Friday, February 27, 2015

groaning and moaning in Asia's World City

50 Shades of Grey has been well received here in Hong Kong; it seems like the experiences of Christian and Anastasia resonate with the local populace. Yours truly has been obsessed with following people's comments regarding their own forays into the world of pain and pleasure:
He screamed as she slammed him time and time again - the little old lady kept pushing the lift door close button

She groaned into the pillow, clenching her jaw as the pounding continued. It was the construction work next door.

He gently traces the rim, his finger penetrating the center. He took her glasses off, exclaimed: ur glasses have no lens!

Her heart pounded as he slid it in the hole. "Faster faster, come on!" She hissed behind him line at the airport E channel

She felt his intrusion-bold, shaming, but she was helpless. "So when r u getting married?" said Grandpa at CNY dinner.

She wrapped her lips hard, felt the milky sweetness in her mouth, sucked the soft balls & thought, how I love bubble tea

On a side note, my friend L has finally rid herself of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. She had been trying to offload the books for almost two years with no takers but when the movie came out, she felt optimism that someone would want to find out what happened next. In fact, nothing notable or memorable happened next or after next, according to L, but she didn't share that information with the drunk and unsuspecting pilot who ended up as the lucky recipient of the naughty books. I suspect that he woke up after a night at the races wondering how he came into possession of not one, but three books. I hope that he enjoys them as much as L enjoyed giving them to him as he stumbled home from the bar.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sunset Peak

Kung hei fat choi everyone! What a surprise we had this morning when the slowly warming weather took a small dip overnight and today's cloud cover provided perfect weather for a new year hike. When SB and I have enough time for a long hike, we usually head over to Sai Kung's country park and beaches but today we wanted to do something different so we decided to visit Sunset Peak in Lantau. It was the furbabies' first ferry ride and aside from despising their required muzzles, they fared well. We thought that we would be relegated to the back of the boat but were allowed to sit in the regular downstairs seating with the dogs, who bravely looked out at the ocean through my legs.

Once in Lantau, we had another first experience with a buffalo. It was very funny because Elsie was busy attacking her sister and didn't notice the large beast in front of us who was placidly chewing grass until she was almost upon him, and then she turned tail and ran for the safety of my legs. Eventually brave, brave Sir Robin's curiosity got the better of her and she ventured over for a sniff but I cruelly stopped her because I wasn't confident about her survival instinct and didn't want to spend the day at the vet treating a hoof to the head. 

SB had consulted a hiking guidebook and informed me that the majority of the hike would be a gradual ascent. Ha! While you are not mountaineering, it is also not a gradual incline for the first thirty minutes. You will be huffing and puffing away. Hopefully you will not have to huff and puff near a large group of hikers who will leapfrog you for the entire first portion of the hike. The leader of the group passed us at a swift pace but the tail end of his group included several much less fit people and the group kept having to take breaks, at which point SB and I passed them at our plodding pace. Then five minutes later Mr. Fit would race by us with his group struggling behind. Even when we waited for five minutes for the group to go ahead, we still managed to catch them. And Mr. Fit was annoyed that the dogs didn't know to move aside immediately when he caught up with us. 

Despite the aggravation of leapfrogging with a dog disliker, we couldn't help but feel joyful with the beautiful day and lovely views of the forest. The second part of the hike has a less steep incline and the trees fall away to rocks and streams. SB and I decided to pick up our pace and blew past the hiking group. The leader seemed to be chasing us for a kilometer but we eventually were able to lose him entirely, probably when he realized that he needed to go back for the group that he was leading.  

Elsie found a friend along the way. I suspect that the monk had some bread in his pocket because she stayed very close to him for a while. Very close.

Eventually we made it to a lovely, grassy area before the final ascent. There are masonry structures dotting the hills which someone told us you could rent overnight. There were also a lot of tents along this area. It was a beautiful place to take a rest and enjoy the fantastic day.

We found an area where the ground was even and soft to have an impromptu picnic. Silly me, I had packed meals for the furbabies but not really anything for ourselves so we shared a couple of rolls from a bakery in Mui Wo. The weather was so nice with a bit of sun peeking out from the clouds, and I ended up taking a small nap.

Meanwhile, Tippytoes and Elsie played chase and hide n seek among the structures. They had a glorious time running through the tall grass and ambushing each other.

Eventually I was roused from my nap to finish the hike. It was too cloudy to see much from the top, unfortunately, but the lack of view didn't take away from how wonderful the hike was. SB and I plan to return for a full day next time. We could have spent hours playing in the grass and exploring all of the various other trails around the area. This was one of my favorite hikes in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hong Kong Sevens turns 40

The highlight of the HK Sevens draw was seeing USA in the top of pool D.  I may have whooped loudly when the standings were announced.

The Hong Kong Sevens turns forty this year. I expect quite the celebration to be put on by sponsors HSBC and Cathay Pacific.

If you couldn't get tickets, you can still watch at the Sevens Village at So Kon Po, across from the stadium. You can bring your own drinks and watch on a big screen instead of paying hundred of dollars for a plastic pitcher of skunky beer. You can also watch the sevens on local television. Last year when I got pelted with a cup of beer colored liquid that wasn't beer, I seriously thought about staying home from the event for 2015. At this point, I only stop by the South Stand to take pictures with the team (we all wear matching costumes) and to drop SB off. I may be part of the minority of attendees that come to watch the competition. 

