Hong Kong

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The Anti-Christ nears?

Filed in Current Affairs, General, Hong Kong

Many many years ago when I was still a young person growing up in Australia, a New Zealand evangelist by the name of Barry Smith used to make the rounds of the churches preaching about the future of the world. In very basic terms, his message was the usual "repent or die with everyone else". Many people did convert and become Christians at the time but the end of the world didn't come. However, Barry's message was much more than simply that the world was coming to an end. He included many specifics, his (divine?) interpretation of the prophecies found within the bible. A few of his specifics may have been wrong but many were correct although they occurred much later than he had predicted. You can't fault him on that. Throughout history, many evangelists and foretellers of doom were very enthusiastic to see the end of the world sooner rather than later. Even now, we really can't be sure how close the end is, and if it will in fact actually occur.

In any case, some of Barry's specifics were correct. One in particular was that Europe would become the world power after unification. He also predicted according to the bible that a few more nations would join the E.U. He was much more specific than "a few" but I don't have his book on hand to refer to. In any case, the Euro is now worth far more than the USD which makes sense if you are aware that the U.S.A. is in fact in extreme debt and has been since the early 60's after people from the Bank of England were able to get into the U.S.A. and influence the way the Federal Reserve works. Extreme debt is probably not the best word to use. Broke would be the better word. But if a country is in debt or if it's broke, then someone owns it by virtue of the debts, so who owns the U.S.A.? The Bank of England and its owners. Come to think of it, the money part of this prose didn't come from Barry. It came from another book about the history of money. If anyone is interested, I could locate the book and publish its name for you.

Barry also predicted that governments would introduce money denominations in odd sizes and shapes to confuse their citizens. The ultimate goal was to introduce electronic money as soon as possible. In Australia, they introduced smallish one dollar coins, and even smaller two dollar coins. Some people might explain that this is a reflection to inflation but you can always dilute the metal content of a coin so the size shouldn't be a direct result of its metallic content. In Hong Kong, the government introduced a ten dollar coin to replace the ten dollar note only to re-introduce the ten dollar note again later. The ten dollar coin is smaller than a five dollar coin, and to add to the confusion, the government released new editions of paper denominations whose colors likened the colors of other nominations. The color of the twenty dollar bill is similar to the color of the original ten dollar bill. Confusion reigns supreme, especially in the dark when you're paying the taxi driver. (I once gave a taxi driver a five hundred bill instead of a one hundred bill by mistake and the driver happily accepted the four hundred dollar bonus without a single syllable of surprise or an attempt to pay back the correct change)

So where is this all going? There's a lot more that can be discussed and there are countless books out there that talk about various current and futuristic developments but my point today relates to the death of the Pope.

One of Barry's points discussed the Pope. According to the bible, the number of popes was counted, metaphorically of course. Near the end of the world (well actually at least a thousand years before the the destructive end of the world if you include the thousand years of Christ-reigned peace), a pope would die, another would take his place but not survive long. This pope in turn would be replaced by one who would turn out to be the anti-Christ. The question therefore is how long will the next pope last? I'll be watching even though he might last five or even ten years. In any case, if he dies prematurely; possibly by gunfire; it'll be a sure sign that the future is near, one filled at first with wonder and peace and then followed by world war, the last and the most real of the religious wars of all time.

People will be fooled by the anti-Christ because he'll introduce amazing cures and treatments for illnesses and ailments of all kinds (probably including AIDS), and he'll introduce world peace. That won't be difficult given that government agencies hold many technological secrets within their vaults, and given that the government agencies sponsor most of the war factions out there. One word from the true world leader and all these can be used to seemingly and miraculously bring peace and well-being to the world.

In any case, we'll have to wait and see. As I said before, people have always foretold that the end was near and it never happened. It might be another case of "the sky is falling" and only time will tell.

One other thing that Barry mentioned which is of particular importance in my part of the world refers to communism. Barry said that communism would only appear to go away. It would in fact go to sleep until a time at which it would awaken with more strength than ever more. The Chinese government is truly the subject of this foretelling. While pretending that it's becoming more and more open every day, and that democracy is a possibility, it will in fact always remain communist and it gets stronger by the day. It is however not communist in the true sense of the word. With true communism, every one shares in the profits of the community. With China communism, only party members share in the profits of the community.

For now though, I'll keep my eyes on the new pope.

Multitasking; ie, using the phone while driving.

Filed in Current Affairs, General, Hong Kong

There's a good article over at CNET News.com about Attention Deficiency Trait (ADT). I've seen similar symptoms in my own life. For example, I tend to work on multiple tasks at home; including home repairs; at the same time, moving from one task to the next until they're all finished. I have a hard time completely finishing one task before beginning with the next.

People claim they can talk on the phone while driving. I don't see it. I have tried it, even with hands-free accessories, and for me personally, it is simply not possible to perform both tasks as the same time and be aware of working on each task at the same time. If I focus on what the voice coming out of the phone is saying, my driving goes into auto-pilot mode. If I place extra focus on my driving, for example while driving through a round-about, then I don't really hear (as opposed to 'listen') what the voice on the phone is saying.

