Miscellaneous

Posts filed under Miscellaneous

An honourable kill?

Filed in General, MiscellaneousTags: , ,

From TwinCities:

The famous Field and Stream buck won't set a world record, but the antlers of the deer downed two months ago by Bob Decker, of Eau Claire, Wis., will bear another significant honor.

Wouldn't it have been more honorable to let the buck live and watch it thrive? Where's the honour in killing an innocent non-threatening creature? I'll never understand these people...

Update

Over at AliveNotDead, I have been informed about the deer population problems in certain states in the U.S.A. Without natural predators (bears, wolves, mountain lions), the deer population continues to increase at an inconvenient rate. Hunting is considered the only way to keep the population at a healthy level.

Even so, I would hope that a more humane method of population control could be found, or at least a painless one. Very few hunters are accurate enough to guarantee a painless kill with just one bullet or one arrow. Some people suggest that does (female deer) should be killed in preference to bucks (male deer). If we were talking about dogs or cats where one female usually gives birth to several offspring, then I'd agree, but deer rarely give birth to more than one fawn (baby deer) so killing does in preference to bucks will not make a significant difference to the deer population.

Like heavy snowfall (hello Vancouverites ;-), those of us not encumbered by the deer problem would love to see deer roaming free and cringe at the thought of killing them, while for the people living in deer territory, deer culling is a necessary part of life.

Thank you 周潤發先生

Filed in Entertainment Ind., General, MiscellaneousTags: , ,

In January of this year, I was incredibly fortunate to encounter 周潤發先生 Mr Chow Yun Fat near our home. I wrote about it in my "A surprise encounter" article.

發哥 called me twice after that encounter to arrange delivery of the photograph he had taken while with me at the time. The first time he called, I was watching a movie at APM and my phone was turned off. I was very disappointed. The second time he called, I was in rehearsals for "They’re Playing Our Song (2007)" and again, my phone was turned off. I was irritated and frustrated that I had once again missed his call. This time, 發哥 left a message to say that he had dropped the photograph off at a store in our village. I picked the photograph up the next day.

發哥 is obviously very careful with his photographs. The photograph was hand exposed in a dark room, and then framed in Central using high quality materials. The whole package; photo and frame; is very nice.

發哥 has my phone number. I don't have his phone number. I don't feel that I have the qualifications to ask for it. It has as a result been impossible to contact 發哥 and thank him for the photograph. I therefore wish to do so here.

發哥,你照的照片非常靚,對我非常特別。萬分多謝你。有緣再見。

I tried to scan the photograph but the protective plastic disperses the light from the scanner producing a very blurry picture. In the end, I had to photograph the photograph. Here then is the photograph that 發哥 took of me and five of our kids sometime in January.

Gregory and kids by Mr Chow Yun Fat

攝影:周潤發先生,二零零七年一月
Photo taken by Mr Chow Yun Fat, January 2007.

The kids seen here in the picture are Charlie (just in front of me), Joey (in front of Charlie), Samson (sitting down) and Rachel (only her tail is visible).

A surprise encounter

Filed in Entertainment Ind., General, MiscellaneousTags: ,

It was just after the new year, early in January.

I was taking five of our kids for a walk up our favourite hill. We turned around the corner at the round-about near our home and began walking toward the bus stop where the trail up the hill begins. Half way to the bus stop, one of the kids needed to relieve himself. I bent down, wrapped his bi-product in newspaper and stood back up ready to continue down the road.

I was suddenly aware of someone standing on the sidewalk just before the bus stop. He stood motionless, dressed in dark sport clothes, both hands in pants pockets, a pastel blue flat soft hat on his head, standing with one leg vertical and the other slightly leaning outward. He was motionless, and he was watching me, intensely.

I sometimes have a vivid imagination and it began to work at this moment. I had no idea who the man was. He was too far away to recognise. He stood directly in the middle of the sidewalk and his demeanour looked menacing. I wondered if perhaps he was displeased that my kids and I were taking up the whole of the sidewalk. I didn't want trouble so I decided that if necessary, I would direct the kids to the road and walk around him when we reached him.

We kept walking. He remained motionless. We kept walking. He remained motionless.

We were almost there. I was getting ready to direct the kids to the road, making sure that there were no cars approaching, when the man suddenly outstretched his hand toward me, offering to take my hand in his, a handshake. I looked closer. He was smiling at me. I looked closer. I wasn't sure. It was near impossible to believe that I was seeing who I thought I was seeing. I looked closer. It was him. It was him!

We shook hands. He wasn't even the slightest bit nervous of the kids. We talked for ten to fifteen minutes. He asked me a few questions and asked for my phone number. Suddenly, he opened the boot of his car and took out a camera. We crossed the road and he very quickly took two photographs of the kids and me (you can view one of them here). We talked a little more. A few people across the road recognised him and called to him. He replied with the politeness and respect that he is famous for. We talked a little more and he left.

