Saturday, December 31, 2011

with Senna, the magic died

A couple years ago I discovered that SB used to be a Formula 1 fan.  We were walking past our local pub and a race was showing.  SB was drawn to the television and I was forced to continue home alone.  I knew that he enjoyed watching Top Gear and occasionally spouted off car related facts that indicated more than a passing interest in racing but I was ignorant to the depths of his fascination.  I later found out that Ayrton Senna was his childhood hero.

Two nights ago I gave SB a belated Christmas gift in the 2010 documentary, Senna.  I knew that it was going to be heavy because of its inevitable conclusion.  We sat mostly in silence, with me occasionally asking him for explanations regarding the F1 rivalries that he knew all about.  It didn't take long to figure out that his childhood fascination with F1 was not idle but bordered on obsession.  When we entered into that final season on the documentary no more words were exchanged. 

At the death of Roland Ratzenberger I looked over to see that SB was crying.  I have only seen SB close to shedding tears twice: once when we broke up years ago and I was bawling my eyes out he looked misty eyed and once when his grandmother died he looked distraught and may have shed one or two tears before walking out of her bedroom.  I had never, ever seen SB actually cry.

Later he told me that he and his younger sister used to watch the F1 races together, that they loved Senna and were caught up in the Senna-Proust rivalry as though it were an epic battle from the Iliad.  But when Senna died all of the magic died with him.  They continued to watch the races but it wasn't the same anymore; the spark was gone from their lives forever. 

SB told me that years later he had a discussion with an older friend who had been a motorsport fan in the 1950's.  He said that after several racing idols died year after year he couldn't bring himself to enjoy it anymore.  Years after Senna died SB had dreams where he was either driving the car on that fateful day or he was talking to Senna on the radio transmitter.  It reminded me of my dreams about my uncle.  While I was still too far in shock to understand the magnitude of loss when my uncle died, I now wake up from my dreams feeling wretched.  I imagine SB had a similar feeling over his racing idol. 

When SB mourns for Senna, he is also mourning for the loss of his childhood, for the end of a fantasy that he lived week after week through the races.  Ayrton Senna was supposed to be invincible but in the end, the man who became a legend was only mortal and this fairy tale did not have a happy ending.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

tales of a rugby whore

Last night a women's motley joined with the Potbellied Pigs to host the USS Carl Vinson Gravediggers in a friendly rugby match.  It worked out well because we alternated between the pigs playing fifteen minutes and then taking a rest while the women came on for a turn.

Oh yeah, for those who don't use the term, a rugby whore is someone who is willing to play for another team.  At tournaments in the US there would be a sign up area to match single rugby players with teams that needed more players.  The sign up sheets would read "whores" and "looking for whores." Technically I guess those looking for whores should be called "providers."  Yes, I recently learned some new terms.

Most of the ship's players were new or fairly new.  The men were in great shape and beat the pigs narrowly due to their fitness advantage even though their rugby skills were rough, kind of like that time when the US women won the Rugby World Cup.  While the male navy players were very fit, the women were a bit soft in the middle.  I suspect that they all are given the same servings of food on board. 

Our motley crew was considerably stronger than the lady gravediggers so we divided evenly between ourselves for the last play session.  Even though the navy women were probably a bit heavier than us, Liz and I decided to do the lifting because they had no experience. While Liz and I were showing the girls how to jump in a lineout I kept looking at the soft, round knees and thinking of how cute they were.  I was pretty pleased that we got the girls up in the air; it speaks well for my weight lifting routine. 

The lady gravediggers may have been at a disadvantage in skills but they showed great tenacity and put up some fantastic tackles.  Your correspondent will admit that she went into contact expecting less and was shown the floor for her folly. 

In the end we all departed for Wanchai where stories of the legendary match could be cultivated.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

all creatures great and small

Once again, the local police have been called in to clear the sitting area near the bus terminal of pets.  The area is a lovely gathering place for a large assortment of furry friends; the two restaurants welcome pets at the outdoor tables and there is plenty of space for man and beast to interact.  A little white dog who can hop through hoops and ride a skateboard rules the corner by the high planters, leading his tribe that consists of a Chow Chow, a Bichon Frise, two yellow Labs and occasionally a Bernese Mountain dog.  A Corgi and an ancient retriever loll about near the benches while little dogs like to bark at each other from under the outdoor dining furniture. But every so often some cynophobic calls the police on the illegal gathering and the scofflaws are dispersed.  I will give it a few weeks before they return.

