Manja Cats, Singapore & Us

Manja Cats: Tigger, Ve Ching, Harmony & Missy (in order of adoption); Singapore: Where we are currently living; Us: Alex's British, Tarsier Girl is Singaporean.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ve Ching Watching TV


When I was young, my mother used to remind me over and over not to sit too close to the television. She was afraid that I would become myopic, which I did! :)

Things came full circle when Ve Ching started watching TV just centimetres away from the screen. I am not quite sure what he actually saw at such close range. Could he see the whole dog or only the dog's ears? As the above photos show, he really liked watching other animals.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ve Ching in a Small Box

Why is it that cats like lying in small spaces? Here, Ve Ching has squeezed himself into a box that my PDA came in. Note how one side of the box is pushed outwards by his back and bits of him are sticking out of it. The first cat bed that we bought was hardly used until Loy Loy came along. I think the kitties didn't like it cause it didn't fit snugly around them. So when Loy Loy came to live with us, although she was a very small dog, smaller than a couple of the cats, she made the cat bed her own. I guess dogs don't like it snug unlike cats.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Beautiful Cat, Gross Hairballs

Tigger, as you can see, is a beautiful, semi long-haired cat. Cats like him require regular brushing. But unfortunately, he hates have his fur brushed, even though we tried to get him used to it by brushing him weekly when he was only a wee kitten. Nowadays he requires daily brushing but more often then not, he would run away and if we persist, then we (mainly Alex) would end up with lots of scratches. No amount of treats or distractions will get him to submit willingly to a grooming session.

The result, as any cat owner knows, is the frequent throwing up of hairballs. He used to dry heave for a long time before actually coughing a hairball up. But nowadays, after switching his brand of wet food and adding probiotics and digestive enzymes and fish oil to his diet, he coughs them up like nobody's business.

The first time we saw a hairball, we were so disgusted and yet fascinated by it that we took a picture of it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Good Company

The picture shows Tigger and Harmony keeping Alex company while he works. I'm an early sleeper while Alex works till midnight or later most days, so it's good to know that he's feline company while I'm asleep. And in case you are wondering where Missy is, she goes to bed early, at around 9pm, which coincidentally is when the aircon in the bedroom comes on....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Where's Heli?



In 2006, I bought Alex a toy helicopter for a Christmas present. When he started to fly it around the flat, the kitties were fascinated. They would watch its every move and when it crashed, which it often did, it was a race between Alex and them to see who could get to the helicopter first. It's a pity that Alex hasn't flown it since then. I think the kitties would like it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Junk Mail - Reader's Digest


Alex gets a lot of promotional and sweepstake mail from Reader's Digest. So around 3 weeks ago, I sent them an email asking for such mail to Alex to be stopped. Two weeks later, Alex received another piece of snail mail from them and yet another last Friday. Just as I was planning to send all their junk mail back to them in their return envelope, I suddeny got an email from them last Saturday. In it they noted my request and said that they have since updated their record. They also added that some promotions might still be sent as "they have already been addressed and cannot be moved out from mailing". I wonder how long it will take before we stop receiving junk mail from them?

Anyway, if any of you would like Reader's Digest to stop sending you junk mail, their email address is friends@rdasia.com.sg.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cats in the Living Room

This is a rare shot of all four cats lying in one place. They are usually together only if there is some activity involved like feeding or checking out new stuff. It's rare to see them all just doing nothing together.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Double Rainbow

I'm not sure if you can see it, but there are 2 rainbows in the picture. The more obvious one is the one on the right side. Running parallel to it on the left is the fainter one. I took this photo in January 2007, when I happened to gaze out of my living room window and saw the double rainbows.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Man on Roof

My block is currently undergoing IUP Plus, which is a combination of the Interim Upgrading Programme and the Lift Upgrading Programme. But before work could start, they had to survey the place and I guess that's what that guy on the roof is doing. He's seated on top of a 12-storey block opposite from mine. This picture was taken in December 2006. Things have been progressing smoothly so far and hopefully, we'll have a lift on our floor next year.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Router for a Pillow?