As Doctor Edward Hallowell says in the interview; You're brain literally can't multitask. You can't pay attention to two things simultaneously. You're switching back and forth between the two. So you're paying less concerted attention to either one. I particularly like the word concerted.

The message? Don't use the phone while you drive, and use an answering service or a secretary when possible so that you can complete the task at hand without interruption.

Driving slower in HK

Filed in General, Hong Kong

Driving is a part of the culture that is Hong Kong. Most people don't drive because they cannot afford to buy a car, and public transport is pretty good even if it is controlled by government and large corporations with self-pointed motives. I have driven in Hong Kong for most of the 18 years that I've lived here and am now very used to it. That doesn't mean that driving here is easy for me but just that it's familiar.

When you drive in Hong Kong, one of the first things you realise is the attitude of other drivers. In particular, everyone seems to be in a rush. It's more noticeable when you return from a relaxing holiday as I just did. After driving in Queensland Australia for two weeks, driving here in Hong Kong just really got on my nerves. The worst thing about it though is that the rush attitude is contagious so even if you intend to take it easy and remind yourself that rushing might not even get you to your destination any faster, you'll still eventually end up rushing anyway. It's extremely difficult to avoid.

To increase the pressure of driving even more is the fact that there are now other things you can do while driving. The mobile phone probably takes first place in this category, allowing people to communicate and work while they're driving. I have friends who claim that talking on the phone does not affect their driving but I can't believe that. Personally, even with a hands-free accessory, it is still impossible to devote the majority of my attention to my driving while trying to listen, interpret and understand what the person on the phone is saying. Maybe I'm just dumber than the average driver. Who knows?

One thing we hope not to see when driving is traffic jams. This is a big city and despite the cost of car ownership, there are a lot of drivers here. Traffic accidents are going to happen whether you like it or not. What is especially curious though is how accidents on the other side of the road can affect the traffic on your side of the road. As the cars pass by the accident site, everyone slows down to get a good look at the cars involved in the accident. How many cars were involved? Was anyone hurt or killed? How much debris is there, and so forth. As soon as you get past the accident, the traffic speeds up again really quickly.

I also find it curious that one car stopped on the side of the road with a flat tire can cause three lanes of traffic to slow to a crawl. Surely those two extra lanes of traffic can handle all of the traffic for a short while without impeding speed too much.

And talking about things that slow down traffic in Hong Kong, I have to include street lights and rain. Almost every street and road in Hong Kong has lights and Hong Kong drivers are used to having those lights. So when the lights go out for whatever reason, or if perchance the people have to drive on streets without any lights, they slow down; a lot. On a major freeway running between Kowloon and Lowu on the Chinese border, the speed limit is for the most part 110km/hr. On a normal night, most people will drive at 110km/hr and a few will drive faster. If the lights are off though, most people will drop their speed to just 80 or 90km/hr. They are simply not used to driving without street lights.

If it rains, most people drop their driving speed a lot too. Usually, this is obviously a good thing because it reduces the number of accidents. Sometimes, it's not necessary though and being a driver from Australia where we are used to driving in whatever weather at whatever time, it can be a little frustrating. I have to admit though that there have been a few times when I've driven in rain so heavy that it was not possible to see more than 50 feet in front of the car. In such weather, you can only hope and pray that there aren't any clueless drivers in front of you neglecting to turn their lights on. Without their tail lights on, it's almost impossible to see them.

More about driving in Hong Kong later.

Driving slower in HK

Filed in General, Hong Kong

一路行一路練台詞。風景、天氣、環境 - 正!
焦媛實驗劇團製作 @perrychiupcet
2018年2月2-3日 晚上8點
2018年2月3-4日 下午3點
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home: www.perrychiu.com

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‘Park-anywhere-you-like’ day

Filed in General, Hong Kong

Today is one of the few days in the year that you can park your car anywhere you like. Unlike other countries like Australia and the U.S.A., people can only park their cars in designated stretches of the road. If the sign does not say "Parking", then you can't park there; period.

So what's so special about today? It's the Chinese New Year. For four days, people don't have to go to work. They get to spend time with their friends and family and relax or get bored as the case may be.

There are a few traditions associated with Chinese New Year; the giving and receiving of Lai Sees, money enclosed in fancy, normally red, envelopes; the burning of strings of tens, sometimes hundreds of banger fireworks; huge crowds gathering to watch the government financed fireworks display in the harbour; walking through the flower markets the night before New Year, and the meeting and gathering of friends and family.

It's all a lot of fun. We don't do all of these things. We hear the explosions of bangers going off in our village, usually just after midnight to celebrate the new year, and our dogs hear them too almost certainly responding with lots of barking much to the annoyance of others in the house trying to sleep. We didn't walk through the flower markets this year and we didn't go to see the fireworks display. We did visit with family and friends though and to me, that's the most important tradition of the Chinese New Year.

