Stories, thoughts, observations, rants and dribble. Just another of my attempts to keep the interested people informed ...

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

You can't argue with numbers...

...they tell me I am a total slacker.

What the hell. I'm bumping it up to 17 before it becomes 2009.

I may have actually been a 'blogger' in 2006. How bizarre.


In the grand tradition of not doing what I'm supposed to be doing, I've changed the layout of my blog so that it makes better use of the space in your browser. No more annoyingly blank left sidebar for you!

I've also updated some blog links in my sidebar, and they will appear in order of whoever bothered to update the most recently. Good for them, they deserve the glory.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Usually at this time of year I will at least have attempted a Christmas post or copied and pasted some of my Christmas email in a thin attempt to update the world on my goings on.  I at the least managed to get that email out, even if it was extremely last-minute (my usual style, so at least I'm being consistent). 

If I am to sum up the year succinctly, I would have to say that it's been interesting, challenging, lonely, strangely rewarding, and always Asian.  As usual, I've met some great people, although not as many as most years (and in some cases I haven't actually met them), and I've taken the plunge with a full time job.  I like the place where I live and the people I work with, but there's definitely room for improvement in several areas of my life.  All of these involve me trying to find some self-motivation, so let's hope there's some floating around here somewhere. 

In the lead up to Christmas I got really busy at work (even more so because we don't get a holiday for it in China), and a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to find reasonable plans with which to ensure people that I was occupied with.  One of my sisters came to visit for a while, which was wonderful, and thankfully I was able to impose upon a lovely almost-stranger and had a fantastic Christmas break in Wuhan in central China.  Now I have no plans for New Year's Eve, but a wander around town and a night in sounds kind of nice.  I have my apartment to myself a the moment (even though the empty room is costing me), and I'm enjoying it a fair bit.  I'm promising myself that I'll stop listening to the Christmas music soon, though. 

I am currently typing on the AlphaSmart 3000 that arrived in the mail today (along with a spare dryer part that means I can dry my clothes quickly, and some oh-so-slightly belated Christmas presents that I love), and I hope that it will somehow help me with this motivation/distraction problem that plagues me on a regular basis.  What is an AlphaSmart 3000, you may ask.  Well, it's what I like to call a '90s retrofuturistic word-processing keyboard.  It's also made of green-blue semi-transparent plastic, so it really doesn't get much better.  In a nutshell, I can type almost as much as I want without having to worry about power cords, boot-up time, or the deadly distraction of the internet.  I'm in bed right now, and when I'm ready to go to sleep, I just have to hit the on/off button (no save necessary), or just let it switch itself off in ten minutes.  I hope that it will help me with a lot of the writing that I've been telling myself I need to do (paid and unpaid), and at the least might help me keep up with my correspondence.  I may be laying an awful lot of pressure on less than a kilo's worth of glorified calculator, but every little bit helps, surely?  I'm also going to take it in to the ridiculously-long, somewhat-pointless meetings I have to attend, and annoy people with my incessant clickity-click as I do other work but pretend to take notes.  Awesome plan, if I do say so myself.  And if none of that works, it makes a handy peripheral keyboard for my laptop.

So, my resolutions involve somehow improving my social life, work habits, and language education, but I think it all boils down to being brave and just getting stuff done.  I can do stuff.  Right?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Soup and starfish songs

Well, I'm quite busy today at work but yet, through the magic of the Wong Procrastination Transfer Method (WPTM), here I am trotting out a blog post instead.

I'm having issues with communication at work, but I've decided that it's a general problem in Asia, so hopefully I can get around it. The project manager on one of my projects is kind of pissed with me. The main thing is that my boss knows that the root of the communication problem is not me. Hooray.

Anyway, I've been spending the majority of my spare time lately watching movies on DVD, crocheting new stuff for me and certain lucky individuals, and discovering that I have a talent for making soup. Cold weather is good for something. So far I've made spicy lentil, potato and eggplant; curried sweet potato; and pumpkin and coriander. I like the blender. And the fresh vegetable market up the road from my flat.

