Tuesday, July 17, 2018

fit for posterity

I saved this screenshot of Fox News so that I can remember how they reacted differently than most of the rest of the world, including many Republicans, to Trump's boot licking of Putin.

Although it seems that a couple others are going to hell with their leader. Via Slate:

VP Pence offers a rose-colored view of Trump's Putin summit: "What the world saw, what the American people saw, is that President Donald Trump will always put the prosperity and security of America first."

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Cybersecurity Subcommittee, offered up this explanation: "Everything I’ve seen and all the facts are very clear: Russia did meddle in our election. That was very clear. So I think what actually happened, I think Mr. Putin just got out-Trumped by Trump. If Mr. Putin thinks he can tell a whopper, he’s not gonna be outdone by this president. And so if Mr. Putin is going to look at him and try to straight-faced tell him that they didn’t meddle, our president can look right back at him and tell just as big a whopper back to Putin as Putin told him." 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

vomit comet

While I was splashing about the reservoir with the dogs, SB was on a hydrofoil on his way to Macau with a large group of mostly Canadian hockey players, to celebrate the impending nuptials of the largest of the group, a 6'3" boulder of a man, and Happy Valley neighbor. According to his professional career stats, he shoots left, something that might be helpful if you run into him at your local and want to arm wrestle. SB reported that the seas were rough and that their group was surrounded by vomiting passengers, not an auspicious start to the festivities. The groom, a former Navy diver on top of his hockey creds, was reduced to sweats and shakes by the time they arrived. SB noted that an army of mop bearing cleaners invaded as soon as the doors opened.

The rest of the weekend went very well. SB didn't share all of the details because it would be unsporting, but the rain didn't present an issue at all once they were on land. They even managed time at the pool, albeit without much sunshine, but this might have been a boon for a group of people of the tundra. Now, because the other details of the weekend aren't forthcoming, I must surmise that they spent their time cloud-bathing and drinking clamato.

I imagine that the return trip will be even more exciting, with passengers not being in their best sea form.

Monday, July 9, 2018

never such a believer

On Saturday evening, SB and I attended a house party attended by a large number of Brits. You would have thought we were attending a funeral, so morose were the guests. While stating that they were going to cheer for England in the upcoming match against Sweden, they were the saddest, droopiest group of football fans that I've encountered since SB sulked his way through the Denver Broncos, his team, winning the Superbowl.

These ardent England fans reminded each other how the Three Lions hadn't won since 1966. They sang like a Greek chorus about the failed exploits of their football gods, struck down in their Olympian feats by equally Olympian tragic devices of hubris, injury, and women. Well, this time around Helios will have no objection to their success considering how humbly their supporters are showing their support. I half expect them to wear black and wail through the final should they reach it.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

for barking out loud

With the summer temperatures, the only safe hikes with dogs occur along streams and/or during dawn/dusk. There is also the option of night hiking but I've all but abandoned that because of my dogs' fondness for rooting out boar and porcupines.

Of course, dusk hikes present similar problems because as the forest creatures begin making their treks toward food and watering holes, the dogs' prey drive goes into overdrive. Tippy is especially prey driven and likes nothing more than darting into bushes to flush out irate ground birds or offend a hapless boar with eardrum splitting yelps of excitement. Thankfully she is only about the chase and not interested in any follow up action, not that this reassures me when she's after quilled or tusked prey.

This weekend, Tippy seemed much more focused than usual and it was not especially surprising when she darted off into the brush and disappeared for five minutes. She kept disappearing into the brush and appearing somewhere ahead of my plodding pace until finally she took off like a furry rocket after something. After a few minutes, we heard her excitedly barking in the distance and called her back (recall when she is in this kind of a state does eventually work but not immediately). She returned, panting hard with her tongue practically dragging on the ground and looking mighty excited.

A few minutes later, we came upon this set of tracks, clearly from our Tippy.

And then...

Well, it looks like our barking mad dog was tracking and chasing a barking deer. The best response to being chased is to stop running, like our neighborhood cats have learned, because Tippy is not interested in stationary prey. I doubt that the deer cares much for this advice. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Bowen Road Fitness Trail

The Bowen Road trail is popular and infamous. Thanks to a psychopath, or likely more than one of them, leaving poison and killing family pets, I have not really visited Bowen Road in the years since SB and I adopted Tippytoes and Elsie. Today SB took the little weasels to splash in the stream so I took the opportunity to revisit the urban trail. I walked out of Happy Valley and steamed my way on hot pavement along Kennedy Road to Bowen Drive, which is opposite a Sinopec station. The incline up Bowen drive will get your heart rate going. If you want to get the full 4k Bowen Trail experience, you would walk slightly further down to Kennedy Road and up Borrett Road.

You can gauge your incline by comparing the floors on the adjacent buildings as you climb. 

Just when you start wondering how much further, the trail entrance comes into view. There is a park next to the trail. Along the trail are stops with fitness equipment for people who want to do circuits. There are also areas with seating for the more sedately paced users. At the halfway point of the trail at Wanchai Gap is another park and playground area, as well as toilets. A bit further down is a tennis court. It's really a great amenity for all types of residents to use and it's such a shame about the dog poisoners.

