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SPCA Angels for Animals nomination

Filed in Dogs of our Lives

遠道由澳洲而嚟嘅特產 - “我”,今次專程上到丹麥名產 呢架可能係世界上最好嘅的士,為嘉士伯fans提供港式「吹水」服務,仲介紹各款地道港式食物,話俾大家知究竟香港可以幾國際化得嚟又本土。立即上我Facebook睇full version啦!

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可唔可以有澳式魚蛋

SPCA Angels for Animals nomination

Filed in Dogs of our Lives

My wife and I have been nominated as SPCA Angels for Animals this year. We will be talking about our pet and animal relationships at Tai Po on August 7, 2005.

I have made comments about the SPCA is past articles. Those comments are unfortunately true, but I have been able to talk to various people at the SPCA and have found out more about what happens at the SPCA and why with regards to abandoned animals. I'll write more about this later.

Ouch!

Filed in Current Affairs, Hong Kong

The price of petrol has just gone up in Hong Kong; again. We're now paying HK$12.66 per litre for normal grade petrol and HK$13.44 for high grade petrol. It's very expensive here but the oil companies don't mind increasing the price every chance they get anyway.

The latest excuse for increasing the price was the world wide cost of oil which recently hit US$61 per barrel, possibly the most expensive it's ever been. It's good and it's bad.

Caltex & Esso

It's good because it means that people will be more conscientious about the cars they buy and how much petrol they consume. It's good because more people will begin buying hybrid cars which are more environmentally friendly but still a little more expensive than a straight petrol burning car. It's good because institutions and companies working on engines that burn water rather than petrol will have more funding and more opportunities to finish their developments and release the final product onto the market.

It's bad because it's affecting the world economy. With higher oil prices, the only winners are the oil distributors and drilling companies. Everyone else loses. Companies' profits decrease. People have to spend more on petrol leaving less for other purchases. Overall, people have less to spend and that hurts the economy and everyone working within the economy. That's why the stock market is still not returning to healthy normal levels; although healthy might not be the proper word to use for a market where almost every company is over-rated.

Current petrol prices For years, we have heard rumours of people, inventors and companies who have worked on alternative engines, who have made progress and then been either bought out by the oil cartels or assassinated by the oil cartels when they refused to sell their inventions. Today's world is probably twenty years behind what it could have been in technological advancement if all of the world's inventions were allowed to be used and produced, including countless inventions not related to engines. Has anyone heard of the light bulb invented in Japan that doesn't burn out? No replacements needed. That was bought out real quick.

Another rumoured invention was that of an advanced passenger aircraft invented by a scientist in Holland, apparently for the U.S. government. The aircraft used advanced technologies to fly from Europe to the U.S. in just a few hours. That kind of invention wouldn't last long in today's world though. With all of the airlines heavy in debt paying large mortgages on their current aircraft, the last thing they'd want to see is a new airline using planes that can fly four times faster for the same price. They'd all be out of business quicker than you can fry an egg, and the banks holding their mortgages definitely wouldn't like that. Boeing wouldn't like it either and since they're best friends with the U.S. government, nothing that could hurt Boeing's earnings would be allowed onto the market without a major war.

HK$12.66 is a lot of money to pay for petrol. Our car is a very comfortable albeit slightly ageing car with a three litre engine. To drive my wife to work in the morning costs around HK$83 including tunnel fees. That's a little shocking. It's no wonder smart people use the public transport here when they can. Add to that the cost of parking should you want to park your car at or near the office and you'd need to be a millionaire to survive through the year.

