Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Hit The Road, Jack

~ Wishing all my friends a very Happy New Year, from my home to yours. May 2009 be a year of tolerance, love, compassion, understanding, progress, accountability and evolution for this troubled world of ours. ~

It has been another memorable and productive year for me, and I would say I’ve achieved around 75% of the targets I had set for myself last New Year’s Eve. 2009 is not going to be an easy ride, judging by the current economic and political climate, but we will all just have to do the best we can.

I’m probably overreaching myself here but I’ve made the following list:

50 Goals and Reminders-To-Self For 2009:

1. To get another 20 stray cats vaccinated, neutered and released/rehomed under Project Second Chance.
2. To volunteer at the SPCA animal shelter for at least 5 hours a week and invest additional time in government and industry lobbying work.
3. To submit another 10 letters to the Press/Press releases on relevant environmental issues.
4. To coordinate and conduct another 10-12 Green Living education and awareness projects this year for the Selangor Branch of the Malaysian Nature Society.
5. To donate blood another 3 to 4 times this year.
6. To bring household energy usage down by another 5%.
7. To bring household water usage down by another 5%.
8. To reduce waste to the extent that we only have to take out the trash once in 2 weeks.
9. To create a personal Key Performance Index for work in the interest of professional development and to try to meet all targets by the end of 2009.
10. To drive with at least one hand on the steering wheel if going over 30 kmh.
11. Not to eat complicated things like mashed potatoes while driving.
12. Not to make the cats do the moonwalk on the living room rug.
13. To get at least 4 hours of sleep each night.
14. To assist the SPCA in coordinating the Ampang Jaya stray cat neutering project under Mission Help.
15. To commence B-Boying in February and stick with it for at least 6 months.
16. To go skateboarding at the skate park at least once a month.
17. To read all industry newsletters and landmark decisions in the interest of continuing professional development.
18. To do my Basic Caving Course in April 2009.
19. To make my compost pit and trash receptacle macaque-proof.
20. To save up enough for a paint job for the Battletank by October 2008.
21. Not to take a single day of medical leave all year.
22. To take my parents on a caving vacation to Mulu Caves.
23. To keep a herpetofauna sighting log.
24. To update my birding log.
25. To coordinate the World Environment Day 2009 celebrations for MNS.
26. To coordinate the Earth Day 2009 celebrations for the Residents' Association.
27. Not to drive like a rally driver, if I could help it.
28. To go on my 4th Seahorse Data Collection and Monitoring trip.
29. To register as a stem cell/ bone marrow donor.
30. To come in to work sober without fail.
31. To leave milk crates well alone.
32. To get the Draft Water Management Plan and petition out to the State Government and relevant ministries by April 2009.
33. To resume work on the infernal Bar Council Secretariat Energy Audit.
34. To go camping backwoodsman-style again.
35. To do my bushcraft/woodcraft follow-up workshop.
36. To do the firecraft workshop again until I succeed in making fire by bow drill.
37. To complete my intermediate First Aid course.
38. To bring an animal first aid kit with me in the car or whenever I go on trips, just in case I encounter an injured animal again.
39. To start work on the book I am co-authoring with Mahendran.
40. To attempt the PJ Half Marathon again.
41. To actually work out on my chin-up bar rather than just hang clothes on it.
42. Not to punch, kick or headbutt anyone all year, even if he is a dysfunctional sexist b**t**d.
43. To keep the volume on my stereo unit / car radio down before I go deaf.
44. To support local theatre by watching and reviewing the better productions.
45. To save all my bonuses and increments by adding it all to my fixed deposit account.
46. To drastically cut down on credit card use.
47. To learn how to adjust the Battletank’s timing myself.
48. To grow my own wheatgrass and ryegrass.
49. To stop acquiring more books until I have read everything in my existing collection.
50. To have more adventures!

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Friday, 19th December 2008: “Oh My God” at the KL Performing Arts Centre

Oh My God

My old buddy Dorah had invited me to watch this local production, in which one of her friends is acting. It has been 8 months since I last watched a play, so I accepted her kind offer and made my way to KLPAC after work on Thursday.

Described as a ‘dark comedy’, the play touched on issues such as religion, guilt, redemption, hypocrisy, chastity and death. We (Dorah, Shanon, Faeizah, Rena and I) came away impressed with the originality, wit and courage of this play. The comic timing of the punchlines and kickers were perfect, and the characters were very well fleshed out, from the ditzy Tini to the bitter Joseph.

