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Friday, March 28, 2008

MISHKA IS IN A FOUL MOOD

Mishka has been in a foul mood since Wednesday evening...

See he was sent in to the vet's on Monday night to be neutered. The surgery was carried out on Tuesday morning and he stayed at the vet's an extra day just in case... well mainly cause I don't know how to care for a cat that well yet....

Anyway I brought him home on Wednesday evening and he was thrilled to be back. He was really clingy and needy and everything. But then after like an hour, he decided to be all grouchy and sulky...

He slept most of Thursday and wasn't very playful... And this morning he decided to give Grandma several nips which he never does... Is this normal cat behaviour???

Hmm... I hope he gets back to his normal playful self soon...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

INFURIATING DAY AT THE CUSTOMS OFFICE

I have just had an infuriating day at the Customs Office...

So why was I there in the first place? Well my little company Axtra Synergy is liable for service tax this year under the new rulings. So we registered for the Service Tax License early January, and we literally received the notice for payment this week! And guess when the payment was due? Tomorrow...

But never mind that cause making the payment was not the real issue. The issue was how to make the payment. There were no instructions whatsoever on the documents that they sent. There were several forms in the pack, but we had no clue as to which bits of information were supposed to go where. We could only make smart guesses.

There was also no information on whom the cheque should be made out to...

(I only found out when I was at the Customs Office that the cheques should be made payable to Ketua Pengarah Kastam Negeri Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur - thankfully I have very small and neat handwriting which enabled me to fit the entire thing on the cheque albeit with some difficulty!)

Anyway I called their so called Hotline and this lady told me that I had better go to the Customs Office in Kelana Jaya asap cause if it's due tomorrow, i.e. 28th I had better not risk sending it by post. Why? Becaause if it arrives even if it arrives on time at the Customs Office but is late being sent to the payment counters (i.e. by their own internal mailing ppl) there will be a penalty. She also told me that I can go to the information counter and they will advise me how I should fill up the forms.

So we arrived at the Customs Office, and there were like a million people waiting. I went to what looked like the Information Counter - cause there was no information counter at the collections department - and the chap was not helpful at all. Just told me that I had to fill in the details and compute the 5% tax - like I didn't know that??? Except that the columns in the form had various definitions and I wasn't sure if I had to fill in the figures pre-tax or post-tax etc...

So anyway I just filled it in the best I could, and went to the payment counter when they finally called my ticket number. Told them I wasn't sure if it was done right. The lady looked at it - didn't say whether it was right or wrong, and then told me that I needed to submit 2 sets of declarations for Service Tax - 1 for the taxable period from 6 Jan - 29 Feb, and the other for the taxable period 1 Jan - 5 Jan.

I was like what??? Apparently this was because our license was only approved on the 6th Jan and therefore the official taxable period was 6 Jan to 29 Feb, but since we're liable for service tax from 1 Jan we had declare that too.

So then I told her that from 1 Jan to 29 Feb, we only had one invoice anyway dated 18 Feb. So I asked if I still needed to fill up a declaration for the first 5 days of the year??? And apparently I had to...

So I had to go away and fill up another form, and then when I went back to the counter - the lady who served me earlier (and was now standing by her chair) saw me but ignored me for a full 5 minutes and then walked away.

I stood there for a further 5 minutes before the person manning the next counter asked me what I wanted? I told her that the first lady had asked me to come back after filling up the second form which took me all of 2 minutes, but she had gone away. And apparently it was her lunch break???

I was about to lose my cool at this point. So why didn't she tell me she was going to lunch??? And how long was I supposed to stand there for??? Argh!

Anyway then the second lady decided to "process" my payment - well all she did was stamp my documents with full force that I was sure the table was going to give way. So anyway I stood there waiting for her to give me a receipt or something. But nothing happened.

After another 5 minutes she then asked me if I needed a receipt??? I could not believe she asked me that... If I am going to be penalised for not paying or for paying the damned service tax late wouldn't I definitely WANT a receipt???

So I said yes - to which she replied then I will have to wait. And when I asked how long? She said a FEW HOURS??? I mean how long can it take to print a receipt... I was fuming at this point. She realised that and then told me that she could post it to me... So I made her stamp some of my papers with an acknowledged receipt thing...and now I am just hoping for the best.

