Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Squeaks' teeth part 2

Ninja's teeth got clipped, and she is given antibiotics for gum inflammation. Since the TwinSqueaks are erm...twins, we decided to check Friendly's teeth too. V held the Squeak on his hand, and pulled her scruff back to reveal her teeth. Ok, no signs of problems. The angry Squeak then give V a huge bite. OUCH! Blood again. 

Oh well, at least we know her teeth are working fine. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

This isn't a day for the pets

The pet household has some challenges today :(

Ninja had to go to the vet because of her overgrown teeth. To my dismay, there is also inflammation of the she still isn't eating properly now. The vet isn't sure what more she can do for Ninja, and advises me to pound her food. I spent the new few hours pulverizing pine nuts, sunflower seeds, barley flakes, etc

Then, I cleaned out the rabbits' cage, and Whitty bit me! Broke my skin and there was blood. She has never been good about cage cleaning. Unlike Blackie who would just lie there quietly, Whitty gets anxious and would try to stop me from throwing away her hay, and while I was clearing out the hay, she would be eating as quickly as she could. Silly girl! I always give you more after that! Have you ever run short?

Anyway so she kept lunging at me, chasing my hand, until finally, the big BITE. That hurt! We glared at each other for a few seconds, I put on a glove, and the angry rabbit ran off to sulk beside Blackie, hiding her face in his fur, until the whole thing was over. She became happier only when I filled the hay balls and returned her the food bowls and toys.

All in all, it isn't a day for the pet owner and I am exhausted now. Good night folks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blackie wants to cross a gulf

Poor Blackie! We have always known that he is the...erm...less agile of the two rabbits, so this scene isn't a surprise at all. But poor Blackie! 

The rabbits love their alfalfa hay but they aren't allowed too much of it, so I put the hay on a high place, not expecting the rabbits to be able to get there. Whitty the clever girl managed to leap from the top of their cage unto the food bin, as you can see in the picture.  She was happily nibbling the hay, but alas, Blackie just couldn't join her, much as he wanted to do so. 

See how the poor boy cranes his neck, "Hm...I wonder how I can get there. I want the alfalfa hay too! Come on Whitty, pass some over."

So at last, Blackie gave up and contents himself with the crumbs from Whitty's feast. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bemused about tuition centres

As I have mentioned in an earlier entry, our keen desire for academic excellence has spread to private tuition centres. The most popular of these have the luxury of imposing entrance tests on their students, and accepting only students who do well. The common reason cited is that such streaming ensures more targetted help, and this increases the effectiveness of their teaching.

Few parents, however, accept this reason, and instead, many decry these tests as a cynical tactic to improve the centres' results. Many protested that it is the weak students who need support, and these tuition centres are depriving them of the help they need when they reject them. They shouldn't be allowed to impose entrance tests!

Please don't have any illusions about it. Private tuition centres are set up specifically to make profits - they have a bottomline to meet, overheads to cover, and would like to maximise their profit if they could.

Maybe over the years, both private and public educational organisations have come to use similar jargon, phrases such as "holistic development", "fulfiling the potential of every child" are freely found in all communication materials. At the same time, there are social welfare bodies such as CDAC and Mendaki which are set up to help weaker students, especially those from poorer families. It is perhaps forgivable for parents to confuse the aims of all these education-related organisations, and expect every of them to be equally altruistic.

But don't forget the commercial nature of private tuition centres. Yes, they are probably making use of their high-flying customers' exam results for their own publicity. Yes, they then probably charge an arm and a leg because of this manipulated track record. Therefore, those who do not wish to be part of this behaviour should simply vote with their feet and walk away. Those who need help and yet have been rejected by these centres should bring their patronage to less snooty tuition centres. I am sure there are plenty out there.

