Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tiananmen 13 held by police as police confiscate statue for victims

 And so bit by bit, HK loses its democracy and no one notices.  Taken from the Associated Press:

 Police in Hong Kong yesterday confiscated a statue mourning victims of China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown and arrested 13 activists.  Critics condemned the move as an escalation of political censorship in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

China’s military suppression of pro-democracy student protesters in Beijing in June 1989, which left hundreds dead, is still a taboo topic on the mainland.  But in Hong Kong, the incident is openly mourned as the June 4 anniversary looms. Activists had set up the Goddess of Democracy statue outside Times Square as part of their annual commemorative activities.  Activist Albert Ho said: ‘We’ve staged similar activities before and have never been treated so barbarically and so violently. This is clearly a move designed to crack down on mourning activities for Tiananmen Square.’

The "Goddess of Democracy" statue — a replica of a similar statue that was erected in Tiananmen Square during the 1989 protests — depicts a woman holding a torch and a book labeled with the words, "Liberty," ''Democracy" and "Justice."

I have always been touched to see how the people of Hong Kong have rallied to remember and show their support to the students who died on June 4.  It reminds me of the killing of students and Kent State University on 4 May 1970 during the Vietnam War era is the States.  I hope that each new generation will tell the next generation so that we don't forget what happened.

Hawaii bans shark fins

Not only is it going to be illegal to possess shark fins after July in Hawaii, but almost more importantly it will be illegal to land shark fins at Hawaii ports, thus taking Hawaii out of any export equations. 

This law had a lot of debate from ethnic Chinese in Hawaii who pointed out that sharks were part of culture.  I believe that this is true, but it is also true that shark fin consumption is a cultural tradition carried out by those who could afford them and prove to others that they could afford the luxurious indulgence of shark fin.  At what point does tradition become hegemonic and elitist?  And never mind that sharks are viewed as ancestral gods (aumakua) in Hawaii. 

Sharks are over-fished and many shark species are endangered.  Sharks are being killed for their fins at a rate of 89 million per year, and over 30% of open ocean sharks are in danger of extinction.  That is the situation.  If we continue to allow the tradition of shark consumption by millions of wealthy people, we may not have to worry about this tradition for much longer.

The only solution of banning shark fins until the population can overcome their dire situation seems so simple and logical to me.  Why is it even up for debate?  Anyone care to enlighten me?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

music today

SB and I were walking around Central today when we came upon this:

I like the man who is standing well in front of the crows and checking out the "mannequins"

The band was really good.  Really, really good.  SB then noticed a fellow rugby mate from years back standing at the side of H&M not looking like he was there to do any shopping.  As it turned out, rugby mate was an event organizer for Music Matters Live, which was going on through this weekend.  He urged us to come out to Lan Kwai Fong and catch some really good bands.  The fabulous band we were seeing in the H&M storefront was Julien Drolon of France. 

I highly recommend checking out the live acts that have arrived from all corners of the globe to entertain the masses here.  And rumor is that the Rolling Stones agent and other industry heavy hitters are strolling throughout the festival looking for the next big thing.

For more information:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Well gee, how did that not happen?

One year has officially passed since Igor Panarin, a former spokesman for Russia’s Federal Space Agency and reportedly an ex-KGB analyst, declared in early 2009 that the United States would collapse in 2010, partly due to gays.  Obviously our strong efforts to deny civil rights to homosexuals saved us all in the end (hooray Proposition 8)! 

Now we have only a few more months to see if we do indeed splinter into six states.

Friday, May 21, 2010

On farming

I wanted to share this article about an experiment between the Nature Conservancy and Northwestern farmers that has yielded positive results from flooding their fields and re-creating wetlands for migrating birds.  I will file this away with my other backup plans.

At this point in time, my fantasy life involves teaching or practicing architecture in a town of small city with a top tier academic university and owning a few acres of historic farmland where I grow fruits, vegetables, practice gardening, and have a small gaggle of chickens. 

And SB wants a goat, too. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Off Season

Rugby season is over for me (I have no interest in playing sevens, especially during the summer) and that means the beginning of hiking season.

I know from experience that in a month or so I will only be hiking to places and end with bodies of water.  After several hikes to Sai Kung, Tuen Mun, and Shek O I will be looking for new, different things to do.  I am considering balloting for some of the summer offerings being held at LCSD facilities. 

What else is there to do in the summer months?

