in dire need of burying and so cannot be with you at this time.  However, always seeking a way to better serve the community, Lone Grey Squirrel has asked his friend and cultural linguist to do a guest spot and post an educational post.  Enjoy and learn.

‘allo ladies and gents,

Perfessor Squirrel McNutts here, at your service.  You may remember me from when I reported back from my expedition to the jungles of Malaysia almost two years ago (Field Report on Manglish).  At that time, I gave an introduction to the lingua franca of the region which is an odd concoction of  English, Malay, Indian and Chinese dialects or Manglish (which is a technical term used by us experts).   Now using a modern scientific methodology called “Youtube” I have been recently successful in capturing more of this Manglish.

In the video below, a Malaysian singer and recording artiste, Zee Avi, sings a sad love story.  To my knowledge, it is the only song sung in Manglish that has ever been recorded (but then my knowledge is admittedly quite limited).  Nevertheless, I hope this will help you appreciate Manglish and even learn a phrase or two.  And to kill three birds with one stone, the song has even a moral.  See if you can guess what the moral of the story is by the time you get to the end of this post.

The song’s name is “Kantoi” which means “Busted!”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

ORIGINAL MANGLISH

Semalam I call you, you tak answer
You kata you keluar pergi dinner
You kata you keluar dengan kawan you
But when I called Tommy he said it wasn’t true

So I drove my car pergi Damansara
Tommy kata maybe you tengok bola
Tapi bila I sampai, you tak ada
Lagilah I jadi gila!

So I called and called sampai you answer
You kata, ‘Sorry, sayang. Tadi tak dengar.
My phone was on silent, I was at the gym.”
Tapi latar belakang suara perempuan lain.

Sudahlah, sayang, I don’t believe you
I’ve always known that your words were never true
Why am I with you? I pun tak tahu
No wonderlah my friends pun tak suka you

So I guess that’s the end of our story
Akhir kata she accepted his apology
Tapi last-last kita dapat tahu she was cheating too
With her ex-boyfriend’s best friend…
Tommy…

Kantoi

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Last night I called you but you did not answer
You had said that you were going out for dinner
You had said that you were going out with your friend
But when I called Tommy he said it wasn’t true

So I drove my car to look for you in Damansara (a suburb of Kuala Lumpur)
Tommy suggested that you were watching soccer at a sports bar
But when I got there, well, you weren’t there
So all the more, I got annoyed
So I called and called until finally you answered your phone
You said, ‘Sorry, darling.  But I did not know that you were calling
My phone was on silent, I was at the gym.”
yet in the background I could hear some hussy’s voice.

Enough is enough, “sweetheart”,  I don’t believe you
I’ve always known that your words were never true
Why am I with you? Even I don’t know
No wonder my friends don’t like you

So I guess that’s the end of our story
Eventually she accepted his apology
But wait, the latest gossip is that she was cheating too
With her ex-boyfriend’s best friend…
Tommy…

Busted!

MORAL of the Story:  Don’t piss off women songwriters or you may be immortalised in song and not in a good way (remember Taylor Swift’s boyfriends).

A Superhero Apologises


I was having dinner with my wife and another couple at a new restaurant recently.  The place was well decorated and had some nice thoughtful touches which kind of offset the fact that they were still having teething problems and we were disappointed to find out that many of the items on their printed menu were actually not yet available.

One of the little things that they had was a set of cards with fun questions on them which was meant to occupy and entertain diners while they waited for their food to be served.  We tried a few of those questions and came across one that said, “If you could be a superhero, what superpower would you like to have?”

Rather unimaginatively, my three dinner companions all wanted to have the power to control people’s minds.  I suspect they were all influenced by the character Professor Xavier from the X-Men movies (and of course the original comic series, except I doubt if any of the three ever read X-men comics).

Then they turned to me and asked me what would be my answer.  Now, of course all you regular readers know that I am in fact the Lone Grey Squirrel with superpower of cuteness and the ability to bury bad nuts but I couldn’t say that in a public restaurant and compromise my secret identity.  So instead, I said that I would like to fly.

“Fly?  What kind of superpower is that?   Where would you fly to which you could not get to by airplane or helicopter?  It’s not much of an advantage …….unlike controlling people’s minds.  That has so many possibilities.”  Friend A said smugly.

I replied, “Being able to fly means being able to avoid the hassle of going to Low Coat Air Terminals and having to go through all those inconvenient security screenings.”

Friend B mocked, “That really doesn’t sound so impressive and besides how does flying around help you to beat the bad guys?”

My reply stunned them into silence and awe.  ” I would fly around above and poop on their heads ………I am Pigeon Man!”

Yes, with Pigeon Man, no head, shiny car, designer suit or dress is safe and statues tremble in fear! Mwahahaha.

