the mudpond

It's good to let things breathe in your imagination because often your initial response to it is not the best thought-through response. I savour little glimpses of life. Mine and those of people who turn me sideways and around. Friend or stranger. Even a child. (the world looks different from down there) Sometimes an author, photographer, artist. I let things saturate and incubate here. Hopefully, deeper meanings can percolate up and flower.

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A stray cat.


Love The Rugrats!

KNOW THE Rugrats? Sure you do. :)

Tommy, the one-year old superhero, the youngest of them all. Bald and bumpy head and with very few teeth (if any!).

Chuckie, Tommy’s best friend. Red spiky hair, big square glasses and some adenoid problem. Fearful of nearly anything unfamiliar, especially clowns.

Angelica, Tommy's nasty older cousin. Approximately 2-3. Spoilt. Very demanding and gets pretty much what she wants.
I want to smack her. :P

Phil and Lil, approximately 1.5 years old. Both eat bugs, mud or garbage any chance they get.

... and
the rest of the pug-ugly infants who make the 'terrible twos' a happy blend of smart-aleck humor and wacky adventure.

Posted by Hello
Got (or know) one?

Ugly kid, I mean.

Love the Rugrat kid less than the so geram-cute or dolly-pretty one?


Let me help spill the ugly truth.

Ugly kids are at greater risk and are more vulnerable.

Sociologist Dr. Andrew Herrell of Unversity of Alberta says: "parents would certainly deny it, but pretty children are better taken care of than ugly ones".

"Most will react to this with shock and dismay and say:
"I love my kids and I don’t discriminate on the basis of attractiveness."

Dr Harrel, himself a father of five and grandfather of three, says the point of the research is that people do.

The study on over 400 families with children aged between two and five years observed how parents treated their children during trips to the supermarket. Researchers found physical attractiveness made a big difference. 1.2% of the least attractive children were buckled in the trolleys, compared to 13.3% of the most attractive youngsters.

Ugly parents

Dr Harrell ascribes this ugly behaviour to the instinctive Darwinian response: "we're more likely to lavish more attention on attractive children because they carry our best genetic material"

The study hopes to creates an awareness in parents of this discrimination, even if they might not admit it.

Meantime, Rugrats, take heart! Some fairy tales do come true.

Remember The Ugly Duckling? Born ugly doesn’t have to mean doomed for life, says Dr Nadja Reissland, Professor of Child Development at Aberdeen University:

"People who are more attractive may have it easier but it could be more difficult for
them if they are constantly in demand."
"On the other hand, children who are ignored may fight harder for attention
and therefore be more likely to succeed. In the end I am sure it comes out equally."

"Famed models such as Jodie Kidd and Erin O’Connor often complain
of having been thought ugly at school. As children they may be thought of as unattractive,
but as they become older it becomes an advantage."

Beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.


Uplug The Idiot

WEREN'T THEY CLEVER to have come up with this Networked Intelligence Loo?

It has built-in scales, a urine analyser and meters to measure your blood pressure and body-fat. The data gets ‘provisionally saved’ before being transferred via a home network to your PC, where it’s stored and graphed using a piece of software that’ll also use the data to give you dietary advice, bla… bla…

Oh hey, Yamaha also came up with something as clever as that.

this soundproof wooden box, they've made significant inroad into marketing solutions for our most important human need - privacy. Comes in three variations and priced from USD4,200.

It's a real neat and nifty way to deal with annoying and noisy husbands, say
The Australian and Times Online.

So, let's see. It could be a comfy confinement or meditation cell, a cool hangout or panic-room for:

* Your angsty, anti-social teenager who cannot communicate in anything but grunts, who surreptitiously surfs porn sites or otherwise insists on playing loud music at ungodly hours

* Your nerdy, geeky or sweet goody-two-shoes kid desparately trying to make it through exam hell-week

* Your pesky, screaming shitty prepubescent brats who need to be confined to limit damage to lives and property.

* Insufferable tech-stuff-hogging mates

* Violent, abusive, manic and definitely unlovely PMS-afflicted partners.

* Absolutely unloveable tone-deaf or otherwise musically challenged but unbelievably determined-as-a-tank wannabe artists

* Harried moms and wives - this is your sanctuary from demanding menopausal hubby and whiny kids. Me thinks it needs a little fridge though... and a coffee maker... and... :D

* Or the discerning serial killer...

People who don't own their own digs, this could be your studio within your room.

This can also be the pop-up-n-pack-up guestroom in your tiny-no-spare-room hovel. It can stand in the corner of your average-sized living room.

Just imagine: a private 2.5 square meter den which has the functions of a study, cinema and shed, albeit on a cramped scale. Just you and your PC, (ethernet and telephone optional), all alone, popping popcorn and watching movies…

Shut out them out.

Or lock them up.

Those idiots who so unfortunately, are a part of your life.

Ahh... we are getting cleverer by the day, aren't we?.

In a plug-n-play world, with increasingly snappy and compact solutions for every conceivable and perceivable problem, who needs to grow up and leave home?

Who needs to adjust, accommodate and endure so-called loved ones?

Who even needs anybody to be significant others in their lives?

Just unplug yourself from these insufferable idiots.

Wait, why not unplug the idiot in you first.


Set Point for Happiness

HAPPINESS IS SOMETHING we all want. After all, those of us who agree with Aristotle consider it the supreme good. And most practical people judge the morality of actions by the 'Greatest Happiness' principle.

Unhappiness laments: “
Why, oh why, am I cursed with bad skin, a wide arse, fat arms and knock-knees?”

Alas, what and who we are is largely determined by genetic makeup.

People are born upbeat or melancholy. As much as 50 percent of a person's tendency to be happy is inherited. This is from
David Lykken’s article "The Heritability of Happiness” (1996).

Each individual brain has a set point for happiness, just as the body has a set point for weight.

