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?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Saturday night drag

When my best friend was married five years ago I made an appointment with a Clinique technician to learn the basics about makeup.  Previously there were always plenty of women in my dormitory who were more than happy to doll me up but I figured that it was time to be an adult and do my own makeup.  The technician was one of those immaculately put together women but she knew what she was working with and helped me to sort out daytime and evening looks that could be achieved in under ten minutes.  The bride, a former pageant queen, approved of my evening look with only a minor adjustment of adding more eyeliner. 

I more or less kept that look for the past few years, pulling out the same "spring wedding" eye palette for evening affairs though the lip color has changed with the times.  This weekend, in anticipation of another big wedding event, I made an appointment with the Clinique counter in Times Square and came out with a rather different look. 

I rarely use foundation but the woman insisted that anyone over 20 should wear it.  She applied an undercoat (to smooth), a liquid coat (to attain an even complexion) and a powder coat (a finish layer).  Looking at my reflection, SB remarked that I looked ill and he was right; any semblance of a healthy glow was replaced by a homogeneous, pale and painted look much like when you Gesso a canvas.  Then came a very thorough application of eye makeup.  At this point I had been sitting in the makeup chair for forty minutes and looked like a drag queen.  My eyes were two dark blobs in a sea of black and purple and my face was getting cracks where I was frowning at my reflection.  I decided to end the session before the blush and lip work began.  The technician tried to sell me the three types of foundation and several tins of eye makeup but her work wasn't a ringing endorsement.  I ended up taking home some greenish-brown eyeliner because I wanted her to have some profit for the time she spent spackling me.  I wonder if she was just that bad or she was trying to use as many products as possible in hopes of lots of sales.

In the meantime I have two more weeks to figure out a new evening look.  Sometimes I wish things were as easy for women as they are for men, who only have to change out their ties every few years.  SB's body has barely changed in fifteen years and he can still wear the same slate grey suit that was made for him when he graduated from university.

Friday, October 7, 2011

yeah...I'll get back to you on that

I recently completed my annual appraisal with the supervisor.  At the second question in a questionairre that only Catbert could have written, regarding putting the company's interests above my own, Supervisor asked me about my extracurricular activities and I told him that I have a lot.  Like coaching children and participating year round in various sports.  Then he gave me a low mark.  Somehow I feel that he missed the point of the question.  It makes me wonder how much he deducted from the guy who participates in the company's charity racing team, basketball team and soccer team. 

SB told me that it isn't a laughing matter because the low marks could affect my professional development so I guess I will raise the issue and several others on my feedback form.  Including Supervisor giving me low marks for questions that were not applicable to my evaluation instead of leaving the question blank.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

friends like those

One of SB'c casual friends hit on me last night.  We were having an enjoyable conversation and then he had to go and ruin it by getting drunk and becoming less friendly and more...friendly.  First I tried to play it off as a jest and then I tried the subtle rebuff.  In the end the conversation went something like, "I'm not interested, this isn't fun anymore and you're a d*ck."  Then I fixed him with my magnificent stink eye and tried not to trip over anything on my way out.   Overall I give myself a seven out of ten on how I handled the situation.  I could have done better but I am not used to being hit on anymore.  In my early twenties I would have dispatched him with aplomb but I have grown out of practice with good reason.  In a city of seven million people there are younger, prettier and easier prey.

HK is probably close to paradise for white, expat men. Everyone seems to assume that white guys make loads of money.  SB told me that when he was here in his early twenties he was inundated with pretty, local women.  Even after they found out that he was a dirt poor intern only a few lost interest; maybe they were good at long term planning.  He will never admit it but I have seen photos from the year that he was here without me and there were a lot of women around.  I remember visiting him and noticing several women who wouldn't make eye contact with me and giggled at him like bird brains.  Three years later these women are still around but have mostly moved on to other targets.  Mostly.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

selective hearing and other small wonders

Last night I had to ask SB to fire up the water heater.  I was very excited by the cooler weather and convinced SB to sleep with the windows open.  We apparently were premature in our observations of autumn because at some point in the night SB woke up soaked in sweat and miserable.  I slept on, unaware of him as he was forced to close all of the windows, cover me in a blanket and turn on the A/C.  I only awoke briefly before dawn at the time when SB's metabolism plummets and he steals all of the sheets.  He does this every night.

