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Even if I didn't have the money?

So, prices are going up across the board. And unless you’re a civil servant, I haven’t heard anything about commensurate increases in salaries. And when I received this flyer from the fine people at Lexus, who will have you believe that their Toyota can be yours for a hundred thousand dollars more just because it sports a different badge, I greeted it with disgust because I don’t like having salt rubbed into my wounds because too much sodium is bad for you.

But if you’re looking for a bargain this festive season, we found one.

Last week, we drove into an SPC petrol station to feed the car on her $2 per litre diet, and discovered that Snapples were going for $1 a bottle, which is like, dirt cheap, because you can get it at $1.50 or more in other non-service places, and around $3 at cafes.

So we bought 2 dozen bottles of the stuff “made from the best stuff on Earth”, and we were very happy to not only increase our sugar intake, but to add to our wealth of very useful general knowledge.

Snippets of trivia called “Real Facts” can be found on the inside of Snapple bottle caps.

Off the top of my head, I can tell you that hummingbirds’ hearts beat 1400 times a minute (Real Fact #127), and that there are more caribou than people in Alaska (Real Fact #81).

Hungry for more knowledge, I drove into another SPC a couple of days ago and asked the cashier whether Snapples were still going for $1 a bottle. The auntie looked aghast and said, “No! They are $3 for 3 bottles!”

Slightly taken aback, I took several seconds to recalculate how much two dozen bottles would cost me with the change in price, and I was very happy to discover that despite the price change, they were still $24 for 24 bottles.

I’ve since learned that flamingoes are pink because they eat shrimp, and that I needn’t have bought so many bottles just for the trivia because the Snapple “Real Facts” can be found on their website.

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Greens are good for you

What kind of leaf?

It’s confirmed. They’re good for you.

Because “women all over the world live healthier and longer lives”, The Straits Times tells us we should “take a leaf” from our wives.

So I told my wife and she said, “Can you be more specific? What kind of leaf? Lettuce? Cabbage? Basil? Banana? Palm?”

Maybe there’s a leaf that might stop one from mangling idioms.

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The weekend worrier

Spat out

I had an unpleasant experience on Saturday over coffee at the Hilton. We had ordered some of the hotel’s world-famous cheesecakes to go with our coffee, and were settling down nicely to gorge ourselves further after a heavy lunch.

Coffee was served with some complimentary choux pastry. Being the greedy person that I am, I stuffed an entire pastry into my mouth. There was something wrong with the taste of the pastry. So I said to Naomi “there’s something wrong with the pastry”, to warn her that there was something wrong with the pastry. But of course, I continued chewing into the pastry, and very cleverly swallowing some, hoping for the taste to go away.

It didn’t, so I said again, “there’s something wrong with the pastry”.

I must have said it three times more before my brain finally decided, “there’s something really wrong with the pastry”, and I spat what remained of the pastry onto my saucer, nursing a residual burning sensation in my mouth.

A waitress came over and I mumbled to her, “there’s something wrong with the pastry”, and added, “there’s a burning sensation”, “maybe there’s detergent or insecticide in it”, “I think you should get someone to taste it”.

The waitress said something to the effect of “I’ll get you some other pastry”, or more likely, as is the Singaporean way of saying it, “I change the pastry for you”, before taking the remaining pastries on the plate back to the bar counter, where she sniffed at it, opened the box from whence the pastry came, and took the box of pastries to some backroom.

An eternity must have passed before someone who looked like a manager (I forget his Ang Moh name on his nametag) came over to ask how things were, and I explained all over again about the something wrong with the pastry, and he went over to the bar counter, and from where we were sitting, looked like he was interrogating the waitress and bar staff about the errant pastries. The box that contained the pastries was produced out of the backroom, but which was now empty.

From where we were sitting, it looked like he was asking where the rest of it was, and how come they threw it away without finding out what was wrong with the pastry.

A second eternity passed before the manager came back with a bottle of liquid which he explained could’ve been the cause of the taste. It was some sort of flavouring he said the chef could’ve used in the pastry. We had a spoonful of it and decided it didn’t have the same burning sensation we had come to know.

Over my repeated muttering that “there’s something wrong with the pastry”, Naomi finally and very sensibly said to the manager, “well, there’s not much you can do about it now that you don’t have the pastry to taste it”, and we left it at that, even though I was quite upset that the waitress didn’t do anything about our complaint.

Or so we thought.

The waitress came over again with a plate of a different type of pastry, only for me to say something agitatedly to the effect of, “I don’t want any more pastry or cookie, I want to know what’s wrong with the pastry I ate!”

But unless they took the trouble to sift through the freshly strewn trash where they must have dumped the pastry, there really was nothing we could do but accept the apologies of the very industrious manager (he sniffed the box that contained the pastry and looked like he was going to lick it) and his waiving of the price of the cheesecakes which we understandably didn’t eat any more of.

And wait. To see if I had poisoned myself with the something wrong pastry.

It’s Tuesday, and I haven’t felt any worse yet. I might just rise from this chair and walk into a wall, but it doesn’t look likely to be caused by the pastry now.

