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A True Cat’s Tale

This is all true;   the  events  did happen and the life story is still being played out.

Sylvia, that’s   the name we gave her,  gave birth to five adorable kittens  on 9-Feb-2020.  She wandered into our home  and into our lives,   some  two months earlier. We could tell she was pregnant and was looking for a nest  to deliver her kittens. She had a collar so we tried our best to locate her owner.  We asked in a few  of our neighbourhood Whatsapp groups but no-one claimed her.  My son remarked that she looked like Sylvester the cartoon cat, so we called her Sylvia.

And on an early afternoon  of 9-Feb-2020, Sylvia, the young first-time   mother,   clumsily gave birth to her five kittens in the litter box.   She couldn’t bite and eat the placenta which was covered with the litter material so the kittens were all stuck together still joined to the  placenta. We had to rush them  to the vet  to separate them.  The vet offered to help find adopters when the kittens are bigger. And so the five kittens stayed with Sylvia in our home; a pure white, a  chocolate-coloured , a  tortoiseshell, a grey-and-white and a calico.   We didn’t give them  names as we did not want to get too attached  to them knowing that  they will be given up for adoption.

On 16-Mar, I took the  Pure White for an adopter.  The next day, the mum Sylvia, became very distressed when she realised the kitten was missing. So late at night, she relocated the whole litter elsewhere . It was so sad. All the kittens were relocated and I couldn’t find them. Sylvia still came to see me for her own meals;  breakfast, lunch and dinner…alone.

Over the next few days, Sylvia may have realised her mistake and looked so forlorn that I had to console her. I recalled two cat lovers had told me that cats are telepathic and can understand what we are saying. So I ended up talking  routinely to Sylvia and urged her to bring back the kittens. She looked so sad and so was I. Perhaps, for some reason, Sylvia could not retrieve the kittens.  

Then on 23-Mar-2020,  a big burly ginger-coloured Tom Cat came to the house  and seeing that Sylvia was cosy with him, I guess he  must be her mate. I fed him as well and urged him to help Sylvia to find the kittens.

Then on the blessed morning of 24-Mar-2020, I saw the whole family back in my house with the adorable kittens all looking so happy to be back. But there is a twist to this fairy tale. 

My neighbour told me that her son saw  the Tom cat leading the four kittens  along the road back to the house late at night. The Tom cat led the way and the four kittens followed him back. What a sight that must have been! What a pity that I didn’t get to see it.

The four kittens stayed  with Sylvia contentedly until in early April, the vet called to remind me that the adopters were waiting for the kittens. She  planned to come  to my house to pick up Sylvia  (to be spayed) and the four kittens on 15-April-2020.  On the night of 14-April-2020, I was talking to my neighbour and told her that the vet was coming in the morning to take Sylvia and the kittens. Sylvia must have overheard the conversation, because the next morning the Grey-and-White and Calico were missing and  I couldn’t find them anywhere.  I guess Sylvia must have relocated them and couldn’t move the other two in time, as they were now bigger.  By the time I caged Sylvia and the Tortoiseshell, the Chocolate one  fled and I couldn’t find it even with my neighbour’s help. The vet came and took  Sylvia and Tortoiseshell away at about 11.00am. But in the evening, the Chocolate one came back for food and I managed to cage it as well. The vet picked it up later that evening.

The two  other kittens remained missing since the night of 14-April-2020.   I brought Sylvia home after her surgery on the 17-April-2020. She looked very sad and  I asked her to go and find the kittens.  The Tom cat came and I coaxed them both to go and bring back the kittens.  Early next morning, I was awakened by Sylvia’s loud meowing and when I went out to check,  I saw that Sylvia had brought back the two kittens. Amazing! And  even though Sylvia just had a surgery to spay her, she still breastfed the two kittens lovingly.

