Tuesday, December 15, 2015

a francophile called Wanda

Last night SB and I joined a quiz night at Cafe Scientifique as last minute replacements for a couple of friends who had enjoyed their holiday party a bit too much the night before. The quiz questions were challenging but we managed to pull off third place with our motley assortment of non-scientists. It was the journalist in our group who blew me away with his breadth and depth of knowledge on almost every scientific category from geology to astronomy. After nine rounds of questions, our team was only six points behind the winning table of incumbent science professors. I surprised myself with my knowledge of plants and animals, which won our team a bottle of wine in the bonus round of Hong Kong flowers and fauna, sponsored by the Bauhinia Genome Project. You can read about them here.

Apparently some of the contestants at last year's quiz night complained that the questions did not include enough French information so the hosts bent over backward accommodating them and it didn't take us long to realize that if there was any doubt on an answer, to choose a French one. It was amusing that the French team finished thirty points behind us. Someone said that they missed the question about Jacques Cousteau. Merde!

One of the announcers, an Englishman of distinction, began by sprinkling his French knowledge into his questions, but hours later, likely aided by several glasses of wine, he lost all of his inhibitions and revealed himself to be a raging francophile, waxing on in increasingly flowery language about each minute detail of the quiz's Gallic questions. At some point as he was booming passionately about Fermat's last theorem, I suddenly was reminded a scene from A Fish Called Wanda, where Archie orated in Italian, then Russian, while Wanda writhed on the floor in ecstasy.

Due to veering well off course by the quiz master imparting bits of trivia on top of the actual trivia (fascinating as it was), as well as the ill fated decision by the hosts to allow a room full of know-it-alls the ability to challenge the answers for the price of a small charitable donation, the quiz lasted for almost four hours. SB and I had cereal for dinner at midnight and went to bed too tired to revel in our success. This evening I imagine that we will relive the agony and ecstasy of last night, and of course plot to join again next year. If nothing else, the events of last night have inspired me to resolve to actually read a science journal or two in the next year. After National Geographic became embarrassingly shallow, I lost that feeling of wonder and excitement but now it's back.

Monday, December 14, 2015

3245 years

While scrolling through the internet, I came across this one.

(Source: ViralFHD)

It gave me chills.

Taken in 1922, it is the seal to the door of King Tutankamon's tomb. It remained unbroken for 3245 years.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

if wishes were stampeding horses

There is a manager on another team that is, in my professional opinion, unhinged. The team that I am contracted to behaves well, even if they are not always well coordinated. A little bit of respect goes a long way, and I am often willing to go the extra mile for them. Every day we negotiate land mines, and I appreciate that we can work together to disarm the mines rather than pushing each other into them and running for cover. The manager on the other team has sacrificed so many of his team members that there is no one left to help him solve his problems, or at least take the hit for delays. Last week, one of his two remaining underlings submitted his notice. 

On Monday my manager informed me that the unhinged manager complained about me at the project meeting with the senior administration. Despite the fact that my team is on schedule, the other manager made the rather ridiculous claim that since he hadn't viewed any correspondence from me, I therefore must not be doing any work. Um, I don't work for him so why should I copy him on my work? 

The other manager calls his consultant into hours long meetings where he rants and raves. I have heard him making personal threats to the consultant, who is the third consultant hired this year. The consultant isn't concerned because the manager can't fire him without drawing attention to himself and his team's turnover rate. So now unhinged manager wants to target me, a consultant on a different team and overseen by another manager.

My manager is non-confrontational, to my dismay. He never takes on the other manager but maybe he has the right approach because the other manager can't engage him and is left to froth and foam by himself. Except now he is frothing and foaming too close to me. 

My manager just told me to give the other manager what he wants. Since he is complaining that I am not reporting to him (because I don't work for him!) then I should go ahead and copy the other guy on my tasks to show that I am working. At first I was upset that my manager was capitulating and throwing me into the line of fire but then I realized the brilliance of his capitulation. What unhinged manager wants, he gets. Every day I receive a dozen submissions, queries and proposals. My own manager isn't copied on my replies because it's my job to take care of these issues, but now I am copying everything to unhinged manager. Today he was copied on several discussions debating a dry battery sensor versus DC powered for the urinals. He also received a couple emails discussing why I think that the Highways Department's specifications for friction resistance on tiling is superior to the Housing Department's. By the end of today, he will know everything that I am doing. Everything. I am going to bury him in trivial data until his inbox explodes. And it will be no less than what he demanded.

Monday, November 23, 2015

domestic animal

This weekend marked the final nail in the coffin of our slow march into domesticity. We sold our couch, a gorgeously simple chrome framed piece with fine, herringbone wool fabric in warm brown and grey tones, to make room for a boxy Ikea model with a chaise type end piece that is very popular these days. We did so because of the change of lifestyle that we have experienced since becoming dog owners, which is akin to becoming parents. Our previous living room setup was carefully chosen by me to be stylish yet functional. The main feature was a beautiful Kazak Rug. All of the other furniture was simply designed but with complex textures such as the herringbone couch in neutral shades and the modern end tables of glass, teak and chrome.  I also had plants overflowing from every corner of the room.

Then we got dogs.

Dogs are curious creatures, so the plants were relocated to higher ground.
Dogs track in dirt, no matter how thoroughly you wipe down their paws at the front door. I wasn’t interested in joining those weird neighbors whose dogs wear shoes outdoors, so I bought a nice (though not comparable to Kazak), washable rug to lay in the living room.
Dogs shed. I got a slipcover for the couch.
Dogs are fun to be around so we stopped going out so often. After months of weeknights on the couch with the dogs, I realized that our comfortable couch was kind of small when piled with two adults and two medium sized canines. It also wasn’t so comfortable when you sat there with a dog on your lap for several hours. In fact, my butt fell asleep on more than one occasion.

The couch was the last holdout. I loved that couch. But I love my dogs more, so I finally sucked it up and posted an ad online. I received several replies within the hour (it was a nice couch) and it was gone by the time that I arrived home from work the next day, carted off by a not-so-young hipster. Two days later, a beige, boxy sofa was delivered. The dogs love the couch. We all watched football together on it. SB is happy and none of my body parts fell asleep. I looked out over our sofa kingdom last night, taking in the sea of beige, from the beige and brown rug littered with various sized chew toys, to the striped beige and green dog bed in the corner, to SB drinking his coffee with a beige and black hound at his feet on the chaise portion, and I realized that I was happy, also. And oh so beige.

Friday, November 20, 2015

I dreamed a dream

My alarm woke me up from my dream at the most inconvenient time, as I was about to feast on a delicious prime rib dinner, having consumed a salad that was very similar to an actual side salad that I ate at Stones in Tai Hang. Shortly before being rudely awakened (or at least shortly if dream time is similar to real time) I had a moment of clarity in my dream where I recognized it for what it was and thought to myself, please let me not wake up until after I eat this prime rib. Sigh.

