Tag Archives: blogging

The State of the Realm Report

Holy Crown of Hungary (Photo by LGS)

Well, for the umpteenth time, one of my new year’s resolution is to STOP PROCRASTINATING!!!!

So doing my annual end of the year report on the state of the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel about a week into the next year isn’t so bad, is it?  What’s a week past the deadline between friends.

However, the real problem is that when I looked back on 2013, there isn’t much to report.  Been a kind of quiet year in the Realm.    I guess that the biggest single event of the year was my enforced exile for 7 months while my nest was being repaired and renovated.  Something that I am quite glad is over and I am now comfortably installed in my spanking new mad scientist laboratory.

Don’t get  me wrong, it wasn’t a bad year.   Let’s just say it wasn’t a vintage year.  Lots of things went well for which I thank God but it wasn’t a vintage year.

No major achievements like winning the Nobel Prize (Drats and curses – wasn’t my “donation enough”?!?!);  world conquest (bummer) or winning the lottery jackpot (bummer-er).

And my other great desire …….. world peace?  The world didn’t do well in that regard at all last year.

As far as blogging is concerned, it also wasn’t a hot year for me.  I took leave from blogging for 4 months and I only managed 27 posts for the year.  Not very prolific at all.  That’s just about a post every two weeks.

So what can we look forward to in 2014?

Well, sadly in Malaysia, the year has already started badly.  Just two days into the new year, Islamic religious officers raided the Bible Society of Malaysia, arrested two people and confiscated more than 300 Malay-language bibles.  Some leaders also called for protests to be held outside churches.

This was the latest chapter in a saga which started just over 3 years ago in which Christians were told that they were no longer allowed to use some 35 words of Arabic origin which they have used in the Malay and the indigenous languages bibles for several centuries, contending that these words are for the exclusive use of Muslims and no other religion.

Christians comprise some 10 per cent of the country’s population of 29 million and the  Malay-language Bibles are widely used by the indigenous tribes in the states of Sarawak and Sabah (Christian majority states) and by the Orang Asli (indigenous peoples)  of West Malaysia which accounts for about 66% of all the Christians.

The use of the word “Allah” (the word meaning God) by Christians led to several churches being torched and vandalised in 2010 after a high court ruling allowing the Christians the right to use the word.

Ahead of a state election in Sarawak, the government agreed to a 10 point plan which basically assured that Christians that they could continue to import, print and use the Malay bibles as long as certain conditions were met.  This recent raid, arrests and confiscation of the Malay bibles seem to fly in the face of that agreement.

Whatever your religious beliefs, I hope you will join in and pray for tolerance, peace and respect between peoples of all faiths.

Here in the Realm, I have decided to focus on more achievable targets than world conquest.  I plan to post an average of 2 posts per week this year.  Wish me luck.  It’s only the first week and I am already behind on the strike rate.

Can’t Stop the Squirrel

Dear Boys and Girls,
It has been more than a month since the lone Grey Squirrel was connected to the blogosphere. Forced to move nest due to leaky roofs and pipes, the last 5 weeks have been taken up with throwing things out, packing the rest and moving to a new place about 40% smaller. And for most of that time, I have had to live without connection to the wild wide world of Internet. But fortunately, the Dark Ages has come to an end …….. at least for now. So don’t stray away. WATCH THIS SPACE for updates of the Squirrel’s adventures and latest rants.

Regular readers, all three of them, will know that I am a big fan of almost anything from the writing and/or directorial stable of Joss Whedon including that near perfect Scifi movie, “Serenity”.   One of the catch phrases from the movie is “You can’t stop the signal”.  In a similar vein, the Lone Grey Squirrel is back ……….you can’t stop the Squirrel!

Let the Sun Shine In

Many, many thanks to Sean, the travelingenglishteacher for passing on to me the “Sunshine Award”.  The squirrel is very grateful.  Of late, this blog’s trophy and award cupboard has been as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s.  I mean, give a dog a bone or rather the squirrel some nuts.   So thanks, Sean.