I guess this play has renewed my faith in young Malaysian playwrights and producers after the disappointment of having watched an insipid version of Pinter’s “The Dumb Waiter” and a ridiculous session of “Actorlympics” in the past.

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Saturday, 20th December 2008: Do the Animals Know It’s Christmas?

SPCA Paw-ty Poster

Ee-Tan and I with Jelly and Jojo at the SPCA Christmas Paw-ty!

I had organised the inaugural SPCA Christmas Paw-ty as a way to engage families, students and the local community in the SPCA and the cause of animal welfare, rather than as a fundraiser. Christmas can be a very sad time for shelter animals, as many animals are surrendered or abandoned during the festive season, and when the shelter staff goes away on holiday, the shelter can be a cheerless place for the animals.

We had relied on “Do the Animals Know It’s Christmas?” as our event tagline, to get the public to empathise with shelter animals. Toys and treats can do wonders to help unhappy animals feel more at home, and so guests were encouraged to bring gifts of food, toys, treats and pet supplies for the shelter animals.

On the morning of the Paw-ty, I arrived at the SPCA Bungalow with my friends Hui-Min and Beng Beng to clean up the Bungalow and put up the decorations. The caterers arrived early to set up the buffet table, and soon the guests began trickling in. My parents were the first to arrive, and I took them to see Angel and feed her treats. My parents were reduced to tears, as most people are when they see Angel for the first time, but I reassured them that she would never be euthanised and will always have a home with us here at the Bungalow.

Giving cookies to Angel at the back of the Bungalow after the Paw-ty. Zack's rump is in the foreground. Angel lost her eyesight and was lame in one leg following a senseless and brutal attack. It looks as though I am force-feeding her in this photo, but I was just trying to get her to smell the cookies so that she would know that it is food.

My favourite SPCA dog, Angel. Please don't look away when you see her, as she has the most beautiful personality ever (Photo taken by MingChien Ng).

Jake, Jess, Lillian, Jack, Kathleen, Liz Price and Selvanathan were among my friends who had received my event invitation via e-mail and decided to come and support our efforts. As it was a pet-friendly event, some guests came with their very well-behaved furkiddos. The guests were generous and our gift tubs could not hold all the gifts that they brought.

At 1530 hours, we all went down to the Shelter to distribute treats and toys to the animals. You could sense the excitement in the dogs when the visitors arrived with the goodies. It was a sight that tugged at the ol’ heartstrings.

We had a total of around 60 guests for the Paw-ty but did not manage to break even, as I had set a very low price for the lunch tickets to encourage attendance and participation. Meem and Jacinta tried to persuade me that we didn’t do too badly as the donations and gifts did make up for the costs of having the Paw-ty, but I was disappointed that I failed to do better. This calls for a post-mortem and another fundraising effort to put money back into the SPCA coffers.

We took a break from cleaning up the Bungalow and putting away the donated items to go down to the shops for tea. I left Meem, Nicole and Glyn (Glyn + Nicole = Glycol) after that so I could return to the Shelter to help out in the kennels.

Reve and Linda had by then let the dogs out to play and were already cleaning the cages. I went to work washing and disinfecting the cages, the front Reception/Admin area, Maternity Kennels, Cattery 1, Puppy Area and Central Area. I cleaned out the cat baskets and gave them clean bedding, and washed and refilled all the food and water bowls. Most of the dogs have had their baths in the morning thanks to Rose, Jane and a few other volunteers, and it did the heart good to see the dogs clean and parasite-free for once.

Finished cleaning the Shelter by 1930h, cleaned myself up, went back to the BOQ and later headed back to the parental home for the rest of the weekend.

By objective standards, the Paw-ty went well and the guests did enjoy themselves, and we did manage to make the animals very happy with all the treats, so maybe I should stop being so hard on myself about not having raised more funds for the SPCA.

