Friday, December 30, 2011

The Next Year

I know this is where God is leading me, because I have sought him for a year. Let it be for me a land flowing with milk and honey. I will not fear giants.

Call of the Wild 2

The rabbits usually get Oxbow hay, but as I am on a little economy drive lately, I served them some unbranded hay one day. But to these naughty things, such hay is not fit for rabbits' consumption. They pulled it all over the floor, trampling on it, and then rampaged about looking for greener pastures on their own.

Rabbits attacking a bag of their favourite alfalfa hay. There is a big hole already and everytime they are out of the cage, they would go up and take another nibble. Who wants my cheap hay?

Whitty: Move over a bit, it's my turn.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Perth: Reflecting on Productivity

The alternative to cheap labour - education and multi-tasking.

Our day-trip coach driver

  • Handles the 4-wheel drive
  • Shepherds our group of 17
  • Teaches us how to do sand boarding
  • Deflates, then inflates the tires of the vehicle when necessary
  • Introduces the places of interest we come across
  • Tells jokes during the long drives,  AND 
  • Cleans up the coach at the end of the trip
That's all in a day's work for him. Considering that the day's excitement made us sleep through most of the time on the coach, I can't imagine what stamina he had to keep going like that. 

Yet I see in him an example of how productivity could be raised so that people could get good wages, without incurring higher costs for businesses. 

In places where labour is plentiful but poorly paid, such jobs would typically be shared  out among 2 or even 3 workers - one to guide, another to drive, and a third man to...sort of be useful. While their work requirements are naturally lower, their pay would correspondingly be so too. Unfortunately, these men would have each worked the same number of hours as our multi-tasking guide, except that the value of the work they produced is lower, having shared the duties among the three of them. 

To order to merit higher pay, these workers have to increase their productivity, but notice that this is not done by putting in longer hours. If they could be trained to carry out a wider range of duties, and if some of the superfluous demands could be streamlined, they too could command better pay. 

This seems to me to be the right direction for a well educated population to move towards. After all, no one likes being stuck in low-paying, poor-value jobs, but we can't give graduate salaries to everyone unless they deserve it. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Whitty Frowning

Whitty disapproves of us going home later these few days. It means the rabbits get less time out of their cage. When will christmas be over?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011



Literal translation: One who mixes with vermilion will turn red, one who touches ink shall become black.

There is a Chinese proverb warning us that who we come into contact with will have influence on us. In the saying, red is used to represent desirable transformation, while to become black is bad.

Whitty obviously has been spending too much time with Blackie. She is going through her first serious moulting which replaces her baby coat with an adult one. We are joking that the petshop must have dyed her fur white while she was on sale, and now we are seeing her true colours. See the distinct black lines forming in her new coat, and the ears and forehead look dusty.

 It is ok, she is still cute, though the colour change is baffling.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Not by sight

The scariest part of ‘living by faith’ is the second part of the instruction – ‘and not by sight’ (2 Cor 5:7). How I hate situations of uncertainty! When all my plans are laid carefully, I don’t like there to be any unexpected development which could change everything. Should I insist on sticking to the path I can see, even if it means wrestling control out of God’s hand, if this is possible? Or do I put my foot into the darkness, trusting that something is there to support my weight, and risk plunging into nothingness?
What reason have I to take such a risk? Nothing, except the Word of God, which tells me that I can ‘acknowledge him in all my ways and He will make my path straight’ (Proverbs 3:6). If God can make the world come about merely by speaking, I suppose, His Word is good enough promise for me.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Perth: Desert Experience

No friends, I am not so animal-crazy as to completely neglect other interesting things in Perth. We went on a day trip to the Pinnacles and sand dunes. It was a mercifully cool day (for a desert experience), and we survived, armed with bottles of water, sunglasses and an umbrella. It never ceases to amaze me how we managed to conquer and tame the devastating phenomena of Nature so that we can find amusement in them. I mean, people get lost and die in deserts, don't they? Yet here we were, tropical city folks traipsing around without any knowledge of dessert survival essentials, because we were with a local guide who took excellent care of us. 

In the words of our guide, here are the buses 'doing the lambada on the sand'.  

Against the sun, we had sunblock, sunglasses and UV-protection umbrellas. Against the heat we had plenty of water. Against flies...there is no defence. Why, why, why, when there were no other signs of life, flies could still thrive! There were great clouds of flies everywhere - on your backs and arms, under your hats, and even beneath your sunglasses! SCREAM! Resistance was futile. After a while, we stopped slapping at them. The desert belonged to them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Perth Funny Animals 2

In case you don't know what a meerkat is, it is the small furry creatures that go 'I like to move it move it' in the movie Madagascar.  It is such fun looking at them wrestle, investigate nooks and crannies or pop out unexpectedly from the sack, as they are doing now. There must be at least 5 meerkets in the sack!

