Thursday, 10 November 2011

Dog Training

Took some time off during lunch yesterday to visit the bookstore, thinking of getting a book on dog training. I browsed through the small collection of dog books which were available and as I repeated the titles to myself, I was mildly amused. "How to speak to your dog", "Communicating with your dog", "Reading your dog's mind", ... these were some of the titles! I felt I could be regarded as a little neurotic trying to learn a 3rd language talking to dogs and mastering dog psychology too.

More ironically, in the 9 years that I have been having a dog, I never read a single book about dog training or dog behaviour. Now that my pet dog is a senior, I am learning to retrain him like a puppy. The truth is it took me a long time to realise that training a dog is not just about "sit", "stay", "no"... essentially obeying basic commands. It is about helping dogs achieve a balanced state of mind (I borrowed that from the Dog Whisperer). Since there is not a "one size fits all" solution, being balanced is the only way to have assurance that dogs can remain calm when confronted with different challenges and situations. With a reliably trained dog, we can then look forward to truly rewarding experience from dog ownership.

In the last 6 months, I spent most of my free evenings training my dog. He is generally nice but had suffered from the "Napoleon Syndrome", i.e. small dog with big ego. We spent half an hour walking everyday, repeatedly performed basic commands such as "sit" and "down", also confronting objects he feared in the past. All these were done to re-establish myself as his "pack leader". Overall, we have had much success with the training, although I have not been able to correct some of his undesirable behaviour. So it is still "work-in-progress" and I think it always will be until I start howling...

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Rationalising a crisis

I have never come so closed to being implicated in a life endangering crisis, other than SARS in 2003. Compared to those days of SARS, I feel greater insecurity and dismay over the current situation in Japan, due to lack of reliable and transparent information.

For a week, devastating news from Japan have monopolised airtime on every TV news channel. The images and photographs published on various media were no more encouraging. As time goes by, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. The sensationalist rhetoric employed in news reporting have impaired truth. I am perplexed in deciding when to stay calm, when to raise an alert, when to summon my family member home even.

Rumours and unverified comments are flying. They are not just foolish but vicious in times of crisis like this. My own family members have circulated the fake SMS purported to be issued by BBC, warning that radiation from Fukushima has spread to other Asian countries. This has stirred up unnecessary fear and panic amongst the family, followed by endless phone calls of inquiry and reassurance. In my mind, the ones who circulated this SMS are no less guilty than the Chinese people who swept the supermarket shelves clean of salt, when they heard rumours that consuming iodised salt reduces the effects of radiation.

I was in Beijing last Thursday when China's salt scare occurred. It happened rather quickly, as rumours started going on in the morning, the supermarkets were already out of salt by noon. My colleagues fretted a little as they could not get a packet or two of the precious salt. But I knew they were half bantering. A taxi driver I spoke to on my way to the airport was really optimistic. I asked if he would be scared to pick up passengers arriving from Japan and he replied not at all. He told me that if they (Chinese) have survived SARS, nothing else can be more fearful. I am not sure if the driver meant every word he said, but I admire his courage and positive attitude just for saying that. So, don't be too quick in passing judgement or criticism, there are people who are still sober amidst the frenzy.

Besides pledging a donation, the next best thing we can do to help the Japanese endure this crisis is to be rational and not spread untrue rumours that will shake someone's confidence. Above all, hope for the worst to be over soon.

In 2008, a Japanese lady walking towards a donation box set up in Meiji Shrine for the Sichuan earthquake. Will kindness be reciprocated by the Chinese in similar manner?

Monday, 7 March 2011


I wish I could speak my mind freely without reservation and explain the intricacy of every matter. But years of professional training have taught me that discretion is necessary for greater good, even at the expense of being misunderstood.

I wish all man are wise enough to see beyond superficiality, to discover the thoughts and considerations behind a decision or action. But man often become foolish and blind once marred by self-interests.

Then it is up to us if we should be aggrieved by the fools.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Harvesting Parsley

The cooler weather in the last few months has done plenty of good to my parsley plant. Although it has survived for 2 years, it hardly thrives like the way it has been lately.

Finally a good time to harvest. And of good amount too! Probably enough to make aglio olio for 2.

March 2009

July 2009

February 2011


I know I should have done better than this. Just one bunch of parsley after 2 years is not exactly thrilling. Let's see what I can do about it.

To be continued...

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Bye bye wisdom! Hi hi dentist!

Egyptian pharaoh, Ramesses the Great died at 90. It was later discovered that Ramesses had severe dental problems, so serious that it could have led to an infection enough to claim his life. During Ramesses's time, dentistry was still unknown. I feel sorry for the unimaginable pain the great pharaoh must have suffered in his later years due to his dental conditions and that he had to live so long while bearing the pain. I wonder how he slept. I was completed defeated by a decaying wisdom tooth just after 3 sleepless nights.

Since my childhood days, I have been extremely afraid of dental procedures as I had a trauma involving the dentist when I was younger. The dental nurse at my primary school was most unsympathetic and insensitive. Not only did she pass contemptuous remarks, my gums were painful and often bleeding profusely during each treatment, as if red was the natural colour of my saliva. To me, one of the happiest thing about leaving school was that I no longer had to undergo mandatory dental treatment arranged by the school.

If the pain was less than excruciating I would not have visited the dentist after not having done so for almost 2 decades. Last Saturday, I turned up at the dental clinic feeling apologetic and remorseful. It often takes one to have gone through an ordeal before feeling sorry not to have gotten the fundamentals correct right from the start. Fortunately, the dentist and dental nurse were most forgiving. They were only interested in alleviating my pain and not criticism. Whether it is the advancement of dentistry techniques or customer service from paying premium prices, I felt safe and unintimidated as I received the dental treatment. I could not have imagine tooth extraction to be painless, but it was. And I did not see a single trace of blood during and after the procedures, not even a blood soaked cotton wool or gauze pad. If I had not been given my extracted tooth as a "souvenir", I would not even believe that it was done.

Now that I have had my wisdom tooth extracted, I feel liberated. Not just from the throbbing pain that had kept me awake for many nights, but from being a coward that I was for decades, after having overcome my phobia of dental treatment. I have still to attend several follow-up sessions with the dentist after this but I am feeling good about it!

Bye bye wisdom