Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Historic Announcement

Simon World is moving to here.

This blog is on the move. The new Simon World is here. It is already working and going forward I will only be posting there. Can you please update your links and bookmarks. The new website is: http://simonworld.mu.nu Why have I moved? I am sick of Blogger crashing, losing templates and the like. The new service allows uploading of images (there's one there already as a test) and I will be posting the much demanded photos of myself and family soon. Actually no one has demanded them, but once you see them you might wish you hadn't. One consequence is unfortunately I cannot carry the comments from this blog to the new one, although the new one has a better comments system. Hopefully soon all the old posts from this site will get shifted over to the new one too. Please tell all your friends and family, and even those strangers on the street, about the move. Thanks.


We had a breakthrough last night. No one in our house fell out of bed last night. No one cried at 3:30am. We actually managed 8 continuous hours of uninterrupted sleep. The world seems to be a better place today. Just enough time for a bit of a rant. The unlinkable SCMP has an article following remarks by Singapore's Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong, that Australia will only be accepted in the region when half its population is Asian. He's following on from that noted philosopher Mahathir who described Australia as "some sort of transplant from another region". The article continues: Among Asian countries, negative perceptions of Australia have been fuelled by Canberra's intervention in East Timor in 1999, its hardline treatment of asylum seekers, and its robust support for the United States-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. US President George W. Bush caused embarrassment for Australia last week, when he praised the country for acting as a "sheriff" to the US in the Asian region. Australia tends to get itself into a lather over things like this. I'm not really sure why. The reality is Australia is not part of Asia. It is not part of America. It is not even part of Europe. It is a country unique geopolitically, being a country of Anglo-Saxon heritage but placed in the bottom of Asia and the Pacific Rim (or the top, depending on your point of view). Australia trades and is politically engaged with Asia, just like it is with the US, with Europe and the like. Our biggest security threats are from Asia, especially South East Asia. But is this a part of the world Australia really wants to be a part of? ASEAN proudly counts Mynamar as a member without any comment. Asia is a nebulous concept, much like the idea of Europe, even despite Europe being much more developed in integrating and being a united continent. These are just groupings. They mean nothing. They have no impact on the world. Sure Asia nations have much in common; they also have plenty that divides them. Just because they are all next to each other means little in economic or political terms. If there are negative perceptions in Asia because we helped East Timor, then tough. If the rest of Asia disagrees with the asylum policy, tough. If the rest Asia doesn't like Australia supporting the war in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere, tough. This is what Australia, democratically, has chosen to do. Instead of getting all hot and bothered about what these Asian "statesmen" have to say about Australia in Asia, the country should get on with being itself. Australia suffers an insecurity and inferiority complex. The Queen of the UK is still the head of state, the Union Jack is still part of the flag. While in some ways Australia is an advanced country, in many others it has growing up to do. It needs to feel secure in its own identity and stop worrying what anyone else thinks. This is what the US (with support of some other nations, including Australia) in its war on terror and Iraq. When it comes to the crunch a country needs to say what it believes in and then believe in it. The policies causing the "negative perceptions" of Australia in Asia are policies of a democratic country asserting its place in the world. Better get used to it.

It's coming

Blogging likely to be light for a little while; in the process of making a major change to this blog. Please bear with me if things get a little screwy for a while.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Problem solved, Blog's First Secret and Quirky HK

The big sushi problem is solved. For those of you have followed the story of the Pret boycott I am pleased to say a solution has presented itself. The new IFC next to work has a City Super supermarket, which luckily has an extensive sushi bar. The quality is good, the pricing is high but it is sushi. I will endevour to replace the poll sometime now it has become redundant. That said I will still never enter a Pret until they live up to their promise of restoring sushi to their menu. Now for this blog's first secret. This secret needs to be kept from Mrs M at all costs. She reads this blog, so it's all just a bogus plot to generate another post. But I digress. The new IFC shopping mall is shaping up to be a shopping paradise. So far I have counted two shoe shops on the walk to the supermarket. Then I spy names such as Tiffany's, Burberry, CK, Zenga and so on. I missed the signs saying these were the seconds stores, or the factory outlets for these chains. That makes me think only one thing. This is a place to avoid, these are genuine retail outlets. If Mrs M comes into town for lunch I am going to have to push to go somewhere like the fast food place down by Star Ferry. Which leads to my next interesting Hong Kong observation. They have the most inefficient method of payment for goods. Take my purchase of my sushi lunch today. You go to the counter, pick your dish. The person at the counter takes it, gives you a slip of paper and points you to the cashier. You go to the cashier, pay and get another piece of paper, stapled with the first. Finally you return and present all your paper and get your lunch. Now I've never worked in retail so I am unaware of the difficulties in handling cash from customers. But if they see it fit for the person to handle the goods (in this case, sushi) is it asking too much for them to take my money and give me my change too? Obviously it is. HK people seem no less trustworthy than those working in retail back in Australia. Indeed many seem more trustworthy. So why can't they take my cash and give me my lunch in one combined movement? The only possible gains are it would be quicker, easier and they wouldn't need a specialist cashier. This is not a one-off either; all retail outlets in HK operate like this. You pay one person and take delivery from someone else. It applies in Government offices as well. A visit to the Transport Department usually involves a minimum of three counters - one to get the forms, one to present the forms and the last to pay the fees. It is specialisation gone mad, the division of labour to the nth degree. A little multi-skilling will work wonders for this place. Of course it would make the unemployment situation worse, but that's the price of making my lunch transaction faster.

More schadenfreude

If I ever again feel down, like last Friday, I now know where to turn to. I will simply read this story again from Shaky Kaiser. Here's one quote from an entertaining piece: So there I am, tottering through the hotel, with sh!t on my shorts, puke down my back, and a half naked comatose woman on my shoulder. Talk about a walk of shame. It gets better.

Around the world

JC feel out of bed again last night. This wasn't funny like last time, mostly because Mrs M and I have not had more than 5 hours of continuous sleep since the girls started sharing their bedroom a few weeks ago. There is some rubber matting on the floor to cushing the blow, and she was asleep again as soon as I plonked her back in her bed. It then took me 1 1/2 hours to fall asleep again, before PB decided 5:51am is the perfect time to wake up. All I can think about is how soon I will be in bed again. To distract myself, here's a collection of breaking stories: 1. There's some major problems in Norway's hospitals: A hospital in the northern Norwegian town of Trondheim has opened a special "kiss 'n' drive" lane for employees after tiring of the traffic jams caused by their spouses dropping them off for work. Most people I know are pushing their spouses out the car as quickly as they can when they drop them off for work. The best part here is how they demarcate the lane: pink hearts are painted on the asphalt. That'll get them moving faster. 2. I have to include this one because Mrs M's family is Hungarian, and her 6 foot plus father is coming to stay with us soon. Tony Curtis is preparing for a new leading role - to help promote tourism in Hungary. 3. To prove there are also dumb Australians, there is this timely warning from doctors. Doctors have warned Australians not to eat slugs. I have to re-assess my lunch plans. 4. Times are tough in the Ukraine. They can't even afford real silencers anymore. Ukrainian police have arrested a man caught with a gun and a cabbage he intended to use as a silencer. Lastly my first Competition is going well, with responses flooding in. That is actually a lie, but thanks to Oda Mae for the first story. Please feel free to join in by following this link or using the link on the sidebar. Just make up a story up. No one will ever know.

Are you a Bright?

The Brights are a new group trying to establish the word as a noun to describe those who's worldview is free of supernatural and mystical elements.The ethics and actions of a bright are based on a naturalistic worldview. What does that mean? Basically it is a group of who are skeptical and who's view of the world is naturalistic ie conceiving of reality as natural. This excludes the supernatural or mystical, it excludes the "other worldly". Check out the website for more; it's an interesting concept. Personally I agree with most of the ideas in being a Bright.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Love in HK

I am always thankful for Mrs M. She's not just beautiful, funny, smart and interesting, she's a great wife and mother to the two kids I so far acknowledge as mine. She also puts up with me and is prepared to often been seen in public with me. She really is very special. Then I read a tale of love in Hong Kong. With a sequel to boot. Forget Kill Bill. This is the real deal with everything in it: threesomes, mixed nationalities, Wanchai, alcohol, bashings and more. I would love to option the movie rights to this.

Gweilo Fest update

Hong Kong Gweilo Fest is going from strength to flop in record time. Prince was good on Friday night, with the organisers only having to give away 700 free tickets and the removal of 1,000 otherwise empty seats from the expensive seat area. Still it looked like it was pretty full, so they got away with that. The family day on Saturday was by all reports well attended, with a jumping castle and other kid friendly activities filling up the empty space. Saturday night's Craig David concert was the low point. The stadium was half full even despite a desperate attempt to give away free tickets. The whole event is Government subsided and a complete waste of money which I have gone on about before. The organisers are the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), who have shown that as rock concert organisers they make a great Chamber of Commerce. The only people who were going to buy tickets to this thing were expats for the Western stars; these expats are not teeny-boppers looking for the latest boy band heart-throb. Prince was a good idea, Craig David a stupid one. If they really wanted full houses they need a mix of stars like Prince, who let's face it were biggest in the 80s (or as far back as the 60s for the Rolling Stones), and some local Canto-pop stars that would sell out in 3 seconds and make the local population appreciate they are getting something out of the whole exercise. That's nothing more than common sense. Instead it seems they have gone out and tried to find who was available and make a Festival out of that. It is just such an obvious cock-up and waste.