The kids and I continued our journey up the hill. I was in a dream state. I felt like I was floating. It was so hard to believe that I had actually met and talked to this man. It was so surreal!

Yesterday morning, the first day of the new Chinese lunar year, my wife and I were at the theatre watching "Night At The Museum". When I watch movies, I always set my phone to Silent. Even if it rings, I will not be aware of it. I'll then check the phone for missed calls and messages after the movie has finished. This time was no different. After the movie, I checked my phone and noted that there was one missed Unknown call and one message. I rang the message centre and listened to the message. It was him!

He had called to wish me a happy Chinese new year, and to arrange a meeting to give me a copy of the photograph he had taken. He'll call again, probably after the Chinese New Year holiday. It's going to be an anxious week for me. I usually turn my phone off during "They’re Playing Our Song (2007)" rehearsals but I'm going to have to leave it on for a few days in case he calls. I don't know nor need to know his number so I'll just have to wait for him to call me.

We all have our idols, people we admire and look up to. Some people admire Stephen Hawking. Some people admire Li Ka Shing. Others admire movie stars and celebrities. I have no idols, but rather a few select people for whom I hold high regard and esteem. I don't respect people without integrity. I don't respect people who don't respect others. I don't respect people simply because they have money. I respect people who have talent. I respect people who worked hard to get to where they are today. I respect people who have earned my respect. He is one of those people.

He is 周潤發 Chow Yun Fat   ;-)

A Story of Affection

Filed in Current Affairs, General, Hong Kong, Miscellaneous

It was Tuesday. My wife and I had things to do at Telford Gardens. My wife and her sister were hungry for something Chinese, and I wasn't, so they went off to their choice of restaurants while I began making my way to Starbucks for a coffee. On the way though, I was side-tracked by a young lady who recognised me from a veterinary clinic I had visited a few times with Rose our rabbit.

The lady was trying to rescue a kitten and asked for my help. The kitten was behind some building materials stacked up against the wall facing the outside carpark and crying out loudly. While the lady used a plank to force the kitten out of hiding, I waited on the other side and grabbed her when I had the chance. Little did I know how much of a wild cat she was in spite of her small size. She instantly spun around and clawed at me with everything she had. She even managed to bite me at least once, but I quickly grabbed her gently and securely, covering and holding her head with one hand and holding her body with the other. She stopped moving but growled angrily from time to time in protest.

While I switched my position to hold the small kitten by the scruff of the neck, the lady opened the boot of her car and began looking for a box to contain the kitten for transport. The kitten wasn't ready to give up just yet and began struggling as hard as possible to get away. The lady found a box in the car, but it was obvious that getting the kitten into the box would be almost impossible because the opening of the box was far too small and the kitten had all four legs sprawled out, ready to push away whenever the opportunity presented itself.

It was at this time that we realised that the kitten had a mother, and that the mother was in the rafters above us. She had been calling out to Mum all along. We looked up to see the mother peering down at us. There was a fire in her eyes, the kind that only wild animals possess. It was obvious to me that she would never trust us, and that she was worried about her kitten.

Getting the kitten into the box was pretty much pointless, and the kitten's mother was there to look after her so we decided to let her go. As I lowered the kitten to the floor and let her go, she pounced onto the floor with all four paws spread out and disappeared into the building material almost instantly. She was gone.

The lady left. I went into the bathroom to attend to the cuts and bites on my hands. With bites like these, it's advisable to press a little blood from each of the wounds to help wash out any bacteria that might be present, so I bled the wounds and washed my hands.

Back at Starbucks, I sat down to coffee and a sandwich. When my wife arrived, she was none the wiser to what had just happened in her absence.

On Death Row

Several hours later, I returned once again to Telford Gardens to change an order at Ikea. After getting my parking validated, I walked out to the car park and over to my car. While unlocking the car, I was keenly aware of the kitten crying out again. This time, it was in a stairwell. Too curious to be healthy, I peered around the stairwell and saw the kitten. She saw me too, and began backing away up the stairs. I decided to leave her alone and go home. Just as I was getting into the car, I noticed one of the security people carrying a cardboard box, walking in the direction of the stairwell. I was pretty sure I knew what he had planned but wanted to be sure and asked him. Sure enough, he was getting ready to catch the kitten.

A couple of weeks ago, I remember walking down the corridor of Telford Gardens Phase III with my wife when we noticed a medium sized non-threatening nervous black dog walking towards us. As he passed us, we also noted the security guard following closely behind talking with some urgency into his walky-talky. Obviously, he was planning to catch the dog.

