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, 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'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

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

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.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Curious Cats

Since I did not post any cat pictures from August 2006 to early April 2008, I'm going to play 'catch-up' and post some of the pictures of my kitties that I took during that time.

This one (taken in October 2006) again shows how much my cats like checking out new things. Missy is the only one not in the picture and it's only because Ve Ching is there. This time around, they are making sure that the new Dyson vacuum cleaner that we'd bought is in good working order. This vacuum cleaner is great for sucking up cat hairs and the mini turbine head that comes with it is especially good at getting cat hairs off the upholstery.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Curious Cat

Alex brought home a couple of 2nd hand servers on Friday and it didn't take long for the cats to come into the study to check it out. Here's Harmony giving it the once over.

Green Spaces

I read with a shudder this morning, a suggestion in The Straits Times Forum page that East Coast Park be turned into Singapore's version of the Gold Coast. Personally, I like my green spaces. It makes a dense city state like Singapore a lot more livable.

Currently, my area is undergoing IUP Plus. It is a combination of the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) and the Interim Upgrading Programme (IUP). As part of the upgrading, the patch of greenery (including 3 trees) in the middle of my U-shaped block, will be turned into an amphitheatre. There is already a large amphitheatre at the town centre across the road and a smaller one in a neighbourhood park about 7 minutes walk away. So why do we need yet another amphitheatre? I just don't know.

Soon, when I look out of my flat, all I'll see is concrete, concrete and more concrete.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

See You Again Ve Ching

Something really sad happened while I was on hiatus from blogging. My dear sweet Ve Ching passed away. He was diagnosed with feline pancreatitis. The only possible 'treatment' according to the vet was to change his diet. But Ve Ching wouldn't eat what the vet had prescribed and soon, it became a struggle to get him to eat anything at all. I tried all kinds of food - cat and human - and would feed him every 3 hours because he ate so little at each sitting. Towards the end, I had to liquidise his food as he wouldn't eat any solids. Somehow, he managed to perservere and surprised our vet by living for several months. He finally passed away on the eve of my birthday last year.

This is the very last photo that I took of him, 10 days before his demise. You can't tell from the photo, but he had grown very skinny by then. He used to weigh 5.5kg but had shrunk to 3.6kg, the very last time I weighed him.

In the months since he died, I've had 2-3 dreams in which he appeared as a small black and white kitten. I hope that it means he'll be in my life again in the future. But it could just as well have been wishful dreaming.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Age Discrimination - It's OK as Long as We Make More Money?

A couple of articles in The Straits Times struck me today. The first, on page 3, was titled "They're young, they're foreign and they're helping to save your job". According to the article, a drinks seller had complained to Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Mr Lim Boon Heng, about feeling threatened by a "sweet, young lady from China who sells beer at the same joint." In recounting the anecdote at the Singapore Tripartism Forum yesterday, Mr Lim was quoted as having said, "Obviously, if Tiger or Carlsberg asks this mature lady to sell beer, it will not have the same result."

Then, on page H8 of the same newspaper, there was an article entitled, "Young image of SIA cabin crew: A wrong signal?" In the article, SIA Chairman, Mr Stephen Lee called the flight attendants a "special group" and said, "This has to do with SIA's past consistent effort in branding the airline in a certain way and we think it's a competitive edge."

Even if it's true that youth sells, and I'm not saying that it is, is it right to discriminate against middle-aged to older folks just to make more money? Hmm... food for thought.

Honour System

Recently, I bought a new camera which records videos in .mov files. Unfortunately, Windows Movie Maker (WMM) can't edit .mov files. This meant that I would either have to buy new editing software (one that is able to edit .mov files) or buy conversion software to convert my .mov files to .avi files which I can then edit with WMM. Alex pointed me towards a couple of sites to start my search and I finally downloaded a conversion software called The RAD Video Tools (TRVT). TRVT turned out to be a pretty good software. It was easy to use and it converted my files perfectly every time. And, best of all, The RAD Video Tools was free! TRVT works on an honour system. If you download the tools and like using them, then you are free to make a donation, or not. And if you have no use for their tools, then you wouldn't have spent any money on it.

I love this system of payment. It seems to me to be the right way to conduct business, where people only pay for things that work and which they find useful. But it also makes me wonder if such an honour system will work? How many people will actually make a donation after downloading and using the tools. The cynical side of me says that most people will not. But the idealist in me goes... wouldn't it be nice if people could be trusted to be honest? I'm rooting for the latter.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mesmerising Laundry Wash

My cats never cease to amuse me. After living with me for almost 5 years, Missy took a sudden interest in how the laundry is washed earlier this year. I happened to walk into the kitchen, and found Missy sitting about a metre away from the washing machine, watching the laundry go round and round. I watched her for a few minutes to see how long this would last. After 2-3 minutes, I grabbed my camera and starting video taping her. She would get up close, put her front paws on the machine cover and peer into the machine while standing on her hind legs. Then she'd get down, sit and stare at it for a little while, walk to about a metre away and continue to sit and stare and then walk towards the machine again. It went on for a good 10 minutes, but I'll spare you the torture and upload only a minute of it. Maybe Missy got bored with it too, 'cos she's only done this that one time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tigger in the Laundry Cupboard

Last Sunday, while I was in the kitchen, Tigger started scratching on the laundry cupboard door. He usually goes into that cupboard on laundry day while I am taking out the hangers and laundry bags. So I told him that he would have to wait till tomorrow to go in as I was intending to do the laundry then.

Fast forward to Monday morning. I had just put the first load of laundry into the washing machine. And the minute the machine door clicked shut, Tigger, no doubt alerted by his super hearing, dashes into the kitchen (I've never seen him run so fast except when there's food involved or when he's being chased by his siblings) and immediately starts pawing on the laundry cupboard door. I let him in and he sits in there for all of 3 minutes, decides he's had enough and leaves. So much fuss for nothing!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Time Flies

It's been almost 2 years since I last blogged on this site. I haven't been feeling 100% for a long time now. By my count, for almost 10 years. With each passing year, I seem to collect more and more symptoms, which on their own may not be a big deal, but taken collectively, finally made me faced up to the fact that something is really wrong with my body. So 2 years ago, I quit everything that I was doing, including all my volunteer work, and concentrated on getting better. 2 years on, I'm still not 100% but there are at least some good days (like today, when I have both mental and physical energy) and hopefully, lots more in the future.

Recently, I read a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The Fourth Agreement stated in the book is "Always Do Your Best". Having the Virgo perfectionist streak in me, although admittedly, this aspect of my personality has mellowed over the years, I've always (consciously or subconsciously) strived to do my best in everything I do. And when I think that I've not achieved all that I've decided to do or have not given my all, I get upset, again, sometimes consciously and sometime subsconsciously. So I was very glad when I read this book, to come across a teaching that has since been very useful and valuable to me. Ruiz teaches that our best changes from moment to moment. I know it sounds like a very simple concept, yet it has been a revelation to me or as Oprah would call it, it's been my "Aha!" moment. I've always thought that doing my best meant that I've to achieve a certain pre-set (my own setting) standard relating to whatever it is that I'm doing. That standard never changed regardless of whether I was feeling sick or well, or whether I felt fatigued or had boundless energy. For me, my best was not a relative standard but a fixed one. And because of that, a lot of self-blame, regret and a whole host of other negative emotions welled up within me time and again. So a big thank you to Don Miguel Ruiz for giving me my "Aha!" moment and making me a lot more relaxed and happier.