 

My wife and I took that as an omen and we decided to keep the two kittens.  I suggested Whisky for the  male Grey-and White and my wife named the female Calico as  Brandy. I decided to call the big burly Tom cat, Vodka. So now we have Sylvia, the bartender, with Vodka, Whisky and Brandy.

 

What is Philosophy Anyway?

Philosophy: What the heck is it?

Update: 1-April-2014

My brother recently asked me…is a Zebra white with black stripes or black with white stripes? Here is my reply:
There are two types of Zebras. A white one has black stripes and a black one has white stripes. As with most things in this world. …. Lau Kean Lee, 29-March-2014

399px-Paris_2010_-_Le_Penseur : What is Philosophy
This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license, by Daniel Stockman.

Have you at some point in your life waxed lyrical over a seemingly profound statement or article? And did that P word, “Philosophy”, come to mind? In my case, my first brush with a profound idea must have been the time (when I was 12 or 13 years old) I saw a picture of a “thinking man”; a bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin of a naked man sitting on a rock with  his chin resting on a hand, deep in thought. The caption on that photo read, “I think therefore I am”, by René Descartes. “Wow, that sounds pretty deep, but what did it really mean?”

“I think therefore I am” – René Descartes

I thought to myself. And that started a life-long journey to understand and make sense of this thing called Philosophy.

Most people, and I am one of those, would just go through life without really digging deeper into Philosophy and just take whatever small doses that may come along in our day-to-day living. Sometimes it comes in the guise of comedy, as when Charles M. Schulz made his Linus character in Peanuts say, “I love Mankind; it’s people I can’t stand!”. Or sometimes it gets splashed in my face as when watching my favourite SciFi, Star Trek and Spock spoke the memorable line, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. And in later life, one finds that spirituality is steeped in profound ideas, as this website’s by-line ascribed to the Buddha, “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

I am now making an effort to actually understand what exactly is Philosophy. In my library, I found three books to educate myself on this nebulous subject.

1. The Story Of Philosophy – Bryan Magee

The Story of Philosophy
The Story of Philosophy by Bryan Magee


Prof Bryan Magee from the Oxford University was also a Fellow of the Yale University. He wrote this surprisingly readable book on a difficult subject.
In just four pages, the prelude “An Introduction To Philosophy” pages 6-9, the meaning of Philosophy shone with clarity. In any field of human activity, we can question the fundamentals normally taken for granted. Prof Magee introduced the concept gently by giving simple examples in diversed subjects or disciplines, like when one asks what is Freedom and what is Equality and are they in conflict, as in politics (Political Philosophy); or when one asks what is Justice in law and is that the same as social justice (Philosophy of Law); or when one asks is there perfect health, and if not what is the meaning of cure (Philosophy of Medicine).

“What is the nature of whatever it is that exists?” “How, if at all, can we know?”

While this demonstrates that there can be a philosophical discourse in any subject, the greatest philosophers go deeper than that and questioned the most fundamental aspects of our existence and our experience. The two fundamental questions at the heart of Philosophy are: “What is the nature of whatever it is that exists?”  (ontology) and “How, if at all, can we know?” (epistemology). Prof Magee then rounds off his introduction to philosophy by stressing that Philosophy, Science and Art are not at odds with one another. All three confront the mystery posed by the two fundamental questions to try to achieve a deeper understanding. All three rely on inspiration and criticism and make their findings public to be shared. And yet because they follow different methods and different paths, they appeal to different temperaments. (Note: this last word, “temperament” makes for interesting reading by itself… ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_temperaments). The rest of the book then delves into the different great philosophers and their respective era.

2.  The Dream of Reason – Anthony Gottlieb

A History of Philosophy
The Dream of Reason by Anthony Gottlieb

Anthony Gottlieb was from Cambridge University but he was a professional journalist having served as Science Editor and Executive Editor of The Economist even though he was also a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University. So it is interesting to read Anthony’s take on Philosophy from a journalist’s approach, viz. “…to rely only on primary sources, whenever they still exist, to question conventional wisdom, and … to explain it as clearly as possible.”

