Tuesday, July 24, 2012

after the storm

It was impressive last night.  Even our safe valley was hit with high winds, downpour and flying objects.  SB was hoping that the T10 would remove the scaffolding form our building, which has been here for much longer than the building manager said it would be, but it held up remarkably well.

Friends in other locations throughout the territory experienced much more than we did.  I saw quite a lot of destruction pictured on Facebook and have included it below.  All photos are from friends who posted onto Facebook.

Monday, July 23, 2012

let the sunshine in

Yes, yesterday I was going on about the hot, sweltering weather and today when everything has cooled down, I am hoping for the sunshine to return.  I just can't be satisfied.  Or maybe we are going to the States for a month and I really, really don't want anything to delay my flight.  Otherwise I would loving this weather.

Our visitor from Taiwan made it out of Hong Kong while the signal was still only a T3.  We had to brave the rain to pick up dan tats (egg tarts) from Tai Cheong Bakery.  He brought them home on a previous trip and his family is addicted.  He fears for his life if he does not come home with a box.  Now we have also added a box of char siu bo lao bao (bbq pork pineapple buns) from Tim Ho Wan.  I suspect another addiction will be forming.  He will have to travel home from his business trips encumbered with more and more bags of baked goods.  We have requested sun cakes from Taiwan on the next voyage here.  I wonder if Taipei has a doughnut shop...

SB and I hung around Central for most of the afternoon to buy gifts to take home.  Between both sides of my family there are only four cousins, and only one of us has reproduced while SB's family is large and still growing.  SB's youngest sister has recently graduated from high school and I was thrilled to discover that this occasion coincides with Shanghai Tang's massive summer sale.

We got around to trying the coffee at Fuel in the IFC.  I think that the Rabbit Hole is still the best coffee that I have had in years but Fuel is pretty damn good.  The coffee got us on the right foot for the trek home.  While sipping our brews we saw a friend's posting of the queues at the Exchange terminal and decided to walk home instead.  The walk took about an hour instead of forty minutes because we chose to scurry along the elevated walkways from the IFC to the New World builiding instead of taking a more direct approach out of Central.  I was very impressed with how far we made it under cover.  Meanwhile our friend reported that she was still at the same bus stop and that the buses in front of her had not moved for fifteen minutes.  I feel bad for everyone who is waiting to go home.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

hot and bothered

Summer began auspiciously this year with cool weather lasting longer than usual, followed by bearably warm temperatures.  I don't know what went wrong.  For the past month, each day has begun with me waking up with a headache from the burning sun ray that has managed to penetrate our curtains onto the bed, followed by oppressive heat at the bus stop, rainstorms throughout the afternoon, and culminating in a miserably humid end of the day.

On weekends we have entered a holding pattern with SB physically dragging me from bed to face the day while I whine at him that I have no reason to get out of bed until September.  "There is nothing out there worth living for," I squeak at him while he pries my hands from the bed posts.  Sure enough, I find myself on some trail, drenched in sweat that has combined with the sunlight to start steaming me while SB drinks all of his water and mine and then tries to convince me that this is fun.

The weather has also made us more ornery than usual.  SB is nodding vigorously as I am typing this.  I will get him later.  Perhaps I will sign him up for some shots.  Flu, tetanus...I hear the plague is making a comeback and we'll want him to be immunized.

This morning I was supposed to go on a hike with my rugby team.  It was cancelled because of the T1.  Which basically means that our two hour hike was too scary in light of a standby signal that a tropical cyclone was 800 miles away and might affect us.  And we play contact sports in our spare time.  Since it took some major mental preparation for me to wrap my mind around leaving the air conditioned splendor of the flat for the unsheltered Dragon's Back, I was ornery at the cancellation.  It's kinda like that time in high school when I had just finished the 3200 and was informed that I was running a leg of the 4x400.  "But I'm a distance runner," I had protested when I finally got my breath back from the previous race.  The girl who ran the third leg had a pulled hamstring and the rest of the sprinters had gone for a cool down after their last races and hadn't returned.  So I spent the next five minutes practicing the baton hand off with my new 4x400 teammates and telling myself that it would be just like my previous race except with a stronger start and finish, and without those other seven laps.  And as I was literally lining up for the beginning of the race between runner two and four on the sideline, the sprinters returned and I was quickly ushered from the track.  As nervous as I was, my reprieve was a let down.  I hate let downs.  Especially when I 'm looking for things to hate.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

