Wednesday, 29 July 2009

In Memoriam and other news

Tuesday, 21 July 2009: Remembering Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt: 19th August 1930 - 19th July 2009

Frank McCourt lost his battle to meningitis on 19th July. For those of us who grew to love McCourt through his most well-known works, Angela's Ashes and 'Tis, we mourn his passing as we would that of a dear friend. Never has a childhood remarkable only for its squalor, poverty and deprivation been narrated in such an endearing manner, devoid of self-pity. Such was the beauty of Angela's Ashes. We shared McCourt's sorrow over the death of his young siblings, and in the next instant laughed along with his gentle criticism of Irish-Catholic society. McCourt survived a miserable childhood to become a beloved teacher, a scintillating storyteller and a bestselling author.

McCourt's demise is a big loss to the literary community. Frank McCourt, you will forever be in our thoughts and hearts.

Saturday, 25 July 2009: SPCA Saturday, Malaysian Nature Society Branch Annual General Meeting and other odds and sods

I had met up with blog buddy Jeffrey Matisa on Monday for dinner, over which we had a lengthy but light-hearted conversation. Jeffrey had handed me copies of The Fight Club to be delivered to another blog buddy, Saya a.k.a. Tashkent Blues. So it was arranged that I would meet up with Saya and her young daughters for breakfast at the warong across the street from the SPCA on Saturday morning.

Saya arrived with her lovely young'uns and we had a very chatty and leisurely breakfast. I would like to see them again, perhaps during the school holidays, so I could get all of them involved in my environmental activities.

I went in to the SPCA animal shelter after breakfast and got my things ready for washing the dogs with. Around 30 student volunteers from the Cempaka International School dropped by to assist with sorting and preparing the goods for the Jumble Sale on Sunday.

I prepared a batch of Tactik EC tickwash, grabbed the leashes and shampoo and proceeded to the Sick Bay to wash the bigger dogs. I see some improvements in the management and operation of the shelter in that there is now a requirement that the staff have to tick-wash the dogs at least once every 2-3 weeks, so there were fewer cases of tick infestation, and injuries and illnesses could be brought to the attention of the vets before the problem escalates.

It's hard to hold the staff and vets culpable for negligence, because I understand that the SPCA shelter is operating well beyond capacity and is understaffed, but I believe they are entirely responsible for the fact that they do not make the best use of time, resources and manpower. I am all out of fight where the SPCA is concerned by now, and refuse to get involved in anything that doesn't benefit the animals directly.

I had just finished washing my 6th dog, Bruno, when Thean came in with 2 young'uns who claimed that they would like to help out. The girl was about 18 or 19, and informed me that she wants to volunteer because she would like to be a vet someday. The boy was about 20 and I didn't hear him speak. I let the young'uns wash one of the more docile dogs. They were completely clueless and did not even know how to tie a leash to the fence. I didn't want to supervise them too much because I believe excessive supervision is the primary reason why we have a largely useless and ineffectual younger generation. So the two clueless young'uns struggled with washing the dog, wasting prodigious amounts of water and shampoo in the process.

I could have washed an elephant in the time it took them to wash a dog. It was the first time I have ever seen anyone rinse a dog from the bottom up. It doesn't take anything more than common sense to figure out that if you were to wash an item bottom up, the soapy water from the top would get all over the bottom again. I asked them if they had dogs at home. They did. I asked them who washed the dogs, and they responded that their maids usually did it. That explained a lot. I had to exercise self-restraint not to ask them if their maids washed them too. They were so completely incompetent that it was excruciating to watch them spill water and shampoo all over the place and work in slow-motion.

It took us 2.5 hours to finish washing all 18 dogs. I washed 16, and the young'uns washed 2 between them. I asked them if they would like to help me put the things away and clean out the Cattery. The girl simpered and told me that she "only likes dogs". I tried not to let my impatience show, and I asked her how she planned to be a vet if she liked only one type of animal. I explained that all shelter animals need help, and all deserve to live in a clean and healthy environment.

I don't think we'll be seeing much of those young'uns anymore. I don't think they really dislike cats. They were probably just too afraid of cleaning up after animals, and of hard work in general. Well, I won't miss them, that's for sure.

