Friday, March 13, 2015


Google Earth Pro is now free!!! You're welcome.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

celebrate tonight...and tomorrow

In case you didn't know that Valley won the top honors in last night's grand championship, the sheer number of red polo clad celebrants gathered around the Valley Bar & Grill may have clued you in. I wonder how many of their number haven't been home is 24 hours. There was an impressive haka performed by shirtless men and the requisite number of animal costumes. I made the mistake of stopping to talk with some familiar faces as SB and I were returning home from a walk with the dogs. Tippy was snuggled against her will by a very large man while I had to suffer the embarrassment of having to extract Elsie from where she stood peering up another man's kilt on several occasions; she just kept returning for another look or sniff or whatever it was that so fascinated her.

Of the five teams that made it to grand championship finals, I saw four of them win. I didn't see if the fifth team also won but four wins is plenty. The men and women won the premiership divisions. In my opinion the best match by far was the lower Premiership A division, between Valley and Football Club. Valley won by a comfortable score margin but Football Club never stopped competing. The players' talent level and intensity made for good viewing, and there were enough mistakes and strange decisions to keep the match interesting. I felt that the premiership grand final was clinical and well executed by both Valley and HKCC, which was probably to the pleasure of the coaching staff but not as fun for the spectators. In the 79th minute of the match when it became clear that HKCC was not going to win, things became interesting. Suddenly the attack got more creative and it led to an exciting consolation try. 

For my club, SCAA CWB's top team made it to the Championship grand final, which we won over Gai Wu. It was a messy match with moments of brilliance almost immediately followed by moments of disaster. It was good viewing if you were not invested in a team. I spent the waning minutes of the match in agony as our team committed penalty after penalty. 

Next season will be an interesting one as we have a lot of changes ahead. Our top men's team is going to do a lot of soul searching over the summer and decide if they will remain in Championship or move up a division. I will also be doing a lot of soul searching because while I hope to remain as the mini chairman, I may return as a player...for another team. I have only ever played with SCAA CWB and I never thought that I would leave them but after a season away I don't think that I'm really ready to hang up my boots, and returning to the women's team is not an option. I've been kindly invited to join two nearby clubs so we'll see if I can actually stomach the move.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

gone tomorrow...or today

What a week it has been! Four of the colleagues who I used to occasionally have lunch with disappeared after we came back from the Chinese New Year. That's when I found out that our company does a spring cleaning of sorts. Our HR policies are such that their desks still contain personal effects which I assume will be boxed up and sent to them in the near future.

And then my boss quit rather spectacularly. Oy vey, as my neighbor used to say. I would be nervous if not for the fact that very few people want to do what I do, much less have any experience at it. Of course this means that my new boss doesn't seem to want the promotion, or at least that's what I figured after watching her anxious facial expression as I explained the bones of the project. I didn't even get to the messy stuff before she said that she would need several weeks if not months to review and get caught up. Ha! Ain't nobody got that kind of time (though I keep that thought to myself for now).

I was especially thrilled when she told me that she doesn't get along well with other women. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with that information. Was she warning me or do I need to stop showing up to work in work boots and a hardhat?

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.