Saturday, July 17, 2004

Kompasu 圆规

(Typhoon: tropical cyclone; foong kow (wind-ball))
Kompasu skirted  HK (Sai Kong) yesterday. Kompasu - my 4th severe troical cyclones, with signals up to no. 9, since I arrived in HK 2 years ago. We are allowed to leave our workplace when typhoon signal no. 8 is announced. I was specifically grateful for Kompasu cos I was having a head splitting hangover and dying to go home. I almost stepped on Siu Kiong (Hong Kongers call roaches Siu Kiong (Xiao Qiang) after a cockroach movie dubbed in cantonese) on the way to work. When you see roaches scurrying - you know the cyclone would successfully head this way. So I was 90% confident that 8 would be hoisted.
Many of us are rasied to believe that typhoons are always named after women. No longer true. West pacific typhoons are named from a list of contribution by members of a Typhoon Committe (Cambodia, China, DP Korea, HK, Lao, Macau, Mironesia, Philippines, RO Korea, Thailand, USA, Vietnam).
Kompasu, pronounced KOM-PA-SS, is a compass, a V-shaped device for describing circles or circular arcs. Next on the Japan's list -Tokage, a lizard. If the next cyclone name comes from China, it will be named Long Huang (Dragon Emperor).
Hagupit (signal no.1,3, 8) was hoised on 10/11 September 2002, my second week at work in HK. I was amused, at the same time excited and anxious about where to get my meals! (typical foodie singaporean). 
Dujian (3, 8, 9), a double eyed wall cyclone hit HK September 2003. The rarely issuance of signal No. 9 was activated on 2 Sept. We all left after lunch or during lunch. we were expecting the HKO to issue no. 8 between 2-3PM. We were faced with a moral dilemma: a) go lunch and hang around in the office b) go lunch then home c) go home.  No. 8 was issued at 2:20 PM.
There was a recent one with issuance of no. 8 but unfortunately it was down to no, 3 by 8:30 AM, meaning we have to drag ourselves to work after an overnight severe tropical Mahjong session or Severe Sing-K night. The phone lines in HK suffer severe traffic congestion as many of us would be busy doing one of the following :call friends, relatives, maids (buy groceries, fish, veg - stock up!)' call friends, relatives (mahjong); call friends (watch a movie follow by SING K).
Isnt beat wind ball 打风球 exciting (sans the damages and injuries) ? 
[post 17/1997] 

Your Current Position is 6

I am elated. The automated voice on the other end of the phone says "Your current position is 30". I was the 30th person on hold to speak to the enquiry hotline office of the HK Immigration Dept. As I am typing this, my current position is 3. OK, HOLD THE BLOG. I need to speak to the officer soon.
I am back.
It took only a jiffy 10 minutes to climb from 30th to 3rd, averaging 20 seconds per position.
Well, there is a gratifying sense of hope on the other end of the line when you can visualise a queue of people in front of you.
The immigration department of HK has the best service people I have come across in the government services category. I was so impressed with the way HK handles the upgrading to smart IDs. Systemtic and super efficient. Total time taken for the registration (starting from entering the building to leaving the building) was a mere 20 minutes. You take a queue number and 30 seconds later), you were ushered to one of the hundreds of temporarily installed cubicle offices.  A smiling uniformed staff (English speaking) greeted me and apologised for having kept me waiting for 30 seconds. He started to process my registration, including a brief interview, taking your mug shot and finger printing all my 10 fingers. He thanked me for my time and explained that if I didnt understand any part of the registration, I can call him.
HSBC HK still tops my list of friendly and effective services in the non SME category. Note that I say effective and not efficient. I'll blog about this some other time.
[post 16/1997]

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Courses for Bloggers

Blogging Course Titles

1. Blog is a many splendid thing
2. Blog lifts us up where we belong
3. All you need is Blog
4. Blog: would there be any other name that smells as sweet?
5. I'm OK, You're OK, Blog's OK
6. She blog, He blog, a We blog
7. The Zen and the Art of Blogging
8. The Sun-zi Art of Blog
9. Yoga for Bloggers
10. Fighting Blog Addiction (special rates for those who have completed courses 1-9)

William Gibson's last blog : "I’ve found blogging to be a low-impact activity, mildly narcotic and mostly quite convivial, but the thing I’ve most enjoyed about it is how it never fails to underline the fact that if I’m doing this I’m definitely not writing a novel – that is, if I’m still blogging, I’m definitely still on vacation."