P.S.  LGS would like to apologise to all pole dancers for implying in the last post that pole dancing was something sleazy.  A visitor came by to educate me to the fact that pole dancing is a healthy gymnastic-like activity and sport.  It is an athletic and artistic activity and not at all erotic;  it is very different from the stripper pole dancing that does attract sleazy men in smoky bars and nightclubs.  If you want to educate yourself more about the difference, visit unitedpoleartistes or read it at this wikipedia article.

Changing of the Guard


Well, first let me thank you guys and gals for taking part in the poll for Canada’s animal symbol a couple of posts ago.  The Grey Squirrel won with 5 votes; the polar bear and the moose had two votes each while the beaver, the Sasquatch and the toothless hockey player each earned a sympathy vote each.  I immediately sent the results to the Canadian Parliament but have so far heard nothing from them.

Now let’s get on with this post.

I have been blogging for just over 5 years now.  This blog like the blogger, is not spring chicken anymore.  Yet for most of that time, my avatar, my public image has been the  image below.

See that youthful face?  Doesn’t that face seem full of youthful curiosity and enthusiasm and perhaps hopeful naivety?   Well, 5 years on, life experiences and recent world history has caused me to lose a lot of that curiosity and enthusiasm.  I’m sorry to say that I have become a little jaded.

As a result, I thought it was time to update my profile image.   I think the image below may be quite appropriate.

Headache, headache, headache, HEADACHE!!!!

Carolina Squirrel and the Midnight Mystery


The Conspiracy Theorists

This post is the third one in the Carolina Squirrel series (which includes Carolina Squirrel and the Holy Grail and Carolina Squirrel and the Money Pit).  Following well established Hollywood practices, this sequel is actually a prequel.  This tells the tale that started it all; when a mild mannered squirrel began his career as adventurer – mystery solving, globe trotting Carolina Squirrel………..

A long, long time ago (1994), when the internet was still young and there were no blogs or Facebook or Twitter, there were Usenet newsgroups.  As a poor, impoverished and over worked graduate student, I often had to be working in the lab late at night.  When I had some free time, I would take advantage of the free computers and connect with the world through the Usenet newsgroups.

One particular newsgroup that I visited regularly was alt.skeptics.  The prefix “alt” meant “alternative” but because of the type of people that it attracted, many jokingly called it “Anarchist, Lunatics and Terrorists”.  But in fact, alt.skeptics was a great place to meet with fellow inquisitive souls and discuss, debate or debunk strange phenomena or sightings like UFOs, raining frogs, Bigfoot etc.

One night, after midnight, I logged on and joined an on-going online discussion about a most strange case.  A real life mystery which was hot off the presses and here was an active intellectual debate going on and theories were being offered to explain the facts.  It involved a woman who had just been emitted to a hospital with a green sheen on her skin and an odour that incapacitated her healthcare workers.

Suggestions were coming in from all over.  I remember someone from New York suggested that the woman had been poisoned by pesticide sprayed by planes on orange groves.  Within minutes, someone from the Palm Oil Research Centre in Malaysia replied saying that the symptoms do not fit pesticide poisoning which he was familiar with.  And so it went on, this global investigation.  It was very exciting being in the midst of all this.  I can’t remember if I ever went back to the lab that night and so was born, my alter ego, Carolina Squirrel.

This strange occurrence and the poor unfortunate victim would eventually become known as the case of “Toxic Gloria”.   The story goes as follows.

Gloria Ramirez was a thirty year old cancer patient who apparently suffered heart failure.  She was taken by ambulance to Riverside General Hospital in California.  In the emergency room, medical personnel began to treat her.  Then strange things began to happen.  Several people noticed a green, oily sheen on her skin and some detected a fruity odour coming from her mouth.  At this stage a nurse tried to draw a blood sample with a syringe and she noted an ammonia like smell as she drew blood.  Some of the medical crew claimed that they saw yellow crystals in the blood sample.

Shortly after that, the nurse who took the blood sample, fainted.   The doctor treating Gloria and another trauma staff also fainted soon after.  At that point, they decided to evacuate the entire emergency ward, with patients being wheeled out into the parking lot.  A Hazmat team was called in and during all this confusion Gloria Ramirez passed away.

The doctor and one of the nurses continued to have problems after that including sleeping and breathing problems.  The doctor was in intensive care for two weeks and she subsequently developed hepatitis and avascular necrosis in her knees.

For conspiracy and cover-up fans, there were the additional points of interests such as the fact that the syringe with the crystals in the blood sample went missing and the authorities initially did not want to release the body and then later while claiming they found nothing strange during autopsy, still wanted to insist that the body be buried in a hermetically sealed coffin.

Eventually, the family got a second autopsy done and again nothing unusual was found.

So what did you think happened to Gloria Ramirez?

In the end, we may never know what really happened but there is one theory with an unusual explanation that has received more acceptance than most but even it is at the edge of plausibility.  If, you are curious, read about it here.