Category Archives: self

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.

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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?

2017 – The Year That Was


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The First Morning of 2018

As we say goodbye to a mixed bag of nuts that was 2017, I thought I would look back at the year that was………..

January – The year could not have had a better start with the birth of my niece, Sofia.  Shortly, she will be one year old…….a happy, chatty one year old who loves to dance to latin dance tunes. (Well, I’ll be a Monkey’s Uncle)

February – I went to Japan to chill, eat sushi and attain inner peace amidst the zen environments there.  A wonderful experience despite the bitter cold.  Unfortunately, things in Malaysia was very far from at peace.  We were rocked by abductions of church pastors and social activists (who remain missing till today) and by “Cold War” style assassination conducted by agents of North Korea.   (Like in the Movies)

March – A quiet month which I spent daydreaming about my trip to Kyoto, Japan in February and fantasizing about going there again.  My thoughts was particularly on the wonderful bamboo forest made famous in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon . (Bamboo Forest Arashiyama)

AprilJune – This squirrel shook his head at what was going on in the world and decided to curl up in a ball and cover his eyes with his bush tail and tried to wish the bad things away.  I kind of lost my way a bit and did not blog.  Sadly, when I came out of hibernation, the world was not much better and the Twitter-in-Chief was still a twit.

 

July – Still trying to find my blogging feet again, I found solace in the rich biodiversity of Malaysia and celebrated the first successful attempt to capture the beautiful but rare Bornean Bay Cat.  ( B.B.C. – Cool Cat)

August – When things are not going well in the country, there will always be groups of old men sitting in cafes drinking their coffees and gossiping about the scandals while whining and complaining.  Only natural but it is pointless unless more is done and action taken.  Don’t just sit and complain but get up and do something positive to make things better.  So this squirrel resolved to do more to be part of the solution and an important start was to join a 40 day national prayer and fast. (Being a Watchman)

September – Another year older and a computer that decided to throw a hissy-fit.  Despite my best efforts at dropping hints, nobody bought me a new computer as a birthday present.  So another year older with a computer that reminds me about becoming obsolete. (Beyond Road Kill)

October – I went on a pilgrimage to  Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  Some people walk for weeks to complete this long distance pilgrimage.  I kind of just went straight to the final destination by Uber – you know, a short cut!  This squirrel is not just a pretty face!   Part of my little foray into Portugal and Spain.  (The ‘Creaking’ Horror)

November – I was still recovering from the shock of being targeted by light fingered villains in Lisbon.  I’ve been in the market for a good tamper proof backpack ever since.  Despite my best efforts at dropping hints, I did not get said backpack as a Christmas present.  I am beginning to think my friends are either very dense or are ignoring my perfectly reasonable hints.  (A Series of Unfortunate Incidents)

December – This squirrel tried to avoid the trappings of the commercialized Christmas and spent time celebrating with loved ones as well as those going through difficult times; remembering that “the humblest of people catch a glimpse of their worth;
For it isn’t to the palace that the Christ child comes;
But to shepards and street people, hookers and bums. (lyrics from Bruce Cockburn’s Cry of a Tiny Babe)  (Outside Looking In)

Know Your Bear Adversary


We interrupt our regular programme and postponed our scheduled post to bring you the shocking news of a great big Bear Dump over at Debra’s place.  Yes! An enormous big pile of bear!

With the higher risk of human -bear encounters these days, I thought it only right to re-post this very important bit of information below.

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As you can see, from a squirrel’s perspective, grizzlies are just cute bundles of fur but black bears are clearly to be avoided.

Many years ago, I saved up for a holiday in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.  My brother from Australia came over and joined me there.  Both of us do enjoy the great wilderness experiences but neither of us have had any exposure to being in bear country; there being no bears in Australia and my own dangerous wildlife encounters in Malaysia were more of the tigers, crocodiles and elephant variety.

That being the case, both of us paid attention when a local ranger orientated us to the attractions of Banff National Park as well as gave us practical tips including  how to behave in bear country and stay safe.  Things like, talking or calling out when trekking, keeping food away from sleeping areas and throwing rubbish in bear-proof bins etc.

We listened attentively and at the end of the little lecture, the ranger looked at my brother and decided to add, “You probably shouldn’t dress up in salmon pink shirts either”!

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Salmon Pink?  Maybe not in bear country.

Outside Looking In


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My blogging friend, Debra – She Who Seeks, just put up a post entitled “Blue Christmas”.  Apparently, it is a tradition at her church to hold a “special service of meditation, quiet reflections and readings which acknowledge and honour the fact that Christmas is not always a happy time for everyone.”

How strange,….. I was just thinking about posting about that very thing (or what another blogger described as serendipitous convergence); that Christmas can be especially cold, sad and lonely for many who do not have the support of family or friends around them  or are going through difficult times.

