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.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

What a Trip

My g/f is leaving town for Hong Kong tomorrow morning. I'm going to meet her there sometime the following week for another week or so. I'll be meeting some more of her family there, and taking in the culture from a local perspective instead of from a superficial tourist point of view.
Although I haven't travelled outside the U.S. in any significant fashion, I'd hafta say this is how I prefer to visit other regions. Many years ago, I visited Mexico with a friend and his family who lived there. It makes the experience more enjoyable and serves as a good way to see thangs as they really are. Mexico is a depressing place, but you can't know how depressing until you travel to a city's outskirts and see poor families living in tin huts made from junk (same as little as 4' high) for as far as you dare to look. It helped me realize that some countries are afraid to take the steps necessary to allow their citizens opportunities. Maybe afraid is the wrong word. Maybe it is intentional, to hold down the masses and keep them under control. I don't know, but either way, it would not take a lot of effort to charge up the Mexican economy if its government would loosen economic controls. The Mexicans that can get ahead are the ones that are able to find work in the U.S., at least along the boarder.
I wonder what I'm going to discover about Hong Kong?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Recent quote from AP

From the AP: "Danforth, a Missouri Republican and an Episcopal priest, commented recently
'I think that the Republican Party fairly recently has been taken over by the Christian conservatives, by the Christian right,' he said in an interview. 'I don't think that this is a permanent condition, but I think this has happened, and that it's divisive for the country.'
He also said the evangelical Christian influence would be bad for the party in the long run."

Ya'think!? This is obvious. It happened when Bush Sr. weakend the Republican Party from 88-92. They lost their way. In the void, the extreme religious right stepped in and started consolidating their power within the Republican Party in the same manner that the Nazi Party took over the Germany government. Then they used their momentum to take over the U.S. Government, and now we have a mess to clean up that will be an embarassment to American generations to come.

Acura troubles again

The trouble with my Acura TL is it now has had THREE Transmissions in under 62,000 miles. THREE! Acura extended all the warranties of all TL owners to seven years, for 2002 and 2003 awhile back. Well, I'm getting full use out of that warranty extension, except...well, I purchased the standard extended warranty when I bought my car back in 2002. Well, with all the little and moderate thangs that have gone wrong with my car, I'm glad I did get the extended warranty. Anyone that doesn't buy the extended warranty for their car are facing higher costs than they may realize. Even on the luxury cars, issues come up. All of my issues are covered, as long as I keep up with the maintenance schedule. Without the extended warranty, I would've had to spend an addition $1500 or so by now. I think I paid that for the warranty, but I don't remember exactly. I know I'm breaking even. It's not to be able to take a car in for repairs and not hafta pay out hundreds of dollars, except for schedule maintenance.
Anyways, three transmissions. I'm told that even my previous transmission was known to have problems, so the dealership expected to hafta replace it again. Supposedly, this new transmission will not have the same issue and last longer than 30,0000 miles.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Columbus/America Myths 1 and 2

Christopher Columbus/America Myth 1: Christopher Columbus discovered America. This is actually false in many ways. America has been visited, had trade routes with and even colonized by both Asian and European powers long before Columbus. Ancient Celtic writing found in a cave in the southern Atlantic Seaboard region shows that European visitors had some contact with North America perhaps centuries before Columbus’ voyage. Before even that, Vikings had colonized the region from Newfoundland to New England over 1000 years ago. Some evidence even suggests that there may have been Mediterranean contact in Roman Republic times. From Asia, Chinese records describe contact with the American West Coast decades before Columbus sailed his first voyages. Of course, the ancestors of the Native American peoples arrived thousands of years before everyone else. All of this leads to the conclusion that there is no true discovery date for the Americas.

Christopher Columbus/America Myth 2: America is named for Amerigo Vespucci. The falsehood about the discovery of America is even evident in the name “America” itself. Since America wasn’t discovered by Columbus, it wasn’t named after him. Nor was it named for a Saint or Monarch. This is very telling. So, the myth says that the name America is derived from Mr. Vespucci’s first name. However, this makes no sense in two ways. First, he is a minor historical footnote, which means it was very unlikely he would have received such an honor before the Queen or the Church. Second, despite perceived similarities in spelling, the names are completely different. If Mr. Vespucci’s name was used, it should have been his full first name or his full first name with some variation last syllable, something like Amerigosa. This would have lead to America’s name having different translations in different languages. Yet in Spanish and English, America is spelled the same even though both languages use much different naming conventions. So, it is much more likely that the name America is derived from another name or term that was already in use (though perhaps not common use) by the time Columbus set sail. The main source that qualifies for this criterion is the “Merica”, which was in use by some prior to Columbus’ first voyage to represent a promised land across the Atlantic Ocean. However, even this supposed origin is suspect. Personally, I think that the name America has its source in some mythology, whether it be from the tales about Merica or some other forgotten myth. The origin of the name America has yet to be discovered verifiably, but serves as its own massive clue that the New World wasn’t named for any of its European explorers.

