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January 28, 2005 05:19 PM Whine  |   Link
Another Joins the 30-Something Club

Had a blast last night in Lan Kwai Fong for a 1970s 30th Birthday celebration. Most folks went all out for the 70s look. Even Andrew's mom came as a pregnant woman depicting her condition during the 70s. Very funny. Jeff had his share of polyester. I didn't do much except wear my contacts and wear make-up. You know me, nothing too fancy. We had a blast with The Andy G Experience and possibly 60 of his closest friends and family.

Some of the 70s flair...lots of polyester, big hair, messy hair, mix of early and late 70s, polaroid camera, and some left over hippies confused about which decade they were in. Somehow we had mix of John McEnroes.

Happy Birthday Andrew...welcome to the 30-something club.

January 25, 2005 10:14 PM Travel  |   Link
Crossing a street, a crisis

So I almost got hit by a taxi today while crossing to catch a tram in the middle of the road. Good thing the driver saw me coming and didn't freak me out or anything. I still have difficulty looking to the right first especially since I'm not driving anymore it's difficult to remember. Ok, major mental note...ALWAYS LOOK RIGHT FIRST!

Business & Finance  |   Link
Cell phones and the office

I just saw this article on Yahoo. It talks about how Ford Motor is planning to get rid of desktop phones and use cell phones exclusively. I still have weird feelings about using cell phones all the time. Could we see an increase in head related cancers over the next generation? Potential occupational hazard, I think, along with repetitive stress injuries, air pollution, and sick buildings(etc.). I wonder if anyone is studying it?

January 24, 2005 06:01 AM Travel  |   Link
Taking the Bus

While it can get hectic to figure out all the bus systems in Hong Kong, it turns out that there is some logic to some of them. The numbering scheme actually corresponds to general destinations or where the bus passes. Some things I learned today:

M### - implies that the bus will be headed to the HK MTR Station or Airport Express.
###M - implies that the bus will pass a major MTR Station or drop off really close to an MTR station

9## - signifies the bus will take the west tunnel to Kowloon
6##- signifies the bus will take the east tunnel to Kowloon
1##- signifies the bus will take the middle tunnel to Kowloon in the area of TST or Hung Hum.

The funny thing is that the guide books never mentioned this convention. I'll probably add to this list especially since I'm still learning the whole system.


January 20, 2005 06:01 AM Travel  |   Link
1st Nudist Beach in Asia

Ok it's not really something to write home about but since it's a first for Asia I thought I'd mention it.

Hong Kong naturists pass hurdle to Asia's first nude beach

I doubt I'll be headed there but thought it was interesting.

Health & Fitness  |   Link
Homeopathic Remedy for Allergies

We live in a very polluted area of Causeway Bay and having being spoiled with the no smoking indoors in CA our allergies have been really bad here. Several days ago Jeff started doing a nasal rinse rather than submit to medical surgery to correct his sinus allergies. Today Jeff feels that daily routine has helped him alot eliminating his allergies. It's basically salty warm water that is shot up in a steady stream up one nostril and comes out the other nostril.

Here are some resources he found online to learn more about it but I suggest looking locally for classes or instruction.

The one that we have is from here: Neilmed

Jeff just ordered a real stainless steel neti pot from Health and Yoga.

The benefits of this one are:
A) larger size, this one is 16 oz versus 8 oz for the squeeze bottle
B) continous flow - the squeeze bottle you have to resqueeze after a little bit.

There was some talk of the continous flow helping to pull out more contaminants, but not sure if this is valid.

There are a whole bunch of articles on the net about this practice. It's called "jal neti". Here are some starters: the 2nd link is really good and has lots of good info.

Health and Yoga: Jal Neti
Net Handbook (pdf)

We also bought the Neti Wash Plus to add to the solution when we get more comforatable with the basic saline solution. It's supposed to prevent infection and is speficially made for neti pots.