Meanwhile it looks like a raccoon has joined the neighborhood.

Monday, December 26, 2011

the day after

We had three Christmas dinners in three days so once can understand why we winced at the idea of waddling through Causeway Bay for boxing day.  Instead we put on our elastic waisted pants and began to walk with no particular destination in mind.  We visited some birds who were having their own Christmas meal on the grass seeds in Happy Valley. 


In a park in Wanchai we watched groups of men playing checkers (at least I think it was checkers) and snoozing on the benches. 

Eventually we did wander into Causeway Bay to eye other sorts of birds in their plumage.  I love seeing the winter fashions in this town.  Leg warmers with high heels and short shorts.  Brilliant.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

this is why we no longer have a Christmas tree

Two years ago I came home from the office to find that SB had hung up his hockey gear to dry in an unusual place.  The hockey gear had never smelled so nice.  The same could not be said for the tree.  And then there were the fir needles all over the floor.  This is why we no longer have a Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


There are few things that I dislike more than settling down to a novel with promising beginnings only to find the plot unravel, break apart into illogical splinters and then be spackled together and tied into an abrupt bow in time for the foregone conclusion.

Of course it may be more realistic since life often splinters into pieces of absurdity. If only everything really did tie neatly in the end.

In other news I am spending Christmas with SB's second favorite exgirlfriend and her husband who shares a same first and middle name with SB. And the ex thinks that I am a ringer for her. Conclusions?

Monday, December 19, 2011

my rap

SB asked me why the iPod only seemed to have a couple NWA songs on it when he owned several albums that I had downloaded to my iTunes.  I am aware of the significant contribution that NWA provided to the history of rap and hip-hop but their misogynistic lyrics push my boundaries of acceptance.  That, and too many memories of that ex whose name rhymes with Moseph, who played lip synced their most outrageous lyrics to me in his car when he was angry and passive-aggressive.  "Punch the bitch in the eye, then the ho will fall to the ground (the rest is too graphic so you will have to look it up yourself)"

Of course I am aware of my hypocrisy as I happily play Jay-Z's 99 Problems (but the bitch ain't one).  But I own the Ipod so I am the arbiter of tasteful music.

Friday, December 16, 2011

coincidental competencies

I hated John Irving's Owen Meany; the story seemed so implausibly coincidental: a hero trained throughout his short life for achievement of seemingly random competencies that allowed him to perform the mission of his life in the end.

Last night my own random competencies turned me into another Owen Meany, albeit a much less effective one.  The women of my family's "lala" genes, later proven to be very real occurrences of epileptic vertigo, allowed me to realize that what I was witnessing was not a crazy man repeatedly banging his head on the ground while on his hands and knees.  My own experiences with concussions provided me with knowledge on how to care for the man and reassure him as he passed in and out of consciousness.

A history of broken noses and chipped teeth came in really handy after he fully regained consciousness and I was able to reassure him that despite the bloody face, split lip and aching teeth, there would be no permanent damage.  His mouth looked bad but not bad like teeth would fall out.  I would know.

Sadly when the EMT/paramedics arrived the first words out were, "Oh, you're drunk."  No, but he did have a history of low blood pressure; thank goodness one of us thought to ask.  Then they asked him to get up off the floor where I was elevating his feet to get checked out.  No one helped him up until he began to sway again.  I was glad that I told him about how he passed out twice while seizing so he could tell them since they didn't stick around to find out what really happened.  As the very useful medical staff were escorting him out I made sure to firmly tell one of them that he hit his head very hard.  In case anyone cared about concussions.  I wonder if I should have put my history of snappy comments to use.

Monday, December 12, 2011

deck the halls with trolls and chorus

The rugby holiday party was this Saturday after our match.  A and R wanted to get ready at A's boyfriend's place but having seen their version of housekeeping I pushed to use the facilities at King's Park.  I was outvoted and off we went to a colony of apartments in Hung Hom.  It was a chilly evening so getting ready in a warm, albeit dusty, apartment may have been preferable to the drafty shower facilities at King's Park.  The boyfriend was kind enough to pretend to be taking a nap on the couch while we flitted around him in the living room.  I can only imagine how confused the neighbors must have been if anyone had looked into the large window and seen fully dressed man lying on the couch in apparent disinterest while surrounded by three nude women.