More mythbusting to come.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Lunchtime

Well, ever since my company put in the food vending machines, my cost of living has dropped a bit. With the exception of Tuesday (when I meet up with Miriam for a mid-day movie - saw 40 Year Old Virgin for the second time), I’ve spend less than 10 dollars for lunch this week. It’s packaged food, so it’s not the best in the world, but it’s not overly fattening or anything. The reason I stopped going to McDonalds years ago is cuz of the fat and sodium in their food. These items are not nearly as bad and even a lot cheaper. Plus, I'm saving money cuz I'm not out driving around to the local places. Ok, now’s time for lunch.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Leave my jamas alone, you llamas!

So, I’ve learned a tiny tiny bit of Spanish many many years ago. I know enough to at least be able to recognize the sounds that each letter makes, and a few phrases. So today, a Spanish speaking co-worker of mine was asked how to pronounce her name. Her name has the Spanish double-L (LL) in it. But the sound she made for the LL was very confusing to me. She was using a sound similar to an English J. Now, as any student of Spanish as a second language is taught, the LL makes a Y sound, as in the word YOU. Of course, it’s not as simple as that, but generally, it is an equivalent to an English Y sound with some variation in stress, depending on the region.

So, I wasn’t able to let this go. I've been around Spanish speaking individuals my whole life, and never heard the LL pronounced so strongly as J.  I jumped in and asked her to repeat it to make sure I was hearing her right. Again, she pronounced the LL in her name as a J. So, now I’m even more confused. Normally a person knows how to pronounce their own name. After several attempts to get her to say it, I started up with, “Doesn’t the LL make a Y sound?” She agreed, but then said it as a J again, this time only the letter itself. Ok, so now I’m even more confused than before. I asked her to say the common Spanish question “COMO SE LLAMAS?” and it came out of her mouth as “Como say jamas”. I said, “Como say yamas”, and she corrected me, “Como se jamas.”

Needless to say, my main confusion now is how a native Spanish speaker doesn’t know how to say letters in her own language. So, we started into a rather flavorful and light argument about this. It lasted long enough to entertain a few nearby co-workers. She was all, “How are you going to teach a native Spanish speaker my own language. Let me teach you English.” So, I printed a pronunciation chart of Spanish letters with their English equivalents. She was still not convinced. She even mentioned that she spoke Castilian version of Spanish. I wasn’t buying that.

The funny thing is, I know she speaks Spanish as a first language all the time. We live in California, where one can find peoples representative of many Spanish speaking regions. I know she has had to have talked to other Spanish speakers before. But she’s convinced that everyone says the LL as a J. I’m kinda starting to think there are a lot of Latin American’s that say the LL as a J without realizing it, as an accent. I’m not sure that she (or many Latin American people) can even hear the difference between the Y (you) and J (jam) sounds. Very strange. Either way, she still insists on pronouncing as a J. After all, that’s how she’s been saying it all her life. If this is how a lot of people are talking, Latin American television must be impossible for Spaniards to understand.

Ok, so later in the evening, I met up with my friend Dave, who was raised in Spain and has a significant European background. I told him and his Latina girlfriend this story and gave the example of the J sound. He immediate laughed. But his girlfriend said, "Yes, you said it right!" I looked at her oddly. (My co-worker and Dave's girlfriend are from two completely different regions.) Dave looked at his girlfriend funny too and pointed out her error. She wasn't even aware that she was saying the J sound herself. We were both pretty amazed.

Monday, October 03, 2005

President knows how to pick 'em

The President refuses to learn the lesson of error of choosing the wrong people for the job. With his latest Supreme Court nomination, he has shown the same lack of skill for finding the right people to fill posts in government as he did in choosing Rumsfeld and Brown (head of FEMA). He's a very poor just of skill and character. I'm pretty sure he's also very poor understanding the responsibilities of the positions for which he hires or nominates people. His cronyism has hurt and weakened America in so many diverse ways that it is past the point of being a humiliation. He is an embarrassment. Those who blindly follow him are an embarrassment. How can someone continue to blunter so openly and still have an ounce of respect from anyone? Now, it's beyond outright foolishness.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Last Night's Party

sample picture

Last night's birthday party for Kate was fairly tame as house parties go, but it was a lot of fun. This picture shows Jaime's first ever Keg Stand! Just turn your head 90 degrees to see her Keg Stand properly vertical . :) There was also a permanent batting cage in the backyard. The ball hurling machine wasn't working (or at least their drunk asses couldn't get it to work), so some of the guys switched between batting and pitching. Not smart. I watched as one line drive drove right into the ribs of the pitcher. Funny thang, and funnier that he keep pitching afterwards! lol My buddy Nate randomly meet a girl (Keg Stand Jaime, actually!) who he's only talked to through Myspace and emails before. Must be fate. lol Even with all of this going on, Miriam and I still took off by midnight. I was the double-d, though I don't think either of us had any possibility of getting too drunk.