And so you find in “The Dream of Reason” (A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance), a readable journalistic account of philosophers’ stubborn or obstinate effort to think clearly.

I found his Part 3, Chapter 13, “Three Roads to Tranquillity: Epicureans, Stoics and Sceptics” particularly interesting.  Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BC marks the start of a new era, the “Hellenistic age”.  It means that Alexander’s former domain became Greek-ish rather than purely Greek. It brought a new era in philosophy as well, with three main schools of thought; the Epicureans, the Stoics and the Sceptics. If an Epicurean said one thing, a Stoic would say the opposite and a Sceptic would refuse to commit either way. How interesting!

In the final Chapter 14, we learn that in AD 529, a Christian emperor, Justinian, put an end to the philosophical squabbles by closing down the philosophical schools in Athens in favour of his own imperial university in Constantinople and wanted to ban non-Christian philosophy throughout the Roman Empire. And so philosophy languished in the “haven of piety” for the next thousand years.

“I was struck by the large number of falsehoods I had accepted as true in my childhood.” – René Descartes

Enter the French philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes (1596-1650), who developed the rigorous mechanistic model where he “consider(s) false any belief that falls prey to even the slightest doubt”. This is considered “Rationalism” and Descartes earned the title, “Father of Modern Philosophy”.

Gottlieb intended to write a second volume to continue the tale from Descartes to the present day, but as far as I know, it has not been published until today. Hopefully, it will be witten and published in due course.

3.  Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder

The History of Philosophy
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Jostein Gaarder was a Norwegian high-school teacher of Philosophy. He used his teaching capability to write a popular novel which effectively covers the 3,000 years history of philosophy from Socrates to Sartre. Very much like how modern-day management books are written as business fables, Gaarder first published his novel in his native Norwegian in 1991, revolving around a 14-year old girl, Sophie, who progressively learnt Philosophy through a prolonged correspondence with a fifty-year-old philosopher, Alberto Knox. The novel begins with Sophie receiving a mysterious letter with a question,  “Who are you?” and then a second letter with an equally intriguing question, “Where does the world come from?” The third mail came in the form of a postcard addressed to another girl, Hilde, c/o Sophie.

“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” – Francis Bacon

What followed were a series of philosophical lessons taught to Sophie by Alberto. How Hilde fit into this story, if told here, would be a spoiler. Suffice to say that in the course of the novel, Sophie and Hilde (and thus we the readers) are taken on a grand tour of the history of Western Philosophy.

Where Gottlieb left off, Gaarder continued from Descartes, Spinoza, Locke and others to The Enlightenment  (the Renaissance) and Romanticism until the Present.

The novel is reputed to have been translated into fifty-three languages, with over thirty million copies in print. In 1997, Jostein Gaarder and his wife, Siri Dannevig, established the Sophie Prize (named after the book), a USD100,000 annual international award for environment and development. Unfortunately, Gaarder found himself embroiled in allegations of anti-Semitism  after he wrote an article in 2006 criticising and condemning certain aspects of Israeli politics and Judaism.
(ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jostein_Gaarder)

Footnote:
I was intrigued by Francis Bacon (1561-1626), and read up on him on Wikipedia.

“Bacon has been called the creator of empiricism. His works established and popularised inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method, or simply the scientific method. His demand for a planned procedure of investigating all things natural marked a new turn in the rhetorical and theoretical framework for science, much of which still surrounds conceptions of proper methodology today.”

As it turns out, while Descartes and Rationalism were widely populart in Europe, Francis Bacon’s Empiricism in England can be seen as a counter-point to Rationalism.
Leibniz, a rationalist, said “There are two kinds of truths: truths of reasoning and truths of fact.” While John Locke, an empiricist, said “No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience”. It must be noted that Prof Magee wrote that Locke is considered the chief founding father of empiricism.