I tried to fall back asleep but instead of returning to my dinner, my dream took me in an absurd direction. I was back at the company headquarters but thankfully I did not spend my dream time doing work as I have regularly before. I wish there was some sort of a brain filter to remove work related events from dreams because nothing is more depressing than waking up after a long day of work, only to realize that you haven't actually been to work yet. It's like working twice as much with no reward.

Anyway, there I was in the office when a former colleague strolled in with the new iPad Pro, only the one in the dream was bigger than any of the office monitors. I have yet to see the iPad Pro, but in the dream it was fantastic and had all sorts of meaningful features, none of which I can remember at this time or otherwise I would create the apps and become fantastically wealthy, because they were just that good in the dream. After oohing and ahhing at the massive tablet, we all broke into song and dance.

I have never seen an episode of Glee, but I don't live under a rock so I have heard of it. Two weeks ago SB and I attended a trivia night and ran into some friends with the Welsh Male Voice Choir, who had booked the venue after us. No one broke into song there, either. But in the dream, there was a lot of singing, and for once I was in tune. So it clearly was a dream.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

on or walk

In our walk we ran into three hikers who seemed vaguely eastern European and clearly not enamored with our dogs. While passing their disgruntled selves, Will and I had a debate over whether they were Russian and grumpy because of 'roid rage. Who wouldn't love such adorable creatures?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

are you speaking my language?

With my English friends in the US, I never noticed a class structure in our interactions, only that we occasionally had differences in custom and manner. In Hong Kong, it took me a few years but I eventually became aware of a completely different social construct. When sitting in the pub, watching rugby or football with fellow British, New Zealander, and Australian sports fans, we are all equals in looking down our noses at American football and rugby players. I notice, however, that when Englishmen get together, things get weird. D supports Liverpool while P supports Tottenham, S supports Arsenal, and E is Manchester United all the way. Each speaks with the dialect of where they are from. However, when P and S talk amongst themselves, they take on different accents and mannerisms than when they chat with everyone else. When I pointed it out, D explained to me that P and S went to public school (the English definition, not the American one) and apparently there is a public school way of elocution that they turn on and off depending on who they are with. I guess it is their way of recognizing each other above the flock.

I hear P and S's dialect in meetings when several British educated people are in the room. Like P and S, a few of my company directors speak this language in formal meetings. No one seems to hold it against me that I can't turn up my posh, but all the same, it sometimes feels like I'm sitting in the midst of another civilization. I wonder if this is how people with autism feel. I can understand the words and see the gestures but I know that I am missing comprehension. I can practically, physically feel the social cues flying past me, too quick to grasp. My boss will say one thing and everyone will agree, but I have have heard that tone enough to now realize that he meant opposite of what he said and nobody is in agreement, and it fact, they are all fighting with smiles on their faces. Maybe Khrushchev had the right idea, because sometimes I want to bang the table and demand that we cut through all of the posturing and actually say what we mean.

My former boss told me that as he grew older, he came to appreciate the American way, which was direct instead of polite. I can't recall how he said it because it was rather indirect and circuitous, but I took it as how I think that he meant it despite the condescension in the message's delivery. I'm not sure if it is an American way of thinking, or if it is just me, but I don't mince around. In the construction industry, every minute spent making nice nonense is a million dollars of delay costs. I understand  though, that the correct answer is not always the right answer. It's more of that autism feeling. I can give a correct answer and it is still wrong. Maybe I need to reply in crisper vowels and everything will be okay.

Friday, October 30, 2015

of birds and bird brains

After only a month on site, I have taken up the vocabulary of a contractor. No matter where in the world I have been, contractors universally are known for their colorful expressions. I find myself using swear words in lieu of punctuation. Thanks to the previous puk gai surveyor, our stairs end 400mm above the ground level *#@! Diu!

My uncle had an apron that read “Chef F*ck”. It was very appropriate; every time he was in the kitchen, you could hear him cursing up a storm as a series of unfortunate events befell him. While my work is rewarding 80% of the time, every day I encounter a mind boggling example of bureaucratic incompetence. Today’s was just so amazing that I had to share it: 

Last week I submitted a drawing package for general building plan revisions to the lead consultant. One of the flock of civil engineers contacted me this afternoon to note that two areas of the E&M mezzanine level had been revised and requested the drawing files from me. It was mind boggling because (1) the changes had been driven by the engineering team and given to me to update the architectural layout so why the flock was she asking me for the drawing for her updating, and (2) in order to review the drawings and note the revision, one would have to OPEN THE CADD FILE to print out the drawings. This would be the CADD file that she was now requesting from me. I may have opened and closed my mouth like a goldfish while reading and re-reading the email. Then I deleted it without replying because, really.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Soko Islands: the last frontier

Of my checklist of must-visit outlying islands, only one item remained. It had been over five years ago that I checked off my second to last item, the Ninepin Islands, but for an array of different reasons, the Soko Islands eluded me.

There were so many activities every weekend, as is the busy-bee way of life here, and eventually I all but gave up. Our hiking buddy, cousin Shoils, began a family, then we got two dogs, and our island adventures came to a halt.

Last week Shoils suddenly messaged us to let us know that someone had posted on a geocaching group that she belongs to, and the organizer wanted to venture to the Soko Islands. Yesterday we joined three other people for a wonderful exploration.

I have heard that you may book a sampan from Lantau but we booked from Cheng Chau. This is an all-day booking because the sampan operator will wait for you to take you home due to the travel time and distance.

It takes around eighty minutes to travel each way from Cheng Chau; we spent three hours exploring Tai A Chau (大鴉洲) that housed the Vietnamese detention centre and then another hour at a neighboring island, Siu A Chau (小鴉洲), that had a very lovely beach..and a radioactive waste facility.

As a grateful tag-along to the geocaching group, as well as not knowing what to expect, I only packed my medium sized bag with water, food, one layer of extra clothing, and my first aid kit. I forgot my mosquito repellent, which was unfortunate since we spent a lot of time exploring forested pathways and ponds.

I already am formulating plans to return with my DLR camera, but the area was so picturesque that even my phone camera snaps were lovely and I had a hard time narrowing down my selection to share.

I had a personal reason for wanting to make the trip: during the two years of my childhood that my family lived in Hong Kong, my mother became involved with volunteering to assist with the refugees. We were able to organize occasional activities between Vietnamese girls and my girl scout troop. My mother sometimes went to the Soko Islands to work with the refugees but as a child, I was not permitted to go. I wondered about the detainment camp where the Vietnamese children lived. I still wonder what became of them, if they integrated into Hong Kong or if they were sent back.

While the camp was demolished, as an architect I was able to walk through the site and piece together the housing blocks, shower and kitchen facilities, and ancillary buildings. I imagined that the ground down steel tubes held up shading canopies between buildings.

Today, devoid of the thousands of refugees, the area is hauntingly beautiful. You can look across the expanse of foundation nestled in a valley, from seafront to seafront, and it is a commanding view. The paths and roads are overgrown in the best of ways with canopies of fragrantly blooming vines and greenery. It would be easy to forget the purpose of the site and imagine seafront holiday bungalows a la Santorini or Koh Samui. Or maybe a spectacle like Sea Ranch.