Monday, May 17, 2010

The secret sign

What is up with acorns?

My aunt and uncle's country club has a pair or enormous stone acorn finials perched on top of the enormous stone posts that flank the tree lined entrance.  I often had the perverse urge to take an oversized bat to them (I should have predicted that I would grow up to be a low key architect).  When I lived in Florida, I used to see many acorns adorning fences and fountains of the sprawling estates that I jogged past with my cross country team.  It seems that people of a certain income bracket must have acorns, and the bigger the better.  Acorns are more subtle than gilding everything or hanging paintings of your AKC registered pet, but they are definitely present.

I wondered if acorns were some secret symbol of the elite, like masonic pyramids and eyeballs and whatever else is being presented by conspiracy theorists.

Being a highly skilled academic...oh wait, I am now a hard working slave of capitalism with no free time on my hands to spend hours trolling in the stacks of 6 million+ books at my beloved university.  So this is what I found out on Google:

According to Wikipedia:  Acorns appear only on adult trees, and thus are often a symbol of patience and the fruition of long, hard labor. For example, an English proverb states that Great oaks from little acorns grow, urging the listener to wait for maturation of a project or idea. 

According to Wikia (Wikipedia's philosophical cousin): The acorn is the seed of the mighty oak tree; therefore, it symbolizes potential and strength.   This is also a Nordic and Celtic symbol of life, fertility, and immortality.   Many Druids consumed acorns, believing them to have prophetic qualities. The acorn was sacred to the god Thor. His Tree of Life was oak.

The acorn as a heraldic symbol indicates independence to its bearer. Sometimes, an acorn sprig is used as a crest.

And  says a bit more than the rest about how the acorn is a symbol of strength and power.

So there you have it.

But I will leave you with one more symbol of strength and power:

Ah, yes.  Can you smell it?

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Some friends and I were having a discussion of what behavior is forgivable/unforgivable in a relationship. We disagreed with each other on everything from cheating to lying to criminal behavior. Then we tried to break it down on case by case scenarios. I presented the case of my other friend, R, whose girlfriend cheated on him. Except that she claimed it wasn't really cheating when she was caught out because she hadn't been having vaginal intercourse. Yes, you read that correctly. Because she was taking it up the butt she decided that she wasn't cheating. I felt that R's life was pretty much ruined after that. He used to be a handsome guy with a great personality, and good job but he transformed into a brooding, sarcastic jerk who was attractive enough to still date a lot of women who he treated terribly. My relationship with his is based on memories how how nice he used to be and pity for what has changed him.

So the friends agreed that the ex's version of cheating was unforgivable but we still couldn't agree on where the line was. This moved into a conversation of what constituted as a life ruining experience. Well, I had a story to share about that as well.

I begin by whining that I didn't start it.

When I was a freshman in university and living in Washington DC I met a boy on the rugby pitch who I shall name Tool. Tool had transferred mid-year and did not have a lot of friends so I invited him to join me for dinner. We had a few dinners at the university dining hall together and then he started spending time with the other boys from the men's rugby team and I didn't see him so much. A month passed and then he started paying attention to me again. My friend Jeff did not seem to like me spending time with Tool and told me that Tool was a tool but I thought that maybe Jeff was jealous that I was spending time with a teammate. Tool and I seemed well matched because we were in the same major, both played rugby, and both were punk rock fans.

One day after class, I asked Tool to go with me to see my favorite punk band, Face to Face. He agreed and invited me to a fraternity party afterward. So we went on a date. We listened to an amazing band, we went to a frat party and drank too much crappy beer. He walked me home and after making out at my front door, I let him into the dorm. We continued to kiss for a few minutes until the oxygen deprivation caused me to become very aware that my head was spinning and then I escorted him back outside. The last thing I remember was that I told him that I had fun and he agreed.

The next morning I woke up and told my roommates all about my fun date. They teased me about my crush. Later that afternoon I received a call from Jeff. He was calling to tell me that Tool had told everyone on the team that the two of us had slept together. I couldn't believe it and was sure that Jeff misheard. Jeff and two other teammates came over to explain to me that they had not misheard and that Tool had shown up at their house to brag. My roommates assured them that Tool was only in our suite for five minutes and never left the lounge area.

