Thursday, March 29, 2012

misty, moldy and mildewy

The past days of constant drizzle combined with the layers of enclosed scaffolding surrounding my building have yielded some scary results.  I have had to wipe down mold from the window sills and teak furniture in the house.  I would have thought that teak, being a tropical wood and used in boats, would be resistant to mold.  Even worse, mold is happily growing on the outer wall of my flat where I cannot reach it because the scaffolding doesn't allow me to open a single one of my windows more than a couple of inches.

I called SB and told him about the problems.  I told him about how I had been running the dehumidifier nonstop and how quickly it has been filling up, and how even more quickly the mildew has been trying to grow in our grout.  I am a single person bleach army right now.  He told me to also turn on the air conditioner.  Then finally the rain stopped.  I wondered if I could have a respite from the dehumidifier, which got me wondering about what is an acceptable level of indoor humidity.

I thought 65% wasn't too bad, especially considering that it has been in the 80's lately, but according to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers Inc. (ASHRAE)'s Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy, acceptable relative humidity levels should range from 20% to 60% throughout the year. Levels greater than 60 percent should be considered unacceptable because elevated relative humidity can promote the growth of mold, bacteria, and dust mites, which can aggravate allergies and asthma.  Hmmm, lately my face has felt itchy and irritated.  

Other sources in the UK and Australia state that it is advisable to keep humidity in the range 30% to 70%.  I think that I will aim for 60% humidity at home and see if things get easier.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hong Kong Tens

It was rugby super week in Hong Kong.  Wednesday and Thursday were for the tens competition.  The team that my local friends were playing on made it to the shield finals and lost.  The team with all of the superstars won the cup.  I got to see Todd Clever, Mils Muliaina, Orene Ai'i, Justin Marshall, Stephen get the idea.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I can die happy now

This made my day!  It probably also made my month.  I was sitting in the stands, sipping my Pimms when Rosie crept up to tell me that I had a surprise waiting for me but I couldn't turn around.  A few moments later I felt someone tap my shoulder so I turned to find...OH MY GAWD, TODD CLEVER!!!!!! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I spent the day cheering on my teammates who were playing on the Old Boy's team in the tens.  I wonder why a team with two 6'4" and 6'5" gingers would choose orange and green stripes...

I saw the brand new USA sevens coach sitting incognito in the stands.  He was one row over from another face who I later realized must have been Party of 4.  He later went over to talk to USA world cup captain Todd Clever, but I was unable to get a photo of the momentous occasion.  I wonder if we will be seeing Todd return to the sevens squad in the near future?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

lost in translation

My friend Rose is on the Hong Kong national rugby team.  She is half Chinese and speaks almost fluently but cannot quite read characters.  On the other hand, SB can read characters, but only in Putonghua which doesn't help Rose with Cantonese translations.  Rose was written up on in the local paper and sent a message to our rugby team (mostly made up of local girls) for help in translation.  The girls told her to try using Google translate or Babelfish.  This is the result:

Original: Rose回流港隊經驗搭夠


曾是英格蘭U20代表,經歷無數大小戰役,Rose稱這些經驗是她最寶貴的「武器」:「外國運動員打法進取,也講究體能,而且個個都很高大,令場上走動的 空間相對較少。過去經驗有助我面對比我們更『大份』的選手。」她稱今次首度為港出戰七欖,最令人振奮的是有機會在「爆棚」的大球場比賽,如果她們真的達成 目標,呼籲各位到時不要吝嗇打氣聲!

