Friday, October 2, 2015

bodies moving

The past few weeks have seen a steep increase in companionship on our hikes. As the weather gets less intense, we have gone from solitary hikes to rambles with friends and other dogs. Not that our hikes have ever been monotonous but it's been very enjoyable to have a change in the routine.

Yesterday, a last minute social media posting was quickly answered by a friend who I haven't seen since my days as a Sandy Bay coach. He's been busy in the past couple of years, having seriously taken up hiking. A former prop, he is still of a front row physique, which is misleading. He set a determined pace that had the dogs and me puffing along. If not for our breaks to hydrate and water down the dogs, we would have plowed our way through the usually 2 hour hike in half the time. Of course our usual hikes include stoppages to splash in streams but this man's pace was impressive.

He is going to attempt to complete the HK trailwalker after two failures. He suceeded the Japan trailwalker but this one has eluded him. During the first year he suffered a freak injury when quite suddenly, he was unable to place any weight on his left leg, which still baffles him as to what happened. The second attempt saw him teamed up with a man who was in his own program, insisting that he was going to do the trailwalker as he remembered it over a decade ago. The man left them to complete the "correct" course and the team eventually caught up with him as he was entering the shivery stage of heat stroke. His teammates did not return the favor and abandon him.

During our hike yesterday, we came across a dozen or so people who seemed to be part of the same group, only staggered along the twins by twenty minutes. The ones in front looked tired but the ones in the back were downright miserable. They were all impressively kitted out in ultra runner clothing, with high end shoes and running backpacks. I wondered what the story was. Office entry into the trailwalker perhaps?

SB wanted to do the trailwalker previously but several stints as support crew changed his mind. The glory of completing the course in his mind didn't take into account the pain. Watching your very fit friends vomiting and swaying about like zombies puts a damper on enthusiasm to partake. Now SB is happy to limit his participation to going on training hikes with people who are preparing for the hellish event. I never had such lofty ambitions and have always been happy to be the water girl. I'm a very good water girl.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

super bloody moon

After getting caught up in all of the excitement about this magical doomsday moon, SB and I hiked to the hills over Tai Tam reservoir to behold the autumn lunar event. We began having misgivings hours before when we observed the not-unusual cover of haze (pollution) and gathering clouds but decided to go ahead because...well, because we didn't exactly have anything better to do. By the time that it was dark, the cloud cover all but obscured any sight of the moon. Well, darn.

SB's eldest sister had no better luck from her location in Pittsburgh, where there was also cloud cover. SB's brother has been in a month-long snit and was not contacted. His ire is directed at the eldest sister but we all feel the effects of his wrath (he takes after their father in this regard). My sister was useless; her child is a year and a half old but she still has pregnancy brain and can't be counted on to add one and one together, much less draw a curtain and look out the window to observe the moon. SB's youngest sister was our last hope. She reported that she saw the moon, and that was all. As she aspires to be a journalist, we had greater expectations from her. At least a description of the colour would have been nice...

Meanwhile, everyone waiting on their roofs for the end of the world were thwarted, yet again, as they are thwarted every time the end of the world or apocalypse, whatever, is predicted. Pastor Hagee and all of his cohorts quickly rushed to clarify that when they said end of times blood moon, they didn't mean this particular one, sorry if you misunderstood. But please keep sending in your donations, heh, heh.

All was not for naught, because I saw my first porcupine after years of finding evidence of them. It rushed past us, looking very large, probably due to being in full plumage or bristlage or however you refer to porcupines that have their quills puffed out. I assume that it was passing us in flight from the furbabies who were prancing ahead in the dark. Did you know that rustling porcupine quills sound not too dissimilar to a snake rattle? So I learned one new thing that evening.