Later that day, another guy who I wasn't too acquainted with approached me in the campus store to share that he heard that I was denying that Tool and I hooked up. "We didn't," I said firmly. It was clear that most of the team wanted to believe the more salacious story. Well, I would give them something to gossip about. "We would have hooked up," I found myself saying, "but Tool couldn't get it up." Gossip guy's eyes became wide in shock so I repeated myself, "Little Tool stayed that way so there was no physical way that we could have hooked up."

I never got another comment about hooking up with Tool. Apparently my story got around the whole team. Tool stopped going to training and he transferred to yet another university at the end of the semester.

Being a male, Jeff admitted that when the guys were teasing Tool he actually felt bad for him. I sometimes feel bad but I think it is only because I have empathy for anyone who feels embarrassed. I even hate watching scenes in movies where the character does something embarrassing. Yes, I lied and caused him a lot of humiliation but he did it to me first.

But I do hope that he moved on to be a lesser Tool at another university and what happened had no lasting effect on him or his psyche.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ha! Wonderful!

That is what my beloved Uncle Jon used to exclaim when things went very wrong. He always was able to see the humor in life's twists and turns.

I found myself exclaiming this over and over again tonight. SB went to England for a convention of some sort and did not leave me with any of his details. I assume he took a plane out and I assume that he is in a hotel somewhere near a convention center somewhere between Penzance and Northumberland. I forgot to ask when he would return as well.

When I arrived home from work I found several e-mails from his sister. I did not see these e-mails all day because my vault of an office blocks sites such as gmail and netvigator so the emergency had been going on for most of the day (or night where she was). Then I was left with the task of finding someone who might know where he was...except I didn't have that information either.

Ha! Wonderful!

I eventually found the number to his office and called but no answer (even though some coworkers are known to work late into the night). And no message system so the phone just rang on and on until I gave up.

Then I tried to search his computer and discovered it to have a password protection. Why didn't I know this before? I tried a few of his usual passwords and did not find success.

In the end I googled the names of his coworkers who have slightly exotic names in Hong Kong (no Wang, Law, Ng or Lee) and came out with one Irishman and a Belgian. The Irishman responded to my e-mail and revealed that he was in Ireland at the moment and not in England where SB was but had tried to dial him and the phone just rang and rang much like his office phone. Ha! Wonderful!

At least between the Irishman, my e-mail to the Belgian, and my e-mail to his office contact e-mail, SB will eventually find out to call his sister like everyone and their mom are aware of at this point. I am kicking myself because I usually shake him down for contact details when he goes on trips but this time I just told him to eat lots of bangers and pies and sent him on his merry way.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The best chocolate in Hong Kong

Yes, that's quite a proclamation. Here in Happy Valley I have been buying deeelicious chocolate from a newly opened chocolate store located on Yuen Yuen Street, right off Sing Woo. They are the local outlet of Goossens Chocolatier.

The inside of the store is decorated with pictures of the Belgian royalty who apparently love this chocolate. The owner of the store told me that with enough humor that I think he realized how unimpressed I was by this news in comparison to the chocolate. "Chinese people like to see the pictures," he said by way of explanation.

This man has it right. He is bringing fabulously delicious chocolate for his fellow Hongkies and I liked him because he was remarkably well informed about chocolate so I learned a few things as well as he had achieved the rare feat of balancing being helpful without pushy.

SB had his first truffle. "What is this," he asked, "this is delicious." "It's a truffle," I responded, "It's my favorite form of chocolate." Then I reminded him that I had been telling him this for the past three years. And then I watched him snarf down the rest of my favorite chocolate and promptly break out into a sweat, which he does when he eats really spicy food or really dark chocolate.

I didn't have long to sulk because I found a lightly gingered delicacy that caused my taste buds to break into song.

Visit them at

This is the owner and one of the Goossens. (Source)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The funk

This past month has been a hard one. I came back from Texas and fell into a depression that has slightly abated in the past week. At least I have been busy getting together a set of BQ drawings for my project at the office. It has given me little time to mope but I have been able to get a few good cries in at night. I have stopped crying in the morning so I don't have that red eyed look when I go into the office, although some of the look is due to exhaustion. I noticed when I left the office on Wednesday that I have already passed 40 hours for the week. I did not look at the timecard this morning at 2am when I left. I will be relieved when we are out to tender but I also have been enjoying the design process. I was able to meet up with a classmate from grad school this week who was visiting from NYC and he told me that projects in the States are much less fast paced so in a way I feel that I am getting a faster education here.