The meerkat sentry takes his duties very seriously. While all his family members are gamboling in the sun, one meerkat stands alone on the highest point he could find, looking about to make sure that there are no predators around.

And if he can't find such a high point, even a log would do, though it only elevates him by a few inches. It means he can spot danger a microsecond before the rest. OK you little thing, don't take life so hard. You are a pet now, there isn't danger near you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Perth Funny Animals

Of course I had to visit the Cavernsham Wildlife Park, which houses all kinds of local animals. We were allowed to go and play with some of them, like the kangaroos. Being used to human presence, these animals happily came up to us for food. One naughty kangaroo deliberately walked all over me to make sure I knew who the boss was: 

 Are there more treats? You were holding a lot just now.

Koala: Don't touch my leaves, or else I won't eat them anymore.
It amazes me that koalas manage to survive at all! They are perpetually sleepy, and eat only the most select of eucalyptus leaves. If you touch any of the leaves, they refuse to eat them. But I was delighted to be allowed to stroke their fur, even if they were in a post-breakfast coma

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Perth - of plentiful seafood and walking

The gastric juices have to work their magic. We have stuffed ourselves so full with succulent seafood and strawberries that we can't face dinner. It is just as well though, because the shops are closing early today, since it is Saturday. Funny huh, where does everyone go then?

We spent a large part of the day walking around Fremantle, a port town before catching a ferry ride across the river to return to our hotel.

I'm sorry to say that the isn't anything much to blog about. Not that we are not enjoying ourselves. The isn't anything out if the ordinary which you would like to know about. I don't imagine that you, my friends, want a run down of our itinerary. Maybe this entry epitomizes the pleasant but bland charm of the little city we are in.

Tomorrow we are going to the desert. There might be more to talk about then.

This misanthrope has resorted to pretending that I don't speak English, so that strangers won't try to speak to me. Amazing that everyone here just likes to strike up a conversation with anyone else. It is vey nice of them, but this is no place for a misanthrope.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The misanthrope's socialphone

Ok ok, things finally seem normal now.

I went to the M1 service centre, where the staff were stunned by the freak condition of my phone. They poked and pried and even used a torchlight to check what the h*ll happened inside the phone. Finally, they conceded defeat and handed over another phone. Now I have a brand new, new phone. YAY!

The amazing thing about the iPhone is, it actually changes your I being hyperbolic? I mean, when I was using my old phone, I just messaged and called (rarely), and I thought the inbuilt camera was such a revolutionary idea. But now, I can go on the web anytime, my friends are on whatsapp, and I can access Facebook so easily! No wonder folks have been telling me to get an iPhone. It is truly a social device, connecting one to the social web online. It is quite a feat for an invention to make a misanthrope excited about networking.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

iPhone 4S - an iSCREAM moment

My marvellous, lovely brand new iPhone 4S is spoilt! 

 Let me tell the sorry saga of my mobile phones. One day, 3-year-old Sony Ericsson abruptly died. Since it was about time to get a new phone anyway, I went and got myself a much coveted iPhone 4S. Because I switched service provider – from Singtel to M1 – I had to apply for phone number porting. In the meanwhile, I used my old Singtel SIM card. 
In a few days’ time, I received the happy news that I can now use my new M1 SIM card, as the number porting process has been completed. Then, the unimaginable happened. 

The SIM card tray wouldn’t open. The old Singtel SIM card got stuck inside and I just couldn’t pull the tray out. I went to the M1 shop staff and they couldn’t pull the tray out. The M1 shop staff went to the phone repair man and he couldn’t pull the tray out.

And that is why I am going to have to go and get another brand new phone. 

I’m screaming.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Blackie: Call of the Wild

Blackie! Don't I give you enough hay? When I put hay in your feeding bowl, you aren't interested. You would rather rip open the bags and forage for yourself.

Nom...nom...nom...forbidden hay always tastes better!

Monday, December 05, 2011

First Driving Lesson

"Have you ever taken driving lessons?"
"Have you ever played go-cart when you were young?"
"Not that either."
"It's not a problem. Now you can put your hands on the steering wheel...oh..I can see you have really never driven before."

And thus in the pouring rain went my very first driving practical lesson. It wasn't as easy as I had thought. I didn't even know how to lower the handbrake. Driving Instructor said, "There are many security features to keep children (and complete ignoramuses like you) from fiddling around with the car and creating accidents."