Sean is a modern day adventurer out exploring the world. Currently, he’s in Korea but he has a list of 100 things to do and places to visit; including backpacking through South East Asia (my part of the world!).  Drop by and learn more of the adventures of an American let loose on the world.

Now the Sunshine Award is awarded to blogs “which contribute to the blogging community in a positive or inspirational way.”   Wow.  I am humbled but grinning like a sun-stroked idiot.

The Award comes with the following curse responsibilities.

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and write a post about it.
  2. Answer ten questions about yourself.
  3. Pass the award on to 10 bloggers you enjoy, link to their blogs, and let them know you nominated them.

Without further ado, here are the questions………..

  1. Favorite color: Aquamarine (a blue-green hue)
  2. Favorite animal: Otter (was this a surprise? Squirrel is second)
  3. Favorite number: 13
  4. Favorite drink: Soya milk (this is my all time favorite but my current favorite can change with time)
  5. Favorite website: Bible Gateway  ( a great site to read and study the Word of God)
  6. Passion: nature and the environment, photography, canals, travel, culture and history. Oh and writing. Oh, yes, also food ……..etc.
  7. Prefer getting or giving presents: Neither.
  8. Favorite pattern:  Black Watch Tartan (just like the colors, really)
  9. Favorite day of the week: Saturday
  10. Favorite flower: Carnations
Shades of Aquamarine
The Black Watch or Campbell Tartan


And now…..(drum-roll)…… I pass the award on to ……..

  1. Magic Lantern Show – Owen captures in photos and prose, much of the beauty of nature, architecture, town and countryside, culture and history from his base in France but also helps bloggers connect with each other.
  2. VioletSky – I always find sunshine in her posts, even though she is a taphophile but then so am I.
  3. The HeSo Project – Tracy and her Heart and Soul Project is all about regaining sunshine into one’s life and is well illustrated with pictures of many interesting places she has visited.
  4. Windy Skies – Anil finds sunshine in the faces, places and lives of the people around him.  Poet and photographer and people watcher, I always feel elated after visiting his blog.
  5. Grey and Red, A Squirrel Journal – I just have to give a shout out to my friend, Caryn, who not only writes and educates us all about squirrels but is SquirrelMama, bringing sunshine to many orphaned squirrels and smiles to many readers’ faces.
  6. Please….forgive…..can’t …..think ….any….more……small….rodent …..brain…….overheated.

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!!!!

Number 555

Hi Everyone!

It’s celebration time here at the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel!  This is a landmark 555th post.  I suppose it is a more common practice to celebrate one’s 500th post but that one kind of slipped by unnoticed at that time.  At any rate, 555 brings back many childhood memories when the cigarette brand “State Express 555” was one of the most popular brands in this part of the world.  Not that I was a smoker in my tender age but the 555 brand was so omnipresent that I still remember doodling on the ubiquitous “555” notepads.  That’s all the excuse needed here to have a mini celebration to lighten up the dark radioactive cloud that seems to be hanging over the world in recent times.

I started to blog in October 2006 which means it has taken me four and a half years to reach this 555th post.  I certainly have not been as prolific as some of you who seem to be able to do a post a day but I surprise myself that I have not run out of things to say long before this.  At the time of this post, there have been 94,197 visits to the Realm.

In June 2010, after taking a short hiatus to take care of some major life changing decisions, the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel re-emerged but in line with celebrating making life changes, the Realm shifted lock, stock and barrel over from Blogger to WordPress.  In the process, some readers were lost into the ether but others were gained.

As is the custom of this mad scientist, I like to mark the occasion with a retrospective of what has been the character of this blog.    The Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel has been  quite eclectic and represents a very chaotic and wandering mind. However, the top 5 topics or themes have been humor, about people, about self, Malaysia and culture.   Here are some of my personal favorites from each of those themes.

