08 June 2013 @ 10:35 pm
GRRM needs to read some fanfic:

Also, hello!
11 December 2012 @ 10:40 am
We received a flyer for KFC in the mail yesterday. It has some items catering to local tastes that you might not find at the average U.S. KFC. For example, baked mashed potato with pineapple and sausage. Yum!

Most intriguing to me, however, is Imitation Shark Fin Soup. The clincher, which really goes without saying, is the Imitation.

Of course this directly leads to today's fake poll.

Would you try KFC's Imitation Shark Fin Soup?

a) yes! please send me a box!
b) hmmm, maybe if someone else ordered it I'd taste it
c) no way! that sounds like a food not meant to exist
13 September 2012 @ 11:24 pm
It has been nearly two months since I posted, which is far too long. I miss the active LJ days. And it's a bit sad that people seem to be mostly drifting away, but not to any kind of equivalent service. Facebook and Twitter fall far short as mediums for conversations, really being broadcasting mediums rather than discussion mediums, and individual blogs miss the community aspect that made LJ great. At least the English speaking side, Russian LJ seems to be be a still-hopping place.

In any event, now that I've been in Hong Kong a couple months I decided it was time to update on life here, and compare it to Singapore.


I have written about food in Singapore multiple times. Singapore has the best food, by far, of any place I've ever lived or been to, and it's what I'm missing most in HK. I'm trying to accept HK food for what it is, instead of simply complaining about what it isn't. But it's been a harder adjustment than I expected.

If one is a fan of Cantonese-style Chinese food, then HK is the place to be. Of course Chinese cuisine overall is well-represented, as are Japanese and Korean. But, outside of Thai, Vietnamese, and, to a lesser extent, Philippines, Southeast Asian food is much less available. Either fewer and less varied restaurants (Malaysian and Indonesian) or a total lack of availability (Burmese and Peranakan). Which sucks because SE Asian cuisine is a favorite. I've been eating a lot of Vietnamese lately, I think just to be eating SEA, and Vietnamese doesn't even rank all that high for me among SEA.

Patricia is in Singapore for the next week and I'm jealous of what she'll be eating.

On the plus side, Philippine mangos are available here. I never could find them in Singapore. And unsweetened iced tea is much more widely available.


HK is a much harder place to live for someone who speaks only English than Singapore. In Singapore the language of instruction in schools is English, outside of Mother Tongue language classes for Chinese, Indian, and Malay ethnicities, so pretty much everyone under 50 or so spoke decent English.

But Cantonese is very much HK's first language. Yes, if you stick to the expat lifestyle, going to expat bars and restaurants and super markets and hanging out with expats and immigrants and ABCs and BBCs, you can get along just fine with only English. But that lifestyle only scratches the surface of HK. And, frankly, the stereotypical expat is a bit annoying.

Local restaurants might have an English menu that is far shorter than the Cantonese menu, sometimes with Westernized dishes and occasionally higher prices than the Cantonese menu. Addresses are often only in Chinese, and sometimes streets will have very different English and Chinese names.

Trying to coordinate a mover to deliver a bed was a pretty frustrating experience, between the language barrier and feeling like I'm automatically given higher prices. Next items up to arrange for delivery are a sofa and then a washing machine, and I'm already stressing about those.

Patricia found our flat, and she got a relatively big place in a great location at a great price.

I realize all this makes me sound privileged. There are certainly no lack of advantages that come from being a white man born in America, which helps keep things in perspective. But it does make me want to learn the language, especially if we're here long term. And I love Chinese calligraphy tattoos. But I've always thought you shouldn't get tattoos like that unless you actually know what they say. So that could be the push I need.

daily living

HK is about as expensive as Singapore (very!). Some things are cheaper (alcohol, taxis and public transport) and some things are more expensive (food, maybe rents). Overall, cost of living is probably a wash.

July and August were hotter than Singapore, but it does cool down in autumn and "winter", so I'm looking forward to that. There is more severe weather in HK, being exposed to the Pacific. About a month ago the strongest typhoon in more than a decade came through, which was pretty scary with 140 mph (220 km/h) winds and crazy driving rain.

HK has maintained a lot of undeveloped space, so hiking and mountain biking are popular, especially in cooler seasons. There are a lot of islands connected by ferries, for places to explore. For the most part I stick to Hong Kong Island during the week, where we livek. But we'll do day trips to other parts of HK on the weekend.


HK, despite now being under the control of PRC, has more political freedom than Singaporeans enjoyed. We've seen protests and public demonstrations that would never have been allowed in Singapore. The most recent has been student protests of National Education, decried as a Beijing attempt to brainwash HK children and whitewash less favorable parts of Chinese history (Tienanmen, Cultural Revolution, etc). As of now plans for National Education have been put on hold.

Hong Kongers seem to generally regard Beijing with suspicion. From what I gather one of the most distasteful aspects is the pushing of the idea that being Chinese means supporting one China with one national government and one national identity. I.e., the true Chinese would not believe in a Democratic and separate Taiwan.

There's also some resentment of mainlanders, that is Chinese from the PRC, in HK. Rich mainlanders buy property and supposedly drive up the price of housing, making it harder and harder for poor HKers to live, which exacerbates the already huge income inequality in HK. On the other hand, pregnant mainlanders come to HK to have children so that, under jus soli, the children can be HK citizens. Which strains HK hospitals and social services.

In many ways, HK feels like a separate country. HK has its own government and laws, its own police, its own immigration policy, its own currency, telephone country code, internet TLD, and the internet is not censored as it is in mainland China. HK even fields its own Olympics team!