As we leaving we could hear really loud shrieks coming from one of the neighboring apartments.  A explained that one of the neighbors constantly engaged in very loud activities with his girlfriend.  "Not girlfriend," corrected A's boyfriend, "he hires hookers."  To which we responded with varying reactions from disgust (A: ewww!) to humor (R: haha, how much?) to intrigue (me: how do you know this?).  A's boyfriend somehow figured out who the neighbor was and while the details of the discussion remain murky, the neighbor voluntarily disclosed that he hires women who are vocal, thus why the noises in the hallway were similar even though the participants changed.  Interesting neighbors.  The only excitement in my neighborhood occurs when the couple down the hall get in a fight and start swearing in English.  They conduct all of their communication in Chinese except when swearing and then the hallway rings with, "F*ck youuuu!" and "No, f*ck youuuuu!"  I guess in Hung Hom it's the same, only a more literal event.

Friday, December 9, 2011

no thanks

Last week a friend of mine sent a message on Facebook asking for donations to bring back to the village that she grew up in.  She was soliciting on behalf of a family friend who had lost his leg in a car accident and was having difficulties providing for his two children.  When I saw her husband on Wednesday I gave him an envelope with some money.

On Thursday she called to thank me.  She was weeping.  She told me how grateful she was and that the money would help her to buy metal sheeting to make walls for her friend's home.  He had no walls.  My mind was reeling; he didn't even have walls.

Later that night I told SB how rotten I felt that she was thanking me so much when all I did was give what I was comfortable with giving.  It made me feel good to know that my money was going to help someone who very desperately needed help but it wasn't like I was doing anything really special.  I should be thanking my friend because she is simply amazing.  I have never seen pictures of her village but I have a feeling that it isn't exactly affluent.  She works hard in a restaurant so that she can send money home to her family.  Her difficult waitress job has helped to build a home for her father and now is building a home for a disabled friend.  She works miserable hours but rarely complains because in her mind she is living the dream.  She is married to a wonderful man who provides her with a home and support yet she doesn't want to tax him to provide for her family so she earns money for the houses while he earns money for the two of them.  I think she would warm even the Grinch's cold, black heart.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

pot,meet kettle

The only times that I returned to the town where I went to high school were during spring break, and I usually passed the time in an alcohol enabled haze with my best friend.  Aside from her, I would occasionally meet up with one other friend or my old boyfriend.  I have not been back since 2006.  This is probably why I only now realized something interesting about my friends.

When I was in high school I became involved in a ridiculous love triangle, only it was more like a parallelogram.  My favorite boyfriend had previously dated my cross country teammate (I asked and received her blessing to begin dating him).  We eventually broke up and got back together for the next couple of years during which he added several more of my teammates to the mess along with a few of his friends.  With one exception we somehow all merrily muddled through our conjoined romantic messes.  Aside from the exception we are still friends.  While it seemed like the entire cross country team was tying itself in knots over bad boy surfer types there was one exception: teammate K.  Teammate K was planning to go to theology school and had no interest in joining our romantic entanglements.  She would just laugh at us as we shared our ridiculous exploits to her over lunch.

Now, years later, I saw teammate K in a picture with another friend and noticed a familiar last name.  After a few minutes of Facebook stalking discovered that teammate K has been married for several years to a man who was previously my homecoming date.  It was a memorable homecoming because I spent half an hour of it in the restroom consoling my date's ex-girlfriend and promising that I wouldn't sleep with him.  For all I know he was dancing with teammate K while I was consoling the ex. Apparently she wasn't as separate from the mess as she let on; she just was much more discreet than the rest of us.  I had no idea that they were interested in each other but now that I think about it they would have made a wonderful couple, both of them so sweet and caring.  And sneaky.  When I think of how she used to laugh at our shenanigans...that lovely hypocrite! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

letter from a student

I wanted to share an e-mail that I received from a student (my responses in red):

Hi [name redacted],

I'm [Student X], and I am doing an EE regarding the development at [school redacted]. As part of my research (I know it's late), I really want to meet up with the contractor and ask him a few questions about the design and construction/demolishing of the buildings. (Dear Student X, please explain what an EE is if you want me to answer your questions immediately so you don't flunk your late paper.)

These are the questions I am proposing to ask him:

1. Have you taken into account the noise, air pollution and disruption that you may cause the students at school due to the construction that will be going on. If you have, how will you try to minimise the disruption to the school life? Yes, there are strict ordinances to follow regarding construction in school zones that govern construction during class sessions as well as during exam periods.  The contractor must submit an environmental management plan with noise mitigation measures for approval from the architect and environmental engineer before construction can commence. 