I have no idea how our stupid government offices work. They all seem to be either really stupid or they just can't be bothered to do their work properly.

Have any of you had any dealings with the Customs Office??? Is it really that bad or is it just my bad luck that I had idiots manning the counters today???

Am really hoping that with a stronger opposition in the Federal Government, things will improve! Argh!

Monday, March 24, 2008

MY INTERNET IS BROKEN

Hi all...

It's been abit hard to blog this past week cause our internet seems to be broken! Can't seem to figure out what's wrong with it! Argh! Am hoping to get it fixed soon...

In the mean time, Ferrari's Kimi won the Malaysian GP yesterday and we were there to catch all the action... will post photos etc as soon as we can... :)

Natasha

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

NOSE BIDETS??? WHAT???

Okay okay, I know this is yet another un-doggie related post.... but I just had to post this.

How many of you suffer from sinus problems? Well I used to suffer from it really bad... but it has cleared quite a bit when I started practising something called HydroTheraphy - i.e. you down 1.5 litres of water as soon as you get out of bed (no food or other drinks for an hour after that), and still take your normal 8 glasses of water or more...

Found that my sinuses improved by leaps and bounds. However I still get clogged noses and headaches everynow and again if I am exposed to severe dust or smoke.

And last weekend, Doug and I were at a pub and he was smoking away - so my sinuses got completely clogged. I could hardly breathe and had a severe headache!

I didn't want to use my nasal sprays cause I have a tendency to get hooked on those - yes there are steroids in there. And once you start using the nasal sprays it's really hard to stop.

Anyway about 2 weeks ago I watched Oprah, and Dr Oz was on it. He recommended something called a Neti-Pot or a nose bidet. Where you basically pour water into one nostril and it comes out the other nostril. Apparently it does wonders for the sinuses. I was sceptical, but I decided to try it cause I was feeling really nasty... and guess what??? It worked!!!

My nose cleared - not 100%, but I would say about 70-80% and I could breathe!!! So I figured I should share this with everyone... this is a safe home remedy that is effective!!! :)

Just for the record - I used a gravy bowl and it worked as well as the Neti-Pot... So for those of you who are considering trying it, you don't actually have to go out and buy one specifically. Just get something similar in your house and fill it with slightly warm water and a bit of salt... :)

********************

Here's what Dr Oz has to say:
Extracted from Oprah.Com

Before you try pouring water into your nostril, Dr. Oz offers some neti pot pointers. First, mix warm water with a quarter teaspoon of non-iodized salt.

"You never want to wash [human] tissue without having saltwater in them," he says. "Your own cells like it more."

Dr. Oz says washing out your sinuses with regular water can be irritating. Cold water may make you feel like you're drowning in a pool.

Amy, an audience member who suffers from sinusitis, demonstrated the proper way to use a neti pot.

"I thought it would feel like drowning, but it feels good," she says.It may look strange, but Dr. Oz says this treatment may be more effective than medication.

"The [ear, nose and throat] doctors who are specialists in this area will often say this is a better treatment than a lot of the other drugs that we try to offer folks, because it mechanically cleans out the problem," he says.

Dr. Oz says the device can help clear mucus from your sinuses using warm saltwater. "It's actually filling up those little nooks and crannies that you have and allowing your body to evacuate that stuff so you can actually begin to function normally," he says.

Since then, Amy says she and her husband have used the neti pot every day! "It is fantastic. I have not had one sinus headache. I haven't spent any money on any cold products," she says.

Rachel, a member of the Harpo staff, benefited from the neti pot, too! "It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that it's been life-changing for me," she says. Rachel is a lifelong allergy sufferer, but since she began using the neti pot, her symptoms have eased up. "I can breathe at night. I'm not blowing my nose, you know, 30 times a day, which is my normal state of being for the last couple years," she says. "So thank you, Dr. Oz, because it was really a huge change for me and I'm very happy."