We have an acquired comfort zone of bliss. If you are more likely to be sad than happy much of the time, then your set point for happiness is lower than average. And after unusual ups, or devastating downs, we automatically and quickly return to this familiar state.

Likewise, your set point for weight may be higher than average if you tend to be fat. You can exercise or go on a diet, but the moment you stop, you find that you will regain the weight you have lost very quickly.

We cannot help being the way we are.

Wait, despair not.

It is possible to raise our set-point. We can move above and below our natural level, by conscious effort. We can change our sense of well-being. Just as we can change our metabolism through exercise, we can shape our emotional state by taking full responsibility for our own happiness. As Lykken exhorts, "you can let the genetic steersman have his head or try to change it.''

We can also become happier with who we are. If we want to, that is.

People also always do what they know how to do. The set point principle applies to our emotional defaults as well. Most of us will go to our default setting when faced with any given challenge. Your emotional default position grows out of who you are and how you think. If your default position on having your views questioned - even in the mildest manner - is to resort to sarcasm and rudeness, you'll likely go to default bitchiness even if you merely perceive someone ventured a slightly less than complimentary opinion of you.

People can change, and the changes within them can produce new default settings. [Needless to say, there’s no need to change if they’re perfectly happy with themselves] Understanding the genetic roots of your personality can help you "find yourself" and relate better to others. This is from molecular biologist, Dr
Dean Hammer’s Living With Our Genes (1998).

Character can moderate temperament, to allow us to take advantage of the useful part of temperament and downplay the less desirous biological tendencies or instincts. So if your set point for weight is higher than average, you can still maintain your weight below that level by regular exercise and eating less. But you cannot hope to look like Mary Donaldson, unless you want to be a surgically-altered cyborg like Michael Jackson.

All you melancholic folks (and I am sometimes one), heed Lykken’s advice:

"Be an experiential epicure. A steady diet of simple pleasures will keep you above the set point. Find the small things that you know give you a little high -- a good meal, working in the garden, time with friends -- and sprinkle your life with them… In the long run, that will leave you happier than some grand achievement that gives you a big lift for a while."

One last word from Dr Hamel:

"Those who accomplish the most --
measured in money, intelligence, skill, happiness, or love --
are the ones who make the most of their genetic inheritance".


Be Passionate About Others

Peter Kramer's new book 'About Depression' has also received attention here and from NYT.

Laura Miller's review at is generating a fair bit of discussion in these blogs:
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

"During my attacks I feel a coward before the pain and suffering- more of a coward than I ought, and it is perhaps this very moral cowardice which, while formerly I had no desire to get better, makes me now eat like two, work hard ..."

What drove van Gogh?
"Either in figure or in landscape I should wish to express not sentimental melancholy, but serious sorrow."
"In short, I want to reach so far that people will say of my work:
He feels deeply, he feels tenderly, notwithstanding my so-called roughness, perhaps because of this..."

"This is my ambition, which is ... founded less on anger than on love, founded more on serenity than on passion. It is true that I am often in the greatest misery, but still there is within me a calm pure harmony and music."

"In the poorest huts, in the dirtiest corner, I see drawings and pictures. And with irresistible force my mind is drawn towards such things."

Don't be be passionate about your pain. Instead, be passionate about your work, if not about others.


Romanticising Depression

I HAVE A 'Starry Night' replica hanging on my bedroom wall. And on some starlit nights, I listen to 'Vincent' on my old mini-compo. I am very, very much in love with both of them.

Don McLean wrote Vincent after reading a book about the life of artist
Vincent Van Gogh. In the 70s, the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam played the song daily. A copy of the sheet music, together with a set of Van Gogh's paint brushes, is buried in a time capsule beneath the museum.

Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer's day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul...

van Gogh's Starry Night
Posted by Hello

Vincent was thirty-six when he painted Starry Night, in an asylum with a window through which the constellation Aries and the planet Venus appeared. Venus is the brightest star-like object in the sky. I can imagine the way it may have beaconed to a visually gifted genius on the edge of sanity. The spiral currents are imagined, but he could reproduce them because he knew that these currents run through the universe though we couldn't see them.

Vincent was suffering, no one understood, and through his color and brushstroke he was alive with feelings and emotions that the world only understood after he was gone.

Genius fired by madness.

It’s been speculated that the manic phase of his bipolar disorder (manic-depression) likely provided the power surge he needed to complete an incredible 400 or so paintings in the last three years of his life.

What if Prozac had been available in van Gogh's time? Would the paintings be less revelatory if van Gogh himself were not so miserable? Would they even exist at all?

There are
perhaps, many people who can relate to his high energy and identify with his creative zeal brought about during manic phases. In their minds, depression is integral to the creative temperament. We might lose some of the triumphs of art and culture if it were wiped away.

Great wits co-exist with madness

Virginia Woolf, British novelist, essayist, and critic helped create the modern novel. Her writing often explores the concepts of time, memory, and people’s inner consciousness, and is remarkable for its humanity and depth of perception.

One fine morning, she left her home, taking her walking stick, and crossed the water meadows to the river, where she put a large stone in the pocket of her coat. Thus, she drowned herself at the age of fifty-nine.

And closer to our times and cultural sphere...

Life imitating art ?

At age forty-six and dogged by depression, wildly successful actor and singer Leslie Cheung took a dive from the 24th floor of Hong Kong's Mandarin Oriental Hotel two years ago, on April Fools Day. "In my life, I have done nothing wrong" wrote the star of the canon of Beijing Opera, 'Farewell My Concubine’"Why does it have to be like this?"

It’s no wonder we romanticize it. We make such virtue of it. We are infatuated with it

"A good therapist, knows that a persistent preoccupation, however superficially banal, suggests a significant underlying problem.",
says Peter Kramer, a professor of psychiatry and author of “Against Depression”.