2. Did you predict what the microclimates are going to be like around the new buildings when they are completed   Yes.  But wait, did you want me to say anything more than that?

Student X, it seems that you are unaware of the roles between an architect, engineer and contractor.  I would suggest a simple Google search of our respective roles for clarification prior to asking the contractor who has forwarded this message to me.  Basically, the contractor builds what is proposed by the design team.  On the design team, the engineer usually undertakes the CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) of the architect's design.  Architects who have specialty in environmental design can also run a basic CFD model during the early stages to help decide how to orient their designs and take advantage of the microclimate and wind conditions but the engineer will usually undertake the "official" model.  You can download a trial copy of Ecotect if you want to try it out; I find it to be a useful tool in early design stages.

3. What aspects have you included in your designs of the buildings which tries to minimize the effect that the new buildings are going to have on the existing environment once the buildings are completed? Again, this is not the contractor's job to design a building.  The architectural design team would have studied this with the assistance of a heritage consultant.  For the project you are asking about we have kept the building heights and mass in similar form with the existing site as well as using the original structure as the focal point of the new design.  We also have taken into account the microclimate so that the original buildings maintain effective ventilation and solar exposure.

4. Are there any features that you have included in your buildings which tries to minimize the carbon footprint of the building?  (grammar!) Features include recycled construction material, local or environmentally friendly building materials, solar heating, etc.  A key factor to lowering the carbon footprint is how the construction is managed.  Proper site management will reduce demolition waste, water waste, and construction waste.

5. Did you include any features in your design which tries to minimize the 'wall effect' that the buildings may generate?  The low height and massing of this new building will certainly not create a 'wall effect' but it is an interesting dilemma for high rise buildings in HK where the land is so valuable that we tend to build up every available square millimeter.  New regulations have been proposed to mitigate this problem but we have yet to see if they will take effect.  Development interests here are quite strong.

6. Did you consider what problems a building that is mostly made out of glass may bring?  I also would love to find out the marvelous technology used to create structural glass.  If you can give me any examples of glass buildings I shall try to find out.  If you are discussing this particular project, I assume you are referring to the large, operable windows in the recreation facility that are set back from the exterior balconies (thus, in shade) and take advantage of the site's local ventilation.

That's the questions that I will be wanting to ask him, but it will be fantastic if you could answer them as well! Thank you.  SHE would be happy to answer.  She also would like to suggest that when interviewing, whether it is for your late EE paper or for admission to a school, it is always pleasing for your object of interest to feel as though you really are interested, i.e. you did some research and know something about the subject of inquiry.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

the awkward turtle

The tutorial:
  1. The awkward turtle is what happens when one experiences bumbling conversation, TMI over sharing, unintentional insults or any number of communication blunders. 
  2. When first experiencing mild conversational discomfort, place your hand on top of the other, palms up (some people prefer palms down but it isn't so awkward that way).
  3. Move your thumbs back and forth in a sweeping motion when the conversation becomes cringe worthy, like the flippers of a turtle that has been upended onto its shell.
  4. Use the awkward turtle whenever necessary rather than wringing your hands.
An example:
(at an evening match, upon seeing an acquaintance)
Me: Are you  playing the next game?
Acq: No, I just felt like getting here early.
Other acquaintance: How's it going with your girlfriend?
(she recently moved in with him)
Me: It's nice that you get to see each other more often.
Acq: She's moving out right now.
*Insert awkward turtle*

Two weeks later:
(at an evening match)
Same acquaintance has previously moving out girlfriend up against the rails and is trying to dislodge her tonsils with his tongue while everyone tries to look in other directions.
*Insert awkward turtle*

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day

In 1996 I went with my two friends to the National Mall in Washington DC to view the AIDS quilt.  One of my friends had recently completed a panel in memory of her uncle who had recently died.  The quilt filled the entire mall (that is 1600 x 120 meters).  I spent the day meeting other friends and family members who had sewn panels in memory of loved ones.  In many cases AIDS patients in hospices were working together to sew panels for each other so that they would not be forgotten.  I remember protesters holding horrible signs at the perimeter of the area.  I remember sitting on the grass in front of a panel with a cigarette encased in it; the deceased person's friend explained that when he was too weak to smoke he still enjoyed holding the cigarette to his lips.  Later that night there was a candlelight march that lit up the mall in a sea of light.  I returned to my room in the early morning hours and broke down crying. 

