Monday, December 15, 2014

all things come to a halt

This morning I was greeted by the sight of stalled traffic in Causeway Bay due to the poorly planned and executed police operation to line up Hennessy Road with a dozen vans, seemingly without having taken into consideration the Monday morning commute. At the front of the traffic snarl, a police officer was arguing with an irate bus driver while other drivers milled about on the street complaining with each other or taking pictures of the police vans that were blocking the intersection. Several hundred people being made late to work is a small sacrifice to restoring order by being able to easily load a couple dozen protesters into on of the multitude of transportation vans. Possibly each protester could have their own private prison shuttle.

Friday, December 12, 2014

no such thing as privacy

In case there was still a person out there in the world who still felt like they were protected behind their double passworded, firewalled, anti-virus pro plus account, the Sony hacks were a wake up call. If someone wants to access your private online information badly enough, they will find a way. Personally, I feel moderately secure only because I'm just not interesting enough for anyone to take the time to hack me.

I have strong feelings about the publication of Sony emails. In a lot of ways I consider media reports of the private conversations between Sony executives, especially those relating to legal counsel, to be a gross violation of privacy in the same way as publishing private, naked pictures. No legitimate news agency wanted to touch the naked pictures for fear of being sued six ways to Sunday, not to mention their claims of being better people than that. Maybe it's due to my comfort level of my body but if I had a choice, I would rather the world know my personal grooming habits than know my personal discussions. I would much rather frolic about with everything hanging out than let my most private thoughts be hurled onto the public stage.

I start and delete a lot of blog posts because in the rereading I discover that they reveal too much. I share a lot of myself with my readers, more than I ever thought that I would share with strangers, but I draw the line at vomiting out all of my major malfunctions in detail. It is horrifying to think that someone could break into my account and share the crazy emails that pass between my family onto a public forum, and that news agencies could repeat it until only Gollum and his fellow hermits would have been excluded from the list of people who have invaded my privacy. 

And in case anyone has confused me for interesting, let me save the time of hacking my stuff and reveal my deep, dark secret that I am batshit crazy and have plenty of electronic proof of this. And if you look up the emails between my family members around the holidays you will find that I come by it rightfully.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

end of the road?

SB and I scurried over to Admiralty to bear witness to the clearing out of the protesters. As it turned out, they were not exactly being cleared out, except for the ones blocking the entrance to some government buildings. There was mounting frustration on both sides, but SB and I tend to back those who aren't armed with batons and clubbing people.

Over in our homeland, people are divided among race lines over several shootings of black teenagers and kids by the police.  There kids weren't exactly boy scouts and attempts by their friends to paint them as saints have largely hurt their cases as we are now skeptical of everything that was claimed by the friends, but I believe that the greater issue is that our peace officers have amongst their numbers, fellows who aren't so interested in diffusing a situation. All it takes is one hotshot with a gun and something to prove. I read somewhere that this may be about angry black people against the police, but it is just as much about angry white people against change.

Maybe, just maybe, the high number of black people being arrested isn't due to their high level of criminality as a race.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Peak to Fong

On Sunday I turned over my rugby kids to another coach so that I could accompany my furbabies on a dog themed event sponsored by Disney. It was a fundraising hike for the Hong Kong Dog Rescue, which was well attended by canines of all shaped and sizes. People walked, carried, and wheeled their pets from the Peak Galleria to Lan Kwai Fong, where a street carnival awaited us.

The walk wasn't anything special; in fact, it was a bit of a mess unless you were the owner of a small dog. For the rest of us, it was a painfully slow progression downward. There was a traffic jam due to a two meter rise in the trail at one point, if that gives you an idea of the fitness levels. It was a test of our dogs' social abilities, being crowded with so many humans and dogs. All of our friends commented with us that the dogs were pulling harder on their leads than normal and some were exhibiting signs of stress. The highlight of the walk was passing a busload of mainland tourists, many of whom were very displeased to be confronted by so many dogs. Apparently a few of  the tour groups did not know that this was the annual dog walk day or didn't care but their clientele sure did. I got a few chuckles watching several tourists retreating back into the bus with great haste. If you are afraid of dogs, this was probably the closest that you would get to your worst nightmare come to life. Heh.

Down in the Fong, we met a wonderful couple who had helped to care for Elsie and Tippytoes back when they were inmates in Tai Po. The woman was very happy that both dogs seemed to recognize her and greeted her. She kept asking if we were sure that they knew her and we kept assuring her that they certainly did. It's not like Tippy has every thrown herself into a random stranger's lap, although she has tried to enter other people's cars but that is because she knows that taxis mean fun destinations.

I was concerned that Elsie, being the more skittish of the pair, would not enjoy the festival but whatever reservations she may have had disappeared around the time that someone fed her a dog treat sample. She had so much fun that she went straight to bed when we arrived  home, her belly filled with two doggie gelatos, carob dog treats, organic dog treats, numerous other dog treats that were handed to her at the various booths, and half of a muffin wrapper.

Oh yeah, and ten pieces of chicken. There was a competition for catching chicken. We were standing close by and Elsie became very interested when the competition began so SB took her for a closer look. Most of the competitors were small, cute lap dogs. They didn't seem so enamored with the chicken. One owner had near perfect aim and the chicken pieces were literally bouncing off the dog's face. SB asked if he could enter the competition but was told that the entries were closed. After a few more minutes of Elsie bobbing her head back and forth watching chicken being thrown and not caught, the organizers took pity and let her enter the contest.