Trying not to get car sick from the jerking brakes I made, I practiced going forward and reversing. Then I made enough progress to go into the circuit, with the rain daunting even experienced driver. How come I never noticed V doing all these complex movements when he is driving? I was too busy talking.

Well, and that is my first driving lesson. Don't feel like going for more :(

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Rabbits: A would-be X-rated moment

This is an X-rated post, kids, turn your eyes away.

Blackie is in a grouchy mood. He has been courting Whitty assiduously, grooming her with patience and love. Like with males of all species, this behaviour is due to one thing on his mind. Unfortunately, ever since Whitty got neutered, she isn't interested anymore.

But Blackie, why are you upset? You are neutered too!  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bathing a hamster

Dwarf hamsters don't like water. Friendly spits and hisses and bites when we try to bathe her, though we still do. Here we use a damp towel to rub the Squeaks with a little pet shampoo. Ninja is featured in this entry because she is the most docile, and erm...prettiest of course.

Now nice and clean, and swathed in tissue.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I passed the Basic Driving theory test. Watch out world, another female driver is hitting the road!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bunnies at 9am

It's 9am and the rabbits are curiously quiet. I peeped into the yard and to my amusement, the rabbits have put themselves to bed - Whitty is sleeping behind the litter box, and Blackie is on the platform, which is where he sleeps the day away. How cute! So even though the cage door is still open and they are allowed to roam in the yard, they have decided to go to bed like good children, since 9am is really late for a bunny to be up and about.

For those who do not know, rabbits are crepsular i.e. they are active at dawn and dusk. This suits our lifestyle nicely - they get to come out to play before and after our working hours. When the sun is shining brightly, they naturally want to go and hide in their home, like now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Goodbye Old Riedell

I stopped feeling sentimental about changing skates. It was rather difficult to part with my first pair, because it was my first pair. Then I was rather sad to throw away my second pair, because it served me for so long through competitions and tests.

The rest of the skates just came and went in a blur, and I lost count of how many pairs I wore out. Anyway since I'm too old to do the demanding moves now, the new skates
aren't of the strongest support.

Been doing the crazy thing of walking around at home with my new skates on, to break them in. They hurt so much!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Who Dunnit: Part 2

Security breach. Torn bag of hay. Who dunnit?!


Actually, it was Whitty who had been playing on top of their cage, and rummaging through the bags of hay. She finally nibbled holes into one bag of hay. Blackie passed by and was too tempted by the fragrance to behave himself.

Now the naughty girl is looking for ways to get into the yellow box, which holds all their treats


Friday, November 18, 2011

In those days...

I had a teacher who yelled at me ‘you numbskull’ because I misplaced her worksheets. Another teacher, with peculiar imagination, made us ‘hold our tongues’, literally, whenever we got too noisy. It was a slippery and wet experience. And we are none the worse for all such punishments, no lasting trauma left its mark upon me.

Now I am not condoning the behavior of the teachers mentioned in the newspapers lately. Parents complained that some teachers shouted ‘shut up’ or called students names, and wanted these teachers to maintain discipline in the classroom in more polite ways. I suppose, we can agree that a teacher should never resort to abusive ways to control the class.

What I want to caution against though, is an over-protective culture in which our children are sheltered from every knock and shock in life. A parent was upset that her child burst into tears after being yelled at. What if I suggest that after this experience, she might develop more resilience to unpleasantness in life? 

At any rate, I’m sure that people don’t grow up stronger being swaddled in cotton wool, hand-held and spoon-fed in their developmental years. 

Incidentally, I thought there is an obvious way to keep the children from being scolded in class. If respect for the teacher is ingrained in them, and there is little defiance in the classroom, I don't see why they should be in trouble for anything. Is it really so hard to get there? 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Who dunnit: Part 1

Chaos. Shredded paper all over the floor. Gaping hole in box. Who dun it?


Fortunately for the suspect, Witness V testified that it was Whitty who spent the whole evening ripping, ripping and ripping, then she ran off, leaving behind the terrible mess. Blackie just happened to wander into the box and thought it was nice to rest there.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Naughty Girl

This is a very naughty rabbit. Both Blackie and Whitty are, but Whitty is more. She instigates Blackie to gnaw at the security barriers. She attacks the bags of hay. And recently, she has taken to a new naughty habit - nip the owner.

Now, websites say rabbits nip if they are afraid, or angry, or to get you out of the way. BUT!!!! This rabbit is different! She would run up to me just to play with me, nosing around me, then suddenly nip me! I don't know why, it must be her idea of sport.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

East and West

Overheard at KFC during breakfast hours.