For what felt like the longest time, this was Missy's favourite place to sleep. No amount of shooing or enticement (like offering her a soft cushion on the other end of the TV console), would get her to move. By sleeping there, she was blocking the TV's remote sensor, and since she could sleep for a really long time, it was very inconvenient for us. That wireless router was hard and probably hot and buzzy, so why in the world would she want to sleep on it? The problem was finally solved when we switched to a small standing router.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

STB Outpost

This small caravan was parked outside Wheelock Place around Christmas time 2006. It's actually a little Singapore Tourism Board centre. There was a young lady outside handing out brochures to tourists and talking to them. I don't recall seeing it last year though.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tigger Wide Asleep

Tigger has this habit of sleeping with his eyes partially open. It looks a little eerie. Once, a few weeks ago, he was asleep on his back on the dining table with both his eyes open. I thought that looked really weird, so I called out to him thinking that maybe he was awake, but he didn't move a whisker. Then the thought crossed my mind that perhaps he'd somehow died with his eyes open (I know, I know, I've a vivid imagination) and that's why he's not responding. So I shook him gently and he finally woke up, wondering why his crazy mummy had roused him from his nap for no reason!

Monday, May 12, 2008

2nd Street Cafeteria

This non-descript building is located next to SPH in Toa Payoh North. It's actually the industrial canteen catering to the flatted factories surrounding it. But once you go inside, you'll not only be pleasantly surprised by how clean and airy it is, but by the type of food stalls it has.

Besides the usual stalls selling noodles and Muslim food, there's an ang moh dessert stall called Chocolate Hearts that sells waffles, muffins and brownies. Next to it is a Thai food stall, followed by Botak Jones, which sells American food.

Further down, there's a Japanese stall called Sakura and next to it is an Italian stall serving pasta and pizzas. At the opposite end to the entrance, there's even a Botak Jones Brewski, serving what else, but beer!

Even though it was lunch time on a Sunday when we went, the place had a steady stream of customers. It was half full when we got there at 12 and three quarter full when we left at 1pm. And instead of the usual hawker centre attire of t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, people were dressed as if they had come straight from church.

The only thing lacking in this place is a good drinks stall. There is one coffee stall there that also serves fruit juice but because the juicer is in dire need of a cleaning, the juices don't taste like the fruits that they were squeezed from. Also, Alex needed a Cappuccino to go with his Waffle a la mode.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Night View

Night view from the lift lobby of my HDB block. I thought the sky looked very nice.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Labuan Trip

Last week I was on a four day trip to Labuan, an island just of the island of Borneo. Here are the photos I took.
Labuan Trip
I've marked them onto a Google map so you'll have a good idea where the place is, but unfortunately it isn't possible (or I don't know how to and can't be bother to find out how) to show the direction the photo was taken in.

The island's economy is mainly centred around the import and processing of natural gas and, presumably because it is quite remote, is tax free.

The remoteness was greatly enjoyed by my colleagues (two from Pune, India, one from Petaling Jaya, the town/city next too/merged with Kuala Lumpur) and myself. The lack of cars and people was very restful.

We ate at outdoor cafes within walking distance of the hotel for dinner. On the first night, without our Malay speaking colleague who arrived the second night, it was hard for us to order a vegetarian meal for one of my colleagues. However the chef did a great job of making vegetable fried rice. Generally the food was great, even at the customer's offices and despite us continuously showing up late. However on the last night the one of the Indian dishes we had was a little over spiced, which was a shame.

The journey there and back was via KL International Airport and flying into it on Thursday night, I was surprised just how unlit the area around it was.

