Around the world in 80 seconds

Last night, I had the weirdest dream ever.

In this dream, I was looking at myself from a third person point of view.

I was in a cage, which sat on a catapult.

The catapult launched me across the world.

I saw cities, mountains, forests, and oceans flew past me as I pondered something. I don’t know what it is.

The last place I saw was a coastal city basked in sunset. It vaguely resembled Manhattan, or San Francisco. I can’t remember.

Now comes the weird part.

In the dream, I was a snake.

一波接一波

昨天,到樓下的「波仔飯」專賣店買晚餐。

對上一次吃波仔,已經是許多年前的肉醬意粉,當時印象甚佳,以十幾元一個微波爐飯盒來說,相當化算。

誰知。

那盒紅酒牛肉飯,多油得恐怖。一般茶餐廳的飯盒算很油膩了,但這個簡直是油浸牛肉。再看那些肉,只有三兩塊,而且肥肉極多。未吃,已隱約覺得血管在阻塞。

味道,不提也罷。可能肉醬意粉會好一點。

現在,我知道為甚麼叫「波仔飯」了。

這樣又油又肥肉,吃得多,是要入院「通波仔」的。

Cinderella and the Bloody Slipper

glass-slipperMy friend Tammy has posted this quote from the original version of Cinderella on Facebook:

“When you are queen, you will never have to walk.” With these words the mother helps cut off the daughters’ toes and heels so their feet fit into the slippers.

I can’t help but to think the Grim Grimm Brothers are aptly named.

800px-Foot_binding_shoesTo the Chinese, this shouldn’t be unfamiliar. Our ancestors had been “customizing” girls’ feet for centuries, except that we didn’t cut them. We tied them into knots and crushed the bones so they could fit into tiny, embroidered silk shoes.

Foot-binding was a fashion in ancient China. Girls had their feet bound since childhood, especially the wealthy ones, or those seeking marriage into rich households.

And the wealthy ones never had to walk.

Back to Cinderella, as creepy as the mother’s decision may seem, it is a very accurate portrayal of what people will do to get to power in real life.

It is a small price to lose a few toes, when it gives you the power to make thousands lose their heads.

But I suppose the Grimm Brothers had never read Chinese history, especially how Wu Zetian, the only Empress who ruled in the history of China, came to power.

She murdered her new-born baby and blamed it on her competition (namely, the Empress), causing the latter’s downfall. One-shot kill.

If the mother was as vicious as Wu, she would have killed her daughters, trimmed her own feet, and become queen herself.

Then she would take over the throne, wipe out the royal family, and start a reign of terror.

Slim chance

With the city obsessed with slimming it is only a matter of time before someone crafts a scam out of the trend.

From The Standard:

In the worst of the cases, one woman lost HK$60,000. Another woman, named Chan, provided a rundown about how she was lightened of her money…

She signed a three-month contract with a beauty center and handed over a deposit of HK$9,000, being told she would get it back if she lost 21 pounds (9.5kg).

The center then persuaded Chan to spend HK$2,000 on 11 detoxification treatments, but she lost only between six and seven pounds. Center staff then weighed in with thoughts that she needed a balance in her diet and that her living habits and health could affect the results.

And when she still failed to reach the target weight she was told she had gone against the “spirit of the contract” and her deposit was forfeited.

If the contract says you need to shed a certain weight to get your money back, then I guarantee the company will do everything to make sure you fail, such as by offering misleading advice to slow your progress.

All the victims in the news article are female, but they target men as well.

I myself had received a “free trial” offer from one of the slimming agencies. They promised to help me lose a substantial weight “without needing exercise or medication”.

How is that possible? I asked.

“Well, we have advanced machines that fire ‘pulses’ to ‘shatter your body fat’ so that it becomes easier to burn.”

Now that’s something new.

Because I used to think the only device that makes people smaller by disintegrating certain body parts is a grenade.

Cats may have nine lives, but…

… the scalding pain of being cooked in boiling water might make them wish they had never lived.

Another video of animal cruelty in China is circulating on the Internet. This one shows cats being boiled alive in a Chinese market.

