Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Hammock Camping Weekend

Tues, 23 March 2010: Blood Donation Synchronicity

My haemoglobin count on my 30th whole blood donation is 13.9. Chalk one up for vegetarians!

It was time to give thanks to the Universe again last Tuesday, so I dutifully went to the National Blood Bank during my lunch hour to give blood.

By some strange coincidence, when I left That Special Someone a message informing him that I was on my way to donate blood, he informed me that he was donating blood on the same day as well, and that he donates blood every 3 months just like I do. He had organised a blood donation campaign as a CSR project and would be the first blood donor of the day.

Such synchronicity! What are the odds of us both being blood donors and both scheduled to donate blood on the same day, barring our time difference of 2.5 hours?

It made me happy to know that despite the distance that separates us, we have started doing things together. Long-distance relationships are never easy, and I am prepared for the challenges that we are due to face. Happy flukes like this make the pain of being apart easier to endure.

This one goes out to My Special Someone. May we continue to derive much joy from sharing and giving, and may we always have the opportunity to do it together.

Saturday, 27 March 2010: Hammock Camping Workshop

Those of you who have been reading me long enough would remember that Bushcraft 2007 nearly ended in tragedy for me when I developed hypothermia in the lowland rainforest. Oh, the ignominy! Due to the fact that I was incapacitated for several hours, I never did have the opportunity to practice shelter-building and camp-setting techniques.

To compensate for the learning opportunity I lost, I signed up for the MNS Nature Guide's Hammock Camping Workshop, to be conducted by a Committee Member, Keong, on 27th March at the Kota Damansara Community Forest.

Hammock camping is increasing in popularity as a low-impact camping technique with certain advantages over conventional tents on the ground.

A properly set up hammock campsite does not damage growing plants and is more comfortable for the camper in that fewer and lighter equipment are required, one can keep out biting insects and rainwater and one does not bring dirt into the sleeping quarters. It is also ideal when you need to camp on rocky, muddy or lumpy ground. As such, it is essential that would-be hammock campers are trained in the correct skills and techniques to enable them to have a successful, safe and enjoyable camping experience.

Keong showed us how to make bamboo stakes to put our hiking boots on to keep snakes and vermin out of our footwear. He is an effective and knowledgeable instructor.

Pasu doing the Round Turn and Two Half Hitches to secure our hammock to our selected Macaranga tree.

My army-type standard issue green nylon hammock, khaki mosquito net and I blended in well with our surroundings.

It's time to test out our hammock! Our weight had, unfortunately, put sufficient pressure on the webbing to deaden the Constrictor Knot I used to secure the ends of the hammock. I will never be able to remove those knots unless I cut through the webbing.

This is a video of me demonstrating the One-Handed Falconer's Knot.

(Note: There is no right way or wrong way of doing a Falconer's Knot as long as the end result is the same.

I find the Falconer's Knot to be practical and useful especially in securing flysheets and tarps.

I developed my own way of doing a one-handed Falconer's after Bushcraft 2007. Often in survival/wilderness situations, we may not have the luxury of having both hands free for tying knots.

I am using the green webbing from my hammock in this vid as cordage, for visibility. The chin-up bar over my bedroom door simulates tree branches slightly out of my reach.)

Saturday, 27th March 2010: So much for Earth Hour!

Went back to the parental home on Saturday evening to look after the house and Amber, and to do some housekeeping and cleaning. There will be no Earth Hour street party this year, unlike last year, simply due to a lack of time and resources.

I am also of the opinion that personal action can never be a good substitute for political will, although it is important for us to live according to our environmental values. The key to energy and fuel efficiency lies more in good governance than in getting homeowners to turn out their lights for an hour.

As long as the national power supplier continues to pay independent power producers for the power generated rather than power consumed by users, as long as power theft and non-revenue loss remain rampant, as long as governments and the private sector lack commitment in developing sustainable and renewable energy sources -- carbon emissions and fuel and energy use will always remain high.

