Saturday, June 29, 2013

Potato the Acrobat

Of all strange positions hamsters like...this really takes the cake. 

Yes, Potato is actually sleeping now, right on top of his water bottle, suspended in mid air. Does he think he's a bird or something?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sheltered Rabbits

Thanks to the haze, our yard has been sealed off, and this means the rabbits aren't getting their daily fun. Boy are they angry about it. They had been throwing terrible tantrums every day, chewing on their cage door, tossing their toys and even digging out their litter box, creating a huge mess. 

So I have no choice but to let them run a little, under constant supervision. The problem is, they are currently housed in the study, which isn't rabbit-proof. Every time the rabbits go and sniff at any wire, I have to shoo them away or shout at them. This doesn't make for very happy playtime. 

And because playtime has to be greatly reduced, Blackie had been extra fiesty when outside. See how he has squeezed behind his cage and refused to come out. 

Alas, haze, haze, go away. 
Little rabbits want to play. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Smoked out

Abruptly and without warning, we found ourselves enveloped in another country's environmental disaster.

The severity of the haze sparked off panic buying of face masks, which in turn generated further anxiety by creating supply-chain bottle necks, snaking queues and profiteering. Just when Singaporeans are asphyxiating, an Indonesian minister drew howls of anger by commenting that we were childish to have overreacted to the pollution. Yet, I have to admit that some of the opinions expounded on the Internet and social media are not very far from being juvenile.

Some railed against the government for not taking a stronger stand, as if we could, by kicking up a bigger fuss, force another sovereign state to act. What are you thinking of? Going to war? Just think of the neighbourly disputes acted out every day in our society. Haven't you found it difficult to persuade your neighbour to be more considerate? Now imagine this challenge magnified manifold in the delicate bilateral relationship between two states.

There is such exquisite irony that even as people are busy criticizing the government, the demands they made reflect an almost touching faith in the ability of our government to solve any problem, and to solve it quickly. That is always how life has been, why should any problem be beyond the Government's capacity to manage? I remember that, as a child, this is how I used to feel towards my parents too - a sense of dependency, and firm belief that nothing is too difficult for them to handle.

To be frank, I find our reaction to this crisis is deeply disturbing, if this is truly a reflection of the strength of our character. In a war, would our citizens hope to complain our way to victory and expect no one to die? Would we, instead of presenting a united front, help others to criticize and discredit our own leadership? It seems that we have been so safe for so long that we have forgotten that life does give us occasional crises. In hard times, many factors would be out of our control, but each of us is responsible for how we conduct ourselves. And all of us have the duty to make things better in whatever little ways we can. Sneering, scoffing and nitpicking help nothing at all.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bradfield: Room with a view

We stayed Padley Farm in Bradfield, a simple homely place which has rooms with amazing views. It is so wonderful to wake up to a sight like this. With the help of GPS, it was not too difficult for us to find the place, but it would be impossible for me to drive in this area. There is no way an automatic car can wend its way through the mountainous routes, up and down, then down and up again. In fact, there were many occasions when I half expected the car to give up trying to climb a steep slope, and roll backwards instead! Now I understood why that area it is called the Peak District :P 

Derwent Dam in Peak District. I would love to boast that we conquered some of the walking trails in Peak District, but we didn't, really. In fact, we got tired after just walking around the Visitors' Centre. Hey, the routes are really steep, and not all are paved. There were many elderly folks bravely trekking these trails though, so we haven't much excuse, except that we are city folks who just don't exercise as much as we should :P 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rabbits in the Haze

Abruptly, the haze from Indonesia became hazardous, yes, hazardous. Our whole country is shrouded in smoke, as if the fires are right within our land. Considering the situation, special measures have to be adopted for our little animals too :( 

The yard is sealed off, well, as far as I can. So for now, they cannot go into their usual play area. We have to use our corridor as some kind of rabbit run instead. They are quite pleased about it, actually. 

Uh oh, Whitty! No nibbling of doors! Leave my home alone!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Knowing Jesus

One day, somebody asked me whether I knew Jesus. Having been a Christian for more than twenty years, I thought the answer was an obvious one, and so I said, "I have been a Christian for a long time." But she asked me again,"Do you know Jesus?" I said, "I know he died and rose again." Still she persists," Do you know Jesus? Is he your friend?"

And that struck me suddenly. No, I never knew Jesus personally. I learnt much about him, just as we study characters in Literature. And my mental image of him consists of the stereotypes in moves and posters. Besides, there is a lurking fear that Jesus really quite disapproves of me, since I am only too aware of all my failings. It terrifies me to think of standing in front of Jesus, a sinless, perfect being.