Monday, March 17, 2008

MORE YUMMY DOGGIE SNACKS

I made more delicious and healthy doggies snacks for the kids over the weekend. This time it's crunchy chicken treats... All you need is fresh chicken meat. Cut them up into bite size or smaller if using as treats/rewards for training. Mix well with a few drops of sesame seed oil. Put in oven and bake for 15 minutes... turn over and bake for another 15 minutes till golden brown and crunchy! try it, your doggies will love you for it....

LUCKY...

Thought this picture of Lucky was so cute...

Friday, March 14, 2008

RIZ KHAN INTERVIEW WITH ANWAR IBRAHIM & LIM KIT SIANG

Riz Khan - Malaysian Election Tsunami - 12 March 2008


And click here to find out what really happened to Anwar in prison...

LIVER & OATMEAL COOKIES fFOR DOGGIES

I have been meaning to bake doggie cookies / snacks for Cleo and gang for ages... But since I didn't have an oven although I moved to this house over 2 years ago, I haven't been able to. I have been instead making pan-fried liver treats which they love - but no cookies.

Finally I got a mini toaster oven which arrived yesterday in the mail. So I got down to work asap! I made the kids yummy liver and oatmeal cookies...

Grandma putting the cookie mixture on the baking tray



Lucky trying to give Grandma a hand...



The finished product - hmmm the shapes could be more appealing... but not a bad job considering it's only a mini toaster oven. Will probably get like a cookie cutter or something for next time...



A happy and contented Cleo after wolfing down several cookies...

Right if any of you are interested in making these yummy but healthy cookies - (it's much better to make your own cause then you know exactly what goes into it and there are no artificial preservatives, colouring or flavourings), here's the recipe! It's really easy!!! try it...

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped or puried chicken liver

1 cup white flour

2 cups Quaker Oats

1/2 cup chicken stock (no salt please)

1 egg

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together until you get a thick consistency.

Lightly grease a baking tray with butter or vegetable oil

Drop mixture onto baking tray

Bake for 15 minutes at 160-180 degrees C or until brown and cripy.

Cool biscuits before storing in airtight jar. Keeps for about a week without refrigeration.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR ALL...

Malaysian across the country would have been glued to the tele, internet, papers etc to glean as much information on the political developments since the election results last Sunday...

I am really pleased that the opposition did as well as they did. Don't get me wrong I do not fully agree with everything that they say or do, but I do believe that our present government needed a wake up call!!! Mainly because the way the country has been governed over the past years has left much to be desired.

My main personal gripe has always been the NEP (New Economic Policy), where affirmative action in various forms have been handed out to the Malays on a silver platter. While I think the "objectives" of the NEP are noble, I also seriously question the validity of it and the manner in which it has been implemented.

As such I am shocked and disgusted that the ruling Federal Government is condemning the new Alternative Government for abolishing the current NEP and proposing a new affirmative action policy that is not race biased. Aren’t all races citizens of Malaysia? Therefore shouldn’t all races enjoy the same benefits from the country?

Please note that this post is in no way anti-Malay cause some of my best friends are Malays, plus I was brought up and cared for by a Malay nanny. It is just stating how unfair things can be because of a race based policy and that a race based policy can in fact cause unecessary racial tensions.

I personally have been severely marginalised by the NEP. I was not admitted into any of the 5 local universities (back in the 90s) because of the race quota system.

The fact that I obtained 9 distinctions for SPM (equivalent to O levels - and at the time the max no of subjects one could take was 10) was irrelevant while my Malay friends with Grade 2 and some even with a Grade 3 could get in.

The fact that my parents could not even afford to send me to a local private college let alone to a foreign university on their miserable income was also irrelevant; while some of my very rich Malay friends with appaling results not only got admitted to the best local university for the best courses – they were also given handsome government scholarships to boot!!!

As a result I decided to take A Levels much to my parents dismay cause that meant going to a private college which they could not afford. Luckily I managed to win a scholarship from the college, which saved my parents from going into debt. Then when I obtained straight As for the A Level exams, I again applied to the local varsities and local scholarships - and again I failed.

I then decided to take another gamble and I applied to universities in the UK. Lo and behold I was accepted into all 6 universities I applied to, including Cambridge University and the London School of Economics – some of the most prestigious schools in the world…

Now wasn’t that strange??? The best universities in the world thought my grades were good enough, yet my grades weren’t good enough for local universities???

