You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2008.

we finally found time to give rick a haircut yesterday.  as i asked him what he wanted to do (in terms of hair style), he surprised me with his answer.  “just cut it all down short”.  you sure?? i stammered, nervous of the result.

here it is.  it reminds me a bit of ‘prison break,’ but i really like it!

kai goes to the pool almost every day.  if we’re not careful, he will make a beeline for it without worrying about things like shoes, clothes, etc.  he has a swimsuit and lots of sunscreen to help protect him from the powerful hong kong uv exposure.  it’s been fun to watch him try to swim, blow bubbles, and splash around with the older kids.

i also included a couple of shots of alicia and kai – both my favorite people!

i love bmw.  hong kong is full of them, and i saw my first x6 the other day.  chris bangle really caused a stir when he took over a few years ago and started radically altering the 7-series design.  it was very controversial at the time, but i think even the most jaded enthusiasts have now accepted and potentially have even grown to love the new direction bmw took in breaking the mold of the whole lineup.

i came across a new concept car they are making here, and i think the idea is really revolutionary.  of course safety concerns are paramount, but bangle says that they can control this just as cheap plasticky cars still perform in crash tests relatively similarly to heavy metal cars.

check out the video and let me know whether you would drive a car with skins.

today i went out for an appointment.  i took a taxi down to the bus stop.  then a bus to my lunch appointment.  then the mtr (subway) to make a purchase.  then walked to meet alicia.  then 2 minibuses back home.

none of these modes of transportation used gasoline.

living here is such a contrast in many ways to our previous life in the states.  one advantage of having a small population (7 million) and a small border is the ability to maneuver, adopt and implement quickly.  this applies to technology in particular.

unfortunately, despite all of my alternative fuel transportation today, the factories across the border in the pearl river delta continue to belch out their pollution for our skies.

how many times have you gone to put together a presentation that you want to be dynamic, impactful and most of all – NOT boring?  it’s way too easy to throw up a powerpoint with bullet point lines that you will read and then explain.

you can find a lot of information out there about making your presentation short, simple and visually appealing.  add to that a dash of storytelling, audience interaction, and a personalized touch.

you should end up with something like this:

http://www.slideshare.net/jbrenman/shift-happens-33834

good luck!

or so they say.  i have a cold and have been busy conquering the world, so you’ll have to check these photos out as a placeholder until i post again.  around the house in repulse bay.

we recently noticed that the tap water coming through our brita filter has slightly yellow tinge.  this was confirmed when we drew kai’s bath and saw a more focused color.  ew.  after checking around, it seems this is considered safe (hmmm…) and results from the age of the pipes.  i’m not too worried, but we have transitioned to bottled water for most of our drinking needs.

in my travels i have seen many different levels of water cleanliness.  in italy we stayed near a lake that was considered to be the cleanest in europe.  one local resident told me that it is so clean, you can swim out 10 meters or so and drink it.  wow.  i remember being in egypt and watching a dead mule floating in a river lined with trash that two kids were bathing in.  i drank water that smelled like fish from a well in the philippines.  a common warning to me here is that i will be prone to balding because my head goes uncovered in the hong kong rain (made acidic by air pollution).

according to the economist, bottled water has developed into a 60 billion dollar industry.  why are people willing to pay for something that comes free from the tap or the ground?  i think most of this results from a perceived level of cleanliness and (more importantly) uncleanliness.  but the fact that we may be deciding between mineral or distilled while much of the world has no options is distrubing.

i came across a fantastic book, put out by blue planet run foundation.  it contains unbelievably moving images and some great education on water around the globe.  it is a fantastic coffee table book available from the website at $45, but we do not drink coffee or have a coffee table.  i do have a macbook though and fortunately it is available as a high resolution pdf e-book.  even better, amazon is offering it as a free download here.

images sourced from the book.
keeping the dirty water where it belongs

keeping the dirty water where it belongs

the answer to this really depends on your situation.  riding out a direct hit typhoon in your hong kong flat is totally different than getting smacked around by 130 kph winds and sideways rain in your nipa hut in the philippines.  the hong kong observatory issues warnings such as the following (appropriate for the current signal 3):

1. You are advised not to delay in taking all precautions
to protect your home or property. Make sure now that all
loose objects are secure. Porch furniture, flower pots and
other objects likely to be blown away should be taken
indoors. Check again and make sure all windows and doors
can be securely locked.

2. Since seas are rough, you are advised to stay away from
the shoreline and not to engage in water sports.

3. Fishing vessels not yet in typhoon shelters should seek
shelter without delay. Check again that all deck fittings
are firmly fastened. If available, heavy anchors should be
prepared and used in addition to regular anchors.