The main reason I wanted to get this post out into the world (besides seriously dreading writing the document I'm supposed to be doing) is that I wanted to share something really special. Now, in the past, I have inspired people to travel, write poetry, draw posters, become extremely jealous, get the hell away from me, etc., but this is the first time (that I know of) that anyone's written a song. It's also fantastic, which is a total bonus. If you'd like to see it through the magic of YouTube, then please feel free. Then leave a comment to tell him how wonderful it/he is, as I'm sure I can't tell him enough. Oh, and it's a work in progress. Just in case you think it can't possibly get better, apparently it can. [It's called Starfish because my Chinese name means 'sea star'. Get it?]

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yes we can

The fourth of November was historical, not just for the USA, but for large parts of the world. Many outsiders sat with crossed fingers, willing the message of hope and change to get through to the American voting public. For far too long, a Republican administration had destroyed international relations and ensured travelling Americans a frosty welcome in many places around the globe.

Barack Obama's call to action was composed of three of the simplest words in the English language, but somehow conveyed optimism, positivity, community, and hope for the future.

Yes we can.

I have no doubt that his words will go down in history, like those of Kennedy and Lincoln. I'm not usually one to get political (and it won't become a habit), but I continue to be fascinated by the fact that three little syllables managed to move millions, spark imagination, and spur action that has already changed the future. I hope that it continues.

From the Language Trainers blog. I wrote it, don't worry. Now go watch the video.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Blogging at lunchtime is fun

It started getting cold about a week before Hallowe'en, which is something I'd kind of been looking forward to.  And when I say cold, I mean it dipped below 20 degrees (Celcius), not that it's gotten actually cold yet.  But it will, no doubt.  Hopefully I will be able to purchase some swanky rain/snow boots before the weather really starts to turn.  In the meantime, I get to wear all my fun cold-weather accessories, and I'm enjoying it because I don't have to wear them yet.  I'm not sure how I will feel when I am wearing everything I own in order to keep warm.

I haven't actually managed to get all my stuff home yet (I've still got a couple of boxes of stuff that I shipped from HK sitting in my office), but I've been progressively taking things home with me over the last couple of weeks.  Just about all my clothes have made it home (and the maid ironed stuff for me today, woohoo), and the big box is nearly empty.  I can't believe I actually have semi-full closets (I have two in my room; sweet). 

Workwise, things are going pretty well, I guess.  I'm still not entirely sure what I'm supposed to be doing, but we have a couple of projects coming up where I actually have to produce things, so I should be busy enough over the next couple of months at least.  I'm teaching about 12 of my colleagues English, which is fun, and I'm in charge of an intern who I won't comment on in case he ever finds this blog.  Meantime, if anyone wants to move to Shanghai, or knows anyone who does, we are looking for people who have excellent written and spoken English skills, preferably with some kind of teaching background or qualification.  Let me know!

In general news, things are okay.  I have been incredibly unmotivated to teach myself Mandarin, which I feel guilty about on a daily basis.  I have picked up a little bit (probably through osmosis), but really need to get on to active learning.  As it's been getting colder, I've picked up the crochet hooks again, so put in your orders for winter warmth by Wendy.  I'm not freaking out too much about the full timeyness of my life, yet, but the thought of not being able to take holidays when I want to still makes my throat close up a little bit.  I'm just thinking about the money.  Yay, money!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


As I'm still perfecting the Wong Procrastination Transfer Method, here's a very quick update until I get on top of things (possibly not for a few more weeks yet).

I'm in week three of Shanghai, and everything seems to be going pretty well so far.  The usual hiccups associated with living in Asia, but nothing I (hopefully) can't deal with.  I've found a place to live, which I should be moved in to by Tuesday, and I've caught up with some old friends and made some new ones.  My sleep pattern is slightly regulated!  I've been going to bed at 12 and 1 (she says at 2am), and while it has its downsides, being able to function at work is a bonus. 

I basically just wanted to say that I'm fine!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Inclement Weather

This was written on Saturday afternoon when I was already supposed to be back in HK teaching classes.  For some reason it didn't go through.  I finally arrived back early this morning, 30 hours late and six hours before I was supposed to show up to entertain a kid's birthday party.  It went well, considering that all I'd put in my stomach beforehand was a bottle of iced coffee.


I'm currently on hold with my airline waiting for someone to pick up the line to tell me when I can fly back to Hong Kong.  The hold music is terrible, and sounds like vaguely-Asian music done via midi file that keeps breaking up.  Quite frustrating to listen to.