I commenced cleaning the cat baskets and litter trays in the Cattery and soaping and disinfecting the shelves, cages and floor. I was done by 1400h.

I put away the cleaning equipment, showered and got ready for the Malaysian Nature Society Branch Annual General Meeting. I brought my own food containers to the food stall, purchased refreshments for the Meeting, and barrelled all the way to Universiti Malaya, cursing at the fact that I was running late due to the fact that the lady at the food stall had overcharged me and it had to be rectified, and the Battletank's access to the road had been blocked by some inconsiderate good-for-nothing so-and-so who had parked behind the Battletank.

I was just in time to deliver the annual report for the Green Living special interest group, and to announce that I would be stepping down as Coordinator in the interests of democracy and renewal, but would be offering myself for election in the Branch committee.

Soon it was time to elect our Committee members for the next administrative year and we were all voted or co-opted in without being challenged at all. The Meeting was declared adjourned around 1700h and we repaired outside for refreshments.

Went back to the BOQ after the Meeting, cleaned up after the Rowdies and the 3 Whisketeers, cleaned the house and helped Jake move the fridge so we could clean behind it. It was when I was moving the fridge that I felt dampness between my nose and upper lip and touched it to find that that I was having a nosebleed. Oh joy. Trust me to have a nosebleed an hour before I was to attend one of my new colleague's housewarming party.

I finished cleaning the house the best I could and went to lie down for half an hour with a cold pack on my forehead. The Rowdies kept meowing in my ear, patting my eyes or forehead with their paws and climbing all over me like I was an obstacle course built especially for them, so I didn't feel very rested at all.

At 2100h, I decided to go to the party, nosebleed or not. I tossed a carton of beer into the Battletank and drove to Sri Hartamas in search of my friend's condominium unit. The party was already in full swing when I arrived, and a glass of soothingly cold and mildly alcoholic something-or-the-other was pushed into my hand, which I didn't decline despite having a minor brainworm.

It was a cosy apartment in an upmarket housing area, and the company was great. There was a fair bit of dancing going on but some of us were more interested in playing drinking games. I was a bit worried that the neighbours might send the security guards over to send us away, judging by the amount of noise we were making. I had to go back to the parental home the same night, so I thanked my hostess, bade goodbye to my friends and left Sri Hartamas around 0100h.

Reached the parental home in one piece, tiptoed into my den and was out like a light within minutes. Spent Sunday cleaning the parental home, giving Amber her bath, spring cleaning the parents' guest room and doing some gardening.

It's been another packed and fulfilling weekend, but it's awesome to be able to look forward to the workweek and to see my colleagues' friendly faces on Monday. Life is just about perfect.

Covert Twin and Amber

Sunday, 26 July 2009: Remembering Yasmin Ahmad

Yasmin Ahmad: 1st July 1958 - 25th July 2008

For those of you not familiar with Malaysia and the precarious thread by which our purported 'racial harmony' hangs, Yasmin Ahmad's critically acclaimed films and highly anticipated and deeply loved commercials would offer a good introduction. Yasmin Ahmad was a copywriter and filmmaker who produced poignant pieces that were not afraid to broach into issues such as positive discrimination, racism, religious tension and human sexuality, yet her works were filled not with bitterness or self-righteous anger, but with love and understanding and gratitude for all the little things we take for granted.

Yasmin Ahmad was above colour, creed, clan and social or economic divisions. The only way we can continue her legacy is by being accepting, considerate, fair and compassionate ourselves. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family. Rest In Peace, Yasmin.