Related reading:
Rationalism vs. Empiricism


Childhood Games of Baby Boomers – Rubber Seeds

In the ’50s and ’60s, there was hardly any palm oil plantation (maybe none at all) but we sure had many very neat and tidy forests, a la our rubber plantations. The rubber trees (Hevea Brasiliensis) were grown in neat rows and were favourite playgrounds for children then. Somehow conditions seemed so much safer then, and parents did not care that the children routinely ran into rubber estates to play.

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Rubber Seeds. Photo from Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hevea_semillas2.jpg

The mature rubber trees bear flowers and hence seeds once or twice a year (I forgot. Does anyone remember?) and gave rise to the seasonal “fighting rubber seeds” game. The idea was to find a seed that could outlast any other seed when squeezed together. The two competing seeds were held in the palms of your hands and squeezed together using your thighs for leverage. The one that cracked and broke, lost. It’s somewhat like the British children’s game of conkers  using the horse chestnuts to “battle”, except in conkers, the horse chestnuts are threaded and then swung at each other, while the rubber seeds are actually squashed together until one broke. How do I know about “conkers”? From Beano, Dandy, Topper….children’s comics of that period!

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A rubber tree tapped for latex. Photo by Wang Sun Chan.

The rubber seeds were picked from the rubber estates (it seemed as if there was always a rubber estate near wherever you lived).  I recall a rich variety of seeds; there were large ones, small ones; generally rectangular but there were also triangular ones. Generally, the smaller seeds were the tougher ones. We would break an unwanted seed to use its core  to rub and polish the favoured seed until it had a wine red sheen. Then it was time to do battle. There were cheats, of course. A common method was to make a small hole at the top and to squeeze in additonal core material to compact the interior of the “fighter seed”. That way, it would not break so easily. A more insidious way was to pump glue into the fighter seed.  The “super glue” (cyanoacrylate adhesive) was not available at that time, but even the ordinary glue was enough to give an unfair advantage. Great care had be taken to ensure that the hole was well disguised so that the opponent did not know.

Another simple game of the baby boomers. They were all seasonal games. A time for “Kotak”, a time for “Rubber Seeds”, a time for “Kites”, a time for “Marbles”.  Do you remember?

Photo Credits:

Header photo of a “rubber estate” and photo of a tree being tapped for latex were taken by Wang Sun Chan at the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia, 17-Feb-2014. 

The photo of the rubber seeds is taken from Wikipedia, reproduced here under the Creative Commons Licence.

 

 

 

How Not To Be Embarrassed By Your DSLR

budgetcameras

So you want to be a hot-shot brilliant DSLR photographer?

Update 16-Jan-2014:  See the related gallery “The Shootout Between a DSLR and a Point-N-Shoot”.

There are very few things in Life that are as humiliating and demoralizing as when a guy with an expensive, massive, mean- looking DSLR takes pictures beside his spouse who is snapping away on a tiny point-n-shoot camera and then friends go “wow!” looking at the spouse’s snapshots and saying “uh ah, not bad” at the guy’s should-have-been-awesome photos. What is wrong with this picture!? … pun intended. If that sounds familiar to you and you can relate to it, or better still- if you do NOT wish to be that guy, read on.

DSLR_AE First attempt with DSLR in AE mode.

 

 

 

 

No-one is DSLRFullAutowatching, set the DSLR to full auto.

 

 

 

compactSpouse’s compact point-n-shoot camera.

 

 

 

iPhone4Same scene taken with iPhone 5, just for the heck of it.

 

 

 

From the above, it is easy to see that except for the first photo, the rest are actually quite acceptable “keepers”.

What went wrong?

If you attend a photography class with a live instructor to guide and hold your hands, so to speak, this scenerio may not apply to you; lucky you! For the gung-ho, teach-yourselves (almost everybody else), this one’s for you. Remember, this is strictly for the NEW newbie. If you’re already ahead of the class here, just shut-up and post your comment at the end of the article.