[post 15/1997]

From the mouth of babes  ヤバイ !

Act 1 Scene 1
Nephew, age 3: "Look, that man is fat"
Nephew's mum (my sis): "It is impolite to call someone fat. That man is not fat, he is muscular".

Act 1 Scene 2
Nephew, his mum and a neighbour entered elevator.
Nephew said to neighbour: "Wah, auntie, you are very muscular!"

Act 2
Sis fainted.

[post 14/1997]

For whom the bid tolls

My first internet purchase : 1995.

Before I made that brave click - I called up my credit card company and asked them to lower my credit limit to US$400. They were puzzled.

Ok, I was a wee bit paranoid but I NEED TO BUY. Otherwise how could I face my class of matured adult learners aka MBA students (I co-teach) of the Internet Commerce course? I thought if there was any security loophole and fraud, I would only be liable up to the limit the credit card company has set for me, which was only US$400.

That "the men dont get it" card was set aside for internet purchases only.

My first internet bid : 2004. I am now the proud owner of "The Compleat Moonshadow" comic series - at an amazing US$9.49. I first read my friend's pirated copy in 1993 - I was hypnotised and intriqued by Jon Muth's watercolor illustrations and the moth eaten cat, Frodo.

The series is retailed between US$24 - US$34 (exclusive of shipping charges) and in UK, it sells for over 20 british pounds!

[post 13/1997]

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Gas what?

Reinventing. Re-engineering. Think out of the box. Unfair advantage. TownGas did all that.

Towngas in HK is what PUB is in Singapore. Many of my HK tai tai friends have enrolled their domestic helpers in Towngas classes. No, they were not sent there to learn gas safety or energy saving measures. They were enrolled in cookery classes conducted by HK culinary experts in their Cooking Centre.

Towngas even sells appliances. Want to get a Chinese Pig Roaster? Towngas sponsors cooking competition, kitchen design competition and even has a cafe downtown (Towngas Avenue Cafe, Causeway Bay) which easily passes off as a 5 star french cafe which serves freshly-brewed gourmet coffee and great meals. You can even see the cooking by their chefs. And, by prior booking, you can have a private party in the self cooking areas - either to cook meals for your gf/bf/family/strangers (not sure abt this one) or enjoy pre-cooked meals for your party.

The next time you head this way, try the cafe at G/F., Riviera Mansion, 59-65 Paterson Street. Monday to Sunday : (Including public holidays, closed at Lunar New Year holidays) 10:00am-10:00pm

How does "Snow Crab Leg with Nagaimo in Tobiko Mango Sauce" sound to you? Or Baked Cod Fillet with Salted Egg Yoke (Cooking demonstration), and for desserts, Steamed Glutinous Rice with Apricot & Almond? Hearty Onion Soup with Port Wine in Puff Pastry and Holland Beef Tenderloin with Cognac Pepper Corn Gravy? I can go on...

[post 12/1997]

Mike, the bouncer at The Library

Year - late 80s. I was darn proud to be a librarian. When asked "so, where do you work?" "The Library". "Wah! Cool! The Library - nice disco!". Dont get the twist? Mandarin Hotel used to have a basement pub named "The Library", now renamed "The Boiler".

[post 11/1997]

なんなの 怎么搞的

I was a newbie branch library librarian. One of my senior colleagues one day called me while I was at the reference desk, totally baskin in full glory as a new LYE_BEAR_RIAN (i hate it when they drop the "R")

SC: "harlo, can you check for me if we have the book, call no R658.6589123how and if have, is it on the shelf?"
Me, without any nanoseconds pause, talked into the handset: "No idea" and I hang up the phone.

SC complained to my other colleagues "Alamak! WHO IS THAT staff? SHe never check and immediately said "Dont have!". I wanted to correct her, I did not say "Don't have", I answered "No idea".

