Jason (The pup, Part#4)

Filed in Dogs of our Lives

A couple of weeks ago, Jason was hit by a car. That's his name, Jason. We were trying to avoid naming him because it would mean that we'd end up keeping him, building an attachment to him that would be difficult to break. So instead of naming him, we were calling him "number 11" 「十一號」. It then occurred to me that this was worse than naming him because it inferred that he was going to be our eleventh dog, so we named him. I wanted to name him Lucky because I think he's been lucky to have met us, to have survived the screwworm flies and to have made it this far. My wife didn't like the name though so I asked her to come up with one of her own. She named him Jason.

We hadn't taken the time to train Jason on a leash. Actually, I had taken him out a few times on leash without any problems. He would tug hard in different directions, look back puzzled at the leash and then eventually realise that he wouldn't be getting away so he'd relax. Unfortunately, we normally take five dogs out at a time so adding Jason to the bunch was not an easy thing to do. I was ok with it because I'm a big guy but our helper wasn't up to the task. Nevertheless, Jason liked to follow us out on our daily walks.

Dad with Jason

It was while on one of these walks that Jason got hit by a car. The helper came back after the walk and told me how she heard him yelp and saw him do a summersault or two before getting up and bolting off down the road. He didn't come back and the helper couldn't find him.

That night, I walked down the road four times looking for him, calling his name and whistling for him as I walked. It was raining the fourth time I walked down but the air was warm and getting wet was not my primary concern.

I had to give up and come back home, hoping that he hadn't been seriously injured and that he hadn't collapsed from internal bleeding.

It rained heavily that night.

Around three in the morning, I heard his signature bark. Ever since we had him, he would race outside to take his walk and do his business and then race back to the outside of our garden gate and bark to let us know that he was back. Eventually, I was able to teach him to run around to the front gate where I'd let him in, but waiting and barking at the garden gate was still the first thing he'd do each time he returned.

I recognised the bark, went around to the garden gate and let him in. It was raining but he was fine. The next morning, we discovered in the better light that he had a scrape on his face, just above the cheek bone. Otherwise, he was in great health. This was one amazing dog. Sleeping tablets can't put him to sleep and cars can't kill him.

He was lucky. That incident with the car taught him to be wary of cars. Prior to that, he would walk all over the road, ignoring each and every car and truck that went past. It was as if they didn't exist and I worried about him often. Now, he was scared of the cars, so much so, that he refused to go with us on our walks. After getting to the top of the village road, we'd continue on our way and he'd backtrack back to the house and wait for us there.

Over the last couple of weeks, he has continued to improve, becoming less and less wild. He still likes to nip when he plays with us; especially me; but it's just fun and he's not trying to hurt anyone.

We placed advertisements to find a new home for him in the local ParknShop store, and on the windscreens of the cars parked in one of our village car parks but no one called.

Jason was staying with us.

Then a week ago, a young girl asked us about Jason. She knew an old lady who was looking for a new dog. One of her dogs had just died and the others were aging. She had had lots of experience with dogs so dealing with somebody as lively, strong, rough and playful as Jason wouldn't be a problem.

Yesterday, I silently took Jason out the front gate leaving everyone else at home. I opened the car door and he happily jumped in. It was difficult keeping him still and in the back seat while driving to the pier in Bak Sha Wan 白沙灣 but we arrived safe and sound.

We got out of the car and walked over to where the ParknShop store used to be. I couldn't see the girl who had organised to meet us there but she might have been late. We walked around a bit with Jason excitedly trying to go everywhere and smell everything all at the same time.

And then we saw the girl. She was waving at us and walking up from the end of the pier. We walked down to her. Her strong sun-tanned shirtless husband took Jason's leash from me and began walking him down toward the end of the pier. Jason didn't mind that somebody else was holding the leash and continued to try to go everywhere and smell everything.

When we arrived at the end of the pier, they began going down the stairs to a waiting motor boat. Jason was scared out of his mind because he'd never been on a boat before and never been down stairs near water. He did get on the boat though with some pulling from the man and he stood on one of the middle benches, slightly off balance but doing ok.

He was going to a new life, a life on a fish farm, something I'd never imagined. It wasn't going to be a posh life in a home with canned dog food. It was going to be a life where he wouldn't be allowed indoors, where he'd be eating rice and bread for most of his life, and where he'd probably have the best time of his life running around everywhere, getting exercise, playing with the other dogs and possibly riding boats with his new owners every chance he got.

Of course, what happens next is unknown to me. I can only hope that he'll be fine but I instinctively feel that he'll have a wonderful life.

I miss him though. It was a tough time we had together; meeting him on the road, trying to get him to the vet, teaching him not to bite so hard, to be softer and easier with us humans and trying to teach him to be a better dog.

I watched the boat with its single bright light as it headed out to sea under the darkening sky. For ten minutes, I watched before it turned left around an island and disappeared from sight.

I sought out the girl today and asked her about Jason. She said he's fine. He's tied up away from the other dogs to prevent fighting at this early stage but he's eating well and not making any noise. They're quite surprised by his good nature.

She said I can visit him. I'll give him two weeks to adjust and accept his new environment and owners, and then I'll visit.

It'll be great to see him again.

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.