Monday, November 28, 2005

World of Hypocrites

Hypocrisy is part of the human condition, but it is not part of what it means to be human. We just have a bunch of people in our world that feel they have a right to tell others what to think or how to act while exempting themselves from those same rules (at least in their own minds). This is the classic scenario for over 2000 years since the rise of monotheism. It seems that the belief in only one god inherently creates a breeding ground for hypocrites and liars. The world is full of popular people that tell their believers one thang, then turn around and do the opposite themselves. They are also capable of saying one thang here, but say the opposite somewhere else to appease whatever audience they are talking to. Open lying is terribly obvious these days when one does it on TV for an audience of millions, yet the likes of Pat Roberts still do so freely in full view of everyone, and they are never held accountable. Many professed Christians are now getting caught up in crimes of their hypocrisy such as bribery, insider trading, stealing, false testimony, treason, violating National Security, etc. These are the same people that just a couple years ago called upon fellow Christians to vote for them because they held the same religious beliefs. Now that all these people are being held accountable for their misdeeds, their proponents are standing by their sides saying, “They are being attacked because of their faith.” Is corruption really apart of the Christianity?

I get the sense that these people are the same that claim that Christians are being persecuted by this world. ::cough:: This world is under the power of Christianity and has been so for a 1000 years. Who in this world is persecuting Christians on a large scale? Other Christians, perhaps? Ridiculous. It’s as though the word persecution really means that a Christian’s crimes aren’t being ignored and other people aren’t helping that Christian to commit their crimes. What else could it possibly mean in the context of today’s world?

These issues aren’t limited to Christianity. Islam and Jewish faiths also carry this burden, but the Christians are in control, and it is they who must take the lead to stamp out the hypocrisy. Of course, for the time being, they will not, at least in the U.S.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hong Kong Photos

Da Big BuddhaThis is the big Buddha statue at the Po Lim Monastery. Each visitor walks up the many steps to the statue and is allowed to walk around it and within it. Guests may only enter into the inner hall if they have a meal ticket (I guess to show they have just ate a vegetarian meal?). Although the statue is impressive to look up at, the site you seen when looking back down from the statue is a little less inspiring, with construction continuing on commercial projects just outside the Po Lim Monastery. They are going to build a gondola to the peak soon, and they are under way on making an underground mass transit point at the site. All of this kinda detracts from what I would've guessed to be the idea about building a giant Buddha statue in the middle of nowhere on the top of a mountain. Oh well.

Daytime Hong KongI took this black and white photo from the top of a double decker bus. Buses are hella cheap in Hong Kong. It costs no more than US$1.25 to travel anywhere in Hong Kong. The old trolleys are even cheaper. They cost about 11 cents (US) to travel from one area to another, though they don't cover all of Hong Kong like the buses and mass transit rail do. The roads are mostly full with traffic from buses, taxis and commercial trucks. There are relatively few private cars in the main parts of the cities.

Night time on Jordon StreetMany parts of Hong Kong have a special type of beauty when the sun goes down. Here's a scene of Jordan Street near my hotel. Even though it's pretty late, these businesses are all still open and making their bids to attract attention. This is a heavily touristy area, so many of the businesses are notorious for being rip-offs. I have not first hand experience with this since Allie prevented me to doing any shopping in this area. lol There were a lot of inexpensive goods to be bought just a block away on one of the side streets in various Lady's Markets and shops.

View from a JunkThis is a shot of Hong Kong from the deck of a nearly authentic junk which cruises around the Hong Kong harbor on Thursdays and Saturdays. Apparently it's pretty hard to get the free tickets for this hour long cruise. Allie and I lucked out and got the last two tickets for this cruise earlier in the week. Many people try for weeks to get the cruise tickets of their choice. I recommend trying this tourist attraction, if not for anything else than the fact it is free.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hong Kong Vacation: The Return 11/18/05

The number 11 came up several times on this trip. I arrived on Nov 11th (11/11/05). I was in the eleventh room on the eleventh floor of my hotel. We visited Allie's uncle several times at his condo, which is on the eleventh floor of his building. One of Allie's cuzins told me this joke that we will be taking the 11 bus. 11 bus? Yeah, your legs form the number 11 (ya'no, like walking everywhere). Anyways.