night out

Last night SB and I met up with several of our hotelie friends.  Most of them work for, or have previously worked for a man who owns a hotel consulting firm.  He seems to be an ideal boss, and most of the office staff enjoy spending time with him outside of the office.  I have had bosses who I have really liked but unfortunately those days seem so long ago.  On several occasions while with the hotelie gang I have wished that I were a hotelie also.  The majority of the staff are young, attractively dressed women, much like the makeup of the Cornell hotel school.  After dinner we decided to go dancing and the few men in the group disappeared, leaving the boss and four women.  SB and I followed them as they inspected the various bars in Soho and were amused to see the reactions of patrons and bar staff when the boss walked in with a fashionable harem.

The most stylish and senior member of the ladies wanted to go to a club which had a entrance that looked like a giant set of lips.  As she was gliding toward the entrance we were informed that this very exclusive club required an admission stamp from a hostess who resembled a fashion model.  She looked over our group and I could see the conflict on her face.  A respectable gentleman, four beautiful ladies, me in a nice evening outfit but without makeup or heels, and SB who I think cuts an attractive figure but was wearing Keens with his slacks and shirt.  "we don't usually allow sandals," she finally murmured to SB.  And then she paused.  We weren't outright rejected, I realized but I wasn't willing to beg her for entrance either.  The senior woman in our group solved the dilemma by turning her head and sweeping herself away in as regal a manner as one can affect when exiting out of a giant pair of lips.

I paid more attention on the way out than I did on the way in and noticed that most of the patrons were beautiful.  Also, the advantage that we would normally have with a large party of good looking women was lost there because unlike the other clubs, the majority comprised females- willowy, immaculately made up females in cocktail dresses and sky high pumps.  Who would have known that paradise was behind a giant pair of lips?

Back in the youthful days, creepy men used to try to pick you up by sneaking up behind you when you were dancing and then start humping you while pretending not to realize the very close proximity.  It was somehow considered to be an acceptable mating ritual and one rejected the suitor by moving forward out of range  from the pelvic thrusts, all while pretending not to notice him.  The suitor then would attempt to hump all the other girls in the group before moving on to greener pastures somewhere else in the club.  Last night I observed a new phenomenon.  A man appeared to accidentally wander into the middle of our group while typing on his phone.  He then planted himself between two of the ladies and proceeded to scroll through his very large phone for the next couple songs while shaking his hips in the direction of one of the ladies.  There were a few problems with this approach, the main one being that he never engaged in contact with anyone in our group despite deliberately parking himself in our midst.  And the phone light was not particularly flattering.  We noticed a few other men dancing with their iPhones in hand and lit up on themselves.  Perhaps someone should invent a phone app that emits a more flattering light for any peacock who hopes to spotlight himself on a dance floor.  Or maybe the application could project an image of George Clooney onto his face.    I know of a few women who would buy that app.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mr. Oblivious

When SB was a teenager he went with his sister on a white water rafting trip with his school.  On the first day when the students were unloading their packs from the rafts he grabbed all of the family luggage that he was using and went to his tent.  Meanwhile the rest of the rafters unloaded their stuff and his sister remained at the rafts looking for her missing pack.  A search was conducted to see if anyone had accidentally taken her pack but no one had it.  His poor sister was forced to spend the entire week in her bathing suit and one change of clothing.

SB spent the week carrying a large number of packs, one of which he never had the need to even open as everything he needed was in the other packs.  Now if you have figured out the conclusion to this tale, I will tell you that just about everyone who heard this tale from SB or his sister also drew the same conclusion.  SB had taken his sister's pack and somehow never made the connection during any of the multiple times that his sister searched for her missing stuff.

To this day his sister believes that he could not possibly have been that oblivious but was being a very devious older brother.  He swears to me that this was not the case and that in his feeble brain he registered that the packs belonged to his family and thereby him, and the thought of any of them also being his sister's missing pack never crossed his mind.  Years ago, upon hearing the tale, I was inclined to agree with his sister.  I questioned him about whether he could have done so subconsciously at least.  Now after living with him for so long, I believe him.