Friday, September 25, 2015

desperately devoted

Tippytoes has a bit of a problem. I don't know how it came about exactly but one day, seemingly out of the blue, she cast her eyes in my direction and suddenly realized that she loved me. I mean, really, really loved me. It was like in those romantic fictions, when the character is suddenly struck by Cupid's arrow. The next thing that I knew, she was frantically licking me to the point that I had to wear knee socks for several weeks until she finally calmed down. A year later, she is still desperately attached to me but without the full on psychosis. Now instead of showing me her love with a tongue bath, she usually settles for throwing herself on top of me or rolling belly up before me, usually while I am trying to step around her. I love her, though. How can I not when she has such good taste? I meant that figuratively, by the way.

SB and I recently took a short trip to San Francisco to attend a wedding and visit my nephew. It was the first time that both of us left the dogs and I was a stress ball about it, but our dog sitter reported that all was well aside from Tip not eating very well. When SB and I returned, we were not too surprised that both dogs threw themselves at us in a frenzy of excitement. Elsie raced back and forth, hauling over her most beloved toys to offer as tribute, while Tippy flailed about like a fish and made weird, crying noises. After having our flight delayed by eight hours and all of our luggage lost (how do you not load all of the luggage when the plane is at the gate for eight hours?!) it was a very pleasurable homecoming.

After returning from my first day back at the office, I was greeted with only slightly less enthusiasm from Tippy. Unfortunately, I was exhausted and promptly went to bed, leaving her apparently dissatisfied with the amount of cuddling that I had imparted. At some point during my deep slumber, I felt a thump on the mattress and suddenly, there was my dog. The bed is a lovely teak framed canopy that is high from the floor. I cannot touch the floor with my short legs when I sit at the edge of the bed. I was impressed by how Tippy managed to leap onto the bed, though she will not be allowed to repeat her performance.

While I was delirious with fatigue, Tippy was able to take advantage and lick me frantically, like she used to a year ago. At some point I had to pull her from where she was latched onto my armpit and suckling. Because she's a weirdo like that. Then she proceeded to lick my face and managed to stick her tongue in my mouth as I was grumbling at her to stop. Now, I adore my dog as much as any other crazy dog lover, but I am not a fan of being french kissed by a canine. There are those people who are down with receiving wet, slobbery face kisses, but I am not one of them.

My best friend is one. Not only does she kiss her dog, but I once saw her sharing breakfast with it, as in both of them licking the same cereal spoon together. All I can say about that is it's a good thing that she is a gorgeous redhead with a rocking body because it means that her husband is too busy staring at her boobs to notice that she's making out with a chihuahua. Me, I don't have huge boobs so I guess that I'm better off being normal.

Friday, August 21, 2015

stop it

I found something to jolt me out of my happiness bubble: a ludicrous Hong Kong consultancy report and planning application to remove the tram service from Admiralty to Central.

(source: Hong Kong Hustle)

While one of my degrees is in planning, you don't have to be a planner to pick out the faults in the breathtaking tunnel vision displayed by the study. To sum it up, the cure to the congestion that is plaguing Central is to remove the tram lane since it takes up 30% of the roadway.

It makes sense. If you removed the tram, it would clear up an extra lane in Central for private cars to circle endlessly while waiting for VIP businessmen to emerge from buildings, as one lane is not enough to accommodate all of the high flyers who work in the area. In Admiralty, the extra lane could be converted to another waiting area for the logjam of vehicles trying to enter the Hung Hom tunnel. Yes, the proposal to clear away the tram would be very beneficial to the congestion problem created by private cars.

Aside from the historical value, trams are part of the public transportation network that connects from micro scale to macro scale with buses, taxis and MTR connecting at larger scale and trams, mini buses and trams at a more local level. This system is affordable and equitable for all people. It is alarming that a consultancy group has failed to understand the positive aspects of transportation planning that includes affordable tram service for those who cannot walk intermediate distances such as senior citizens who are frequent tram users. Trams provide service by connecting distances that may not be walkable for some people.