Not only am I hoping to prevent colds and eliminate allergies, but the improvement in my sense of smell and taste will probably help me with my wine tasting education.

January 18, 2005 07:19 AM Whine  |   Link
From the Vineyards in Napa to The Vine in Hong Kong

It still amazes me that God had plans for me in the vinyeards of Napa last May and to actually find myself settled down here in Hong Kong in The Vine. I wasn't thinking about it at first when Jeff found their website, but tonight when recounting my story about the dead lizard it hit me. Strange coincidence but I think it's divine intervention.

Coming here to HK has been a continuation of my spiritual and emotional growing from Napa. I have been able to slowly incorporate my analysis in my daily life and in some perhaps spread it to others. I feel refreshed here(despite the pollution of our neighborhood) and I don't feel so anxious about returning to the US. I feel stronger both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have learned that for everything that might appear bad it may reveal something actually good. I can't do everything on my own.

I actually don't want to leave but we have obligations and responsibilities that require us to return. However I do see us coming back in the near future. Perhaps new opportunities will present themselves when we return? But whatever happens, I have so much faith that there is a purpose to it.

Travel  |   Link
Leisure and Pleasure

Yes that is the label for a floor at Sogo here in CWB. But I also thought it was cool to use because we have some new photos of spending our free time here in HK.

Ping Pong with the Nieces
I wasn't feeling well again(I think it's the pollution making me nauseated) so was unable to participate.

Bowling with the Guys
The boys went bowling while the girls had a civilized evening of chatting about books over cheese, wine, and brownies.

Walk through HK Park
One quiet afternoon we took a break from our workout and took a stroll through the park and visited the Tea Museum. Kind of chilly but it was probably more chilly for the brides(in sleeveless gowns) taking photos in and around the park.

January 15, 2005 05:29 AM Whine  |   Link
Yes I have an accent, you do too!

I had such a lovely time on Friday night at a new book club I just joined. While we were hanging out we were talking about idioms, slangs, and accents in English. It was so funny when my aussie friend said to me..."You have an accent." I started to laugh and said you do too! Then we started to talk about how certain people pronounce various words like pin and pen. I started to remember a conversation I had with an ex-officemate about "pie." It was just really funny to think about how English is not the same around the world.

So another example was what do you call riding on your bike with someone else riding on the bike as well? Australia: dinking, New Zeland: doubling/dubbing, and Jeff said to me today that in the US: doubles. The funny part was I started to giggle when NP said dinking because yes I had my mind in the gutter...then she relayed an innocent story about a misunderstanding of the term and it making a colleague uncomfortable.

I can't wait to add to my vocabulary of "English" when/if we return. ;o)

Travel  |   Link
Parody of Kung Fu and other classic movie elements

We've been here for a few months but tonight was the first time we actually went to the theature to watch a HK film. Kung Fu Hustle, a Stephen Chow production, was absolutely engaging and hilarious. At the same time there were various movie elements you'd recognize from both HK and US films sprinkled through the story line. It was like a mix of West Side Story, Matrix, Bruce Lee movies, Forrest Gump, and a host of other great US and Chinese films. Stephen Chow is very talented playing multiple roles as the director, producer and the main character. I'm starting to make a list of other Chow films to watch before we head home. According to the yahoo site it will be in limited release in the US sometime in March.

January 11, 2005 07:43 AM Whine  |   Link
Beware: Librarian with Boxing Gloves

I've taken up boxing. This time it's not the cardio kickboxing stuff. Let's just say I love it. Yes I know for the folks from GSB, it was kind of funny to see me show up to work with boxing gloves. I think someone even joked that I brought them to meetings to spar with the other managers.

I think it is a great way to get into shape and release tension in the body. I'm just having a wonderful time this turn around...so I definitely was bummed out that I didn't bring my own gear from back home but I can get some good stuff here...even hand made gloves. Boy those sound serious. But what's really funny was when I was trying to look up the email about my gear from back home I found this quote in my inbox:

"They are subversive. You think they're just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They're like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn't mess with them." -- Michael Moore talking about librarians (Buzzflash, March 2002).