Saturday & Sunday

Weekends tend to be an interesting mix of trying to find things to do with the kids, and ferrying them to birthday parties. We started Saturday with a visit to Ap Lei Chau (a small island just off HK Island). There is a large shopping centre there with furniture shops and more importantly for this mission, toy and kids shops. The girls had a ball trying to play with every toy in every shop. Luckily JC didn't find what Mrs M and I called the "aisle of Death", which was 10 metres of Barbie from floor to ceiling. Returned home for the girls nap, only for PB to wake first for a change. I took her for a walk and was happy to witness her first ever golf shot. She sliced a little, but nothing that cannot be fixed in time. I'm looking for an appropriate moniker, something like Tiger, but more feminine. Perhaps Tigress. That evening we went to some fellow Disneyland inmates' for dinner. As Mrs M pointed out, it is odd to be going out for the night by walking down some steps from our apartment to someone else's place. We ate and chatted and played some board games, which can always be a testing time in a friendship. Luckily both marriages and friendship survived the night, despite some cheating by our opponents. Mrs M gift for working out what my stupid drawings and charades represent meant we proudly held our own. Sunday there was a charity bazaar at the Disneyland complex. It was smaller than expected with the usual collection of unwanted toys, chutchkas (Mrs M talk for useless bits and pieces) and books. JC played on the jumping castle before she and Mrs M headed to another birthday party. Not before she purchased her very own Barbie balloon of course. This meant PB and I were left to spend some quality time together. We sat on the grass on watched a couple of the acts they had performing. Someone in the crowd passed out, which was dramatic for 5 minutes, but it took 20 for the ambulance to arrive and the drama to pass. The entertainment started again. Now I can see why as a parent you would be proud and happy to watch little Margie do her ballet. I can even admit that is cute for a couple of minutes. But 45 minutes of it is getting too much; and the clowns were pretty lame too. Thankfully PB also eventually realised the cr@ppiness of what was going on and we left. PB walks everywhere now. This made the 100 metre walk from the bazaar back to our apartment complex take 30 minutes. PB has an unerring sense of which way is the right way to go and then go the other way. JC returned from her party with another, larger Barbie balloon plus an Elmo balloon for PB. We then headed back to the bazaar for the afternoon, where JC again went on the jumping castle. Interestingly it deflated while she was on it which she thought was great fun. The rest of the afternoon we mucked around on the grass even though the fair finished at 4pm. The girls decided to use the stage to play their newest game, which I like to call "Run around and scream". The rules are simple. Run around. Scream. Fall down. Start over. They play it indoors too, which then leads to another rule - stop when Mummy or Daddy say so. For some reason this rule has not yet been accepted into the game. We returned home and JC and I watched (can you guess) Barbie in Nutcracker, which included us doing our usual flourishing ballet routine at the end. She takes after me in the dainty department I'm afraid. Now most evenings I take Misti the wonder dog for a quick walk so she can relieve herself before bedtime. Last night we walked to our usual spot, she spent 15 minutes braving the gale force winds sniffing every square inch of the turf before finally doing her thing. Then as we walked back to our apartment we walked past a family getting into a car for the airport. A mobile phone went. I did a double take. The ring was unmistakable. Hava Nagila. Maybe Dr Mahathir meant we rule the world by mobile phone ring, not proxy.

Friday, October 17, 2003


There are two places where a cigar can be considered inappropriate. One involves Monica Lewinsky, the other is a rock concert. I'll come back to that. The Purple Jehovah's Witness (PJW) played last night to kick off Gweilo Fest, Hong Kong's attempt to waste taxpayers' money just like the mainland did with their space launch. Sure it isn't on the same scale but it is a lot more useless as well. I met Mrs M at Pacific Place, the most expensive shopping mall in the world. We ate a quick dinner, chatted with some friends, then joined the rest of Hong Kong's Gweilo population and headed over to the Tamar site. This site is by day a vacant lot, used as a parking lot before it eventually achieves its destiny of becoming another monolithic skyscraper, this one acting as the central Government offices. That's not until 2008 or so and in the meantime they need to do something with it. We approached via a covered walkway which had been featured in the SCMP (the world's worst newspaper) in an article describing the best places to watch the concert without paying. It turns out the local constabulary read the SCMP because there were cops and barricades to prevent those freeloaders who thought they could get away with staring at the back of a grandstand and hearing the music. The crowd was varied. There were bankers, lawyers, even a smattering of accountants. There were Brits, Americans, Aussies and I even detected a few South Africans. A few token locals were there too, but obviously they were a ploy by the local TV networks so they would have someone to interview post-concert. Security was lax, which is interesting because a bomb or some such would have decimated the finance and legal industry in this city. The venue itself was well laid out with big walkways, a big drink/food stand and an even bigger merchandising stand. Mrs M and I made a quick pit-stop at a corporate box, with enough time to gulp down a drink and have a pee in the "VIP" (read non-stinking) toilets. Sure we were missing some Canto-pop princess trying to whip the crowd up with some lamentable covers, but that is the sacrifice we made. We made our way to our seats, which were surprisingly good given we bought them 2 days ago. The night was clear and reasonably mild so it all seemed to be coming together nicely. We sat and waited for the PJW to start. Behind us there were plenty of empty seats but looking out there were many eager faces ready to dance. After ten minutes of blackness a lady appeared on stage and played some free-form jazz for another ten minutes or so. The crowd started off clapping and cheering, but after a couple of minutes there was plenty of staring around wondering if we had landed in the wrong concert. Eventually PJW made it onto the stage, gave the obligatory "Hello Hong Kong" and kicked off with "Let's Go Crazy". Sure he forgot to mention that huge sum he was being paid for this one-off, but the crowd no longer cared. Sure he wasn't wearing purple, but it seemed he was going to do all the old numbers everyone knew the words to and none of the new stuff that no one had heard since he changed his name forty two times. Around this time some unmistakable aromas wafted past us. The sweet smell of the "wacky weed" of course, but also the pungent scent of a Cuban. This was 5 minutes into a 2 hour concert. The ladies in front of us soon moved to some of the vacant seats further up from us, leaving us fully exposed to this loser's poor timing, pathetic dancing and obnoxious cigar smoking. To distract us there was a woman two rows down who was from the epilepsy school of dancing, and then a bunch of wbankers in front high fiving every few minutes and yelling at each how much fun they must be having. Unfortunately though the PJW had mislead everyone. A short version of "When Doves Cry" was followed by 30 minutes of his "jazz phase", which mixed some appropriately boogy-ish style songs with some nice stretches of musician-ship. But the crowd hadn't paid for a demonstration of scale manipulation, they wanted the good songs. "Sign of the Times" and "Nothing Compares to You" were sprinkled between the lesser known stuff, and the PJW did his best to keep the crowd going, with plenty of handclaps, sing-a-longs and the bouncing up and down thing. He knew that if said "Hong Kong" he was guaranteed a cheer, so he said it five times. I asked Mrs M if he was just checking where he was, or was it part of his contract to mention the city a set number of times? The obligatory finale (why do rock acts persist with this cliche?) was "Purple Rain", a good song but not one that has you tapping your foot all the way home. Overall I'd rate it 7/10. The good parts were good, the bad parts were few and far between but there were definitely in between parts that were just that. The pacing was off and the song mix was not well thought out. That said the crowd had a good time and I walked away thinking it had been a good, fun way to spend an evening. The atmosphere was good, the venue was perfect. If nothing else Mr. PJW is a good showman. I was sitting at the end rather than on my feet yelling for more, but had done my fair share of shimmying with Mrs M. Yes the whole thing is a waste of money. Yes it mostly benefits the expats rather than the greater population of Hong Kong. There are not many local stars on the menu, but local starts only appeal to 95% of Hong Kong and Guandong's population of 150 million, whereas this is meant to appeal to...well, I'm not really sure who to. The festival rationale is to put HK back on the map post SARS, but paying a bunch of Western rock stars and geriatrics to come here is not going to make Mr and Mrs Average American say, "You know honey, if the Stones think HK is OK, why don't we go there for a week too?" All that said, it was so flippin' loud I think most of HK heard the concert last night anyway. So while 6.99 million people subsided 10,000 of us to hear the PJW they got to hear some of it too. And it pushed that flippin' astronaunt off the front of the Communist Party's paper in Hong, the South China Morning Post. Money well spent.

Mood fixed

To get myself out of my cr@ppy mood I'm going to trawl the net for people and things to laugh at. 1. Ha ha! He went all the way into space for a day and missed the main attraction! China's first astronaut has blown a myth by admitting the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space. 2. Ha ha! This is French-style justice. A French judge has been caught masturbating in court. Sure everyone thought lawyers were w@nkers, but who ever thought it was really the judge. 3. Ha ha! 30 stone is going to put even the best mobile home floor under pressure. A 30-stone Florida man had to be rescued after falling through the floor of his mobile home. 4. Ha ha! This is economic protectionism gone mad. Tanzania has banned imports of secondhand underwear. First you can't trade used undies, then what next? Spoiled milk? Used syringes? 5. Ha ha x2!! This item gives two for the price of one. Firstly Japanese hospitals are now using bears as doctors; secondly the male patient at the hospital was in the lobby's smoking section for his morning cigarette, another interesting approach to medical care. I feel better. It's good to laugh at other's expense. It reminds me how ridiculous the world can be.