"The depressed will often swear that they have at last perceived
the fundamental futility and drudgery of life,
a brutal fact that the rest of the world chooses, idiotically, to ignore…"

Is depression the only honest, thoughtful response to a cruel world?


For My Saquipedalian Friends

" I'll love you 'til the poets run out of rhyme..
until the 12th of Never..."
They don't write songs like that anymore, do they?

Nope. Sad ain't it?

However, despair not, my dear aspiring poet, song writer, amorist and writer friends, and most especially for those of you who are omphalopsychite, steatopygic or ventripotent... Check out the
Grandiloquent Dictionary :P

Enjoy! :)


Be (a) Reasonable, Asshole...

In Sex and Marriage II Aiz laments:

"The world is changing. It used to be the men who were the assholes."

He says it's women who are now the assholes - those ass-holey women who expect their husbands to do it all. "Everything"

Now I don't know that asshole-ness is genetically predetermined or that it is gender-exclusive.

I don’t know about you but…

I don’t know any woman blessed/lucky enough to have found a man willing to perform ‘everything’ on Aiz’s list, AND who has (or at least honestly believes he has) the ‘resources’ to meet ALL those expectations. Multiple r
esources and in relevant contexts, with reasonable constancy, lah.

Neither do I know any woman who, in this day and age, even contemplates marriage without ascertaining the depth of his pockets and his willingness/reluctance to let her dip into it.

I’d sure like to interview any woman clever enough to have led such a willing-able man to the altar without so much as an agreement, however tacit, on this very important matter of resources: time, finance and delicate 'others'. ;P

But I don't doubt such lucky/naive/clever women exist. Same with the willing-able men. There can’t be many of the latter though.

Tell me, how many men do you know can be (or have been) so 'neglectful’ as to NOT have ironed out this very important matter of marriage roles BEFORE the wedding, however willing-able he may be? Or not bothered to nail down the reasonableness of his life-partner-to-be on at least half the items on that list?

This is all supremely important if you believe marriage to be "the holiest natural institution" and I believe it to be a holy sacrament. (now, where did I read that marriage actually pre-exists religion?) All the more if he is kurang sudi-upaya, wouldn’t you say?

Now, before you quickly jump like a cat on a hot tin roof and say "oh but the asshole changed her mind after we got married", let me say you’d expect any man of average intelligence to have some intimation of her inclinations to truth-telling, reasonableness and integrity BEFORE even considering marriage to her. Right?

Don't they discuss such issues in those mandatory pre-marital courses (for Catholics and Muslims)? We have a duty and responsibility to ourselves if not our God, to only go into this 'for a life-time' decision with eyes wide open, and not make assholes of ourselves, surely?

Right or not?

Incidentally, on a lower, oops, lesser ‘asshole-level’, I have several male friends who think their wives/girlfriends expect too much of them.

Not only does a woman expect time and attention, she wants you to talk to her, she wants you to do things together, she wants little gifts and attention and compliments.

Is that really too much?

I’m not sure equity should be a strict watchword for a good relationship - if "equity" means to do exactly the same amount of things for each other.

Because, let’s face it: women and men want different things.

I think the goal to be reached is not equity, but contentment.

For instance, *many men will complain about the amount or quality of sex in a relationship. We all have the impression that the amount and quality of sex is very important, don’t we? Women will complain that a man never pays her any attention unless he wants sex. Women want time and attention. I’m making reasonable generalizations, I hope.

*this would be an (rare ?) exception of too-much-to-swallow?

It seems fair to expect that a couple can work out a reasonable amount/quality of sex and a reasonable amount of time to be spent together. Whether you spend four hours watching a soap opera with her on Saturday night in exchange for a ten-minute blowjob isn't the issue; the issue is whether you're as content with the state of your relationship post-blowjob as she is post-soap-opera

Right or not?


Uprighteous and Interfering So-So

I MUST SAY, I feel enlightened. I am also deeply traumatised.
I sound inconsistent and confusing, rite?

You see, I just took a quiz on moral intuitions and taboos. And well, it seems the ultra-comprehensive analysis says:

ONE: I am an uprighteous and interfering so-so.

Eeeyeer! No lah! Got meh?

TWO: I believe the government should interfere a lot more in our private lives.

What?... Hell NO!!... Who say wan?... NEVER!!
Don't simpry say okay, or I'll sue you until the Twelfth of Never!

This means:
THREE: I am a hypocrite.
Now, come on lah, how can this be?

FOUR: That fatty Lilian woman is damn right. I am also FATSO.
I MUST STOP pretending my belly is not protruding. Pfftt.

Self-disgust aside, I found the chook and puss questions somewhat
disturbing. I mean, it's really quite sick. Although I am neither vegan nor cat lover, my Yuk Factor shot through the roof.

Okay, I won’t spoil it (further) for you except to say the quiz asks you to think morally about specific situations and make judgments on these scenarios.

1. flag desecration
2. chicken-lover
3. cat-lover
4. brother-sister love, and
5. the obligatory deathbed promise.

It’s a rather thought-provoking exercise. Quite fun actually. Go on,
take the quiz and discover your own moral beliefs.

P/S: If you’re seriously looking to develop and refine your views on moral theory, this
ethical inventory is a good start. It's recommended text in some ethics courses.


Love's Ritual Lost

CALL ME OLD fashioned, hopeless romantic, whimsy fool... whatever.

I'm a shameless, certified-genuine 24-carat sentimentalist. ^-^

death of letters sent me hurtling down memory lane. This is one of love's dying rituals. [more in later entries if/when nostalgia strikes]

Remember your
first love letter?

Mine was covered in hearts and read “I love you a lot”. Receiving it felt like being given the sweetest, most tender kiss and a big bear hug all at once. I will never forget that beautiful day I walked on clouds.