It is almost unbelievable that someone who exhibits vast intellectual knowledge can be such a dumbass but it is the truth.  We never share a backpack when hiking because at some point he manages to forget what each of us packed and will eat and drink everything in the pack.  On two of his trips back home he took some of my clothing instead of his so that on one occasion I was forced to attend a rugby club event in his much bigger polo, which looked like a dress on me.  I called him up then and there, waking him since it was 3am where he was, and ripped into him for repeating what he had done previously even  though I had asked him to check that he wasn't taking my clothing.

Part of the problem is that he is so sure that he is in the right.  Because he is never wrong.  Until he is wrong. And then he is sorry.  Mr. Oblivious.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

After the rain: Parkview to Tai Tam

Last week on our way to Shek O, SB glanced out of the window and saw a lot of water coming down from one of the dams in Tai Tam.  I was then roused from my slumberous state and given a farewell that I barely registered before he had pressed a button and hopped from the bus.  I proceeded to Shek O alone.

Here is the view that compelled him to propel from me.

This weekend he convinced me to go on a hike to see the reservoir.  We headed up to the Parkview from our home in Happy Valley, which is in my opinion more miserable and strenuous than the actual hike, and set off on our way. 

We ran into some other hikers people on a bridge who were wearing attire that seemed poorly conceived for a hike.  Sure enough, we observed then leaping from the bridge into the beautiful water of the reservoir.  I was in one of my skittish moods about plunging our grubby bodies into the drinking water supply although SB played devil's advocate and debated the overall lack of impact that our sweat would have on the large body of water.  Poor SB was forced to observe their joy from the sidelines although I allowed him to fill his water bottle and he said that the water was delicious if not as refreshing as it would have been after a dip.

We have a GPS device that we have used often in the deep woods of the Adirondacks back in New York but we hardly ever think to use it here.  This time I brought it along to see the elevations that we covered.  I should have turned it on from Happy Valley instead of the Parkview.  SB wants to do a high peak when we go home but I am wary about our fitness. 

The device readings are in the US system, by the way.  The speed is measured in minutes per mile.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lawmakers furious over US Olympic uniforms made in China

Sent by SB to our government representative:

Dear Senator Gillibrand,

I was dismayed to read your comments regarding the Olympic uniforms place of manufacture.  This should be a non-issue.  

Sewn textiles are made in China because the US is not competitive in this area.  You state in your letter that "There is no compelling reason why all of the uniforms cannot be made here on U.S. soil at the same price, at better quality."  As US Senator you should understand enough basic level economics to know this is not true.   Economics and 10 years of textile and manufacturing experience both in NYC and now in Hong Kong back this up.

The workers in the US have moved and must continue to move higher up the value chain.  We as Americans are wasting our efforts to preserve these low level jobs.  The US textile industry, from weaving of fabrics to sewing the final product, is not competitive.  The boat with these jobs sailed overseas long ago.  Don't fight this loosing battle.  

As one of my NY Senators I implore you to be productive with our finite fiscal resources; fight to put money where it will do the most good, including retraining people to things other than sew.  Even China is trying to move higher up the value chain and away from these sewing jobs because it makes strategic sense for their nation.

I hope I can count on you push for the policies that will ensure our country's long term economic strength. 

Best regards,

From: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand <Senator@gillibrand.senate.gov>
Date: Sat, Jul 14, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Subject: Thank You for Contacting Me!

Thank you for contacting my office. Your thoughts and concerns are very important to me and you will receive a more detailed response shortly. I sincerely appreciate your patience in waiting for this response, as our mail volume is often significant.

If this is a request for assistance with a federal agency or an immigration case, please contact my casework staff directly by phone at (212) 688 - 6262.

Thank you again for contacting my office.


Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senator

I wonder if she will write back.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

you might want to rephrase that

While engaging in a session of sharing too much information with my best friend, I discovered that a slight misquote can indeed lead one down a totally incorrect path of comprehension.  Apparently quoting SB saying that I made him feel like a sexual dinosaur is not the same thing as what he really said, which was that I made him feel like a sexual Tyrannosaurus.  So while SB might have been strutting about, feeling like a ferocious, apex biped, what my bestie pictured was a small brained creature whose evolution ended at the ice age.  I expect the "fully revised and completely updated" Joy of Sex to be arriving in our mailbox any day now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

the heart of the matter

It is always sad when you have to stop an activity that you enjoy due to physical or biochemical reasons.  We try to extend our enjoyment but with only one body per lifetime, we have to weigh the benefits and costs.  I choose not to run road races anymore to extend what's left of my knees.  My best friend, a former gymnast who developed arthritis in her hip in her early twenties, restricts physical activity to golf these days.

It was with sadness that we bid adieu to SB's rugby career, but it was also with a huge sigh of relief.  There have been one too many brain injuries over the span of his lifetime, beginning at the tender age of seven when he fell hard in an ice rink, and most recently when he was sucker punched by a HKFC player named Gus during a ruck. 

It would be easiest if SB withdrew from all sports but unfortunately he is a jock and this would end most of his reasons for living.  Instead, we have agreed that the majority of his unfortunate head knocks have taken place on a rugby pitch so we have eliminated that factor and now his only contact sports are those that are played with a helmet.  A helmet won't keep him from being hit about the head, but it offers some protection.   

My great fear is of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.  For now I refer to his symptoms as post concussion syndrome but this is not quite accurate.  Regardless of when his last head knock occurred, presently even the most innocuous seeming head contact results in him feeling mild symptoms.  His ADHD does not help because I have no idea if his appalling memory and attention span issues are related to one or the other.  I hope it is the ADHD but lately we have had some issues where he cannot recall something even after I remind him, which wasn't a problem before.  I have a fantastic memory and can often recall incidents to him right down to repeating entire snippets of conversation so usually he can be brought around to recall the incident. 

On Sunday his team won the lacrosse league playoffs.  It was a mostly safe match except for a freak accident during a face off when the opposing player accidentally got his stick under SB's helmet.  Fortunately he only yanked SB's head a few times before realizing that what he was doing was dangerous and by then the referees had blown the whistle.  Unfortunately another player came rushing in and whacked SB on the head a few times.  I still have no idea what he was even attempting to accomplish by that move.  Did he think the ball was lodged in SB's helmet?  Was he trying to check his shoulders but was criminally nearsighted?  There were a few nervous moments for me on the sideline but SB continued to play.  He is good about head contact these days, being correctly concerned and vigilant about any change in his level of consciousness.  We can only hope for luck to be on our side in addition to our newly implemented safety measures.  I hope for more years of enjoyment before I have to take him to the dementia ward.  Hopefully by then my neurosis will have developed into full blown psychosis so they will give me a bed next to him.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


To err is human, to really foul things up requires a computer.
                                -attributed to either William E. Vaughan or Paul Ehrlich

San Diego Bay's pyrotechnics show to celebrate Independence Day was either Big Bay Boom or Big Bay Bust, depending on who you ask, or more specifically, whether one regards certain parts of the show to be more important than others.  Personally, I am all about the finale.  My childhood celebration included listening to the Boston Pops which ended on a fireworks show to the finale of Tchaikovsky's The Year 1812, Festival Overture in E flat major, Op. 49.  I don't remember what was played before the finale- most likely a lot of good stuff that was under appreciated by an eight year old who was staying up well past her bedtime for the fireworks show.  I remember only that one year John Williams played the Star Wars theme.  That was almost as good as the finale.  Almost.

So if you would ask me, the fifteen seconds of mistimed fireworks that preceded even the opening score of music was a spectacular success.  Many would not agree, but I wasn't the one waiting all night for the show.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hong Kong Hockey 5s

It's been a month past but I have just now gotten around to uploading my photos of the Hockey 5s, and annual international competition hosted at Megabox, which boasts the world's highest hockey rink or something to that effect, although I would argue that there must be some rinks in the world that are located at altitudes higher than ten floors up in a shopping mall that is located at sea level.  Megabox's full sized rink might have the world's biggest air conditioning fees unless the rink in Dubai turns out to be more expensive.  SB was wanted by more than one team so he was pleased and he ended up playing on a team mostly comprised of Swedes and Swiss in the International A division. He had a good time and we randomly met a fellow American player from a Shanghai team who grew up with one of my best friends.  I had heard stories about Teddy and the Hamilton group over the years and it was an unexpected pleasure to meet him in Hong Kong of all places.