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Tuesday, 23rd December & Wednesday, 24th December 2008: Glyn’s Birthday and Christmas Eve at the SPCA Bungalow

Glyn turned 40 on Tuesday and so I went over to the SPCA Bungalow after work to celebrate with the Inspectorate and MarComm team. I brought drinks and munchies and CDs to dance to, and we made short work of the chips and nachos. Dinner was at Naan Corner, as usual, and Glyn insisted on paying for the meal despite our vehement protests. We walked back to the Bungalow for the cake-cutting ceremony and to take dodgy photos of each other. The novelty candles took ages to light and dripped wax all over the lovely cake. After dinner, we decided to give the Bungalow animals some of their Christmas presents. There were chew toys for the dogs and glitter balls for the cats. I gave Glyn and Nicole their gifts, and they gave me one in return. Although the initial understanding was that we would try to have a non-consumer Christmas as much as possible, useful gifts and gifts for animals would be graciously accepted. While the dogs were playing with their toys, I discussed the pet-sitting arrangement with Nicole. Almost everyone would be away for Christmas and so we agreed to take turns to come in and feed and clean up after the animals. I left the Bungalow around 2300h, having declined to join in a boisterous game of UNO as I had to go to work the following day.

I was on pet-sitting duty on Christmas Eve, and so I was back at the SPCA Bungalow the following night to feed the animals. I had expected the Bungalow to be in darkness, but it wasn’t. Our Inspector, Thean, was in the hall mopping the floor when I arrived, and the dogs swarmed to the front door to greet me. Thean had already fed the dogs, and I merely had to let them out to play for a little while. I collected the empty food bowls, did the washing up, cleaned the kitchen and cleaned out the cat cages.

Thean informed me that he was going to give the dogs their Christmas presents from him, and produced an assortment of brightly coloured collars. We put collars on Poodley, Girlie, Boobie, Zack, Angel and Tesco. What a difference it made to the dogs! They didn’t look like strays anymore with collars on.

Jacinta and Moses arrived after their Christmas Eve dinner to pick up Poodley, who had been unwell and needed home care, and I took the opportunity to bid everyone goodnight and make my way back to the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters. The roads were congested and bad drivers were out in full force, and I couldn’t help thinking what an irony it is that Christmas is said to be a time for sharing and goodwill.

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Thursday, 25th December 2008: Christmas with the family

Gave the Rowdies a Christmas breakfast of mackerel, cod liver oil and Hi-Vite drops before taking the LRT downtown to meet the Parents at Corus Hotel, where I had booked us a table for the Christmas Day High Tea.

I believe all festive holidays should be celebrated like the special occasions that they are, and have made it a point to include the Parents in the festivities. Covert Twin and his girl arrived at the hotel when I was well into my 4th helping of dessert. There was a good spread, and we enjoyed the meal very much. I would rate the food and service at 4 stars out of 5, and the ambience at 4½. A magician, a clown and a goon in a Santa suit entertained the younger guests with games and performances at the other end of the coffeehouse, which left the dining area peaceful enough for us to dine and converse civilly. I had made reservations very early in the promotion period, and so we were entitled to a discount. The bill was lower than I had expected, which necessitated a movie treat after our long lunch.

We walked over to KLCC to catch a movie at the cinema. Being dog lovers, we chose “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua

I can’t appreciate all the negative reviews given to this movie. Of course scenes like that of the dogfight kennels had to be sanitized to a certain extent – this is meant to be family fare, not a PeTA documentary! The movie was humorous and had a sufficient element of suspense and surprise to keep even the adults guessing, and imparted values such as loyalty, courage and responsibility. The spoilt niece and pampered puppy shed their prejudices and become better persons at the end of the movie, and there was even a message from Disney on behalf of the American Humane Society about pet adoption at the closing credits. The dogs just evoked so much of your love and empathy (Yes, those are real dogs with computer-generated mouths) and the message on respect for and responsibility towards animals was so clear, you really couldn’t ask for more. I’ve always detested breed-specific animal movies because of the way it increases demand for pedigree breeds that most people have no idea how to care for (Think “Snow Dogs” and the consequential rise in the abandonment of Siberian Huskies in animal shelters after 1-2 years), but Beverly Hills Chihuahua had a strong pro-mongrel, pro-shelter/pound adoption message, which I find commendable.

It was drizzling when we left KLCC, but the streets and shops were still full of revelers. I saluted Covert Twin and the Parents goodbye, returned to the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters and spent the rest of the evening cleaning the house in the company of the housemates and the Rowdies.

So this is Christmas, and we did have fun.