Posted by Hello

Call it a squirrelling instinct. Or a plain inclination to hoard.

I never throw away love letters, even long after love's died. I had every single one stuffed away in one of several old, beat-up shoeboxes. My shoe-box memories - just like those you see in those sappy, cheesy, weepy old melodramas. Letters, photos, cards, scribbled notes, faded crepe-paper and satin ribbons, pressed flowers, movie tickets, bus tickets, … every single spiece and shred of my treasured sweetheart memories...

There was one exception.

Once, in a moment of impulse, I gathered all the letters of someone whom I had loved longer than he loved me, and burned them. They made a lovely fire, burning brightly as the love they once declared with such passion. My 24-carat unrequited-love response, no less.

And the rest of the mushy stash?

Well, like every good melodrama must also have its tragedy. Some years ago, an army of termites decided to hold this great feast of love artefacts and memorablia in celebration of my romantic life. In silencio (befitting the time-honored rituals of courtship) they devoured my entire collection of delectable love prose, perfumed cards and chocolate candy wrappers... practically my entire romantic history was transformed into a small mountain of termite dung. What little else there is left of those memories languishes in the misty corners of my mind, slowly dimming with age.

And what of the latter day ones? you ask. Those Internet-era love letters?

Well, where else would they be? In my digital shoebox of course!

Time is a gentle thief of innocence. Slowly but surely my sentimentality has acquired a sharp pragmatic edge. I now have dead mailboxes for the dull and unpromising stuff: I'd trashed a slew of e-mails from brief dating scenarios. I think I haven't yet talked myself into purging the digital records of the few I must have subconciously categorised as brighter passions. And there are two dozen mails I still can't bring myself to zap into cyber-oblivion. These, I must "never let the daylight in upon magic". These are my priceless treasures. For though they cannot stand the light of day, they fill me with untold happiness. They keep me serenely confident in myself and.. nostalgic. They are proof of my love-ability, my loveliness, my desirability.

They are indisputable proof of the magical power of the writen word.

Oh, by the way, what about yours? Your proof of your power to attract, charm and beguile? ^-^

well, lest you forgot...


With love
percolator :)


Neophyte Guess

IT'S TURNING OUT to be a sweet day after all :) This neophyte-blogger (?!) found this interesting article.

Oh wait. What's a
Definition of neophyte (noun)beginner; newcomer; novice

Greek word "neophytos," meaning newly planted, or newly converted.

It’s a simple and useful (just my neophyte-opinion) guide on how to discuss blogs. It covers the myths and stereotypes that exist about blogs. It even comes complete with a classic example of how not to discuss blogs.

And it raises an interesting point about my other (astonishing!) discovery, today :)

So, like, other than length of one’s blogging career, what other characteristics distinguish a neophyte from a veteran when they
decide this?

Allow me to hazard a neophyte-guess:

1. How prolific the blogger is ? number of entries on the archive list or frequency of PPS pings.
2. Blogger's popularity ?–visitor stats, influenced no doubt by the following:
*Linguistic skills (articulation/eloquence whether cuss-lingo or otherwise)that promote robustness of ‘discussion’ and generate amount of comments.
*Aesthetics of the blog (template design, graphics, Photoshopping skills)
*Bells and whistles and numerous other funky stuff, I prolly neber eben hear of..
3. How well the blog utilizes/explores the infinite possibilities of blogging as a TOOL to … interact/socialise - or not!, learn/share, bridge/divide, affirm/abuse, hone creative/fantasia skills to create a whole new and alternative world, improve all manner of personal development, productive, and/or survival skills, network, shift paradigms of the public sphere, discover an evil/better self… entertain, edutain, misinform, reform… ad infinitum. Hey, everything has its binary opposite; the light and dark side, no?

Heh! by now, it should be plain for all to see that this neophyte-blogger has utterly bombed out from the offset! :P

Still it's always wonderful to be singled out for attention, however briefly.

Thank you, sweety, for a very sweet gesture.
Thanks too, to the few and kind visitors who acknowledge my existence in the Malaysian blogosphere. This muddy blog is today, a day shy of fifty days old. I've learnt lots, and it's been great just being able to chime-n-chorus in with the caterwauling and cacophony in the M'sian blogosphere!!

Crap Here

It's one of those days. [No, not PMS.]
For a lil babble...

In a rut?
Just spill your guts

Feeling drab?
Feel free to crap

Nerves all taut?
Dump your load
in this sexy squat.

[I am exploring and testing the gazillion uses of a blog.]


Trivial stuff... a ritual

I DON'T KNOW about you. I am not one of those perky morning people who bounce out of bed ready to go at full speed. Well, okay, I used to but as the cliche goes: ‘those were the days… ’sheesh.. I need something to eeaase me into the next thing.

I need my fix before I can even hope to make it to the front door.

I need a warm drink (usually coffee) to jumpstart my day. I'm an absolute wreck without it. And I need more of it to keep me going as the day unfolds. Cuppa after cuppa, this unhealthy brew helps me make it through the brutal day. (isn’t there a battery ditty for this sorta of feeling?)

Before even the bathroom rituals, I absolutely must have one before I can face the world. Another one helps me settle down to work. And, tell me, who doesn’t need one for those discussions/reviews/meetings/powows... whachamacallit huddle sessions? Or two, when people waffle on, sending me to La-La-Land? OTOH, when perceptions dive into
overdrive, and a bark-fest ensues, I gleefully jump at the chance of calling for another round. After all, it's about the only sensible/logical thing to do when people are yelling, lunging at each other's throats. Create a brief ceasefire so everyone can religiously attend to their 'pre-drinking ritual'. It's a nifty if sneaky way to get in your two sen worth. Better yet, it's a crafty way to get someone to owe you one, because he badly needs a respite from the relentless grilling the boss is giving him... to answer nature's call. *wink*.

never leave home before it
Posted by Hello

Needless (oh, the irony of this word!) to say, a cuppa after lunch is mandatory, obligatory, compulsory. And what sort of time is tea-time/break without a cuppa? It is naturally, also the fastest way to shrug off work-cares, and unwind before starting dinner. Not forgetting the after-dinner must have...
*sip* *gently smack lips* *sigh of contentment*

And one last cup (mostly milo) eases me
into dreamland everynight. ZZzzzzzzzz


I am consuming a minimum 8 cuppas daily!!!!