I am so glad that I finally made it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Too Much Obfuscation

With World Rugby's clarification of Joubert's mistake, and further clarification that there was no opportunity to resort to the TMO, it leaves Joubert with all of responsibility for the result. From the intent look on Joubert's face as he was watching the video replay when Foley was lining up the kick, I think that he understood the facts. He performed well for 78 of his 80 minutes, but one small and easy to understand mistake has transformed him into a villain. In a case of history rhyming, Joubert was also the referee who was judged to have incorrectly penalized Richie McCaw in the 2014 Super Rugby Final. In the 78th minute, Bernard Foley was able to kick for three points that secured the victory for the Waratahs.

I hope that aside from leaving Joubert to hang, World Rugby takes a proactive position and reviews the purview of the TMO. When the TMO was first introduced, he was recognized as performing a service to the game, assisting the referee at critical areas of the match such as when tries needed confirmation or when foul play needed review. Then, a few years ago, we started experiencing issues when referees became less assured of their competence and suddenly the TMO was involved in reviewing every painful second of every try. I don't think anyone wants to go back to those times.

If I ruled World Rugby, I would suggest taking a page from the NFL's challenge system. Each coach is given two challenges that may be used in a match. The challenges must occur during stoppage in play, and be thrown down before the other team restarts play, such as when Foley is lining up his kick, but not if he quickly taps the ball and plays the penalty. The challenges cannot be used if the referee has stopped play and engaged the TMO already, much like how the NFL will not allow the coach to contradict a decision that has already been further reviewed.

I think that if teams were allowed limited use of challenges to a referee's decision, it would not undermine the referee. There are many times during a match when the referee is not in the best position to observe the actions of thirty players in contact with each other, and I don't think that it's a bad thing if a coach asked for a TMO review, especially if the call is a critical one. I think that Joubert would not have minded if Scotland had been allowed to use the TMO. He is one of the best in the world and it's a shame how he is being blamed for a decision that he made to the best of his ability.

Monday, October 19, 2015

lock down

Craig Joubert's Wikipedia page is locked for some reason.

Yes, the replays have allowed us to see that a mistake was made in that call. Yes, it was horrible. No, we have not found a way to eliminate that terrible homo sapien trait of imperfection that plagues us. Dammit, Joubert.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

back to the beginning

Autumn has brought a flurry of excitement as rugby season is now underway. For anyone wondering where I have been other than hiking with the furbabies, I have been busy with club administration. My club, SCAA Causeway Bay, took inventory of where we stood and have decided to continue on our pathway as a competitive, amateur club. Our several seasons in the Premiership left our club with deep wounds but we are now in a very good position, having rebuilt; and while always looking for opportunity, we are happy to be where we are now.

In some ways, our foray into premiership level rugby was successful. We were a club with a majority of local players and very few resources compared to the other premiership powerhouses, but when we exited the premiership, we were not in last place. We never broke into the top half, but we did manage to develop quite a number of young players into elite athletes who were quickly snatched up by the top teams. In one year alone, six of our players were lured away by high paying premiership clubs and while this was the final nail in our coffin, it showed that our talent development program was a success; just we didn't have the funds to retain the talent that we developed.

The big problem though, was that the time and effort and expense that were required to field a top level team was costly in terms of our core values. Many clubs import professional players, and we had to do the same, yet this went against our ethos as a local, inclusive team. Since exiting the premiership, we have worked hard to make amends and rebuild our base of supportive, team oriented players. We still develop top level local players who are still snatched up by paying clubs, but since we don't compete at the premiership level anymore, we can grudgingly let them go to seek higher level (and compensated) competition.

One day if the right offer comes along, we would consider throwing our hats in the ring and rejoining the premiership, but for now I think that we are where we need to be: at the top of the amateur league with a successful program that produces top level local players who sometimes go on to play at the top level of the sport in Hong Kong.

And while we can't claim too much credit for this player's development, we are the only club that can boast having a former player who is currently playing in the rugby world cup. Hint: he's also the heaviest player in the tournament.

Friday, October 2, 2015

bodies moving

The past few weeks have seen a steep increase in companionship on our hikes. As the weather gets less intense, we have gone from solitary hikes to rambles with friends and other dogs. Not that our hikes have ever been monotonous but it's been very enjoyable to have a change in the routine.

Yesterday, a last minute social media posting was quickly answered by a friend who I haven't seen since my days as a Sandy Bay coach. He's been busy in the past couple of years, having seriously taken up hiking. A former prop, he is still of a front row physique, which is misleading. He set a determined pace that had the dogs and me puffing along. If not for our breaks to hydrate and water down the dogs, we would have plowed our way through the usually 2 hour hike in half the time. Of course our usual hikes include stoppages to splash in streams but this man's pace was impressive.

He is going to attempt to complete the HK trailwalker after two failures. He suceeded the Japan trailwalker but this one has eluded him. During the first year he suffered a freak injury when quite suddenly, he was unable to place any weight on his left leg, which still baffles him as to what happened. The second attempt saw him teamed up with a man who was in his own program, insisting that he was going to do the trailwalker as he remembered it over a decade ago. The man left them to complete the "correct" course and the team eventually caught up with him as he was entering the shivery stage of heat stroke. His teammates did not return the favor and abandon him.

During our hike yesterday, we came across a dozen or so people who seemed to be part of the same group, only staggered along the twins by twenty minutes. The ones in front looked tired but the ones in the back were downright miserable. They were all impressively kitted out in ultra runner clothing, with high end shoes and running backpacks. I wondered what the story was. Office entry into the trailwalker perhaps?

SB wanted to do the trailwalker previously but several stints as support crew changed his mind. The glory of completing the course in his mind didn't take into account the pain. Watching your very fit friends vomiting and swaying about like zombies puts a damper on enthusiasm to partake. Now SB is happy to limit his participation to going on training hikes with people who are preparing for the hellish event. I never had such lofty ambitions and have always been happy to be the water girl. I'm a very good water girl.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

super bloody moon

After getting caught up in all of the excitement about this magical doomsday moon, SB and I hiked to the hills over Tai Tam reservoir to behold the autumn lunar event. We began having misgivings hours before when we observed the not-unusual cover of haze (pollution) and gathering clouds but decided to go ahead because...well, because we didn't exactly have anything better to do. By the time that it was dark, the cloud cover all but obscured any sight of the moon. Well, darn.

SB's eldest sister had no better luck from her location in Pittsburgh, where there was also cloud cover. SB's brother has been in a month-long snit and was not contacted. His ire is directed at the eldest sister but we all feel the effects of his wrath (he takes after their father in this regard). My sister was useless; her child is a year and a half old but she still has pregnancy brain and can't be counted on to add one and one together, much less draw a curtain and look out the window to observe the moon. SB's youngest sister was our last hope. She reported that she saw the moon, and that was all. As she aspires to be a journalist, we had greater expectations from her. At least a description of the colour would have been nice...