1000th Visitor

This site has marked it's first milestone. Approximately 8am HK time today the 1000th visitor hit this site. I do not count when I hit my own site, otherwise we would have hit 1000 on the first day. I do count when my brother, Ma, Pa, Mrs M, Mother and Father-in-law and Misti the dog hit the site. Thus I estimate there are 3 outside visitors to this site. With this influence I feel I am really achieving my aims of world peace and inner harmony. Or at least getting the family to use the internet a little more. This is actually a small part of my massive audience. I have seen many hits from outsiders. Many of these are due to my now world famous Siegfried and Roy tiger attach video which thanks to a spelling mistake got all those spelling it Sigfried as well. The Collingwood jokes post also lead to a big hit from those hitting Google looking for witty insults for those unfortunate Pies supporters. Most of the others have gone unnoticed, for which I am eternally grateful. I have many people to thank for achieving to this milestone. I'd like to thank the Academy for this award, I'd like to thank my workplace without which my blogging would not be possible, and most of all I'd like to thank you, the little person, without whom I couldn't step on to make myself look taller. Hang on, did I just think that or write it. Oops. D'oh! In fact this blog has won many awards. Such as the least linked blog from Evil Glenn, the Blogfather; the blog least likely to talk about Greenland. and the blog that will never, ever eat at Pret A Manger ever again. This award will stand tall next all of those in that imaginary mantelpiece in my head.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I now hate the world

It is now 2pm and I am just starting my lunch. By local standards this is actually closer to dinner, as lunch tends to start at noon at the latest. I finished my Cantonese lesson (Neih haih leng neui - you are a beautiful woman) and quickly headed out to pick up tickets for tonight. First over to City Hall. It's the wrong box office sir, but please try the ESD kiosk in the MTR. An ESD kiosk is a computerised service where you can purchase concert tickets, book events etc. It's very impressive technology and shows how much HK actually has thought about using technology to make things easier. Except when it doesn't work, like today. I enter the MTR (train station), find a queue of gweilos (whites) and know this is the right machine. Quickly the queue melts away - the machine isn't working. It doesn't have enough blanks in it to print tickets for collection. A phone call to the help line tells me to go the Fringe Club. This is at the top of a hill, above Lan Kwai Fong, the bar district. Make way up said hill, despite 35 degree heat and 95% humidity. Bump into a friend and make dinner arrangements for tonight, before climbing to the top of the hill. Make it to the club. There's another queue, including several familiar faces from the MTR queue. It moves quite quickly and I think my luck is turning. But God is toying with me. The man in front of me wants to buy tickets to 4 events, check the seating, argue about the pricing (like the clerk can do anything about it) before changing his previous bookings. Finally I pay. Now I need to heed back down the hill to work. I double time it down the hill, jay-walking and avoiding cars/trucks/buses/trams with relative ease. My lunch is waiting. It's cold. I'm angry. I blog. I don't feel any better. I'm telling you, Prince better put on the concert of his lifetime or there will be hell to pay.

I hate computers

I have rebooted my computer 5 times this morning at work. It looks to have stabilised now, about 2.5 hours after I got here. My job is the kind that cannot be done without computers. If I was in a philosophical mood, I would was lyrically how reliant we now are on these machines, on email to communicate and the like. It would lead to questions on whether progress had unacceptable costs, how email removes human interaction on one hand but enhances it on the other. But I've got 30 minutes before my Cantonese lesson, which I have done no revision for, and we've banked up with all the work from this morning. So I'm in a bad mood and hate computers. Not in that order. Plus I'm off the see the purple Jehovah's Witness tonight and need to pick up the tickets. He'd better be good or there will be trouble at Tamar tonight.

Men and Women

Mrs M played in her tennis competition this morning. She plays with a group of fellow Disneyland inmates against various other taaitaais (married woman in Cantonese). They lost, although it was close. What is more interesting is the host team then has to put on a lunch for the visitors. Mrs M reports the other team was very pleasant company and good time was had by all. Now if this was men, there would have been a couple of big differences. The winners would have heartily tucked into lunch, mentioning how yummy it all was and how good life was. In the meantime the losers would be mumbling how they had lost their appetite, and how they weren't really playing their best, how fierce the breeze had been, how that old ankle injury played up and how current world events distracted them for the entire match. The winners would again comment how delightful the arrangements were how and how good the losers would all look in dresses and make-up. The losers would now be staring glumly as the winners dined on what should be their lunch. The spiral would continue until it came time to leave, when there would be pleasantries like from the losers "Go to hell you bovine ingrates" and a sarcastic "Thanks ladies" from the winners. I think this a clear example of a difference between men and women.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

This Blog's First Big Competition

My little bro Paul is getting married at the end of the year. I've made a suggestion that the ceremony follow this pattern but was strangely knocked back. We've offered JC's skills to decorate, but again were knocked back. We will have the last laugh... as I think some of JC's work could be worth almost as much as the paper it is drawn on. Her "Elephant and Buzz Lightyear" is a perfect synthesis of everything modern and natural, a true abstract piece that makes you think about the nature of all things. Especially the nature of the textas, and whether they are water soluble. This all leads to the point of this entry. Yes, there is one. I'd like to open the forum for ideas for the bucks night. I know that in America these nights are called bachelor nights and the word bucks raises sniggers. Nevertheless. We have plenty of ideas, but figure it would be interesting to see what (if anything) the blogosphere can generate. Paul reads this site (hi Paul) which makes it even better. Please relate your ideas, stories or whatever in the comments section. I reserve the right to use or ignore any part of it I like. And I'm not posting about my bucks night. I already know what I did. I want to see what else is out there. What's in it for you? Not much. If we use an idea of yours we will post a direct email with a description of the night (or as much can be collectively recalled). Otherwise you will have the satisfaction of making a young man's entry to married life all that more interesting.


Mrs M and I are heading to Hong Kong Harbour Fest tomorrow night to see the first performance of the extravaganza. The whole thing is the HK Government's way of putting HK back on the map after SARS. To me it seems HK has got back to normal on its own, but wasting US$10 million on a bunch of musicians for the entertainment of an elite few seems to be the Government way to do it. Given the large number of visitors that have come through the office over the past two months and the number due in the next two months HK seems to nicely be making up for lost time (and business). Mrs M and I are heading to see Prince, or whatever he calls himself these days. We are going to have to say no to the offer of a backstage pass though, as we don't want to be subjected to this: The pair said the singer, who is now a committed Jehovah's Witness, called at their home recently and tried to convert them from their Jewish faith. We're prime targets.


China finally has sent a man into space and brought him back alive. Good achievement. Sure its 42 years after Yuri Gagarin and the Sepos did it. All the newspapers are full of adulation for the Chinese space program and how historic it is. I have to say it is impressive, in a different way. To achieve this must have taken plenty of money and work. Sure there are some military applications, but none that I can think of that require a man in space rather than the already working and viable rockets the Chinese have been sending up for years. China has had plenty of economic growth and its Eastern coast is prosperous. But that leaves huge chunks of the countryside and slums of the big cities with plenty of poverty. It's treatment of AIDS is a disgrace (The Peking Duck has plenty on this). There are many different places where this money could have been better spent by the Chinese Government. Instead they choose to launch a space craft for the sake of national pride. I cannot imagine the same hoopala for the first Chinese computer. Or the first Chinese radio. Or anything that has been first done somewhere else and then done by another country later. That's because being first is something; even being second is not bad if it was a close run thing. But third, 40 years late? Let's use another example. Who ran bronze in the 100 metres in the 1964 Olympics. Yes you can use Google and find the answer, the point is you don't know and you don't really care.

Prison and immigrants

A horrific double murder tends to lead to reactions from politicians. No doubt the airwaves have been full of racism dressed as comment on how "these people" need to "fit in" to "our way of life" and this was all "unAustralian". Bob Carr, Premier of NSW: "My message is simple: Obey the law of Australia or ship out of Australia," he told reporters. I thought we had a legal process and prisons for this. Don't see Mr. Carr saying all white collar crims need to "obey the law or ship out". Nor rapists, or "normal" murderers or any other crime. Of course the crime is reprehensible and I hope they catch the b@st@rds and put them away for good. But it is to jail they should go after a fair trial, nowhere else. That's what rule of law is about. Once you are a citizen of the country, it is not something you revoke short of treason. Do you want the Government deciding who should be an Australian citizen and who shouldn't? (I'm not looking for smart-@rse Poms to come in here and say that yes, that's a good idea). Australia was founded by convicts who were "shipped out" of the UK instead of going to prison. Are we returning to the traditions of our earlier English overseers? Vitriol like this no doubt plays well in the sticks so I don't expect there will be much comment about this. In fact I am sure a lot of voters people agree with the Premier. Pandering to prejudice. That's the kind of thing that will see "our civilisation dragged back to medieval standards", in Mr. Carr's words.