Good grief. Virtually, a mountain of sugar with it. No wonder Atkins isn’t ‘happening’ for me.

Anyway, I find perpetual and sinful comfort in my coffee ritual. Like all rituals, it eases me into things. Deprived, I am jumpy, scatterbrained, headless chicken, and yes, crabby. Okay, bitchy even. Without it, I am rendered retard, even if the task involves nothing more than reading about what you had for lunch.

As the day unfolds, I have at least two dozen other reassuring rituals to ease me into various other activities. And they must all be done in proper sequence, plug-n-play the right way, or time and things will stand still.

Cacat, you think? C'ome on, you have yours too. Namely:

**Cleaning teeth. Poop. (Which one first?)
**Attack/savour your meal. Or sip your water/soup first? Sip or slurp?
**Contact lenses. Before make-up or after?
**Undress. (top first, or bottom?)
And oh, love... ah, its rituals... :)

I had one housemate who did socks-before-pants: he’d appear for brekky in socks, t-shirt and shorts and change clothes after... what a scream.

You realize of course, that warming up (whether it succeeds in boring or hooking the reader) is an inevitable part of getting to the point of every blog entry. It's an obligatory ritual. Sadly, sometimes it’s even all the point there is. Like now.


Why are we slave to these patterns and routines, these order of things? Because they’re familiar, therefore comforting, even reassuring. This explains why we so selfishly bore ourselves and unsuspecting others to snoredom. Routinely, regularly. Ritually.

Okay, I haven't blogged since Saturday.
I was having a blogger's block. *wink*
Okay, I was merely lazy.
But really, this entry is to ease me into something called Love’s Rituals.. up next. Really. Unless something unexpected comes along to upset the cart. :D



THINGS ARE A bit quiet here. Shush, Peter.

Across the causeway, this was (probably still is) topic du jour.

Loud voices making big waves. A critical mass of howls rippled
far and wide across the globe.

Incident, repercussion, contrition and resolution (?) followed by story telling, or what ? and truth telling. I’ve been avidly watching, with great interest the cacophony of commentary and criticism in (Little Speck's) blogosphere – a medium still in its infancy “howling and kicking against the limitations of the world into which it was born”. I think the peanut gallery was mostly (and relatively) well-informed and circumspect, under the circumstances.

this is also bubbling up. [Singapore Rebel] Blogs as social monitors, turning tensions into opportunity. The Sepet snip was a ... well, snip. Singapore Rebel

Meanwhile, timidity (reigns ?) in Bunga Raya country (?)

Please, I pray not.
"The flame has gone out, but the wick’s spark glows still."
AcidFlask reincarnated
IMO, there is much and remarkably (mature) critical commentary and criticism on this issue to engage people with an interest in (Asian) Journalism Cultures. Other recommended readings: Analysis in ink, Xiaxue Doctrine

Little Woman

TOWERING MALAYSIANS? I have two outstanding candidates; pricless treasures.

Standing tall beside the nameless sixty-something-maybe-seventy-year-old
Ama, is this remarkable little woman.

She's little, but precious, don't you think?

Yeoh Lay Hoon
Posted by Hello

Lay Hoon is all of nine. Nine and only nine. Yet she carries an incredible load on her little shoulders. You (probably) and I (most certainly) have a far lighter load on our much bigger and wider shoulders.

What title is there for one so little - not even out of adolescence and precious childhood - yet shouldering a burden many of us adults would crumple under? She isn't an orphan, so I guess not qualified for any government assistance. Neither has she lived long enough to have dated, much less for anyone to buy her a Mother's Day card or take her out to even a mamak dinner or merit any awards. Or acknowledge her efforts as homemaker and caregiver.

Anyway, she has no time for songs or tears or need for tributes and awards.

You can, however, help
lighten her burden and improve her prospects for a brighter future. Oh, and also for a ‘little man’, her four-year-old brother, too.

Won't you
Try A Little Kindness today? Write a cheque in Yeoh Kim Cheng's name and forward to the Bayan Baru MCA Division, 32, Lorong Kenari, Taman Desa Ria, 11900 Bayan Baru Penang. Or contribute to a trust fund for Kim Cheng's medical expenses and the kids' future education needs. Call Chai Tsing Boo (special assistant to Bayan Baru MP Datuk Wong Kam Hoong) at 04-6468808.

Yes, "... show a little kindness, just shine your light for everyone to see... "


From The Dead Mailbox

I CLEAN OUT my dead mailbox (the addy I use when I request articles to be mailed to myself) every week. From among the 50 junk/spam mails, I thought you might find these two items amusing:

ONE: This one reminds me of Huai Bin’s (apparently) second
calling/vocation. For those who envied him and are contemplating the merits and benefits, hey, let the girls get you up to speed on the business aspects. Here, see how it’s done complete with love letters, photos, phone messages, etc. "The girls are real. The relationship is not. When your time is up you can break up with her for whatever reason you decide, and she'll write you a final letter begging you to take her back." And, oh they're hiring too. Oops, girls only. So, those with a similar calling to be imaginary girlfriends...

TWO: When “vibrate isn’t enough and ring tones fall flat, try sexy moans with mobile phones. Can you imagine some situations in which that would be extremely disturbing? "Oh, oh, OH OH MMMM OH YEAHHH--" "Oh, hi Mom."