I was pretty downcast at the time cause I knew that there was no way I could go to the UK simply because my parent’s meager earnings could barely make ends meet at home… so how were they going to pay for me to go abroad???

Anyway I once again was really lucky cause I managed to win another scholarship from the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust (in collaboration with Sime Darby) to read Land Economy at Cambridge University. (Note that all the local scholarships that I applied for did not come through because once again there was a quota system). And that was how I managed to get my tertiary education. With no help from the government…

So tell me, don’t you think that a policy for affirmative action should be one that is not race biased? Shouldn’t the policy be one that caters to all citizens that are poor? Shouldn’t education be provided for everyone based on merit at the very least???

Other than the education policy, there are many other areas which the NEP provides unfair discrimination. Another prime example would be the fact that the Malays would get a 10% discount when purchasing property. I wouldn’t complain quite so much if the discount was only provided for low cost or even medium cost housing – i.e. for those who really needed the discount because otherwise they would have nowhere to live. But tell me how is a 10% discount for houses costing millions justified???

Therefore I laud the Alternative Government for taking a firm stand in abolishing the current race biased NEP. And I laud the Alternative Government for taking initiatives to ensure that affirmative action is for the poor and the marginalized across the board regardless of race.

For more information on what the Alternative Government has to offer, please visit
http://www.anwaribrahim.com/
http://www.malaysiakini.com/
http://www.suarakeadilan.com/

You can also watch loads of videos on YouTube where Anwar Ibrahim explains what the Alternative Government wants for the betterment of the country.

Some interesting videos from Al Jazeera:

The Inside Story: Chaneg for Malaysia Part 1 - 10 March 2008


The Inside Story: Change for Malaysia Part 2 - 10 March 2008





Plus watch DAP leader Lim Kit Siang and PKR defacto Leader Anwar Ibrahim on Al Jazeera English (CH 513) tonight (13/3) at 6pm

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

GHOSTLY CLEO...

This was a really weird picture... not quite sure how it happened...

Monday, March 10, 2008

THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN!

Poster courtesy of Mob's Crib

The results of the Malaysian 2008 Elections were unprecedented. As mentioned in my previous post, the opposition coalition have taken 5 state governments and denied the Barisan Nasional coalition 2/3 majority in Parliament. This election was very different from all other elections where people no longer voted based on race, but on ideology and principles.

I believe that the people have finally spoken up for that they believe in. I now hope that those who have been elected will prove that the people's choice was the right one. Well done PKR, DAP and PAS...

For more information on the elections, please visit www.malaysiakini.com

Sunday, March 09, 2008

ELECTION 2008 RESULTS!

The elections are over, and the results speak for themselves. Barisan Nasional lost their 2/3 majority, and the opposition coalition will form new state governments in 5 states! This result is un-precendented!!!

And congratulations to Jeff Ooi, a fellow blogger who has now made it to Parliament!!! :)

Extracted from Malaysiakini

PM: ‘We’ve lost, we’ve lost’ - 4.12am

These were the only words which Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi could muster when quizzed on the ruling coalition’s shocking defeat in five states.Abdullah was posed with the question during a press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur. He was accompanied by his wife Jeanne, deputy Najib Abdul Razak and other BN leaders. The prime minister added that he will make a media statement after analysing the results in detail.

Anwar ushers in ‘a new dawn for Malaysia’ - 4.08am

A triumphant PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim described the victory of the opposition parties in five states and its breach of Barisan Nasional’s two-third majority in Parliament as “a defining moment” in the history of the nation and the opening of “a new chapter.” “The people have voted decisively for a new era where the government must be truly inclusive and recognises that all Malaysians, regardless of race, culture or race are a nation of one,” he told a packed press conference at his residence in Segambut, Kuala Lumpur.“The people have expressed in no uncertain terms that they want accountability, transparency, and the rule of law.”

Friday, March 07, 2008

VOTE WISELY...

Poster courtesy of Mob's Crib

Elections are on tomorrow - 8 March 2008

I sincerely hope that all of you will exercise your rights...

Vote wisely... this affects your future...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

NEW KIBBLE FOR THE KIDS

Hi all...

