Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday, my favorite things 02

(source: HKDR)
Peak to Fong
Hong Kong Dog Rescue's largest fund raiser of the year, the P2F walk is a long meander from the Peak to Lan Kwai Fong, where entertainment for two and four legged animals is set up for the day. Our furbabies were rescued by HKDR and did some time at the Tai Po kennels where the staff and volunteers cared for them while they waited for their forever homes. I wish that we could adopt all of the hundreds of dogs but SB would have me committed. So the next best thing is to support HKDR's fundraising events so that they can care for and hopefully re-home all of their furry residents.

Super Moons 
In October, November and December the full moons will be closer to the earth than any other time of the year. October's Super Moon, the Hunter's Moon, rose on the 16th. November's Beaver Moon on the 14th will be the largest full moon since the 20th century. December's Cold Moon on 14 December will be the last of the Super Moons. Plan your night hikes accordingly.

(Source: Reuters/Bobby Yip via IBTimes)
Typhoon Days
While an estimated HK$5 billion loss in business is not something to laugh at, I will admit to delight at waking up to a storm signal 8 on my Hong Kong Observatory phone app. My work site was already flooded earlier in the week and both pairs of work boots are probably still drying out. I was more than happy to not have to slosh around with wet feet for the day. I took full advantage of the unplanned day off by... soaking a pair of trainers while spending time outside with the dogs. There is a difference between wet feet at work and wet feet at play, I swear! There were very few people about so we sneaked into a playground for a run around, and then pranced to Tai Tam Reservoir to have a look at the water. SB and a friend went up Jardine's Lookout to experience the wind and get pelted by raindrops traveling at gale force; the only other people on the trail were a couple of shirtless Australian men who kept waving their arms and cheering. Having not made any preparations whatsoever, we were forced to make do with a dinner of frozen Thai entrees found in the 7-11 freezer. I laugh thinking of my previous life in Florida, where a hurricane warning would clear out the shelves of a supermarket. Here in Hong Kong, 7-11 will remain open to any event up to a nuclear holocaust.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Super Moon, Hunter's Moon

Last night the moon was a Super Moon, at its closest distance from Earth. It was also the Hunter's Moon, or blood moon. The Hunter’s Moon is named so from the North American First Nations and follows the Harvest Moon in October usually. You can find out more about it here and here.

SB and I thought, what could be more romantic than a night hike under the Hunter's Moon with our beloved furbabies, who happen to be extremely prey driven? We could watch the moon rise while cuddling on top of a peak while Tippy and Elsie plunged down the cliff face after wild animals, yipping and yelping and trampling about.

We had a lovely hike over Violet Hill from Parkview, and enjoyed the sunset as we sat on the steps on the other side of Violet Hill, where the wind rushes through a small valley. The valley has an abundance of tall grass that Tippy enjoys sliding down; she will flop onto her belly at the top of the hill and propel herself forward with her front paws until gravity takes over. Elsie likes to stand in front of us, facing the wind with her tongue lolling while globs of drool are carried by the breeze into SB and my faces.

The next couple of full moons will also be Super Moons (November is the Beaver Moon and December is the Cold Moon). November’s Beaver Moon will be the largest full moon since the 20th century, so another night hike is definitely planned.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday, my favorite things 01

Yesterday, while I was raving about the edX online education platform, I thought about other things that I am excited about and decided to share them. In not particular order, other things that I am loving at this moment in time:

Dr. Bronner's Sandalwood & Jasmine Pure Castille Soap
SB and I are regular users of the peppermint Castile soap, because it is safe for use when we are lake bathing in the Adirondack mountains. We had never seen the sandalwood & jasmine soap, and found out that it is only available in the Australia/Asia market. I will probably bring some back to the US on my next trip. The soap leaves a light scent of sandalwood on my skin. I can't really smell the jasmine, though, but that's just fine with me because I am a sandalwood fan. You can still supposedly buy Mysore (Santalum album) sandalwood soaps but Mysore is endangered so I assume this one is made from Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum), which is perfumistas look down on but I can't really tell the difference when smelling it in soap form. Even if I could, I prefer that no one in India is being murdered so that I smell nice. (On a side note, I own both Samsara and Santal 33 and enjoy both the classic Mysore sandalwood scent in Samsara as well as the sharper Australian sandalwood in Santal 33). You can buy Dr. Bronner products in several HK shops, including oGreen. If you purchase more than $500 in products, they will deliver for free. I went ahead and visited the store (Room 501D, 5 / F, Causeway Bay Commercial Building, 1-5 Sugar Street, Causeway Bay) because it is located right in the center of the Causeway Bay Indonesian restaurant cluster.