Meanwhile, everyone waiting on their roofs for the end of the world were thwarted, yet again, as they are thwarted every time the end of the world or apocalypse, whatever, is predicted. Pastor Hagee and all of his cohorts quickly rushed to clarify that when they said end of times blood moon, they didn't mean this particular one, sorry if you misunderstood. But please keep sending in your donations, heh, heh.

All was not for naught, because I saw my first porcupine after years of finding evidence of them. It rushed past us, looking very large, probably due to being in full plumage or bristlage or however you refer to porcupines that have their quills puffed out. I assume that it was passing us in flight from the furbabies who were prancing ahead in the dark. Did you know that rustling porcupine quills sound not too dissimilar to a snake rattle? So I learned one new thing that evening.

Friday, September 25, 2015

desperately devoted

Tippytoes has a bit of a problem. I don't know how it came about exactly but one day, seemingly out of the blue, she cast her eyes in my direction and suddenly realized that she loved me. I mean, really, really loved me. It was like in those romantic fictions, when the character is suddenly struck by Cupid's arrow. The next thing that I knew, she was frantically licking me to the point that I had to wear knee socks for several weeks until she finally calmed down. A year later, she is still desperately attached to me but without the full on psychosis. Now instead of showing me her love with a tongue bath, she usually settles for throwing herself on top of me or rolling belly up before me, usually while I am trying to step around her. I love her, though. How can I not when she has such good taste? I meant that figuratively, by the way.

SB and I recently took a short trip to San Francisco to attend a wedding and visit my nephew. It was the first time that both of us left the dogs and I was a stress ball about it, but our dog sitter reported that all was well aside from Tip not eating very well. When SB and I returned, we were not too surprised that both dogs threw themselves at us in a frenzy of excitement. Elsie raced back and forth, hauling over her most beloved toys to offer as tribute, while Tippy flailed about like a fish and made weird, crying noises. After having our flight delayed by eight hours and all of our luggage lost (how do you not load all of the luggage when the plane is at the gate for eight hours?!) it was a very pleasurable homecoming.

After returning from my first day back at the office, I was greeted with only slightly less enthusiasm from Tippy. Unfortunately, I was exhausted and promptly went to bed, leaving her apparently dissatisfied with the amount of cuddling that I had imparted. At some point during my deep slumber, I felt a thump on the mattress and suddenly, there was my dog. The bed is a lovely teak framed canopy that is high from the floor. I cannot touch the floor with my short legs when I sit at the edge of the bed. I was impressed by how Tippy managed to leap onto the bed, though she will not be allowed to repeat her performance.

While I was delirious with fatigue, Tippy was able to take advantage and lick me frantically, like she used to a year ago. At some point I had to pull her from where she was latched onto my armpit and suckling. Because she's a weirdo like that. Then she proceeded to lick my face and managed to stick her tongue in my mouth as I was grumbling at her to stop. Now, I adore my dog as much as any other crazy dog lover, but I am not a fan of being french kissed by a canine. There are those people who are down with receiving wet, slobbery face kisses, but I am not one of them.

My best friend is one. Not only does she kiss her dog, but I once saw her sharing breakfast with it, as in both of them licking the same cereal spoon together. All I can say about that is it's a good thing that she is a gorgeous redhead with a rocking body because it means that her husband is too busy staring at her boobs to notice that she's making out with a chihuahua. Me, I don't have huge boobs so I guess that I'm better off being normal.

Friday, August 21, 2015

stop it

I found something to jolt me out of my happiness bubble: a ludicrous Hong Kong consultancy report and planning application to remove the tram service from Admiralty to Central.

(source: Hong Kong Hustle)

While one of my degrees is in planning, you don't have to be a planner to pick out the faults in the breathtaking tunnel vision displayed by the study. To sum it up, the cure to the congestion that is plaguing Central is to remove the tram lane since it takes up 30% of the roadway.

It makes sense. If you removed the tram, it would clear up an extra lane in Central for private cars to circle endlessly while waiting for VIP businessmen to emerge from buildings, as one lane is not enough to accommodate all of the high flyers who work in the area. In Admiralty, the extra lane could be converted to another waiting area for the logjam of vehicles trying to enter the Hung Hom tunnel. Yes, the proposal to clear away the tram would be very beneficial to the congestion problem created by private cars.

Aside from the historical value, trams are part of the public transportation network that connects from micro scale to macro scale with buses, taxis and MTR connecting at larger scale and trams, mini buses and trams at a more local level. This system is affordable and equitable for all people. It is alarming that a consultancy group has failed to understand the positive aspects of transportation planning that includes affordable tram service for those who cannot walk intermediate distances such as senior citizens who are frequent tram users. Trams provide service by connecting distances that may not be walkable for some people.

Addressing the congestion issue, while tram lines do occupy 30% of roadways in areas that are reserved for tram usage, I would suggest sending this planning consultancy (who obviously have nothing to gain from their findings, which is why they made an immediate planning application on behalf of nobody to remove the trams without undergoing previous public consultation) back to conduct a field study to analyze the traffic impact when lanes are blocked by private cars waiting illegally as well as circling slowly. There is no tram involved in the traffic backup through the Hung Hom tunnel all the way to Aberdeen.

It would be a better solution to introduce congestion fees for private cars entering Admiralty through Central, to curb the amount of private car users who prefer to drive into Central rather than use public transportation.

The deadline to comment on the tram land removal proposal is 4 September. It only takes a few minutes to register your comment.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

no news is good news

My posts to the blog have dropped in the past year and I apologize to my readers but there isn't much that I can do about it. It's not like anything catastrophic has happened--just the opposite, in fact. Being too darn happy is the problem.

Yes, happy.

I mean, my job still has its ups and downs (we made the news last month when everyone had their salary slashed 5-20%) but the rest of my life is coming up roses and it is affecting my blog posts. Frankly, I could still post regularly but who wants to read about how gosh darned happy I am all of the time? It would be nauseating to read, and probably nauseating to write.

The great uplift happened when we got our dogs in February of last year. The furbabies have changed my life and made me a happier, more annoying person. Now instead of staying out all night, I prefer to come home and cuddle the dogs. I corner colleagues in the printer room to discuss how cute my dog was when she did something banal. My desktop is littered with images of the dogs. In many of the pictures, they aren't even conscious, because sleeping dogs are sooo adorable!

So yes, I have become lame and am trying no to subject you guys to the extent of my lameness. If you don't hear from me, don't assume the worst, although for some people, my sudden personality change isn't well received. I used to be deliciously acerbic, but now I'm a sugary mess.

Monday, August 17, 2015

you can thank her never

My friend A's ex is getting married. She has complicated feelings about this guy because she has good memories of their time together but their breakup was a messy affair. Despite moving on with someone else before breaking things off with her, he--like any good Catholic--had to make himself out to be a victim. I've known this guy through several girlfriends and know him to always talk about being treated poorly by his girlfriends so I wasn't surprised. Even now, he's said enough about his fiance that people who don't know him well are expressing worry about the upcoming marriage due to his fiance's horrible temper. Par for the course.