In the course of our relationship we have both made adjustments for the sake of harmony.  One of the most effective adjustments for our mutual harmony has been in my sleeping habits.  I used to be a very light sleeper but now I sleep like the dead.  I have become conditioned to SB's snoring to the point of total oblivion. My parents complain to me about having to move to the guest room in the middle of the night due to each other's snoring and I wish that I knew how I changed into a deep sleeper. I could make mint teaching others how to sleep through anything.

I used to wake up several times every night to SB's loud, ever changing pitch.  I remember being groggy and grouchy in the morning because only one of us got more that a couple hours' rest.  I don't know if it was gradual or sudden but one day I woke up at our beach rental with X pounding on the door and asking if we had suffered any typhoon damage and I realized that not only did SB's snoring not wake me but a typhoon flooding our living room had no effect.  Now unless he has rolled over on top of me I will not wake up.  I wonder if I can turn on the temporary deafness when SB is whining at me for breakfast every Saturday morning.  That would be a fantastic adjustment.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Ha!  Wonderful!  That's what Uncle Jon used to bark when discovering that more bad fortune had been added to a previous bad fortune.  He said that a lot to the doctors during that last year; only the hospital chaplain laughed with him though.

I imagine that would have been his reaction to reading the latest article by Pamela Sampson regarding the domino effect caused by the future failure of the Greek market to meet their deficit reduction target.  Hong Kong-based analyst Francis Lun was quoted describing how everyone (except China) is failing:

"I think Europe really could have done it better. They should have come out much earlier and said they are going to stand by Greece no matter what.  Their procrastination really hurt market sentiment," and, "America spent the money incorrectly.  To save the Wall Street fat cats, people are much poorer than before. The economic malaise is really caused by unemployment and unemployment is the result of a lack of personal consumption. When you don't have personal consumption, then your economy is going to fall into a tailspin."

right on

I have decided that there is indeed a cheer more irritating than hearing "USA, USA, USA," ad nauseum; it is hearing the battle cry of "Come on England," at every phase of a match.  And everyone yells it in the same deep grunt whether they be male or female. 

This has been a rough week for Scottish rugby fans.  First a controversial defeat to Argentina, then losing the lead against England in the dying minutes of a match and finally the hope extinguished as Argentina came from behind against Georgia (coached by Scotland's own Richard Dixon no less) to take the second place seat for the knockout round. 

In local rugby, my club's top tier men's team is looking good so far after two pre-season warm up matches.  The second division team is not looking as good but I will attribute it to over-exuberance of players trying to break into the first division lineup and hope the discipline improves once everyone calms down and the season begins.  In the break between matches SB called me over to the lower pitch at King's Park where a softball game was progressing so that I could take some photos of two of his ice hockey teammates who play softball.  One of the guys eventually looked up and noticed us.  "Hey [insert SB's last name], what's up," he called out and strolled up the stairs toward us as SB returned his greeting.  The British lady who was standing nearby told us that she liked how casual we were.  I assume she was referring to North Americans because we are American and Bob is Canadian.  I also assume she was referring to our easy greetings of each other and not our countries' diplomatic relations.  Because politically I don't think they like us very much and we might not like them either if we knew anything about politics.

Later that night we were expressing our sorrow for the Scottish by patronizing Carnegie's before the fireworks when one of our English friends came over with a "Are you alright?"  Even though I now know that this is a greeting in similar vein to 'what's up,' and not a question regarding my health or personal woes I still freeze when responding.  This leaves a nice, awkward silence as I try not to ask why he is asking me if I'm alright.  Luckily this time SB jumped in to save me with a, "Right as rain," response.  Now it was our friend's turn for the weird look.  Yes, these international colloquial relations are going swimmingly.