Tuesday, 22 December 2015

What Happens in a Writer's Head

I love writing and creating. A story of mine is up till Chapter 14, now! Although I'm not a published author, it's still an incredible, exhilarating journey.

Well, sometimes. 

When you can't think of a specific word:

*summoning my hidden powers* 
I refuse to admit defeat.

When you resort to Thesaurus.com:

(... I feel like I'm cheating, in a way. Meh.)


When none of the words on Thesaurus.com felt suitable:


- - -

When a badass scene played out in your head isn't as badass when put into words:



When your characters are having a romantic moment:
(I question my sanity when it comes to this.)


When you're overwhelmed by feels when reading what you've written: 
(... I think I'm in a state of extreme narcissism. But then I came to know of other fellow writers, and discovered that we're all the same nuts.)

(Hell. Yes) When you finally think of that PERFECT word BY YOURSELF:
(I know, I know ... I'm a genius.)

But then, one fine day you suddenly notice a plot hole when re-reading your previous chapters:

No. No - c'mon - j-just no.



GIFs are credited to their respective owners.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Composting

Garbage should be thrown into the bin, where it belongs to keep the environment clean.

Moral education since childhood.

Then one day, I came across the fact that:
  • 80% of our household waste is biodegradable.
  • The biodegradable trash in landfill sites doesn't break down at all.


... There is a misconception that biodegradable trash will break down naturally while it's in the landfill, and that the landfill site will eventually be "emptied" some day. But the truth is, it doesn't.

The scientific explanation (it's not advanced biology, don't worry):
  1. In landfills, waste tends to be compacted very tightly so as to reduce the space they occupy.
  2. As a result, there is not much oxygen in a landfill site.
  3. Also, a landfill site often lacks dirt and useful microorganisms.
  4. Therefore, we can all make the simple conclusion: Nearly nothing breaks down in a landfill site. 

This is a worrying fact. No doubt. Like so many other facts that we actually all know. But for this problem, we don't have to wait for some new green technology to be invented. We can do something about this. Those trash came from our homes, and we have the responsibility to think twice before dumping things into the garbage bin.

Nope, the solution isn't Reduce, Reuse or Recycle - it's impossible to apply these common Go-Green tips on dried weeds, fruit peels or pieces of wilting vegetables.

Personally, I feel that the method is even satisfying and easier than sending a stack of old newspapers to the recycling centre because:
  • you can do it by yourself
  • you can actually see the outcome
As suggested by the title, the answer is: Composting.

- - -

I began composting about a year ago. Once I got into it, I came to realize how much stuff I had been throwing away:
  • tea bags and egg shells from morning's breakfast
  • vegetable roots and fruit peels (Well, our little Jup would eat them if we aren't looking!)
  • fruit pulp from the juicer
  • dry leaves, weeds and twigs from the garden 
... The list goes on and on. 

I'm using a medium-sized flowerpot as the "compost bin". I filled it with some soil, and began to toss most of my daily kitchen scraps into the pot.

When I first started out, it looked as though the kitchen scraps were non-biodegradable. It was quite amusing, really. Each morning I'd turn the pile over to aerate it, then I'd spot a carrot top I threw into the pot two days ago looking as fresh as ever.

Ah, but time was all my trusty compost pot needed. The decomposition rate gradually sped up - those microorganisms are working like nobody's business now!



How to Compost
The details and many facts of composting can make up a whole website, but basically it's simply about:

  1. Dumping biodegradable household trash into a container.
  2. Ensuring it breaks down. 
That's the core of composting! 


Here are some points you do need to take note of:
  • To give your compost pile a start-up, add some garden soil. The soil contains the microorganisms essential for decomposition to take place.
  • The compost bin should be placed in a sunny location. A higher temperature speeds up decomposition. 
  • To ensure that your compost pile doesn't smell like a sour garbage heap, maintain a balance of brown and green materials, about 2 : 1.
    • Examples of brown materials: twigs, dry leaves, shredded paper 
    • Examples of green materials: pieces of unwanted vegetables, fruit peels.
  • Chop larger materials into smaller ones. Again, this helps speed up decomposition.
  • Use a garden fork to turn the pile every few days or so for aeration purposes. Decomposition can't take place without oxygen!
  • Do not throw meat or bones into your compost pile.

We may not be 100%-environmentally-friendly, but for now, we should incorporate such green practices (All. Hail. Composting.) into our lives and do as much as we can.

This is how we should all keep the environment clean. 

- - -

Lastly.

If you happen to be a cheapskate (Ahh, you know who you are) who loves gardening, have you ever calculated how much money you spent on buying "high quality" commercial soil and fertilizers when you can be making both for FREE?

... And that also, you actually know what it's in the dirt you're using for your herbs and plants?



Recently, I came across this picture on Facebook. Food for thought. 



Sunday, 15 November 2015

Daily Observation

Bunnies exhibit subtle symptoms when they are ill. As their caretakers, it is important for us to notice these signs quickly - this is an ability you will come to possess over time through daily interactions with your bunny.