Here goes:

1. Forget about everything that you’ve read elsewhere or what other “lessons” you’ve been taught about the creative modes of your DSLR.
The absolute first thing you’ve got to focus on is how to get a really “tack-sharp” image. That’s pro-speak for a super sharp in-focus image.
You can try everything that the books or instructor tell you, but you will lose heart and interest if your photos turn out any less sharp than someone’s simple auto camera.

2. The secret to a beginner’s DSLR camera getting a sharp image is Shutter Speed. Some experts will tell you something like shoot at your len’s sharpest aperture. Right, but what’s that and why? Think about it: the reason your picture is blurry is usually because of shaky, unsteady hands. The second most likely reason is because the subject is not perfectly still ( the kid/pet is simply behaving as a kid/pet or the breeze simply will not pause for you or life is just being unkind to you ) .  So you see, as long as you have a sufficiently fast shutter speed, much faster than your hands can shake, much faster than the kid/pet can move, much faster than the flower can flutter in the breeze, you’re already 95% home. OK, I made that up. I don’t know the percentage but I certainly know that you are more likely to get a decently sharp image than not.

3.  Yes, there are probably myriad other reasons why a picture is not sharp, but I dare say the above 2 reasons account for 98% of all new-newbies’ bane. Yes, I made up that percentage, too, just so you can get the picture, get it? And don’t tell me the problem is “out-of-focus” because I’m assuming you’re humble enough to engage your camera’s auto-focus. You just have to check that the auto-focus is indeed focussing on your subject of interest. My Tamron wide-range (18-270mm) lens is notorious for its misbehaving auto-focus at critical times. Yet, I can’t bear to part with it. Sigh! But that is another story.

4. And, oh, the book/expert tells you to use a tripod to eliminate that shake and vibration. But I’m addressing the 99% of new-newbies who have just unwrapped/unboxed  his brand new super duper DSLR and who can’t wait to create the highly anticipated brilliant photos he sees from his books/magazines. Who uses a tripod in the first 100 days of trying out his DSLR for the first time? C’mon!

5.  Here are the guidelines for Shutter Speed priority or Time Value (Tv) on the dial of a Canon DSLR.

  • A good rule-of-thumb is that the minimum shutter speed, secs., = 1/focal length (mm) of the lens used.  For example, if you are using a 50mm lens, then the minimum shutter speed is 1/50 sec. In practice, a new newbie is well-advised to use 1/125 sec for a hand-held shot. And as your focal length gets longer, the vibration risk gets higher with the increased magnification. So while the guideline prescribes  min. 1/200 sec for a 200mm lens, say, push the shutter speed as high as your aperture will adjust to maintain correct exposure. If you find that you need a higher speed than your aperture will allow, you may need to adjust for a higher ISO setting to get that speed.
  • Save in RAW, if possible, so that your less-than-perfectly exposed picture has a chance to be saved. On the other hand, if you used too slow a speed and your picture is blurry due to shakes, it’s game over.
  • In Tv mode for Canon (S-mode for Nikon), set the shutter speed faster than the rule-of-thumb prescription and check the exposure to see if the aperture can handle the selected speed for a given ISO. If not, then dial downwards the speed until the aperture value stops flashing. If that is not possible without going below the rule-of-thumb value, stop! Increase the ISO and try again to get the fastest possible speed.
  • Remember, we are talking about a new newbie just wanting a tack-sharp photo and it’s not about stop-motion, panning, special effect or whatever. Just a tack-sharp photo that you won’t be embarrased to show off, side-by-side with your spouse’s P-N-S photo. So just start with the fastest possible shutter speed. Aperture Priority (Av) and everything else can wait.
  • If you still get rubbish blurry shots, then maybe take a step back and dial in “Full Auto” on your DSLR. Look, no-one needs to know. It’s your own private classroom, after all. After each shot ( quite nice shot, isn’t it?), check the photo information to see all the data and learn. Use your DSLR in Full Auto as your  private tutor. You can’t fail.
  • And I just have to add this parting shot: take as many shots as you possibly can. Memory storage is cheap now, not like expensive films in the past. You could even set your  camera to take continuous shots. I read somewhere that even the Pros do it. It’s not a matter of “kia-su”. It gives you the increased odds of getting a keeper. The rest you can just delete before you show off your terrific photo to everyone, right?