In the world of private education, excepting criminal activity, it is a free market. Unless we intend to impose regulation upon such private interests (and turn them into publicly-funded centres), they have the right to function as they wish - just like any other business enterprise. If they lose money because of their selective admission, it serves them right. They might even close down and no one will be sorry. But don't pillory them because they thrive despite snubbing your business.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Relieved that Rabbit Year is over

Now, the Year of the Rabbit may be over, but mind that you still take good care of me. Keep the hay bins well stocked and clean out my litter box regularly. Don't confine me to my cage all the time. Like you, I enjoy having some freedom.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Best friends again

Now that the Squeaks are older, there seems to be so much more squabbling over food and favourite places, and less playing and snuggling together. *Sigh* Even cute little furballs follow these inevitable social development in adulthood.

So this is quite a rare moment for us, seeing them eat side by side, sharing food and the most comfortable eating space.

Happily, we have managed to treat Friendly's skin condition somewhat. She is dusted with medicated powder, dunked in oatmeal solution, and rubbed with neem oil shampoo for small animals. She still looks scruffy and patchy, but at least the dreadful smell is gone :P

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Goodbye Rabbit Year...and rabbits

If you were one of those who abandoned a rabbit this year...

Which part of the planet had you been living in? We all know last year was the Year of the Rabbit, and all animal welfare groups had been reminding every one - DON'T BUY A RABBIT JUST BECAUSE IT IS RABBIT YEAR! Did you not hear the message, which was repeated everywhere, even at the petshops? Did you not realise that a rabbit lives for much longer than one year? It might still be around the NEXT Rabbit Year!

So why do people still buy and then abandon rabbits? Even they didn't want the rabbits anymore, why did they just leave them lost in our concrete jungle? Would they themselves (the humans) be able to survive if they were thrown out into the streets without protection and food? No right? Then how did they expect the rabbits to cope?

We are entering the Year of the Dragon. Thank goodness people can't keep dragons as pets.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rabbit at rest

When a rabbit flops down in this manner, it means that he is as relaxed as he could possibly be. Being prey animals, they don't usually allow themselves to be so vulnerable.

After a delicious meal of snow peas and oat hay, Blackie is having a 'ah, this is life' moment.

Friday, January 13, 2012

No more hot-housing please!

It is time to restore some sanity to our society’s widespread anxiety towards education. How much more can parents do to give their children a head start? How much more head start do children need to do well in life? No, I have got the second question wrong, as perhaps some parents have. I should ask, how much more head start do children need to do well in their academic career? And how much do they need to achieve academically to do well in life?

Every year we witness parents’ epic efforts to get their children admitted into the top primary schools. This desperation has spread, perhaps inevitably, to the enrichment and tuition industry, with the more coveted agencies enjoying the luxury of being able to screen their customers and charge exorbitant fees. This is all because parents want to give their children a boost and help them get ahead of their peers.

Has anyone actually looked long and hard at how much advantage is enjoyed by children who are thus rigorously nurtured? I suppose, if one has been coached repeatedly in Mathematical sums or scientific facts, he can hardly help getting higher scores in tests and examinations, just as a shot of steroids is bound to improve one’s sporting performance. The short term benefit may not reflect greater cognitive development or learning ability. And does nothing, of course, for the child’s growth in character.

Where do we factor in holistic development in the torrent of instruction our children are swamped in? A child typically spends most of the day in the classroom before being whisked off to enrichment and tuition centres. The remaining few hours of the day are spent completing homework, with mummy supervising by the side. After a long and tiring day, I usually like to crash unto my sofa and watch mindless TV, preferably reruns. I wonder how differently children cope with stress. Yet we expect them to benefit from this incessant intravenous drip of teaching.

What if, after all, less is more? One cannot make a plant grow faster by watering it more often. Give the child time to observe, to explore, to invent, and most of all, to rest. It is natural to want one’s child to be the best of the lot, but some things are just beyond our control and influence. This leads me back to the question at the end of my first paragraph: And how much do children need to achieve academically to do well in life? Surely there is more than one pathway to success and personal fulfilment, and this can be discovered by our children...unless they are too tired to look. Don’t let them be.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Organic-fed rabbits

Occ was aghast to know that I feed my rabbits organic, peeled baby carrots. How much can one spoil her pets? But don't get me wrong, they are given such premium food because the carrots come in neat little packages which are such a convenience for feeding...and because, erm, the rabbits love them, of course. 

