t-shirts people wear: Juicy

JuicyI have this bad habit of reading the text on people’s t-shirts, which is amusing, baffling and sometimes infuriating all at the same time.

To my friends, when I point out the ridiculousness of the prints on their tops, it’s unnecessary and embarassing. (Speaking of which, I need to get a shot of my flatmate’s top that says something about murdering some kid.)

People tend not to think twice about foreign language prints on their clothing, like the summer I went to France when it was hit by this craze of having Chinese characters on tops and trousers. They had the most ridiculous words possible printed on them. I thought, for all the mocking Asians get for having non-sensical European-language idiocy on their clothing, oh yeah – payback time!

Meanwhile, my neighbour likes juicy I guess. *ahem*

Interns: questions they ask and, more amazingly, answers they get

Summer intern: “Why do people stay behind working so late? Are they being forced?!”  *wide eyed*

Supervisor: “Oh no we don’t force anyone here. I’m not going to tell you the answer, but if you observe the people here, you’ll realise they have an enthusiasm for their work and really, people just really love the company!”

Yes of course, why else would I be typing up presentations in bed on a Sunday night?

What strikes me as crazy though is the things people can bring themselves to say – the number of people who unfailingly spew PC corporate-speak when trying to befriend you while their eyes flash “FAKE” like a broken slot machine is astonishing.

Sometimes I sit in the office and wonder if I’m the last unbrainwashed person on Earth.


June 4th and the man behind Tank Man

I attended the massive annual candlelight vigil for the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Masscare (aka “the June 4 incident”) on, well, the 4th of June in Victoria Park.

I know friends and colleagues who invariably attend every year. I started off being apathetic, then in the last couple of years started being interested but either busy or out of town or…just complaining that it’s too hot. Like most things in life, this year I just decided I should stop making excuses and go.

Yes, it was hot. I’ve never been to any sort of vigil or memorial event before but it was more or less what I expected. I didn’t much care for the political messages – I personally just wanted China to stop denying history. Although that is of course naive on my part. The people died for a social and political cause and China is censoring the entire event for political reasons. But hey, I’m the last person you’ll want to talk to about politics and everyone were there for their own reasons.

The Man behind Tank ManThen a friend found out about a talk and exhibition in HKU by Jeff Widener, the photograher who took the iconic Tank Man shot. Another first for me, and not entirely an artsy person, I doubted my interest but was intrigued. And you know what, Jeff Widener was a funny and engaging speaker. All he really had was a laptop with some photos on it which he simply just opened one by one, sometimes stumbling over which button to press or finding a photo or two out of order. Perhaps I’m too used to glossy corporate presentations and arsey corporate speak, but I find his no-frills tell-you-like-it-is style very refreshing. It didn’t hurt that he’s lived a life and career full of mishaps, luck, and adventure and could’ve gone on telling stories well beyond his allotted time.

The passion that people still have to make their voices heard for an event that occurred 25 years ago, and the passion for photo-journalism that Jeff Widener showed in his talk is quite emboldening. Living in Hong Kong, in very easy to fall into a routine and just go through the paces every day – a life that may be safe and comfortable, but lacking in fire. Or maybe, I’m just speaking for myself.


Yorkshire Gold and tea-tasting: when you proof yourself wrong

yorkshire goldEver since I was introduced to Yorkshire Gold a few years ago, I compare every tea with milk to Yorkshire Gold. No other black tea (or red tea, if you’re Chinese) is as smooth, thick, and flavoured as Yorkshire Gold with full-cream milk.

Not tea from Starbucks (too watery); not tea from a 5-star hotel lounge (too light); not this famous tea that I must try because it comes in real fancy packaging from the posh supermarket (flavourless).

However, I’m a science person and work in an industry that (purportedly) places the highest regards in data and evidence, so I don’t expect you to take my word for it – I designed a double-blind trial to prove once and for all that Yorkshire Gold is the superior tea.

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First McDonald’s in 6 years

My first thought was, I can see why people like McDonald’s. It was interesting to try it again after so long, because it helped me notice what I was not able to identify before. It has that zing of cooking oil reused just enough times to provide that greasy aroma of satisfaction – just short of an overpowering stench of rancid fat. It is strangely appealing to our palate, somehow striking a cord with our most basal needs.

My next thought was: but I do not miss it. Nor did it make me want more of it. I wondered whether I really didn’t want anymore or whether I have just trained my mind to suppress that craving.

I started avoiding McDonald’s around 6 years ago after I read Fast Food Nation and watched Food Inc in a short period of time and decided that Big Food is evil and that Big Food = fast food chains. However, I don’t think I would’ve so resolutely given it up had circumstance not led to a particular experience in a Burger King. I was in a strip mall in Leyton. There was a Burger King over and under the train tracks, facing a half-empty parking lot where lone men huddled against the cold trying to sell copied DVDs. Alone and lonely on a grey cold day in a dead fringe of London, I held a luke-warm bit of patty squashed between what were meant to be buns with some brown lettuce tucked in the middle. It looked like some obese bastard had sat on it and left it for whoever that was even more pathetic.That burger embodied the deplorable state that was my life at that moment and…that was it. I never went back to McDonald’s or Burger King ever again.

Untill last week of course, when one of the guys at work got promoted and bought everyone breakfast from McDonald’s. (Isn’t it clever how the company has positioned itself so that both the poor and destitute and white-collar professionals can afford to and want to eat there?) It was very generous of him and I shouldn’t decline. What was I going to do? Make up some lame excuse and go sit by myself in a corner? There’s no need to be some highbrow snob.

In hindsight, I realise that I’ve managed to suppress my cravings for that particularly attractive but putrid aroma, just as I’ve done with Coke. I mean, I can always get my fix somewhere else. It makes me wonder, what else can this….ability be applied to?