1. I Get No Respect (where I gripe about what’s in a name)
2. Anxiety Attack or  Psycho 101 (where I confess to psychological problems)

1.  Rediscovering Christina’s World (where I investigate the story behind a beautiful painting)
2.  Locked In (where I get to share about my brief contact with a very courageous woman)

1.  My Father (where I describe my father and our relationship)
2. How I Came to be Out in the Cold (where I go through a rite of passage with a friend)

1. Have Gourd Will Travel (where I relate a folk story from Malaysia)
2. Field Report on Manglish (where I give readers a chance to learn a foreign language)

1.  Time Ball (where I examine how some native American Indians used to keep their dairies, long before computers and blogs)
2. Secret Squirrel Spot No: 6 (Canals of England and Wales) (where I get to talk about going along the canals)

While those above are among my personal favorites, the visitors and readers of the Realm have their own preferences.  These may be determined either by the amount of visits to the post or the amount of comments generated.  Here are the top posts as determined before and after the Realm went over to WordPress.

Top 5 Pre-WordPress Posts (most comments)

  1. Half Mast, Half Post, Full Life (where I reflect on my father’s passing)
  2. Bears Just Want to Have Fun (where I post a very interesting video of polar bears at play)
  3. Born Buddhist (where I share my early childhood exposure to Buddhism and my conversion to Christianity)
  4. Squirrel’s Secret Spot No: 12 – Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (where I extol the virtues of this museum)
  5. 300th Post (where I look back at this blog’s first 300 posts)

Top 5 WordPress Post (most comments)

  1. Reflecting on 47 (where I lament my birthday)
  2. Danger Squirrel (where I try to prove that you shouldn’t mess with squirrels)
  3. First Day of the Rest of My Life (where I begin blogging on WordPress amongst many other beginnings)
  4. Old Man of the Forest (where I meet with a wild orang utan)
  5. Feeling Flat (where I wonder if the whole world got up on the wrong side of the sun)

Top 5 Pre-WordPress Post (most visitors)

  1. Choosing Seven Natural Wonders (where I propose my top seven natural wonders)
  2. World Food Spot 5; Horchata, the Elixir of Tiger Nuts (where I regale about this wonderful Spanish drink)
  3. The Haircut: The Ecstasy and the Agony (where I agonize about getting a haircut)
  4. Still Not My Year (where I begrudge the Year of the Rat)
  5. The Nutter and the Hag (where I discuss a movie and make fun of the Swamp Thing’s relatives)

Top 5 WordPress Post (most visitors)

  1. Tsunami – Japan 2011 (where the blog observed a week of silence in respect of all the victims of the 2011 Japanese Tsunami)
  2. The New Zodiac (where I re-invent the Zodiac for modern times)
  3. Carolina Squirrel and the Money Pit (where the debonair and courageous Carolina Squirrel tries to dig up buried treasure)
  4. Kat and the Kamama Wonderland (where we get to visit with fellow blogger, Kat)
  5. First Day of the Rest of My Life (where I begin blogging on WordPress amongst many other beginnings)

Finally, to round off this list, here are a couple of my favorites amongst the videos displayed on this blog to date.  If you have time to kill, I hope you will take a spin around the Realm with the aid of the links.

1.  Nocturnal Perambulations in Borneo (come see a rare video of a rare and reclusive creature of the rainforest)
2. Flagpole Sitta from Lost and Refound 2 (come enjoy a funny music video and wish you worked there)

And finally, what loyal readers have to say……..

Ham On Air

I was recently with a group of colleagues; all of them somewhat younger than myself.  I believe they are what are known as Gen Y.  Other alternate names include  Generation Next, Millennial Generation or even Generation Net.  These include babies born around the mid- 1970’s until the early 2000’s.  It was in relation to Generation Net’s growing up with the internet that I was talking to them about.

I was reminding them that the things that they take for granted today had not even been conceptualized in the not too distant days of my youth.  There was no laptops, facebook, twitter, blogs, handphones etc.  I really lost them when I told them that we used to encode computer data by punching holes in cards (for all you young ‘uns, google it as  “computer punched cards”).  Oh yes,  we did not even have google in those days!