It is a most human characteristic to laugh at others' pain. Typically the Germans have a word for it: schadenfreude. It is not right, but that's why all those Funniest Home Video shows win massive TV ratings. Everyone loves seeing some poor schmuk copping it in the privates with a funny sound effect and canned laughter to boot. Poor little JC has been in the wars. She's got an ear infection, conjunctivitis and she's not been her usual happy, Barbie-ific self. We dosed her up last night with the 32 medicines the doctor has given us, and she takes them all pretty well, even the ones without tonnes of sugar added. She woke at 2am a little unsettled but quickly went back to sleep. Then at 4:30am I heard a loud thud. It was the unmistakeable sound of 2 year old head hitting parquetry flooring. Amazing I heard this first. Usually I'm waking up just as Mrs M is returning to bed after sorting out whatever crisis has arisen. So being the father that I am, I leapt from bed. I wasn't thinking straight. I wasn't thinking at all. Somehow I decided it was a good idea to turn our bedroom light on. Mrs M quickly persuaded me this was actually a bad idea. Off it went. Into the girls' room, where sure enough JC was on the floor and not happy. Returned her to bed, calmed her down and Mrs M administered another dose of medication. Soon she was asleep and Mrs M and I spent at least half-an-hour trying to get back to that marvelous place called slumberland. Now this may brand me a bad parent, but I cannot help but smile at the thought of her falling out of bed. Sure she has a lump on her head to go with her other ailments. But I laugh out of sympathy for her plight, because she's doing it tough at the moment. It has only happened once before and it can't be easy as a 2 year old anyway. But I mostly laugh because the same has happened to me. Of course, I was 28 at the time but there are similarities. Mrs M and I were on holidays in Port Douglas. All I remember is waking up feeling the hard floor below me where previously there was comfortable matress. And I distinctly remember Mrs M laughing uncontrollably. She did ask how I was at one stage, before returning to her merry-making. I could not see the humour in the situation and my ego was more damaged than my body. But it makes me think this schadenfreude runs in the family. JC's feeling better today so I don't feel as guilty. Maybe the bump helped.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003


They finally opened the longest bridge in the world outside work yesterday. Not the longest by length, it's maybe 30 metres long. Not the trickiest, it's a simple footbridge over a busy road. The longest by time taken for construction. I arrived in HK in February and the bridge was 3/4 complete. It has taken 8 months for them to put on a roof and put some slate on the ground. The idea of the bridge is to allow for the additional foot traffic for the massive new IFC building. IFC standing for Incredible F**king Colossus, being about 10 miles tall with 3,000 stories. They've even been kind enough to put a bulls-eye target on it in case you can't see it. Funniest of all is the building is mostly empty. The HK Monetary Authority (the Central Bank) bought the top 10 floors for some monstrous amount just before the property market crashed in 1997. They're subletting some of the space themselves because they don't need it all. Another good use of HK's reserves. But I digress. So they built this extra bridge for all the extra pedestrian traffic coming through. For those not familiar, much of HK is roadways with elevated footpaths. I think they got sick of the cars using the footpaths as an additional lane. The opening of the bridge itself should have been a monumental affair. At a minimum some balloons, ticker tape and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Instead they quietly removed the barricades and let people wander across. This is to cover their embarrassment at taking so long to get it open. It's a cover-up that I'm proud to expose. You heard it here first. Anyway, it all got me wondering about the move to HK in the first place. You would think that deciding to pick up one's family, leave the place you were born and grew up, starting afresh after years of being comfortable and settled would be a momentous decision. Hours of deliberating, arguing, weighing pros and cons. The reality is it was nothing like that at all. I got told by work there was a chance to work offshore. I told my (then) boss it should be OK so long as the job was good and it was somewhere they don't like eating you and apologising later. A few weeks later I sat in an office with CF, my now boss and a fellow Aussie (well, via South Africa) and he offered me the job in HK. Went home and told Mrs M, who said should be OK, let's go check it out. We checked it out, it was OK. Back to Oz, said yes. A few months of back and forwards with contracts, settling everything, packing and preparing for the move and suddenly we were here. Looking back there were a couple of discussions with Mrs M, but the opportunity was too good and the tax rate is 1/3 of Australia's. Mixed reactions from the families and friends but it was pretty obvious to all that it was "a good thing". That was it. Picked up Mrs M, JC, PB and Misti and changed hemispheres, language and culture. Occasionally it hits me, like last night when I stared across what's left of Victoria Harbour at the bright lights of Kowloon. I'm not at home any more. Or maybe I am in my new home. Mrs M always (rightly) corrects me whenever I say "home" meaning Australia, saying HK is now our home. I suppose that makes us citizens of the world, or maybe just confused. Either way we're loving HK. JC and PB are right into things, with JC invited to birthday parties constantly (at least one every weekend), PB in two playgroups. Mrs M has met a good crowd of fellow Disneyland inmates, as well as others via the usual mafia connections. Plus she's playing tennis again and taking up bridge. As for me, the not-so-new job is good, the people I work with are good (I have to say that, they read this), the lifestyle is good and the city is good. We're removed from some of the day-to-day of family and friends back in Oz but that works out both good and bad. But most importantly the family are happy. Did I mention the tax is 1/3 of home? That's good too.


Halloween is not a particularly big thing in Australia. It was only a few years ago before the first kids knocked on our door, and we were completely unprepared. We had to raid the secret lolly stash to satiate these kids. But in HK it seems to be a big deal. Supermarkets are festooned with various ghoulish adornments and pumpkins. I'm waiting to see if these Halloween sweets make it here. JC is getting excited about dressing up, probably as Barbie, which is scary in its own way. The "tradition" at Disneyland is all the domestic helpers stand at the bottom of each tower with bags of lollies, and millions of little dressed-up kids walk with their bored parents from tower to tower collecting sugar-laced, over-commericalised syndicated lollies. The kids then spend 42 hours running in circles burning off the sugar rush, before it all ends in a massive headache and sick tummies. Only Americans could come up with such a festival. Mrs M is the class parent for JC's class this year. This means she's responsible for organising the LK5 Halloween party. My suggestion they come to our flat and clean up my "Wardrobe of Horror" was surprisingly dismissed. I didn't even get to suggesting the second part of the "Afternoon of Terror" which was the "Scarifying Bathroom Mould Clean". Or the "Re-arrange the Tower of Toolboxes" in the "Utility Cupboard of Hell". Kids are too pampered these days. Lastly a few bits: * this is the kind of religious instruction that could be the major breakthrough to the younger generations. * If women think some men have a commitment problem, this man waited to the very last minute. And I'll never again think the age gap with Mrs M is too big.


My homework as a member of the Alliance. Precision Guided Humour: Q: What would you say if you had athe floor at a Jacques Chirac press conference? A: Mr. Chirac, do you enjoy blending puppies? You are really Evil Glenn in (bad) disguise. No one has ever seen yourself and Evil Glenn in the same room at the same time. It all adds up. Where will it all end? Oh, the humanity.

It's still there

The hamster is still there. It's just not right to have a photo of a pet hamster on your screen. I am looking for an HR policy where I can claim I am discriminated against or oppressed or something by this devil-eyed rodent staring at me. All I can find is "Diversity" manuals.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Random Thoughts

1) JC has come down with a combination of an ear infection and conjunctivitis. She is not a happy little girl. She is being dosed up with the appropriate medications. Her father is sitting at work with mixed emotions - she no doubt is not a lot of fun to be around, but on the other hand needs plenty of TLC. That's where Mrs M's charms come in handy. It means for the next few days we'll all be washing our hands every three seconds and no doubt still all come down with it as well. It all got me thinking. JC goes to one of the most expensive schools on the planet, partly because it is literally two minutes walk from our door, and mostly because it is a darn fine school. Such places are a breeding ground for all sorts of maladies and diseases, all spread from little munchkin to little munchkin. So we're paying to expose JC (in time PB) to these diseases. And we don't even get refunds for the days off due to illness. Yes they use the masquerade of education, but I know what they are doing. They are experimenting with my little girl, and they are trying to bankrupt me at the same time. Evil, yet genius. 2) Mrs M and I were discussing the other day the topic of small talk. Idle chat. Mrs M's theory is men are better than women at making small talk. This often comes up because when you are doing the 3 year old birthday circuit (not as glamorous as the pro tennis circuit) one tends to find oneself making chit-chat with people. Usually you've met them a couple of times before, so you should know something about them and their lives. But in reality you've got little idea other than they also have a kid at the party and they too are scrapping around to remember your wife's name. Men can usually find some point of commonality and chat about it: sports. Women are far more diverse and interesting, which is great if you know them, but difficult if they are getting to know each other for the first time. Even having kids in common isn't much given a wide variety of ages, gender and experiences. What is interesting is when a male meets another male who professes no interest in sport. Suddenly there is a chasm that needs to be quickly covered. This happened on Saturday night when we went for dinner with some friends from Disneyland. Luckily we found other points in common, but it was a mighty effort of concerntration to find those grounds. So we've discovered why sports exist. It makes it easy for men to talk to each other at kid's birthday parties. You thought it was all about money and entertainment.