There you have it. Your first 100-days of embarrassment-free, confidence-boosting DSLR photography adventure begin.

You’re welcome.


You ought to be able to do better (with your fancy DSLR) than this shot taken with my iPhone 5, while a steady breeze is gently rocking the flower.

grasshopper


Footnote:
On the issue of gender. This article refers to a male DSLR-hotshot-wannabe simply because I’m male and I’m writing largely of my personal experience. No disrespect is meant to any female reader.


Music : Travelling Wilburys

220px-Traveling_WilburysWhere were you in 1988 when the Travelling Wilburys Vol. 1 débuted? It sold over 5 million copies, certified  triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group in 1989. Rolling Stone magazine named Traveling Wilburys, Volume 1 one of the 100 Best Albums of All Time.

And where was I? Why, I was a Sales Manager busy building my career and I must confess, the album passed me by completely. I wasn’t even vaguely aware of the Travelling Wilburys. And that was pretty amazing, considering that my wife and I considered ourselves pretty knowledgeable about the music scene.

It was in early 2011 when over lunch, I enthused about Jeff Lynne and his ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) to  Bob, an American retiree friend. Bob asked whether I knew that Jeff Lynne was also with another band called The Travelling Wilburys with George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty? No, I did not. Bob  declared The Travelling Wilburys as a must-listen-to, and Bob went on to describe how this awesome motley of legendary stars met and formed The Travelling Wilburys. He told a fascinating story of how George Harrison was driving along LA one day when Roy Orbison stopped next to him at the lights. They got talking about how George was on his way to make a recording and would Roy care to come along? Then Roy got hold of  the rest of the guys and one thing led to another and they ended up forming a new group, The Travelling Wilburys. Little did I know then that as I delved deeper into this fascinating story and tracked down the album, that Bob’s story was one of many interesting legendary tales about the history of TTW. The real history was even more interesting and just as accidental as that imaginary meeting of George and Roy at the traffic lights. More of this later.

Thanks to Bob, I was so intrigued that I had to seek the tunes on the Internet and managed to listen to some MP3 recordings and  knew then that I simply had to get the original album. In 2012, my wife and I went to Liverpool for our son’s graduation and I tried to find the album in the music stores there but to no avail. Finally I found it online at “That’s Entertainment” and ordered it to be delivered to our apartment. Unfortunately, it didn’t arrive in time when we left our apartment to return home about 5 days later. It has to be assumed lost. Actually I found an original  copy for sale in a Liverpool flea market store shortly after I ordered a copy online.  I declined to buy the flea market copy, to my everlasting regret. I had to wait a full year before I finally found it in London’s HMV, the sole copy in the store, lucky me. And what a bonus! It was a 3-discs “The Travelling Wilburys Collection”. Vol. 1 and Vol. 3 are the songs with bonus tracks while Vol. 2 is a DVD with “The True History of The Travelling Wilburys” and the making of five songs. And boy! What a treat it is for Rock-n-Roll rockers.

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Here are some off-beat info about The Travelling Wilburys.