11/18/05 is offically the longest day of my life, not because it dragged on, but because it was long by the number of hours. Our flight took off at around 5:30pm and arrived in San Francisco at around 2:40pm. It almost feels like time travel to see a sun set only to have it raise on the same day 14 hours later. Four inflight movies. The new Bad News Bears with Billy Bob Thorton (so-so), an immitation of Bad News Bears with Martin Lawerance but I forget its title (horrible), Batman Returns (great) and one other film I can't even remember right now but I had to watch to keep me awake in my effort to get back on California time ASAP. I was relieved to be back in California after such a long flight. Even with my nerves and sensibility, a flight as long as this does weigh on my spirit.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hong Kong Vacation: On the Harbor and XL 11/17/05

Ya'no, I really don't enjoy eating Dim Sum. There's some items in Dim Sum that are ok, but for the most part, going for "Tea", as it's also called, is just not an enjoyable experience. The point of Dim Sum is supposed to be tea drinking, but it's really about all kinds of little round food items, like fried noodles, wrapped pork dumpling things, etc. Well, it's those little food items I don't like much, and the tea itself gives me indigestion. That said, Allie and I had Dim Sum with her family yet again today. Cantonese dinners I like, but the breakfasts leave me a little underwelmed. Oh well. The chance to be with Allie's family makes the endeavor enjoyable even if the setting is something less than desirable. My joke to deflect requests for Dim Sum by Allie is when she asks if I want to go for Dim Sum, I reply with the question, "And 'dem some what?" lol

Allie and I have had a long week. We capped it off with an hour trip on a cruise around the Hong Kong harbor in a converted authentic junk. A junk is a traditional Asian ship with three sails that are supported with several ribs on their masts. I learned this in school, but apparently Allie did not. She thought I was joking about the name of that type of ship the whole week before we took the ride. Ironic that she is from Hong Kong. :) Anyways, the cruise was very relaxing. We both almost fell asleep. It was a nice day for time out on the water trolling along around the harbor.

That evening, Allie and I had dinner with her mom and other relatives on her mom's side of the family. It was more traditional Cantonese food, and it was very good. Her cuzin Conan was very interesting, and only one of two males near our age group that I've meet from her family the whole time I've been in Hong Kong. It almost seems as though most of her cousins are women. Anyways, it's was a lovely dinner.

Afterwards, we did a little shopping, but didn't buy anything. We tried to find a nice formal jacket for me, but it seems that the jackets in Hong Kong are made for people with slender shoulders. It felt good be too big for clothes cuz of my broad shoulders and all, but hey, they didn't have sizes bigger than XL.

We tried to get back in time to get enough sleep for the next day's flight back.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Hong Kong Vacation: I'm a Repulsive Giant with Bird Flu 11/16/05

Yesterday represented the first truly sunny day for my visit to Hong Kong. Allie and I visited Repulse Bay. It is kind of a secluded little town in a little bay with tall mountains on three sides. It's funny that I call it a little town because several of the buildings were condo highrises, but that's just how Hong Kong is. It was the perfect day for strolling along the beach. We happened upon a Buddhist temple at one end where a group of tourists where rubbing this one little statue. I took a short video the interesting ceremony. Also, the water was warm and made me wish I had appropriately dressed for swimming in the ocean.

One a side note, I should mention that I feel like a giant in my hotel room. It's very small, especially the restroom. I have to sit at an angle to fit on the toilet next to the counter. I have to stand with my feet together when I take a shower because the tub is so narrow. With all these big buildings, one would think they'd provide more room for people to live within.

Oh, and the Bird Flu is closing in on Hong Kong, or so it would seem from the South China Morning Post with headlines like "Mainland's first bird flu death confirmed" and "HK to resume border temperature checks as authorities report three cases" I haven't seen more than a few tiny birds in the city areas of Hong Kong. I don't know if the birds naturally stay away or if all birds where killed off. Maybe I'm wrong on both counts, but it is very weird not to see any birds. Regardless, the Bird Flu still cannot spread from person to person yet, so I don't see what the fuss is about just yet. Plus, my company Cepheid already has a Bird Flu detention method that can give results in under 45 minutes. That means soon anyone that is suspected can get tested and know for sure hella quick so the appropriate action can be taken.

