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!