Wednesday, November 9, 2016


I haven't felt this miserable since SB and I broke up in 2008.

I spent lunch staring off into space. I feel the need to call up my girlfriends and have an ugly-face cry over some overpriced chocolate martinis that someone fooled us into thinking would be the best of both worlds but are in fact disgusting and will leave you feeling mildly nauseous as well as heartbroken.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday, my favorite things 02

(source: HKDR)
Peak to Fong
Hong Kong Dog Rescue's largest fund raiser of the year, the P2F walk is a long meander from the Peak to Lan Kwai Fong, where entertainment for two and four legged animals is set up for the day. Our furbabies were rescued by HKDR and did some time at the Tai Po kennels where the staff and volunteers cared for them while they waited for their forever homes. I wish that we could adopt all of the hundreds of dogs but SB would have me committed. So the next best thing is to support HKDR's fundraising events so that they can care for and hopefully re-home all of their furry residents.

Super Moons 
In October, November and December the full moons will be closer to the earth than any other time of the year. October's Super Moon, the Hunter's Moon, rose on the 16th. November's Beaver Moon on the 14th will be the largest full moon since the 20th century. December's Cold Moon on 14 December will be the last of the Super Moons. Plan your night hikes accordingly.

(Source: Reuters/Bobby Yip via IBTimes)
Typhoon Days
While an estimated HK$5 billion loss in business is not something to laugh at, I will admit to delight at waking up to a storm signal 8 on my Hong Kong Observatory phone app. My work site was already flooded earlier in the week and both pairs of work boots are probably still drying out. I was more than happy to not have to slosh around with wet feet for the day. I took full advantage of the unplanned day off by... soaking a pair of trainers while spending time outside with the dogs. There is a difference between wet feet at work and wet feet at play, I swear! There were very few people about so we sneaked into a playground for a run around, and then pranced to Tai Tam Reservoir to have a look at the water. SB and a friend went up Jardine's Lookout to experience the wind and get pelted by raindrops traveling at gale force; the only other people on the trail were a couple of shirtless Australian men who kept waving their arms and cheering. Having not made any preparations whatsoever, we were forced to make do with a dinner of frozen Thai entrees found in the 7-11 freezer. I laugh thinking of my previous life in Florida, where a hurricane warning would clear out the shelves of a supermarket. Here in Hong Kong, 7-11 will remain open to any event up to a nuclear holocaust.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Super Moon, Hunter's Moon

Last night the moon was a Super Moon, at its closest distance from Earth. It was also the Hunter's Moon, or blood moon. The Hunter’s Moon is named so from the North American First Nations and follows the Harvest Moon in October usually. You can find out more about it here and here.

SB and I thought, what could be more romantic than a night hike under the Hunter's Moon with our beloved furbabies, who happen to be extremely prey driven? We could watch the moon rise while cuddling on top of a peak while Tippy and Elsie plunged down the cliff face after wild animals, yipping and yelping and trampling about.

We had a lovely hike over Violet Hill from Parkview, and enjoyed the sunset as we sat on the steps on the other side of Violet Hill, where the wind rushes through a small valley. The valley has an abundance of tall grass that Tippy enjoys sliding down; she will flop onto her belly at the top of the hill and propel herself forward with her front paws until gravity takes over. Elsie likes to stand in front of us, facing the wind with her tongue lolling while globs of drool are carried by the breeze into SB and my faces.

The next couple of full moons will also be Super Moons (November is the Beaver Moon and December is the Cold Moon). November’s Beaver Moon will be the largest full moon since the 20th century, so another night hike is definitely planned.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday, my favorite things 01

Yesterday, while I was raving about the edX online education platform, I thought about other things that I am excited about and decided to share them. In not particular order, other things that I am loving at this moment in time:

Dr. Bronner's Sandalwood & Jasmine Pure Castille Soap
SB and I are regular users of the peppermint Castile soap, because it is safe for use when we are lake bathing in the Adirondack mountains. We had never seen the sandalwood & jasmine soap, and found out that it is only available in the Australia/Asia market. I will probably bring some back to the US on my next trip. The soap leaves a light scent of sandalwood on my skin. I can't really smell the jasmine, though, but that's just fine with me because I am a sandalwood fan. You can still supposedly buy Mysore (Santalum album) sandalwood soaps but Mysore is endangered so I assume this one is made from Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum), which is perfumistas look down on but I can't really tell the difference when smelling it in soap form. Even if I could, I prefer that no one in India is being murdered so that I smell nice. (On a side note, I own both Samsara and Santal 33 and enjoy both the classic Mysore sandalwood scent in Samsara as well as the sharper Australian sandalwood in Santal 33). You can buy Dr. Bronner products in several HK shops, including oGreen. If you purchase more than $500 in products, they will deliver for free. I went ahead and visited the store (Room 501D, 5 / F, Causeway Bay Commercial Building, 1-5 Sugar Street, Causeway Bay) because it is located right in the center of the Causeway Bay Indonesian restaurant cluster.

Cracker Peanuts and Homemade Snacks at Indo Market
The highlight of braving the pedestrian traffic in Causeway Bay is that I can treat myself to tasty snacks at the shops along Sugar Street. I love every single iteration of coconut, rice and banana leaves that has ever been invented. At Indo Mart (G/F, Lok Sing Centre, 19-31 Yee Wo Street) I cannot withstand the Nagasari that is sold near the register. I have a hard time deciding between whether it or Filipino suman (with taro!) is my favorite. I also can't resist buying cracker peanuts. They are an addictive snack, available in many flavors; I like the original and Adobo flavors while SB like the spicy flavor. They are sweet and satisfyingly crunchy.