I arrived at the airport in Bangkok last night after about 9 hours of travel from Koh Chang, only to be told that there was a typhoon in Hong Kong and I wouldn't be flying.  The airline has made no moves in the direction of compensation, but luckily my travel insurance doesn't expire until the first week of September, so I'm covered.  I thought I was having somewhat good transport luck yesterday, too, as the very first cab that pulled over agreed to take us on the meter without any sort of haggle (anyone who's been to Bangkok will know that this is rare), and when we arrived, the Italian couple I'd shared the taxi with offered to pay for the whole thing.  Yay.  Then, disappointment. 

It was incredibly difficult to get anything useful out of the call centre people (the only number I was given by the check-in staff), and after quite a frustrating time at the airport, I put myself on a bus back to good old Khao San Road.  I had to call the helpline last night only to be told to call them again in the morning.  This morning they said I would fly at 10pm, although the website says 19.20.  Hence the waiting on the line again now.

The actual holiday on Koh Chang was a lot of fun, despite the weather not being great (it is rainy season, after all).  I had an awesome time with Kirsh, including laughing at her when she fell off the elephant that one time.  Mostly we ate a lot of good food, drank tasty drinks and caught up with each other.  There was also a bit of beach action, and the expected pampering and shopping.  Something about Kirsha must inspire people to drink, though, and I can no longer say 'I don't drink beer' (which may shock a lot of you).  Now it's 'I mostly don't drink beer'.  The Sangsom buckets did me in, though, and Kirsh was kind enough not to laugh at me too much until the next day. 

I'm still on hold, so still don't know when I will be getting home.  I just want to get there so I can start on all these things that need doing before I leave for Shanghai next weekend!  I was also supposed to have some of my last classes today, so I don't get to say goodbye to the kids.  I'm quite sad about that, really. 

Ah well, it's all part of the fun of travelling I guess.  At least I will be able to claim something on my travel insurance for once!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Big News

I had hesitated to make any sort of announcement about this until it was at least a little bit confirmed, but my big news is that I've accepted my first permanent role (ever), and will be moving to Shanghai in less than three weeks!

That's right, this little commitmentphobe is finally taking the plunge, and the signing of an employment contract for an indefinite period of time is imminent. Add to that the fact that I will probably have to sign a lease on an apartment of my very own, and you will be very surprised to hear that I haven't yet had heart palpitations or resorted to hyperventilation. I am actually quite excited.

I was contacted a few weeks ago by a friend of a friend, saying that they needed someone if I was looking for a position in Shanghai. The job itself is doing scriptwriting and editing for English language learning podcasts, as well as some research, meeting clients, and conducting in-house training. As I eventually wanted to get into the publishing side of education, I jumped at the chance to fast-track this plan (not that I'm not enjoying the teaching, but more about that in a minute). A couple of emails, (what ended up being) eight pages of writing samples and methodologies, a phone interview, and some reference checks later, and I had a verbal offer. After a few clarifications about my future employment package, I happily accepted the job on Friday (just a few hours before the Olympics opened, and on that [hopefully] auspicious day 08/08/08). I won't go into the details about the benefits, but suffice to say I'm pretty happy (AND I get a lunch allowance!). I'll also finally get around to learning some Mandarin. Hooray for languages.

So I have not all that many days (or classes) left in Hong Kong. Around about now is usually when I start to appreciate a place, and do all those things that I'd meant to do for ages. Also it seems that now is about when I've just met some quite cool people, and am started to get more work offers. Oh well! They're balanced out by the fact that a couple of my male students (who are about 8 or 9) do not seem to know what is appropriate when touching teachers (probably they shouldn't do it at all, but they definitely shouldn't be doing what they did yesterday!).

And now the important part: What does this all mean for you? As of the end of August, I will no longer be available on my current mobile number or at my current postal address. It's probably best not to send me anything from now on (boo!) as I would hate to miss it during the move. I will update as soon as I know my new contact details. Of course I will still be contactable via all electronic means (and my Melbourne number).

The other important change that I will have to make is in my ridiculous sleeping pattern (it probably looks either like a Magic Eye or an Escher painting). No longer will I be able to stay up all night (or sleep all afternoon), and you will (probably) notice a significant drop in my online presence. I hope I will be too busy to be sad (in more ways than one) about this.

All in all, quite a satisfactory result (I am trying to forget about the fact that I only get two weeks of annual leave a year).

