Friday, 6 March 2009

Chances and Choices

“Doesn't have a point of view,
Knows not where he's going to,
Isn't he a bit like you and me?”
- “Nowhere Man”, The Beatles.

There is no lack of opportunities for those who are willing to work honestly, hustle and produce results. I am immensely grateful to have been made 3 offers, the advantages and disadvantages of each which I am still weighing. I will, in all likelihood, accept the second offer as it will entail a mix of work that I am familiar with as well as more challenging work.

I am, in the meantime, making the most of what’s left of my days of leisure before I return to the blessed workforce. I am looking forward to donning my court whites again. Friends who know of my current situation have been remarkably helpful and unnecessarily sympathetic. I can live quite comfortably on my severance package for at least two or three months, guys. Although I appreciate being showered with dinner treats, organic soybeans, ice skating outings, potted ferns and whatever else I have been given, it really isn’t necessary. I’ve been keeping busy both in and outside the BOQ, and living life to the fullest. I can sleep in as long as I like after having spent the night catching up on my reading. By reading, I don’t mean improving books (to borrow from Jay Gatsby) like Walter Woon’s ‘Company Law’ or my admittedly lugubrious tome of Sartre’s essays. I’ve been losing myself in utterly self-indulgent baloney like Top Gear’s “Midlife Crisis Cars” and “The SAS Survival Guide”.

The political situation over here is still ghastly. At the rate we are going, we will still be in economic and political uncertainty when the Earth’s magnetic poles flip around again.

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1st March 2009: Thrice Bitten

SPCA Jumble Sale

Our SPCA had another mini jumble sale on Sunday to bring the donated items in our Charity Shop and storeroom (yes, the haunted one) to a more manageable level. Chelvy has decided to organise a mini jumble once every other month to generate income for the animal shelter and to promote the 3Rs (reducing, reusing and recycling), which will see greater acceptance due to the sluggish economy.

I arrived at the Shelter only at midmorning, having spent the night drafting a partnership agreement and deed of trust for someone as a personal favour. Also, I am aware that we now have regular school/college groups, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides coming in to volunteer for the Jumble, so my absence would not be felt. My services would only be critical around noon, after the Charity Van had picked up the unsold items and the young ‘uns have gone home.

Chelvy reported that the Shelter made over RM5,000.00 from the mini jumble, which isn’t too shabby by our standards. Our surrender rate currently stands at 868 animals, while the adoption rate remains encouraging at 309 animals. The Shelter is still operating at full to overcrowded capacity and we still need homes for all our animals.

The Charity Van arrived around lunchtime to remove the reusable items for resale or redistribution. We bagged up and carted away junk that could never be cleaned up, repaired or reused. The young volunteers, most of whom are students from INTI College, helped me remove rubbish and sweep the floor so I could wash and disinfect the Office, Charity Shop, Front Reception/Admin and Central Areas where the Jumble had been held.

Once the grunt work was done, Rose and I got the shampoo, Tactik EC solution and leashes ready and got to work washing the Pound dogs. These are strays and former strays that had been taken away for rehabilitation or euthanasia by the SPCA, and are generally aggressive and not very sociable. Wonder Boy (I don’t know his real name but he’s an affable chap about half my age who comes to help out sometimes and has managed to rehabilitate and tame Sparkle, an albino Spitz-cross with a churlish temper and jaws like a steel trap) joined us at the Pound and we managed to leash and wash 3 of the dogs.

One of the dogs bit me on the forearm and started shaking her head vigorously as though trying to break the neck of her prey. With much yelling and stamping of feet, we managed to get her to release my arm, which was thankfully protected by gloves and there was therefore only a closed wound. We finished washing her with much haste and then endeavoured to lasso another dog.

The other dog bit my hand and pulled my glove clean off. Wonder Boy had the good sense to hose the dog directly in the face to make him drop my glove. We had to run all over the Pound trying to corner him so we could wash him. It was like chasing chickens, only with a higher risk factor. I had purple rows of bite marks all over my hands and forearms when I was done.

Once we were done with the Pound dogs, we washed the new arrivals from the Maternity Kennel and Kennels E and F to prevent parasite infestation. Rose and I then called it at day and I rinsed out and put away the pails and things. I proceeded to clean and disinfect the Cattery and clean out all the cat baskets and litter trays.

Jane cleaned out the cages of the smaller dogs and let them out to play while I scrubbed out and washed the cages. I finished cleaning around 1640h and went up to the Bungalow to shower and change and have a powwow with The Glycol. They had visited the Singapore SPCA over the weekend and had bought me a gorgeous planner with photos of shelter animals on it as a gift (Thanks, guys!). We walked over to Studio 5 for an early dinner and discussed the recent shelter audit and the steps that could be taken to reduce the chances of animal deaths, infectious diseases and injuries.

I said goodbye to The Glycol after dinner, as I had to be at Mee Hong’s house for our t-shirt reusing and repurposing brainstorming session. We have only 2 weeks left until Raptor Watch Week and everything is still pretty chaotic right now. Siew Hua, Mee Hong and I ended up bickering over which ideas to keep and which to scrap.