Kecap Manis
My college roomate's mother always carried a bottle of Cholula hot sauce with her, which she liberally drizzled over just about everything that she ate. The Fijian player for my club's premiership team requested Tabasco sauce with almost every meal. The younger generation of hipsters like to hit up their meals with Sriracha. Then there is the ubiquitous brown sauce found in certain types of British eateries. I never understood how people could become obsessed over a condiment until I discovered kecap manis. It was an accidental purchase, as I was trying to buy sweet soy sauce for dim sum, but I opened the bottle to discover this treacly concoction instead. I use it to bastardize so many dishes from adding it to my hot chili oil wontons to drizzling it over soft boiled eggs to eat with kaya toast. I have also learned to cook new dishes from my searches for recipes that use kecap manis. SB calls me obsessed but I notice that he hasn't stopped eating.

More MTR stations on the way
Just look at the bustling F&B in Kennedy Town and Sai Ying Pun, and you can see the positive externalities that have resulted in the West Island Line Extension. On 23 October, the MTR Kwun Tong Line Extension's Ho Man Tin and Whampoa Stations will be opened, providing access to some older and historic neighborhoods. I hope that the improved access will revitalize the areas without driving the prices to the point that the immigrant community is adversely affected. I also hope that this is just the thing required to finally bring attention to underappreciated gems such as Ko Shan Theatre or Cattle Depot Artist Village down the road in Ma Tau Kok (which will be even more accessible once the Shatin to Central Link Ma Tau Wai station opens).

Thursday, October 6, 2016

school is cool

MIT rolled out a free, global architecture class  through online course platform edX on 14 September, which yours truly enrolled herself into. I can't say enough positive things about it.

If you have interest in architecture but are not going to commit yourself to the 5 to 7 1/2 years of schooling that most professional degrees require, then this is for you. Actually, even if you have a professional degree, this is for you.

In my undergraduate degree program, the architectural history courses were focused almost exclusively on European architecture. After we left Egypt, we only briefly toured Japan, and then spent the next twenty centuries in Europe. I recall my bemusement when studying the Alhambra in Granada, and wondering why there weren't more of the beautiful Moorish forms in the history book.

This is a well put together course, with a syllabus for the 12 classes on offer, reading list, and online discussion forum. The instructor is MIT Professor of History and Theory of Architecture Mark Jarzombek (who began his career at Cornell while I was a student), and the course is based around four topics: the history and context of the important buildings that shaped our culture, history of technological advances that significantly impacted the development of architecture, impacts of certain cultural and religious traditions on architecture, and history of climate and geographical changes that shaped human civilization and its architecture.

After registering for my course, I looked around the edX website and discovered many other interesting topics from a wide variety of disciplines. Here's just a sampling:
I feel like I won the lottery. I just found a way to fulfill by dream of being a lifelong student. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

bloviating gasbag

In honor of the second presidential debate, which utilized the "word salad" technique, I submit to you the recently digitized Japanese series, "He-gassen".

The 34-foot scroll was created during the Edo period and painstakingly recorded in high resolution imaging by Waseda University, so that the glorious "fart battle" will live eternally and posternally. Hear, hear, the He-gassen to posternity.

more fun than stabbing myself in the eye

I have been suffering from heartburn or some similar type of gastrointestinal ailment lately. I feel burning and pressure in my chest after meals. The burning began around the same time that I began watching the presidential debates, though I've been told that correlation is not always causality.

Aside from the week of heartburn, I may be developing depression. I finished watching the vice presidential debate this afternoon with a sense of hopelessness and frustration. This past year in politics has been a miserable experience for me. I don't even feel joy listening to the clever snarkiness of my usual, preferred pundits. Everything is grey.

I sent in my absentee ballot on Monday. Not even finding out that my candidate is a serial killer would change my vote at this point.

For the rest of the month and a half until the election, I prefer to relive being stabbed in the eye. I had a canthotomy last year. It was more enjoyable by far to watching American politics.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

the uplifting

Yoko Ono has sent out a call for submissions for an upcoming project called Arising, asking for participants to send a testament of harm done to them as a woman, along with a photograph of their eyes.

Well Yoko, I've got one for you. It was a week ago, but if I think that my eyes are still reflecting the surprise.

Shock, hurt, anger - yep, I think that covers it.

My former boss was someone that I greatly respected and admired. He treated the women on the team with respect and consideration. He often complimented us, telling us how well we were performing. I was unhappy to see him go. He burned bridges when he left. He wiped his computer, taking with him much of the history of projects. We lost years of correspondences. As much as I recognized the wrong in what he did, I understood that he felt undervalued and aggrieved. His replacement wasn't the outgoing, sociable man that my former boss was, and then came the lay-offs and the pay reductions.

So now you have the setting.

Enter my CADD draughtsman from stage right. A new colleague was soon to join the team and would be taking the long vacated desk of the former boss. My CADD draughtsman was tasked with clearing out the leftover paperwork. She had one folder of papers that she wasn't sure how to archive. I opened the folder and began cursing. Among the drawings markups and project records, my former boss had left behind an HR folder which contained the salaries of every member of the team. Thank you, Pandora.

Without exception, every female member of the team was paid on average 15% less than the male counterpart. This was consistent from associate level all the way to the technicians. Now I had the truth of his regard.

"That muthafucka," I said. That muthafucka.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

side sleep

Some people like to indulge in retail therapy in their spare time; others like to play games. I like to attend classes. I especially like cooking classes, computer classes and language classes. Even when I play sports, it is the learning that attracts me. I want to know strategies and developmental goals. If you're going to be a know-it-all, you should at least be a somewhat competent know-it-all.

My random bits of knowledge come in handy for many situations. SB says that I am a fantastic masseuse. I can easily pinpoint the source of his muscle pain thanks in part to a long ago hunting license class. While discussing field dressing animals, my instructor talked a bit about how he home processed his deer. SB can tell me that his neck feels stiff and I can trace the pain along his musculature to a knot in his upper back."We'd better tenderise your chuck steak," I tell him. Sometimes my hands stray to massage his rump roast.