A middle-aged 'auntie' remarked to her companion, "KFC is tastier than San Shu Gong." That seems such random comparison!

For the uninitiated, San Shu Gong is a bakery based in Malacca, selling traditional Chinese confectionary like 'Wife biscuits' and 'Chick biscuits'. As she spoke on, we realised that she was comparing KFC's Southern US biscuit with San Shu Gong's 'beh teh soh'. Now that she mentioned it, these two balls do look remarkably similar!

Beh teh soh
Biscuit as the Americans call it:
Some things are universal in appeal - fat, whether in the form of lard or butter, taste so good baked with flour and sugar. Yum yum. This is my new favourite breakfast, by the way.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ninja wants a hug

I know, my friends think it's crazy of me to wake up extra early every morning to play with all the little animals before I leave for work. But they all want their fair share of attention - pats, treats, time out of the cage. It's hard to let them down.

Here, Ninja is asking to be cuddled. If you offer her your hand, she will happily climb into it and sit there quietly, with a sunflower seed, of course.

Friendy is sitting on the running wheel, grooming again. Poor Friendly :( She has really bad skin which the vet can't do anything about. We've fed her vitamin C, cod-liver oil, flaxseed and wheatgerm. Now we are dusting her with medicated powder. The sad problem with hamsters is, there aren't many small animal experts around and folks aren't usually interested in giving them veterinary attention.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Yummy house

Our rabbits enjoy eating up their furniture. I have come to accept that, as long as they don't start eyeing my furniture. Here, Whitty is checking out the washing machine, clearly curious about the dark tunnel behind the netting. With a shudder, I remember how Blackie did manage to break through and nibble at the tubes.

Luckily Whitty prefers wood. Thank goodness for Busy Bunny toys :)


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

I feel so tired
I came home and see this dreadful mess and feel Who dunnit?

It could be Whitty, or Blackie, or most likely, both. Now they are hiding quietly in their corner as if they have never jumped on top of their cage, and ripped all the newspapers. YOU ARE SO NAUGHTY!

Now friends, you know how much I dote on all the small and smaller animals at home, but moments like this make me wonder if I regret having so many pets. This is a cautionary tale, especially as Christmas draws near. Never buy a cute, furry animal on impulse, because it is a (their) lifetime of feeding them and cleaning up after them. You have been warned.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ninja enjoying life

We were cleaning the cages so all the Squeak were shifted to their temporary pen. No matter where they are, Ninja is so at ease that she can sleep and enjoy life.

Then she woke up and decided to steal some tissue paper from PipSqueak, who soon came out and squeaked fiercely at her neighbour. Hahaha, but PipSqueak, you frequently steal their bedding too.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Botanic Garden outing ends in rain

Yay, with the opening of the Circle Line, we now have access to places which used to be difficult to reach. Hooray for the Mrt! The public holiday seemed a good opportunity to explore Botanic Garden and get some exercise too. It was such a sunny day, but the greenery provided nice shade.

Alas, in true tropical rainforest fashion, it suddenly poured, and poured. We darted from shelter to shelter, finally hiding in a cave while the flash storm raged.

On the bright side, we were thoroughly entertained by a super cute poodle doing tricks. Hm...let me looked like it could get along with my 3 hamsters and 2 rabbits actually, and that day I saw a poodle at the PetShop...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy (Henpecked) couple

Now that the rabbits are roomed together again, they are twice as active and mischievous as ever. If the lazy owners wake up a little later than usual, expect plenty of banging from the yard.

But it's nice to see them happy once more. See how Whitty drapes her leg comfortably over Blackie.
How relaxing life is...

Monday, October 24, 2011

The City Never Sleeps

God made two lights, the greater one to shine brightly in the day, and the lesser to glimmer softly in the night.

Then Man invented the light bulb, and now the city never sleeps.

Saw in the newspapers that many spas are open 24 hours a day so that we can get massages whenever we want, since Singaporeans work such late hours. I’m not sure that this is a good idea. It may mean greater convenience for customers, and the business owners can maximize the use of their premises. But it disturbs me to think of the human costs to keep our economy humming even when it is time to rest. Who is going to work these graveyard shifts, pummeling sore muscles and helping others to relax so that they can sleep well? Seeing the toll exacted on my father as a night driver, I don’t think anyone really ‘gets used’ to such topsy-turvy hours.