It is 2011 and millions of people still die every year. 

The quilt in 1996 (source:$names-quilt-dc.jpg)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

make it stop

I used to follow a blog but recently the blogger has turned into a raving bigot.  Now I cannot drop the blog.  I repeatedly tried to remove the blog from my Reader feed but it kept returning.  Then I had an epiphany and logged into my Blogger dashboard and removed the blog from there. This removed it from my Reader feed also. Life was good for a few days but then the blog returned as soon as the blogger made another post.  This time there is no trace of the blog in the Reader subscriptions or in the Blogger followings.  I even went to the offending blog's site to try to remove myself from any subscription options but there weren't any.  So now I seem to be stuck with a raving bigot who does not show up as a subscription to either of my two subscription services. 

Does anyone else have this problem?

last week's roundup

This is from one of the more recent rugby matches.  I haven't talked about rugby in a while because the blog was starting to come up in Google searches and I was getting more recognition than I preferred.  Yes, I am fairly easy to find if you want to find me but that is different from being found when people are not specifically looking for me.


I'm about to reveal something about myself to SB's family that I would rather not but I am doing it for a good reason: many, possibly most, of my friends are potheads and I partake also.  I have not smoked a bowl since meeting SB though I don't think he would care if I did.  I used to smoke with my friends but never more than a couple drags because I didn't enjoy the effects like they did and felt like I was wasting their money when they shared with me.  While I prefer a glass of wine or a Cosmopolitan (with very little cranberry juice) they would give up alcohol and cigarettes if only allowed to choose one vice.  Now there were occasions when smoking weed did do it for me like if I needed to relax and go to sleep after a grueling night in studio or on the trip to Puerto Rico when everything around us was magical. 

SB's family leans to the right, like mine.  SB and his sister have long suspected that SB's stepmother may believe that humans roamed the earth with dinosaurs or whatever it is that literal biblical scholars believe.  I am not excited to reveal my relaxed stance on recreational drug use but SB's father is still very uncomfortable with his chemo despite the heavy, legal narcotics that are prescribed to him and I overheard SB and his sister discussing marijuana for him.  They were interested in suggesting the option but then didn't know how to go about procuring it and there I was thinking, I know sooo many people who could hook dad up.  His father lives only 60 miles from Ithaca where I went to graduate school and I know several professors, a nurse, a mechanic and about a dozen hippies who would be more than happy to help him out.  We are about to have the conversation with his father about smoking pot.  If he is interested then I will be sharing more than I wanted to share but for a very good reason.  And I will probably forever be known as his pothead, future daughter-in-law.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

awkward, really awkward

My first kiss wasn't an entirely consensual affair.  I was 12 years old (I think) and had recently agreed to go out with my second boyfriend, Jerome C.  Yes, the first boyfriend never actually got around to kissing me and our relationship consisted of him riding his BMX in circles around me and grabbing my ass in the school hallways as he ran past.  I did always have a round bottom.

So there I was, walking back from lunch with Jerome when all of a sudden he stopped in front of my math class and grabbed me by the face.  I had no idea what I was doing other than turning a deep crimson shade as I could hear the other students tittering nearby.  I was having my first kiss in public, with a very experienced kisser, and everyone could see that I had NO idea what I was doing.  Well, as it turned out only other experienced kissers had an idea that I had no idea what I was doing.  When I finally made it into the classroom I was greeted with a round of applause.  I wanted to die.

I eventually became a big fan of kissing, though I never kissed Jerome C again.  Asshole.  Looking back, it could have been much worse.  I could have been like this couple:

Monday, November 28, 2011

muzzle it

On Sunday SB and I hiked from Aberdeen to Black's Link.  The trip took about three hours and provided scenic views out across the island.  The last part of the hike occurred around 5:30 pm and it seemed to be the magic hour for matching sets of dogs.  We passed a pair of German Shepherds, a pair of white and brown mutts, three Beagles and two Corgis.  The woman walking with the Beagles was chatting on her phone as her helper pushed a pram beside the dogs.  I was just thinking about how her voice was very regal when SB leaned over and whispered that her voice grated. 