Priceless Treasures: 2xMoms

THERE REALLY OUGHT to be a special award for 2xMoms.

No, I’m not talking about mothers of twins, though I imagine double trouble (happiness notwithstanding) must be quite challenging. Nor do I mean your everyday wonderful mother of two, especially when the kids are in their terrible twos, though it must so want to make you climb the walls.

I am referring to those grandmothers who literally relive motherhood all over again, raising their children’s children.

No, not those with all the creature comforts of nice house and assistance of maids plus the company of a spouse. These are comfortable doting grandparents who are enjoying the autumn of their lives. Like Raeven's. Though we cherish them and they certainly have a special place in our hearts and in our lives.

I’m talking about the widowed grandmothers. Those in their late sixties or perhaps early seventies who live in simple, rented accommodation. Those caring (cook, wash, feed, worry, cry, plead … ) and raising perhaps, a hyperactive and rebellious pre-teen plus a raging-hormones teenager or perhaps one on the angst-ridden brink of adult hood. Kids whose world naturally revolve around only themselves, and as such seldom seem at all grateful for all that toil.

Last night I ran into one of these treasures. Single mothers of a different breed.

It was the end of a long and pleasant evening with friends that began early with sun-downers on the balcony of their small but tidy apartment, that progressed to a superb smackeroo meal and ended with the best Kopi-O I have had for a long while. Peppered with wonderful conversation that at times… oh, I digress.

I was nearing the guardhouse when she came right at me, a schoolbag on her shoulders, literally on her last legs – you know, like after you’ve been walking for miles and somehow can’t manage to slow down your pace because you’ve been walking for so long?

Well, half past 10, and I was so looking forward to a shower and bedtime with my new book. No plans whatsoever to stop and chat to strangers, even nice old ladies.

But something about this little woman; her tired but eager face, crumpled sweat-stained blouse and breathless, shaky voice made me stop. She was simply bursting to tell someone, anyone about her long day that wasn’t anywhere nearing its end.

She had just come back from UMMC where her 12 yo grandson was undergoing surgery after an accident at school. She was just going up to her unit to drop the schoolbag, and pack some overnight stuff, make arrangements for her other grandson... And then she was going back to the hospital. Despite my eagerness to get home, something made me interrogate her:

ME: How did you get to the hospital earlier?
SHE: One Chinese lady gave me a lift to Old Town. Then, I took a bus to the hospital.
ME: So how are you going back to the hospital?
SHE: Don’t know. I go upstairs first. Pack some things, then, I see how.
ME: Auntie, I send you.
SHE: Ah, Ok! Ok! I will be very fast. 10 minutes time, ok?
ME: Oh, take a shower, have some food first, auntie.
SHE: Aiyah, can’t eat lah, I will be very fast ok?
ME: Auntie, don’t rush, I will wait. It’s going to be a long night. Take your time ok? Don’t forget some water, biscuits, a coat, toothbrush, toothpaste… I rattled off.

I sit on the park bench to wait. Slapping at my legs because the mozzies are biting. I am imagining her scurrying around her unit, gathering things, stuffing things into a bag... like a little squirrel. Despite the mozzies, I feel an uncharacteristic but pleasant patience.

Half an hour later, she rushes down (she didn’t seem to have lost that walkathon pace) in her multi-fold talcumed neck and clean but talc-stained shabby red blouse saying “Aiyoh, sorry, make you wait so long”. Lugging a few shopping bags stuffed with… well, the stuff I mentioned, I guess, and a pillow AND other grandson in tow.

"He has an interview tomorrow morning. Nobody in the house to wake him up,
so he’s going to his friend’s house to stay. Just drop him off on the road, can?”.

On the way, I asked and she recalled excitedly, the call from school, the rush to the hospital and the long, tiring walk home. To my reckoning, she had walked from a bus stop 4 km away. An uphill walk that must have taken 45 minutes, at least. She spoke cheerfully, affectionately of being mother to these two kids since infancy. The kid’s parents live in Penang. She had made time to ring to tell about the kid’s accident, the fasting, the surgery, ICU and all.

The apartment buildings were a good way away from public transport and shops

Q: How does she shop for fresh produce?
A: Once in 2 weeks she gets a ride from kind neighbours.
Q: What if someone needed a doctor?
A: Ask neighbours for a ride.
She goes to the bank to draw her pension the same way

She said she worried how he was going to handle fasting before surgery. "this one, sure cannot fast wan. He, ar, always eat non-stop. If dinner is late, his knees start knocking". The kid also asked her if it will hurt when they "cut his leg". She assured him he will feel no pain, because he will be fast asleep. And when he opens his eyes, it will be all over. And, "promise you, Ama will be here, don't worry".

Why do they do it, these parents who have kids, who weren't gonna raise the kids, themselves? Why do they have kids at all?

She smiled and said when the kids were little, she had just retired. She agreed to look after them so her son and daughter-in-law could go to work. Several years later, the kids (the grandchildren’s parents, I mean) found better work that paid better, in Penang. But the kids, (hyperactive preteen and angst-ridden adult-to-be, I mean) would not follow. Home was with Ama. Ama, though frugal, takes care of everything. Who needs parents. So the parents rented them this apartment to live in. With Ama.

A mother whose love truly knows no bounds.
She walked miles for the kid.
When the going got tough, she got going.
I believe there are quite a few of them around.

No cards, no tributes, no cantors singing "Tell Me How I'm Gonna Live Without You" to make you cry, neither flowers, nor presents. No Mother’s Day parade. No Mother’s Day Blessing.

Unsung heroines. Priceless treasures.

Whose loss is it?


Not For Sissies

"The end point of existence is death, but the end point of life itself.
The journey is the destination. The purpose is the seeking of purpose."

This, like saying: ‘death is the alternative to aging’, is splendidly to the point, but misses the point as well.