  • It started with George preparing a song for the B-side of his new A-side single, “This is Love”.  He knocked off a tune called “Handle With Care” with the help of his friends, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dyland and Roy Orbison, for the B-side. But the head of Warner Bros Records, Mo Ostin, liked it so much that he and Lenny Waronke (head of A&R) asked George to turn this into a new album. The rest is History, as they say.
  •  George and Jeff Lynne were co-writers at that time and whenever there was any recording error caused by faulty equipment, they would say “We’ll bury them in the mix”.  In time, they would say the same thing  for any small performance error. And so it came to be that when they needed a name for this new group, George suggested “The Trembling Wilburys”, but Jeff offered “The Travelling Wilburys”, which the rest agreed.
  • Together, they were such an off-beat motley crew, that in the album they attributed the credits to: Nelson Wilbury (as George Harrison), Lefty Wibury (as Roy Orbison), Charlie T. Jr. (as Tom Petty), Lucky Wilbury (as Bob Dyland) and Otis Wilbury (as Jeff Lynne). Their drummer was Buster Sidebury (as Jim Keltner).
  • TTW Vol. 1 debuted in 1988. The second album was released in 1990 without Lefty Wibury (Roy passed away on 6-Dec-1988), and George Harrison called it Vol. 3.
  • The combined volumes, together with a 3rd disc (Vol. 2 DVD), called The Travelling Wilburys Collection was released in 2007.

TTW800So where were you in 1988 when The Travelling Wilburys wrote a chapter in Music History? If like me, it passed you by without you even being aware of it, get the classic collection now ( Traveling Wilburys (2 CD / 1 DVD) )

It was Samuel Butler who said, “The oldest books are only just out to those who have not read them.” This will apply equally to music, such as in this case of The Travelling Wilburys.

Urena Lobata: A natural remedy for chronic renal failure.

Urena Lobata: A natural remedy for chronic renal failure.

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Update:

My mum-in-law passed away on May 8, 2010, at 90, because of old age; not because of her kidney. She had a good and healthy life for the 22 years since the doctors gave up on her. We sincerely hope this may help others in the same predicament.


My mother-in-law had chronic renal failure of both kidneys back in 1988. She was 68 then and she’s still alive and perky today at 89 (April 2009).

One kidney was declared completely failed and the other had only 25% functionality left.

She was put on various antibiotics which gave her bad reactions and she also had bed sores due to the prolonged periods she spent in bed.

After a prolonged stay at the hospital, came the ominous pronouncement, “She has only 3-months left; take her home, make her comfortable and give her whatever she wants.” (or words to that effect).

urena250x250

Well, in a no-choice situation, an unexpected “choice” appeared in the form of a Chinese man (Mr Ong of Nibong Tebal; sadhu! sadhu! sadhu!) who heard of my mum-in-law’s plight from my brother-in-law. He introduced us to a wild shrub (Urena Lobata or Congo Jute or Pulut-Pulut) which was used to make a soup/tea for my mum-in-law to drink. That’s the miracle and the reason that she is still alive and well today, we believe. 

The recipe calls for the stems of the plant to be cut in lengths of 2-3 inches and air- or sun-dried for storage. Take a small fistful (say 5-10 stalks) and boil in 3 bowls of water until 1 bowl left. A piece of lean meat can be added for taste (or as I believe to “balance” the “coldness” of the plant). Drink once a day for a week and observe for any improvement, before continuing. The frequency can be reduced as the condition improves. My mum-in-law now drinks it once a week or even less frequently.

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The white flower of Urena Lobata

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The white flower – enlarged

The shrub grows best wild (too much care and attention tends to stifle it). Just scatter the seeds (like tiny hedgehogs; 3-5mm brown seeds that will cling to clothings, hair, like velcro) in a quiet corner of your garden and leave them to grow “wild”). The plant can grow up to 4-5 feet, but can be harvested as soon as it is about 3-feet tall. Just cut the larger stems and let the plant re-grow the branches. Remember to continually scatter the seeds for a steady supply of the plant. Note: there are two types; white or pink flowers. The recommended type is the one with white flowers.

We have introduced this to several other people and to the best of our knowledge, it works for them as well.

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The unripe green spiny seeds

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The ripe brown spiny seeds

If you have personally tried any of the above , whether positive or negative results, please share your personal experience here to help others make their decision.