The Beagles and Corgis were wearing muzzles, which was unusual until we began noticing signs warning about dog poisoners.  It is very sad that some sicko is out there harming our furry friends and I hope someone catches him and gets him the help that he very much needs.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Eriocheir sinensis

I tried hairy crab for the first time.  It did not start out promisingly as R and I, hairy crab virgins, tried to gnaw out the meat from spindly, little legs while A, hairy crab eater extraordinaire, kept raving to us about how great it was.  As I struggled with my legs I fell further and further behind until A caught R trying to ditch her insect-like legs so that she could get to the body faster.  Half an hour of struggle later I got to the good part.  I am now a hairy crab convert.  SB won't touch them; on his maiden voyage into hairy crab he broke out into large, red spots like a Holstein cow.  They stayed that was for a few days. 

I think he would be cute with large spots but I have blinders on.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

things that make you go hmm...

While enjoying a frosty beverage with friends the other night I noticed some loud chirping coming from an apartment above the pub.  The couple that lived there were irate at the noise level and were vigorously making their displeasure known.  I was informed that in the past they have poured water over the patrons below.

One wonders what they expected when they moved in above a pub. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

a circular speech about a storm

Once upon a time in 2010 my supervisor didn't know what a polder was.  It would have been a non-issue if not for his unwillingness to admit that he doesn't know everything.  That, when paired with his belief that underlings can't possibly know anything made things interesting.  And by interesting I mean awkward.  I would not have realized his ignorance if not for the fact that he then tried to play it off poorly.  The other coworker asked him if he didn't know what a polder was; she was blissfully unaware of his issues.  He became patronizing in response to her offer to explain it to him and ended the meeting soon after.

Moments later he sent us an email citing an example of polder architecture that he thought we should look at.  It wasn't really related to the point that I had been trying to make.  At all.  I Googled "polder architecture" and guess what was one first results.  The other coworker thought that the email was weird as well.  "Why couldn't he say that he didn't know what a polder was," she asked. 

Since the minor polder incident of 2010 Supervisor found many little ways to attempt to exert his intellectual dominance over us.  He seemed to go out of his way to mention obscure bits of information relating to HK codes and then became condescending when we didn't know what he was talking about.  He kept dropping comments about our respective universities until the awkwardness became straight out weird.

The nonsensical appraisal of 2011 was the hole in the dike that sunk the polder. A trickle became a deluge.  I could no longer understand why I was standing waist deep trying to plug the hole when there were happier polders with windmills close by.  I would have told the other coworker that I was leaving but she had sent her notice of bailing out a week previously.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

last week's roundup

 SB and his boarding school classmate.  They played ice hockey and lacrosse together.

Friday, November 18, 2011

the Philistine

When I was in university I fell in awe with a visiting lecturer.  He was well liked and moderately famous in philosophy/critical theory circles. Back then I didn't know about the campsite rule; it applies to May-December romances and states that they are acceptable if at the end of the affair, the elder partner should leave the younger in the same or better shape than they found them.

Needless to say, I was not left in better shape although being more cynical and guarded isn't always a bad thing.  I ended contact when I read his feature piece in one of my favorite architecture periodicals and discovered several uncanny similarities to my own ideas.  His response was that ideas are not copyrighted and I learned to guard my thoughts overnight.

I just saw his latest publication.  It was a gorgeously written piece and I wondered whose young brain he had drained for information this time.  I wondered if some other young woman was waking up to the dawning realization that she had been sucked dry.  Maybe she would think it was an honor to be so used by the master; that's what he implied to me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Scene III

The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction
Robs the vast sea; the moon's an arrant thief,
And her pale fire she snatches from the sun;
The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves
The moon into salt tears; the earth's a thief,
That feeds and breeds by a composture stol'n
From general excrement: each thing's a thief:
The laws, your curb and whip, in their rough power
Have uncheck'd theft.
Love not yourselves; away!

- Shakespeare, Timons of Athens

help needed

We have a friend who has been in a funk for quite some time now.  Recently, and not for the first time, she went MIA for a long period of time and SB spent hours knocking on her door and searching for her in her neighborhood while I went to check that there were no police reports bearing her name.  Like SB and me, she has no family close by and as far as we can tell she has no established emergency contact here so we take it upon ourselves to check on her well being.

