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?