Today, at a first aid course, we discussed the preference of placing people in the rescue position on their left sides. The instructor said that due to the 'C' shape of the stomach, lying of the left side reduces chances of stomach contents coming back up to the esophagus. I thought about SB. He is a side sleeper and mostly sleeps on his right side. He also complains about heartburn. I told him what I learned, and we're going to try having him sleeping on his left side. I hope that it will help. If not, I will have to stop taking cooking classes. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

happy birthdays

My Ông ngoại (maternal grandfather) is 97. He looks good, eh? Supposedly bà ngoại is younger than him but the other members of the family suspect otherwise. I think she is a centurion already. She used to claim that she looked older because she had a harder life. That she had a harder life, I have no doubt. She was orphaned and taken in by her father's sister, a doctor's wife whose kind treatment of her can be seen by her bowed legs. She said it was from carrying heavy items for the family but I suspect rickets. I didn't know the story in the late 1990s when my parents were living in Hanoi and we visited bà ngoại's family. I recall that they wrote to us after the visit, asking for money. I felt bad that my mother never replied or visited them again, but now that I know the story, I don't feel so bad. I was too young to understand then, but I suspect that the warm family reunion was only at the surface and the actual purpose was for bà ngoại to rub their noses in her good fortune. She waited over 50 years to serve that dish. 

The reason that I suspect bà ngoại is older, beside her looking older, is that I don't think that an orphan who was treated as the family servant could have saved up enough money to book a trip to France by her early twenties. But maybe she did. She certainly had motivation. 

My grandfather was from Dalat, a much loved son. He was tall for a Vietnamese man and in my opinion, handsome. He always wore a flat cap; it was his trademark. I later discovered that the cap and his sweeping hairstyle covered a huge, ugly scar at the top of his forehead. It still leaves me feeling out of sorts when I think about the physical tells that reveal how each of my grandparents have survived hardship. Despite the obvious sign of a past trauma, my grandfather is a jolly man. He smiles at the world. While my grandmother is kind but wary, my grandfather is effervescent. It is obvious what drew my grandmother to him. I can imagine him in his early twenties, fresh out of university and working in Paris. She would have met a confident and happy man, sure of his abilities and secure in his family's regard. It was not easy for her to trust him but his steady kindness and warmth prevailed.

Almost 25 years ago, my grandmother had cancer. The surgery to save her life left her with a stoma bag. The doctor told my mother and aunts that my grandmother could probably live another five years if the cancer didn't return. Obviously, she long ago exceeded the prognosis. I know that she is only alive because of my grandfather and his insistent care. She was very depressed and gave up for a long time. My grandfather cajoled her into eating. She would not change her bag and so he did it for her. He forced her to start living again. His will is an awesome thing to behold. It was what helped him rebuild his life after the war. It is what keeps him and my grandmother alive. I suspect that he would live to 110 if that was his will.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

big babies

My friend shared this gem from a recent attempt in dating.

Our friends were quick to reassure her, not that she needed it. She is a smart cookie and figured that Jack was the problem, but was mystified at what he was thinking. I recalled my own mystification during my short lived foray into online dating.

During the time that SB and I broke up (he dumped me because his ex interfered with "good advice" but mostly because he was a moron) I was pretty upset and thought that the best way to get over him was to move on quickly and not think about it too much. I signed up to one of those online dating sites. I got an account and filled out a questionnaire. I recall that I checked the box for 'only interested in dating with possibility of relationship' or something like that. When I logged into my account, I was pleased to see that I had received several messages. Then I read the messages.

In the four or five days between signing up for an account and logging in to check, the messages revealed more than one man expressing interest, followed by expressing annoyance that I had not replied, followed by informing me that they were no longer interested due to my behavior and were dumping me. One of the men went so far as to fill out a review of me, telling me to grow up and chastising me for not replying with my disinterest. He warned others who looked at my profile that I was picky and would rudely ignore them instead of replying. I think this was one of those times in my life when my mouth dropped open literally. In four or five days I had managed to become a pariah to the dating website without actually doing anything. I quickly deleted my account.

With the way that communication and accessibility have increased since 2008, poor J doesn't even get those four days to be skewered by some overly sensitive man-child. She only had 30 minutes before Jack threw his toys out of the pram.

At least my story ended happily eventually after. A couple days after the breakup, SB realized what a gigantic moron he was, or at least he realized that he felt icky inside, and his poor sister was given the task of groveling to me (he was in a plane for the next 14 hours and didn't want to lose time). It started out poorly when she relayed to me that he was miserable and I was not as impressed as she had been to realize how deeply SB cared...after breaking my heart. I impressed upon her that her brother was a warty toad. There were negotiations and a plane ticket to visit him in Hong Kong for spring break. We reconciled with the stipulation that he should never take relationship advice without trying to talk to me first, and certainly never take advice from an ex who wanted him back (seriously, I'm still annoyed at what a moron he was). If he wanted to know my expectations, he could ask me. Like normal people do, unless they are man-children. I strongly prefer mild relationship retardation to man-children.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

sparking inferno

While SB was out of town, I launched my semi-annual ritual of purging and cleaning. When you live in a tiny home with a borderline hoarder and two spoiled pooches, it is an important and sanity saving ritual. I try to schedule SB's vacations when the seasons change over so that I can do a review of all of the warm weather clothing before storing it and pulling out the cold weather clothing. 

I also try to do one major project. Last December I reorganized all of the dishes and kitchenware. This time I tackled Will's closet, not a feat for the weak. After determining that 90% of his clothing was made up of t-shirts or athletic trainers, I devised a better way to fold and store them. The normal way of stacking t-shirts does not work out very well for people who collect them like precious pieces of gold. SB had a closet filled with leaning and collapsed towers of shirts. I devised a method of folding the t-shirts into rectangles with the logo facing up, and then arranging them in his drawer so that he could see all of his shirts. I also was able to pack in all of his shirts into three large drawers.