She used to work in the finance industry but quit her job when the stress became overwhelming.  She talked to headhunters on and off for a very long time but no job seemed to interest her.  In the meantime she talked about interest in the hospitality industry but has not attempted to actually pursue the interest.  Now, years later, we are worried.  SB, who is especially uncomfortable with conflict, has felt the need to intervene and she has agreed to let us pay for her to talk to someone.  So readers, I am asking for recommendations for counseling of a Western educated MBA who cannot see her future. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

USS George Washington vs. Potbellied Pigs

On Friday night SB was invited to play with the Potbellied Pigs in a match against the Navy.  The pigs are a charitable organization who travel the globe playing in tournaments and raising money for charities.  One of their long term charities is an orphanage in the Philippines.  The team consists of a few current rugby players and a lot of former high level players who have aged into jolly and somewhat round social players.

The Navy team consisted of a handful of players who had recently learned rugby and a lot of newbies.  They had size, strength and fitness on their side.  But they didn't stand a chance.  At the end of the day wisdom and wiliness will beat youthfulness.  It didn't help that at the end of the match the core pig players were tired and subbed on younger, fresher ruggers while the Navy subbed on their most inexperienced players. 

I give the Navy highest marks for playing with great intensity and sportsmanship.  After the match we all went to the Doghouse for beers and further abuse at the hands of the Potbellied Pigs' Kangaroo Court.  I got to watch one of my favorite premiership referees being subjected to a tequila shot from the hirsute judge's armpit.  and that wasn't the worst of it.  I would say more but I don't want to abuse their hospitality in allowing me to observe their hijinks.  You should come down to their next match and see for yourselves.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

USS George Washington

SB and I are fascinated by big boats so we jumped at the chance to see the USS George Washington when it came to port.  We had toured the USS Carl Vinson at night so it was enjoyable to see the GW in daytime.  Unlike the other carriers this one is stationed in Japan and the crew live expat lives.  We had a nice chat with a young man who had been enlisted for only two months.  He was spending his shore leave by providing maintenance for the Crossroads and Salvation Army charities. This guy works six days per week on the ship, eight stories down in the engine room doing maintenance and we were greatly impressed that he would want to spend his free time doing even more maintenance work.  We are grateful to all the men and women who serve our country.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

about those Penn State students

I would be be more likely to riot if I found out that someone I respected spent a decade ignoring the fact that his assistant was a child rapist who was victimizing children through a program for disadvantaged/at risk youth.

Just saying...

Friday, November 11, 2011


As part of my unemployed routine I had a long, leisurely lunch with a girlfriend.  I was surprised by how many people were milling about; I somehow expected that everyone usually is working during the day like I used to do but in a city of 8 million people I should have known better.  Girlfriend is single and was sharing the delicious details of her swinging life.  I felt a wave on longing for those days when I was single, too.  It was fun when I only needed to care for myself and could be as selfish and self indulgent as I wanted.  I miss the lifestyle but not nearly as much as I love what I have now with SB.  But still, I can reminisce on my past exploits and hope for future wickedness, this time with my better half.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Miss understood

I am entering my fourth year in Hong Kong and I am still unable to sort our my correspondences.  I am often addressed as a Mrs. not only by strangers but by friends and acquaintances.  People who know that SB and I are not married still refer to me as such which is perplexing.  Maybe they are indicating to others that I am in a relationship?  Or wishful thinking?  It is oh so awkward to correct my friends because I sometimes get the surprised look as though I am coming clean after allowing them to believe otherwise or I get the "oh, she's practically married," which seems to lead 50% of the people being introduced to ask about my future marriage plans.  Ugh.  And I can't get the right intonation when attempting to say, "No, I am not married," because it comes out as, "Noooo!  I am NOT married (in psychotically defensive voice)," or "No (forlorn sigh), I am not married (followed by sad and awkward silence)."  I am just stating a fact, people. 

Although in my tax return form, when I have to choose the Spinster(!) option I am sorely tempted to lie and choose Mrs.

Monday, November 7, 2011

back with a vengeance

It's wonderful what a couple of weeks will do to your outlook.  Right before I left for my American vacation I left my job.  I had been pondering quitting for over a year but couldn't bring myself to do it.  I liked the company, liked the chairman, liked my director and had never left a job unhappy.  But then the supervisor who was troubling me gave me that bad appraisal and I realized that my options would always be limited under his direction so I grew a pair and challenged him, starting with my appraisal.  SB cheered loudly if not a bit smugly because he had been heavily encouraging me to stand up for myself, not to mention that that he thought a year-end bonus was a poor retention scheme for what it was costing me to stay.  In the end I received a better package than I was hoping for (maybe I need to listen to SB's business advice more) and left very, very happy.