I will make sure I have at least a futon for all my future visitors. Come to see me!

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Well, I was going to write about myself, of all things, but I just spent four hours watching extended live coverage of the Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing.  The first hour, especially, was completely mindblowing, and I have just come to the conclusion that the Chinese are either magicians or robots.  Or maybe some amazing combination of the two. 

I can't even begin to describe some of the things they did, so here are some numbers instead:

  • 08/08/08: the 29th Olympiad Games opens.
  • 43 billion USD spent on this year's Olympic Games.
  • 15,000 individual (and very detailed) costumes involved in the opening ceremony.
  • 20,000 people performed in the opening ceremony.
  • Over 10,000 athletes from 205 countries are competing.
  • 4 of these athletes are from Iraq, and were only very recently allowed to compete.
  • 91,000 seats in the Bird's Nest stadium, with 11,000 temporary seats erected for the opening ceremony.
  • Tickets for the opening started at 600 USD, but the price increased dramatically over the past six months.
  • The famous Chinese basketball player Yao Ming is 7'6".
  • 29 sets of fireworks in the shape of giant footprints led to the Bird's Nest Stadium as the games open.
  • 2008 drummers began the ceremony in almost perfect synchrony.  2008 t'ai chi players did an amazing demonstration later on.
  • 29,000 fireworks shells were used in the biggest fireworks display in history.

I really just wanted to play it in the background so I could get along with a backlog of work I have at the moment, but it pretty much held my attention the entire time (except for when I got really hungry and ducked off to boil some dumprings during the bit where all the athletes come in).  So now I have a whole bunch of stuff to do, and I'm tired from the overstimulation of probably the biggest event the world has ever seen (until the closing ceremony, probably!). 

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Oh, also ...

The MTR station at Fortress Hill smells exactly like the Central Line trains in London. Is that weird? No other MTR station seems to, either, just this one.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Generally upsetting things happening

Today I went on a bit of a mission to pick up some money owed for services rendered last month, and while I was on the train, I noticed a girl wearing a black top with huge silvery writing that said:


Odd. I picked up my moneys (and it turned out that I didn't actually have to make the hour plus trip out there, but never mind. I had the opportunity to take a new cross-harbour ferry, and make some purchases I'd been meaning to make for ages. I also had the opportunity to take a picture of a giant sneaker slide. Unfortunately, it was closed.

After a quick and cheap lunch (thanks, Yoshinoya), I had to wait an upsettingly long time for my bus, which made me a few minutes late for my class. While I was on the bus, I noticed a man at one of the bus stops that looked strangely like a Chinese version of Bobcat Goldthwait. That was weird enough, but I noticed him trying to smooth a notice back on to a lamp post. Whether he was just trying to read it, or trying to make it look nicer, I don't know. I thought that it was marginally odd behaviour (and he was making really weird facial expressions), and this was when I noticed that from the end joint up, his left thumb branched into TWO THUMB TIPS. Nails and everything. As I was blinking in disbelief at the strangely heart-shaped malformation, the bus took off. Whew. I have never seen a branching digit like that before. [After a quick squizz at trusty Wikipedia, apparently polydactyly (extra fingers or toes) occurs once in every 500 live human births. That seems ... a lot more common than I would have thought. And it's more common in Amish populations, but I'll leave that one for you to consider.]

The rest of the day has gone by without too much disturbingness, but then of course there is this horrific story of a double beheading (parental guidance recommended), and, not to be outdone, another one, with added cannibalism (raw, and in front of a busload of innocent Canadians). [Little bro, if you're reading this, don't read this story, okay?] What the hell is going on?

I'm actually in a pretty good mood, though, through a combination of a few things and a few people. If anybody needs cheering after reading the weirdness, there is always this, and this, and, even though it's in Russian, this. Thank goodness for cute (and sorry to people who have already seen these links, but surely you can't have too much cute?).

Eulogy of Wong Chan Lai Sheong

The following is a slightly-modified version of the eulogy that was read at my grandmother's funeral on July 12, 2008. I'm pretty sure it made more sense in the original Chinese, so that's the only reason I've edited the English version.

I don't really expect anyone to read it, but she was an amazing woman who led an inspiring life, and I wanted to share her story.