It's time to panic

Sometimes Governments classify information for national security reasons. Or because releasing it publicly will put its spies at risk. Or cause a mass panic. This is in the panic category. British nuclear weapons have been repeatedly dropped, struck by other weapons, and on one occasion carried on a truck that slid down a hill and toppled over We're not talking about an oops, sorry, tripped and dropped the shopping. Nuclear friggin' weapons. I like this bit too: Four of the incidents happened abroad, in Germany, Malta and near Hong Kong. I flippin' live near Hong Kong. In it, actually. The rest of the article is just as scary. Take this: the designs of Britain's early nuclear weapons, from the 1950s and 1960s, were unsafe and primitive, and that the MoD was "lucky" to have got away with not having more serious accidents, including nuclear explosions. What really makes me pause for thought is there are the acknowledged nuclear powers: China, US, Russia, UK and France. Then there's the new nuclear powers, such as Israel, Pakistan, India, North Korea and Iran to name a few. So if the UK has had 20 accidents in 40 years, and being a first world country this can be taken a low estimate of what happens in each nuclear country...I think you get my drift. We shouldn't be worried about the nukes. We need to worry about the mechanics looking after these trucks.

I'm rich again

My ongoing quest to get rich quickly and become a full time blogger is one step closer. In my inbox this morning: Permit me to solicit your assistance on this transaction with you. My name is Hans Berger citizen of Germany, I am a staff of Deutsche bank in germany. As one of the auditors of the bank, I happen to find out that there is an unclaimed fund of 19.4M. in one of our customer account for more than ten years and our banking law stipulates that any unclaimed fund for more than 12 years will go into the bank revenue as an unclaimed fund. I and my colleagues have made our own personal inquiries about the depositor and the next of kin but sadly,the depositor and his entire family died in a plane crash in the year 1999. We solicit that you stand as the next of kin so that the money will be transfered to your account or any other account you may provide for us. We propose that the money be shared as follows 30% for you, 60% for my colleagues and I while 10% will be for any expences we may incure. I awaits your urgent reply while believing you do understan the confidential nature of this transaction. Best Regards, HANS BERGER. Note:pls for the confidentiality of this transaction foward your reply to the below email address. hansberger66@netscape.net I'm never banking with "Deutsche bank in germany". They cannot spell. Their staff rip you off. The auditors are crooks. And they don't even tell you what currency they are scamming. Hang on, that sounds familiar. In other interesting things, there is this reason for men to never go in the laundry. I never understood why it is fun to celebrate weddings by shooting guns in the air. It can always have dangerous consequences. Finally David Blaine's trick has reached it's logical conclusion: he has been Flashmobbed. This is where people get together for a brief, random act for no reason other than why not? In their own words: This is a Flash Mob in its true spirit and is just for the sheer hell of it as opposed to making any particular political point about Blaine’s Stunt. Pointless and funny. Much like this blog.

David Blaine magic

I love magic. Last night Mrs M and I watched David Blaine's Street Magic TV show. The man has the personality of a cereal box but he's a darn fine magician. Being an extremely slow day, I couldn't help myself. I hit Google with "David Blaine magic explained" and hit the second link. I warn you now, if you like your magic to remain so, do NOT click on the following link; otherwise here's how he does it. It's up the top bar, under "Street Magic". Personally I admire the man more now I know how he does it, because while it all sounds easy reading it, I've got no doubt it takes years of practice to get it all right. It's just a shame he's not much of a showman.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Tiger attack

I've been spent a copy of a video of the infamous Sigfried and Roy tiger attack. Look carefully for the tiger.

Real estate

Sydney is obsessed with real estate. The pinnacle is a place with a view. Well let me tell you about a place with a view and a half. Paul Jackson, 33, opens his Melbourne real estate agency, Lunar Realty, tomorrow, offering one-acre blocks on the moon for $59 and 10-acre "lifestyle" blocks for $298. You're all invited to my ranch. Please arrange your own transportation.

What a weekend

The weekend started with footy with the lads at the pub, and finished with me having a shower with a woman who was not my wife. And to cap it all off, I had two women in my bed this morning! Friday night was the start of the Rogby World Cup. We decided it was appropriate to celebrate by joining other Aussies and a couple of English hangers-on at a small pub in Lang Kwai Fong called the Whiskey Priest. The upstairs section comfortable seats 40. There were at least 70 people there. The two people missing for most of the match were the bar staff, making drinks ordering interesting. Something like: "You may as well bring as many beers as you can carry." Australia won. Beer won. Everyone won. Saturday was dreary but we took advantage of the brief lull to head to the Peak. There is a small outdoor playground where the girls had great fun trying to find new ways to hurt themselves. JC spied the famous "Chippies" sign (known otherwise as McDonald's'), so we headed up for an early lunch. Sitting outside on the terrace, we were quietly enjoying our deep fried meal. It gets quite windy up on the Peak, so a brief gust came through, lifted up the umbrella in the middle of the table, and clipped little PB on the chin. After making our feelings known to the management, all the other umbrellas were also taken down. PB got away with a small scratch and was soon happily munching down the rest of the chips. But a part of me wondered whether this was because of my famous Pret boycott, Maccas owning Pret and all. They bought us off with a few free vouchers but I'll be writing a letter to them this week. Dropped the girls home for their daytime nap (schulffy time in the household vernacular). Then we had some emergency shopping to do. Not retail therapy. We have some friends who just headed back to Sydney to get married. They asked us to mind the fish. No worries. However the air pump didn't work, so those fish were looking like toilet fodder for sure. A quick trip down to Wan Chai and we found a replacement. Mrs M also started musing about adding to our pet collection by getting a fish tank. This way when we say let's go watch Finding Nemo we can sit JC in front of the tank instead. The quick shopping trip took about 2 hours, as it tends to do. We had to visit a stationary store so Mrs M could obtain the necessary plastic folders and files to re-order our records. I don't want to say she is fixated on this kind of thing, but she certainly knows more about filing than I ever will. I suspect this could be more a woman thing than a man thing. Men tend to be happy just to have assorted piles. Yet I maintain to this day I can find things under my system just as quickly if not more so than Mrs M, with her folders and the like. Sadly, we'll never know because I am too lazy to implement my system. Actually, Mrs M tends to take my system for mess (which it is) and cleans it up. Next we moved on to what can only be called a knick-knack everything mumbo-jumbo store. It had hardware, it had crockery, it had all sorts of things you never know you needed until you see them. Mrs M was in heaven. Returned to find the girls awake so I offered to take them to the indoor playground. There were twelve adults in the room, and again I was the only parent. The girls had a ball as usual. That evening we headed to a restaurant in Stanley called Lucy's which does European style cooking. Suffice to say most of the clientele are expats. We went with a French couple who arrived in HK the same time we did and who have two kids similar ages to ours. I was busy checking their heads for horns and their tails, but all I could find were two very pleasant and enjoyable dinner companions. The words Iraq, Jacques Chirac and cheese-eating surrender monkeys never came up. Great meal was had by all. Sunday marked the 1 year Bali anniversary. We had a friend in town from Sydney so we headed to the Conrad hotel to join him for brunch. JC decided she needed to go dressed as Barbie (photos to follow, Ma and Da), with the dress just a little long but otherwise she was a dead ringer. Except her hair is sandy brown and she has hazel/brown eyes. At the cafe we were again disappointed in our eternal quest to find a good Eggs Benedict (with crispy bacon instead of ham). This time the hollandaise sauce was burnt and the eggs overdone. Mrs M and I live simply to find a good EB. We rarely find a good one and have yet to find one in HK deserving of the name. The afternoon we hit the indoor pool at Disneyland as the outdoor one is getting too cold for the girls (and their father). After an hour of swimming I took PB and Mrs M took JC. We hit the showers and PB enjoyed the experience, although I think she was a little confused as to where the water was coming from. So when I said at the start I had a shower with another woman, I was really talking about a 14 month old curly wonder. But I needed a tag line to get you reading this far. And there's more. After the swimming we again hit the indoor playroom and JC found a friend to go crazy with for a while. After putting the girls to bed Mrs M and I had our traditional Sunday night dinner of Chicken Kiev and chips. We watched some TV (that David Blaine is a good magician, but has the personality of a washing machine). Now I have the day off today. JC decided to wake at 5:30am and in order to avoid her waking PB too we took her into our bed. So there's my two women in the bed trick. Took JC to school while Mrs M is down at Disneyland tennis courts wacking the ball with the meanest double-handed backhand I've ever seen. We have already started tussling for JC's sporting affection, with Mrs M showing her the tennis racquet and courts, and me pointing out the squash courts everytime we pass them. She'll be a tennis player for sure.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Cricket for Dummies

