Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bali in four minutes

It’s taken a long time to put this together, but here it is at long last: a Bali highlight reel. (Now in HD, if you want it.)


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Search terms

I don’t normally spend a lot of time looking at the stats for this blog, except to exult when there’s a spike in views. (Best day yet: January 19, with 269 page views. That’s not 269 unique visitors, alas, but still.) I recently noticed that not a single day has gone by without at least a handful of visitors, which is a bit surprising given that there have been multiple-week stretches with no posts. Most everyone reading this are friends and family and there are predictable spikes when there’s a new post, so I was wondering who these other visitors are. What brings them here? Continue reading



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Fire safety, Chinese-style

We found a couple of interesting lunch-box-sized containers in our Zhuhai, China hotel room last week.

I don’t read Chinese, but I’m guessing this is what it says: “In case of terrifying, metropolis-consuming conflagration, calmly put on this aluminum respirator and a thick, acid-wash denim jacket. Stand still. Breathe normally.”

The images of skyscrapers are for scale. The person wearing the fire helmet is actually 97 stories tall.

Fair enough.


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Strange banners

In the past few weeks, some puzzling banners have appeared in the high-traffic area of Tsim Sha Tsui. (For those interested, that’s pronounced “Chim Shah Choy” by Anglophones, which is actually a pretty good approximation of the Cantonese pronunciation.)

Labeled as the work of the harmless-sounding “Hong Kong Youth Care Association” (which has this benign website), the banners sport very strongly-worded slogans about Falun Gong. Continue reading


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A couple of weekends ago we had the unique opportunity to attend the City University Banquet. This is an annual event put on by the Student Union, largely as a fundraiser but also in large part as a hell-raiser. (Hey now!) One of the open spaces, normally a rather staid taxi drop-off point near the gym and the main administration building, gets transformed into a giant sea of tables, with a stage at one end and massive sound and lighting gear all over. Here’s an overview:

On most days, this space is basically empty.

Some serious lighting. Some seriously loud audio.

Tickets to attend aren’t super expensive, but they aren’t super cheap either. My office purchased an entire table, so we were there with a bunch of colleagues.

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Festivity under construction

What’s slowly being constructed under festive red wrapping in the middle of Our Mall?

I’m pretty sure there’s a rocket under here.

What’s this merry platform?

It’s hard to resist the temptation to run up those steps and start singing “Sleigh Ride.”

Might it have anything to do with these giant bedazzled jellyfish descending from the ceiling to spread glad tidings with their gingerbread-spiced nematocysts ?

Swarovski® presents their latest creation, the Portuguese Man o’ Solstice (Physalia diei natalis). If it stings you, you have to pour champagne-spiked eggnog on the wound to stop the stinging.

The music hasn’t started yet, but soon, friends. Soon.


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Election day

The US Consulate had a very nice Election Day event on Wednesday. Yup, on Wednesday—because of the time difference (during standard time we’re 13 hours ahead of the East Coast), we had the rather pleasant experience of being able to “stay up” to watch the returns come in, and all the speeches get made, and then enjoy a mid-afternoon glass of champagne before heading off to dinner. It felt very civilized.

The event was intended principally for local college faculty to bring 10-12 of their students to witness Democracy In Action. So there was a mock voting booth, some speeches from the consul general, a pitch for students to consider studying in the US, and so on.

The student-to-balloon ratio was roughly 2:1.

The invitation had promised food that was “American fare,” so we were pretty excited about that. When we got to the consulate, we saw a Pizza Hut delivery moped outside and thought “It can’t be….” But it was! Pizza Hut pizza for all to enjoy. Cate got a slice, leaned down to take a bite, and recoiled. Imagine our dismay when we learned that, in Hong Kong style, the pizza had seafood on it. Sure, you can get clams casino pizza in New Haven, but come on. Continue reading


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Shenzhen, part 2

This post has taken a while to write.

The majority of our trip to Shenzhen, as I described in my last post, was a more-or-less wacky good time. It was a bit disorienting, to be sure, but we felt pretty much on solid ground—a little research and a good amount of time in HK had prepared us pretty well for the whole thing, and while the shopping experience was certainly surreal in some ways, it was still well within the realm of the ‘normal’ world.

But the entire atmosphere of Shenzhen, for whatever reason, gave me a vague sense of apprehension almost from the moment we crossed the border. It’s difficult to describe. There was no sense of immediate physical threat, nor pity, nor surveillance. Just a weird, latent tremor. Continue reading

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Shenzhen, part 1

A few weeks ago Cate and I made our first trip into mainland China. Like many Hong Kongers, we took a day trip into Shenzhen, the city just across the border from Hong Kong, in search of deals. We took the MTR north about half an hour to Lo Wu, walked through immigration, and there we were.

First, a word on immigration. HK immigration was, as always, easy. I was a bit curious—heck, apprehensive even—about what the Chinese border crossing would be like. The answer is: surprisingly quick and pleasant. Also surprising is that each passport control station has a little set of buttons like so:

A little hard to read. The buttons are labeled Greatly Satisfied, Satisfied, Checking Line Too Long, and Poor Customer Service.
(Image via SpeedofCreativity)

When they’ve finished checking your passport, the lights blink and you are invited to push the appropriate one. The number above tallies the score of that line. I would give anything to find these buttons at O’Hare’s TSA lanes. Harrumph. Continue reading


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Gym certification

There is quite a nice gym here at CityU. There are things about it that very much make it seem not like an American gym—way more badminton and table tennis courts than basketball, for example—but that’s fine. It’s got one of those swanky golf simulation rooms, where you can do driving practice in front of a screen that projects a fairway on it, and estimates your drive length once the ball hits the screen. I don’t golf, but that’s high-tech cool. It’s even got a gorgeous outdoor pool:

Nice stuff, right? (Image from CityU)

It also has a fitness room: you know, where the weights and treadmills and stuff are found. I was getting an informal tour of the campus when we first arrived back in September, and I thought Great! This means I don’t have to pay for a membership to a private gym.

I didn’t know about The Class, though. Or the online booking. Continue reading

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