Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Old name, same person.

After much consideration, I decided some two weeks ago that it was time to make that name change after all. It's the hassle of it that's kept me this long.

My first choice, as suggested by Fiore, was Hammer (as in MC Hammer), but in the end I decided that I really rather like my maiden name.

Hence my blog address ought to change. This is not going to happen. It will be one of those things I won't bother with for years to come. Officially though, as of this morning, I am a Nilsson again.

It's like coming home to an open fire, a cup of hot chocolate and Ivanhoe showing on TV.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rhetorical questions.

Grandma Simpson and Lisa are singing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" ("How many roads must a man walk down/Before you call him a man?"). Homer overhears and says, "Eight!"

Lisa: "That was a rhetorical question!"

Homer: "Oh. Then, seven!"

Lisa: "Do you even know what 'rhetorical' means?"

Homer: "Do I know what 'rhetorical' means?"

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I've got a new friend, who has the outstanding quality of being up for absolutely everything. I have been testing her limits with suggestions for sailing courses, camping trips and half-marathon races. Her reply remains: Sure, I can do that with you!

I have now decided to step it a notch. Tonight I will suggest a spending a night in a swamp, watching the feeding patterns of dung beatles. If that doesn't put her off, I will bring her to a stinky tofu lunch in Mong Kok.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Finnish Mint Vodka

Cousin C recently went to a party. It was her sister-in-law's 30th birthday and not knowing anyone particularly well, she ended up a bit outside the centre of events. She was joined in her corner by another "outsider", and the two of them soon started laughing at their own awkwardness in not wanting to mingle.

"Perhaps we should just get drunk?" the boy suggested. C thought this seemed like a reasonable idea and asked him to produce his poison of choice.

A bottle of Finnish Mint Vodka appeared.

After what C puts down as "roughly 15 min later", she went home.

Waking up without a hangover and no apparent memory gaps, she was really surprised when told "OMG, you were SO drunk last night!!"

The "roughly 15 min" had in reality been many hours. She had spent those hours wobbling around the party, talking to herself.

"I do recall that the girl who drove me home looked strangely at me a few times, so I suppose it's possible that it went down that way".

In her typical chilled attitude she thought whatever Finnish Mint Vodka does to you it couldn't be all that bad...

"...for all the times I've woken up wishing that I didn't remember what I got up to the night before!!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wasn't me!!

The Hong Kong Chinese never make mistakes. Ever!
If nevertheless, a mistake has been made, that mistake is someone else's. Owning up to ones failures is not desirable. Ideally, one should avoid making decisions all together.

Let me illustrate:

I received an email from our HK head office today informing us that a member of staff has taken ill with H1N1. The email was forwarded by a person called "Sarah Wang" (this is not her name). The original email was written by a "Zoe Choi" (this is not her name). Within minutes, we received a second email, again from "Sarah Wang" entitled "EMAIL FROM ZOE":

Please kindly be reminded that the email Zoe sent out one hour ago should be treated as an internal communication and should not be forwarded to external contacts. We are in our peak sales season and do not need to draw unnecessary attention to this unfortunate situation. Thank you for your cooperation.

You can see it, can't you??
"Let's blame Zoe, the stupid bitch, for sending me an email that I then took it upon myself to email to THE ENTIRE OFFICE without spending 10 sec to think about it first. It was SO HER FAULT!!"


My workplace is conveniently located on the street in Mong Kok, where the three recent acid attacks have taken place.

My company has also just announced (internally) that one of our employees is in hospital being treated for H1N1.

This seems like a good time to start negotiations for a high-risk bonus to be added to my salary.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

4th June, 1989

You know, I had never heard of the Tiananmen Square incident until I moved to Hong Kong five years ago, one of my students told me today.
She's from Tsing Dao, the beer producing capital of China, and old enough to remember the events of 1989.

So, what are your thoughts?, I asked.

It's hard to say. I think it's terrible... but the protests didn't make any difference so what was the point?, she answered shrugging her shoulders slightly.

Many of my mainland students share the same attitude. Objecting to the system is not going to make any difference, so let's just go with it and hope for the best.
Are they right? Well, twenty years on, improvement have been made.

The Chinese Government might prefer doing things at snail-speed, but the country is nevertheless set on a course of change. The economic strenght is upgrading the general standard of living. Things "foreign" are the subject of careful curiosity. The Chinese are the fastest growing group of international travellers. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James sell more basketball tops in China than Yao Ming. Prison Break is a hit TV show.
The break hits bottom, though, when communication outside of governmental control is attempted. Watch American TV, support Manchester United, learn English...but your thoughts and ideas are not to be shared with others.

Ten years ago, the Tiananmen Square was closed for visitors. Today it's open.

Twitter, Flickr and Hotmail, however, are blocked.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tongue of dog

The problem with having a cough (which I still do) is my students' insistence on offering me various witch doctor brews. I have a lot of respect for Chinese medicine. I have very little respect for the vast majority of Chinese pharmacies plonked all over Mong Kok. I know, because I've read it in a newspaper, that most pharmacists are not qualified and their remedies closely resembles hocus pocus.
If it was just eye of newt to worry about, I wouldn't mind sipping away. This is China though - balls of tiger is just too much!

I'm going to see my drug-pushing doctor instead.