You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2006.

a recent source of entertainment has been to read the covers of dvds available in shenzhen. they appear to have no relationship whatsoever to the content of the dvd, and can barely be said to resemble english.

as an example, here’s an extract from “fun with dick & jane”, a jim carrey movie about a husband-wife who turn to robbing mini-marts after their luck goes wrong:

one day, police officer anna receive not usually of e-mail, manifestation on the mail a painful appearance of woman of young good reputation. the prisoner notes the playing cards game of play” if won and then release the hostage, if lost and then kill the stage, but can’t give up the game midway”. change homicidal devil king of the very much. the first time game, because bureau chief police brush-off, the hostage was kill, after, although the police carried on the game, because the game failure, the hostage that is…….ully in this bandit of, partic ipate to rob the case

i guess you can get lost in translation.

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one nice thing about living in hong kong (which probably also applies to japan and korea) is that crime is almost non-existent, especially relative to city areas of similar size in the states. i was talking to a client from london this past week about all of the problems with increasing crime in london – stabbings, car theft, bombings, muggings, etc. i realized i’ve started to take the relative worry-free nature of hong kong for granted. i don’t think twice about going down dark alleys at late hours, never really have to worry about alicia traveling by herself, never think about projecting an “air of confidence and purpose” as i’m walking so that bad people will think that if i go missing someone will be looking for me. i see kids running around large crowds or at the beach or on the playground without parents panicking that they will be kidnapped if they are not in direct sight.

this is not to say that everything is perfect here in that sense; i’m sure that bad things still occur. it’s just nice to not have to think about as much. i only hope that i don’t lose all my “street-smart skills” (assuming they existed) for the times when i am back in the danger zone.

Well, it’s about time for me to post something on this blog. We just got back from a one day holiday at the Intercontinental hotel. It was a great get-away from the bustle of the island and it was nice to eat some fantastic meals. We had true fatty US steaks (very scarce in HK) and this morning an amazing breakfast buffet. In fact, I think I might come back just for breakfast, sometime. We also spent some time lounging at the pool and listening to some Asian music that I suppose is supposed to make you feel like you are in an exotic country. A fabulous way for R&R if you don’t have time to fly out to Ko Samui or Cebu.

Last night we were fortunate to FINALLY catch the light/laser show. Of all the years I have lived in HK I never saw it once! Apparently it is in the Guiness Book of World Records for being the largest synchronized light show (accompanied by music). It was awesome! I think it puts The Peak to shame.

we met dad and andrew for dinner last night at the cafe. it’s a great little european feel place around the corner from the apartment. the owners and staff are really nice, and they’ve provided plenty of meals for us on late nights. most nights they’re open until 2am, so it covers our schedules well.

andrew heads back to the states today, where mom will pick him up in san francisco before they head back to logan. he just turned 16, so any of you who will be on the roads while he’s getting his license, you may want to keep an eye out! actually, i have a feeling he’s spent plenty of time behind the wheel in video games – do you think that it will make any difference?

speaking of which, i remember a conversation where i told alicia that my experience playing counter-strike had increased my peripheral vision and trained me to recognize the capabilities of a small arsenal of weapons. if there was ever an urban conflict where i had to do something heroic, at least i would have some idea of where to start, right? she just laughed and shook her head.

seriously though, i really believe that some of these games can teach valuable lessons. for example, in the case of multiplayer online games, you often are a member of a team where you must instantly bond enough to form a strategy, lead an attack, defend against other attackers, and complete an objective. this requires some social skills, planning, mastery of personal strengths and recognition of weaknesses. many of these skills directly correlate with business principles. here’s a recent wired article which discusses the impact of video games on iq.

people here seem to be very giving when it comes to charities, beggars, etc. it’s very common, especially on saturdays, to see several people outside each mtr station or crowded flyover with sheets of donor stickers and a cloth bag full of pocket change. i’ve been through my fair share of world cities and seen a variety of techniques for asking for money from total strangers. here, it usually consists of volunteers dressed in brighter colors, with a smile on their face, walking in 10 foot circles. If you happen to come alongside while the circle is close to you, the volunteer walks with you for 5 or 6 steps to see if you’re interested. if not, the circle moves away from you and they are on to the next person. it’s kind of funny to watch when it’s not that crowded, as it just looks like 3 or 4 people smiling and walking in circles. even if i don’t necessarily support the cause, that’s enough to get a few dollars out of me.

we live on the edge of causeway bay, one of the most densely packed parts of hong kong. one benefit is the amount of transportation options we have. since we really do most of our traveling to and from work, we’ve experimented with the route a bit. here are the options:

1. bus. 100m from the door is a bus stop with 3 buses that put us each within a block and a half from the office. frequency: 10-15 minutes. price: $3.40 (US$0.45). door-to-door: 22 minutes.

2. mtr. a 10 minute walk from the door brings you to the door of the train at tin hau station. frequency: 3-4 minutes during commuter times. price: $4.60 (US$0.60). door-to-door: 23 minutes.

3. taxi. we live a block away from the place all the taxi drivers eat, so there is fairly strong taxi traffic. it still is a struggle though when it’s about 8:30 or when it’s raining. frequency: 1-20 minutes. price: $30 (US$4). door-to-door: 18 minutes.

there’s also a red mini bus, but it comes infrequently and speed depends on the driver.

since they are all fairly close in result, it usually becomes a question of how much we want to spend. there are also factors such as rain, humidity, tardiness, whether the bus has just come (no lines), traffic, and whether we are sharing a taxi. the mtr gives us more walking exercise, the bus more reading time, and a taxi either a few minutes of time to talk or some “alone time”.

a recent headline in the south china morning post spoke of a new hk$80 pay rise in the minimum wage for domestic helpers, the majority of whom are filipinas. what gets me about the article is the part where “bosses cry poor”. to put this into perspective, this article notes that the current wage is still lower than the pre-SARS level of about US$475, and the current rise is equivalent to about US$10. per month. that’s a 2.4% pay rise in salary. when you add in the fact that most of the domestic helpers are sending home close to 90% of their salaries in the form of remittances, the “it’s not fair” claim doesn’t seem to cut it.

i’m still trying to figure out the justifications for a dual class system – i guess you might have a similar effect in the US with illegal immigrant wages – but here the government is openly supporting the wage differential.

n.b. – i may be a little biaised in my mentality here for obvious reasons.

jonathan is on his way to new york today for a summer internship. he’ll be living close to here:

in brooklyn heights. i told him he should walk to work, but he doesn’t seem too excited about waking up before 7am, let along hoofing it across the brooklyn bridge to and from work.

i don’t feel too sorry for him, he’ll be close to great pizza and will be getting fantastic experience. alicia’s brother marc will be keeping him company too.

it’s been raining for a week and a half here. not too hot yet, but definitely feeling that lovely humidity. i remember when we first got here in january 2005 (winter) and how i was sweating every morning and evening when i walked between the apartment and the bus stop. now i wear a suit 6 days a week, although i’ve dropped the tie on some days.

we had a “red” rainstorm warning on friday – the sky turned really dark over the harbour and we had some enjoyable lightning displays. overall it’s generally dry enough though that we are doing ok.

for all those who missed it (i.e., everyone but ricka!) if you can’t view this, you may need to download the latest flash plugin here.

after all of this, i had to go through another application to become registered as a foreign lawyer in hong kong. i just received the news that everything was approved, and now i’m as official as i can get without taking a bunch more tests to become a hong kong lawyer. that’s at least 2 years away anyway.

inspiration

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it."

~ Steve Jobs

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