Tag Archives: animals

The Coming of Man

I hope you will take time to look at this video. Notice the squirrels right at the beginning. Now don’t you agree that the world would be a better place if you humans would just return it to squirrel rule?

If you are ready to discuss the terms of your surrender to the Squirrel World Domination Army, please leave a note in the comment section of this post.

Nuts to Nuts!

It is a common misconception that elephants will work for peanuts or that squirrels will work for nuts.  While that might have been true during a simpler bygone age, the world has changed.  The impact of rampant inflation (which for elephants is particularly large and rampaging and for squirrels means that buried nuts shrivel in value) as well as the modern culture of capitalism and consumerism means that ” enough is enough” or more accurately, “what we have been getting is no longer enough!” Nuts to Nuts!

We, humble, honest, industrious, working-class squirrels will no longer accept mere bland and tasteless blanched peanuts while the privileged upper-classes dine on Macadamia Nut Gateau with Coffee-Praline icing.

It’s all about fairness and equality. Why must there be the rich and the poor and why must the gap between the two continue to widen?  No! It must end!  As all good Socialist Squirrels know, just as greed is the root of all evil, inequality and injustice is the cause of all strife.  For this world to have peace, there must be equality and justice for all peoples.  One way is to reduce or even eliminate the gap between the rich and the poor.  Preferably, we could work to raise the poor to the same level of the rich.  That would be ideal.  In reality though, it would probably be easier to reduce the rich to the level of the poor!

But seriously, this is not just the rantings of a rabid, capitalist turned socialist, squirrel who failed in his dream to be a gazillionaire by the age of 21.  As a certified mad scientist, I offer scientific evidence for the link between inequality and strife.  Behold, the excerpt below from a TED presentation by Frans de Waal, a primatologist from Emery University. The evidence is compelling.

Of Mice, Pigs and Roaches

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”

Well, my wife and I did something like that a couple of days ago and as with many discoveries, the breakthrough came by accident.

Recently, my brother-in-law bought a kitchen product called an “air fryer”.  The publicity material claims that “air frying” was the same as deep oil frying but without all that unhealthy oil.  Happy with his new toy, he treated us to some french fries, roasted peanuts and crispy bacon that he had prepared using the “air fryer”.

We were quite impressed by how easy it was to use and how crispy the frazzled bacon was.  When we went home, we took out a convection oven that someone gave us as a present many years ago but which we had only used once.  An air fryer is actually an improved version of a convection oven.  Both instruments function by combining high heat and a fan to blast the hot air over the food.  No oil is needed and oil from the food actually drips away to the bottom of the instrument.

We tried to roast peanuts and that went very well.  We were pleased with the results.  Next we tried to cook some bacon.  We loaded in about 300 g of streaky bacon and watched as it cooked.  After cooking for about 20 minutes, the bacon came out scrumptiously crispy and flavorful, while all the bacon fat that came out during the cooking, accumulated at the bottom of the oven.  The bacon was delicious.

When we were cleaning up, I had wanted to throw away the oil from the bacon but my wife wanted to keep the oil.  She said the flavorful bacon drippings would be perfect to cook omelets with the next day.  So I collected all the oil into a shallow bowl and I left it next to the frying pan so that it could be used the next day to cook breakfast.

The next morning, I returned to the kitchen to cook breakfast and what did I find?

There was a large cockroach dead in the bowl of bacon drippings. An expired La cucaracha.  It had obviously been attracted by that bacon smell, found the bowl of bacon dripping and thought that it had died and gone to heaven, stuck its head in to drink, fell into the viscous oil, drowned and went to heaven.

Ladies and gents, it may not be a “better mousetrap” but a bowl of bacon fat could be a better cockroach trap.  Now that I have posted my discovery on the internet, you will find me sitting in my living room waiting for the world to beat a path to my door.  Don’t take too long world.

This experience also helped prove two long held beliefs.

1.  Everyone loves bacon and


P.S. I’ve waited for more than an hour and the world still hasn’t beaten a path to my door.  Now why is that?  Is the internet broken?