Translation: The Rose backflow port team experience builds 夠 Fang Xiao who is born in Britain blue (Rose), daddy is the Chinese, mother is the blue bonnet, although has the foreigner semblance, but actually has a Hong Kong heart. Once was selected English U20 army's she to be possible to choose originally represents the British team, but last year summer vacation actually backflow Hong Kong made a long stay, and decided that joined “the port olive”, this was selected for the first time 7 person of matches, its experience, the technology 絕 to could 夠 the enhancement port team battle efficiency. Once was selected the British U20 heart was the hometown Rose semblance “Britain”, is actually the percentage hundred people of Hong Kong, holds Hong Kong ID card and the special zone passport, can speak a fluent Cantonese. Rose expressed that port team coach solicited support her to join last year, therefore chose participates in the team: “he said that leaves port olive's long-term important matter, Hong Kong's facility is also getting more and more perfect, in the future will develop optimistically, moreover here will be my hometown, very wants to represent this place to compete.” Once was English Representative U20, the experience innumerable size campaign, Rose said that these experiences are she are most precious “the weapon”: “the foreign athlete fighting method is enterprising, is also fastidious about the physical ability, moreover each one is very big, makes the space which on the field takes a walk to be relatively few. In the past experienced was helpful me facing compared to us 'the big share' the contestant.”She said that this goes to battle with seven olives for the first time for the port, most exciting has the opportunity in “the full house” big field competition, if they really achieves the goal, appealed that each do not inflate the sound parsimoniously at the appointed time!

I am assuming that they are writing about how Rose used to play for England U20 and England A but who knows. And papa was a rolling stone.

Personally, I think Rose's secret weapon is her uncanny ability to obtain black eyes (three this season) that are so grotesque that our opposition, thinking of their own pretty, soft faces, run screaming from the pitch.

Monday, March 19, 2012

the agency of silly walks

My capacity to move in the world consists of a jaunty, bouncy step.  SB has a rather hulking, stalking stride that looks as menacing as mine looks friendly.  Our walking styles are noticeable enough that we have been recognized by friends from over great distances.  I try to get SB not to hunch over so much when he plows from point A to point B because it is poor posture; he does not critique my bounce, probably because I am too short to notice.

My mother, who missed her calling as an etiquette writer, tried to bring her daughters up to a bygone standard of deportment.  She never left home without immaculate hair and makeup, and favored pencil skirts and gorgeous high heeled shoes.  My sister enjoyed her cotillion preparation classes and continues to excel as a ballroom dancer but her wide, flat feet refused to be squeezed into delicate footwear.  I hated dance classes but was blessed with a podophiliac's dream: small bone structure, unusually high arches, and thin ankles.  Unfortunately for my mother, small heels and high arches cause my feet to fall out of most pumps. 

Also unfortunate for my mother was the fact that with heels, my bouncy walk turned into a whole lotta shake.  During my teenage years, my first attempts at wearing heels combined with a very round posterior caused cars to honk as we were walking down Park Avenue to go shopping.  Oh the horror.

These days the only honking I receive is from taxi drivers who feel rather put out that I deigned to make use of a crosswalk.  They never honk at SB though; I guess his walk is good for some things.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

then and now

My first rugby team was with American University in 1996.  I was taking some political science classes and a girl, I think her name was Erin, walked into my classroom and asked if anyone wanted to play rugby.  Sure, why not.  After years of cross country and track I was tired of simply running.

The team was in it's debut year and was affiliated with the Maryland Stingers.  We had three coaches: a married front row named Kit Desch and Carmita Signes and a back named Mika Huffington (I think).  Mika was a good looking man and a favorite among the ladies.  As a back, I wasn't exposed to Kit and Carmita as much as Mika but I recall that I really liked Carmita.  She had two long braids down her back and had an invincible spirit.  I have no mementos of my spring playing for that team.  I wish I had but I don't.  I even loaned my jersey to another girl and never got it back.  About ten years later I ran into Carmita at Pumpkinfest in Philly.  I walked up and introduced myself.  She said that she remembered me and I hope that it was the truth.  Like I said, I liked her.