Mrs Lai Sheong Wong (nee Chan), 陳勵嫦, was born on the 16th of June, 1917, according to the lunar calendar. Her home village was 下基, in the city 増城, in Guangdong province. Her father was Kim Chor Chan and her mother was Ping Yee Wong. She was the younger of two daughters.

勵嫦's grandfather migrated to New Zealand over a hundred years ago. He was the eldest of seven sons, who were all doing business in New Zealand. Like many Chinese men in New Zealand, 勵嫦’s father went back to China to get married. As her parents only had two daughters, he adopted a boy from one of his younger brothers. So 勵嫦 had a younger brother but he lived his whole life in New Zealand.

As 勵嫦’s father was doing business overseas, the family in their home village was rich and open-minded. Even though 勵嫦 was a girl, she still received a very good education, which was rare in those times. She studied in Guangzhou city and graduated from the faculty of Library Management at Guangzhou Technical Institute. When she was 19 years old and hadn't yet graduated from her studies, her parents arranged her marriage. She married Mr. Lai Chow Wong. Her husband was also well educated and encouraged 勵嫦 to finish her studies.

The political situation was very uncertain by that time. When Japan invaded China in 1938, her family escaped to Hong Kong. 勵嫦’s eldest son was born on the way there. The family stayed in Hong Kong for five years until Hong Kong also fell into Japan’s hands. The family then went back to their home town. Their second son was born in 1944, during the Second World War.

The family moved back to Guangzhou city when the war was over. 勵嫦 taught at a secondary school, and later the couple planned to do some business together. They opened a dairy shop, a barbecue shop and later a dairy farm which supplied milk to the local residents. The farm was still running when China was taken over by the communist government. 勵嫦’s father and mother were also back from New Zealand to have their retirement in Guangzhou. It was good news to 勵嫦, as her parents were finally reunited. However, the dairy farm had to be joined-ventured with the government in 1957 under the new policies. The couple lost control of the company and 勵嫦 became an accountant for the company.

Furthermore, her husband was marked as anti-revolutionary during the political upheaval and was sent away for ‘re-education’ to a place that was essentially a prison, and he lost his freedom. 勵嫦 had to look after the whole family on her own, taking care of her four children as well as her parents. 勵嫦 and her husband were forced to separate for 16 years. During the Cultural Revolution, their home was searched three times in total. Nearly everything was destroyed and no furniture was left intact. Times were harsh, but 勵嫦 never lost hope and kept waiting for her husband to come back home.

In order to see her husband, 勵嫦 had to take a long train journey and then walk for several hours. However, the visit itself was very short, and in less than a few minutes her husband was taken away. The only thing they could do was to write letters to each other. Her husband wrote many traditional poems in the letters which were full of implicit passion. Their love for each other grew stronger and stronger. Their marriage was arranged and they did not know each other before the wedding, but their relationship was very successful. 勵嫦 always said she really fell in love with her husband after they got married. So, during this time of political deterioration where the traditional virtues were destroyed and moral value was low, the love between 勵嫦 and her husband was like a precious diamond that shone in a dark sky.

The second son and eldest daughter of 勵嫦 went to Hong Kong in 1970 to seek a new life for their family. There they met their uncle, who was taking a holiday from New Zealand. With the help of their uncle, they migrated to New Zealand in 1975. 勵嫦’s husband was released in 1976. When the Cultural Revolution was over, the door of China was opened again. 勵嫦’s youngest daughter moved to New Zealand in 1979. Together with her mother and husband, 勵嫦 arrived in New Zealand in 1982. Her eldest son and family joined them the next year.

勵嫦 was very glad to meet so many relatives again in New Zealand. She and her husband enjoyed the lifestyle there, as well as the air of freedom. They spent their retirement in peace and contentment. Besides taking care of their grandchildren, they would look after the garden and also grew some vegetables. They liked to be financially independent and sometimes grew alfalfa to sell at the market. When Mr. Wong passed away in 1990, 勵嫦 was very sad, but she was very strong and got through it quickly. She knew playing mahjong was a good way to cheer herself up and she enjoyed playing it. She also liked to do morning exercise and Tai Chi.

勵嫦 had a very high level of literacy, especially in classical Chinese literature. Even while getting old, she still maintained her reading habit. She was also a good cook and often prepared delicious meals for her family. When living in New Zealand with less Chinese food to buy, she learnt how to make dim sum and seasonal Chinese food to celebrate different kinds of Chinese festivals.