Cracker Peanuts and Homemade Snacks at Indo Market
The highlight of braving the pedestrian traffic in Causeway Bay is that I can treat myself to tasty snacks at the shops along Sugar Street. I love every single iteration of coconut, rice and banana leaves that has ever been invented. At Indo Mart (G/F, Lok Sing Centre, 19-31 Yee Wo Street) I cannot withstand the Nagasari that is sold near the register. I have a hard time deciding between whether it or Filipino suman (with taro!) is my favorite. I also can't resist buying cracker peanuts. They are an addictive snack, available in many flavors; I like the original and Adobo flavors while SB like the spicy flavor. They are sweet and satisfyingly crunchy.

Kecap Manis
My college roomate's mother always carried a bottle of Cholula hot sauce with her, which she liberally drizzled over just about everything that she ate. The Fijian player for my club's premiership team requested Tabasco sauce with almost every meal. The younger generation of hipsters like to hit up their meals with Sriracha. Then there is the ubiquitous brown sauce found in certain types of British eateries. I never understood how people could become obsessed over a condiment until I discovered kecap manis. It was an accidental purchase, as I was trying to buy sweet soy sauce for dim sum, but I opened the bottle to discover this treacly concoction instead. I use it to bastardize so many dishes from adding it to my hot chili oil wontons to drizzling it over soft boiled eggs to eat with kaya toast. I have also learned to cook new dishes from my searches for recipes that use kecap manis. SB calls me obsessed but I notice that he hasn't stopped eating.

More MTR stations on the way
Just look at the bustling F&B in Kennedy Town and Sai Ying Pun, and you can see the positive externalities that have resulted in the West Island Line Extension. On 23 October, the MTR Kwun Tong Line Extension's Ho Man Tin and Whampoa Stations will be opened, providing access to some older and historic neighborhoods. I hope that the improved access will revitalize the areas without driving the prices to the point that the immigrant community is adversely affected. I also hope that this is just the thing required to finally bring attention to underappreciated gems such as Ko Shan Theatre or Cattle Depot Artist Village down the road in Ma Tau Kok (which will be even more accessible once the Shatin to Central Link Ma Tau Wai station opens).

Thursday, October 6, 2016

school is cool

MIT rolled out a free, global architecture class  through online course platform edX on 14 September, which yours truly enrolled herself into. I can't say enough positive things about it.

If you have interest in architecture but are not going to commit yourself to the 5 to 7 1/2 years of schooling that most professional degrees require, then this is for you. Actually, even if you have a professional degree, this is for you.

In my undergraduate degree program, the architectural history courses were focused almost exclusively on European architecture. After we left Egypt, we only briefly toured Japan, and then spent the next twenty centuries in Europe. I recall my bemusement when studying the Alhambra in Granada, and wondering why there weren't more of the beautiful Moorish forms in the history book.

This is a well put together course, with a syllabus for the 12 classes on offer, reading list, and online discussion forum. The instructor is MIT Professor of History and Theory of Architecture Mark Jarzombek (who began his career at Cornell while I was a student), and the course is based around four topics: the history and context of the important buildings that shaped our culture, history of technological advances that significantly impacted the development of architecture, impacts of certain cultural and religious traditions on architecture, and history of climate and geographical changes that shaped human civilization and its architecture.

After registering for my course, I looked around the edX website and discovered many other interesting topics from a wide variety of disciplines. Here's just a sampling:
I feel like I won the lottery. I just found a way to fulfill by dream of being a lifelong student. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

bloviating gasbag

In honor of the second presidential debate, which utilized the "word salad" technique, I submit to you the recently digitized Japanese series, "He-gassen".

The 34-foot scroll was created during the Edo period and painstakingly recorded in high resolution imaging by Waseda University, so that the glorious "fart battle" will live eternally and posternally. Hear, hear, the He-gassen to posternity.

more fun than stabbing myself in the eye

I have been suffering from heartburn or some similar type of gastrointestinal ailment lately. I feel burning and pressure in my chest after meals. The burning began around the same time that I began watching the presidential debates, though I've been told that correlation is not always causality.

Aside from the week of heartburn, I may be developing depression. I finished watching the vice presidential debate this afternoon with a sense of hopelessness and frustration. This past year in politics has been a miserable experience for me. I don't even feel joy listening to the clever snarkiness of my usual, preferred pundits. Everything is grey.

I sent in my absentee ballot on Monday. Not even finding out that my candidate is a serial killer would change my vote at this point.

For the rest of the month and a half until the election, I prefer to relive being stabbed in the eye. I had a canthotomy last year. It was more enjoyable by far to watching American politics.