It is believed the cat’s struggle results in faster blood flow, which is said to make the meat tastier.

I would never eat a cat (or dog), because I consider them as pets. But that’s just myself. I wouldn’t call those who eat cats “barbaric” either. Each culture has its own idea about what is acceptable food. I don’t see why eating cats should be condemned when we happily gorge on steaks. What’s the difference? The argument “You can’t eat them because they are our friends” doesn’t apply when the culture/people in question simply doesn’t see cats as pals.

Neither is cooking cats alive barbaric.

It’s demonic.

Eating cats may be no less cruel than consuming cows or pigs, just don’t aggravate their suffering before they die.

Those who do so are no better than animals.

But sadly, this is a land where some people are treated like animals. It’ll be a long time before they learn to treat animals like people.

惱人的借錢cold call

財務公司cold call,又是叫我借錢。

我明白對方要交數,有壓力,要謀生,迫不得已。我當然不會答應借錢,但將心比心,也不會掛線讓對方難堪,只會禮貌婉拒。

不過,拒絕幾次後,仍然死纏不休,甚至出言不遜的,就不能客氣了。

今次這個,在我說不借錢後,竟然問:「先生現在是否不方便說話?」

「不是,我真的不需要借錢。」

「不用介意啊,很多人也是想借錢但是怕人家知道。」

「我真的不用借錢(手指放在收線掣上,忍著不按)。」

「先生怕甚麼?需要多少週轉?」

「......」

「要不然,我六點鐘以後再打電話給你好不好?」

「(蒸氣從兩耳噴出來了)對,我現在是不方便講。我同事都在旁邊,破口大罵的話,會有失斯文的。你如果不介意,可以等我下班後再打來,到時候就沒有顧忌了。」

為甚麼非要說到這個地步不可?

Alumni in prison

As a graduate of HKU I’m saddened to find four scandalous stories about the university’s staff and students in today’s newspaper.

These people were living lives that many envy, until they decided to throw them away.

Former Dean of Medicine Lam Shiu-kum, 66, was sentenced to 25 months in prison for pocketing HK$3.8 million in consultation fees and donations. The top doctor had the city’s elites among his patients, including former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa.

Terence Joseph Shortall, associate professor at the Faculty of Education, will spend nine weeks in jail for molesting two female students on campus.

Two first-year students were arrested for stealing credit cards. One of them, born in France, lives in a luxury apartment in West Kowloon. They were discovered when attempting to buy a MacBook with a stolen card.

Tsoi Tsz-sheung, a year-two student, was fined HK$3,500 for seven counts of theft in a Sheung Shui shopping mall. By a stroke of luck, he was spared prison as the Magistrate decided to give him a chance to study and repay society. The Magistrate told Choi he must “keep his promise” and “never steal again”.

The stories of his alumni on today’s newspaper should remind him just that.

19th Century Advertisement

AdvSplendidDaguerreotypeAmerOfficeWaterburyCTCirca1840sIt always fascinates me to read materials from the distant past.

During my first job in a law firm I had the chance to read title deeds from the beginning days of Hong Kong’s colonial history. Many of them start with a greeting to “all those whom this document may come into”. Beautiful. Modern legal documents simply go straight to the point.

This is an advertisement of a traveling Daguerreotype photographer (click to enlarge). The date is unknown but it was probably in the 1840s (i.e. only less than 30 years after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo), when Daguerreotype photography was most popular before being replaced by newer photography technologies.

19th century English may seem overly ornate to modern eyes but I find it quite graceful. I especially like the alliteration in the last sentence of the penultimate paragraph: “confident that neither the Pictures nor the Price will fail to suit.” Certainly more stylish than some of the modern marketing cliches.

Life was much slower back then and people had longer attention span. Modern advertisers would probably see such long-winded text a taboo. These days people want immediate impact, sound bites, flashy things. We have become a lot more impatient.

I also have two questions: Why were photos referred to as “miniatures”? And in a world without telephone, what did it mean to “call”? Did that simply mean a visit? Persons are invited to call and attempt guesses.