勵嫦 had a very happy retirement in New Zealand. She had many enjoyable and memorable occasions with her relatives and friends. 勵嫦 was a devout Buddhist, and although she could not drive to go to the temple often, she would read the Sutra and prayed every day. She regularly took vegetarian meals six days each month and eagerly gave donations to the Buddhist temple. She was a kind, respectful and gentle person who was full of compassion. When the earthquake struck Si-chuan, China, 勵嫦 was very generous and fully supported the fundraising activities.

Over the past two years, 勵嫦 had been getting weaker. Her two daughters took very good care of her. Unfortunately, she was admitted to hospital on the 29th of June, as her condition was deteriorating, and she passed away peacefully on the 7th of July.

勵嫦 lived a life of 91 years. She witnessed wars and the takeover of governments in China. She and her family were also the victims of political movements. But we can see the life of 勵嫦 shone in a dark era. Her love for her husband, her parents and her children never changed, even in adversity. We are glad that 勵嫦 had a rich life. She also showed us her virtue and selfless love. Her love for her family and all those loving memories are always in our hearts.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The (not so happy) haps

I've started this post a couple of times already, knowing full well that I probably wouldn't publish it because I don't like writing when things aren't going so well [insert 'Awwww' here].  But such is life that it can't always inspire pure envy in my readers, and a girl must carry on.  I need to remind myself that things have been pretty damned sweet for me over the last several years [strike that: the majority of my life], and it's about time I had a few challenges to show me what kind of woman [gasp! When did I stop being a girl?] I've become.  Right?  Right.

The short* update:
  • Social - It's been difficult to meet people (although I have met some nice ones), and I did have a couple of friends living here for a while (even though I hardly ever saw them). Probably the social low point of my life so far, which is a little sad.  I've been lucky enough to have a couple of visits from friends transiting through Hong Kong, though.  I've become overly reliant on the internet for keeping tabs on loved ones, but hopefully it's just a phase (having few real-life friends, not keeping tabs on existing ones).  I'm especially grateful for those who keep me cyber company on a regular basis.  You know who you are.
  • Accommodation - I moved in with a bit of a weirdo after I got back from visiting Lise in China.  Lived with him a million miles away from everywhere for three long months (luckily Lise came to stay with me for one of those).  I'm now living with an American guy and a Chinese guy.  I pretty much have a whole floor to myself, and quite often get free dinner, so am generally pleased with the situation.
  • Work - is still chugging along at quite a slow pace. Part-time jobs with potential for much more work have remained part time.  Some positions have been essentially 'glorified entertainer', but I quite like that.  I've been paid to wear a lab coat, play with dry ice, make paper planes, set things on fire, make kids dizzy, blow bubbles, and high five small children.  I've taught kids from as young as 17 months (!), which is something I never anticipated doing.  Despite the lack of hours, I am quite enjoying the work, and my former intolerance for children has changed to a surprising (kind of) appreciation.  I've also started doing a bit of writing for a company in the UK, which helps to keep things varied and interesting. 
  • Family - My parents came over to visit for a few days just over a month ago.  It was really lovely to see them, and meet some of my mum's relatives from here and just over the border in China.  A bit of an exhausting weekend, but overall pretty fantastic (presents, free food, and a visit to a theme park: who could ask for more?).  In more sombre news, my paternal grandmother passed away two weeks ago, after a relatively short stay in hospital, but a couple of years of gradual decline.  My sister, cousin, and I got to listen to the funeral service via the magic of the internet, but it still doesn't really change the fact that we aren't at home.  She led an amazing and fruitful life, and I will be dedicating a future post to rewriting her eulogy.  
The long, rambling, introspective update will possibly follow, but going on what I know of myself, may never happen.  Cross your fingers or thank your lucky stars (whichever is appropriate). 

*Comparatively short, as this is updating over three months.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


About me:
I've finished moving in to my new place in the middle of nowhere (not really nowhere, but good luck to me if I want to either get in to the city or get out of it at any but regular people hours), and it's all good so far. I am enjoying being able to cook what I want, when I want; leave my things in the bathroom; walk out the door and not have to wait for an elevator; and see the sky! Also, I'm enjoying being able to waste all my time on the internet (more about this below).
As for work, unfortunately there's a strain (or more) of flu going around that has caused sufficient damage for all the primary schools to be closed until at least after Easter. This means bad luck for me, as I am teaching primary school kids. I'm still waiting for news about some secondary classes (which scare the crap out of me), but as yet, no news.