Amazingly, A's current boyfriend has been asked to serve as best man. The ex befriended him a couple of years ago, strangely enough, due to their mutual fondness for weightlifting. A's boyfriend was thrown at the request and tried to steer the ex toward asking someone who he's known for longer, but the ex seems out of groomsmen. After ignoring the weirdness for as long as she could, A finally asked her boyfriend about his travel plans (the wedding is in the United States). Was he going to host the stag do here or in the US? The boyfriend was unaware that he was hosting a stag do so A explained to him that as the best man, he likely was expected to throw a party for the groom.

This was how A ended up planning her ex's stag do. Because she is kind hearted and not the terrible shrew that she was made out to be, she actually helped her boyfriend plan something fun with suitable debauchery. Personally, I'm a more spiteful type and I would have booked him into a flower arranging course or something similarly painful.

Friday, August 14, 2015

where's waldon?

SB is on his annual month long stay in the woods. When we used to live in New York, he made the trip to the Adirondacks almost every weekend but now he is confined to twice per year, maximum. At least he gets a long spell of respite and recharge while I, yet again, have work commitments that keep me here in Hong Kong. While I was suffering through some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Hong Kong, he was taking in the pristine wilderness and silence of the lakefront camp that will be his home for most of August.

On Monday morning with temperatures already in the thirties, I trudged through a five hour long site inspection. At the same time in New York, SB was rowing home from visiting a friend's camp, guided only by memory and a bit of moonlight. He is living the Thoreau dream while I...am not. And I am jealous. I want my bit of beauty and wonderment also.

It sounds like heaven: no phone, no internet, no interference from the outside world. Just slow, slow living. Emptiness and vastness all around.

Monday, August 3, 2015

girl fight

While having brunch on Sunday morning, I was distracted by loud cheering coming from the inside of the restaurant. I quickly located the source of the noise: a group of male Valley rugby players who were watching the television. I expected to see a rugby match going on but was surprised to see two women on screen. For the next few minutes I was treated to replays of Ronda Rousey knocking out Bethe Correia. Each time the knockout punch was shown from a different angle, the rugby players burst into thunderous hooting. 

I am not a fan of UFC. I engaged in my share of bare knuckle boxing when I moved to Florida and offended the locals with the horror of a mixed race spawn. With the exception of Sharon H, I 
gave back better than I got, but hitting someone with your fist hurts almost as much as getting hit. I didn't like all of that pain and this is coming from someone who loves playing rugby. Sharon H was the first person in my school to drop out, by the way. 

Despite my distaste for fighting, I was pleased to note that no one watching the fight seemed to be judging the fighters by their genders or making exceptions for them because they were women. What I heard was hearty appreciation for the prowess and power displayed by Ms. Rousey in dispatching her opponent in 34 seconds.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

taking on HSBC, part 3

Last year, after suffering through a slew of daily calls for several weeks straight, I brought an end to the HSBC marketing calls through a combination of well documented complaints and luck.  You can read the back story here. I am not convinced that Hong Kong's customer service department would have cared much considering that they had no system in place to successfully end their nuisance phone calls, but it was their bad luck and my good luck that the email address that a friend gave me to use was for VIP account holders in the UK and the gentleman who read my complaint not only directed me to the correct department in Hong Kong but cared enough to inform me of how to contact their global customer services department if my issue was not resolved. When it became clear that the non-contact form that the HK colleague sent to me useless and HSBC Hong Kong was apparently ignoring their own non-contact list when harassing their customers, I was able to escalate the issue. There was a major attitude shift and suddenly the problem that I had been fighting without results for a month became a pressing issue to the HK colleague to solve.

The problem was solved for almost a year but in the past few weeks the calls started up again. I received several phone calls per day, every day but Sunday. I emailed the HK colleague to express my disappointment but never received a response, so on Friday I resorted to the other email address. Today the HK colleague sent me a response, asking for time to resolve the problem (again). I assume that the global complaints department is breathing down her neck again.

I continue to be baffled at how it is okay for HSBC HK to incessantly phone their customers. I realise that the days are long gone when banks were simply happy to have your money deposited in their holdings and now you have to pay for the privilege of using their services if your account balance isn't adequate to their standards. I remember opening my first bank account as a child and proudly depositing my allowances from chores. Now I would be afraid that if a child were to open an account, he or she would be pressured by the account manager to sign up for all sorts of added fee devouring services. I can't make any changes to my account without being forced to sit through a pushy sales talk about how I should join some sort of investment scheme. I once made the mistake of asking for more information and not only was I subjected to a round of nonsense with pretty illustrations that left me no better informed, but the weasel filled in my application and tried to coax me to sign on the dotted line, having not read anything. Now they are ringing me several times every to sign me up for their additional services. As I said before, WTF HSBC?

Monday, July 27, 2015

I'm expecting a large bonus after this..

A couple of friends who are colleagues shared an amusing tale of a vacation that they took together. They were recent transplants to Hong Kong and they were asked (instructed) by their boss to take a week off work due to some sort of shift scheduling conflict. The man's girlfriend was not able to take time from her job so the man and his female colleague decided to take their holiday together.

After a week in Boracay, they returned, tan and relaxed, to their staff residence. The man's girlfriend soon arrived but the doorman told her that the man wasn't at home. In fact, the doorman would not even allow the girlfriend to enter despite never having a problem with her entering the building before. The doorman continued to adamantly tell the girlfriend that the man was not in residence at the time and would not allow her to pass. After several minutes, the female colleague wandered out of the building on her way to run an errand. Not long after that, the doorman experienced a change in his attitude and allowed the girlfriend to enter the building. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

in a kingdom by the sea

I had a feeling about the group next to me at the beach, and my hunch was confirmed when they followed up a too good to be purely amateur rendition of "Circle of Life" with an equally impressive "Let it Go", led by a very blonde woman. We were set up next to Disney Cast members. SB was somehow still not totally convinced until they broke into dance.

They had that look. When I lived in Florida, my classmate's older sister was a Disney performer and I have come to recognize the youthful, quirky and dramatic characteristics of Disney talent. They are not so different from the Broadway cast members that I have come across, just that they travel in smaller herds.