I started to laugh. Here I am a trained librarian(thinking of going back to librarianship) and I'm enjoying the heck out of beating up my trainer. Gosh I wonder what it will be like when I enter the ring. I'll have to get Jeff to take photos or video.

January 08, 2005 07:51 PM Travel  |   Link
Tennis is BIG here

So when some top seated women tennis players show up for a tournament and fundraiser, it's pretty much sold out. I unfortunately was still recovering from my cold and Jeff went to the main event. The final match of the Watson's Water Challenge 2004. Venus Williams(USA) vs. E. Dementieva(Russia)

Jeff also had a chance to see the Williams sisters play doubles.

Even with Jeff's seats from 10 rows from the back he was able to use his super zoom camera to get some of these great shots. Maria Sharapova was on hand for an auction of her racket and signed shirt that went to aid tsunami victims. Her auctioned item alone brought in $500,000HKD($65K USD). There was also an autographs line for Sharapova that Jeff said was super long.

In and around HK, tennis and golf are big. There are so many boutique shops dedidcated to tennis and golf gear. While tennis is a little more accessible to the masses with courts in and around parks, golf on the other is quite exclusive here. Most folks go to mainland China to play for a weekend of golf and it's still cheaper than playing around here. It's pretty amazing.

January 05, 2005 10:32 PM Whine  |   Link
Quit your job!

I'm all for what this article talks about.

"Ways to fix your life: Quit your job"

It wasn't that life at work was horrible...it just seemed like there were other things pulling me aside to take a breather. Right now I'm exploring new cultures and writing about my experiences and maybe at some point my investments will really replace my full salary. I just hope that people out there don't work at jobs they hate because it just effects your personal life.

Food & Wine  |   Link
The VIP Chef and Famous Restaurants

Here and in China one of the things I noticed walking or driving around is how prominent the chef's portrait is for an establishment. Even around the block from our place there's a restaurant with the photos of their head chef decked out with many ribbons and medals. In China I remember seeing the portrait of their chef hanging above their front door. This wasn't your your typical 8x12 photo, no these were huge portraits possibly more close to 8 feet by 12 feet. You can be down the street and spot the portrait.

We went to some restaurants only because it was famous for having an imperial heritage or the first one to serve a particular popular imperial dish. But for the most part because we were part of a packaged tour most of our meals were pre-ordered. A majority of the time we got kung pao chicken(one time with the fagaro pepper), some kind of egg drop or hot and sour soup, bok choy with mushrooms, and slices of oranges/watermelons. The only time we had something noticeably different was our dinner in Beijing at an Imperial restaurant and we had something we thought was beef but turned out to be camel. It was kind of unappetizing since most of the food was cold and earlier that day we were just admiring a camel at the Great Wall.

We had one chance to order on our own and boy did it take a while since the menu was not in English. So we could have ended up with snake but opted for pheasant instead. The other time we were on our we decided to order room service or eat at the hotel. If anything we were just excited to have really hot food.

I didn't really drink wine or beer over the trip since I was recovering from food poisoning early in the trip and I was afraid of many unfamiliar things on my plate or cup. For at least 2 days I think I just ate saltine crackers and rice porridge.

January 04, 2005 09:19 PM Whine  |   Link
Fond memories as a Girl Scout

I just got a sad IM today from one of my childhood friends. Our girl scout troop leader just died in a car crash. It's been such a long time since I've thought about Jackie Johnston, but every year when I see the Girl Scouts and Brownies selling their cookies at the local supermarket I get all nostalgic and remember how we had to sell as well under Mrs. Johnston's leadership.