I think nobody really, seriously wants to stay in the same place. [we may want to look forever 30 or whatever ‘young’ is, but surely not freeze there experientially, lost in time] Nor do we so WANT to die [unless our world’s suddenly tumbled down – breakup, loved one died, bankrupt, cancer/AIDS diagnosis, that sort of thing]. Yet we are ALL fearful of getting older [barren, impotent, infirm, bedridden, senile...].

Look how obsessed society is with youth, plastic surgery, Viagra, beauty and novelty. As old age takes its toll people try to resist, try anything to keep decay and death at bay. How popular the notion of continual rebirth.

wits0: "where there is life there is death." But “there is more life in death than there is death in life”, says Midas Dekkers, author of The Way of All Flesh - a book that celebrates decay and death and acknowledges life as a way of dying slowly. In a grim biology lesson, Dekkers hilariously points out the clumsy ways we mortals try to sidestep our own transience. He ridicules our obsession with staying youthful and alive by piling on (with such glee!) the evidence in the myriad ways in which our food, our bodies, our loved ones, and our world are destined to crumble and return to dust.

  • the holes in Swiss cheese are created by bacteria farting gasses into moldering cheese. urggh!
  • Fresh meat from the butcher? BULL. ‘Fresh’ meat would turn stiff in the shopping bag on the way home. The US$3000-a-pound-Kobe-beef Martin Soong says is healthier than USDA Prime, is actually also carrion (like any other cheap meat your butcher sells) -- stale, no rotting meat that has gone limp after 36 hours.
  • Our red blood cells live only for 100 days, and our intestines get re-upholstered every three days.
  • the skin and hair on which we lavish so much care is already dead. We shed flakes every day. Over a lifetime, we lose our weight in skin.
  • And, here’s the good (?) news: semen of men aged between 60 and 90 years contains more sperm per ml than that of mere youths

It is our nervous system which preserves the memory of the long-lost parts of our body. ‘Dying’ is only the death of the leftover parts; almost everything else was jettisoned long ago

We die, as Dekkers describes it, like 'an empire at the hands of barbarians'. Bacteria settle down to do the work. In about two or three days, a thin green layer of bacteria, most of which originated from our intestines, covers our body.

Well, like they say, ‘old age isn't for sissies’ and neither is reading about it. Despite the morbid and depressing facts, this book is a whole lot of fun. It’s actually quite an entertaining way to spend a few hours of your decay.

Meanwhile, take comfort in what Professor Stephen Hawkings said when asked how he feels about having ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis):

"I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which is not that many."

I really should sip life from the top of the bowl and try to ignore the dark gritty bits at the bottom AND count my blessings.


Age Parade

YESTERDAY MORNING, I felt a slight stiffness in the knee when genuflecting before taking my seat at church. Hey, let me tell you, it felt like a deadly premonition of things to come. And sure enough the heart-stopping moment came at the end of mass.

At the end of variously glowing, touching and comic tributes, three generations of mothers trooped up to the altar for their Mother’s Day Blessing.

It was an impressive aging process on parade.

The young (?) moms, the older mu qings and the aged amas. Young mother hens, (no more spring chicken!), mutton dressed as lamb and turkeys.

Aging, as this Mother’s Day parade plainly shows, is a very visible and public process. For totally different reasons, this parade compelled a pause for serious thought.

From infancy to childhood, to youth through adulthood, right to the decaying end of the life-span spectrum, growing old(er) is a process of either running out or filling up. [Funny how two alphabets (er) can make all the difference doesn’t it?]

When you are old, you are expected by the cruel clichés of society to give things up: desire and desirability, ambition, eagerness, passion, anger, beauty, selfishness, hope. In return for this, you are expected to attain a weary kind of wisdom and peace. 'When you are old and grey and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire...'

No wonder we fear this journey, which seems to be all about loss:

Stay near me
do not take thy flight!
A little longer stay in sight!
Much converse do I find in thee,
Historian of my infancy!

In our bathroom and bedtime rituals, we wage war upon our faces and bodies, but the skin we see is already dead. It flakes away, as if in life we are turning to dust. It does no good to rub rejuvenating cream into it (which I nevertheless do every evening). We may cover it with make-up, paint a face that we want on to the face that is starting to remind us where we are headed. But make-up can't hide the ravages of time. You have to do more than colour it in.

We (vainly, and in vain!) try and prevent it with anti-aging whatnots, we dress young, speak in the language of youth. For tomorrow is for the young. On magazine covers are young faces, glossy bodies, taut limbs, models who look like waifs and like children. Youth as a valuable commodity, age as a time of diminishing returns.

So, again, what’s the alternative to growing older?

The answer, of course, is Death.

wits0 says: “when there is life, there is death.”

So, next up… “But there is more life in death than there is death in life…”


A Blink Ago

JUST WHEN DOES the fear begin? Is it when we reach a milestone year at 30 or 40? When we realize that the pattern of life is set, and we can see into the future? Is there simply a day when we feel it in our bones that we are on a one way journey? And there’s no way back?

Is it when, out of the blue, from the corner of our lazy eye, our parents suddenly look so frail and fragile. Like, Old Man Time snuck up, while we briefly 'turned our backs' on them to do our own thing, chase our own dreams -- building our careers, our futures and/or families.

Or is it
when they die and we step into the front line?

I am finding getting older rather confusing and perplexing.

I don’t dislike it, or deny it or try to prevent it. Though I try (vainly!) to hide it, in many ways, I rather love it. I love that sense of not caring so much about what people think, that freedom from embarrassment and insecurity and shame. I am more confident, I think I know myself better, therefore I am more comfortable with myself.

But nevertheless, I look in the mirror and am taken aback by the woman I see - can this be me, this 'no more toing-toing' face, fine lines around my eyes and mouth, fillings in my teeth, a tired skin? And where did the person go that I was, careless of risk and waste?