It did not start well. SB placed her on stage and she hunched over facing the wrong way and looked miserable. Then he got the chicken and she turned to face him like a plant following the sun. The sun being chicken, not SB. It was not SB's day to be accurate. His first pitch went wide right but somehow Elsie dove and the chicken never touched the ground. SB threw high and she jumped, clamping that chicken like she was performing at Sea World. This continued for eight more throws with SB lobbing bricks at her and Elsie making remarkable saves. She sure does love her chicken. They scored 10 out of 10 and tied for the win with two larger dogs that may have had a golden retriever in their family trees. You can't expect a golden not to win in competitions that involve food.

 Elsie going for the win (source: Hong Kong Dog Rescue)

 Elsie was displeased to discover that her prize was not more chicken.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

danger in every turn

One of our club's most valuable players was involved in a horrible construction accident. A person was killed and our friend was very badly injured. We are all thankful that he is alive. After several weeks in intensive care he has been relocated to a hospital very close to us so SB and I are looking forward to visiting him.

In the meantime one of SB's hockey friends broke his leg very badly. From glancing at the X-ray I saw five to seven distinct pieces that were not attached to anything. He is having reconstructive surgery today. We are hoping for a full recovery because he is a skating instructor and needs his body for his livelihood.

While we were in the hospital visiting the hockey player we discovered that another rugby player from our club was being wheeled out of surgery for yet another freak accident. He broke his hip and almost severed a large nerve. He couldn't feel his foot before the operation but since surgery he has been able to slightly move it and we hope that physiotherapy can help him to regain his mobility quickly. He told us that the nerve is supposed to repair at the rate of 1 mm per day, so at that rate it will be healed in a year for a worst case scenario.

From there we discovered that there were two other rugby players from other teams in the ward, one who was undergoing neck surgery and one who also had some sort of leg trauma. When I requested the day off to visit my friends before and after surgery, I thought that my story sounded unbelievable to my own ears. Yeah right, my boss must have been thinking, you have three friends in hospital with broken legs. It's like those college students who ask for extensions due to dying grandmothers every semester before finals until by the time that they graduate, six or seven grandmothers have passed away.

And so this morning I could only shake my head in shock when I read an email from my boss, stating that he had fallen down some stairs last night.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

where's the fire

Today marked our annual office fire drill, a necessary evil for those of us in tall buildings. Each year, upon discovery that we have to complete the entire escape without shortcuts, the fire drill organizers are met with a disproportionate number of complaints and excuses compared the the actual inconvenience caused. This is some type of right of passage I believe.

Upon observing reactions to the fire drill, you can get a fairly accurate personality profile of colleagues. The younger ones who are probably the most physically able of the workforce are also the loudest of the complainants, but this is to be expected when taking into consideration that they are also the most likely to submit reports filled with hyperbole. The self important higher level staff are never seen during the fire drill because they have really important meetings and are excused. No one questions the sudden exodus of associate level and above staff ten minutes prior to the drill, nor that these meetings all adjourn within the hour. The colleagues less likely to carry their weight on a project are also most likely to be literally unable to carry their own weight. During the drill, they are excused from participating for sensitive health reasons and continue to sit at their desks playing solitaire. Of the actual fire drill participants, you can easily identify the colleagues most likely to miss deadlines and overlook urgent emails. They are the ones hobbling down forty two flights of stairs in wobbly high heels or pinching oxfords because they woke up that morning in their typical state of being and forgot one more thing in their list of things that they can't recall.

Unfortunately the hobblers tend to travel in flocks and one particular flock in the front of the drill caused a traffic jam by attempting to open the fire doors at every floor and re-enter the building rather than walking down the remaining flights. Due to those dodos standing about on the stairs and blocking other people from continuing down, we have been informed that our group failed the fire drill by not exiting the building in a timely manner and now will have to undergo a remedial fire drill.

You can tell who the Type A personalities of the office are by noting who is glaring laser beams of rage at the wobbly dodos on the elevator ride back up to our office.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

her life as a robot

Some of my friends asked me if it was really a good idea to be talking about my job in a blog. I asked my boss and he doesn't mind as long as I properly describe how brilliant he is. Besides, the person who I didn't want finding out that he was being called an ass was copied on the email so the worst case scenario has already occurred.

Today I will  highlight another project manager who has since left her job, probably to become a customer service representative at PCCW. From my numerous telephone conversations with equally numerous customer service representatives that have resulted in likewise equally numerous futile results, I can assure you that she would shine at that job. She would perform spectacularly.

During her time as a manager of a major interdisciplinary project, she performed her job as something akin to a poorly calibrated mail sorting facility. Information would be received and sent out for distribution. "Please arrange a meeting between the civil and drainage disciplines," an email would read, and she would forward the message to everyone. The end result was that the civil and drainage team showed up for the meeting so it was no problem in her mind that architectural, structural and building services were all receiving corporate spam. 

My rock bottom of working with her happened when the client asked whether a requested kiosk had been included in the drawings. I replied that the kiosk had been added and attached a file with the item circled on the drawing in red pen. The project manager added my markup to the queue of drawing amendments and later insisted that I needed to update the drawing to show a circle on the floor around the item because it had been in my markup. "We need to match the markup that was issued to the contractor," she insisted. This went on for a month. Every other day she emailed me to remind me that I had not yet added the circle to the floor tile pattern and that I was delaying the issuance of the drawing amendment. At my wit's end, I finally called her boss who apologized and confided that he sometimes wondered if she was a robot.