Saturday, October 19, 2013

Maui's new diet

Speaking of the cost to feed pets, Maui's special prescription diet alone costs $40 a week for 12 wet food pouches. Fortunately, the wife found a dry food alternative in KL. This pack of dry kibble also costs about $40 by rough conversion and it should last him weeks. This is the 3kg pack. Next trip up to KL, a 6kg pack is coming back.

The kibble are these flat disc-shaped granules that smell quite nice. The other non-UTI cats in the household would help themselves to Maui's share if he wasn't able to defend his bowl from foreign incursion. Fortunately, he is.

Kasey gave Maui an encouraging health report. His incision is healing nicely, struvite traces in the urine sample were very low and the bladder damage is no longer as extensive as it was a week or so ago. So now the daily dosage of anti-inflammatory is down to 1mg and Maui can look forward to having his Elizabethan collar (a.k.a. lampshade) removed in a couple of days.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Children? Costs? Carrots? A view from C-level

It's neither the costs nor the extrinsic carrots that make people consider whether to have kids or not. Costs are no object if you love your kids. If you have to be rewarded for having them, perhaps you aren't having them for the right reasons.

Above all else, when we become parents, we want to be the best possible parents to our kids. This means we want to provide the best possible chance of survival to our kids, and assure ourselves that our kids can grow up and live long and happy lives.

At our current level of social development, we tend to concentrate our available resources on raising one kid, or at the most two, for replacement sake. The fewer the number of kids sharing resources, the more likely the chance of survival. But that's literally putting all our genetic eggs into one (or two) baskets. The game we are playing is a gamble and the stakes are really high at the level we are playing.

The stakes are raised even higher when resources alone are not enough to secure assurance for the lives of our egg-baskets. We have artificially inflated the stakes even higher by pegging our kids' happiness and survival on personal achievement, evidenced by quality certification and documentation. Nothing less will do. Not for us, not for our kids, and certainly not for society whom we feel is beholden to us to help raise our kids, though how we arrived at this delusion is a mystery.

In a social structure like this, parental love becomes conditional. Parents love their kids when they score straight As, or their love is withheld until they do. Kids who need constant parental love are often made to feel they have to deserve it. Acceptance is gained by having to prove oneself again, and again, and again. Thus, within the household, relationships are strained all round. Given a choice, who would want to live like that?

The stakes aren't so high if you raise pets, though. General maintenance; medical expenses; treats; toys and the like are not cheap, but we spend without thought because we love our pets. Granted, they don't cost as much as raising kids, but that only makes things worse, doesn't it? The dog failed basic obedience; is probably as emo-psycho as any teenager and probably has a few undiagnosed learning disabilities as well, but hey, what the heck, right? Her future isn't dependent on stellar academic records, so we still love her just the same. She's done nothing to make us proud of her, but we still do our best to make her happy, anyway.

If we want more kids (the human kind), we have to make the C grade respectable again. My educational influences taught me that C stands for 'Competent', and that was good enough a benchmark to aim for. Achieving a C does not require kids to work unusually hard nor feel as unhealthily pressured, scared and hopeless as many kids are experiencing now. Aiming at a C allows a kid to develop interests, learn from other less academic sources and become more well-rounded as a person. By having time and space to see the world in all its horrors and wonders, a kid acquires broader perspectives and whatever knowledge is picked up in school falls into a useful context that helps make sense of the often weird and confusing things that happen around us all the time... if only we would look up from our books once in a while, busy as we are chasing an ultimately unappreciated bunch of As

But in our current society, encouraging your kid to aim for a C is the height of irresponsibility when all the other parents are making their kids score As by any means possible. This is not a game any rational person would want to play. And S'poreans are nothing if not rational.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

No yelling at kids. Srsly?

So now a study recommends we don't yell at teenagers because the effect is as bad as hitting them? To be fair, I've not had the urge to yell at a kid, nor hit one for any reason, but then, I'm not a parent of one, either. Hence, it's not my prerogative.

What happens when kids get yelled at? Apparently, they "feel sad" and sometimes "angry". But isn't that the reason why we yelled at them in the first place? To make them feel sad and angry as a consequence of something stupid they did or said. If they're smart, they won't do it again. If they're not, they'll just have to repeatedly keep feeling sad and angry until they become smart. That's how some people learn, sorry.

Yeah, I get the rationale for positive reinforcement for positive action ("more carrot, less stick"), but kids also have to experience negative consequences for negative behaviour because... that's life! Consequences come swiftly and unexpectedly. Very seldom will they arrive after a calm deliberation in which various strategies are weighed and debated before being regretfully meted out. Put one foot out of line, get your head bitten off. When parents snap and lose it, that's the lesson to learn. Once the kids leave the comfort and security of their parents' home, the rest of the world isn't going to treat them much nicer. They'd better get used to that reality fast.

And, anyway, why can't kids feel sad and frustrated? Why would we want to deprive them the right to feel sad and frustrated? A childhood is good only if the kid grows up feeling positive and happy all the time? No wonder the pharmacies are doing so well these days.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Make-up dinner with dog

Thanks to inclement weather, our plans for a morning meet-up with her doggy pals fell through. To make up, we took Tasha to Sun Ray Cafe (again) for dinner.

The menu looks quite different from before. They must be in the middle of re-stocking, or something, as some menu items were unavailable.  Anyway, instead of the lamb chops I settled for, I got a whole stewed lamb shank served with a side of Yorkshire pudding. The meat on the thing! Soft, tender muscle and tendon. See the bone opening? The knife was shaped just narrowly enough to probe all the way in and extract the marrowy goodness. It was all I could do to to stop myself from seizing the bone and gnawing the meat right off it. Not that anyone would mind my lack of decorum, but the sheltie who parked its forepaws on my lap and gazed longingly at me might have benefited from stuff I dropped if I was eating carelessly.

This is the wife's pork chop. A little on the dry side, served atop a bed of caramelized carrots and sweet potatoes. She liked it well enough, but because she doesn't eat fat, she left me the absolute best part of her dish.

And, no, this wasn't the sheltie.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fly, little ones, fly!

And so we mark the end of the formal timetable with a graduation ceremony for the seniors. Three weeks to the first paper of the finals and they're on study leave: finally off on their own to prepare themselves at their own time, at their own pace.

The period of day-long consultations has also begun, the kids booking personal time with us; along with the practice mock exams (yes, for the first time we're introducing mock exams in the plural!) and focused skills clinics (another first!).

In yet another first, I lost a kid to a voluntary "U-turn", i.e., backing out of this year's finals in hopes of obtaining a better result in next year's. This one was a confidence issue and, through no urging from anyone, decided unilaterally to stick around for one more year. I might lose a couple more, now that this one has set the precedent.

There's probably something wrong with society when only meeting extraordinary expectations qualifies as meeting normal expectations.

In other news, I am now the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The unexpected purchase was the result of the S-III suddenly and inexplicably developing power management problems. Just today, something was draining power at a very high rate, causing the battery to overheat. I exchanged batteries and the same thing happened. Both batteries flat in just a couple of hours. Then they refused to charge, though this problem may be an unrelated one. The charging cable (and I tested with three separate ones) did not sit in the port tightly enough to keep charging for long. The warranty has just expired so there'll probably be a bunch of extra charges if it goes for repair, so... new phone time.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Big stretch

She held this position long enough for me to notice, activate my phone cam, zoom, adjust focus and put the shutter timer for two seconds.