Friday, May 09, 2008

No Junk Mail - Unsubscribing from Snail Mail

At the bottom of every promotional email from a legitimate company, there's almost always a link that allows the recipient to unsubscribe and thereby not receive any future newsletters, emails etc from the company. Why can't these companies have something similar for their snail mail? They can enclose a little postage paid self addressed card that the recipient can send back to the company should they want to opt out of receiving future promotional mail. Alternatively, the companies can offer an option on their websites, where members of the public can go to opt out of receiving junk snail mail.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Good Service - Starbucks Siglap (Update)

A couple of weekends ago, I posted about the good service I had received at a Starbucks outlet in Siglap. At the same time, I had written in to Starbucks, 'cos I thought that the lady's bosses ought to know what a valuable employee they had. A few days later, I received a thank you email from Starbucks in which they also asked for my address. And today, I received a thank you letter from Starbucks with a couple of complimentary beverage coupons enclosed. How's that for good service?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

No Junk Mail - UOB

I have 2 accounts with UOB and because of that, I receive 2 statements, plus 2 cover sheets (Summaries) and 2 sets of identical promotional materials in 2 envelopes every month. Given all this waste, I thought I could help save resources and the environment by opting out of having my statements sent to me. I did this online 2 months ago and since then, with the exception of the statements, I have continued to receive all of the above - 2 Summaries and 2 identical sets of junk mail in 2 envelopes.

Last night, I called the UOB hotline to ask why they persist in sending all this to me when I've already opted out. The customer service lady said that by opting out online, I was only instructing UOB to stop sending my statements to me. If I want UOB to stop sending the Summaries and junk mail as well, I would have to write in to their branch and ask for it to be stopped.

Aiyoh, why so leh cheh? Why is it that I can opt out of having my statements sent to me online but not the Summaries and junk mail too? It just doesn't make sense. The UOB customer service lady couldn't answer my question either.

They sure don't make it easy for their clients to be green. I guess I'll write UOB a letter to stop the summaries and junk mail being sent and in the process, give them a few tips about how they can be a little more customer friendly and helpful to the environment!

Tunnel Cat


The tunnel was Ve Ching's favourite toy. Some nights, Alex would spend half an hour playing 'tunnel cat' with him before coming to bed. Alex's way of playing 'tunnel cat' was to slowly walk past the tunnel and wait for Ve Ching to shoot through and jump out to 'scare' him. When I played 'tunnel cat' with Ve Ching, I would usually take a dangly toy and sweep it up and down the outside of the tunnel, which would send him running right through it. If he's hiding in the tunnel, he would also attack if I dangled a toy into one of the tunnel's 2 topside holes or if I tapped the tunnel with my hand or a toy. Now that he's gone, it's Missy who plays with the tunnel although not as often as Ve Ching did.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

No Junk Mail Please!


I'm tired of receiving junk in my mail box. It's a waste of resources and terrible for the environment. Although I have locked my mail slot to prevent all and sundry from stuffing junk leaflets into the box, I still have to contend with promotional mail delivered by the postman and leaflets stucked onto my gate. I have not thought of a way in which I can stop all those leaflets from being left on my front step, but I'm going to try and minimise the junk mail I get through the postman.

My efforts to reduce junk mail started about a month ago and I've been moderately successful. The first thing I did was to call up Singpost and opt out of their Admail service. I came across this service on their website by accident:

Opt-Out Service
Residents who do not wish to receive unaddressed promotional mail through SingPost’s Admail service, can call our hotline number 6845-6210 to inform us.
Our operating hours are
Monday to Friday: 0830am to 0500pm (but closed for lunch from 1230pm to 0130pm)
Saturdays: 0830am to 1230pm
Closed on Sunday and Public Holidays

I've also emailed/faxed or mailed (using the postage paid envelope included in some junk mail) the organisations whose promotional mail I've been receiving. Fingers crossed that they will actually pay heed to my request.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Kitten Excitement




One of my friends is looking to adopt a kitten or two. So last Friday, after work, we went to a foster's house to view some kittens that are up for adoption. Even though I wasn't the one doing the adopting, I still felt very excited. It's always exciting getting a new 'baby', finding out it's likes and dislikes, its little personality etc.