Contemplating what the Bible says on this topic, I realised that this is a completely wrong impression of Jesus. As if a sweet voice was whispering clearly into my mind, I had a new revelation about him.

Jesus is very patient
Jesus is very patient because he understands. Son of man, he knows the weight of the flesh. So much of our sinful desires, emotions and distractions come from our having to carry this flesh with us. We fear for our health, worry about what to eat and what to wear, and become defensive when we feel pain. Jesus knows that I get grumpy when I am hungry, and when I am tired, I want to leave church meetings. He knows that I like peace and quiet, and so I exchanged angry words with my neighbours. So many things about the flesh can make us sin: jagged nerves, haywire hormones, wounds on the body and the toils of life. Without this corruptible flesh, this mortal coil, how free and joyful life could be!

There are so many things we want to do that we cannot, and so many things we do not want to do yet we have to. Jesus understands that sometimes, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

One day, we can look forward to a new body in eternity, but until then, Jesus understands. That is why he came to redeem us from the wages of sin.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Random observations on UK trip

At Selfridges

We observed a great number of Men in Black, with ear piece firmly in place, and looking sombre, if not downright fierce looking. V commented that it is curious for a shopping paradise to display such conspicuously severe security. Then I read in the newspapers that just one week before our visit, a gang of men wielding axes chopped their way to a heist of luxury watches worth 1 million! No wonder they are furious now. And quite luckily we weren't there at that time :P

Death of the Used-books Shop

Several years ago on my first visit to England, there were many shops selling used books. As I meandered from town to town, my backpack became increasingly heavy with purchases. This time, I hardly saw any of these shops anymore. In fact, only the academic area of Bloomsbury seems to have a few left. Why should I be surprised? The Kindle has helped to make my backpack much lighter, and I haven't bought many new, physical books in these recent years. Is this a portent of the demise of paper books?

Yet while wondering through stately country houses, I couldn't help but notice how the leather-bound volumes added an air of erudition to the character of the home. Maybe books are going to take on a more ornamental role. After all, one can show off what books there are in the kindle.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Goodbye, Ninja

We received the sad news that Ninja passed away while we were in England :(

Though heavy-hearted, we were not surprised as she had been doddering around terribly for a long time. Truth be told, I am almost glad not to have to go to the vet every three weeks anymore, yet I feel so guilty for admitting to this. I have loved her every moment she was with me, and gave her the best of all she needed. 

Goodbye, my dear little Ninja, my favourite hamster. She is the prettiest and most sweet-natured of them all. *sob* 

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Potty training refresher.

Blackie is in disgrace. 

He naughtily set up a new pee corner in his cage, outside the litter box. WHYYYY! The litter box is cleaner these days, because he isn't using it! He has decided that he would do it beside the hay rack instead. 

V tried to train him again, by wiping up the pee and making him sniff it. He was very offended to have the smelly stuff waved in front of his nose, but after that, we saw him standing over the new pee corner contemplatively. Hm...let's hope for the best now. 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Hyde-ing in Cyberspace

There seems to have been an outcry among netizens against MDA's new regulations on the discourse in the Internet.

Much of the opposition against these regulations cite the right to free speech as a human right. But one's human rights cannot come with the right to harm others, even the American constitution recognizes this fundamental caveat to all forms of freedom. Why should free speech be any different?

Some protested that they are not children, and can do without this nannying. But dear friends, many are indeed either immature or nasty enough to engage in extremely unpleasant behaviour in the cyberspace. Just look at the vitriolic, hate-mongering comments in Yahoo, STOMP, or other political forums. Don't you ever wonder who on earth made them? If we meet these netizens in real life, are they just as uncouth, or maybe we would be surprised by how normal they appear on the outside. It is as if people behave like Dr Jekyll in face-to-face interaction, and then morph into Mr Hyde in the darkness of cyberspace, hiding behind anonymity.

It is obvious that the much vaunted free speech has turned into a free-for-all melee. Of course, one is free to give as good as he gets i.e. if you are flamed, trolled or slandered, you could jolly well retaliate in whatever way you like. But personally, I would prefer not to be attacked in the first place. I guess, since we live in a community, where one man's right is another's slander, it is best for there to exist some form of refereeing.

I, for one, have no objection to the new MDA guidelines.

Monday, June 03, 2013



Ninja has reached extreme old age, and is now not even able to reach her water bottle. I have put a tiny dish of water in her cage. It breaks my heart to see her staggering around, half the time rolling in her bedding, trying to find her footing. We call her Ninja because she used to be the most nimble and energetic of our hamsters. 

Once again, we are at this painful stage - dreading the worst, and suffering while waiting :( We are bringing her to the vet tomorrow, but truth is, there is no cure for mortality :(