It was enjoyable listening to them, even as they became progressively drunker and sillier. By the time that we packed up to go home, we had been treated to several movie song reels. The tan singers sang along to Aladdin, the blonde ones were clearly from Frozen, though the beast wasn't really beastly. It was a treat.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

catch me if you can

For the past week I had been having increasingly heated discussions with a project manager regarding a design change that he brought about against my advice which backfired on him. He asked me to make some more changes to fix his errors, which I strongly opposed but my boss agreed on. Then he discovered that his initial change and subsequent fix were both unfeasible and submitted another batch of corrections that made even less sense. When I said no to incorporating the changes, he claimed that all of this mess was due to my incompetence during the first set of changes, because my drawings showed items that were not practical or even build-able. I reminded him that he had rammed these changes through against my objections and I only changed the drawings after he agreed with my boss that he would take responsibility for them. His reply was that unless I could find proof of this, I was to carry out a large amount of abortive work because I would be found at fault. He knew full well that this is his error but he was counting on the fact that I wouldn't be able to produce documentation of the conversation between himself and my boss, who left the firm and everyone knows that the old boss spitefully and illegally wiped his office computer's hard drive.

Well, apparently this lovely specimen of humanity (the project manager, not the boss although the boss is not far behind) had not paid attention to the multiple stories of people getting busted for various crimes because completely erasing your hard drive is not easy. It's better to just remove it and burn it (criminals take note). I got a hold of my ex-boss's old computer and spent four hours of my own time last night recovering the partitions. I would have performed this task even if it had taken a month, inspired as I was by anger at the project manager. This morning I triumphantly forwarded the recovered emails with the PM's assertion that he was going to force through his idiotic design change for his own idiotic reasons, which I followed up with a "gentle reminder that trust once lost is difficult to restore." Yeah, f*ck you, project manager.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I wish them luck in the future

SB and I have kind of started our wedding research again, mostly due to peer pressure. One of our friends cornered us at another couple's wedding and not so subtly spoke of how much she would look forward to SB and my nuptials, having waited for SO LONG.

I told SB that we need to do a cost comparison of a reception that serves delicious food versus one with mediocre food and lots of alcohol. I don't know why he gave me a strange look.

My wedding could end up something like this lovely one in Pennsylvania. I have just cut and pasted the entire write-up by Newser because all parts were too good to leave out.

(NEWSER) – A wedding reception in Berks County, Pa., turned into something resembling a regional police convention when officers from 16 forces turned up to deal with rowdy guests—including the groom, who spent his wedding night in jail. From what police could piece together, the reception at a venue in Ontelaunee Township started to turn ugly when partygoer Mandi Groh punched another woman in the face after she complained about Groh allowing her drunk 14-year-old son to drink beer,WFMZ reports. The brawl grew and, according to a police report, by the time Northern Berks officers turned up, some of the guests were shirtless and bloody, reports theReading Eagle.
"Several people were trying to be a calming influence in all of this, but at that point, alcohol had taken over," wrote one of the responding officers, who received help from the Fleetwood, Hamburg, Penn State, Berks County, Wyomissing, Bern, Spring, Tilden, Reading, and Muhlenberg forces, among others. The first officers to arrive on the scene had called for all available assistance when the crowd "was getting riled up" and turning on them, theEagle reports. Four officers were injured and a total of seven people, including groom Nicholas Papoutsis, who allegedly challenged officers to a fight, were arrested. Police say the "very upset" bride was treated for alcohol poisoning and dehydration, reports the Eagle. As for that 14-year-old, he blew a 0.16, twice the legal limit for adults. What the wedding venue's owner had to say: "I wish the couple luck in the future because it's not a very good start."  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

the victors and the spoils

"Play it long and look for the head of Wambach’ seems the default game-plan for a team stuck in the past. World football has moved, in case Jill Ellis hasn’t noticed. US were outplayed by a better, smarter footballing side..."

By the comments published on Australia's official team website, you would have thought that the Matildas had won the soccer match.  But they didn't. Hahahahaha

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

just to be clear

One of my friends flew to Texas for a family visit. "Just remember not to be black," I told her.

In Texas, the police believe that 14 year old black girls in bikinis are more of a threat than armed bikers. If you are a biker at the scene of a mass killing, you can sit down and text your buddies while the police sort it out. If you are a black kid the the scene of a pool party where white people were yelling racist comments at you, well let's just say that it's hard to text when you are planted face down with a police officer kneeling on your back. This girl had a pool pass, by the way. But it didn't make up for being black.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

right wingnuts

I'm pretty sure that FUC and the Feminist Majority Foundation are part of a vast right wing conspiracy to make us look bad. Really, really bad.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

FH Fox was 92

Source: Ezra Magazine

At some point in the earlier months of my Ithaca residency, I made a trip to the big apple. Driving down Route 366 near Varna, approximately ten minutes into my four hour journey, I came across an unusual sight: graffiti in a rural setting. An ancient railroad bridge had the message, "FH Fox is 81." Other than the remarkable fact that this was in fact country graffiti, and poorly done at that, I didn't think to much on it. I assumed that FH Fox was a class of 81 graduate who may have overindulged at a recent class reunion and left his lasting mark on the countryside.

The next year I noticed that the bridge graffiti had been updated to "FH Fox is 82." Hmm.

I eventually got to the bottom of the story. Cornell has a rich history of pranks, and while I would like to say that we are elite in this manner, I believe that most schools have a sense of humor with the exception of Princeton and Columbia. I used to think that douchebaggery only afflicted men until I men a few Princeton women, but that's another story.

Anyway, FH Fox was a veterinary professor, Dr. Francis H. Fox, who passed away this year at the age of 92. Dr. Fox's age was updated every year by each third year class from the College of Veterinary Medicine as an ongoing prank or act of revenge. Apparently Dr. Fox enjoyed playing tricks on his students, his standby being to drive a student to a far away location for a veterinary appointment and then drive off. the students had plenty of time to dream up revenge on the long walk back to campus, and I am fairly certain that the bridge graffiti proclaiming Dr. Fox's age was hatched on such a walk.

I wonder what will happen now that FH fox will age no more.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


At the Deep Water Bay 500m dragon boat races on Sunday, several boats were knocked over by waves, adding extra excitement to the event. Later in the afternoon, yet another boat that had just finished a race got nailed by a large wave and proceeded to fill with water and slowly flip over. People who were watching from shore clapped with amusement as the paddlers flailed about until it became clear that four of the paddlers could not swim. I am happy to say that they were all rescued by members of their team. It seemed that the people on the shore either didn't know that there were people in trouble, or they did know but could/would not offer aid. I also stood by with the other onlookers for a few moments until I spotted a young woman swimming poorly and went in for her. I grabbed the paddle that she was using to float on and hauled her to shore; it was nothing amazing, unlike the two men who towed their teammates all 100 meters to safety. Of course we had to emerge over a group of rocks so by the time the ordeal was over, my feet were sliced to ribbons and I had ripped off the toenail of my smallest toe.

This is not the first time that I have noted how many people who live by water do not know how to swim. Worse, many non-swimmers don't let their inability stop them from entering water without personal flotation devices. I'm talking about life jackets, not pool toys. A few years ago I watched the lifeguards in Shek O rescue four women whose overloaded, inflatable lounger had inexplicably flipped over when it had encountered a wave. It amazes me how stupid people can be with their lives. If I could not swim and I knew that boats were tipping over in the waves, I would put on a PFD. I would not bank of the probability that my boat would not be one of the minority of boats that flipped, because the penalty for being wrong would be too high a price to pay.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

back in time

The question of whether they would have backed the US entering into war with Iraq, knowing what they do now, has been a stumbling block for almost all of the republican candidates. If you listen carefully enough through all of the weaving and ducking, you will find that most of the candidates eventually reveal their real feelings about the matter. Many have the Dick Cheney approach, which echoes Machiavelli: the ends justified the means. Sending so many trusting, young men and women into war was justified because it deposed Saddam Hussein.