It brought to my memory, that as a young boy in those pre-blogging days, I was already interested in reaching out to others in the world.  the answer at that time was ham radio.  Ham radio really refers to a network of amateur radio operators whose hobby was to talk to similar hams from all around the world riding on the magic of radiowaves.  Apart from chatting, they often provided important services to the community and many times provided support during emergency and disaster responses.  Even today, it is estimated that there are 2 million ham radio operators out there (as compared with 126 million blogs as tracked by BlogPulse).

Ham radio just requires three things;

The Latest, Coolest Radio Set
The Tallest Possible Antennae
And finally, the Ham!

I could never afford it but I was really attracted  to the whole idea of scanning the frequencies and meeting new people from around the world; not strangers but fellow members of the family of hams.  In my dreams, I often imagined reaching out and touching a lonely lighthouse keeper in the Outer Hebrides or a snow bound hunter in his isolated shack in the Canadian wilds.  Perhaps, they would share wisdom grown from hours of lonely solitude or we could play a game of chess.

So, I guess it isn’t all that surprising that I have taken to blogging because I still have a desire to meet new people from around the world.  In line with that sentiment, may I ask each of you, dear readers, to help me with this quest.

Your Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to introduce me to one or two bloggers that you think I might like to meet and to follow their blogs.

Many, many thanks.

First Day of the Rest of My Life


Dear gentle readers,

Thank you for your patience while I was on my “life hiatus” and welcome to my new blog location.

A lot has happened since the Lone Grey Squirrel went off the internet “airwaves” about a month ago.  That period could be called my period of metamorphosis.  Following that analogy, hopefully the clumsy caterpillar has been transformed in the pupae state and what now emerges is a new and different entity.  In many senses, today is the start of the rest of my life.

Today was my last day at work for the conservation organisation that has been very much my life focus for the last 15 years.  Tomorrow I begin the romantic life of a bum.  When someone has been invested in one thing for so long, it may be hard to let go of the familiar and risk the unknown.  I do feel that at one level but mostly, I am looking forward for the freedom that sudden unemployment brings.  Freedom to wake up late; freedom to watch the World Cup soccer at ridiculous times even if one is not much of a soccer fan; freedom to try new things; freedom to get in touch with one’s creative side; freedom to do what you want to do when you want to do it and finally freedom to starve to death when your savings run out.

Well, I guess I am fortunate as I can rely on immorally living off my wife’s hard earned income for the time being and so while I hope to slim down a size or two, I should not starve to death anytime soon.

What prompted this life re-construction? Well, it’s like it is half time and I wanted to take a break and look at options before deciding what I wanted to do for the second half of my life.  My work over the last 15 years has been a lot of fun and there has been a strong sense of accomplishment and having contributed to something meaningful and lasting.  On the other hand, the last 4 years has been less of the fun of field work and the intrigue of research and more of the mundane chores of management, administration and meetings with an unappetising seasoning of politics and personalities.  However, I have not burned the proverbial bridges and I get to come back as a consultant and do more of the fun stuff  and still earn some moulah to feed my “bum” lifestyle.

What am I going to do with this new found freedom? Well, I want to use this freedom to focus on four things.

  1. First of all, I’d like to concentrate on getting healthy.  I have to reverse years of accumulated health problems brought about by stress and bad eating habits.  So, priority one is to hit the gym regularly, plan for healthier eating and de-stress.
  2. Next, I want to get creative.  I want to think less like a scientist and more as an artist.  To do this, I have a number of projects in mind.  One, I plan to help develop a bird-watching website (and I actually get paid for this); two, I plan to try out a career in writing by penning a novel and a children’s book (some of you have been encouraging be to try this, so it is probably your fault that I end up as an impoverished author keeping warm by burning all the rejection slips); three, I plan to blog more frequently.
  3. I want to do some greater good project but one in which we get to see results more quickly than in nature conservation (it takes us an average of 10 years to see a project succeed).
  4. Family.  I intend to spend more time on family.

So I hope that you will follow me on my exciting “starving author bum” journey and please leave some nuts out for me.