Helen commented that should like someone to explain cricket for dummies, by which I assume she means Americans. With JC and PB firmly ensconced in front of the Teletubbies I will waste valuable weekends minutes doing just that. Cricket is God's gift to mankind. Much like I am God's gift to womankind in a different kind of way. It is one of the most widely supported sports in the world with most ex-British colonies (strangely excluding Canada) playing at top level; that puts it total supporter base at over a billion people. I made that up number up, but in the sub-contineny they are mad about it. Cricket is Australia's only national sport. Every male over the age of 3 is taught to play at school, in the backyard, on the beach or wherever else and appropriate space can be found. Not to discriminate but many females also participate, and not just getting the salads ready for the boys when they are finished. To the rules. Before I get into it I will omit many details that are not necessary for a basic understanding, but like all games there are many rules and tactics to get into. Two teams of eleven. Each team has an extra (twealth) man, who can only replace a player injured during the game and is limited in what duties he can perform (I am going to use he because all this Political Correctness he/she cr@p is too much). There are two main versions of the game: Test matches and One-Day matches. Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game, with currently ten nations of Test status (Australia, New Zealand, England, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies). These games take a maximum of 5 days, with each team having two innings. If there is no result at the end of 5 days it is a draw. A One Day game each team has only one innings, limited to 50 overs (more later) and there is always a result. The game is played on an oval, with a pitch of 22 yards in the middle. At each end of the pitch is a wicket, a combination of three stumps with two bails sitting atop. There is a batter at each end of the pitch. One will be facing the bowler, the other waits at the bowler's end making disparging remarks about the fielding team and their habits (this is called sledging). The bowler has a certain line he cannot overstep, otherwise it is a no-ball and the batting team get a run (and an extra ball). Bowlers must not bend their arm during their deliver and the arm must go over shoulder height. The idea is to get the most runs. There are several other ways to get runs: by hitting the ball and running between the wickets; by hitting the ball to the boundary (4 runs); hitting it over the boundary without a bounce (6 runs); or through "extras" like the no-ball I just mentioned. Each bowler has 6 balls in an over. Once an over is bowled, another bowler starts from the opposite end for 6 balls, and so on. There is always a wicket-keeper, who stand behind the wicket opposite to the bowler, in case the batter misses it. The other 9 players are called fieldsmen, and are placed around the oval in important but not fixed positions. A batsman can be out in a few ways. If the ball hits his wicket (and knocks the bails off, which tends to happen when the ball is going at 100 miles an hour) he is out. If his leg (or any other part of his body) is line with the wickets (also called stumps) and the ball has not touched his bat he can be out LBW (leg before wicket, duh). This is adjudicated by an umpire, who stands at the bowler's wicket. A batsman is out if he hits a catch; or if he runs and the fielding team get the ball to hit the wicket before he has safely made his ground. A bat tends to be 3 foot long by several inches wide, which is limited by the rules. That's it. It is really that easy. The best is to watch a few games; I would start with a One Day game if you can because that's quicker and more exciting. Any quesitons or queries can be answered via the comments. Hope this helps some of the less enlightened to appreciate the beauty that is cricket. It is nothing like Baseball. And Australia are the world champions. In both forms of the game.

Friday, October 10, 2003

To keep us going through the weekend

Creative sentencing is making a come-back, at least in Turkey. I can see it now - "Those books could teach me something, noooooooooooo!" The best part is the little problem with the ruling: "There is a problem with going to the library on Mondays as ordered by the sentence," the father told Anadolu. "All of the libraries in the province and in our town are closed on Mondays." I know sometimes I feel old, and going to work is the last thing I want to do. Then I think about the blissful day I will retire. But it turns out you are never too old for some professions. There's some old saying about keeping your enemies close and your friends even closer. However there are times you don't want to get too close. It's always sad when someone is so delusional they cannot differentiate between film and reality. Lastly next week should mark China's first manned space flight: It should be a good one: ...with one official newspaper saying the craft would orbit Earth 14 times and another highlighting plans for a music video to accompany the launch. NASA never thought of a music video to go with their launches. Imagine the ratings for a Britney Spears live from Cape Canaverall. With some luck the engines would drown out the sound.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

World Record

It is hard to describe to those who don't follow cricket the enormity of the following achievement. Cricket is a statistics/records obsessed sport. There are websites dedicated to all manner of records. But today Matthew Hayden has broken the biggest. He has just scored the most runs ever in a Test match. Ever. This is the 1,661st Test match, having been played for well over 100 years. This man has now batted for 10 hours over two days, with temperatures over 30 Celcius (I think that's about 1000 degrees Farenheit). Here is the list as it stands: 380 ML Hayden Australia v Zimbabwe at WACA, 1st Test 2003 [1661] 375 BC Lara West Indies v England at St John's, 5th Test, 1993/94 [1259] 365* GS Sobers West Indies v Pakistan at Kingston, 3rd Test, 1957/58 [450] 364 L Hutton England v Australia at The Oval, 5th Test, 1938 [266] 340 ST Jayasuriya Sri Lanka v India at Colombo (RPS), 1st Test, 1997/98 [1374] 337 Hanif Mohammad Pakistan v West Indies at Bridgetown, 1st Test, 1957/58 [446] 336* WR Hammond England v New Zealand at Auckland, 2nd Test, 1932/33 [226] 334* MA Taylor Australia v Pakistan at Peshawar, 2nd Test, 1998/99 [1426] 334 DG Bradman Australia v England at Leeds, 3rd Test, 1930 [196] Now admittedly the opposition is weak. They are 9th out of the 10 Test playing nations in rankings and have been playing Test cricket only since 1992. But the record is an enormous achievement by any measure. To maintain one's concerntration, for every single ball, all 437 of them. For 620 minutes. A great innings; there will be plenty of newspaper ink split over this one but all you need to know is it is an almighty effort by a great player. And he's Australian. Go Aussie, go!


Thanks to Conrad for this important medical news. "Honey, we have to for my health's sake." Just back from a great dim sum lunch at City Hall. We started early because by midday the place is full. We piled high early with sticky pork buns, hau gau (prawn dumplings) and so on. Had the 15 minute halftime pause, then a little more, and now are all feeling horribly stuffed. But we did resolve to watch the Rugby in LKF, given the variety of bars should be able to see one TV screen. Matt Hayden is sitting at 308 n.o. in the cricket. As yesterday was horrible today is turning into paradise. Hayden for President.

More on Bali

Just thinking a little more about the anniversary of the Bali bombing on Sunday. I would be very interested to know how many Americans are aware of the event, either the original or the anniversary. For example, will the New York Times will have some article, buried somewhere deep in the World section, mentioning it? If so they no doubt will pick up a wire story and run it unchanged. I just ran "bali bombing anniversary" in Google and found 2 US news references in the first 5 pages. This annoys me. Sep 11 was a devastating event in the US and the world. George W said either you are with us or against us. Australia is with them. Likewise in Iraq a few nations joined the 'coalition of the willing', including Australia. Yet the Americans I have spoken with seem only distantly aware of Bali and that's partly because they work with Aussies. I know it is not a scientific sample. But I cannot help but feel that sometimes our American friends forget that terror is not always directed against them alone. They are not alone in the fight and they are not alone in the suffering. Regardless of your view of John Howard, he's doing a fine job in representing the country at this time. He is visiting Bali for the commemoration despite the snubbing of himself (and by proxy, the nation) by Indonesian President Megawati, who seems to think it best to stay well away: Mrs Megawati had no plan to attend the events. Many Indonesians were murdered too and their President is too busy for the whole week to visit. Cultural excuses of avoiding confrontation and bad memories don't cut it here. She is the symbol of her nation and her nation is also trying to ignore the event. Our job is to never let the world forget.


I just removed the quite amusing men's advice post. Simply because a few people weren't able to get to the site anymore because of firewalls etc. It was funny, but it would be cruel to deprive people of my wit and savvy comments just because of one slightly misogynistic posting. On to more important things. This Sunday marks the one year anniversary of the Bali bombing. This was as close as terrorism has come to Australia and it has affected the country deeply. This is largely because we realised that our distance was no longer a protection from the harsh realilities of the world. There has been more general support for the war against terror and Iraq than would have been the case should Bali have not happened. Here is one first hand account that I highly recommend a look. 88 Australians died in a premeditated mass murder. 112 others were also murdered including many Indonesians. I have been twice to Bali. The people are friendly and open. The place itself is a mix of first world resorts and third world slums, with markets and hawkers; plenty of fakes and bars; beautiful mountainside and beaches; a Hindu state within the world's largest Muslim country. Each of our holidays there have been memorable and enjoyable and it breaks my heart that terror could touch such a place. Please spend a minute on Sunday remembering why there needs to be a war on terror. That said, it is time to focus on the here and now. And that means two things: cricket and rugby. The excitement is huge, especially as it is a holiday in Taiwan today and in Japan and the US on Monday. The lads from work are all heading to some place to watch the game tonight, Australia vs. Argentina. I have created a crude Aussie flag (albeit in black and white) that flies proudly above my PC. Go Aussie! I cancelled my Cantonese lesson because I cannot concerntrate on anything else. Except lunch, which hopefully will be a visit to City Hall Dim Sum, the best in HK. Food and footy....there's only one f missing. One thing that I love about HK is the TV. At first I thought it was cr@pola, but once you spend some time here you learn to appreciate it. I cannot help but laugh everytime I see an advertisement for ER, with Geroge Clooney speaking Cantonese. He's even got a local accent. I tend to think something gets lost if you cannot hear the actors speaking in the original language of the show. The same applies to movies - there's no point watching a French movie dubbed into English and if you are too stupid to read the subtitles then don't watch it. It leads me to my next thing, which is HK newspapers. On the train yesterday I rubber-necked one of the local rags. They are not afraid of showing the most graphic photos possible of a bus crash/murder/bomb or whatever explicit violent pictures are going. Not for the squeamish. JC and PB took turns last night. Turns at calling out. I remember 2:12am, but that was already the third time, and there were three more after that. Suddenly the sleeping in the same room idea doesn't seem so good. And PB is only on one sleep now, so she's pretty crabby most of the morning, because she's tired. But there's no reasoning with a 1 year old. Lastly it seems David Blaine has been tipped off that Arnie has taken away his novelty crown. Suddenly starved of the publicity oxygen that has kept him going through his pointless stunt, he's taken to talking to people. Such an outrageous attempt to hijack Arnie's celebrations is despicable and this blog will not acknowledge it. Did I mention Go Aussie Go?