When SB returned, I showed him the magnificent job that I did and gave him a tutorial on folding his t-shirts. Three weeks later, he has been maintaining the technique, albeit not as beautifully as when I did it, but effective nonetheless.

SB's t-shirt folding prowess

One of my friends, upon hearing me crow about my successful organizing (it was a slow news day) told me that it sounded a lot like the Kondo-mari method. We ended up boring the bartender to tears talking about organization, and I went home to try out the "spark joy" technique.

I told SB that according to Ms. Kondo, we should hold our items in our hands and if they sparked joyful feelings of happiness, we should keep them. If the objects did not cause happiness, then we should get rid of them. I had images of de-clutter dancing in my head as I pointed SB to his closet. 

Half an hour later, I found SB wallowing in a pile of unfolded clothing and knick-knacks. The clutter seemed to have multiplied. SB was sitting on his throne of fabric and objects, happily reminiscing that time that he went to a tournament and was given a free Coors Light t-shirt. He beheld the tattered and stained shirt as he smiled happily. The same went for every single item, down to the sombrero that had washed up on the beach and was joyfully claimed by Mr. Packrat. 

Then I spend the next hour tidying up after him as SB went from room to room, dragging out all of his precious artifacts and reliving their moments. So for us, the Kondo-mari method had the opposite effect of the intended getting rid of clutter, but I can't call it a complete failure because it made SB so happy. I can't say that I was particularly sparky but sometimes you take one for the team.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

that word does not mean what you think it does

On Fox Business, Trump's spokesperson Katrina Pierson said that reporters "literally beat Trump supporters into submission".

"She literally does not know what 'literally' means," wrote a commenter, beating my identical comment.

I am struggling not to spend the rest of my day creating witty comebacks.

Monday, July 11, 2016

film reeling

I don't understand why so many people are panning Tarzan. Many reviews are saying bad things blah blah stilted dialogue. Was there even dialogue? I don't recall. I thought that the movie was brilliant. Alexander Skarsgard was perfect; he managed to look hot for every second of every scene, for the entire 1 hour and 50 minutes of the movie. Every angle of his physique was amazing at all times! Each pore in his ridiculously sculpted physique acted to shift, flex and shine for every wet, shirtless moment of the movie. It was worth every dollar that I spent to be able to observe Alexander Skarsgard's six pack in a dimly lit, air conditioned room. I'm pretty sure that I was flushed for most of the movie and yet I managed not to pass out. Those obliques were perfectly directed to flex in accordance with the rippling abs, each muscle rippling and undulating as Tarzan swung through the forest. I hope that this movie has a sequel where he loses his trousers. I can't recommend this movie enough.

Friday, July 8, 2016

fodder for thought

I'm not especially fond of the man who works under the Senior Manager with a personality disorder, but I recognize that he is a productive worker and does the best that can be accomplished under such unusual conditions, the conditions being that the senior manager is barking mad. I tried not to care when the senior manager inexplicably (but then almost everything he does defies linear thought) turned on him. The underling is often left to clean up messes and actually accomplish tasks and it was as per usual except in this case, the senior decided that the underling had overstepped. Never mind that the underling was the only reason work was proceeding while senior manager concerned himself with sending out diatribes of spam-like quantity and increasingly unhinged accusations (always blame, never solution).

So for the past week I have had a front row seat to numerous humiliating emails sent out to all of the consultant teams, instructing us to no longer address any items to the underling as he no longer had decision making authority. By yesterday evening, upon reading the last email in its Comic Sans, multiple font and color glory, I could only shake my head at why the seniors of the senior manager had not yet discreetly reminded him that spewing your internal conflicts to your external consultants was probably inadvisable.

This morning during one our our numerous weekly coordination meetings, I told found myself complimenting the underling for how he managed us over a complicated interface issue, in front of all of the senior managers. Underling looked over at me in surprise (recall that we aren't especially fond of one another). Sometimes when you are shipwrecked together on an island, you find yourself sharing shelter for a moment or two before reminding yourself that there is no room for humanity, and then you go back to trying to cannibalize each other.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

fear and prejudice

You would think that you should know yourself well enough but then the truth slaps you in the face. When I was in college, I knew that I wasn't a bigot. But then one of my black friends told me that he passed by hundreds of people every day on campus and sometimes he went the whole day without anyone making eye contact. On my way back to my dorm, I passed a black guy and my eyes slid away. Huh, wasn't that interesting. And there was the truth, slapping me in the face.

Monday, June 13, 2016


This has been one fucked up day. Say what we will about the evils of Facebook, but it has been a lifeline. I have been logged in continuously, searching for news that my friends are safe, shocked that the 'mark safe' feature should even be a thing. I am torn up inside, part joyful when I see another friend checking in, and part terrified every time another post shows up, begging for help finding a lost loved one. Two of my friends, both active in the LGBT community, have still not checked in. D contacted me a few weeks ago to ask if I was going to attend our high school reunion. It had been years since we last talked. I am desperate for him to reply to my message. Please be okay.

Monday, May 30, 2016

you might just become the very best version of yourself

This is Sheryl Sandberg's commencement address, delivered to the graduates of UC Berkeley. It is worth watching in its entirety. You may also read the full transcript here.

"You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are—and you just might become the very best version of yourself"

Friday, May 27, 2016

boo hoo

The original Gawker post showing a video of Hulk Hogan having sex with his ex-friend's wife (with the guy's encouragement) while spouting racist statements about his daughter dating a black man wasn't of any particular interest to me. The lawsuit and trial against Gawker was a bit more interesting but I had better things to so than follow it. When I read that Hogan won $140 million, it was more interesting.

