Sometimes A Dog Just Has To Go, Unfortunately

Owning a dog in Singapore, as in any city, has to be a real pain in the butt.  It’s something that I intend to never try myself.  If I don’t have a yard I don’t want a dog.  In fact, even with a yard, I wouldn’t want a dog because I’m sure that involves hours of scouting the yard and cleaning up dog turds.  That’s just not something I’m willing to do.  Cats area easier for me.  You just clean the litter box every day.  Sure, it’s still scooping turds but at least I don’t have to play hide-and-seek with them in a lawn.

Anyhow, I often wonder how it is that people in Singapore can maintain dogs.  They have to be walked regularly and the messes they leave are supposed to be cleaned up, though I’ve seen personally that sometimes that’s not the case.  Most dogs are large and the HDBs are small relative to their size.  They can be incredibly noisy when barking at people or noises that they don’t like.  They eat a lot!  Still, I see quite a few people with large dogs in tow walking around the HDB estates and I think it’s great that some people have the patience and love for dogs that allow them to keep up with them and offer them a home.

I also think it’s admirable when someone takes on the responsibility of a grown dog.  That offers a unique set of a challenges.  In addition to the normal routine of caring for the dog, you have to try to integrate the dog into your household.  Dogs have a pack mentality and, having been raised elsewhere, the person they recognize as the Alpha Male won’t be present in your home.  That requires a new person to assert authority and let the pet know who’s in charge.  Personally I have no idea how to go about that, but I do have some experience with what can happen when things go wrong.

I room with a local family that adopted a grown dog.  When the dog arrived everyone was very thrilled to see him.  He was treated well.  Time was taken to play with him and walk him.  He wasn’t scolded when doing something wrong.  He was allowed to have fun.  Somehow, things went bad.  The dog became overly aggressive not only towards people outside the house, but towards people inside the house as well.

After a while, the family stopped walking the dog.  I don’t know the full story behind that, because it wasn’t any of my business, but given the later track record I imagine it’s because he was prone to trying to attack unfamiliar people.  He was so bad about trying to attack outsiders that the front door had to be kept closed because he would stick his head through the front gate and try to get at the people walking by.  Instead, they would keep him in his kennel until he used a tray for his business and then he was allowed out to run through the house.

Later, he started going after people in the house as well.  It seemed to me that as long as you let him do whatever he wanted, things were fine, but the moment you tried to shoo him away, or take something from him that you didn’t want him to chew on, he would attack rather than comply.  Some of you may remember my post where he attacked me and bit my arm for trying to take a work shirt away from him that I didn’t want chewed to shreds.  I wasn’t the only one that had this experience with him.

His behavior became more and more … touchy… I guess you’d call it.  He would glare at people as they walked by in an evil way that gave me the creeps coming from a dog.  Eventually it got to the point that no one wanted to closely interact with him for fear of being bitten.  It was even a harrowing experience walking past his kennel at night to get to the trash chute.  He had to be kept in the kennel at night or he would urinate and defecate all over the house.  I wound up trying to avoid him as much as possible.  I didn’t really want anything to do with him before, and I certainly didn’t after he bit my arm.  I told him, “[Dog], we can’t be friends anymore.  I’m afraid our relationship is over.”

So, in the end he made himself into a menace, a threat to health and safety.  There’s nothing fun about having an animal in your house that is more likely to bite you unexpectedly than not.  There’s also nothing fun about getting to know an animal and then having to send it away because it couldn’t integrate properly into your household.  Despite his rather aggressive personality, I guess I’d gotten used to him being around.  The house seems quiet without him here.

If you’re wondering, the dog was picked up by the SPCA.  I came home one day and was alerted by the maid as to what had happened.  Even though I really don’t like the dog, I’m sort of glad I gave him an ice cube the day before he was hauled away.  I don’t know why but he really liked ice cubes and would come to the kitchen whenever he heard the rattle of the ice tray.

Hopefully someone will find him there and have better luck with him.  If not, I hate to think of the alternative, but I suppose there was little choice.  How can you, in good conscience, give away an aggressive animal to another person, since it may harm them?

Avatar Used To Justify The Belief That 9/11 Attacks in NYC Were Staged

“In September 2001, the World Trade Centre was attacked allegedly by terrorists. I am not sure now that Muslim terrorists carried out these attacks. There is strong evidence that the attacks were staged. If they can make Avatar, they can make anything,” said Dr Mahathir during his speech at the General Conference for the Support of Al-Quds here. Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

For those of you that don’t know, Dr Mahathir was the Prime Minister of Malaysia from 16 July 1981 to 31 October 2003. He gave this statement, and others that will be in this entry, on January 20th, 2010.