I had a few blissful weeks in the States where I visited friends, former professors and SB's family.  Autumn is my favorite season in the Northeast and I was able to take many walks in the morning fog while kicking up fallen leaves and enjoying the idyll of the gorges and waterfalls.  It began snowing on the day that I left.

Now I am back and taking it easy before committing myself to the job search.  I have been enjoying Hong Kong through the lenses of a tourist: taking long walks across the Dragon's Back, spending long, wine filled lunches with friends and relaxing with a book and a pastry.  For the time being, I am really enjoying this lifestyle.  I know that I will eventually feel the need to work but for now life is good.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I am off to the States for a wee vacation.  Blogging with be sporadic, if at all.  I know all four of my followers hang onto my every word with baited breath but please forgive me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

keep hopping

SB wheeling his hockey bag was too much for the night-time occupants of Wanchai to resist; all ages of men were executing mediocre kickboxing moves.  Following in SB's wake I passed a fellow who was hunched over, holding his toe.  He was yelling something at me that I couldn't hear but assuming that he had injured himself kicking the bag, I had little sympathy.

He grabbed me, I placed my palm on his forehead anticipating that I might have to fend, he punched me.  I walked to the end of the block where SB was waiting, unaware of what held me up.  Moments later the fellow and his girlfriend followed.  He wanted to apologize and clarify that SB had run over his foot and it hurt.  We shook hands.  SB still had no idea what was happening so I brought him over to apologize for running over the foot.

Only after we got into the taxi did I tell SB that I had been punched.  But not hard.  SB tried to figure out how his bag caused so much pain because the fellow was still hopping up and down when we left.  With a helmet, a pair of skates and various protection the bag wasn't light but should not have been so heavy either.  I had two possible scenarios:

  1. The fellow's foot had the misfortune of being in the path of the bag when it was kicked, and
  2. It may not have hurt badly but one should always play up the injury to save face when attempting reconciliation and justification for punching the wrong person (and a female to boot).
I felt sorry for the fellow because he didn't seem like a bad sort at all and while I got to go home to SB fretting over my non-existent bruise he had to go home with his pretty girlfriend, red faced and clutching his foot.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Sometimes we sit on the bed and chat about nothing for a couple of hours instead of going to sleep.  Sometimes the meaningless conversations become meaningful in other ways.

Sometimes he develops new nicknames for me, most of them culinary and round in shape: pumpkin, dumpling, etc.  I remind myself that they are more about his comparable love for food and not comparable to my shape. 

Sometimes I discover new things about him.  He isn't ticklish but is really, unfortunately ticklish.  It is unfortunate for him that I am eager to apply my new found knowledge.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

those were the days

One of my former classmates sent me a link to a ranking of the top ten graduate programs in architecture in the United States.  It was published a few years ago but I had not seen it before.  It features a picture of me under my school's ranking.  Like many other architorturists my wardrobe consisted of a lot of black; it still does but now I throw in a gray scarf for a touch of brightness. 

Oh how young I looked before four years of real world practice wiped the fresh glow from my idealistic face.

maybe a cure for cancer

According to the Forrester Research (via CNET) the average American spends 12 hours per week on the Internet.  As technology savvy as I am, that kid writing script to change to color of her avatar's hair would roll her eyes if she saw how long it takes me to add a feature to my architectural 3D model.  I may be well read in Jean Baudrillard and Umberto Eco but these kids are living in hyperreality.  But I do wish that they would get more exercise because borgs don't yet exist and Rocky Horror ain't gonna help you there.

So here is a headline that got my attention: Gamers Unlock Protein Mystery That Baffled AIDS Researchers For Years.  The article by Leslie Horn for PC Magazine reveals that the crystal structure for a key protein in the development of AIDS, which had stumped scientists for years, was solved in just three weeks by online gamers using an online game called Foldit.  The spatial analysis game has also aided in Cancer and Alzheimer’s research. I am optimistic and hopeful that the younger generation's ability to think critically in a virtual environment could lead to the breakthroughs that we have been struggling for.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

(lowly) ode to the office printer

Was it something I did
Because I fell stupid,
And you are making angry noises
With your light flashing red.

I was stunned into silence
When you came through the door,
Pushed by four technicians
And rumbling across the floor.

Perhaps your double monitors
Are making me most anxious,
Or was Arup's acoustic engineer correct
That your vibrations cause us to feel nauseous?

As I stand here before you
Like a bug drawn to your (multiple) screens,
I wonder where to place my lowly drawing
On the alter of my new scanner/copier/printer machine?