This player, Michelle, is another American hockey player who is the only woman playing in the first division although she is moving back to North America soon.  She is tiny, under 5 feet tall by quite a few inches, but compensates for her short legs and reach with a superior understanding of space and position as well as great hands.  Her passes are nearly perfect, making her an ideal line-mate.

Patrick, another American, is in my opinion the best player in Hong Kong.  He captained one of the Ivy teams and played in Germany.  He has a wicked shot.  SB has blocked a few of his shots and saws that they are very painful, especially because SB doesn't wear shoulder pads.

This is Teddy, the American from Hamilton.  I'm starting to realize a theme but I swear that I wasn't planning on only featuring American players.

To the left is hands down the worst uniform of the tournament, worn by the Singapore Manimals.  The front featured some guy in a suit next to an eagle and surrounded by poorly rendered flames.  Their socks didn't match.  My eyeballs started to burn after watching them; the design was so bad that I was offended at being forced to endure it.  To the right is a Canadian professional player who came down to play on a Hong Kong team that was managed by his brother.

This is who I thought was the best player of the tournament.  Like Jesus, he could walk on water.  In fact his movements on the ice were miraculous.  According to his fellow Czech teammates, he was on several of the world championship winning teams for the Czech Republic.

Here's Junior, the villain of the tournament, who in the photo is attempting (with debatable success) to make himself as small as possible so that the goalie can see the shot.  Junior, which was the only legible name on any of the Czech jerseys, gathered penalties like he was collecting stamps, but he was so amusing to watch that I could forgive him.  It also helped that he played in International B so SB never met up with his team and therefore was never on the receiving end of Junior's special brand of defending.

Finally, the Beijing goalie.  This team, made up of current and former Chinese national team players, were a close second to the Manimals in the jersey competition.  Their designs were actually really nice but it appeared that they couldn't decide which design they liked the most so they just put all of them on the jersey.  There were flames, stars, dragons, imperial motifs, etc. all over the place.  But look at the goalie's mask.  I loved it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

when worlds collide

Last month some prehistoric Texas Republicans who were deciding the state's educational curriculum decided that along with opposing the teaching of critical thinking skills (who want to think for themselves, anyway?), “controversial theories” such evolution and climate change should be emphasized as challengeable science.  These legislators oppose the teaching of critical thinking skills because they “focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”


Meanwhile, last month here in Hong Kong SB and I met a truly unique scientific specimen, an astrophysicist.  There are only about 10,000 in the world and as they are a reclusive bunch, sightings are rare outside of their natural habitat, usually upon some remote mountain peak or underground in a giant laboratory.  A few reside near Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Texas despite their state's apparent hostility toward critical thinking.

This man was so interesting that SB and I had no choice but to latch onto  him like starving cephalopods and nourish ourselves on his brain.  Over Thai food in Wanchai he talked to us about the feasibility of travel to Mars.  While out on the Ping Shan Heritage Trail he talked about life in his remote Chilean observatory.  During yum cha at Maxim's he told us to check out the site PHD Comics, which he said gave an uncanny glimpse into the life of a PHD nerd.  SB and I discovered that most graduate students have quite a lot in common with PHDs.

Best of all, the astrologer pointed us to a funny sketch that does a very good job at explaining the Higgs boson: http://vimeo.com/41038445.  It was very timely since very recently a bunch of these rare astrophysicists were tearfully celebrating the apparent discovery of the God particle.  Pretty cool.  I wonder if this discovery will be one of the top discoveries made in this century.  People will ask, do you remember when the Higgs boson was detected, and I will say, why yes.  I was sitting at home, marveling (smugly) at how fortunate SB and I were to have met this astrophysicist when the news broke.

*Correction: Spike has informed me that " it was not Republicans deciding on the education curriculum, it was a committee making recommendations for the party platform for the 2012 elections."