If that is the case, then I feel that we should look at the real end, which was not when Hussein was deposed. The end result also involves the conditions that we left behind which made possible the creation of Da'eesh (ISIS). 

I'm disappointed by how many politicians think that it is okay to lie to their constituents and risk the lives of our troops because it accomplishes a perceived lofty goal; however I am not surprised to hear that politicians think that it's okay to lie. For the record, I think that it was a reprehensible act and far more harm was done than good. We have avoided acknowledging that all of the other "tyrant" nations that were accusing the US of lying to invade another sovereign country were in fact telling the truth. We yet again rushed into conflict and left behind a giant mess that has evolved into a far greater threat than Saddam Hussein ever was. And we have ignored the possibility that there may have been other legal and less damaging means of deposing the Iraqi tyrant than an illegal invasion. If only our nation's leadership could be trusted to act honorably.

*Disclaimer: My thoughts are not entirely rational because a friends' father did not return from Iraq and I am angered that he sacrificed his life for a cause that didn't exit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

gone spear fishing

While scrolling through Facebook I came across a mildly controversial post from a friend. My friend is ex-military, works in the finance industry and wears conservative clothing even during leisure time so I was more than mildly surprised to see him posting a moderately liberal viewpoint.

Apparently I wasn't the only one surprised, and in the case of another friend of his, the surprise was not pleasant. This other man vehemently disagreed with my friend and then continued on a rant for five or six posts before even receiving a response, at which point he went off the deep end, in my humble opinion. By the second sentence of his rebuttal, the words 'Nazi' and 'zeitgeist' were used. This man chastised my friend for "as a Jew," being ignorant to the dangers of indifference to the gay agenda (because Nazis!) and pointed out that his own views were correct because "I have gay friends", I bet he has black friends, too! And folks, it only got better when at the end of the dirge, doctors were going to be forced to hand out abortions like candy.

Well, it was just too much to resist and I was unable to stop my fingers from racing across the keyboard. Before I knew it I had joined in to urge my friend to confess that he was a Nazi abortionist. We went a few rounds of me trolling and the other guy getting more and more hysterical until the posts abruptly disappeared. My friend was asked to delete them after this guy suddenly remembered that he was a Navy chaplain and probably should not be threatening women no matter how much they poke at him with a proverbial stick. Sadly, I was not even able to retrieve a screen shot of the conversation so I can only relive the glory in my memories.

Friday, May 8, 2015

work it

I remember as a teenager, viewing my mother's clothing catalogs that featured business attire for women. My mother, an accountant, wore nice blouses and skirts to work but on occasion she had a couple of beautiful, feminine suits. She looked good in suits. Me, not so much. With my rugby physique, the shoulder pads make me look like I'm trying to bring the eighties back, and yet my traps and delts are not enough that I can go without shoulder pads. While Hong Kong is the best place to have a custom made suit, I have yet to convince myself that it is worth the investment just so I don't look like a Kansas City linebacker. I rarely wear a suit. I have quite a few well tailored dresses that I wear with high quality cardigans that fit in nicely at the kick off and project closing events that require nice office attire. Most of the time I can be found in either a blouse and trousers for office days or wearing jeans and steel toed boots for site days.

In the nineties, the catalogs began to feature office to evening ensembles. They usually consisted of a more snugly fitting, sleeveless dress paired with a blazer. The dress was just conservative enough to wear to work with a jacket, and at night you would expose those sinful shoulders for cocktail hour. In 21st century Hong Kong, the day to night transition isn't required. On Fridays there are a number of young women wearing miniskirts and slinky dresses and no one bats an eye. Okay, I do but only for the time that it takes to remind myself that I don't own any pearls to clutch. The PA to one of the directors, who is a lovely woman, is currently wearing a bandage dress with a cut out at her stomach. I have other colleagues wearing stiletto sandals. I never thought of myself as old fashioned but I personally don't approve of toe exposure. I would almost allow cleavage exposure before letting my toes wiggle around in the office. It could have something to do with the fact that I am legally obliged to cover my toes on the work site. You just don't see people's toes on site, but you see sweaty men exposing their man boobs.

My dilemma next week is that I am on site all day Wednesday but I am planning to have after work cocktails with some friends. I'm going to be inside an air conditioned office at the site so there is no need to bring a spare set of clothing to lug around, but I'm at a loss on how to transition from construction to cocktails. I wonder if there is a catalog to order from?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

paddles up

This Sunday was my first dragonboat race with my second team. My first team is a merely social team that only participates in the big Stanley event but I love them too much to leave the team. I joined the second team because I wanted to be more serious about my paddling skills and boy did I have to be careful what I wished for. My second team is dead serious about wanting to win. I told SB not to come out and support me because I wasn't sure if I would be allowed any time to socialize between the team talks and warm ups. These pictures were taken from the team's Facebook page because I didn't bring along a camera, thinking that I wouldn't be able to watch any other races. As it turned out, there was a bit of time for socialization but mostly we needed to stay near the team tent or people would get nervous. It was quite a difference from my other team, where we never knew if we even had a full team until five minutes before the race, and half of the team was drunk. That being said, my old team performed surprisingly well in spite of, or maybe because of, our laid back attitudes.

Do you like the background? It had been a while since I'd been to Lamma and I had forgotten about the plant right on the water. I had not forgotten the current and hoped that our lane would be closer to the sea wall. The boats on the outside lanes encountered difficulty staying in their lanes. One of the races had to be repeated because four boats crashed. In our first race, we came within a meter of another boat. I don't know who was to blame so I'll blame the other team.

We placed third in the 500m finals and first in the 1000m race. I didn't even know that there was a 1000m race! I'm not sure how I feel about dragging around a cumbersome boat using a somewhat inefficient stroke for 1000 meters. Give me a kayak and we'll talk. Anyway, it was nice to win something. Our trophy had not one but two tiers of angels and no less than four acorns on top. It made for a very auspicious event. I also received a hefty medal to wear and was chastised for not putting it on but I have a stance against wearing albatross like weights around my neck.

Friday, April 24, 2015

ankles bites

A year and a half ago I noticed a trend for short pants. This trend seemed especially popular with the hipster males in my office but soon it caught on to the general male population. I tried not to notice the ridiculous suits that were being worn. Some men preferred to show flair in exposing colorful and wildly patterned socks under their raised trouser cuffs, but more men were entirely forgoing socks. This was and still is the absolute worst. My eyes are assaulted every day by expanses of hairy ankles being exposed between where the pointy, pimp shoes end and where the skinny short pant cuffs begin.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

just saying

The "I was in fear for my life" is so often used to justify police officers shooting fleeing suspects, most of them unarmed, that it would be laughable if not for the fact that the suspects aren't alive to provide a rebuttal. 