At the foster's place, there were four 3-month-old kittens (pictured above) and their mother for adoption. These were strays that had been picked off the streets. Another 2 of their siblings had already been adopted. 3 of the kittens are boys (2 gingers and 1 grey tabby), while the remaining tortie is a girl.


Also at the foster's house was a poor, little ginger kitten with parts of its fur shaved off. You can't see the shaved off bits in the above picture 'cos those furless patches were on its right side. This kitten was rescued off the streets where it was found soaked in kerosene. When we approached its cage, it hissed at us. But when we started playing with the other kittens, it mewed at us to get some attention. Later, the lady who had rescued it came for a visit. She was able to take it out of its cage, wrap it in a towel and give it long cuddles. I'm glad that it had been rescued by such a kind person, who obviously has lots of experience with cats. This kitten needs someone who is not afraid of its aggressive posturing (a typical reaction of an abused animal) and who can give it lots of love. This lady seems to fit the bill.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Tigger's House

This 'house' was empty for many years before Tigger made it his own. Now he sleeps in it every day. He's done so for almost 2 years. It's strange how cats will ignore their toys or sleeping beds for a long, long time and then start to use it for no reason. When Tigger was a kitten, he used to carry this furry, white toy mouse all over the house. But when he grew out of kittenhood, he abandoned his toy and we soon lost sight of it. Earlier this year, it made its reappearance as Missy's toy. I have no idea where she found it (shows you how well we clean our place), but she'd play with it by herself and carry it from one part of the flat to another. She'd also carry it onto our bed and meow loudly, wanting to be praised for being such a good mouser, even if it is a toy mouse! Shortly after Missy started playing with it, Tigger did too. But in the last week or so, 'mouse-mouse' has fallen out of favour again and now just lies on my bedroom floor.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Missy Lying on the Suitcase



All our cats like to lie on suitcases. Here Missy shows how it's done after Alex leaves his suitcase on the entrance floor after coming home from a trip. Note how much the suitcase cover sacks under Missy's weight. Although she looks pretty plump, she's generally weighs between 4.2-4.6kg, which isn't really too bad for a full grown kitty, is it?

Ve Ching on Missy's Rug

Ve Ching was indifferent to this rug until it became Missy's favourite. She would lie on it, sleep on it, play with her toys on it and even play-fight with it. But not long after it became her constant companion, then Ve Ching started to lie on it too. I don't know why he did it 'cos he didn't seem to get any particular pleasure from it, unlike her. Maybe he just wanted to show her who's top cat or maybe he got fed-up with her treating him like the enemy when all he wanted was to be her friend. Ve Ching is the touchy-feely sort, with both cats and humans, while Missy only likes to be 'manhandled'. She doesn't even like it when her only feline playmate, Harmony, tries to sniff or lick her.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Tigger in the Bag Storage Cupboard



Was tidying my wardrobe the other day, sifting stuff out for recycling as well as for the Salvation Army. I bagged the outfits into paper and plastic bags and then went to the kitchen to get some more and found Tigger sitting inside the open cupboard. I don't know what it is with this cat, but he just loves sitting inside the kitchen cupboards regardless of what's in them. Once, he even tried going in to sit among the bowls and plates.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Harmony - All Grown Up


This is a rare 'goodish' photo of Harmony. I say 'goodish' because she still looks kind of stern in it. She often looks very stern or have green, demonic-looking eyes in photos, or else her photos are blurry because she just won't sit still for them.

Lately, she's been sucking on Alex's shirt sleeve while he's trying to work on the computer. She does this in the study at night, when I'm not in the room. Should I sneak in with my camera, she'll invariably look embarrassed and quickly get up and come over to me for strokes. She has sucked on our clothes on and off since she was a kitten.