Siew Hua raised a very valid point that many people do not have Mee Hong’s needlework skills, and the more complex projects, although interesting and impressive, would be too intimidating for beginners. We stopped for a dinner of dumplings and the puddings I brought for dessert, inspected Mee Hong’s homemade rice wine and fruit peel enzymes, and went back to the t-shirt scraps on the floor. It was an exhausting affair, trying out ideas that would work and finding out which wouldn’t. We finally settled on one simple project and I asked Mee Hong to bring her samples over anyway so we could make a 3R project display corner. I find projects for children to be a tiresome affair and would prefer dealing with adults over children any day. I just am very grateful to have the assistance of a few highly capable and intelligent volunteers.

Went back to the BOQ sometime around midnight, tidied the place up, checked the Battletank’s engine oil and radiator water levels and hit the sack with two rambunctious kittens.

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3rd March 2009: Local Agenda 21 Seminar

One of the best things about not having to go to work is that I could attend seminars and conferences on environmental issues on weekdays, the attendance of which I would otherwise have delegated to others as I would have wanted to concentrate on my work.

The MNS Secretariat had asked if I could attend a Local Agenda 21 Pilot Project Seminar organised by City Hall, and Vegan Eugene and I had accepted the challenge. The Seminar was attended mostly by government officials, industry players, business owners and some representatives from non-governmental organisations like us.

There was so much greenwash being dished out that I could repaint the BOQ with it. There were, of course, the obligatory PowerPoint presentations with disturbing photos of landfills and sewage pipes clogged with grease. I find it disgraceful that people would pour grease down the sewers. It shows a marked lack of disrespect for the Ninja Turtles and Master Splinter.

Bored out of my skull, I started sketching anti-heroes based on the attendees of the Seminar and scribbled notes on their anti-powers. Among them are:

Suspenders Man: Taking Cluelessness To New Heights!
”You just can’t improve stupidity!”

Greasetrap Man: Speaks at the Speed of One Word Per Minute!
“There’s just no substitute for dimness!”

Monolingual Man: Strives Not to Make Himself Universally Understood!
”If it’s good enough for Great-Grandmaw, it’s good enough for me!”

The Microphone Hogger: Says Nothing Of Any Consequence!
“I have no points to make but my presence!”

Pie Guy: Starts His Speech With A Prayer, and Says Nothing Worth Your Attention After!
“I take ten minutes of your time to speak to my God!”

Vegan Eugene posed questions on the Solid Waste Management Bill which made the City Hall officers and waste collection contractors shit their pants. Thankfully, they had brought spare pants with them. No, not really. That’s an outrageous lie. I don’t know why I am telling such whoppers in my blog. Vegan Eugene posed questions which made them very uncomfortable, so they made some sufficiently ingratiating and conciliatory response.

I was then asked to present the perspective of a non-governmental organisation, and I made some off-the-cuff astringent remarks about memorandums that went missing or unread, privileges extended to business concerns without the knowledge of citizens, misleading information on environmental issues, and the disenfranchisement of citizens and consumers.

I was mobbed by so many people (largely supportive) over my comments during the coffee break that I think it is best I remain incognito for the time being, before City Hall, the Federal Government, government contractors, manufacturers and the Malaysian Plastics Forum hunt me down, baying for blood.

The Seminar was over by 1645h, and Vegan Eugene and I made a dash for the train station as big, lazy raindrops started plopping on the sidewalks. We parted at the station as he had to go home, while I had another interview to attend. When it was finally over and I was ready to go back to the BOQ, I found out that the heavy rains and flash flood had caused the Light Rail Transit system to break down and commuters had been stranded at the KLCC station for the past hour or so.

I made the most of it by waiting it out in KLCC instead, and I spent 3 blissful hours browsing at Kinokuniya and Times Bookstore.

Flash flood in Kuala Lumpur, near Masjid Jamek, on 4th March 2009. What an irony that this happened right after a Seminar on making KL a safe, beautiful and clean city.

As it was a Tuesday, the rest of the week stretched ahead languorously, like an endless balmy beach lined with swaying coconut palms. Life is good if you are willing to convert adversity into better prospects.

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Pat said...

Will you be in PD for the Raptor Watch? This pix of me here? It was taken by Larnee when I stepped out of the car to watch the raptors, at Tanjung Tuan.

Actually, on a good day, we can see the raptors far up in the sky, from out house - tiny specks flying about riding on the updrafts. Sometimes, they come nearer to 'earth' and I can make out some features. Truly amazing!

I like what you did at the seminar - naming the blurs around! I do the same thing with the many people who are pains in my life. One is a distant neighbour, and I've named him 'please slap me', for obvious reasons (when you see him, lah!)

So, if you're at our place, you might hear one of us say, "Oh, it's Please-slap-me's son and his dog lah"!

Ellen Whyte said...

had no idea you weren't hard at work. catch up next week for coffee? will email.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Re Pat: Haa haa haa! You must point out Mr. Please-Slap-Me the next time I come over! Looking forward to seeing you at Raptor Watch!

Re Ellen: Would love to meet up! Your place is more convenient than mine! Pyramid, Parade or Carrefour? -- your pick! I'm free on Tues, Wed and Thurs. After that, I go back to work!