Frankly, I think that the Tens are even better than the Sevens. Unfortunately the Tens occurs during Wednesday and Thursday so many people are working but it feels like a rugby community event. You can sit in the stands at Football Club within reach of George Smith or Tana Umaga and watch a mixture of up an coming athletes play with famous veterans. This list of past Tens attendees is a who's who of the rugby world. Our own former Causeway Bay player, Uini Atonio, played in the Tens five or so years ago. I should note that he arrived at CWB with enormous talent already but our coach, Semi, did his best to provide a good environment for Uini to mature, and most importantly, he pushed for Uini to play in the Tens. Uini eventually got picked up by La Rochelle and the rest is history. Uini made his debut of France in the November tests. Sadly, many of the current generation of CWB players still don't believe me when I tell them that once upon a time a Causeway Bay Ram became an international superstar. 

Another fantastic rugby event, and free to boot, is the Hong Kong Women's Sevens. This year it will be a two day event, held on Thursday and Friday before the big event. Yours truly has been asked to be an announcer at the event. Yours truly is not comfortable speaking in front of crowds but my ability to speak some Russian, Spanish and Italian means that I would have a better chance of not butchering player names than most. Except for Tunisia and Papua New Guinea. They're screwed. If I can find a cohort who is happy making corny jokes while I stick only to announcing scoring then I'll do it but I shouldn't be anyone's first choice for ad-lib into a microphone.

Friday, February 13, 2015

you know that it's a bad day when

You know that it's a bad day when...

SB: What would you like for dinner? Jamie Oliver pasta? Vodka penne?
Me: How about just vodka?

For the record, I prefer gin.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

passing by

Last night as the train was nearing my stop in Causeway Bay, I noticed that a teenage girl at the other end of the car was swaying and moving strangely. I got up and hesitated, not sure of what I was seeing, but then she collapsed into the arms of the elderly gentleman who was with her. The man staggered and managed to drag the girl to nearby seating, and one middle aged woman quickly got up and offered the seat. No one else seemed to notice but of course this wasn't really the case because of the entire train car, at least one other person would have noticed that an old man was dragging a limp girl. When it became clear that the old man and middle aged woman could not quite maneuver the girl into the vacated seat, the man in the neighboring seat finally got up and walked away, not looking back.

At this point I made my way across the train to offer assistance. The girl was semi-conscious at this point and struggling to follow the most basic directions. She was overly warm to the touch and clammy, with slow breathing so I removed her down jacket and lowered her head to her lap while the middle aged woman pressed the emergency button on the train car. We pulled up to Causeway Bay station and were informed that the station staff would be there to assist us. At this point we had the attention of the entire train but still no one offered assistance. No one flagged down the station attendant as he passed our car; instead  people disembarked or boarded the train as though it was business as usual. The woman ran out of the train to locate the station attendant while I held onto the girl, who was beginning to slump over again. Finally two station attendants arrived with a wheelchair and we were able to remove her from the train. At this point the station first aiders took over and the elderly man thanked the middle aged woman and me for our help.

It was depressing to think that in a train of thirty to forty people, only two of us were compelled to give aid to someone in distress. I read about bystander apathy in my high school psychology class but those cases usually involved violence or possible danger to the bystander, which is how people who did nothing to assist crime victims explain their lack of interference. I couldn't imagine the reasons people could tell themselves to justify why they chose not to come to the aid of a teenage girl and her grandfather.

When I shared my disappointment in humanity with SB, he wondered if this outcome was simply bystander apathy or if part of the reticence to assist the girl was due to past memories of SARS. It could be possible that Hong Kong people's experiences with the deadly SARS virus that ravaged the region a decade ago are still fresh in their minds and someone experiencing shortness of breath and fainting is perceived as the greatest danger.

I hope that I never go tail over teakettle in a public place because aside from the embarrassment, I may be left on the ground for a very long time before someone bothers to help me up.

Monday, February 9, 2015

hobbit homes and habitats

 Images from Sutton Lakefront Realty, via Boing Boing

For $20.9 million HK dollars you can buy a 1000 square foot flat on the island -  on average you will have three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Or for the same price you can buy this 38 acre "enchanted Forest" in British Columbia, complete with four whimsical yet habitable homes.

The flat that I share with SB and the two furbabies probably has a salable area of 560 square feet, and all of the fixtures in the kitchen are hobbit sized. Being not so vertically blessed, I have no problem with our cramped kitchen but SB has been to the accident and emergency three times due to kitchen accidents; twice he cut his hand open trying to wash dishes in the corner sink and once he cut his head open on an overhead cabinet. We long ago agreed to set a cap to how much we were willing to spend on housing but I am starting to consider an increase in the limit in exchange for peace of mind.

Images from Sutton Lakefront Realty, via Boing Boing

While many of Hong Kong's homes are built by hobbits, the British Columbia forest can house all of the woodland creatures with ease. Seeing how far the same amount of money will stretch across the ocean, it's no wonder so many older Hong Kong residents are migrating to Canada.

Images from Sutton Lakefront Realty, via Boing Boing

Friday, February 6, 2015

conversation fell off sharply

Defending a proposal that was being queried for its inability to solve the actual problem, compounded by the likely result that the problem would exacerbate, my estimable colleague stated that the team had worked long and hard to reach their solution. "You didn't include most of the stakeholders in any of your discussions," I pointed out.

"We spent a long time formulating this proposal and our team all voted on it," was the reply.

Then the director of stuff that has nothing to do with the conversation added his own opinion that he had faith in the team's proposal due to how hard they had worked (they wouldn't have had to work so hard if they had sought input from relevant parties instead of thinking up the criteria on their own).

This is basically what I said in response:
When I was four, I worked very hard at flapping my arms. I practiced for hours, and anyone who has a four year old can tell you, it is hard for a child to concentrate on anything for fifteen minutes, much less hours. Despite all of the hard work, my solution to flying was not successful and I learned the lesson with much pain and stitching. Would you like to see the scar on my head?

After that, conversation fell off sharply.