As a rule, there is no free parking in Hong Kong unless you're in the countryside. Parking in the city costs anywhere from HK$20 to HK$30 and more per hour. A few car parks even charge HK$50 per hour. That's a lot of money. During SARS and the economic depression, people stopped driving so competition began increasing among car parks. Consequently, a few things occurred. First, the hourly fee came down; just a little. Second, the car parks began using deceptive advertising. Their fee boards at the car park entrance would show the fee in large friendly letters. It was only after turning into the car park enough that you couldn't back out again that you would discover that the large friendly fee was per half hour, not per hour. It's now common for all car parks to advertise half hour fees rather than hourly fees. In some ways, it's good for the drivers because we can pay per half hour rather than per hour. Overall however, it's still more expensive than it used to be. Some car parks are now charging per quarter hour with a minimum charge of one hour. That gets rather complicated to calculate if you're in a hurry.

The charge-per-half-hour method used by the car parks is similar to the deceptive pricing methods used by the local supermarket chains, most notably ParknShop; owned and run by the infamous Li Ka Shing. They frequently put products on 'special'. If they change the prices frequently enough, people lose track and begin to think the prices really are special when they've actually been increased. My wife and I only buy a few things from ParknShop so we have excellent mental tracking of the prices. For some products, we watch for the fair dinkum discounts and then buy enough to last until the next discount; for example, washing powder and long life milk (fresh milk is way too expensive here).

Everybody loves to increase their prices. The local banks just announced service charge increases due to 'increasing operation costs' even though they continue to profit billions of dollars every year (which is why we keep our savings in bank equities rather than bank accounts). Oil companies increase their prices all the time, usually in response to crude oil price fluctuations. Unfortunately for us, they almost never decrease their prices, even when the crude oil prices fall. Anyone want to guess what the oil companies will do should the crude oil price come back down to US$50 per barrel?

Terrorism in London.

Filed in Current Affairs

The bombing in London has been very high profile news all around the world. It's not surprising. Bombs going off in the middle of London; and more than one bomb at the same time; is very disturbing for most of us. If it happened in the middle of Iraq, we wouldn't think much of it even though we should. After all, lives anywhere in the world are lives and as such are valuable no matter who or where they are. The important aspect about the bombing in London though is the information being provided by the governments and the media.

In acting class, one of the things we are told to remember is that nothing is as it seems. Stereotypes should be avoided. Not all fat people are slow runners. Not all black people have excellent singing voices or are amazing athletes. Not all caucasians eat bread every meal of the day, or even potatoes every meal of the day. And not all politicians are corrupt although it can be difficult to find one who is not.

As soon as the bombs went off in London, we heard that they were planted by terrorists. I would have to agree with this. Anyone who plants and detonates bombs in areas populated by people is a terrorist, whether that person is your friendly neighbourhood priest or even an officer in the national military. Terrorism was a certainty, but then everyone assumed that the terrorists were from the Middle East; Bin Laden's people or Islamic militants or something else of that nature. Unfortunately, everyone today has established a stereotype when it comes to terrorism, and that stereotype is that all terrorism is the product of Middle East non-Christian groups.

It's rather sad that we believe these reports without question. The same governments that cheat the average citizen every day of the year with new promises that will never be fulfilled, or with new laws to take our birthrights away from us for the benefit of the corporations and other rich people, or with new expensive projects apparently to enhance our lives but actually to profit their friends; the same governments that listen to most of our phone conversations, read most of our faxes, audit almost everything we write on the internet and run random checks on our incomes and finances; these are the governments that we trust without second guessing when they tell us that Middle East terrorist groups are behind the bombings.

Well think about the following possibilities, and they are just that; possibilities. They might not be true. They probably aren't true, but they could be.

The C.I.A. of the U.S. government is working for someone other than the U.S. government, and their goal is ultimate control of the world. The C.I.A. and the government needs all citizens to trust it and obey its every command without question. To do this, their greatest weapon is fear. In fear, the citizens will stop thinking for themselves. They'll believe anything that is fed to them, especially from the government who supposedly is trustworthy and looking out for them.