Then things got really interesting when Peter Thiel was "outed" as the man who backed Hogan's lawsuit. Now, almost every Gawker site is running some sort of story about the how Peter Thiel is using his bags of money to suppress freedom of the press and has it in for Nick Denton. There are comparisons to Shel Adelson who bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal for what seems to be the sole purpose of promoting his causes such as trying to dig up dirt on a judge who he is mad at.

While I have read many believable accounts of billionaires using their money to try to sue journalists into bankruptcy and I'm convinced that Peter Thiel despises Nick Denton, the multiple Gawker squawkers have glossed over a few pertinent facts of the case. First, it seems that the majority of lawsuits from billionaires trying to bankrupt critical journalists are merit-less and obvious in their purpose to cause financial hardship for journalists defending themselves. This case was not frivolous and Nick Denton was not in danger or going broke defending himself. It is even unlikely that Gawker and Nick Denton will go broke paying out the judgement, though the same is not true for AJ Daulerio. Gawker published videos that they knew were filmed secretly and illegally. No one seems to remember, or at least no one cares to remember that crucial fact. Of course they deserved to be sued.

Gawker is retrying the case in the court of public opinion. They are highlighting how the judgement against the editor, AJ Daulerio, would destroy his life because he has no assets. I know of someone who could help AJ Daulerio out of his predicament quite easily. The Gawker sites point out ad nauseum how Hulk Hogan is basically broke and could not afford his attorney if not for a secret backer. They appealed the verdict and were so sure of their success that they have already published an open letter from Nick Denton that baits Peter Thiel. After reading the Gawker response, I have become convinced. 

Gawker should pay, and pay a lot of money. While I wish that the recipient of the windfall wasn't Hulk Hogan, what Gawker did should not be protected by the the First Amendment or any form of journalistic privilege. Whatever Peter Thiel's motives were, they do not excuse Gawker from their crimes. And frankly, the way Nick Denton/Gawker keeps spouting off about how Hogan is broke and shouldn't have been able to afford his attorney sure seems like exactly what they are complaining about. It seems like he's salty that Hogan couldn't be litigated into the ground but instead was given resources from a billionaire so that he could fight against a similarly wealthy and powerful opponent. Boo hoo.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Time to Smoke Again

I'm going to pile onto the TSA horror story bandwagon with my own tale. While my wait was not several hours long, it took 45 minutes, which was about 25 minutes longer than I think it should have. I will be fair and blame other passengers for 10 minutes of this time because very few people in the queue actually thought that they could prepare themselves during their 45 minute waits so that the process could go more smoothly.

This is not uncommon behavior. SB is the same. When we take the bus, I will pull my wallet out of my bag as I see the bus approaching so that I can scan my card as soon as I board. SB never thinks to do this and always boards the bus, then reaches into his pocket for his wallet that is filled with five years of receipts. Then he will stand there struggling to extract the bloated wallet while everyone behind him waits. Even better is when he has the wallet in his backpack. He will board the bus, and then begin looking for where his wallet is. Everyone stands there, waiting for him to find his wallet. At some point I will growl at him to stand aside and let everyone else board while he searches. Sometimes when we arrive at the bus stop, I tell him to locate his wallet. He has no problem doing this, which means that all the other times, he just didn't think to streamline the process.

So back to the airport security queue. I understand that it isn't ideal to prepare by holding your laptop and your shoes for 25 minutes while waiting for your turn, but I also don't understand all of the people who have to go through the scanner over and over again while removing spare change, keys, rings, watches, and belts. It is not like the aren't aware of what items will set off the machine. Those 25 minutes in line could be spent locating all of those trinkets and placing them in a compartment of your bag. And then there are the people who argue that they don't think that they need to take off their 'light' jackets or sweaters. They ought to be shot. No one cares about your opinion of whether your outer layers of clothing should count as a jacket according to the TSA rules. No one will give you a medal for proving to the TSA officer how smart you think you are. There is no man to stick it to, only about a hundred men and women behind you, one of whom is plotting your demise as she stands there with her jacket already removed and folded over her arm.

As for TSA, they will bear the brunt of my rage because they are the agency responsible to managing this security line disaster and have publicly stated that passenger-idiots slow down the screening process but they somehow have no mitigation measures in place to deal with passenger-idiot time wastage. On my last trip to the US, the screening queue had about 300 people when I joined, and wove through two rooms. About 10 minutes into the wait, I noticed a TSA officer walk past me on his way to the screening area. He was notable because he absolutely reeked of cigarette smoke. I could see that only two of four lanes were open for scanning despite the cluster of TSA personnel standing around, but I was optimistic that Smoky's addition would mean that one more lane would open. No luck. Smoky took up a spot standing there next to someone who was directing traffic to the two lanes.

20 minutes later, Smoky left the screening area. Then ten minutes later he returned. When he returned, he took up standing around in another location and the person who had been standing around there left. I finally made it to the front of the queue so I don't know when that person returned but I had an idea of what was happening.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for heavy smokers. I learned from firsthand experience that the smoking addiction can dramatically affect productivity. When I used to work in a bar, the majority of my colleagues were smokers. There were three of us behind the bar. One bartender smoked around once per hour and the other smoked like a chimney, probably two or three times per hour. It was taken for granted that I would cover for them while they took breaks. I probably worked 90 to 230 minutes more than they did every night. Then there were the bar backs. More often than not, if I needed restocking or dish washing, I had to look for them out back because they were always taking smoke breaks. Several times per night I had to wash my own dishes and restock the beer because I couldn't wait for them.

I think that TSA should do an audit of employee performance. I think that they will find a lot of wasted time and productivity. It's hard to have more screening lanes open if your staff keep taking breaks and there is no one to stand in for them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

the more they stay the same

SB and I were complaining to each other about how some mutual friends dropped off the face of the earth after having a baby before coming to the realization that we haven't been much better since Tippytoes and Eloise joined our lives. We made a resolution to try to catch up with old friends.