Just bought a new bag of kibble - LAMADERM - for the kids... And it's a cruelty free product at that too...

Some of you may remember that I was on a drive to use as many cruelty free products as possible some time ago. But one area in which I had real trouble with was with dog kibble... In Malaysia it's really hard to get cruelty free poducts in general and it's even harder to get cruelty free products for pets.

I tried a few before like Addiction among others... the kids hated Addiction. And I don't know if any of you out there are on Addiction, but the kibble tastes really bad!!! And it's also incredibly expensive...

We've tried Lamaderm before but they didn't quite like although it was more palatable compared to Addiction. Yes I tried it...

And then the supplier of Lamaderm (in my area) went out of business. Though having said that I have not seen Lamaderm anywhere else. (Amber - where do you get your supply of Lamaderm?) So we had to go back to BilJac which the kids love, because the quality and taste of BilJac is very good.

But my decision to look for an alternative was due to the fact that my numerous emails to BilJac - enquiring if they were cruelty free - received no response although I know someone from BilJac had been reading my emails.

Anyway I was really pleased to see that my vet had started stocking Lamaderm again. Apparently he's getting it from a new supplier. So fingers crossed the supplier will remain in business... And I'm also hoping that it will help with Lucky's skin condition that seems to flare up every now and then.

Anyway here's some nutritional facts of Adult Lamaderm for Dogs :
ADULT LAMADERM Formula
100% Complete & Balanced for Adult DogsHelps with Food Sensitivities

Some of the common symptoms that may indicate food sensitivities are excessive scratching or itching, hot spots, hair loss, chronic ear infections, or digestive upset or diarrhea. Adult Lamaderm is formulated for dogs sensitive to many of the common food allergens in their diet such as wheat, corn, dairy, poultry, beef, pork, soy or dried yeast.

Natural Life Adult Lamaderm is a single protein and carbohydrate diet containing lamb and brown rice plus chelated minerals and vitamins for complete nutrition and great taste. Recognizing the symptoms and feeding Adult Lamaderm promises good health and plenty of energy for all activities.

Guaranteed Analysis
Crude Protein 22.0% (min)
Crude Fat 10.0% (min)
Crude Fiber 4.0% (max)
Moisture 10.0% (max)
Ash 7.50% (max)
Calcium 1.20% (min)
Phosphorus 1.0% (min)
Copper 13.0 mg/kg
Vitamin A 13,370 IU/kg
Vitamin D 1,340 IU/kg
Vitamin E 136.0 IU/kg
*Omega 3 fatty acids 0.25%(min)
*Omega 6 fatty acids 1.50% (min)

And the best bit is the fact that they only use natural preservatives! :)
Calorie Content: Metabolized Energy (calculated) 3,660 Kcals/kg

Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Ground Grain Sorghum, Poultry Fat (preserved with natural mixed tocopherols, citric acid, and ascorbyl palmitate - a Vitamin C ester), Ground Flax Seeds, Natural Flavors, Linseed Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Potassium Chloride, Dried Kelp, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine,Yucca Schidigera Extract, Natural Antioxidants,Vitamin Supplements (E,A,B2,B12,D3), Niacin, Calcium Ascorbate, Calcium Pantothenate,Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Inositol, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K activity), Folic Acid, Biotin, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Cobalt Proteinate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite, Rosemary Extract.


Other products that we use for the kids that are cruelty free are:
Supplements from Himalaya Herbals
Shampoo from Earthbath - Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

BEAUTY & THE BEAST

I think the pictures say it all... :)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

CLEO THE PINK NOSED LABRADOR

Okay, I know Labradors' noses have a tendency to go pink in the winter months...

But I have no idea why Cleo's nose is turning pink!! I mean she's a labrador in a country where it's summer all year round...

Temperatures don't go below 25 degrees C here!!!

Monday, March 03, 2008

WHAT'S UP?

Lucky & Cleo: We'd much rather be outside than inside...

Saying hello to the neighbours...

Lucky, what are you looking for???

Cleo: This book is so boring.... zzzzz

Sunday, March 02, 2008

LUCKY THE PUPPY



And here are pictures of Lucky when he was a wee pup...

Nuffnang