The trail begins

I like that the trail offers the feeling of being up in the trees while winding among buildings and civilization. It's different feeling than a country park, where you are more immersed in the natural environment. It is around 3.25km to go from entrance to entrance, plus another 0.75km to follow Bowen Road to it's termination point.

The view looking at Wanchai 

Toward Causeway Bay

the Opus by Frank Gehry

The park within the trail

Wanchai Gap

A playground and tennis court appear in a surprising location

Lover's Rock is a place where women can pray for partnership or fertility. The steps leading up to the rock have several landings with offerings from believers, or at least hopers. At the top of the stairs where the rock is located, you can have nearly panoramic views of Hong Kong. I didn't take pictures because there was a woman who seemed to be seriously praying at the top and I didn't want to interrupt her. So go have a look for yourself. If you want the full on experience, wait for the scorchingly hot seventh day of the seventh moon of the Chinese calendar (in August) for the Maiden's Festival, when the shrine is most frequently visited.

One of the fitness exercise stops along the way

The trail winds in and out of neighborhoods

Wong Nai Chung gap in the distance

A peek at Happy Valley

The old boundary marker when Hong Kong was a smaller, contained city

Upper Happy Valley and near completion

The Eastern entrance to the trail

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

unconscionable, inhumane, intolerable

It shouldn't matter what side of the aisle you sit on when issues of human rights are brought to attention, and the support that our president is receiving from most Republican voters is horrific. The majority of my family is Republican and SB leans to the right of center, and they are appalled by what is going on with the separate detention of children. SB tells me that there are many like him but from what I've seen of his party, I don't think so. I am beginning to believe that 49% of the US population is racist, and that the party of "family values" only view family values in terms of "traditional" (white) families. Ivanka Trump, the self styled champion of women and children for the Trump administration is busy fundraising while children are ripped from their parental comfort and caged.

Anyone who has taken AP or beginner college psychology will have heard of the experiments on attachment theory conducted by Harry Harlow. It is in my opinion the single most important lesson in behavioral and early childhood psychology. While of great importance, it was also intensely cruel. Harlow discovered many times over that separating baby Rhesus monkeys from maternal care affected them immensely and irrevocably for the rest of their lives.  He repeated this experiment in many variations and the results were compelling and heartbreaking every time. You can read about his experiments here: https://exploringyourmind.com/harlows-experiments-on-attachment-theory/

I found reading about the experiments to be difficult as a teenager despite how self involved my teenage self was, and now as an adult I can barely tolerate thinking about those poor animals who were subjected to what amounted to mental torture. The idea that anyone could stand behind public policy carrying out such cruelty upon children is almost beyond comprehension. The god that Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders are using to justify their horror is not one that I recognize in any religion. I must ask where is their humanity?

I am reminded by my aunt Nine telling me that if anyone were to harm her children, she would wish them dead. All children are our children, our FUTURE, and to those who harm children, I wish them dead.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sir Cecil's Ride

Our frequent hiking friend will be out of action for a little while, because she has opened her own practice in North Point. North Point Animal Hospital will have two resident veterinarians, Dr. Ruth (BVSc MRCVS CertAVP) and Dr. Tim (BVSc, MVS, PgCertVs, MRCVS). SB and I took Tippytoes and Elsie to the grand opening, which was probably the only time that they were excited to go to the vet. We were given a tour of the compact facility and the architect in me was impressed at the space planning and customized metalwork. It was interesting to see the surgical area set up more like a human hospital than a lot of vet hospitals that we have seen. The surgical area had custom stainless steel 316 grade counters in an open area with easy wash down and sterilization. 

After our tour, we watched some very impressive lion dancers mark the grand opening by scaling posts held by their friends, and spewing lettuce at the lucky vets. Interestingly, Elsie who likes to sit at the window and enjoy thunderstorms, was really unhappy about the drumming and made SB carry her away. Tippy, who cowers at thunder and cringes when our neighbor's child bangs on his door, was fascinated by the drumming and performance.

SB hauls away his sensitive hound

Tippy had a blast

Tippy wants to know when visiting hours are

We walked home via Sir Cecil's Ride, which is a favorite summertime hiking area because it's shaded and has plenty of water features sources. There are dozens of paths to choose from all over Braemar Hill so that your walk on Sir Cecil's Ride can be as easy or difficult as you want. Usually we like to start off from Mt. Butler Road and then join up to the Wilson Trail but this time we walked up from North Point, climbing up the stairs through Tin Hau Temple Road Garden, walking past Choi Sai Woo Park, and then entering at the Braemar Hill Road Playground.

We walked around 3.5km on the trail, stopping to splash in the streams and enjoy the amazing views of the city and harbour. Then we walked down Mt Butler Road and picked up another small path that led us to the top of Happy Valley, and onward home.

Sir Cecil's Ride from Breamar Hill to Mt Butler Rd

Walking home

Isn't this gorgeous!?

The day was perfect