A blink ago, my world was all possibility, doors that I might push open, whereas now it is equally about memory. All the things I've done that I will never do again: trying on my first bra, dance on tippy toes in my ankle-breaking killer-stiletto heels, fall in love for the first time, drink too much, stay up all night engaging in misadventures, leave home…

It's also about crossing a line, and all the things I haven't yet done...

And the possibilities are diminishing. Shutting down, one by one

Children have become yardsticks of time passing. For pre-teens, Christmas is way too long to wait for their first handphone, for those approaching their two-decade of existence on this planet, a year is way too long away from those milestones they can’t wait to cross – graduation, entering the workforce, finding that special someone who will displace their parents as their significant other.

Meanwhile, it’s been barely half a year since one parent went off to that faraway land, leaving the other, literally shrinking and stooping at what seems an accelerated rate as each year becomes for her the tiniest shred of time left on earth.

Now here I am, a grey hair in my eyebrow. Where did time go? Is it really true it isn't coming back?

With advances in science, medicine and technology, we are living longer and longer. More than ever we are denying age and death.
We want to live longer still, a thousand years, forever.

Where, when and what were the best years of our lives?
What is the alternative to growing older?


Pentecost Novena

A NOVENA IS a traditional Catholic prayer method. Novem (nine) is nine days of private or public devotion to obtain special graces. According to New Advent: "The number nine in Holy Writ is indicative of suffering and grief". It is also faithfully used by people who are searching for answers, healing and personal needs.

The novena for the Holy Spirit honors Jesus Christ. It commemorates the nine days between the Ascension of Our Lord and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the first
Pentecost Sunday. This is the prototype of all novena said on Ascension Thursday. The series of prayers for the 9 days follows here.

I'm beginning mine,
THE PENTECOST NOVENA, the most ancient of all novenas, today.

You can also do the same for your own special intentions or for the needs of others e.g: you may know someone:
with a terminal or serious illness
· who is a victim of alcoholism or drug abuse
· who left the Church or is angry with God.
· Or who simply needs to be lifted from sadness, depression or despair.

The links given here provide a day-by-day guide with prayers and recommended readings, so you can perform the Novena in the privacy of your own home (create a shortcut of the link!), or print out a copy to pray at the tabernacle in church.

On Pentecost, Mary also prayed together with the disciples. Today she prays with us and offers our prayers to God in union with her Son. You can also bring your cares to her and light a candle at her shrine.

Peace and blessings to all!


Oh, You Sexy Thing!

Your texture is enough to turn me on.
So, so... seductive.
Ooo... so languid and vulnerable.
That slippery slurpy sensation when I eat you...
oOo Simply divine!

... and champagne would be the perfect marriage.

you sexy thing! Have you been eating oysters or are you just happy to see me? ;P

"I placed the shell on the edge of her lips and after a good deal of laughing,
she sucked in the oyster, which she held between her lips.
I instantly recovered it by placing my lips on hers."
Casanova in Volume Six

She is mine own,
And I as rich in having such a jewel
As twenty seas, if all their sand were pearl,
The water nectar, and the rocks pure gold.
'The Two Gentlemen of Verona' William Shakespeare

Casanova, the 18th-century hot and horny master of seduction who breakfasted on 50 oysters, has been vindicated by a study that proves they really are aphrodisiacs. American and Italian researchers have found that oysters and other shellfish are rich in rare amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones.

"If the male is having difficulties, they have to eat a lot of mussels or oysters.
To be most effective the oysters have to be eaten raw."

There are, of course, scientists who wonder if these shellfish have enough of the chemicals to trigger libido. Oh, shush! Raw oysters are such a heady appetizer. The experience can be so exquisitely perverse. Now, just imagine this:

"As I draw my cocktail fork across it,
the delicate creature contracts almost imperceptibly.
Then I stab the quivering mouthful and slide it onto my tongue.
The flavor is salty, a little metallic and surprisingly sweet.
There's a subtle nuttiness in the chewy bit that surrounds the foot."

"You're putting the mollusk into your mouth while it's still alive.
The wonderfully slick texture, delicate briny flavor and beachfront aroma
make it easy to understand how oysters came to be associated with
the tenderest portion of the female anatomy and thus considered an aphrodisiac."

So, never mind the frigid, unimaginative skeptics. The brain is still our most powerful sex organ.


Ascension Thursday

TODAY IS A day of obligation for Catholics. It is the Feast of The Ascension which has been observed since antiquity. Although no documentary evidence of it exists prior to the beginning of the fifth century, St. Augustine says that it is of Apostolic origin. It is one of the Ecumenical feasts ranking with the feasts of the Passion, of Easter and of Pentecost among the most solemn in the Catholic calendar.

Ascension Day is celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter Sunday, to commemorate the ascension of Christ into heaven, according to Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:2. The Ascension is for Christians both a fact and a promise; in exaltation, Catholics confess His Ascension into heaven, in The Apostles Creed.

"He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father... "
Hail the day that sees Him rise,
Ravished from our wistful eyes!
Christ, awhile to mortals given,
Re-ascends His native heaven.
There the glorious triumph waits,
Lift your heads, eternal gates!
Wide unfold the radiant scene,
Take the King of glory in!

"He was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19), thereby glorifying human nature; restoring the likeness of God to humanity; and preparing an eternal place for His People. In a sense this feast ends the Easter revelry: after the Gospel is read during the Ascension Thursday Mass, the Paschal candle is extinguished. It does not, however, end Eastertide. The nine days that the Apostles spent in prayer from Ascension Thursday to Pentecost provide not only the archetypal inspiration for all later novenas but the eagerly awaited build-up for what is often called the birthday of the Church, the Feast of Pentecost, or Whitsunday. This is the day that the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles, giving them the grace and resolve to teach and convert all nations.

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