First up was the hockey group. We had not seen most of the guys since MegaIce changed everything and gave away Thursday nights, which the league had held since Megabox opened, to someone offering lots of money, as is the way of things. We met up with several of the old teammates for drinks and were happy to note that while life has moved on, people at their core are often very much the same. Once reminded of why we liked them so much, we invited two of Will's former hockey teammates to join our dragonboat team. 

Then I remembered that they are Canadian and we all know that Canadians, while often confused for Americans, have their own distinct (weird) culture. This culture includes reverence for all things that have to do with maple leaves, including affixing them to bags, clothing, and their own skin. There were several maple leaf tattoos on display. They also worship poutine, Tim Horton's coffee, and lumberjacks. And they think that curling and board games are sports - elite, competitive sports.

Our dragonboat training was unfortunately timed to occur right after a night of fun board games. By right after, I mean a week later. D was still moaning about having played with another hockey player and his girlfriend, J, who destroyed them all. "I have never been so utterly destroyed during monopoly" he said several times, usually after my attempt to change the subject. D is a former professional player and really, really big so I didn't have the courage to tell him just how interesting it wasn't to hear the play by play retelling of how he kept stopping on J's railroads. For like the fourth retelling. 

So there I was, trapped in the middle of the ocean, still listening to him bitching about monopoly.

D: Oooohhhh, I can't believe how badly she beat us.
Me: (Oh gawd, make it end)
D: I never stopped on a good tile!
Me: (Maybe I can accidentally clock him with my paddle. How much does this thing weigh?)
D: Then I tried to offer her money at extortionate rates just to buy some property...
Me: (He's gotta be around 250lbs. This won't knock him out)
D: Blah blah blah monopoly
Me (I know! I'll just knock myself out)
D: So are we getting drinks after this?
SB: Sure!
Me (Kill. Me. Now.)

So yeah, things change but in a lot of ways, they stay the same. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

that must be it

I wonder what my profile seems to be when my news aggregator compiles articles of certain, surprising themes. The rugby and architecture articles make sense but every so often I get bombarded with religious freedom stories. Sixty percent of the religious freedom stories are actually the opposite, and if the item has a title involving "...due to Christianity" then the likeliness that this is a religious oppression story increases to ninety percent.  Most items where someone is fired for being Christian involve the person using the bible to engage in hostile or antisocial behavior. "I was fired for offering to pray with her", when scrutinized, usually ends up being "my concern for her eternal soul compelled me to stalk and harass her." 

In university, I had a well meaning classmate who struggled deeply with his grandmother's refusal to convert to Christianity and be saved. At least once a week during studio hours, I could hear him phoning the poor woman, probably in the middle of the night for her in Iran, to implore her to find God because she was going to hell. Surprisingly, grandma stopped taking his calls. He later found out that I was a Catholic and turned his attention to my conversion. Color me naive, but I made it to 21 years of age before realizing that there are a number of Christian denominations that do not believe that Catholics are Christians. It didn't matter that we referred to the same bible because the deal breaker was that I hadn't actively 'accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior' and therefore was not saved, thus I was going to hell. Imagine my surprise that I was going to hell by default because I had not truly accepted Jesus in my heart since I had not uttered those specific words. 

"So according to true Christianity, all it takes to go to heaven is to utter "I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior?" "Yes, and you will be saved." "But if I live a good, Christian life yet I don't get saved, then I go to hell?" "Yes." "And I can be a psychopathic serial killer but if I say that I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, then I get to go to heaven?" "Yes."

Well, that explains a lot.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

comic competency

On of the managers for the corporation that I am subcontracted to has become increasingly unhinged, as evidenced by his multiple pages long emails that he sends out almost every half hour, accusing the various other subcontractors of a wide variety of misdeeds - all in Comic Sans using large, bright blue font, often underlined and boldfaced. In case anyone is unclear, Comic Sans is a cartoonish, unsophisticated font that was invented during 90's, a seriously questionable decade in regard to style (grunge movement, anyone?), and classified as a casual, non-connecting script. Do not use Comic Sans if you want to be taken seriously. It's only one step above writing a business letter in Elvish.

Anyway, I have stayed mostly off this man's radar, thanks to a separation of scope, but every few days, when he has run out of accusations to spout at the others, he turns his attention to me and lets loose a torrent of craziness. I have learned not to reply, no matter how contradictory or serious the accusation. I learned this the hard way when I tried to make a reasonable reply to an unreasonable demand and received a series of enraged responses from the manager, each one adding one more unrelated accusation of my competency, and copying one more level of authority until his last attack included a member of the board at my office and the highest level of management at his company. No one actually replied, in case you were wondering. Probably due to the Comic Sans.

He now complains at the design meetings that he doesn't know whether I am actually working because he never hears from me. That he isn't copied on any of my emails isn't an mistake on my part. If my work ever fell under his scope, I would probably resign.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

bull dozers in rut

If you are traveling to Northern China, please be aware that it is mating season for bull dozers and they are very aggressive when in rut.

The dozers on my site are domesticated and neutered but we have to be careful about the hydraulic crawler cranes. They are known to be unpredictable, especially when in close vicinity to the tower balance cranes, their natural enemy.

Monday, April 18, 2016

neighbor nuisance

I will feel like an a$$hole if I make a complaint but I'm not sure what else I can do...

My neighbors for the past several years have not been the easiest to live with. They are noisy and fill the shared alcove in front of our doors with racks of shoes, boxes, and suitcases that are an issue if I am leaving home with a sports bag (i.e. at least twice per week). I have avoided confrontation because I have felt sympathy for them.