Tuesday, 28th July 2009: Whisketeer Update

One of the kittens had diarrhoea in the night. Intuition and observation told me it was Rafferty. But since all the kittens were together, any treatment rendered would have to be for all 3. I gave them activated charcoal but when morning came, there was only minimal improvement. I left the office by 1615h (my official work hours are 0800h - 1600h) to bring the whisketeers to the vet, Dr. Steven Yoon of Healing Pets, Damansara Jaya. (A bit of promotion here: I've relied on the services of many vets before but none are as good as this outfit. Healing Pets is professional, competent and most of all, compassionate. Dr. Steven's other clients and I are by now convinced that he can work miracles). Dr. Steven was kind and supportive, as usual. He reassured me that the kittens would survive and gave them jabs to clear up the diarrhoea. Guess how much the bill came up to for treating all 3 kittens? RM30.00! (i.e. USD$8.49. Normal rates would be RM30-40 per cat, at the very least). He said that I was entitled to a special rate for being an animal rescuer. (Note: Healing Pets does its own stray rescues and rehoming too. I cannot think of any other private veterinary practice that does that). I was very touched and grateful, and I felt a little overcome when I put the pet carrier in the Battletank. What can you say or do to thank a vet who makes saving lives his priority? If you have any suggestions, please let me know. His clinic is full of cutesy handmade thank-you cards from his other patients already. I am considering setting up a Facebook tribute/fan page where satisfied clients could post their stories of Dr. Steven's professionalism and kindness, and prospective clients could visit and read our posts.

(Update as at Wednesday evening: The Whisketeers are doing okay so far, fingers crossed. Eating heartily and playing with each other and their toys all day long. Who would have imagined that ping-pong football could get so boisterous?)

~ CO78, Over. ~


Unknown said...

RIP, Frank McCourt - teacher, storyteller and best selling author.
RIP, Yasmin Ahmad . I've only read great inspirational works in the media, loved her ads on TV and watched Sepet. But I know I'll miss her. Who best to show us the way to racial harmony?

BTW,can you send me an email to get in touch with you? Thanks.

Pat said...

Hi dear,

I was also sad to read about Frank McCourt. I especially loved Angela's Ashes: being a fellow survivor of catholic school!

And, Yasmin Ahmad was indeed a Malaysian icon. I cannot think how we will find someone to fill her shoes.

I shuddered to read about the two 'helpers' who proved so little help. And one wanted to be a vet? Hmmm.

I've had many people look at my girls and see how they act 'almost human' and decide that they want to have a dog of their own. I tell them that they're hard work, not the least of it being cleaning up their poop! Think Missy, and imagine the 'load'! Hahahah!

Soldier on, my dear friend. The road is long, but you're doing good work :)

Saya... said...

Hi Lynn,

Loved our meet with you too! We must do it again! You are a good influence on young ones with your semangat!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thank you, Keats, Pat and Saya for your kind comments!

Re Keats and Pat, I am trying to get an original copy of Yasmin Ahmad's 'Talentime'. If and when I do get a copy, do let me know if you'd like to borrow it!

Pat, too many people treat animal companions as toys or status symbols. One of my former workmates would have nothing but Dobermans and Rottweilers because 'they look impressive' and 'when people see you have branded (sic) dogs, they will know you are rich'. Horrifying, isn't it? Oh and he docks all their tails and ears. Ouch! Poor doggies! They're just macho accessories to him!

Saya, let's arrange for something fun after the UPSR exams are over!

Ellen Whyte said...

Glad your Wisketeers are doing better. I'm dosing my outside kittens with ear medicine given by Naemah, our local cat rescuer - and they're looking better already!

Dr Steve sound fantastic. You're so lucky to have him near you. I miss Wei Wei our vet who went to have a baby and then set up in Klang Road. Sigh. Instead of near us.

How about giving him dog treats from Meem for his pet dogs - if he has them?

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks, Ellen! That's a capital idea. Dr. Steven's wife helps out in his clinic. I can call up and ask how many dogs they have. And deliver the cakes together with a handmade card.

Ellen Whyte said...

I can touch Yow Yow but I'm not sure how he'll react in the vet's office - or even if I can get a box strong enough to hold him in. Let me discuss it with Tom. First thing to do is to get Tam to the vet for the Big Snip next week and then to take his sis and mum for their shots.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

I'm so glad the Three Whisketeers are doing well, despite the diarrhea. I can vouch for the fun of pingpong balls as well as chicken feather. If you have a bath tub, let the kitties play with the ball in the tub. At least the racket will only be in the bathroom....teeheehee....

The cat with balls,

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks Tom! What a fun-loving kitty you are! Won't the kittens choke on chicken feathers? I prefer to give them sturdy toys that don't present a choking hazard. I hope they grow up to be chunky and handsome like you.