Do You Know Where Your Coffee Has Been?

Do you know where your food comes from? In these times of modern transportation, we can enjoy food that comes from around the world. For example, a visit to your supermarket may avail you of bananas from South America, grapes from Australia, cheese from France, olives from Spain, oranges from South Africa and rice from India.

But let’s put food aside. I want to talk to you about your coffee because, let’s face it, without that cup of java in the morning many of us will not be conscious enough to eat (which is my exciting new theory of how the dinosaurs died out. First the weather grew cold and the dinosaurs gew sleepy but there just was not enough coffee to go around and so they fell asleep and starved to death.)

Do you know where your coffee comes from? If you aren’t sure, go ahead and go to the kitchen and check. I’ll wait.

Dum diddle do diddle dum diddle dee. Yabba dabba doo skiddooo. Ying tong iddle i po.

Oh, are you back? So, was your coffee from Columbia, Ethiopia, Zambia, Philippines or perhaps even good old Malaysia? Suckers! You are settling for second best.

After lengthy investigations and travel around the world sticking his nose where it did not belong, the Lone Grey Squirrel has found the source of the world’s best and costliest coffee. This coffee is so exotic and exclusive that only about 450 kg (1000 pounds) is processed a year and it sells at up to USD 600 per pound.

Where is this coffee from? Well, it comes primarily from Indonesia, Philippines and to some extent from Vietnam. More importantly the beans that make up the coffee is excreted out of the bum of civet cats. I refer to the Kopi Luwak.

Why is this coffee the king of coffees? Well, to start with, the Asian Palm Civet is highly skilled at picking the best and ripest coffee berries which it then ingests. Then something about the enzymes in the gut of the civet cat reacts with the beans of the coffee which effectively reduces the coffee’s bitterness and makes for a smoother coffee. So just to re-cap, the skill-fully picked coffee berries go in one end, the enzymes work on the beans and finally they pop out at the other end. Fortunately, these skilled workers work for next to nothing and have never unionised or else the price of this coffee could be even higher.

The Lone Grey Squirrel is then told that the poop is then collected, the semi-digested beans are taken out, washed and then lightly roasted and wallah …………the world’s costliest coffee. I am told that the human workers who have to collect and wash the poop do demand a higher salary and are unionised.

Weasel Coffeee (Photo by LGS)

Now, I can practically hear some of you protesting that coffee isn’t …… well, isn’t your cup of tea, so to speak. Don’t worry, for the discerning tea drinker, we have found for you, “Monkey picked tea”. In this case, there is no eating of the leaves and passing through the digestive system and any of that nonsense. No, this tea is special cause the monkeys are skilled at picking the youngest and tenderest leaves. Why do they do that? Well, let’s just say that in the middle of the jungle, there just isn’t any toilet paper. What is a civilised monkey supposed to use?
Monkey Tea (Photo by LGS)

Skilled Third World Coffee Picker and Processor

Picture has been licensed under a GFDL

LGS admits to telling the truth here and there and making up everything else. Ooops! Time for my coffee break.

More Reasons For Not Going Swimming Soon

If you know a fisherman or an angler, chances are you have heard some fishy story about the gigantic fish that got away. Most of the time we can chalk it down to friendly boasting and a little hyperbole on the description of the size.

Well, one time, I was with some friends in the relatively remote upper reaches of the Jasin River in Malaysia. We had been hiking through dense jungle for most of the day and now as the sun was low behind the trees, we gathered around one of the deep rocky pools of the river. Most of us rested on the rocks at the side, eating fruits we had collected along the way and dangling our legs into the cooling water. It was pleasant and calm and between telling a few jokes, we just sat and watched the water flow by or looked at a couple of our friends as they tried their luck with a rod and line.