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Saturday, 27th December – Monday, 29th December 2008: SPCA Jumble Sale Weekend

My friends and I manning the Books & CDs stall.
From L-R: A 17-year-old Girl Guide with very little common sense and who could hardly speak a word of English or Malay, me, Mun Yee and Hot Rachel

Drove back to the parental home on Friday evening so I could help the parents with the spring cleaning on Saturday. Spent Saturday cleaning out the laundry and storage area after giving Amber and Chocky their baths.

The SPCA had our quarterly Jumble Sale on Sunday, and I managed to recruit Mun Yee and Hot Rachel to assist us. It was a little more organised this time around, as a team of volunteers had come to the shelter the day before to set up the stalls and get things ready.

We were put in charge of the Used Books & CDs stall, and 2 17-year-old Girl Guides who were supposed to be assisting us as part of their project in order to earn their merit badges were assigned to our stall. The girls were slow-witted, completely incapable of communicating in anything other than Mandarin, and thoroughly exasperating to work with. They kept disappearing from their station every 20 minutes and displayed no initiative or leadership qualities. Mun Yee and Hot Rachel worked hard at making sales, bagging up purchases, collecting cash, making change, rearranging goods and keeping order at our stall.

The Girl Guides reappeared like rabbits out of a hat when the Sale was over and while we were in the midst of bagging up the unsold books and magazines for other charities. I made the girls help to bag up the books and wipe the shelves. I cleaned the bookcases and returned the bookcases to the Charity Shop.

The Charity Truck arrived around 1330 pm and we got them to collect the unsold goods to be redistributed to other charities or sent for recycling. I urged my team to take a lunch break while the workers loaded the items into the Charity Truck. After lunch, Mun Yee and Hot Rachel helped with the remaining tidying up. I swept the floor, bagged up the garbage, scrubbed and disinfected the Sale area, cleaned the Cattery and the Maternity Kennels and cleaned the Front Reception/Admin area before having a shower and going back to the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters.

We made only RM7,500.00 from this Jumble Sale, which is disappointing, considering that we made over RM12,000 at the last Jumble Sale. Still, we managed to clear out the storeroom and Charity Shop, promote the reuse and recycling of many items that would otherwise have been landfilled, and help out other needy charities in the process.

Went back to the parental home after feeding and cleaning up after the Rowdies at the BOQ. Monday was Awal Muharram, another public holiday, so I spent it at the parental home cleaning out the rest of the laundry and storage room and the hardware cabinets. Repaired to the BOQ around midnight after an utterly boring and exhausting day with the parents and spent the next 4 hours cleaning the BOQ, which looked like a disaster site due to the fact that my housemate was on a long Christmas break. I hope it will be a long time before I have to spend a long weekend cleaning up after everyone else’s messes again.

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Tuesday, 30th December 2008: Final Blood Donation for the Year.

Nothing much to report, so I’ll just post the statistics:

Date & Time: Tues, 30th December 2008, lunch hour (1300h – 1400 h)
Venue: National Blood Bank, Jalan Tun Razak.
Whole Blood Donation No: 26
Haemoglobin count: 13.9
Amount donated: 350 ml.
Time taken: 3 minutes 56 seconds. (I failed to break my own blood donation speed record :o( My personal best is 3:02 minutes).
On the Blood Bank cafeteria menu today: Nasi lemak, tuna sandwich, sesame bun whotsit-thingy (I haven’t eaten mine yet so I have no idea what’s inside), pear, coffee/tea/Milo. Oh, and the ubiquitous Iron and Folic Acid tablets.
Hot factor of nurses: Absolute Babes! W00t!

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Gung-Ho, Commando!
Covert Operations, Over To You!


nat said...

Oh gosh... your 2009 list is putting me to shame. Please cut down your list to just 10... or just 1...

Pak Zawi said...

I love theater plays but I dont have the chance too see them being in far flung Pasir Mas where nothing seems to happen much. Happy New Year my friend.

Pat said...

Hello darlink!

I just had time to read your list of 50 - and I am tired already! And it is your list!!!! Puff! Pant! Sigh!

I'll come back again and read the rest, cos I have to run now.

Have a great 2009 - despite the list!!! Hehehehe




That dachshund in the poster - with the santa hat - looks just like my Sasha :)

Everycat said...

That's one HUGE list of resolutions, we wish you the very best of luck in completing it. Resolutions 30 and 42 made us laugh!

The Christmas Pawty looks like it was lots of fun for all.

A very Happy New Year to you. Likewise, we wish for greater help for all animals and greater understanding of their needs by humans.

Whicky Wuudler