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


Sometimes Hong Kong gives me the sh!ts. The cricket has started, with Australia playing Zimbabwe in Perth - the time zones are in line. It should be perfect. The start of the cricket season (Rugby World Cup notwithstanding) stirs something deep in the Australian male psyche. It brings about feelings of BBQs, beer, discussions on team selections and tactics, poor imitations of commentators, recounting of useless stats and records about to be broken. It heralds the start of the Aussie summer. It is the one sport the unites the nation. More Australians know Steve Waugh is the captain of the cricket team than know who George W. Bush is. But unless you pay about $3000 a month to the cable channel you cannot watch it. And of course the internet is slow. Damn you, Cable TV HK. This morning I decided to head back to Mongkok; work was slow and I had to pick up plus exchange something. Got on the train, got out there all in about 15 minutes. Went and exchanged the Chinese camera manuals for English ones without a hitch. But the man I needed to meet to pick up from wasn't there. I called his mobile, only to get a Cantonese message to leave a voicemail. I tried his second mobile number. Nothing. I walked to the building his shop is in. Nothing. I rang again. I tried the second mobile again - finally a person. It was a she, rather than a he, but it was someone. Me: "Where are you?" Her: (sounding groggy) "Shop not open." Me: "I was told it opens at 11am." Her: "Not in Mongkok. Shop opens at 1pm." Me: "Where are you now?" Her: "Not in Mongkok." (click) Suddenly I was angry. It was hot. It was the middle of the working day. I was looking forward to picking up my goodies. The shop wasn't open. And there was nothing I could do. I marched back to the MTR, slowly composing this rant in my mind. And staring daggers at the world. Now what gives? It was midday. I don't know much about small business, but I think that by midday you should have had a reasonable shot of opening up for the day. For God's sake, the day is half over. Most things in HK start late, which is already tricky if you have two girls who enjoy starting the day at 6am. But by 10am most things are starting. Sure they are open late, but that doesn't matter much to parents. I start work before 8am; is it so much to ask for stores to open within 4 hours of that? All this venting is useless, of course. Will it bring my goodies to me? No. Will I single handedly change Hong Kong's business hours? No. Do I feel better for this little rant? No. There's a nasty phone call happening in the next hour - if you hear some poor bastard on the receiving end of a loud mobile call, you'll know why. And if anyone is heading to Mongkok in the next couple of days, can you let me know. I have a few things I need picked up. UPDATE: I ventured back this afternoon - it seems to be hot in Mongkok, hot like the gates of hell hot. And it's a weekday so it's only overcrowded, rather than bone-crushing. The guy was there this time. Had my watches. Took 30 minutes to adjust one. The other turns out to not be what I ordered. Some days just aren't meant to be.

Something old, new, borrowed and blue

Firstly, JC's birthday present plans have gone out the window. Britain's RSPCA is urging fans of the recent Disney movie 'Finding Nemo', which tells the story of a young clown anemonefish taken from the wild, not to follow the US trend and buy a clown fish as a pet. Next scientists have discovered what men have known for a long time. Astronomers studying radiation left over from the dawn of time believe the cosmos is the shape of a football. My last Arnie comment is this: betting against the US constitution is not a good bet. For some reason I now really want to visit Shanghai. I've mentioned before how Australia will soon make Denmark a colony. All is going to plan...bhuwahahahaha. Lastly, although this is about 3 years old, it's a great story. "He was absolutely shattered - we put him back in his cage and he slept for two days." I never thought I would envy a guinea pig, especially one named Sooty.


Arnie has won. The phone rings in the Schwarzenegger suite at the hotel. a:"Heellllo?" (insert drunken slurred Austrian accent here) g:"Arnold. It's George." a:"Do I know you? Was that you wife I gro..." g:"George W." a:"Oh, that George." g:"Just ringing to say congratulations on your victory. Great, just great. You managed to get Iraq off the front page for weeks." a:"No problem. Hang on, Mr. President. Bring that one back. The blonde one. She needs another gro.." g:"Arnold. May I call you Arnold? I have another reason for ringing." a:"Mr. President, don't belive those files. Everyone was a Nazi in those days." g:"Shut up and listen you idiot. I have a proposition for you." a:"Are you coming onto me? I don't do white men." g:"No. I think the 'roids might have played with your manhood anyway. But listen, next year there's a Presidential election. I'm in trouble: Iraq isn't panning out, the deficit is out of control and the economy is sputtering. I think you can help." a:"Yeah. I'm listening." g:"Now Dick Cheney's heart ain't so good, and he's regretting quitting the private sector. So I need a VP candidate." a:"I know where you're going. You want me to knock Cheney off?" g:"No, I'll go slower. I want you to run for VP with me. I'm going to send you into Iraq early next year. You can take as many Hollywood stunt people and special effects as you need. Find Sadaam and those WMD. Convince everyone. Make it up if you have to. Just drag it out for a couple of months to take everyone's mind off the real world for a while. Then let's have a spectacular finale. Lots of explosions We'll interupt a Presidential address to the nation for it." a:"Mr P., have you been drinking? Did someone put you up to this?" g:"Not as much as I should. Your uncle Teddy Kennedy suggested it." a:"I'll be back...to you Mr. P."

Myers Briggs

Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking and Judging. That's what the computer says I am.
ESTJ - "Administrator". Much in touch with the external environment. Very responsible. Pillar of strength. 13% of the total population.
Take Free Myers-Briggs Personality Test
Found this via Helen

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Assorted pieces

Thankfully this whole California election is coming to an end. Amongst all the allegations of sleaze about Arnie, I have one question. How is it this woman who stood in for the then 13-year-old actor Edward Furlong during filming of Terminator 2 could get away with looking like a 13 year old boy? I know they used a lot of computer graphics in that movie but I thought it was for the special effects. While on shonks and charlatans it turns out an illusionist's attempt to trick British television audiences into thinking he had played Russian roulette with a loaded pistol backfired today when police said the weapon had contained only a blank round. Let's not get entertainment confused with psychic powers. It turns out the Sapranos is not as far-fetched as it sometimes seems. Double-decker coffins - it would solve the problem of overcrowded cemetaries. The crisis of the ship containing 50,000 Australian sheep in the Persian Gulf has been solved. The ship has been redirected to New Zealand and renamed "The Love Boat". Finally this has had me laughing all morning. After filling our Mumbai office's order we got this reply: thank you .Could not reply yesterday as ass was on fire. As Charles pointed out, it could have been the vindaloo.


5:30am is a special time of morning that Mrs M and I usually choose to sleep through. Seeing the sun rise over the park we look over is great, but seeing the back of my eyelids is even better. So imagine the joy and happiness this morning when PB decided 5:30am was a great time to announce she was awake. Instantly JC was awake too and that was it. Hense it is now about 9am and feels like the middle of the afternoon. At times like this you think about the whole point of children. I was going to shut them up by telling them the story of their respective births, until I came across this story. I realised they were well off compared to some. "I was going from the toilet to my chair and ended up on the floor," she said. "Then I heard these gurgling noises." Her husband, Thomas Roth, came to the rescue. "I noticed in the toilet, there was something in there," he said. "I said, 'Oh my God! There's a baby in there! I can't believe it!" A hosptial seems so clinical and hygenic in comparison. Even in this case it seems amazing that it never occured to anyone that the rapid exapnsion in her stomach size was not due to the Atkins diet going wrong. The poor kid is in line a big shock when he gets told the story of his birth. Even more unusual while waiting for the Disneyland bus this morning I noticed something in the lobby of the hotel across the road. With a couple of minutes to spare (mostly because I missed the earlier bus) I wandered across and was staring at a Formula 1 McLaren. No reason why it should be there, but it just is. This is the same hotel that has a priceless art collection including a Monet and museum quality Chinese artwork. Just applied for another credit card over the net. Hong Kong is great. You can pay your tax via credit card. Link it to an air miles program and you can pay your tax and at least get some frequent flyer points out of it. They even try and make paying tax less odious. Finally, I went to the shop last night, and I was in there for about 5 minutes. When I came out there was a police officer writing a parking ticket. I went up to him and begged, "Come on, please, how about giving a man a break?" He ignored me and continued writing the ticket. So I called him a biro-sucking d**khead. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for worn tyres on the hunk of junk. So I called him a piece of horse manure. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windscreen with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket! This went on for about 20 minutes...The more I abused him, the more infringement notices he wrote. I didn't care. My car was parked around the corner.


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Typical Hong Kong lunch

Being CF's first day back from 3 weeks of junket work trip and holiday we needed to injest some quality HK noodles. And rice. So we wandered through the hordes of Central to our particular hole in the wall noddle shop. This is quite unusual for us; a typical day we order lunch in and some poor person (HK is egalitarian in this regard, it could be male or female) has to schlepp our six boxes of whatever through the pollution and humidity to our air conditioned eyrie. But today we were running late (that being 12:20pm) so ordering was out the question. Now co-incidently enough the noodle place is next door to one of our favourite electronics stores. And there was a 5 minute wait for the noodles. So I bought a VCR and DVD player. Also had my eye on a plasma TV, but the new LCD TVs look like they'll be the go in a year or two so I might have to curb my toy envy for a little while. HK is a boy's dream when it comes to electronic toys. Even the Chinese brands are quickly improving, and at a significantly lower price to the "recognised" brands. So a typical HK lunch. Some noodles, a VCR and a DVD player. Yum.