I managed to turn out the living room lights for Earth Hour but was otherwise preoccupied in the kitchen cleaning up after Covert Twin and his girlfriend cooked dinner. All they had prepared was 2 -3 dishes but it looked as though a bomb blew up in the kitchen and threw dirty plates, grease and sauces everywhere. I don't even know why I cleaned up after them at all, considering that I have already spent hours cleaning the rest of the house, washing the rugs, bathing the dogs and sorting out the recyclables.

I was done cleaning the parental home by 0130 hrs (yes, the following morning) and spent the next 2 hours doing business law assignments for my cousin, Boy Scout, who is steadily on his way to flunking all his papers due to absenteeism and lack of academic aptitude. The assignments were easy ones, which I could do while surfing the Net and eating peanuts and raisins. Completed the assignments and e-mailed them to Boy Scout and was out like a light.

So much for Earth Hour.

Sunday, 28 March 2010: SPCA and other Sunday distractions

I arrived at the SPCA on Sunday afternoon after the monthly Jumble Sale was over and the unsold items put away. I don't find it necessary to attend the Mini Jumbles anymore because Chelvy has managed to source a constant supply of college-age volunteers who could help with the organising, sales and tidying up. I believe my time and energy are better directed towards animal care work, shelter/kennel work and policy & advocacy work.

Me cuddling up to Pipoco at the SPCA Bungalow

There was to be no bathing and tickwashing of dogs in the afternoon due to poor weather, so Reve and I did some basic animal care work, inspected the dogs and cats for eye and ear infections and injuries and cleaned the kennels.

I cleaned the Front Office / Reception area, Cattery, cages, Puppy Kennels, Maternity Kennels and Hospital area, scrubbing the floor with scouring powder and soap using a hard-bristled broom.

"Look, Reve," I grinned, indicating the now bright-again tiles. "New tiles!"
"Wunderbar! Like new!" Reve said approvingly. "No need to renovate the SPCA".

I finished cleaning the shelter, showered and left the SPCA for the Blog4FT prizegiving ceremony. I didn't bring a guest with me because I knew I wasn't going to get anything other than my prizes for the third month.

By the end of the second month of the contest, I had already lost faith in the contest, because as with everything that comes from the Federal Government, I knew I could not count on it to be based on merit. Like everything else from the Federal Government, it sounded good on paper. They wanted our ideas, feedback and opinion. In reality, however, they weren't interested in balance, insight or ideas. All they wanted were fawning compliments telling them how awesome they were and how perfect everything is in the Federal Territories of Malaysia.

I should have listened to Jake and my other friends and understood at the outset that the Federal Government could not be trusted to do anything that is in the best interests of the citizens. Anyway, the contest was so good at rewarding mediocrity that nobody ever has to feel inadequate about being bad at what they do ever again.

The prizes were something else. The prizes became such a liability and so riddled with restrictive terms and conditions that I ended up spending more money to enable the release of the prizes to me than if I had never won a thing at all. The only prize I could use immediately with no strings attached was the Borders Bookstore voucher. Everything else was just a huge ploy by government cronies to fool us into parting with our money. So the two units of Blackberry Curve 8250 that I 'won' really turned out to be prizes that weren't. I might end up having to forfeit the other unit but at the rate this is going, I don't even care anymore. I just want to collect the damned book vouchers and bugger off.

The ceremony was full of public relations BS and the only two things I appreciated about it were that I got to meet a new friend, Mum-In-Malaysia who I met through the contest, and that the organisers took the trouble to make sure I was served with vegetarian food although I had notified them of my dietary requirements only an hour before the dinner. For that, and for the presence and support of my good friend Keats and her family, I am grateful.

After the dinner and ceremony were over, I changed back into my football jersey and barrelled over to the neighbourhood coffeeshop to watch the match between Liverpool and Sunderland. I was pleased that all I missed was the first 20 minutes of the match, and Liverpool was leading. The match ended with a score of 3 - 0 and I raised my fists jubilantly into the night sky. I must have looked rather incongrous as a lone female wearing a Celtic jersey on the day Liverpool was playing, but what did I care, my team won and I was as victorious as they were.