About my online presence:
Well, as Facebook has pretty much taken over my online presence (scary, but true), I have neglected to maintain other sites. I hardly ever look at my Blogger page, because I send everything to it by email. Tonight I decided to take a look, update the old links and whatever, and apparently my Yahoo!Geocities page, and all my photos on Kodak Gallery have been deleted because of inactivity. I really don't remember getting any email notifications about this, but I didn't really use them anyway, and I doubt many people (but secret stalkers, I know you're out there) will miss these links. Meanwhile, most of the important stuff is on Crackbook.

About wasting time on the internet:
Unlimited internet, no job, being out of the city, and looking at Luke's very entertaining blog, Playing the Cancer Card, all add up to me spending far too much time surfing and losing hours on websites I didn't know existed until last week (oh, and YouTube). I've added some of the blogs to the links in the sidebar, but I'll recommend (or just generally point out the existence of) the following:

Blogs and articles and random websites:
  • Anyone Else But You - Michael Cera and Ellen Page cover a Moldy Peaches song at the end of Juno (my favourite movie of the year so far). Completely cute.
  • You Can't Stop The Beat - The finale from 2007's Hairspray (my second favourite movie of the year so far).
  • I'm F*cking Matt Damon - Sarah Silverman's video for Jimmy Kimmel (Matt Damon dancing in overalls is hilarious).
  • I'm F*cking Ben Affleck - Jimmy Kimmel's reply totally out-celebs the Matt Damon video.
  • Eagle vs Shark trailer - Taika Waititi's 'awkward love story'. Love it.
  • Lease - The Musical - I thought I'd posted this, but apparently not. The NZ 48 Hour Film Competition winner for 2007. Time-restricted musical comedy genius (and by friends of mine!).
  • Two Cars, One Night Part One and Part Two - Taika Waititi's Academy Award-nominated black and white short film. I hadn't seen it till today, and it's so extremely Kiwi that I'm not sure anyone from outside of New Zealand would entirely understand what the kids are saying. I loved it, of course. The actors are too much, girl, too much.
I hope there's something there for everyone, dick, I mean, boy.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Some things I noticed on my way around town today

  • Sometimes you can't tell the difference between a crip walk and a legitimate leg injury.
  • They were playing 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' in a wig shop (that I walked past and didn't go into).
  • The Backstreet Boys are playing in HK in two weeks.  They are charging 60-100USD a ticket.  I didn't know they still had that much pull.  And are there only four of them now?!
  • P.S. I Love You: a new romance starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler.  WTF?!  [Okay, I just read the synopsis on IMDB and I'll probably watch it on DVD one day.  Meanwhile, the poster is stupid.]

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The State of It

Whilst the most interesting thing to happen to me lately may well be that I have a new profile picture, I feel like I should be writing something here.  Although it follows hot on the heels of my Christmas email, I really have been awful at any sort of actual updates.

Presently I am a week into being back in Hong Kong, am staying in the same single, cell-like room on the 16th floor of one of the blocks in the backpacker slum that is Chungking Mansions.  It sounds luxurious, I know.  There is a 24 hour internet cafe right in the middle of the hostel though, so I can't complain too much.  I have no excuse for not applying for all the jobs on the island, except that too much internet is very distracting. 

However, I have managed to apply for a dozen or so vaguely education-related jobs, and have yet to hear back from most of them.  I blame the upcoming Chinese New Year festivities entirely, although it is possible that recruiters here are just lazy.  Why wouldn't they want to take a risk on me and sponsor me to live and work here?

It's still a fairly antisocial place, but I have managed to meet a few people and brave the cold to do errands and see such things as the spectacular laser light show on the harbour.  How they coordinate all those lights on all those buildings with all that cheesy music, I'll never know. 

The couple of months I spent in southeast Asia were fantastic, and I have my travel buddies, as well as Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, to thank for that.  The trip was refreshing, warming, entertaining and challenging, and I can't wait until I have some money so I can explore more of Asia.  I will aim to, although not promise to, post some summaries, highlights and tips for each of these countries at some point.

Best of luck to everyone who's starting afresh in the southern hemisphere!