No charges are expected in the most recent shooting in Tulsa, where the suspect died after being immediate denied medical assistance and told "fuck your breath" as he desperately asked for help. In fact no investigation is being undertaken because the black man clearly "shouldn't have fucking ran".

Monday, April 13, 2015

big whoop

Actually, the mother of all irony would be if the kids were autistic, but I see what you were trying to say there.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

constant comment

SB's guitar skills are much improved to my surprise. Only a year ago I was struggling to identify nursery songs that he was playing and now he regularly entertains with folk songs. We're not at the point that he carries his guitar with him to get-togethers but he isn't too shy to borrow another, better player's guitar and play one or two tunes. Recently while having drinks after a lacrosse match at the local pub, where the manager warmly refers to the loud group of American men as douchbags, SB serenaded our friend Matt with Guns N' Roses' Patience. Matt enjoyed the song up until SB changed the words from to sing, "all we need is just a little Constance." Constance is Matt's fiance. Matt, usually one of the loudest of the group (the three loudest players all happen to work in finance but that is merely a coincidence), was surprisingly bashful at having his love for Constance singled out and rather vehemently requested for SB to shut up.

Of course this meant that SB sang with even greater enthusiasm. Due to Patience, er, Constance, being a rock ballad, one cannot strum harder or louder and so the only way to increase the intensity of the song is to moan even more excessively than Axl Rose, not an easy feat considering the lead singer's prodigious talent at moaning. "Constance, mm yeah, mm yeah, oooooh," wailed SB as Matt turned an alarming shade of pink and tried to club him into submission.

SB is planning to serenade them with this at their wedding in September. Because that's how douchebags show affection to each other.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


SB, not a morning person, had to ascertain with me that today was Easter. "What are we going to do today?" he asked me. My response was that we were going to celebrate this fine day by lurking in the air conditioned splendor of the apartment and hide from the sun due to my flaming red skin color. Yesterday was a very bright and sunny day, the first of the year that I can recall, and my sunblock did not last for the two hours that I was out with my dragonboat group. And then I went on a hike with SB and the dogs.

And this is how I have managed to trap myself at home watching SB watch The Life of Brian. He will stop in the middle of the movie and replay the scene of Biggus Dickus several times, chortling along with the Romans.

If you have never heard of Biggus Dickus, you can read about the historical (hysterical?) Roman legate here.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

celebrate tonight...and tomorrow

In case you didn't know that Valley won the top honors in last night's grand championship, the sheer number of red polo clad celebrants gathered around the Valley Bar & Grill may have clued you in. I wonder how many of their number haven't been home is 24 hours. There was an impressive haka performed by shirtless men and the requisite number of animal costumes. I made the mistake of stopping to talk with some familiar faces as SB and I were returning home from a walk with the dogs. Tippy was snuggled against her will by a very large man while I had to suffer the embarrassment of having to extract Elsie from where she stood peering up another man's kilt on several occasions; she just kept returning for another look or sniff or whatever it was that so fascinated her.

Of the five teams that made it to grand championship finals, I saw four of them win. I didn't see if the fifth team also won but four wins is plenty. The men and women won the premiership divisions. In my opinion the best match by far was the lower Premiership A division, between Valley and Football Club. Valley won by a comfortable score margin but Football Club never stopped competing. The players' talent level and intensity made for good viewing, and there were enough mistakes and strange decisions to keep the match interesting. I felt that the premiership grand final was clinical and well executed by both Valley and HKCC, which was probably to the pleasure of the coaching staff but not as fun for the spectators. In the 79th minute of the match when it became clear that HKCC was not going to win, things became interesting. Suddenly the attack got more creative and it led to an exciting consolation try. 

For my club, SCAA CWB's top team made it to the Championship grand final, which we won over Gai Wu. It was a messy match with moments of brilliance almost immediately followed by moments of disaster. It was good viewing if you were not invested in a team. I spent the waning minutes of the match in agony as our team committed penalty after penalty. 

Next season will be an interesting one as we have a lot of changes ahead. Our top men's team is going to do a lot of soul searching over the summer and decide if they will remain in Championship or move up a division. I will also be doing a lot of soul searching because while I hope to remain as the mini chairman, I may return as a player...for another team. I have only ever played with SCAA CWB and I never thought that I would leave them but after a season away I don't think that I'm really ready to hang up my boots, and returning to the women's team is not an option. I've been kindly invited to join two nearby clubs so we'll see if I can actually stomach the move.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

gone tomorrow...or today

What a week it has been! Four of the colleagues who I used to occasionally have lunch with disappeared after we came back from the Chinese New Year. That's when I found out that our company does a spring cleaning of sorts. Our HR policies are such that their desks still contain personal effects which I assume will be boxed up and sent to them in the near future.

And then my boss quit rather spectacularly. Oy vey, as my neighbor used to say. I would be nervous if not for the fact that very few people want to do what I do, much less have any experience at it. Of course this means that my new boss doesn't seem to want the promotion, or at least that's what I figured after watching her anxious facial expression as I explained the bones of the project. I didn't even get to the messy stuff before she said that she would need several weeks if not months to review and get caught up. Ha! Ain't nobody got that kind of time (though I keep that thought to myself for now).

I was especially thrilled when she told me that she doesn't get along well with other women. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with that information. Was she warning me or do I need to stop showing up to work in work boots and a hardhat?

Friday, February 27, 2015

groaning and moaning in Asia's World City

50 Shades of Grey has been well received here in Hong Kong; it seems like the experiences of Christian and Anastasia resonate with the local populace. Yours truly has been obsessed with following people's comments regarding their own forays into the world of pain and pleasure:
He screamed as she slammed him time and time again - the little old lady kept pushing the lift door close button

She groaned into the pillow, clenching her jaw as the pounding continued. It was the construction work next door.

He gently traces the rim, his finger penetrating the center. He took her glasses off, exclaimed: ur glasses have no lens!

Her heart pounded as he slid it in the hole. "Faster faster, come on!" She hissed behind him line at the airport E channel

She felt his intrusion-bold, shaming, but she was helpless. "So when r u getting married?" said Grandpa at CNY dinner.

She wrapped her lips hard, felt the milky sweetness in her mouth, sucked the soft balls & thought, how I love bubble tea

On a side note, my friend L has finally rid herself of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. She had been trying to offload the books for almost two years with no takers but when the movie came out, she felt optimism that someone would want to find out what happened next. In fact, nothing notable or memorable happened next or after next, according to L, but she didn't share that information with the drunk and unsuspecting pilot who ended up as the lucky recipient of the naughty books. I suspect that he woke up after a night at the races wondering how he came into possession of not one, but three books. I hope that he enjoys them as much as L enjoyed giving them to him as he stumbled home from the bar.