Monday, November 23, 2015
Friday, November 20, 2015
Saturday, November 14, 2015
In our walk we ran into three hikers who seemed vaguely eastern European and clearly not enamored with our dogs. While passing their disgruntled selves, Will and I had a debate over whether they were Russian and grumpy because of 'roid rage. Who wouldn't love such adorable creatures?
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Friday, October 30, 2015
My uncle had an apron that read “Chef F*ck”. It was very appropriate; every time he was in the kitchen, you could hear him cursing up a storm as a series of unfortunate events befell him. While my work is rewarding 80% of the time, every day I encounter a mind boggling example of bureaucratic incompetence. Today’s was just so amazing that I had to share it:
Sunday, October 25, 2015
Of my checklist of must-visit outlying islands, only one item remained. It had been over five years ago that I checked off my second to last item, the Ninepin Islands, but for an array of different reasons, the Soko Islands eluded me.
There were so many activities every weekend, as is the busy-bee way of life here, and eventually I all but gave up. Our hiking buddy, cousin Shoils, began a family, then we got two dogs, and our island adventures came to a halt.
Last week Shoils suddenly messaged us to let us know that someone had posted on a geocaching group that she belongs to, and the organizer wanted to venture to the Soko Islands. Yesterday we joined three other people for a wonderful exploration.
I have heard that you may book a sampan from Lantau but we booked from Cheng Chau. This is an all-day booking because the sampan operator will wait for you to take you home due to the travel time and distance.
It takes around eighty minutes to travel each way from Cheng Chau; we spent three hours exploring Tai A Chau (大鴉洲) that housed the Vietnamese detention centre and then another hour at a neighboring island, Siu A Chau (小鴉洲), that had a very lovely beach..and a radioactive waste facility.
As a grateful tag-along to the geocaching group, as well as not knowing what to expect, I only packed my medium sized bag with water, food, one layer of extra clothing, and my first aid kit. I forgot my mosquito repellent, which was unfortunate since we spent a lot of time exploring forested pathways and ponds.
I already am formulating plans to return with my DLR camera, but the area was so picturesque that even my phone camera snaps were lovely and I had a hard time narrowing down my selection to share.
I had a personal reason for wanting to make the trip: during the two years of my childhood that my family lived in Hong Kong, my mother became involved with volunteering to assist with the refugees. We were able to organize occasional activities between Vietnamese girls and my girl scout troop. My mother sometimes went to the Soko Islands to work with the refugees but as a child, I was not permitted to go. I wondered about the detainment camp where the Vietnamese children lived. I still wonder what became of them, if they integrated into Hong Kong or if they were sent back.
While the camp was demolished, as an architect I was able to walk through the site and piece together the housing blocks, shower and kitchen facilities, and ancillary buildings. I imagined that the ground down steel tubes held up shading canopies between buildings.
Today, devoid of the thousands of refugees, the area is hauntingly beautiful. You can look across the expanse of foundation nestled in a valley, from seafront to seafront, and it is a commanding view. The paths and roads are overgrown in the best of ways with canopies of fragrantly blooming vines and greenery. It would be easy to forget the purpose of the site and imagine seafront holiday bungalows a la Santorini or Koh Samui. Or maybe a spectacle like Sea Ranch.
I am so glad that I finally made it.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
I hope that aside from leaving Joubert to hang, World Rugby takes a proactive position and reviews the purview of the TMO. When the TMO was first introduced, he was recognized as performing a service to the game, assisting the referee at critical areas of the match such as when tries needed confirmation or when foul play needed review. Then, a few years ago, we started experiencing issues when referees became less assured of their competence and suddenly the TMO was involved in reviewing every painful second of every try. I don't think anyone wants to go back to those times.
If I ruled World Rugby, I would suggest taking a page from the NFL's challenge system. Each coach is given two challenges that may be used in a match. The challenges must occur during stoppage in play, and be thrown down before the other team restarts play, such as when Foley is lining up his kick, but not if he quickly taps the ball and plays the penalty. The challenges cannot be used if the referee has stopped play and engaged the TMO already, much like how the NFL will not allow the coach to contradict a decision that has already been further reviewed.
I think that if teams were allowed limited use of challenges to a referee's decision, it would not undermine the referee. There are many times during a match when the referee is not in the best position to observe the actions of thirty players in contact with each other, and I don't think that it's a bad thing if a coach asked for a TMO review, especially if the call is a critical one. I think that Joubert would not have minded if Scotland had been allowed to use the TMO. He is one of the best in the world and it's a shame how he is being blamed for a decision that he made to the best of his ability.