Well, I'm off for morning tea with Allie's family.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Hong Kong Vacation: The Experience 11/15/05

Man, I am really starting to get tired of taking Mass Transit everywhere. I told Allie that next time we visit Hong Kong I'll be renting a car. I mean, it's nice that everything is accessable from public transportation, but taking it everywhere all the time just starts wearing on me. Even she was complaining about it a little, even though she still claimed that she would disown me if I ever rented a car in Hong Kong. Humph.
Hong Kong isn't as crowded at I thought it'd be. I mean, there is people everywhere, but it's not so bad. San Francisco is about as crowded. Maybe I haven't see it at its worse yet, but given the fact that we've been everywhere, I'm not thinking I've missed much.

Hong Kong Vacation: Mountain Tops 11/14/05

Allie and I took a ferry and bus to the mountain top Po Lim Monastery to see the big Buddha statue. It rests at the top of a peak over looking the Po Lim Monastery. The only way to the statue is a long set of stairs, which we walked. The Buddha statue is big and bold. Temple staff hawked Buddha idols at various locations in the statue and at the base of the peak, in the tradition of most temple based religions as far back as time records, although modern mass production has changed the experience a little bit with mass produced idols and such. After exploring the big statue about as much as we could, we headed back down the stairs and explored the monastery itself. It was beautiful. Many large idols of different gods are placed around for offerings of prayer, incense and food. I think there must be an understanding that even though the idols are just statues, their power comes from the act of worship and not from the idols themselves.

We arrived back in Hong Kong/Kowloon city area in the evening. We took a night ride on the Peak Tram to the top of The Peak, a mountain top overlooking Hong Kong. The ride was fun. At times the tram rose at about a 45 degree angle up the mountain side. I couldn't find any name for the top of the mountain other than just The Peak. The view of Hong Kong from the The Peak was both beautiful and impressive. Even at this height, we didn't stand much higher than the top of Hong Kong's tallest buildings. There was sumfin romantic about the view.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hong Kong Vacation: The Next Day 11/12/05

Allie and I woke up kinda late, but I was now on Hong Kong time. I was glad that I didn't need more than a single night's sleep to get adjusted.
We headed down to Tsim Sha Tsui and hit up the buffet restaurant in the International Hotel for breakfast, but Allie insisted we wait and do the lunch buffet there instead because they had a really good lunch buffet. I got a little grouchy about this cuz. I was hungry and we took the Mass Transit and also walked quite a distance to get there. All was right when we finally got to set down and eat though.
Right outside that hotel was the Avenue of the Stars which honors the stars of Hong Kong's budding film industry. We explored the area and got some information about various Hong Kong attractions. It's funny that even though Allie is from Hong Kong, we still ended up at the Tourist Information Center like we were a couple of normal tourist. Allie's Cantonese does help speed thangs along though, no matter where we find ourselves.
We then toured the nearby Space Museum. The exhibit areas where fairly basic with no significant exhibits, but it was nice to get out of the heat and stroll around. Allie enjoyed some of it and I enjoyed adding extra info to better explain some of stuff behind the information presented.
We then visited Causeway Bay to shop at the inexpensive places and in a Lady's Market.
After heading back to the hotel and resting, we ended up in Kwai Lan Fong for a night out. This is a block of streets that are shut down in the night for one big party around a bunch of European style pubs, bars and clubs. A lot of the local Europeans end up here for drinking, dancing and socializing with other White people.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Hong Kong Vacation: Shopping and the Traffic Jam 11/13/05

Allie and I got up late, ate breakfast in the hotel room. We headed to the central Exchange at central and took a bus to Stanley Village on the other side of the Hong Kong island. There we visited a street market and got some pretty good deals on stuff. We then visited the Buddist temple as well, and had a lovely lunch on Stanley Street.
On the way back to the hotel, the main route back to the main part of Hong Kong was blocked with a major accident. The delay was reported to be at least two hours, so we got out of the bus and walked for 3/4 hr, mostly downhill, back to the main bus terminal to catch a bus that was heading back to Hong Kong thru the only other route out of the area. Fortunately, Allie had discovered the only bus route that would take us back, though still through thick traffic on narrow mountainous roads and bridges. Traffic everywhere in that area was a mess as people where trying to get out. We where lucky to beat the rush of people to the bus headed out of there. Everyone else was still waiting for the main buses and didn't realized the way was blocked until everyone was started lining up for the only bus heading the other way. Felt a little like survival of the fittest and we got a jump on everyone else. :)
After getting back to the hotel, we had dinner and then visited a nearby Lady's Market. According to Allie, a Lady's Market is any alley or street filled tightly with vendors selling their goods. The walk thru a Lady's Market is usually very cramp and crowed. She added that they are also great places to get a pocket picked. At this Lady's Market I found a great deal on knock-off Polo luggage that was pretty good quality.
Both of us where beat, so we headed back to the hotel and knocked off to sleep quick.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Hong Kong Vacation: The Flight and Arrival 11/10/05 11/11/05