I felt sorry for the dog. He wasn't harmful to anyone. He had no problem walking among the hundreds of people shopping in the centre but he wasn't welcome and he'd be caught by the security people soon enough. Once caught, his death was almost guaranteed.

I was familiar with the security guard planning to catch the kitten. I had talked to him several times in the past. When I asked about the kitten, he said that the kitten would be given to the SPCA. I commented that this action was the equivalent of committing the kitten to death (almost all of the animals given to the SPCA are delivered to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department which kills them within days of receipt) but he said there was nothing he could do. People move from Telford Gardens and some of them rather than taking their pets with them choose instead to dump them in the public areas. The pets leave toilet products in the public areas and the company consequently has no choice but to catch and dispose of the abandoned pets.

I had ignored the black dog, but I didn't want to abandon the kitten, particularly because I knew of someone who was willing to home it; the lady who had asked me to help her catch the kitten earlier. I accompanied the guard to catch the kitten.

Just as we exited the stairwell on to the public garden courtyard, we observed a young teenager chasing the kitten, enjoying himself as he instilled needless torture and fear into the kitten. How can people be so ruthless? Is it really so macho to persecute and terrorise small animals? These people are so pathetic. I reprimanded the teenager (whose father was watching nearby) with 「有啲人道先得嘅!」 and the guard and I proceeded to catch the kitten which I then took home.

Home

We have a spare cage which I unfolded and placed on my desk next to the computer. I wanted this wild kitten to see me as much as possible, to adapt quickly and lose its fear of people. I placed a mat inside along with water and dry kitten food I had picked up at the pet food store on the way home. I then gingerly placed the cardboard box with the kitten at the door to the cage and opened one flap of the box. The kitten didn't come out. It was cowering in one corner of the box. It not an option to place my hand in the box with the kitten so I opened every flap of the box and gently shaked it while keeping it pressed up against the cage to prevent the kitten from escaping. She went in.

We have eleven dogs, and fear was not going to help this kitten settle down, so I covered most of the cage with towels keeping the kitten blind to the world around it; except for one small area facing my chair.

The next thirty hours were incredible. I'll never forget the change that unfolded in front of me.

Every time the kitten cried out for her mother, I popped into view and gently meowed back to her. She cried all night long, even when her voice began to get dry and raspy. We didn't sleep much that night. I got up four or five times and went over to her. The more she saw me, the easier she would become with me. At least, that was the plan.

Day time came and the kitten continued to cry for its mother but she was getting tired. She hadn't touched the dry food, nor the diluted milk I had set down for her. Throughout the day, she became quieter, and began nodding off. It had been a terrible and exhausting ordeal for her.

Later that day at the advice of a friendly vet, I bought some canned kitten food for her. The strong smell of the canned food would make it more enticing to the kitten, and sure enough, not long after I set the food down, the kitten began to eat a little.

Over the next several hours, the kitten changed dramatically. Little by little, the kitten relaxed. She slept some, then she ate some. She cleaned herself, and she began to roll over and play around, even playing with her own tail. She talked to me more and more without the loud crying we had been subjected to for nearly 24 hours. Throughout the second night, she would sleep and then wake up and call out, but instead of calling out for her mother, she was calling out for me; it was a different sound. I would get out of bed and come over to the cage and meow back to her. She began to rub herself up against the cage, and suddenly, she was purring!

The second time she woke me with her calling, I came out and sat beside the cage. She came over to me and began rubbing against the cage again. I sensed that she had changed and I began to take small risks, tentatively poking my fingers through the cage and rubbing her tummy and back. She rubbed back and purred.

The third time she woke me, I decided to take a bigger chance. I opened the cage and was pleasantly surprised to find that she let me pick her up. I nursed her and she began to purr incessantly. She then walked up to my shoulders and became curious, wanting to explore the room we were in. I allowed her a limited amount of freedom, keeping a careful eye on our other kids to make sure they understood that the kitten was out of bounds.

By morning, we were good friends. The wildness in her eyes had disappeared, and in its place was an abundance of affection, comfort and joy. The change was miraculous. She was so beautiful.

Beautiful Kitten

For a 750x500 version, click here.

A New Beginning

We couldn't keep her. I wanted to but there were too many reasons that it wouldn't be a good idea. She'd have to live in the cage for several weeks while I trained the kids to leave her alone. That wouldn't have been a good life. Then after growing up, it was entirely possible that she would decide one day to attack our rabbit who is after all a species of rodent. And she'd probably go after the birds that like to come down to the ground in our garden every day.