If there’s anything to take out of this experience, it was the manager’s sense of urgency and immediate tackling of the matter. If there had been pastries left in the box, I have no doubt he would have taken a taste of it, putting himself at risk of becoming the mumbling idiot that I was.

Even after it was quite clear that there wasn’t much that could be done except wait to see if I had been poisoned, he came back to our table several times to apologise, and even mentioned that he understood that we would’ve lost our appetites for the two slices of world-famous cheesecake we ordered.

If only all the other staff were as diligent as he was, we might have been closer to resolving the mystery of the something wrong pastry.

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Introducing Mac

Jake is a handful at times, and he loves swiping things off any table or shelf. He’s also very vocal when he wants to be let into or out of a room, or when he tries to persuade either of us to give him a few extra bites of cat food.

Other than that, he’s really quite well adjusted, and has been a part of our lives for the past two years now. He’s generally happy, except when Naomi and I spent an inordinate stretch of time at the hospital. He got so stressed he pooped all over the sofa. You don’t often see a cat with separation anxiety, but Jake is it.

Naomi loves dogs, and we thought long and hard about adding a dog to our household. The canid candidate would have to get along with Jake. And whether or not Jake took to the new member was another issue we had to tackle. Cats are a different kettle of fish from dogs, as they say, although that’s an idiom/phrase that makes things a lot more complicated.

Therefore, a puppy young enough to train to be sociable with cats was the sensible approach, and we went to the usual pet shops and pet farms where I cuddled every cute puppy and said, “yes, I like him/her”. Thankfully, Naomi, being the experienced former dog owner, said, “you say that with every puppy we see, how like that?”

Scouring the classifieds was next, but texting different owners giving up their dogs for adoption was a challenge. Many didn’t respond, and several that did replied that their charges had already been adopted because the listing was put up several months ago, idiot.

We also made a trip to the SPCA, where we met Summer, a beautiful boxer who unfortunately needed a house with a yard for her to romp around in. We would’ve adopted her if we had a suitable abode. We consulted the people at the SPCA for a “dog that got along with cats and who would be able to live in a condo”, but unfortunately no suitable candidates were found.

Then came a flurry of SMS exchanged with someone who had a year old Jack Russell Terrier up for adoption, and who seemed keen on finding a suitable family for the pooch, who was described as having a quiet temperament – i.e. less frisky than your average Jack Russell Terrier.

We made an appointment for him to bring the dog over to see how he took to Jake. As expected, the dog, Mac, took an instant liking to the quick moving furry animal, and whined till kingdom come when he wasn’t allowed to play with Jake.

Jake was simply not impressed.

A week later, we made another appointment for Mac to come over and have a trial stay, and he came over with his kit of collar, medicine, chew toys and some dog food.

Three weeks after that, he’s still here, and has made himself right at home. In fact, a little too at home for our liking, as he’s not 100% house trained.

As for getting along with Jake, let’s just say it’s not exactly like a house on fire. Jake has stopped meowing his “this is my turf” meow, but isn’t impressed at Mac’s constant and persistent efforts to try to start a family with him.

But Jake does get his own back by taunting Mac, running past him and into areas of our apartment that he knows Mac can’t get to, either because it’s too high (bookshelf), or it’s a demarcated no-go area (kitchen/tv room). He also likes swatting Mac and swiping things off the table onto the hapless dog, like car keys and pens. I find it funny, but we really have to stop encouraging him, because it’ll be glasses and other larger breakables next.

We have a sunken-in living room which is three steps down from the main hallway, and when Mac and I come back from walkies, we usually find Jake hiding there, just below the top step of the main hallway, with only his ears and a little of his eyes visible, ready to pounce on an unsuspecting Mac.

Jake has also successfully attempted pawing pieces of Mac’s food (while Mac’s eating) into his own mouth. We’re not too optimistic about seeing both boys cuddling up to each other, but that’ll do. Mac has a couple of scratches on his paw and face to remind him (albeit temporarily) to take it one step at a time with their friendship.

It takes a bit of effort getting to know a dog you’re adopting, especially if he isn’t a puppy anymore. Mac was born a little over a year ago in a puppy farm, and apparently, he had fallen off from his cage and was sporting a limp. The puppy farmer then told Mac’s guardian that because of his limp, he wasn’t for sale but was available for adoption. Mac was then taken home and passed on to another family, where he lived for several months before a (human) member of his family got pregnant, and for that reason, they had to give Mac back up to his original adopter, with whom he lived for several more months before we contacted them.

It’s been a great learning experience for me these past weeks. Naomi is like the dog whisperer, which makes it a lot easier to understand Mac and how to integrate him into our family.

Mac’s naughtier than his apparent docile nature leads you to think, and so far, it’s also been a challenge trying to make sure he doesn’t think we’ve renamed him, “NO NO BAD DOG”, as a book we’ve been reading tells us that we might just be inadvertently doing.

Like most Jack Russells, he can get a bit boisterous with play, although we’ve found that when you chuck a towel or blanket over his head, you can pretty much deactivate him as he falls asleep almost immediately. Save for the time of course when I chucked a towel over his head and went out the bedroom, only for him to walk off the edge of the bed and onto the floor, and into the wall.

So much fun. We might just watch less tv.

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