[post 10/1997]

Las Tres Preguntas

Ivan asked if I was ever with NRL. (national reference library). Maybe he was not aware that, in those days, there was a stringent selection of the highest order to ordain these special (civil) servants as reference librarians. A disguised supervisor lurked around and count the number of readers who have approached you with these three questions:

1. Where is the toilet?
2. Where is the male toilet?
3. Where is the female toilet?

If you had that "ask me about toilets" look and unwittingly drew such readers to you, then you FAILED immediately on no uncertain terms to ever ever be considered to work in the prestigious Reference Section.

[post 9/1997]

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

business of a blogger

``To talk in public, to think in solitude, to read and to hear, to inquire, and to answer inquiries, is the business of a scholar.''

Samuel Johnson Chapter VIII The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

[post 8/1997]

Ten years ago

It was Dec 1993. I was dutying at the timeless placeless CDROM room. I was gophering for another copy of "Zen and the Art of the Internet" (FIRST book ever published on the internet) and was saddened by news that the author Kehoe has met with a car accident and needed a brain surgery. He shocked all by waking up from a coma to a near full recovery a few weeks later. (he was with Cygnas. Redhat (a linux company) later aquired Cygnas).

Anyone out there remembered BITNET (because it's time network), WAIS (wide area info server), ARCHIE (one of my ex bosses and I had a fun time arguing over the pronunciation of archie as AHH CHEE and AHH KEY)

Before the WWW, librasaurs might remember vaguely "Hytelnet" - we were so exicted to find telnet addresses to internet accessible libraries catalogs. Hytelnet was the first internet directory developed by Peter Scott. Here is an example from the directory:

login: libopac
To exit, select 3 on main menu

[post 7/1997]


Coffee - Musing 1
The first time I came across the word "anema" it was from a preggie book I was flipping through at Borders. I read anything from holistic pregnancies to aromatherapy for hamsters. A doc will perform an anema for women about to have a C section birth. Anema is a colonic cleansing.

The next time I read about anema, it has something to do with COFFEE. If you are having a coffee break (many of us work between breaks), put your mug down, and have a vomit bag ready.

"In the approximately 30-minute session, a mixture of water and coffee is pumped into the colon - a section of the large intestine extending from the caecum to the rectum - to remove the build-up of 'debris' within the body. " Unquote. ST Jul 13, 2004, Life.

OK, above just described "colonic therapy". Arabian beans or decaff? Now instead of "may your armpits be infested with flea" curse, you can add this to your curse collections "May your colon be addicted to coffee".

Coffee - Musing 2
Just a few weeks ago, I introduced a male friend to the "drink this and heaven can take me" MOCHA BROWNIE CHILLIno at Pacific Coffee (HK). To the south east asian brothers and sisters - this is not a coffee laced with CHILLI. It is a chilled mocha latte spinned and blended with 3 solid blocks of American Brownie and topped with thick fat cream. And later in the evening, this friend confessed his urine was coffee scented. Yes, this metrosexual male said "coffee scented".

[post 6/1997]

Monday, July 12, 2004

The Din wth Dim Sum

To get a three dimensional and stereo definition of the word "cacophony", go to Grand Court Restaurant on the 3/F of Melbourne Plaza during the weekend yum char specials. I was explaining to a Singaporean visitor why people in HK NEED to talk above 100 decibels. If you don't, nobody including yourself can hear you. We compete for prime 'ear'state.

OK, 300 yumcharers were running at the mouth. AND all of a sudden, everyone, including the waiters/resses in colorful yellow shirts with purple lapels, were awed to complete SILENCE. We turned our heads towards the direction of a SUPREME voice that shook the dining mess - a well healed tai tai BARKING at her husband. Let me translate her conversation (in cantonese) " star star moon fish shrimp crab! * * o >=> { =( )= why can't you wait star star moon fish shrimp crab me!? Why star star moon fish shrimp carb do you need to walk ahead of me! "

Well, if you have been a fan of "Lao Fu Zi 老夫子" you will be able to figure out the star star moon fish shrimp crab expletives.

The couple walked towards a VIP room and the rest of us including my traumatised Singaporean friend, returned to our ramblings in 100 decibels.

[post 5]