Two excited rabbits at breakfast time

Nope, don't misunderstand that they are being intimate. While thoroughly loving in every other way, this couple is completely competitive when it comes to food. The silly rabbits squabble over the carrots in the most ridiculous way - though there is a nice full bowl in front of them, each insists on snatching the carrot from the other's mouth, hence, the scene we see below. So for them, every carrot is half eaten.

Monday, January 09, 2012

A Simple Meal

The many rounds of festive feasting has taken its toll, and one night, I woke up clutching my overworked stomach in pain :( Before Chinese New Year, I had better recuperate somewhat. Made for myself a really light but still tasty meal

Ingredients for the Convalescent's Porridge
  • Brown rice (for extra nutrition)
  • Dried scallops (makes the porridge marvellously unami)
  • Ginger slices (for the queasy stomach)
  • Carrot (to use up my rabbits' leftovers)
  • A dash of chicken stock powder

One of the side dishes was Japanese pickled anchovies, which I picked up one day at Isetan's Hokkaido food fair. The other was a childhood favourite - tinned meat sauce.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Pets: love them, then let go

A dear friend just suffered a loss feared by all pet lovers. I know, some cynics might think 'but they are just animals!' Why do we get so sentimental about a dog, or worse, a rodent? But if you have ever taken care of an animal daily, interacted with it and understood its unique personality, you would know that the death of a pet feels like a bereavement too.

It is a sad fact that unless you keep an elephant or a tortoise, your furkid is unlikely to outlive you. Painful loss is inevitable at some time. Do we then conclude that we should not have pets anymore?

Such a measure may guard our hearts from loss, but we would also not have the joy of enjoying a pet, and what a pity that would be!

I think the best attitude towards pets is to love them when you have them, and see to it that they have a full and happy life. Laugh at their silly antics and pretend to scold them for unintentional or (perhaps intentional) naughty behaviour. Appreciate their affection, be the best thing to happen to their lives.

Then when it is time, let them go. Cry if you must. In fact you will. But be comforted by the knowledge that they were happy with you. Love the next furkid that scampers into your life and it too has the chance to give you much happiness and fulfilment.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Robber Rabbit: Whitty

Suddenly, there are crashes. A series of loud thuds issued from the yard. Uh oh...what are the robber rabbits up to again? I'm so tired. 

Here, caught in her marauding act, is Whitty, head of mischief in the yard. She is rampaging through the things we put on top of their cage, and kicked their food containers and hay unto the floor. 

"Yep, that was me, so what?" 

 I had removed from their reach the torn bag of alfalfa hay, so now Whitty is trying to bite through another bag. 

"How do I get the tasty treats inside the box?"

Bad girl! Whitty, bad girl!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

My Verse for the Year

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;

I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.

Psalm 52:8

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Proposal of the Year

Today's Newpaper featured a sensational marriage proposal which got everyone talking on the Internet. It was a elaborately planned event which took place in a restaurant. Of course, we all admire the guy's guts to carry out such a personal venture in front of total strangers. What kind of proposal can require more courage?

I just witnessed one, right in the family. The Fat One held a family gathering in her new home. So there we were, lounging in her living room and watching TV when suddenly the screen changed to a video chronicling Little Fish and Bf's courtship. Hey! What was happening? 

Bf then walked in with a bouquet of flowers, and (witnessed by Daddy and Mummy and Boon One and Me and the Fat One and Little Bro and all the sons-in-law) proposed to our little sister! Now, THAT IS GUTS, being prepared to answer to her whole village. I could hardly hold back my happy tears. Mum and Boon One didn't even try. There were many a red eye in the room at that moment. *sniff sniff* My baby sister is all grown up. I can hardly believe it. 

How fast the little Misses turn into ladies!