Usually, in these deep pools there is this one large fish, the apex predator, the Toman. The Toman (Channa micropeltes) eats other fish, amphibians and even little birds. In fact, also known as the Giant Snakehead, it has even starred as the monster fish in several low-budget Hollywood B-Grade Monster movies. They can grow over 3 feet in length and weigh more than 25 kg. Their body can be as thick as a man’s thigh. They are a favorite of anglers because they can put up a good fight and they are quite tasty.

Our two friends had been casting their lure of crickets near a dark and deep part of the pool for a good twenty minutes. Suddenly there was a shout of excitement. They had hooked a toman and it was giving a good fight. There was water splashing as the fish trashed and jumped about. We caught glimpses of the fish and it was huge.

They struggled with the fish but slowly and surely, they were able to pull the tiring fish towards the shallows. Suddenly, we all saw the line grow taut and swing upstream. The guy holding the rod felt a strong jerk and then nothing. There was no more resistance. It was as if the toman had gotten free with one last desperate jerk.

He quickly reeled in the line and to all our surprises, as he lifted the rod up, there at the end of the line was the three foot long toman but something had taken such a huge bite out of its middle section that it was almost severed in two.

We all looked at the mangled fish, stunned. It was a few moments before we all stirred as one and took our legs out of the water and stared suspiciously into the dark waters. What could have been able to take such a bite out of the toman? Not anything we knew or expected in this river! This has remained our story about the mysterious monster fish that got away…….or in hindsight, perhaps the mysterious monster fish that we got away from.

Last evening, a colleague related a different but related story from the muddy waters of a river in the rainforests of Borneo. On one of his trips, he found some of the native forest people a little skittish about a particular stretch of river. To his enquiry, they told him that a monster was sometimes seen in this river. When he pressed for details, he was told that it was some form of fish but it is very wide and long. They claimed that it was as wide as a man is tall or approximately 2 metres. Again this is not something that is known by science to be there.

In the light of these two stories, it is interesting that National Geographic has launched a search for the Megafishes in the world’s freshwater sites. One of these is the Giant Stingray. These creatures were discovered by science as late as the 1980’s hiding in the murky waters of the Mekong, other rivers in Indochina and also northern Australia. It’s maximum size is reported to be as much as 197 inches (500 centimeters), 1,323 pounds (600 kilograms) and with a body diameter of 95 inches (240 centimeters). This recently re-made the news with the finding of a smaller specimen in Thailand this year.

My colleague feels this could easily be the monster that the natives were referring to as the Giant Stingray is immensely wide. However, I still don’t know what we encountered up in the Jasin River. Perhaps it is another as yet undiscovered Megafish.

All I know is that just when you thought it was safe to go into the water, they find something else to remind us that something big may still be lurking under the calm water surface. Cue the music from “Jaws”…..da…..dum,..da….dum, ..da..dum.

Hogan and a recent catch of the Giant Freshwater Stingrayin Thailand (2008) 

Giant StingRay
from Cambodia (2002)The current known champion of the freshwater heavyweights, the Mekong Giant Catfish

The Bear Problem

Global warming means extreme weather throughout the world. Hundreds die in floods in Pakistan while at the same time hundreds also die of heat wave in Eastern Europe and Greece. Meanwhile floods also hit England and Oklahoma. Manitoba gets hit by multiple tornadoes on two consecutive days. This was all in the last week.

Even before this, it was noted that the sea ice in Northern Canada was forming later in the year and there was less of it. This is severely impacting the polar bears that rely on the ice to go out to sea to hunt for seals. The lack of sea ice has led to reports for the first time of large numbers of malnourished polar bears, reports of bears eating their own cubs and even for the very first time, reports of bears drowning because there was too much sea between ice packs.

Some fear that this could be a serious threat to the polar bears and could lead to their extinction. The few optimists that remain think that nature will learn to adapt.

For polar bears, adaptation may mean finding alternative food sources or moving to where the food is and as bears of all sorts begin to move southwards, this invariably could lead to more human animal clashes. As a service to those in potentially affected areas like the USA and Canada, I have included the following advice on safety from the Alaskan Deparment of Fish and Game. For all our sakes, please read it carefully to the very last line.