Now that you have some background on this guy, let’s dive right into the heart of the matter. This guy is either senile, crazy, or both, but he’s most obviously a racist and should no longer be allowed to get near a reporter or microphone. How the hell can you say that because the US can make a 3D movie, we were capable of staging the September 11th attacks that killed around 3000 people? It’s absurd. Guess what, Dr Mahathir? Those holes in the ground in NYC aren’t special effects. They’re real. The people that died weren’t extras that shared a beer and laughed about the film later. They were real too. And they’re dead. Al’Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. The last time I checked, Osama Bin Laden wasn’t the Commander in Chief.

And, as if this weren’t enough, he went on to make plenty of off-color comments about the Jewish people and Israel.

“The Jews had always been a problem in European countries. They had to be confined to ghettoes and periodically massacred. But still they remained, they thrived and they held whole governments to ransom.

“Even after their massacre by the Nazis of Germany, they survived to continue to be a source of even greater problems for the world. The Holocaust failed as a final solution,” said the outspoken Malaysian leader who was noted for his anti-Western and anti-Zionist stand while in power for 22 years, until October 2003.

Nice job projecting your racist views about Jews onto the entire European population. He seems to imply here that all Europeans wanted to get rid of the Jews all along and that, given the opportunity, would have sanctioned their mass extermination. I must have missed that page in my history book, and I certainly don’t recall World War II playing out quite that way.

The only sensible thing to come out of his mouth was what he had to say about Obama:

“Well, I am a bit disappointed because so far none of his promises have been kept. He promised to get out from Afghanistan but he ended up sending more troops there instead. He promised to close down Guantanamo but he has not closed down Guantanamo. Even other things he has not been able to do.

“It is quite easy to promise during election time but you know there are forces in the United States which prevents the president from doing some things. One of the forces is the Jewish lobby, IPAC,” he said.

I wonder why he went easy on him? It might be because he feels like Obama is a fellow Muslim being oppressed by supposed Jewish powers in Washington.  This guy’s paranoia runs deep.

There should come a point in all of our lives, famous politician, rock star, or whatever, where we realize that we’re no longer competent to speak to the public. If we can’t see it in ourselves, someone should tell us, because obviously Dr Mahathir’s time has long since come and gone.

When Dogs Go Wild: A Singapore Misadventure

The afternoon was pretty much like any other.  I was getting ready to go out to dinner when I realized that I needed to wash a load of laundry.  So, I went down to the laundry area with my basket, sorted the clothes into piles, put in a load and started it up.  When I turned around to put everything else back into the basket I noticed the dog trying to chew on a piece of my wife’s clothing.

So, this is where things got a bit ugly.  It was a bit shocking too, since it was so unexpected and happened so fast.  I picked up the end that was sticking out of his mouth and gave it a little tug, but he wasn’t letting go.  I told him, “Let go!” and gave another little tug.  Then he growled and before I realized what was going on, the dog had let go and had clamped down on my arm.  I yelled, partially in pain and partially in surprise and gave a yank to get free of him.  His bite was brutally hard and as I got my arm free I gave him a good solid whack to get him away from me.

Then I was looking down at my disaster of an arm.  If you look closely you can see the imprints of his teeth towards the left of the obviously broken skin.

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The maid rushed out and quickly hustled the dog into its kennel and then looked at my arm.  She insisted that I should go see a doctor and called the homeowner.  After hearing what happened, the homeowner also insisted I go.  I was a bit reluctant, and my stomach had been growling just previous to this incident, so I washed the wound and put some alcohol on it and got something to eat while waiting to hear from my wife.  After my wife heard what happened she told me to stop being hardheaded and just see the doctor.  So… I complied.

The polyclinic in Pasir Ris near our place was closed, as it was about 6 PM, so my wife suggested we meet in Tampines and go to a polyclinic there. Unfortunately I wasn’t paying much attention and got on the right bus, but going in the wrong direction.  I hopped on the 81 all ready to go and then after about 20 minutes I realized I was in Serangoon instead of Tampines.