4. Listen to your radio, watch your TV or browse the Hong
Kong Observatory’s web site for information on the tropical
cyclone.

so really unless you are an extreme surfer, balcony gardener, sampan driver or window cleaner on ifc 2, there’s not a lot changing for you at the moment.  the typhoon signals in hong kong tell you how strong the wind is.  there are actually five levels of storm signals – 1, 3, 8, 9, and 10. these pertain to the strength of the wind and proximity of the storm. in the last few years we’ve been here, we have experienced a handful of 8’s and quite a few 1’s and 3’s. 9 and 10 are really destructive, and i have yet to experience those (and will be happy not to).

typhoon nuri's track

typhoon nuri's track

the last signal 8 we had a few weeks ago created some serious howling in the building. you can imagine a city full of extreme high rises getting slammed by high winds.  not a great time to relax in your 80th floor penthouse.  the gusts can get strong enough to break windows, and that’s where things really start to fall apart.  normally the power stays on, offices shut down and people go home, and everyone takes a little break.  actually the last part isn’t totally true – the internet slows to a crawl and the phone lines get all jammed, since people are still frantically working to connect with the rest of the world unaffected by the typhoon.

it looks like we’re on track for a direct hit tomorrow afternoon by typhoon nuri.  i figure i should put this up now in case we lose access.   will keep you posted on how things shape up around here.

update:  as of 7:40am, we are at signal 8.  i woke up to some howling gusts (and blueberry muffins!).  it’s looking pretty grey and wet.

update 2:  as of 1pm, we are still at signal 8.  i’m now aware of every non-sealed part of the flat, each of which is advertising itself to me by a high-pitched whistling sound.  a friend trying to fly out was invited to the airport by cathay pacific, and his flight was cancelled on his arrival – sounds like the airport is pretty much shut down for the next 12 hours.  water dripping off the roof flies down the side of the building very fast, only to fly up the side of the building second later.  this results in a curious flotation of droplets right outside the window.  like rain in space.  there is a large construction crane i can see that is swinging around – i guess it’s working like a weathervane so that it doesn’t come crashing down.  no people/cars in sight outside.

update 3:  as of 1:40pm, it is now signal 9.  my first ever.  we are now being warned to stay away from windows.  we are not that high up, but high enough that it makes me nervous to hear small rocks bouncing off the windows.  still on track for a direct hit.

update 4:  as of 6pm, we are in the eye of the storm.  it is eerily silent outside, with a misty rain falling and no wind.  the storm is pretty much directly on top of us at the moment.

update 5:  as of 7:30pm, the bottom half of the storm came in with a bang: two flower pots on the balcony (sheltered!) blew over with a smash.  will need to clean that up later.  winds are not as steady but stronger gusts.  nuri has several hours more to blow based on the timing of the storm’s first half.  i wonder where the birds go during these things?

update 6:  as of 10am, we are back to signal 1.  just a light drizzle now, but lots of debris on the road, in the pool, on the balcony, etc.  total damage consists of two broken flowerpots.  there were some injuries as a result of the storm – a surfer went missing, a man had a glass ceiling fall on him, and around 70 other people were treated for injuries.  this was the first signal 9 in five years.

a lurker is like a wallflower.  it’s a person who reads, but does not contribute.  does not post.  does not comment.  does not reply.  this, for some, is one of the virtues of the internet.  the ability to anonymously digest information without anyone knowing (except maybe big brother).

[this is one of the reasons why i struggle with blogging.  how do i know who is really reading all of this information?  how much do i want to share online – more or less than i share offline?  if you really think about it, there is an opposing level of anonymity in my personal information generation.  although much of what i post may be personal to me, does it really affect me if someone in moldova or madagascar or mexico or myanmar is reading it?]

rejoice because posterous is here.  why does this affect you?  maybe you are a lurker.  you enjoy reading but can’t really find the time to post.  maybe you post, but can’t find the time to manipulate your blog so that it looks the way you want it.  maybe you have time for manipulation, but only get around to posting once a month (or less – you know who you are!).  maybe you can’t be bothered with all of this crazy technology since email took years to master.

enter posterous.  hands down, this is the most frictionless blogging technology out there today.  you start by emailing a message to post@posterous.com.  the subject becomes your post title, and the text becomes the content of your post.  a new blog is created instantly for you – no signup necessary.  each succeeding post can be created the same way.  want pics?  attach them to your email and watch as they are instantly laid out in a great looking image gallery.  music?  your mp3 files appear in an easy-to-use embedded player.  include a youtube url and a player is automatically embedded.  think about it – you can use your blackberry to create posts without web access.  users in the us (to be expanded internationally) can sms a post via short code.

and in a bid to help you aggregate any existing services you use, you can also tweak the settings to have your posts auto-copied to blogger, wordpress, twitter, flickr, etc.

here’s a great sample post for you to look at starring michael phelps.  head over to posterous.  take it for a spin.  tell your lurker friends.  and let me know what you think.

everyone’s talking about it, and i hope he makes it past his olympic moment of fame.  unbelievable athlete with a crazy diet (12,000+ calories a day!).  i know a lot of you readers are on a time delay, so in case you missed any of the eight big gold medal moments, check out this 60 second clip courtesy of mahalo daily.

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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