In this photo, she actually looks quite grown up. This picture was taken in 2006, so she should have been 4 years old then. Because she's the smallest of all my cats, I always think of her as a kitten. But as my friend, Ching, once said, Harmony's not small, it's Tigger, Ve Ching and Missy who are huge.

Cat on Flat Cat Cushion


My sweet little Ve Ching sleeping on his favourite flat cat cushion on the sofa. Picture taken in October 2006.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cats & New TV



When we first got our new TV in November 2006, the cats were fascinated by it. Ve Ching was fond of watching real animals, while Missy prefered animated ones. Her favourite is Pixar's For the Birds. Harmony doesn't watch TV but has taken to swatting it occasionally.

Harmony in TV Console


This has been and still is, one of Harmony's favourite sleeping places for the last 2 years.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

No TV?

I watch a lot of TV. I've done so for a long time, but in the last 2 years, with more free time on my hands, I've not only watched more TV programmes, but more DVDs as well. I'm subscribed to Starhub's cable tv and also to Hollywoodclick.com's 5-disk plan (it means that at any time, I can have up to 5 DVDs to watch).

I watch TV to relax. I watch TV as an accompaniment to my meals. I watch TV when I'm ironing. I watch TV between loads of laundry. I watch TV as I exercise. And sometimes, I even watch TV when I don't feel like doing anything else. I watch a lot of TV.

I try to put some limits on myself, such as allowing myself to watch only those programmes that I've taped. This means that I keep channel-surfing to a minimum. I also try not to watch any show twice, although I sometimes flout this 'rule' if a movie is really good. I have also tried to raise my own extremely subjective TV viewing standards by watching shows that I deem above average, even if they are just a smidgen above.

I think that I might even be a TV addict 'cos the thought of cutting out TV cold turkey for even a week troubles me. But the thought that I might be addicted also causes me concern.

Alex suggests that I figure out how much TV I watch in a week and go from there. Sounds sensible. I will keep a record for a week starting today. I'm off to a good start since the TV hasn't been turned on today.

Ok, I'm off to watch Season 5 of Northern Exposure.

F1 Bus Stop Ad


This bus stop is situated outside Tangs, along Orchard Road. The few times that I've walked past it on the opposite side of the road, there is invariably a group of male tourists taking pictures of this bus stop. Even if you don't walk very close to them, you can still hear them getting all excited that F1 is coming here and even more thrilled that it's going to be a night race! As one who's totally not into the F1 scene, I found it mildly amusing.

Good Service - Coffee Club (Millenia Walk)

Wow, this must be a weekend for good service. We went to Coffee Club at Millenia Walk for lunch today and the service staff there were all very courteous and attentive. None of that indifferent service that you get at most other places. We were looking for a place to have a slow, quiet lunch and this place fitted the bill. It was almost full but not packed and it had the latest magazines so we were quite happy to settle down with the lastest issues of IS, Vanilla and Newsweek. The Pasta Alfredo and Chicken Pie we shared were yummy, Alex liked his Apple Crumble and Cappuccino. The only downside for me was my Toffee Coffee Blended drink, which tasted a little synthetic. Also, don't sit by the door like we did, 'cos everytime anyone opens it (which didn't happen often while we were there, thank goodness), hot air comes blasting in.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ikea Toy Bed


I bought this doll's bed from Ikea sometime in late 2006. Missy is the only one that has ever slept on it. It is now full of cat toys. Maybe I'll try putting the toys away and see if she'll sleep on it again.

Good Service - Starbucks Siglap

Went to Starbucks (Siglap) for their Raspberry Blackcurrant Blended Smoothie this afternoon. The mature lady behind the counter was all smiles and very pleasant to us. Although our interaction with her was for just a few minutes, I came out of Starbucks thinking what a nice lady she was. In fact I said it out loud and Alex agreed.