After switching buses and getting a good seat on the upper deck of the 72 heading to Tampines Interchange my iPhone unexpectedly gave me the finger.  Without the usual 20% battery warning it simply shut itself down and told me to plug it in when I tried to restart it.  I could’ve sworn that thing had read at 80% battery before I left the house.  Just not my day.  I felt a bit naked without access to my iPhone and it made it worse that I was holding it in my hand but couldn’t do anything with it.  I considered asking a girl using her laptop if I could plug my phone in, but that would have been a bit ridiculous.  Not to mention I didn’t have the USB cable with me anyway.  Oh iPhone, you’ve spoiled me.

Luckily my wife was waiting right where the bus dropped me off at the interchange, so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time wandering around looking for her in our typical meeting spots.  We made our way to the clinic that’s just across the street from Tampines 1.  It’s called Healthway Tampines Central Clinic.  If any of you guys ever get hurt and you’re in the Tampines area, I really recommend this place.  The staff was all very courteous and warm, especially the doctor, Dr. Vivien Ang.  She made the process a lot more pleasant than it could have been.

I wound up getting the wound cleaned and bandaged.

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Then I got jabbed with a tetanus shot.  Hadn’t had one of those in a while!  I also got some Curam 625 mg antibiotics that look like horse pills.  The things are massive.  I thought I was going to gag on the first one.  I’ll have to start breaking them in half.  I also got some Bactroban mupirocin, which is antibiotic cream.

I was kinda worried about rabies, but the dog is a house dog, not a stray, and looks healthy enough.  I also found out that rabies has been wiped out in Singapore.  The last case was in 1953, before Singapore was even an independent country.  That’s a relief!  Oh, and just as an odd coincidence, that last case of rabies was a human case involving a Caucasian man.

One positive thing I can take away from this is that Singapore’s health care system is very affordable, at the polyclinic level at least.  I have no experience with Singapore’s major hospitals, but my bill was small.  Very small.  Especially when I think about how much the same care would’ve cost me in the US.  We’re talking a difference of hundreds of dollars here.  Most of that would’ve been taxes and surcharges and inflated medication prices.  I know this is off-topic, but I hope that whatever Obama’s doing gets the healthcare industry under control in the US.  If it’s possible to have cheap, quality healthcare in Singapore the same should be true of the US.

This also gave me a deeper appreciation for my cats.  They may be snotty sometimes, or aloof, but they’re also very affectionate, very cute, and they don’t try to gnaw my arm off!

I never was much of a dog person to begin with, though there are some small ones I don’t mind, like the one I saw in Thailand, but now I suppose I like them even less.  I know it’s not right to judge all dogs based on the actions of one dog, but I suppose this last photo can kinda sum up my feelings towards dogs right now:

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Responding To The Fort Hood Tragedy

On Thursday afternoon at around 1 PM CST at Fort Hood, Texas, there was a tragedy involving an Army major opening fire on fellow soldiers. The result was that 12 soldiers died and 28 were wounded. I can relate to this incident because I spent 8 years in the US Army. I don’t have a degree in Military Science. I was just a soldier, a Sergeant, but something like this really hits home for me, because I spent 8 years of my life living through the Army experience. It wasn’t all good, but it wasn’t all bad either, and what I miss most about it is the people. And, the people are who suffered in this tragedy, so after reading the news articles and watching some of the videos, I can’t help but wonder what happened. I didn’t get along with everyone I served with. In fact, I had a serious dislike for some of those bastards, but there was never a day where I’d have chosen an outsider over another soldier, for whatever reason. It may sound cheesy, or like some line from a movie, but you do form a bond with each other and on some level you feel like you belong.

Most of the reports indicate that the shooting took place in the Soldier Readiness Center on Fort Hood. Just to clarify what that means, it’s a place where soldiers go to verify paperwork and ensure medical readiness prior to and after deploying. I’ve been through one on two occasions. I can’t remember every step, but there are medical checks including verifying whether or not you’re current on vaccinations, audiograms, and getting your eyes checked, as well as paperwork checks to make sure your last will and testament are complete and up to date. You can also have powers-of-attorney made to allow family members to handle your business for you while you’re gone. Typically, whole units at a time, and usually more, will go through these checks at once, for the sake of ensuring it gets done and everyone gets processed. It’s a really busy place with a lot of ‘stations’. It’s crowded, chaotic, and I can very easily see an incident happening in one area of an SRC without the rest of the poeople there being immediately aware.