There is more to say but I'm done for tonight.
15 July 2012 @ 12:30 am
Avatar: The Last Airbender is a shitty movie. A deeply shitty movie. Marred by bad direction, incomprehensible writing, poor acting, and amateurish editing. It is a disaster on nearly every level. Worse still, every other character on screen is more interesting than the titular protagonist.

Much has been said about the whitewashing of the cast; I have not seen the animated series but understand it has very heavy Asian influences (and appeared specifically to have Chinese influences to me). But whitewashing isn't the whole of the story. There are actually lots of Asian actors in the movie.

East Asian: many secondary and minor characters, most of whom are unnamed and do not have speaking roles.

South Asian: the bad guys.

White folks: the good guys.

It's like a return to 1920s and 30s Hollywood, where actors like Anna May Wong had to play second string to white actors in yellowface.

Not even sure what else to say about that.

See this movie!
Tags: ,
24 June 2012 @ 09:37 pm
Today I heard an old Chinese couple speaking fluent Portuguese.

Where in the world am I?
08 June 2012 @ 12:20 am
First the crown crust burger pizza and now this:

Pizza Hut hot dog stuffed crust pizza.

Why are all these amazingly hideous concoctions always in other countries where I cannot try them?


UK flisters: you know what you must do!
30 May 2012 @ 04:24 pm
Last night I finished watching Pushing Daisies (free streaming of both seasons with Amazon Prime). It was a good show, combining fantasy, semi-noir murder-mystery, and romance.

I'm a little bummed it didn't last longer, especially as some major issues weren't resolved, although the last episode is relatively satisfying. But I can see why it was unprofitable for the network: aborted first season due to writer's strike killing any momentum, and it had to be quite expensive to produce with elaborate sets and costumes, heavy CG, and being an hour long show.

Did anyone else watch (and enjoy!) the series?
23 May 2012 @ 11:45 am
Over the weekend I saw black bear, sea otters, river otter, sea lions, seals, bald eagles, Dall's porpoise, and a humpback whale.

Where in the world am I?
02 May 2012 @ 11:36 pm
I checked out this book from the library:

Affordable Home Design; Innovations and Renovations by Martha Torres

Inside the front cover was a piece of paper from a previous ILL request.

Courier Code: C370
Library Address: P.O. Box 300, Canon† City CO 81215

I like that the inmate at Arrowhead was dreaming big of his plans after release. Incidentally, Arrowhead, a minimum security facility, is located with in quite a picturesque environment.

The book itself was only okay. Many of these architectural home books have lots of pretty pictures and little real content regarding design, construction, materials, etc. And affordable in these books is only by the standards of very high-end custom homes, not affordable by average home buyer and builder standards. So that's a bit disappointing. Still, nice pictures.

† Actually Cañon City. I'm a little disappointed in the library's computer system here.
02 May 2012 @ 10:31 pm
This commercial sucks.

Dad's an idiot man-child and mom's been reduced to saying no to everything her family does. It'd be nice to portray a more balanced and nuanced family dynamic.
25 April 2012 @ 10:42 pm

You must check out Tee Fury's t-shirt of the day. Tee Fury shirts are only available for 24 hours (23:16 left at time of posting) so when 12AM eastern rolls around tomorrow this shirt will be gone. Shirts are only $10 + $2.50 S/H.

You are welcome for this act of fandom public service.


24 April 2012 @ 11:03 pm
This may be the most disgusting fast "food" creation I have ever seen:

More pictures here.

It's hypnotically hideous and, if I'm honest with myself, were I in the UAE I would try it.
listening//: my body / young the giant
19 April 2012 @ 09:31 pm
Today on Skype I received the best spam of my life.

Dear Friend,

Dear Friend, Although this proposal might come to you as a surprise, since it is from someone you do not know or have not seen before, but based on recommendation, trust and confidentiality I decided to contact you. First let me introduce myself to you, My name is Mr.David Ben, I am the regional bank manager  of the Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited. I am also the Financial Institutions and Public Sector Officer

I am 56 years of age and married with 3 lovely kids. It may interest you to hear that I am a man of PEACE and INTEGRITY; I only hope we can assist each other.

I have packaged a financial transaction that will benefit both of us, as the regional Auditor General of the Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited.; it is my duty to send in a financial report to my head office in the capital city Accra at the end of each year..

On the course of last year 2011 end of year report, I discovered that my branch in which I am the manager made an excess profit of 2.5 million us dollars which my head office are not aware of and will never be aware of.I have since placed this fund on what we call
SUSPENSE ACCOUNT without any beneficiary.

As an officer of the bank I can not be directly connected to this money, this is why I,m contacting you for us to work so that you can assist me and receive this money into your bank account for us to share.

Upon your acceptance of this proposal, I have generally agreed on this sharing ration 40% of the total sum will be given to you for your assistance upon the receipt of the funds in your account while 60% will be for me. Note that there are practically no risks involved in this transaction, it will be bank to bank transfer,all I need from you is to stand claim as the original depositor of this fund who made the deposit with Takoradi branch so that my Head office can order the transfer to your designated bank account. Such transfer from our head office takes not more than 72hrs. This kind of transfers is just like someone who banks in a particular bank and at a point in time wishes to close his or her account and transfer the funds to a different bank.

I assure you we can achieve it successfully if you can follow my instruction and direction. In your reply, please send the following information as underlined below:

1. Your full names:
2. Your phone number............
3. Your nationality.............
4. Your Age/Sex.................
5. Your occupation..............

Reply back to me via my alternative email:davidben579@yahoo.com

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,
Mr.David Ben

Decent grammar, few punctuation mistakes, and good story. Kudos, Mr.David Ben. I almost feel like writing him a congratulatory email. Plus it sounds like a good opportunity.