So the evening ended really well after all. I had a productive and enjoyable day at the SPCA, never mind the fact that I had pain in my chest and shoulders from having overexerted myself. I had collected the book voucher that I wanted. I had finally met an online friend in real life. Liverpool had won a match, and won it with style. And in spite of the contest with prizes-that-weren't, I know my worth as a writer and blogger, and that doesn't change. I know the real prize that I have earned is the friendship and love that I have found in That Special Someone. I am in love and I feel young and alive as I have never been. Life is good.


Cat-from-Sydney said... is in the air....
That Pipoco looks damn awesome. Male or female? CO78, I can feel your excitement from over here...purrr...meow!

Pat said...

Darling E,

I am so happy that your life is good :)


~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Kitties-In-Sydney,
Pipoca is male! Isn't he handsome? Thanks for your kind comment. Yes, I am in love and yes, My Special Someone loves cats too!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Pat,
Thank you for dropping by! I'd be even happier after I hear of Toffee's complete recovery!

Ellen Whyte said...

Pipoco looks cute! And I hate you for reminding me I have to go give blood. Urgh.... Love your nasty comment about new standards of mediocrity!

We've been twiddling with this Followers thing and have added you. Hehehe, now we can see when you blog...

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Hurray! So good to see you again, Ellen, Au & Target! I will follow your new blog too. A thunderstorm left us all without network or internet connection, so right now I am emailing and replying to posts using my Berry. Mighty inconvenient will come and visit everyone and catch up on posts once online! Thanks and take care!

louis said...

Hi CO'78,

I thought that "Life is good" was reserved for retired seniors taunting less fortunate working stiffs from a recliner...but there you are with a long headstart on that condition. More power to you!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Louis,
Thank you for dropping by! Life is what we make of it. With the work I am doing for a living, I am happy to be a working stiff! As for a long headstart, I am not so certain about it! I am almost 32 -- Hardly a spring chicken!

Unknown said...

Hey Ee Lynn,so many things are happening in your life. Glad you're happy there:)
I was also disillusioned by the end of the second month of the contest.Many would agree mediocrity won the day:( Blog4Ft was a good thing going for the citizens but more needs to be done to make it really work.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Well said, Keats! Very true! So right now, Blog4FT is umm... a good thing going for the Ministry and Celcom only, right? ;o)

If I had known in the end that it was just a cartoon-and-video contest, I would not have bothered to blog. It's not a blogging contest, people, it's a kiddie art contest.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Auw...Co78...we feel sad hearing about that blogging competition thingy. And we voted for you many times too. Honest! Please give us the home address of the organiser. Will send my nasty cat patrol over...har har har *evil laughs*

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thank you for your generous support, dear Kitties-In-Sydney! I know you voted for me many times and I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, the judges weren't interested in blogs with a lot of analysis and ideas and info of public interest. They just wanted cutesy no-brainer blogposts which is all feel-good but has very little content. I now prefer to think that bloggers like Keats and I were overqualified for the contest.


hello CO78,

hmmmm, i always have an upmost respect for a blood donor, and millions congratulations to you for doing that. The hammock thing was really cool and being a son to a retired army it bring backs the memory during my dad was in service. And also glad to know Encik Right share your interest ...

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Rizal @ Jalan Rebung,

Thank you for dropping by. Being able to donate blood is a pleasure and a privilege. I have many friends who are not able to, for health reasons, so I am grateful that my Special Someone and I are able to.

Camping is awesome. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone suffering from depression or anxiety or plain ennui. Nothing beats having to drink tea/water/soup that tastes of burnt wood and having to dig your own latrine.

tomatoaid said...

Hi ~Covert_Operations'78~, I really appreciate your heart and time looking after the animals in the shelter. Your blog is really awesome because it provides a lot of useful information & big picture about SPCA especially to people who are interested in offering some help to care for the animals! Thanks for writing!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Tomatoaid,
Thank you for your kind words. I am so glad to know you find the information in my blog useful. I hope it helps others who are keen to volunteer. We all have to start somewhere.