I made a few calls and was very lucky to find someone who had a friend who was looking for a kitten. After taking my wife to work, I drove over to a temporary holding area where the kitten would begin its new life. She was not completely tame and managed to claw two of the assistants who were trying to put her into a new cage. When I looked in on her, she was shaking with fear again. I hoped that she would adapt quickly.

Two days later; i.e., yesterday; my wife and I drove over to visit her. I had missed her badly and wanted to be sure that she was ok. When we arrived, she was sleeping under the shirt on the tummy of one of the assistants. The assistant lifted the kitten out and I began nursing her, stroking her and talking to her. Half an hour later, she was that precious bundle of affection again, with a look in her eyes that would melt the heart of even the hardest criminal. It was a wonderful time.

I grew up with cats and have always loved them. When I was young, I broke my leg trying to save our favourite cat Jacob. Jacob eventually grew to a ripe age of 21 years old and died after I had moved to Hong Kong. I have seen Jacob in my dreams on many occasions, usually walking back to me from the bush that surrounded our country home in Gympie at the time. Jacob was an incredible pet and friend, and I'll always miss him.

The kitten will be staying where she is for one month until she has fully adapted to people and until she is old enough to get her first shots. She already has a home to go to and hopefully, she will have a wonderful life. In the meantime, I'll visit her as often as I can and take full advantage of the situation. She is simply too amazing for words, and I feel so so lucky to be able to spend time with her.

Unlimited Affection

Unlimited affection. How could anyone not fall in love with her?

For a 750x500 version, click here.

Hummer!

Filed in MiscellaneousTags: ,

I'm guessing it's the hair spray from last night.

A few minutes ago while I was attending to Rose our new companion after reenforcing a suspended cupboard in our kitchen that didn't want to stay suspended, a bee started flying around my head much closer than I would deem normal. If you don't aggravate a bee, it won't generally sting you so I stayed still and let it be, thinking that it'd fly away. I was wrong. Instead of flying away, it settled on my nose! After walking around there for a few seconds, it took off, flew around my head a few more times, landed on my ear very close to my ear-hole, took off again and then landed on my head, just above my hairline. I then walked into the house with a bee crawling through my hair.

I was rather astonished at how sticky his feet were. Many insects use small hairs on their feet to adhere to surfaces. Obviously, those hairs work really well. They were so 'sticky' that they almost stung as he walked around up there.

I walked back outside the house and he flew off again, this time far off into the neighbouring trees.

But now he's back! While I'm sitting here typing this, he's (from memory, all worker bees are male) flying around above my head making a very loud humming sound.

Now he's at the door and Siu Bak 小白; our second dog, our first bitch; is very intent on catching him as he flies by. She's already made several attempts to catch him but without success. He's a little too high up for her.

It must be the hair spray. I was filming last night at TVB and didn't wash my hair afterwards because very little hair spray was used. Apparently, bees like it. If he comes back again, I'll be forced to wash my hair, even though it's only two in the afternoon. Who'd have guessed that a bee could compel someone to take a shower???

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.

Thank you all.

Filed in Miscellaneous

My wife and I have been overwhelmed by the support expressed by the people of Hong Kong and of Chinese people around the world. I have received comments and emails from Hong Kong, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and other countries. The world wide web has really affected the way the world works and communicates. It's phenomenal.

Thank you to everyone who has left comments, written email messages or simply visited this blog. I truly appreciate the support. I'm still digesting everything and the final affect won't be fully understood for a long time to come.

Many people have commented that they are in similar situations to myself. They live overseas in a strange and foreign community. Some are students. Some are working, but they're all working and in some cases struggling to adapt and integrate.

I remember a non-Chinese lady I met outside the local ParknShop store one day last year. She had a baby in a pouch on her back, two doberman dogs on leash and three heavy shopping bags. She asked me to help her place the shopping bags on her arms because her hands were busy holding the dog leashes. She didn't drive. She chose to walk. I commented on her predicament and she answered, very wisely; "there are no shortcuts in life".

This statement stayed with me. It applies to all of us. Many people are having difficult times. I have friends who like myself have struggled for many years, especially so since the 1997/8 economic meltdown in Hong Kong. We don't give up though. We carry on, ever hoping that tomorrow will bring good news.

I'm pleased and surprised that my life is giving moral support to other people who are themselves struggling. This was totally unexpected and unintended. All I can say to these people is exactly what many people have said to me in recent emails; never give up.

The people of Hong Kong have faced many difficult times. Time and time again, they have proven how tough and resilient they are. This is one of the reasons I admire, respect and have a fondness for Hong Kong people, no matter where in the world they may be located. Hong Kong people are special.

I have a personal adage:
"Today's pain, Tomorrow's gain", or
「今天的痛苦,明天的獲得。」

(P.S.: 這個網誌所有的中文是我自己想,自己寫。真的!)

Take care; all of you.