Our flats are small, but face the race course, and are priced accordingly. SB and I love the view so we choke down the cost of rent compared to the tininess of the flat. The neighbors have a smaller flat, but I imagine that the rent is not reduced greatly. I'm pretty sure that they couldn't afford the rent by themselves. I often see him by a truck receiving carts full of cardboard in the morning while I walk the dogs, and I don't imagine that managing cardboard collection pays well. I have seen her reselling open suitcases of used clothing on a street corner. I don't think she is rolling in mad cash either. They have several bunk beds in their living room and I'm fairly certain from the constant comings and goings that they rent out the bunks to tourists and live-out domestic workers.

I hate stumbling over the rows of suitcases outside of my door. There are often foul smells coming from the boxes and other items in the hall. They have a friend who sells supposedly organic fruits and vegetables on another street corner and she often leaves her boxes in the hallway overnight. Two weeks ago I discovered a small cockroach strolling across the floor and had a small meltdown.

Aside from knocking on their door on three occasions, I have never made a complaint. Once I had to knock when the mess actually blocked my ability to enter my home, and the other two times were when some items in their pile smelled so foul that they fouled up the air in my flat. Other neighbors have complained and the management response has been to post warnings on our doors, to no avail. My next door neighbors simply ignore the warnings. I cringe whenever I see a warning on my door because I wonder if the other neighbors actually think that some of the mess is mine. I have thought of filing a complaint due to fire safety issues but I would feel like a jerk if I harmed their ability to earn a living wage by forcing the removal of the suitcases. I just don't know what else to do.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

the bloodbath

Is it happy hour yet? With SB out of town, I have had a lot of activity alone with the furbabies. Too much activity.

I staggered up approximately 1200 steps from Wong Nai Chung Reservoir to Violet Hill. You're welcome for carrying all of the water, dogs.

Near the start of the Twins, I noticed blood on the steps in front of me. I called the dogs over and discovered that Tippy was bleeding quite a bit from a wound to her ear. I spent about ten minutes applying pressure without success. There was blood covering my arms and front of my shirt.

Some lady yelled at me to leash the dogs so she could pass. We were all to the side of the trail, Tippy and Elsie both sitting, and she had plenty of space. I ignored her. She shouted at me that I needed to control my (sitting) dogs. Fed up, I held up my completely bloody arms and waved my equally bloody towel at her. "I'm busy with something more important than you." My opinion of humanity was restored when a couple of hikers stopped to ask if they could help. Dog hater took the opportunity to stomp past with the couple as her buffer (like I said, plenty of space). I informed the couple that they just helped me immensely. As for Tippy, nothing really could be done so I told them that I was going home where we had a styptic pen.

We made record time going to Parkview. Poor Tippy left a trail of blood. I stopped by the toilets to wash off as much as I could so that I didn't look like a psychotic killer, not that Parkview hasn't seen one of those before. I freaked out over how much blood I rinsed from my arms. Did I mention that blood makes me nauseous?

Made it home and applied the styptic pen. The bleeding slowed. At this point, Elsie was concerned and tried to lick the wound. I washed a disturbing amount of blood from Tippy's scruff and took a moment to calm down. Then I applied more styptic pen and finally stopped the bleeding.

I chased drippy Tippy around the flat with an antiseptic, spray bandage can.

I scrubbed blood from my clothing, two towels, a rug, and a bath mat. I yelled at Elsie, who attempted to lick her sister's (medicated) wound behind my back. "If you get sick and throw up, I'm returning you to the pound!" Then I took a shower and freaked out some more at the red shower water.

While the dogs napped at my feet, I wondered if it was my imagination or if there was still a strong scent of copper.

Is it happy hour yet?

Friday, April 1, 2016

and pigs fly

SB, while in line with my way of thinking on a lot of women's issues, draws the line when profit comes into the conversation. We disagree mainly when discussing funding for female athletes. He wants to relate compensation with popularity and overall earnings of the tournaments, including television coverage. It's not like I don't understand his point but I think that women being disallowed from even trying to compete until the last few decades has placed a restriction on the development of women's sports, and I think that there is a need for affirmative action to give women a chance to catch up. In many sports, women still have to work to support their sporting careers, and not being able to train full time will affect performance. SB's agrees that we have restricted women but then shifts the argument to women in tennis playing smaller sets than men. I grudgingly agree. Then he admits that he actually prefers watching women's tennis these days because the men's game seems to have (d)evolved into being almost entirely about the serve while he can still enjoy volleys in the women's game.

Recently, we had an interesting turn. Several US women's soccer players are suing because not only are they being paid 25% of the salaries that the men are drawing, but the women's soccer team generated $20 million more revenue last year than the men’s team. To add insult, the women have three world championships and an Olympic gold medal for the past several years of effort, while the men have achieved...well, we'll get back to you on that. Many prominent members of the men's team, including goalie Tim Howard, have come out to support the women.

SB admits that without knowing more information, it seems unfair. If there was such thing as a feminist flag, I would be waving it.

Someone ought to commission a feminist flag. It should feature at the very least, Germaine Greer's armpits and a fish on a bicycle.

***post note:
USA Today reminds us that U.S. Figure Skating has always given its male stars the same as its female stars even women by far outdraw them. A top USFS official explained that they wanted to grow the sport with boys. It was seen as a smart investment. Interesting.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

space cadet

Astronaut Scott Kelly has returned to earth after over a year in space. When he was last in the United States, Scott Walker was leading the republican presidential polls. I wonder how Captain Kelly feels, having caught up on all that has happened in the meantime.

Well that sounds fine so I'll see you sometime
Give my love to the future of the humankind
Okay, okay, it's not okay.
While it's on my mind there's a girl that fits the crime
For a future love dream that I'm still to find
But in the meantime.

(lyrics from "In the Meantime" by Space Hog)

I sometimes wish that this was all a bad dream, that I will wake up and discover that Donald Trump and all of his Cheetos orangery and whatthefuckery was just a bad trip caused by eating some spoilt fish, that I have really been in a coma for these past nine months with my subconscious wreaking havoc over my dreams. I once had a terrible reaction to mango sap that caused me to break out into hives and hallucinate that my mother's head was floating separate from her body while she tried to talk to be in some sort of garbled nonsense. Kinda like that.