To install fear, the C.I.A. finances groups in non-Christian regions of the world to begin battles and war in their territories, and terrorism throughout the world, normally only when and where they are instructed to by the C.I.A. Religious wars are always easier to believe. History is filled with them, so it only makes sense that the C.I.A. would seek non-Christian groups to pretend to be terrorists.

On an increasing scale, the C.I.A. instructs their terrorist groups to bomb Christian countries, especially in high-density metropolitan areas. It is rumoured that 911 was pay-back to Bush for not being nice to his rich oil friends in the Middle East. It is however also possible that the C.I.A. planned the bombing.

You have to realise that the twin towers were specifically designed to withstand the collision of an aircraft. It was stated in the building specifications. The C.I.A. had planned the attack allowing for the possible loss of three, maybe five floors of the towers. They never imagined that both towers would collapse completely. It would have been as much a shock to them as it was to anyone else around the world. Of course, they'd have to pretend they didn't know about it and create a story to cover their backs as quickly as possible, but they're very good at this, having had many years to perfect the art of falsification and fabrication. If the C.I.A. didn't plan the attack, how did the planes make it to the towers without interception?

Unfortunately, most U.S. citizens are going to believe the C.I.A. and the U.S. government. It would be almost impossible for them not to believe. It is almost exactly the same as a woman who after twenty years of happy marriage discovers that her husband has had a regular affair for ten years, or that her husband is in fact gay. That woman feels extreme disbelief because her whole life was built around the trust she had in her husband and her marriage. That woman will feel disorientated, betrayed, stupid, confused, ashamed and enraged because to her, it was simply not possible for her husband to be untrue (this after I've told everyone to avoid stereotypes). In the same way, the citizens of the U.S. would never believe that their own government bombed them, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands of people. It would mean questioning everything they had lived for, everything they believed, and everything they knew. It's easier to simply believe the government, no matter how questionable their explanations are.

911 gave the U.S. government and the C.I.A. something they had been after for a long time; the excuse to serialise every citizen in the country, and a population finally willing to accept the serialisation without question. After all, who was going to stand up in front of the people of the U.S. and oppose serialisation when the government was promoting serialisation as a sure-fire method of preventing terrorism and catching terrorists before they had a chance to cause any more grief? No one.

In England, the powers that be needed the same thing, an excuse to serialise the nation, and a population willing to accept the serialisation. The recent bombings will help to this end but they won't be enough. Photographs and reports throughout the internet show that Londoners continued with their daily lives less than twelve hours after the bombings. They're not scared yet; just nervous. If the C.I.A. and their bosses are going to succeed, there'll be more 'terrorism' in England before too long.

Now everything that I've just said could be true. It could also be completely fictional without a shred of truth. Nobody except the agencies and the governments know the truth and they'll never divulge it to us. They want to control us, not befriend us and definitely not serve us.

If you get anything out of this article, it's that you need to question everything you hear. We'll never know the absolute truth but if you think about everything you're told instead of accepting it without question, then there's still hope for all of us, hope that the good guys will in the end win.

Vinegar, Not so ordinary.

Filed in Food & Drink, Miscellaneous

vinegar Vinegar . Everyone has vinegar in their kitchen. It's a common ingredient in many foods and I for one like it. Many Chinese people like it too, especially the red kind when it's added to 蝦餃 or . Yum!

But vinegar has other uses that many people are not aware of.

As a cleaner, it's very useful. If you have an old kettle or a water heater, you've probably noticed the blackening inside. You can clean this quite simply by pouring diluted vinegar into the kettle and letting it soak for half an hour or so. The black will disappear and the kettle will look new again.

We use thermostatic controlled taps (衡溫水龍頭) on our shower. With this tap, you set the relative temperature with the right knob and set the water volume with the left knob. The water here in Hong Kong is quite dirty, and even though we have central filtering on our incoming water, the thermostatic parts still gather rust and minerals from the water over a period of time, rust and minerals which gradually affect the tap's ability to control the water temperature properly. The solution is to take the thermostatic parts out of the tap every three months or so, and soak them in full strength vinegar for an hour. All of the rust and minerals are eaten away from the brass/copper thermostatic parts and it's as good as new; no scrubbing necessary.