A quick list to check if your bunny is healthy: 
  • eats food, especially hay, as usual
  • produces poop throughout the day
  • mostly active - instantly perks up when you bring him/her a treat
  • carries out all bunny activities (eg: grooming) normally
Alerting symptoms: 
  • eats significantly less hay
  • does not show interest in favourite foods (eg: vegetables, fruits)
  • produces small-sized, abnormal poop OR none at all
  • rests in same position and location without moving much 
  • lethargic, sluggish movements

It is not uncommon for bunnies to have mild digestive ailments every now and then. From personal experience, this is often the cause of why a bunny "doesn't seem him/herself" on a certain day.

In these cases, high-fibre hay is always the #1 solution.

To encourage hay consumption:
  • Hand-feeding
    • Pick a fresh strand of hay from the package and wiggle it in front of your bunny's mouth to entice him/her to eat it.
  • Increase water intake
    • I have found that giving 1/8 to 1/4 cup of diluted tomato juice helps. Just one 1/8 cup, though!
    • Note: The tomato juice must be freshly made. Use a juicer. DO NOT purchase bottles or cartons of pre-packaged juice from the store.
  • Accompany your bunny more often
    • Have you been giving your bunny less attention lately? A good dose of praises and pets can do wonders!
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Grooming Your Bunny

What is Grooming?
Grooming involves brushing your bunny's fur and, if necessary, trimming your bunny's nails. Generally, short-hair breeds require less coat maintenance. It's the long-hair breeds that require more attentive fur care.

Wally the Angora rabbit (Look at how well-trimmed his long fur is!)


The Purpose of Grooming
  • To reduce ingested fur
    • Bunnies are clean creatures. One of their daily activities is grooming themselves with that cute little tongue. However, they tend to swallow a lot of hair in the process, and that is why they occasionally need assistance from us to brush away the excess loose fur, especially during molting periods.
  • Short nails for safety
    • Long nails are uncomfortable for a bunny when he/she hops. 
    • Long nails are more likely to get accidentally caught in items and teared off - needless to say, this would be painful for the bunny! 

What to Use
Bunnies have delicate skin, so it is important that you take note of the type of brush you use: 
  • soft bristle brush or fine-toothed comb is recommended. 
  • Personally, I strongly advise against using a slicker brush. The metal teeth can be quite uncomfortable for a bunny's sensitive skin. 
Metal slicker brush - A no-no tool when grooming bunnies.


How to Groom Your Bunny
The steps are very easy - in fact, there are only two steps.
  1. Pet your bunny so that he/she assumes a resting position.
  2. Follow the direction of your bunny's fur when you brush!

Dealing with Heavy Shedding
Bunnies tend to go through a heavy shed at least once a year. During such periods, a soft pet on your bunny's back would literally send loose fur fluttering in the air. A few more strokes and it's not an understatement when I say you'll yield this:

A ball of loose fur

Jippie and the ball of fur


Now, what should you do?

  • Brush more frequently
    • Alternatively, you can simply stroke your bunny more often. The thin layer of sweat on your palms naturally picks up and removes the loose fur. 
  • The right foods
    • Check on your bunny's hay consumption - make sure he/she is eating hay! Fibre is crucial in pushing all the ingested fur out of their gut. 
    • If your bunny isn't a keen water drinker, offer more vegetables when he/she is shedding. Water is important to ensure an efficient digestive system as well.

During a heavy shed, there might be:
  • a change in your bunny's fur colour (eg: dark brown to light brown) 
    Left: 2-month-old Dutchie, his fur is pure black.
    Right: 2-year-old Dutchie, the tips of his black fur are light brown!

  • mildly bald patches, the thinning out of fur, and artistic patterns appearing
    A heart shape?

Be reassured that a change in fur colour is perfectly normal, and where there are mildly bald patches, the bunny's fur should grow back quickly within 1 - 2 weeks. 

Dealing with Other Issues
  • Long-hair
    • The effective method to make long fur more manageable is simple: keep the hair short. You can trim the fur to about 1 inch
    • Make it a must to brush your long-hair bun daily. Lack of manual brushing will often result in the fur tangling into severe mats.
  • Matted fur
    • DO NOT attempt to pull out the chunk of fur with your fingers. You may potentially injure your bunny's delicate skin. 
    • Use a pair of scissors with a rounded end to carefully trim away the mat. 

Trimming the Nails
Many bunny owners are nervous about the idea of cutting their bunny's nails. The greatest fear is bleeding. However, as long as you're careful and equipped with the correct information and tools, the task is not as difficult as it sounds!

Which section of the nail you should cut:


This is the nail clipper I use:

General instructions and tips:
  • A bunny's nail should be trimmed about every 4 weeks.
  • Instead of estimating from where the quick ends, you can simply position the clippers several millimetres from the tip of the nail and make the cut there, just to be safe.
  • You can ask a family member or friend to help coax and restrain your bunny while you trim the nail.

An excellent video on how to trim a bunny's nails:



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