We visited my wife's father on Cho Yi, the first day of the new year. We also visited the 'super doctor' who treated my wife's mother for more than a year before she died of diabetes complications. And today, friends will be coming to our home for dinner. It's a great time of the year if only for this gathering of friends and family. It's unfortunate but even Christmas doesn't measure up in this aspect. For as long as I can remember, Christmas was always about family and never about friends. With Chinese New Year, everyone is involved.

And that brings us to the 'park-anywhere-you-like' day. The police understand that people everywhere will be driving all over Hong Kong to visit with family and friends and therefore are especially lenient about parking in non-parking areas. You can even park on the sidewalk if there is no space on the road. This only happens for the first two or three days of the year so make the most of it.

Happy Chinese New Year to all.

Gongxifacai    Shentijiankang

USD. I feel the pain.

Filed in Current Affairs, General, Hong Kong

I have a 200GB external hard disk which has developed serious media problems. A surface scan of the disk produced more than 900 bad blocks with 2 million blocks remaining to be scanned. After three days of scanning, I cancelled the scan. The Maxtor Diamond Plus is less than 2 years old but because it's an OEM, the warranty is only 1 year. Consider carefully before you purchase an expensive OEM external drive. It might be cheaper to buy a lower capacity drive and swap the bare drive for a full-warranty high capacity drive yourself.

Anyway, I had a quandary. The 200GB drive contains full resolution film scans of many of my photographs. The thing which many people tend to forget these days is that digital media can evaporate before your eyes and there's no way to get the material back, whether it be Word files, your favourite music (Apple iTunes music store) or your memories. A lot of people are backing up to CD or DVD believing the hype that the media will last for 10 to 20 years not realising that there are different grades of media, that CDs don't last as long as DVDs, that DVD+RWs don't last as long as DVD+Rs and that with temperature changes and exposure to light, NONE of these are certain to last over time.

The solution for me was to purchase a hard drive unit with RAID 5 capabilities. For those of you not in the computer business, such a unit is made up of 4 or more individual hard drives with the data shared among all four of them. If one of the drives dies, the unit keeps working and supplying your data. You can often switch the dead drive out without even turning off the unit and the unit will automatically rebuild the new drive with the data that would have been on the old drive. These units used to be very expensive but prices have come down a long way.

After some research, I decided on the "Lacie 800 Bigger Drive with RAID". A 1TB (ie, 1000 GB) unit would cost me around USD1,500 which is not too bad for that much storage and for the peace of mind it would give me. In addition, it sports FireWire 400, 800 and USB 2 connections so it would serve me well for many years to come.

I asked my friendly local Hong Kong reseller for a quote. The unit is not due for release until the middle of February so the price could not be finalised but he estimated about HKD16,000; ie, USD2,000! Why the price discrepancy? The Hong Kong government has decreed that all imported electronics must be grounded. The power plugs must have three prongs. Unfortunately, the USA is not as stringent so many appliances there are supplied without the grounding prong. The same apparently is true for the Lacie 800 Bigger Drive. Consequently, my reseller who happens to be the Hong Kong Lacie distributor has to get the drive from the Lacie head office in France.

The Euro is EXPENSIVE! Remember that the Hong Kong dollar is currently pegged to the US dollar. If the US dollar depreciates, so does the Hong Kong dollar. So if European product is expensive for US citizens, you can be sure that it's expensive for us in Hong Kong too.

So what to do. At USD2,000, I feel the unit's a little too expensive for this at-home user. I'll probably just swap out the faulty Maxtor drive for a better and larger Seagate Barracuda (with 5 years warranty ;-) and make regular backups to DVD+RW. Did I mention that DVD+RW is not absolutely reliable?

I wonder which lawyers will be getting filthy rich in a few years time when multiple class-action suits are brought against the CD-R manufactures for false promises of 10 to 20 years shelf life?

USD. I feel the pain.

Filed in Current Affairs, General, Hong Kong

我地今早喺邊? Where are we this morning?

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A wet day in HK

Filed in General, Hong Kong

It feels like we're living in a cloud. The floor takes a long time to dry after being mopped, and envelopes of just-delivered mail are dampish and soft. In Hong Kong, this weather phenomenon doesn't usually occur until the beginning of Spring. In fact, it is normally the accepted indication that Spring has begun. But we're still in Winter and this 'cloud' weather is already here. It's not normal.

For the past few weeks, the weather has wavered between being cool and extremely dry, to being damp as it is today. It's the perfect weather for colds and flu, and many of my acquaintances have already come down with something. I myself caught a slight case of the flu from our Indonesian maid. She was coughing pretty badly for a few days, although the doctor-prescribed medicine did help to relieve the coughing a little. My flu begin with a slight burning pain in my throat. Thankfully, it never developed into a full-blown sort throat. I had a runny nose for a few days, waking up with flam in my chest. I almost never coughed, and my throat never lost its layer of protective mucus. I'm almost completely recovered now, just in time for a quick performance I have to give during the Chinese New Year a week or so away.

Others are not so lucky, and many people fear the flu, especially after the SARS outbreak a couple of years ago. Flu vaccinations are being advertised and people are preparing themselves. As has been the case for the last couple of years, the doctors and scientists are hoping that the forecast Asia Flu epidemic doesn't happen soon.