Switching schools between 5th and 6th grade many moons ago was kind of traumatic for me. I was just getting into swing of things with friends and after school activities when my parents had us move schools. The only people familiar to me where my friends Jeff and Jennifer who made the move as well. But one after school activity that gave me some normalcy was Girl Scouts. For 2 hours once a week I could hang out and do some cool things like who can pitch the tent fastest or some crafts activity. I remember Mrs. Johnston waiting for us after school to shuffle us off to her house where I think a dozen of us girls would hang out. I also remembered a fond weekend trip we took to San Diego for camping; Playing Trivial pursuit late into the night, making smores over the campfire, and trying to figure out when I could let my guard down.

Mrs. Johnston made it all happen along with a few other moms who helped out. It makes me sad to think that God has plans for everything that happens and all I can do is understand what it means and not question why.

Even with the tsunami tragedy, the war in Iraq, the civil unrests around the world, I am still at lose of what to think and all I can do is pray. Pray that there is some kind of peace that comes out of this.

January 02, 2005 01:24 AM Travel  |   Link
Mainland China 2004 etc.

I guess this has to be the most extensive traveling we've ever done before. Knowing it was going to be snowing and cold we took the packaged tour route for embarking on this trip. 11 days and 5 cities (Guangzhou, Guilin, Beijing, Xian, Shanghai) at the end of 2004 brought us a white Christmas, a renewed interest in Asian history especially the elaborate chinese dynasties, and a new appreciation for Charmin toilet paper and western style toilets. Funny enough the toilets here have a rating system just like hotels. The best rated toilet was at the Summer Palace at 4 stars.

Many folks mentioned that Christmas was not going to be fun in Asia since much of the people are not Christian. Boy would you be wrong, for instance here in HK the whole city of lights were in full swing in November. You would have thought the whole island was Christian. Of course all the wonderful light shows and Christmas displays were all in the name of tourism and consumerism. Even in mainland China I was impressed with how the hotels and main streets were all lit up with various holiday greetings and imagery with the faint sounds of holiday music echoing in the background. Even one night when I was cuped up in the hotel room recovering from food poisoning, I could hear children singing "Silent Night" down in the lobby, one floor below. It made me miss my family and friends.

So at the Great Wall, yes "the" great wall our travel companions were able to get a cell phone signal and called their relatives down in Australia. Boy technology is truly amazing. Unfortunately I don't have international direct dialing on my cell phone so was unable to call anyone. It was fun having a father/daughter duo as traveling companions in Beijing and Xian. Along with our personal tour guides giving us truncated overview of chinese history, we had a blast over our Peking duck and wandering around trying not to fall on the icy paths.

What was most interesting over the trip was not just the old sites, but how there was a Starbucks even in the center of the Forbidden City. I could just imagine if the spirits of the emperors were hanging out amazed not just to see tourists hanging out and gawking at their old things(or at least the replicas of old things since much of the place was pillaged during the wars) but to see the familiar Starbucks logo plastered on an old chinese styled building jammed packed with Western tourists ordering their tall non-fat double macchiato. Most of the large cities we went to had a Starbucks every few blocks. It was amazing and sick at the same time, but it wasn't as bad as hearing KFC celebrating their 1200 KFC restaurants in China last week.

I guess the closest you can get to the Forbidden City without being there is watching the movie _The Last Emperor_. I'm currently reading the autobiography of the emperor that inspired the movie and it's kind of interesting.

Links to recent photos:
Hong Kong Christmas Lights along TST waterfront
Jeff's niece plays, little drummer girl at the Ritz Carlton Tea Room
Mainland China Albums

January 01, 2005 05:49 AM Whine  |   Link
Greetings to a new year

...our thoughts and prayers are with all those effected by the earthquake/tsunamis in Asia.

We just arrived from our 2 week trip in China where we heard of the devastating tsunamis in Asia. It has been an emotional/physical roller coaster these past several days while I was battling out food poisining, a bad head cold in minus 10C weather, staying tuned in to hear more about the aftermath of the earthquake, and standing at Tiannamen Square thinking about democracy. There's so much to think and pray about and I'm too exhausted to know where to start. I will share more thoughts over the next few days.

Happy new year, world!