The shooter in this incident, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was a mental health professional, whose job was to help soldiers returning from deployments deal with post traumatic stress syndrome. Every day he listened to soldiers tell him about their troubles, about the things they’d done and seen, and about how they couldn’t adjust to ‘regular’ life again. This is a pretty serious issue in the Army. The first time I came back from a deployment, when I was returning from Iraq, there wasn’t any sort of training about dealing with these kinds of issues. As the war dragged on, though, the Army recognized the problem and addressed it by providing training before and after deployments about PTSD. I distinctly remember watching the videos after my second deployment and thinking they were cheesy, but they addressed a serious problem. In addition to these videos, soldiers who self-reported problems could receive additional therapy and consultation, which is what I assume Major Hasan’s job entailed. With Major Hasan already dealing with a lot of internal struggles about the possibility of having to confront other Muslims in combat, hearing these details daily must have piled on the stress tremendously.

I spent some time in Iraq during 2003, when the initial wave of US troops entered the country. I was in Kuwait when the war started on a training deployment and our unit was pushed forward to provide logistics and repair support. Ya, I wasn’t in a combat unit. I was a supply specialist. Most of my duties involved warehousing operations, logistics convoys and vehicle recovery operations, since I was certified to operate the large forklifts sometimes required to flip over and lift vehicles, or pieces of vehicles onto trailers. I didn’t see much of any combat. I was only fired on once during the time I was there. I did see the results of combat though. It wasn’t pretty. Still, living in the middle of a foreign country where every person you encounter could potentially end your life, going to sleep each night wondering if a mortar would land in your tent and you’d never wake up again… Well, it was stressful. I still think about it sometimes.

I can only imagine the kind of mental problems combat troops come home with. I really felt for those guys. Sometimes they would come through our camp in Bradley Fighting Vehicles or M1 Abrahms tanks, and I would mentally wish them luck as they rolled by. I knew I had it easier than they did. I remember one time I was on guard duty at a checkpoint and a Bradley (if I remember right) stopped and the hatch popped up. The driver offered me 20 bucks for a pack of smokes. The American money we brought with us didn’t mean much out there. I tossed the guy my pack and told him to keep it. It was the least I could do. I never even knew the guy’s name, or whether he’s still alive today. Just the same, some of the chopper pilots running supplies up from Kuwait would give us cartons of cigarettes, because they knew we didn’t have a way to get any. It’s the small things that reminded us that we were all in the same boat, that we were part of a larger family, and we were taking care of each other as best we could.

So, it really disturbed me to find out that a solider, a Major no less, opened fire on fellow soldiers. It’s disgusting to me that soldiers died on a military base in the US, under fire, without a chance to defend themselves because one guy couldn’t handle the pressure. These are people that, for whatever reason, made an oath to defend the country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Who could’ve guessed that the domestic enemy would be one of their own, a person who had been entrusted with the rank of Major and also entrusted with the mental health of soldiers returning from combat. Perhaps it’s unreasonable, but officers, at least those that get promoted to Captain and above, are supposed to be the kind of guys you should emulate. They’re supposed to be the ones who have things under control and set the example for the troops under their command. They’re held to a higher standard. Perhaps that was part of the problem though. Enlisted soldiers or the ranks E-6 (Staff Sergeant) and below are pushed through all of the hoops and are scrutinized carefully. I have no clue, but I assume the same is true for the officer ranks of Captain and below. Once you get above those points, though, you’re golden and are often able to excuse yourself from training or appointments. You get away with more and are therefore more likely to fall through the cracks if you have a problem. I think people forget that they’re still human despite their rank.

The reports I’ve read say that Major Hasan was a Muslim, and that he’d been harassed by other soldiers because of his religion ever after the September 11th incident. They also said that he had tried to leave military service but hadn’t been successful. I really don’t understand that part. What contract had he signed that required him to stay in for 8 years past the time when he first expressed the desire to resign? Some officers have to stay in for a term of four years, to pay back college loans. Beyond that, I believe they can tender their resignation at their convenience, barring the setting of a “stop-loss” just prior to their unit deploying. If this guy was really serious about getting out of the military he had ample time to make it happen. Maybe he thought he could handle it. Maybe he thought he could deal with the occasional taunting. Maybe he thought he’d found a safe spot where he wouldn’t get deployed. Prior to my completing my contract and leaving the military, a lot of folks were very interested in finding out which bases had the lowest deployment rates and then finding ways to get assigned there. Maybe he got comfortable, and then was suddenly presented with orders to be deployed to the Middle East.