Years later I officially enrolled in university at Texas A&M University and joined their rugby program, run by Craig Coates and Kathryn Nichol.  Those were some of the best times of my life.  I was a wing at the time, speedy although no one would really know it because I had hands like bricks.  I couldn't catch the ball if it was covered in glue.  What can I say?  I only had to complete one successful receipt of a baton in my previous career.  Only in my senior year did I finally learn how to have soft hands. It's amazing what having good hands will do to your confidence.  I suddenly was looking for work on the pitch.  My days at A&M were some of the best of my life.  It was the first time that I had real girlfriends.  Kate's group of rugby girls have gone on to make her proud.  A few of us still play first division rugby but those who have hung up their boots have become coaches and referees.  We had a good mentor.

Texas A&M Rugby, circa 2003-2004

In the ten years since university I have played in Argentina, Italy and now Hong Kong.  I have moved through all the numbers except 10 and 15 (I can't kick).  Where in Texas I was one of the smallest members on the team, in Hong Kong I am one of the biggest.  I have gone from wing to front row.  Each new team, and country, has presented a unique challenge.  I have to absorb new cultures, languages and styles of play.  On top of that, rugby itself has been evolving.  While my body has gotten slower, rugby has gotten faster.  I can only hope that I can evolve at a similar rate to the game; otherwise I'll be left behind.

CWB Hong Kong Rugby, circa 2009-2010

Friday, March 16, 2012

50 shades of nervous laughter

I came out from living under a rock to discover that E. L. James' "50 Shades of Grey" was being talked about on almost all of my diverse media sources.  The general news sources (MSN, Google News) discussed its bestselling status and my women focused sources pored over its titillating contents.  The feminist sites gave more in depth (pardon the pun) reviews of the erotic novel, discussing desire, empowerment and feminist fantasy (are you still a feminist if you fantasize about submission?).  Frank Santo's review was the first masculine review of the book that I have come across and I think that his probably best captures what the other women reviewers have left out, also the reason why I probably won't be buying this particular book.  However, if you want to wade into the shallow end of the bondage pool, or perhaps pick up a few new phrases to liven up that annual management retreat, by all means get this book.

But conversely, "50 Shades" describes acts of female sexual submission written by a woman, for women, from a woman character’s perspective, presumably for the purpose of the same aforementioned enthusiasms. Just as the majority of men who watch pornography do not actually think of their significant others as lascivious, orange-skinned, clearly-faking-it sexual acrobats, I seriously doubt that most women would prefer their men like Christian Grey: domineering, stalking, devoid of any humor or personality whatsoever.
                 - Frank Santo, reviewing "50 Shades of Grey" for the New York Daily News
                   Link here: It's all porn to me: One man's review of '50 Shades of Grey'

Thursday, March 15, 2012

fun for some of us

I picked up my Sevens tickets from the club yesterday.  Usually I would be sharing my giddiness about it but I have to put a lid on my joy this time around because of the large number of friends who have been unfruitful in procuring their own tickets.  Each year it gets more difficult and the price is beginning to soar.  I have heard that there are so many corporate seat reservations that it will be difficult to find space in the lower decks.  I will probably have to get up very early to squat my seat and without SB for company since he will likely be heading for the South Stand with the boys and I just can't force my body to do it this year. 

For those who haven't been lucky in procuring tickets, I would urge you to view the Women's Sevens, which is free and will take place at HK Football Club on Friday and Saturday of the Sevens weekend.  I have watched the women every year since I have been here and it gets better and better.  I am not exaggerating on this point; the competition has expanded from a mostly Asian event with the occasional American, NZ and Australian showing to also include France, Canada, England, Russia, Tunisia and the Netherlands.  I have always had prime seating since the event is woefully under-appreciated.  That's right, great seats and no beer queue.  And the Dutch women have legs that go on for miles. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hippocratic Oath

Currently in the United States we are allowing politicians to pass shocking legislation that caters to fringe groups with lobbying power and lots of ca$h.  Doctors in Arizona can lie to women about life threatening, prenatal conditions if they could result in the women asking for abortions to save their own lives.  Several presidential candidates who strongly support these anti-abortion under all circumstances, including life threatening ones, also agree that sick people who can't afford their own health care should die rather than being covered by taxpayers.  Texas has cut funding to public health care by 2/3rds but at least that also removed 23 Planned Parenthood clinics from operation.  A woman highlighting her friend's plight for her insurance to treat endometriosis with birth control pills was called a slut and told that she should post online videos of herself having sex if taxpayers were to pay for the pills.  And we call ourselves a civilized society.

