Archive for February, 2007

Thousands of years of culture…

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

I’m in YOUR country, butchering YOUR language!

Thousands of years of culture wash down the drain as my co-workers attempt to help me learn Cantonese. It’s a very confusing language and even more confusing to read and write. And as hard as it is, it finally gives me the perspective I’ve always lacked to understand why people say English is the hardest language to learn. More on that some other time. So why am I trying to learn Cantonese? Simple. That is what they speak here in Hong Kong and southern China.

However the national language of the People’s Republic of China is now Mandarin so that’s what most people here are trying to learn. I’ve noticed though that people who know Cantonese seem to have an easier time with learning Mandarin later than the other-way-around. Chinese is a tonal language meaning that you can see the same word in many different tones and it means something completely different each time you change the tone. It seems to be debatable but Cantonese seems to have anywhere from five to nine different tones depending on who you ask. The most common I have seen is six. Mandarin has four. So it seems that Cantonese is the harder language to learn. I’m guessing Mandarin must be comparitively easy to a Hong Kong’er.

Anyway, I’m not going to get too in depth here. There are plenty of sites out there that can better explain the minor and major differences between the Chinese languages and frankly, I’m probably not the guy you want to be getting your facts from anyway.

Suffice it to say that my pronunciation of many a Cantonese word or phrase has garnered anything from praise to bewildered stares to gasps of shock followed by giggles. That last response means I accidently said something “naughty”. Hee hee.

Here’s an awesome resource for learning Cantonese if you are interested: Learn Cantonese!

Things to do…

Monday, February 12th, 2007

It’s been a while since I’ve done this, so I need to set myself up a little to do list. Old age is getting to me and I need reminders….

Here we go:

  1. Make to do list for blog (in progress…)
  2. Click the Publish button, not just the Save button
  3. Figure out these category thingies (technical term)
  4. Setup a photo album
  5. Get photos off the damn camera
  6. Throw out blurry pictures taken from moving taxis
  7. Learn to post more often (again)
  8. Find all the sites for my friend’s blogs and add them to this Blogroll thingy (technical term, singular)
  9. Tear apart this theme and make the Comments whatzit (dunno) about 30X less obnoxious
  10. Find my sense of humor. I think I packed it….

OK 10 items is enough for now. I’ll have to make more lists again in the future that will probably include a bullet point for referencing To Do lists that were lost to my senility. In the meantime, I will play around and see if I can get to understand this new platform. Seems kinda nice. Maybe I’ll try and make a new logo too.

I should add that to a list….

Alive and well

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

I often wonder what happened to the friends I’ve lost contact with.  I wonder about people I used to hang out with in high school and college but don’t give them as much thought any more.  Time marches on as they say.  I wonder what became of the great friends I made when I was blogging on a basically consistent basis years ago.  I could try and find all their old web sites, but frankly I didn’t have a whole lot of time to read “everyone’s blog” back then, I certainly don’t now.  I do hope that if any of those people described above happen to meander on by the site again that they leave a comment or two.  Let me know you are still alive.  Send me some contact info.

But it’s been a long time and time has marched.  Things change.  People change.

I am married now and have been for close to seven months now.  I met the woman I love on the Internet and I have no problem telling people that fact.  We had a small ceremony, an even smaller parents-only reception and then I flew off to Hong Kong to prepare our new lives.  An opening, a chance, a fearful plunge into the unknown and now we and our two dogs and a cat that were flown over and are all now here.  We live on the eastern shore of the largest island in Hong Kong and our balcony overlooks Disneyland across the harbor.  It’s not perfect but it works and it is now home.

We miss our families.  We miss our friends.  We miss our friends and families pets and kids.  We miss Taco Bell and Olive Garden and especially Wal-Mart.  There are so many things we miss and so many others that we don’t.  We don’t miss the general fear of walking down a lonely dark city alley that doesn’t really exist here.  We don’t miss the lack of real public transportation available in St. Louis.  We don’t miss the continual battle of restaurants trying to out-supersize each other.  And I can tell you already that when we eventually leave, there are things that we will really miss about our home in Hong Kong.  We will miss looking out our windows and balcony onto the open water.  We will miss the absolute variety of people that generally don’t care what country you came from (there are exceptions).  We will miss being able to go to local restaurants to have dumplings or noodles or a thousand other things that we have seen no where else.

We have regrets.  We have seen beautiful things.  There are things we would have done differently given the chance again.  But overall we are in a good place at a good time and we have only been here for a few months.  I hope for the best for us, for me, for her, for the pets and for our lives together.   We escaped our birthplaces in the hopes of becoming better people.  We now know that we are not destined to be born, live and die in Missouri like most of our family for generations.  We may screw up and we may fall flat on our faces but we now know in our hearts that we can face the unknown and the scary and we can kick it in the nuts.  If it kicks back, we can always say we tried.

The Rebirth

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Wow, it’s been a long time since I blogged. If any of you are reading this and knew my old site, welcome back. If you are new to the site, welcome. If you got here on accident and are just getting ready to click Back, well… you didn’t read this anyway.

So last time I did this I used a clunky bit of blog code that I had cobbled together myself (with help from others of course). Now I’m trying WordPress because Yoshi isn’t in a position to help me out all the time anymore. Lots of things have changed since last I posted a blog entry. Lots of changes indeed.

To give you an idea of one of the changes: SuperBowl XXXXI was shown live on TV at 7:00am on Monday, February 5th. Yes, live. That’s because where I live now is 14 hours ahead of my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. It’s now 11:30pm here in Hong Kong. It’s 9:30am for my friends and family back home. It makes contacting people a bit of a juggling act sometimes.

So how did we come to live in Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) <whew!>? And what do I mean by “we”? And where’s such and such? And what was that creepy noise?

I’m going to bed, so these questions will have to be answered at another time. But that time will be soon. Check out the link in my Blogroll for Francis the Cat.


Sunday, February 4th, 2007

This is a test. I think I broke it already….


Nope just missed some files. That fixed it.


OK seriously… must focus…. Hmmm… OK I have a funny grey theme now… I need a photo gallery.

I thought using WordPress would be easier than coding my own. And it is. Just not as easy as thinking what I want and then the magic unicorns “make it so”. I’m going to go make some more categories for posts I don’t have yet.

Wow…  I just checked it out and damn that bar showing the number of comments is ridiculously huge.  I seem some wonton editing in my future.  Mmmm…  wontons.