I remember when I got deployed to Kuwait the first and second time, and was informed that we would be moving forward to Iraq during the first deployment. You really have no choice but to accept it. You might not want to go, but no one does. You see, when you get orders like that you either go, or you go AWOL. When you go AWOL you can’t work because the IRS will report you to the military and you’ll be picked up by Military Police. When you get orders, you have to suck it up and push forward with the mission until the mission is done. That doesn’t mean you don’t bitch and moan about it along the way, but you don’t go apeshit and kill your buddies either. In short, when you get orders you’re locked in. I was actually extended past my contract date for a deployment. My discharge paperwork reads “extended XXX days for the convenience of the government.” So ya, there’s really no way out, even if your discharge date was close at hand. He was locked in. I imagine he must have tried to fight the deployment, possibly using his rank to try to sway someone into reassigning him elsewhere, but it must have failed, and after failing, he must have felt trapped.

This guy had some serious personal conflicts with the deployment. From what I gather he seems to have been very conflicted about the potential of having to kill other Muslims. It wouldn’t be likely, given that he was a health care professional, but it was possible. Even if he had never pulled the trigger he might have felt as if he were an accomplice to the murder of other Muslims, depending on his view of the ‘rightness’ or legality of the war. Feeling trapped, feeling conflicted about killing other Muslims, and feeling afraid of what might happened based on the stories he was told by his patients, it must have caused him to snap.

He apparently disposed of his personal belongings prior to going in to work Thursday morning. It seems as though he had reached the decision much in advance of his actions. What I wonder is why did he choose a path of violence? He could have simply refused to go and accepted the consequences. It might have resulted in his being jailed and losing his rank, but isn’t that a better option than killing your comrades, possibly dying, and swaying public opinion of Muslims into a much worse light than they already are? Let’s face it. Most Americans see Muslims as fear mongering, hate filled people who are all potential terrorists that are not to be trusted. Some Americans even feel that all Arabs and/or Muslims in the US should be rounded up into internment camps like the Japanese-Americans were during World War II. His actions have definitely not helped the situation any.  The weirdest part is that the morning before he did this, he handed out copies of the Koran to his neighbors.  What a way to advertise!  “What’s up guys! Here, have a copy of the Koran.  It’s great and will help you lead peaceful lives devoted to Allah.  Now, pardon me.  I have a readiness center to shoot up, Praise Allah!”  I just don’t see this going over too well.  If things were bad for Muslims in the US, and Muslims in the Army specifically, it’s only going to get worse now.  Oh, and after that he went to his regular convenience store and bought breakfast and had a chat with the store owner.  I guess he wasn’t too disturbed by what he was about to do.

Almost as disturbing as the tragedy itself are some of the reactions of people on the Internet. Mostly people are posting out of ignorance, but some people are outright lauding this man’s actions. It’s infuriating. What people fail to realize is that the soldiers themselves shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of the government. I’m sure there are some nutballs in the Army that can’t wait to go to combat, but for the most part soldiers are just like everyone else. They’re normal folks that go to work during the day, then go home at night to their families, or to their computers and XBOXs. They’re just people who got a job they could do to put food on the table for themselves or their family. Some soldiers don’t even want to be in the Army at all and are just doing service to pay off loans or save up money so they can do something else. Still, they’re all bound by contracts and they can’t just quit. And, they all have to follow orders or risk going to jail, which could put their families in jeopardy and sacrifice their future careers. I just wish people would ask questions and think a bit before blurting out ridiculous statements about soldiers. It’s also a bit ridiculous that some people have asked why Majar Hasan was able to kill and wound so many people before the police showed up. A military post in the US is like a town. There aren’t tanks rolling down the streets, or armed soldiers on every corner. There are no choppers flying through the air monitoring the situation. The firearms are all locked up in armories and require a unit commander’s approval to be released for cleaning or use at a range for annual qualification (which makes me wonder how Major Hasan had those two pistols in the first place). There are usually a mix of military police officers and contracted civilians. Response time for law enforcement on a military base is generally the same as or a bit better than that in a regular town.

The whole situation is disgusting. I kinda understand where the guy was coming from, but I just can’t understand what he was thinking when he decided that killing a bunch of people was the way to solve his problem. I’m actually glad Major Hasan is alive. Now he can stand trial for what he’s done. And, after all that shame, embarrassment and knowing that he’s made the US a worse place for Muslims, I hope they hang his ass.

(Photos snagged from CNN)