On occasion, our dogs misbehave or bark too much. If they're especially naughty or they're intent on ignoring us, we can spray diluted vinegar in their direction. Dogs' noses are very sensitive to the vinegar so they'll quickly take notice. For those of you with dogs, the correct way to do this is to use 1:1 diluted vinegar in a spray bottle. When you need to correct the dog, say "no" and spray the vinegar near the dog's nose. By doing both of these things at the same time, the dog will associate the word 'no' with something unpleasant and will quickly learn the meaning of the word. Be sure to use a stern certain voice when you say the word "no". Try not to spray the vinegar at the dog or into its face. The vinegar might hurt the dog's eyes.

thermotap

We recently began using the vinegar for another purpose here at home. My wife has developed a serious alergic reaction to mites and has been covered with extremely itchy hives for days on end. The itching really irritates her so we had to find a solution. In Australia, vinegar has been used for years to relieve itching caused by jelly fish stings so I thought I'd try it here. We diluted the vinegar 1:1 and placed it into a spray bottle. We then sprayed it on the hives. At first, my wife feels a stinging sensation and tenses up with the stinging pain, but then the pain goes away and with it the itching. She feels better again, at least for an hour or so, enough perhaps to get to sleep.

So the next time you see vinegar in the supermarket, remember that it's far more useful than just a food ingredient.

My promotion

Filed in Current Affairs

( Fiction; ie, it's imagined, made up, invented, sort of, and it's not about me! )

eight fifteen a.m. just enough time to say my prayers before going to the office, only if we cut across the lanes into the exit though. if we had to go all the way down to the bottom and back up the other side to get to the car park entrance, I'd be late for work. crossing the white lines may be illegal but I can afford the fines.

prayers are all done. time to get to the office. things have changed a lot recently. I thought I'd be retiring soon. had to get that big project all organised so that I'd have a decent salary to fall back on after retirement. if it wasn't for all those noisy buggers complaining about the way the project was set up for bidding, it would've been finished by now too. oh well, doesn't matter anymore now that I've got this big promotion coming up. I'd dreamed about it but just didn't think it'd actually happen, or come so soon. all that shoe polishing finally paid off.

some of the shareholders really don't want to see me promoted but it'll happen anyway. I've heard from top management that all eight hundred shareholders will be contacted directly and asked about their nomination intentions. if they don't nominate me, their personal business prospects will be dubious. I'd like to see their faces when they begin receiving those phone calls. aren't open ballots great?

nominations went through. not a single nomination for any other candidate. no way the promotion's going to anyone else now. still got to make it look official though so I'll have to look surprised and happy when I 'officially' hand in my nomination application, all prettied up in that nice blue box with a ribbon around it. my secretary did a good job with that. not bad at all. it'll look good on tele.

promotion's official. I begin work in the new position today. this'll be fun but I'll have to work out something to keep the nay-sayers and trouble-makers in line. I'm sure top management have their opinions and methods, and my friends should have more than a few suggestions that'll help too. at least I don't have to worry about my salary anymore. this position pays top dollar and the additional investments I'll be able to make will guarantee a comfortable retirement when I'm ready for it.

this'll be an interesting four years indeed.

TVB ;-)

Filed in Food & Drink, Press

今期「TVB週刊」有我 ;-)
(不是訪問而是介紹很好吃的品的照片)

My father-in-law

Filed in Life

The other day, I drove my wife out to the New Territories to see our favourite 'super doctor' (神醫). My wife has a serious case of hives and since western medicine has failed to help her in any way, we're consulting our Chinese doctor instead. While there are many 不外如是 super doctors, this one's the real thing. He's quite amazing. He's also our friend, having visited him many times over the years; at first with my mother-in-law and now with my wife. We smile and joke every time we see each other. I never thought it would be fun to visit the doctor.