Addressing the congestion issue, while tram lines do occupy 30% of roadways in areas that are reserved for tram usage, I would suggest sending this planning consultancy (who obviously have nothing to gain from their findings, which is why they made an immediate planning application on behalf of nobody to remove the trams without undergoing previous public consultation) back to conduct a field study to analyze the traffic impact when lanes are blocked by private cars waiting illegally as well as circling slowly. There is no tram involved in the traffic backup through the Hung Hom tunnel all the way to Aberdeen.

It would be a better solution to introduce congestion fees for private cars entering Admiralty through Central, to curb the amount of private car users who prefer to drive into Central rather than use public transportation.

The deadline to comment on the tram land removal proposal is 4 September. It only takes a few minutes to register your comment.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

no news is good news

My posts to the blog have dropped in the past year and I apologize to my readers but there isn't much that I can do about it. It's not like anything catastrophic has happened--just the opposite, in fact. Being too darn happy is the problem.

Yes, happy.

I mean, my job still has its ups and downs (we made the news last month when everyone had their salary slashed 5-20%) but the rest of my life is coming up roses and it is affecting my blog posts. Frankly, I could still post regularly but who wants to read about how gosh darned happy I am all of the time? It would be nauseating to read, and probably nauseating to write.

The great uplift happened when we got our dogs in February of last year. The furbabies have changed my life and made me a happier, more annoying person. Now instead of staying out all night, I prefer to come home and cuddle the dogs. I corner colleagues in the printer room to discuss how cute my dog was when she did something banal. My desktop is littered with images of the dogs. In many of the pictures, they aren't even conscious, because sleeping dogs are sooo adorable!

So yes, I have become lame and am trying no to subject you guys to the extent of my lameness. If you don't hear from me, don't assume the worst, although for some people, my sudden personality change isn't well received. I used to be deliciously acerbic, but now I'm a sugary mess.

Monday, August 17, 2015

you can thank her never

My friend A's ex is getting married. She has complicated feelings about this guy because she has good memories of their time together but their breakup was a messy affair. Despite moving on with someone else before breaking things off with her, he--like any good Catholic--had to make himself out to be a victim. I've known this guy through several girlfriends and know him to always talk about being treated poorly by his girlfriends so I wasn't surprised. Even now, he's said enough about his fiance that people who don't know him well are expressing worry about the upcoming marriage due to his fiance's horrible temper. Par for the course.

Amazingly, A's current boyfriend has been asked to serve as best man. The ex befriended him a couple of years ago, strangely enough, due to their mutual fondness for weightlifting. A's boyfriend was thrown at the request and tried to steer the ex toward asking someone who he's known for longer, but the ex seems out of groomsmen. After ignoring the weirdness for as long as she could, A finally asked her boyfriend about his travel plans (the wedding is in the United States). Was he going to host the stag do here or in the US? The boyfriend was unaware that he was hosting a stag do so A explained to him that as the best man, he likely was expected to throw a party for the groom.

This was how A ended up planning her ex's stag do. Because she is kind hearted and not the terrible shrew that she was made out to be, she actually helped her boyfriend plan something fun with suitable debauchery. Personally, I'm a more spiteful type and I would have booked him into a flower arranging course or something similarly painful.

Friday, August 14, 2015

where's waldon?

SB is on his annual month long stay in the woods. When we used to live in New York, he made the trip to the Adirondacks almost every weekend but now he is confined to twice per year, maximum. At least he gets a long spell of respite and recharge while I, yet again, have work commitments that keep me here in Hong Kong. While I was suffering through some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Hong Kong, he was taking in the pristine wilderness and silence of the lakefront camp that will be his home for most of August.

On Monday morning with temperatures already in the thirties, I trudged through a five hour long site inspection. At the same time in New York, SB was rowing home from visiting a friend's camp, guided only by memory and a bit of moonlight. He is living the Thoreau dream while not. And I am jealous. I want my bit of beauty and wonderment also.

It sounds like heaven: no phone, no internet, no interference from the outside world. Just slow, slow living. Emptiness and vastness all around.