None of the churches that I have attended had a ‘Blue Christmas’ service.  However, for most of my life, until recently, I have always preferred to avoid all the festivities like going carol singing or attending loud joyous celebrations and parties.  There was a time that apart from attending church, I would prefer to just have a quiet night and sleep early.  I didn’t do any of the exchange of cards or presents either.

It took me a long time to understand that this shunning of festivities at Christmas was rooted in my own hangups ………specifically, that I felt that I did not deserve to be happy.   As a foreign student in the UK many years ago, I was on occasion invited to people’s homes for Christmas lunch or dinner with their families.  I always felt uncomfortable and was mentally squirming the whole time I was there.  Only years later, I understood that I felt uncomfortable because I believed that I had no business being there in their happy family gathering.  I felt like an undeserving interloper.

Regular readers will know that I went through a period of depression at one point of my life and this kind of thinking comes from that dark well.  Today, instead, Christmas reminds me that God loves me and that is all I need to chase the dark clouds away.

But all this is my way of saying that I know how it can feel to be the disenfranchised, the lonely, the foreigner, the migrant, the hurt, the grieving.  It is being outside and looking in.  Out in the cold with an empty stomach and looking through a window at a feast inside.  Seeing others celebrate but being left out.

So, I believe that the way to celebrate Christmas is to do our part to show God’s love to those around us.  Celebrate by serving, just as Jesus ‘did not come to be served, but to serve’ (Matthew 20: 28) and gave of himself.  Sure, it’s okay to have fun and celebrate at parties and dinners – I do so nowadays too but do more……..serve others too.

This year, I will be joining others to go caroling to those who are ill with cancer as well as to residents at a nursing home – to come alongside them, share their problems, pray for them and share joy.  At my church, we will also be opening our church on Christmas Eve for people to come in off the street for some food and drink.  We are making the church available to some of the foreign workers near us so that they can invite their friends to come in and join the festivities.

At Christ’s birth, the angels declared about peace and joy.  Perhaps, we should continue to pray for peace and help spread joy in this flawed world.  Blessed Christmas folks.

Earworm Extreme


The Guinness Book of World Records holds a lot of fascinating information like the fastest car, longest bridge, the deepest free dive or the world’s oldest living human.  But some, in my opinion, are just stupid like the “world’s largest Cantonese Fried Rice” or the “most number of apples cut by a chainsaw in one minute while holding the apples in the mouth” or the “most naked riders on a theme park ride”.  I mean, why?

Well, anyway, I think I would qualify to be in that esteemed publication too under the category of the longest time someone has had an earworm without hearing the song again or knowing what that tune was.  Yes, I think I have a good shot.  My record stands at 43 years.

43 years ago, when I was but a wee lad, I heard a recording of a tune and I liked it.  I played it a few times that day but never heard it again.  Yet for 43 years, you could catch me often just start humming or whistling the tune.  And I never knew what the song was and never encountered it again……..until last year.

Last year, I discovered Spotify, and while looking at suggestions of songs I might like based on my selection of songs, I finally rediscovered the song after 43 years.

I always thought it was some kind of New Age song and for some reason I always had a picture of water from melting snow dripping off the leaves of an evergreen.  The truth is that it is a jazz tune and has nothing to do with melting snow.

The tune is “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.  Any theories, dear amateur detectives, as to why a young kid would remember this one tune for almost his entire life from just listening to it for one day?

Fame, Fortune, Happiness


Did you ever play that old board game, “Careers”?

This game was devised by a sociologist, James Cooke Brown, and was first made and sold by Parker Brothers in 1955.  At the start of the game, each player decides and writes down his victory target which consists of collect points for fame, fortune or happiness.   Assuming at least 100 points (the original game used 60),  a capitalist player may choose a victory formula of say “fame=15; fortune= 70; happiness= 15”.  A narcissistic player may choose “fame= 60; fortune= 30; happiness= 10” but the player with the inner hippie might want “fame= 15; fortune= 5; happiness= 80”.  They then roll the dice and make their way around the game track, making career and life choices that help them reach their winning formula.  Some may want to choose high earning jobs, others an education and still others aspire to be beach bums – whatever works for them.

If we were to just take a moment to reflect on this concept, what might we say was the winning formula that we have actually chosen for our real lives?  What has been our combination of the three?  Which one has had our emphasis and which one have we allowed to starve in the darkness?

How does one decide?  Won’t it be great if I could be rich, famous and happy?  Even Linus knows what I mean….

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If I am honest, I think I have always wanted a life formula of Fame= 20; Fortune= 30; Happiness= 50.

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Did you achieve your target or has happiness given way to fortune or has fame (like winning the Nobel Prize for Science) been elusive?

What was your formula for success and how have you fared? Curious squirrels want to know.