Monday, October 06, 2003


Made it through the fasting for Yom Kippur. Got a bit thirsty in the afternoon, and it wasn't easy watching JC plough through a pizza for lunch, but otherwise no problem. The best part was the big dinner on offer at the end of the service at the Jewish Club. A huge buffet with various salads, meats, drinks and deserts. Despite hundreds of hungry Jews doing their best we couldn't even put a dent into the massive pile of food. We tried though. Funnily enough the lift got stuck with some friends in there, luckily after everyone had eaten, so we spent 15 minutes standing around being useless until a fireman came along and with a quick flick of a key opened the doors. A drama filled day. The service itself was good (as far as these things go) with a good quality choir and reasonable turnout. The thing about spending 25 hours without food and water is it is not as hard as it sounds. There are a few tricks, like not drinking alcohol the day before and avoiding chili and salt for your last dinner. But otherwise it is actually quite easy. I wouldn't say fun, but quite easy. That said that first sip of Coke is heavenly. JC and PB got a new dollhouse that someone in Disneyland was getting rid of. JC hasn't left it yet but she is getting much better at sharing with little PB. She even gave PB some pizza yesterday, a big sacrifice for a 2 year old. We fear PB may be starting to teeth again, which means a week or so of a not so happy 1 year old. I think of it as good practice for when all the girls hit puberty. More exciting still is the girls are now in one bedroom. They slept together while the in-laws were here and it went well enough that we decided to leave them their. PB's name has even been added to the door. It's great - they actually spend much of the time laughing at each other. The scary thing I realised this morning is it has taken until I've had kids to realise what my parnets went through. Not in a bad way at all. Just when Ma used to ask my brother and me how our day was, I used to think it a lame question worthy of a one word answer. Now I appreciate how captivating it is for a parent to hear about the day, the triumphs, the tragedies and everything in between. That said next time I speak to Ma (hi Ma) I'm likely to still respond with a one word answer. Mostly because the grandchildren are that much more interesting. Finally my Hong Kong thought for the day. Hong Kong has no postcodes. Yet all mail seems to arrive the next day at the very latest. If you ever thought HK to be a place of freedom, this should make you think again. How do they know where you are without postcodes? Ever tower in Hong Kong is called Harbour View Mansions or some such innocuous name. Big Brother is here.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

The dark side

Spent the morning yesterday swimming, but the water is getting colder. There is something about kids swimming though...JC spent two hours in the water, even though by the end her lips were blue and she was shiverring. The only way to get her out was to offer her lunch. Yesterday afternoon we ventured with my in-laws to the Dark Side (Kowloon). Took the MTR to Mong Kok. My in-laws, being from Australia, were not used to trains in Hong Kong. There are no rules about waiting for passengers to alight; using elbows is de regeuir. Nevertheless they were with us and we knew the way of things here, so we used my father-in-laws 6 foot plus bulk to bludgeon our way in. Exited the station and found ourselves in the heart of the Ladies' market. It was packed, yesterday being a holiday in HK as well as peak tourist season due to a week long holiday on the mainland. My two lessons of Cantonese mean I have an ear for the local language rather than Mandarin. I have no doubt many locals still look down on Mandarin speakers as poor cousins from the third world mainland. Yet the cash these "peasants" were flashing around show the balance is changing. The market goes for blocks, with large stalls and 3 feet of walking space, with several people at any one time trying to move in opposite directions. Plus those trying to get in and out of stalls. Like many of the street stalls, there were fakes a plenty. Louis Voutin handbags, Rolex watches etc. I picked up some Versace business shirts (100% cotton my arse; if I get those near a naked flame they'll be picking it off my skin for weeks); Mrs M had a good dodgy watch man from whom my father-in-law and I bought 3 watches. I had printouts from the websites and let me tell you these were indistinguishable from the real thing. In-laws bought a digital camera and so on. There are several markets in the area, with one street for electronics, another for fashion and watches, and another for sporting goods. Like all men once I had purchased what I wanted I had enough and wanted to go. Three hours later, we did. Headed back to the Island where we had dinner at a place called Ye Shanghai. Good Shanghai-ese food, but we knew we were in trouble when the waiter told us the band would start at 9:30pm. Sure enough, they did. They were tolerable for the first couple of bland ballads, but when the lead singer and her man in the band started a duet of Eric Clapton's "You're wonderful" we all knew it was time for the bill. JC decided to wake at 5:45am this morning. She wasn't popular. Spent a quiet morning contemplating my brother's footy team and their Grand Final today. I wish them luck, mostly because my bro will be inconsolable for about 6 months if they lose. We've now watched Nemo the obligatory twice this morning so we are heading for another Artic swim. And to take our mind off why things like this will never happen to us.

Friday, October 03, 2003

John Edward

John Edward is on Larry King of the Paranormal on CNN, and its a little slow so we're watching it. Now I don't believe in the whole psychic thing. This guy really gets me and so do all those like him. This is one of two things that Mrs M and I cannot agree on at all. All I can offer is articles like this one to refute the belief in this guy. There's also more articles here on him. And here's one for the road. These articles focus on him in particular but the tricks are universally used by all "psychics". It's a shame that people can make money by preying on other's grief. The last word needs to go to James Randi: People not only want it to be true, they need it to be true. It's the feel good syndrome. Everyone wants to be reassured about loved ones who have passed. Just once I want to find a spiritualist who says, 'Oh, well, sorry. She went to hell and I can't reach her.'

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Resting and repenting

Likely to be a quiet weekend on the blog front, and probably none at all on Monday. This Sunday night marks the start of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in Judaism. This means from sunset Sunday night to sunset Monday night there will be no food or drink (no, not even water) passing my lips, nor that of every Jew on the planet. Sunday night is called Kol Nidre and is the biggest night on the Jewish religious calendar. There are plenty like me who are not particularly observant yet this and Rosh HaShannah last week are the two dates people make an effort. The idea is to repent, but also make resolutions of the year ahead. My motto for the year is going to be: "If Arnie can become Governor, anything is possible."

Immigrants taking Aussie jobs

The approach of the Rugby World Cup to Australia will have many benefits. The economy is set to get a lift from the huge impact of such a widely followed event, second only to the Olympics. This includes the vice industry. ...rugby union's English public school heritage meant demand for bondage and domination services was likely to skyrocket. "It's not something that's very big in Australia, so a lot of the brothels are looking at lining up dominatrix for the tournament," he told AFP. "If you look at where the game came from, the English public schools, they're very much into correction and all that. I'm upset Australia has to import talent to service these needs. Surely there's enough home grown workers who can compete with the world's best on such a stage. If not, then it is time the industry and Government started working on a youth program so such an outrage will not happen again. Let's get into the schools, let's get an elite academy where we can train our raw material into top class performers. Please help - I am happy to lend a hand anyway I can.

Our Lenny, Our Nobel and other news

Firstly a word of warning. If you are going to smuggle talcum powder make sure you clear it with the authorities first. Big night for Australia last night. Firstly it seems we've claimed Lenny Kravitz as one of our own. I predict this romance could even last the cricket season - I'd love to see Lenny at the SCG with a beer in hand telling all how Steve Waugh is past his used-by date. Even better, Australia has claimed its second Nobel Prize for Literature. Well, he lives in Adelaide so it sort of counts. He joins Patrick White, who won in the year I was born. There's some kind of link there. Which leads me to my next question. Is there a Nobel Prize for Blogs?


Went with the in-laws and Mrs M to the China Club for dinner last night. This is a recreation of an old colonial style dining room, but with an eclectic mix of colonial and Chinese styles. What was once the most imposing building in Hong Kong is now dwarfed by the temples of Mammon around it. The food was a good mix of various Chinese regions and we ate more than our fill. We climbed the stairs to the rooftop terrace. Along the stairwell are various artworks. My parents-in-law are Hungarians who left the country after the 1956 uprising. Needless to say their opinion of Communists is not glowing. My father-in-law pointed out the many paintings that had Mao featuring in them. His comment was, "Don't they realise he was as bad as Lenin?" All I could answer was it was a mixture of chic and patriotism but it seemed a pretty lame answer then and worse now in the light of day. It is a reminder that while China is making much economic progress there are other elements stuck in a time warp. On a lighter note, I went for a haircut yesterday. Not very interesting. But previously I had been going to one of the salons in the mall next to work, where a haircut cost about a week's wages. You get the works but it is still a shock to get a bill for HK$400 (about US$50). So I tried a local place yesterday. Walked up the stairwell, down the hall, pushed the slightly ajar door open. A small barber greeted me. I asked the price. It was HK$85. I sat down. Not a single word was uttered for the rest of the time. He didn't ask me what kind of cut I wanted. He didn't want to chat about my work, the weather, the news. He finished and it was a pretty good job. It might not have been quite as good as the $400 cut, but for the difference I can manage. Another reminder of the two very different worlds that exist in HK.