After seeing the doctor, we drove back to Tai Po to visit my father-in-law. Being an old person, he refuses to move house to be closer to any of his nine children. Change is always harder when you're older, and a change of environment is the hardest.

My father-in-law (張寶榮先生) is an amazing man in his own right. With his wife, they raised nine children, often with little to no money to do it with. It was during the poorest of times that he began learning and teaching English to students. This is many many years ago, possibly around the time of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. Because they were poverty stricken, he couldn't afford to buy his own dictionaries, but he had to answer his students' questions, so he would visit multiple book stores, looking up and memorising a few words in dictionaries in each book store until he had memorised all of them and was able to serve the needs of his students.

Cheung Po Wing 張寶榮, immersed in English grammar Over the years, he never gave up studying English. Without help of any kind, he studied English by observation, deduction and pure reasoning. Consequently, he developed his own theories, rules and guidelines regarding English grammar.

In many professions, people think that "re-inventing the wheel" is a waste of time. I don't think so. If you have to develop or invent something without prior knowledge of other methods, you might just come up with a better method. An English saying that comes to mind is "there is more than one way to bake a cake". This adage also applies to invention and development. So while my father-in-law's theories may differ slightly to the theories and so-called standard rules of grammar found in almost every English grammar book in the library, that doesn't make them wrong. On the contrary, because he's a Chinese person who has studied and scrutinised every aspect of English and English grammar from his own perspective, his theories and rules may in fact be better suited to many Asians than those found in most text books today.

One of the things that happens whenever someone works on a single project over an extended period of time is that they become immersed in that project and nothing else counts. For the weeks that I began customising and improving this blog site, I could only talk about two things; the Perfume play, and this blog. My wife was pretty much bored to tears because every time I opened my mouth, something about the blog came out, and usually something technical in nature which she had no chance of understanding. My father-in-law is the same. Apart from talking about horse racing occasionally, his only topic of conversation is English grammar. Having lunch or dinner with him can therefore be difficult at times. None of the family shares his love for English grammar but we have to listen to his lectures out of respect; and we do very much respect him. Of course, apart from needing someone to talk to, my father-in-law also has his family's best interests in mind, hoping that their English standards will improve and enable them to become more successful in the world.

My father-in-law's theories are pretty much spot on. His conversation is not fluid because he doesn't practise much; even when I'm around because I almost never speak English; but his examples and the sentences he does speak are very much correct, and his reasoning makes sense almost all of the time. If no one learns from him, it would be a waste. He has much to offer.

Part of his dream came true last year when we was able to publish his first book, "Reliable Grammar for Teachers and Senior Students". It's available in book stores now and I heartily recommend it to anyone who needs to improve their English grammar. You may have difficulty understanding parts of it in which case you'll need to find one of his students to talk to or attend one of his classes. Two or three times a year, he teaches English grammar to teachers at the Causeway Bay centre of the Hong Kong Professional Teacher's Union 香港教育專業人員協會.

Unfortunately, today's society is all too quick to ignore and give up on the elderly (these days, mid-50s is already considered old), even those with expertise in their fields such as my father-in-law. Much of today's society is based on technology and older people quickly lose track and end up living as strangers in a fast developing world. Just ten years ago, Apple Computer was proudly demonstrating small jerky QuickTime videos being played and edited on a personal computer. Now we can bittorrent full screen high definition dvd-quality videos and not even give a second thought to the technology involved. It's even possible to view these videos while working with other software and the videos hardly stutter. It's amazing. It's also scary. In twenty years time, I myself may have a hard time keeping up with technology. By then, I'll be the ignored technological caveman in a world that moves too fast for its own good.

In the meantime, don't ignore the older people so quickly. If you take the time to chat with them, you might surprise yourself and actually learn something of value.

Daddy Cheung, Happy father's day!