The flight was long. Fortunately, me and one other person had a row of 4 seats to ourselves. Other than the two empty seats next to us, the plane was pretty full. This made for a fairly comfortable time, though I did share my extra seat with another couple with a kid from time to time. The first leg of the flight was 13 hours. I was only able to force about 3 hours of sleep, though I pretty much tried to sleep the whole time. The flight arrived in Taipei 15 minutes early...but the flight to Hong Kong on the second leg was about an hour late.
I had only brought one carry-on bag. When I arrived in Hong Kong, all I had to do was wait in line for visitors and get my passport stamped. Because I didn't have any luggage, I just walked thru the luggage claim area to the Arrival area, called Arrival Area A or sumfin like that. Well, Alice was waiting for me at Arrival Area B. I had noticed that my Treo phone worked in Taipei when I was waiting around bored at that airport, so I tried my Treo at the Hong Kong airport, and it worked. I called her and we found each other pretty quickly. She was prepared with a mass transit card for me and we hit the Express Train to Kowloon, where my hotel is.
I was annoyed that my shades broke somewhere on my trip, so the first thang we did in Kowloon is stop off at one of the many malls while walking to my hotel. My first purchase in Hong Kong was a rather decent pair of Guess shades.
We checked in to the hotel and then headed to Northpoint to visit her uncle and meet up with her mom. Alice, her mom and I later meet up with her mom's friend and had a late lunch.
Later, some cousins, her uncle, mom and us meet up for a late dinner at a good Chinese style restaurant. Of course, here it's not called "Chinese" lol Anyways, I was so lagged that I almost passed out at dinner, so Alice and I headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.
I woke up the next morning on Hong Kong time. :)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

How many great loves

How many great loves does one have in a life time. Some say you are lucky to have it once. Maybe each of use are supposed to have that great love and only some of us are unlucky to have missed it. Or maybe it goes unappreciated, of course I guess that's the same as missing it. I don't know how many great loves I'm going to have. I know that each experience is different. Does the uniqueness itself stand as the defining quality? Naw. Does the strength of feeling and level of emotion investment qualify? Again, maybe. I know I've had one relationship that would qualify on that merit. Maybe it's also when you really really get a chance to know a person deeply and understand them and not fault is found regardless of the imperfections that are laid bare. But the only way to know if you have such a relationship is to experience a test that pushes the limits. Is this a defining quality? Perhaps. But many loves fail that test. But does the failure mean the relationship is a failure? I think that it doesn't matter. Losing love helps define it as great in some cases. Sometimes it develops over time. It becomes what it is meant to over time. The test is not a great moment, but the fact that it does last. If all of this is so, then I've been doubly blessed in this life.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

So, like what?

I have to move out. I don't know if I wanna get a small-ass 1 bedroom apartment, or share a house or large condo with someone. I've got awhile to make my decision, but I have some time. I have until like the end of Jan, but I do wanna get sumfin in the works before then. hmm.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Weekend

This last weekend have been pretty busy. I guess it's fitting. My cuzin and I hung out and saw Jarhead on Friday night. It's ok. There's a moral lesson in the movie somewhere, but it was lost to me. It feels like a docudrama with some funny bits. There's good acting and the story was interesting to a degree. However, it seemed to be missing something. Maybe it was made just for U.S. vets. Maybe they see sumfin in it that I'm not.
Anyways, we hung out on Saturday too. We ended up in SF with some friends of hers. There was couple of interesting places we hit up that I might return to. I can't remember the names of either, but I could find them again. :)
Today, I hung out for awhile with Jenn. We had a late lunch, hit up a play for go-cart racing and have a fun time hanging out. Right now, I'm catching up on chores I need to get done before my big Hong Kong trip in a few days. I'm excited.