Below is the oath that most medical providers take; if only we all should be forced to comply.

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.

I will not be ashamed to say "I know not", nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm. If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, be respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

death and artists

I was seated next to a music industry reporter at a wedding reception.  I am not sure if she arrived drunk or it was just her personality but she almost immediately became my bestie and began confiding her woes regarding the photographer at our table.  She had some kind of love/hate thing with him because she seemed to hold him in the highest esteem and yet also recognized that he was a patronizing ass.  During the entree course she whispered to me that he had recently closed his studio due to a dwindling client base.  But, she informed me during dessert, he used to be highly sought after and was brilliant with analog photography.  As the dancing and mingling portion of the night began I pulled out my digital camera and unknowingly took the shot that was heard around the ballroom.

Music Reporter said something to Analog Photographer that was intended to be fawning and he responded with derision.  The conversation eventually escalated to an argument even though both people were on the same side.  AG went on about how digital photography wasn't art and any idiot could do it as opposed to the craft involved in analog.  MR fervently agreed with him and cited electronic voice modulation and manipulation in the music industry.  AG sneered at her lack of understanding because she wasn't an artist.  She finally had enough and called him certain names that involved creative combinations of insults.  My opinion of MR rose.

Eventually I was drawn into the argument, not surprising since I was holding the instrument of AG's hatred.  No, I don't think that I'm a professional artist, I said.  But since they were involving me in the conversation I pointed out that evolution and adaptation are part of the art world.  AG went on the attack, making derisive comments and quizzing me of my knowledge in photography.  Of course I had no idea what he was talking about.  Still trying for a decent debate, I cited myself as an example.  I am a fantastic hand drafter.  Before computers became mainstream, drafting firms used to look at candidates' samples of lettering to determine if there was talent.  Now very few architects can properly use architectural lettering or draft.  It is a dying art that I am very proud of having picked up in my spare time, but in this age it is a rather ridiculous skill.  These days a vision for designing a building is dependent on one's ability to render it on a computer.  The new, electronic forms of design have allowed for architecture to progress.

Rather than being impressed with what I thought was a lovely comparison to his situation, AG decided to discount my statement by grouping architecture as "commercial" rather than pure art.  Off went the pleasant expression and out came my claws.  Actually, we were both involved in commerce, only I had learned the new skills and was applying them while he was still clinging to an obsolete form.  It is rather difficult to be avant garde when stuck in convention.  And with that, I picked up my easy, digital camera and took my stupid self off to get a picture of the bride and groom cutting the cake, one of at least forty amateur photographers vying for the same shot.  But only I will add starbursts and pink hearts to my picture in Photoshop, thus making it avant garde.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

chin up

So we lost our ninth final in a row on Saturday.  We lost due with a controversial penalty at the last minute.  Again.  My ankle and other circumstances meant that I did not play.  Our fantastic fullback broke her nose in the semifinal and did not play.  The other team's fullback flew in from Australia just for the match.  It was that much of a big deal for us.  I can't really say much more.  Blah

Especially blah was that my good friend's husband spent the entire weekend on a bender and thought it was funny to tell me what a loser I was right after the match.  I managed to fake a chuckle, because I could see the humor in a later date.  But luck was not on my side this weekend and somehow he decided that he was really funny and repeated it.  A lot.  Then the next day when I was returning from a rugby community event I ran into him outside of the local pub and he announced to some random people that I was a loser.  This time I could only manage a grimace.  Har har har.

At least I had three hours of cuddling little children and running around with a rugby ball at the community event.  Maybe these kids will grow up to play for us and win that damn trophy.