Good Service - Bistro Gaga

Last night, at Bistro Gaga, I ordered the Lemony Tart which I've had once before. I liked it a lot previously because unlike other lemon tarts, this one came with lots of fruit on top, and it was not too sour. Unfortunately, last night's Lemony Tart didn't have any fruit at all and it was very sour. I asked the maitre d' why it was different from the last time. He didn't know either but immediately offered me another dessert for free. I turn it down, since Alex didn't mind finishing off the partially eaten Lemony Tart and I could eat some of my sister's very yummy Creme Brulee. Besides, we were all quite full by then.

Later, when the maitre d' presented us with the bill, he told me that he had notified the chef of his oversight and that Bistro Gaga will not be charging us for the Lemony Tart. I wasn't expecting this since Alex did finish up the tart. We thought that was it was really decent of them to do this after I'd turned down their offer of another dessert.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Family Day Out

It was announced yesterday by the National Family Council that 24 May 2008 will be Singapore's inaugural Family Day Out. It will be held on the 4th Saturday of May every year. The Day is meant for families to forge stronger bonds by spending quality time together. It was also reported in the Straits Time today that the chairman of the Council, Mr Lim Soon Hock had said, "at some point in time, we'll lobby for (a public holiday)".

When the time does come, I'm hoping that the Council will keep in mind 2 things:

1. Saturday is already a non-working day for most working adults and a non-school day for children. Why not make Family Day Out really special by making it a public holiday on a Friday. This way, families can make plans to spend the whole long weekend together.

2. May already has 2 public holidays - Labour Day and Vesak Day. Why not have Family Day Out in a month when there are no public holidays? The longest time that Singaporeans have to go without a holiday is usually between Vesak Day and National Day. And since June is when the school holidays are, give the children and teachers a break and have Family Day Out as a public holiday in July.

Korean Air Ad


The above is part of a Korean Air ad that has been featured in The Straits Times recently. The tag line at the bottom of the ad reads, 'From departure to arrival, only dignified services for our dignified guests'. Kneeling on the floor to serve a drink is dignified? Really?

If I were seated cross-legged on a tatami mat at a restaurant and the waitress kneels to serve me my food, that's just the practical thing to do. But a stewardess kneeling to serve a drink? That's just demeaning!

Say Mama

video

Some years ago, I saw a video of a cat who could say 'mama' quite distinctly. Since then, I've made occasional, half-hearted attempts at getting my lot to say 'mama' too. In this video, I'm trying to get Harmony to say 'mama' but unfortunately, the cats think I'm saying 'mum-mum', which is our phrase for food. So while I'm saying 'mama' to Harmony, the others turn up thinking that it's feeding time. As you can see, Tigger can get quite vocal when he thinks he's not being fed.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cats & Shoes

video

All my cats like to sniff footwear. It doesn't matter when it's a sandal or a shoe, they will roll around with it, attack it, inhale it etc etc. I don't know whether it's the intense smell that they like, or the variety of smells in the shoe or maybe they just love the stinkiness of it all. Anyway, Tigger seems to be enjoying himself in the video. A cat and his simple pleasure.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Drink Lots of Water, Harmony!


In October 2006, Harmony had problems peeing. She would go into the litter box, position herself as if she's urinating and then get out without having done No. 1. She'd then repeat this act over and over again, the whole day long. The vet said that it was because she didn't drink enough, causing her pee to crystalise. Harmony's favourite way of hydrating herself is to drink from the shower tap. As she can't turn the tap on herself, and Alex and I aren't camped out in the shower the whole day long, I was not surprised by the vet's pronouncement. To encourage her to drink so that she'll pass the crystals out, I made her a tuna drink (above) several times a day.

Since then, I've fed her wet food mixed with water to form a gruel-like texture every morning and the problem has not recurred. Well, except for the time when we went on a short holiday and my dad who was taking care of them, did not feed them wet food. Three days into the holiday, my cleaning lady called to tell me about Harmony's 'weird' behaviour in the litter box. I instructed her to feed Harmony her 'gruel', and she was right as rain by the time I got back the next day.