Friday, February 26, 2016

this bard is on fire

My friend A invited us to her birthday dinner and told us that we would be meeting her new boyfriend. Later, SB asked me what his name was but I didn't know. "Maybe it's James," he joked, because for the past five years A has been in consecutive long term relationships with men whose names are variations of James.

Later that day, we exchanged the following messages:

As is wont to happen, during dinner SB and I had a good chuckle over her choice in men. We chuckled more when discussing birthday gifts and wondered if it would be in poor taste to get her a gift revolving around the word, "James". Then I recalled that one of my favorite albums is 1993's Laid, by a band called James. A is younger than us so there is a good chance that she doesn't have this album. "We can write on the card, 'For your birthday, we wanted to get you Laid by James'," I quipped. Then we chortled. And chortled some more.

SB is heading to the Causeway Bay HMV store to purchase our tasteful present.

Monday, February 15, 2016

eat your feelings

This morning, I was aghast to notice that my trousers were a bit snug. Apparently I cannot stuff my face for two months and expect to escape the consequences. I would say that it was fun while it lasted, but this holiday season has been miserable.

SB's very beloved aunt went to hospital due to a sore throat and died from an extremely aggressive cancer right after the new year. SB and I spent the holidays apart because my family decided to become insane and I wasn't interested in subjecting him to the family feud while he was hurting over his aunt being so suddenly ill. Every day was filled with unreal updates: the cancer spread to her it's in her it's in her spine...

Upon hearing that the cancer was in his mother's brain, her son replied, "that explains her voting record."

And so I offered comfort the best way that I could to a partner who doesn't like to talk out his feelings: I cooked. There was a lamb crown roast when she went onto the morphine pump, a chocolate and caramel tart for that phone call that we all knew without saying out loud was going to be her last, and endless loaves of freshly made bread for each awful update that became almost comical in the surely it can't get any worse answers that we received. Cancer sucks in ways that the pink ribbons and prayer angels don't cover.

I think that we're at a point where we aren't drowning in sadness so it's probably time to stop drowning everything around me in gravy. I probably should start waddling up the hills with the dogs and working on those five stages of grief. I'm not sure which stage is the one where you eat a lot but I can say that I'm over it now. Either that, or I start wearing sweatpants to work.

Friday, February 12, 2016

the monsters within

SB's sister, A, is taking a Gothic literature class at her university. Being 13 hours ahead of her in time and therefore unconscious, I did not catch the first parts of the family WhatsApp chat regarding her course but she was bemoaning having to suffer through Wuthering Heights, A Picture of Dorian Gray, and Dracula. When I was her age, I also was aggrieved at being forced to read these stories. I now believe that I was just unlearned...and I partially blame my literature professor for that.

A's professor is doing a better job. I wonder if society has evolved in the decade and a half since I took a similar course or if A is just more fortunate than I was. Her professor has led discussions about the use of monsters in Gothic novels. A thinks that Heathcliff and Catherine are monsters. On one hand her discussion of how awful they were reminded me of her youth, but on the other hand she is so much brighter than I was at her age. It's a monstrous realization to have when I often think that I was never so young as A.

When I was her age, I read Wuthering Heights as a love story. But that's how our professor directed the studies. I thought Heathcliff was a jerk but with so many of my female classmates mooning over his gothicy-ness and brooding countenance, I wondered if I missed something. Years later I read Wuthering Heights again and confirmed to myself that indeed, Heathcliff and Catherine were a pair of selfish trolls, and Emily Bronte was a nincompoop for leading generations of women into worshiping their hideous, obsessive, vindictive love.

It was only a few years ago when a film adaptation of Wuthering Heights was released that I had a change to reread the story. A conversation in my local pub led to a rather splendid woman telling me that I was reading it all wrong, that Wuthering Heights was not a love story at all, but a feminist masterpiece. Being a card carrying feminist, I immediately downloaded the book onto my Kindle when I returned home and spent the night reacquainting myself with those horrid people. What an eye opener it was.

A is correct that Heathcliff and Catherine are monsters, but in fact, the real monsters are the bonds of society that created them. Wuthering Heights is a feminist masterpiece. It is a tale of confinement and powerlessness. Emily Bronte was brilliant but sadly, generations of hegemonic, mental imprisonment led her idiotic readers, myself included, to misunderstand her message and worship at the feet of one of the worst heroes in literature.

I had to stifle my urge to share this with A because I think that she is on the way to figuring this out. Right now Heathcliff and Catherine are the villains, but she is already discussing how she is not sure who the real monster of Frankenstein is. Oh, if only I hadn't been so dumb at her age. She even had an aside about Jane Austin's Northanger Abbey parodying the Gothics and informing us that monsters are only imagined. Oh, but they are real. I will have to bite my tongue and see where her train of thought is leading in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

more frightening

With the Zika virus afflicting Catholic nations, I wonder how long the church will put off weighing in. Before, the church's unflinching position regarding no abortion no matter the circumstances may have been disturbing to some but overall very few  people have been personally impacted by untenable pregnancies. Now, with an alarming number of women afflicted or in danger of becoming afflicted by the Zika virus, I wonder what Pope Francis will allow.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

frosted flakes

With the cold front coming into Hong Kong and blizzards affecting much of Eastern United States, there has been a resurgence in gloom and doom, apocalyptic predictions.

It has been suggested by my friend Hila, who is an amateur tribal healer and certified RN, that we should smear the fresh blood of a lamb across our doorposts so that the wave of low pressure passes over our household.

However, the best place to procure lamb's blood would be the Haiphong Street market in Kowloon, on the dark side. Treachery abounds. We are caught between Scylla and Charbydis.