Maybe I am being too sentimental and sensitive about it. I just can’t see myself going for midnight massages anytime soon.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ninja eating

Ninja enjoying a floret of broccoli. She squabbled with Friendly again this morning, over wheatgerm. The Squeaks both love it so much that they would wrestle over the powder until it is scattered all over the bedding and neither can eat it. hahaha! But I always give you plenty, Squeaks. It's very naughty of you to play in your food.

Update: Whitty is recovering fine, and getting restless in her cage. Blackie too is throwing tantrums in every way to show us that he wants Whitty back, like banging his metal hay ball on his cage or ripping newspapers. I hope my neighbours don't realise that the dreadful nightly racket comes from our yard :P

Thursday, October 20, 2011

From longkang to river

Somehow I think this makes it official - seeing a boat gliding peacefully through the water.

We are now living beside a river, not a longkang (big drain). Now this used to be a drain to catch all the rain water, it was shallow and frequently stank. See how much things can be changed if only we put in enough political will. Over the wasteland they planted forests, the drain was deepened and widened. Birds started flying over the area as if they were in a nature reserve. In fact, I think they made it a reserve :)

Then there are occasional boats. Woah! We are lucky to witness the transformation from longkang to river!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Whitty and Blackie: A Love Story

Sometimes, we hear stories of how animals stay near their injured companions faithfully. Now I know it can be true. Whitty and Blackie have been put into separate cages for Whitty's safety. To our surprise, Blackie has been wonderfully supportive and loving, and stayed as close to his girlfriend as possible despite the bars. *sniff sniff* It almost makes us feel like bad guys for keeping them apart. It won't be long ok, Blackie. You will soon have your little friend back.

Whitty is recovering well. We aren't letting her run around but she's getting restless. Hm...I wonder how long she has to remain in the cage.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The convalescent

After an anxious morning, the surgery is finally over. Rabbit looks somewhat sorry for herself, but seems alert on the whole. To my horror, the vet also detected fur mites on her, which means that Blackie needs treatment too. 

We are keeping the two rabbits in separate cages for the time being to let the convalescent recover safely. 

Time to stock up on treats to tempt her to eat.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spaying Whitty


It is about time to get Whitty spayed. The appointment has been made for tomorrow at the vet's. I know the success rates are reassuringly high. But I don't feel good putting my dear little girl through surgery. Still, everyone says that rabbits, if you aren't breeding them, should be neutered. It is true that Blackie is much calmer now that he is neutered. And Whitty has been so restless, practically harassing Blackie all the time, and EVEN humping his head (silly rabbit!)


But for all the good reasons, there is no denying the anxiety.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Angry Rabbits

The rabbits have to get their nails cut every 6 weeks, so one afternoon, we woke them up from their cozy nap to get them out of their cage. They were most reluctant about it, and it took a bit of chasing around the yard before they got bundled into the pet carrier. Unfortunately, the pet salon was full of excited, barking dogs which I don't think the rabbits like.

The rabbits were so offended by their experience that it took some time before they are friendly again. In fact, even now, Whitty isn't as trusting as before.

Whitty: I don't want your lousy strawberries

Blackie: We are having fun without you

Rabbits: Now leave the salad behind and go away

Hey rabbits, it's for your own good you know...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

It's a rich man's world

Moments like this, I wonder if somehow, unknowingly, I have slipped below the middle-class income level.

It was reported that at Natas Travel Fair, the tours packages were all snapped up, and that inspired V and I to plan a holiday too. At least, until we realised just how expensive even the air tickets are. Taxes another hefty sum, and then we did not even bother to look for accomodation, because we decided not to go anymore. 

We thought of doing up the only toilet left to the humans in our home, as it is getting somewhat shabby. To my dismay, just laying the tiles on the floor would cost a thousand. I think I will go and get a bleach pen instead :(

I've finally bitten the bullet and signed up for a driving course, hoping to hit the road really soon. The registration fees alone burnt a hole in my pocket, but apparently, many other people are also driving, because the lessons are so fully booked that it would be a couple of months before I can even start booking the lessons! Anyway I suppose there is no hurry, since car prices are sky high and I am not likely to be buying my own anytime soon. I look in wonderment at all the shiny new cars on the road. How do all these folks manage their finances? And travel? And do up their homes?

Then, feeling distinctly poor, I contemplate giving tuition to supplement my pay.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Greedy Girl: Ninja

Ninja is such greedy girl. She is always standing guard beside the food bowl, if not actually eating right inside, and keeping Friendly from getting the food. No wonder we hear the Squeaks quarrelling so frequently.  

See, Friendly is sleeping, but the greedy girl is still gnawing away non-stop.

Who cares if the foodbowl flies into the air like a magic carpet? Nothing comes between this Squeak and her food.