Monday, July 29, 2013

Where's the humanity in HK society?

The following is a story of a recent situation that has left me in shock. I nearly came to blows with a man. I had an encounter with God. And my view of the Hong Kong society has been irreparably scarred.

I was out with my wife and kids for an evening walk on Saturday. We were heading up an escalator to a shopping mall entrance.

Sidenote: It’s pretty much an unwritten rule for people riding escalators to stand on the right while people who wishes to pass may do so on the left.

I was pushing the twin stroller which was wide enough to occupy the entire width of the escalator. Needless to say, passing us was not an option.

So I’m riding the escalator with the twin stroller in front of me and I hear footsteps approaching behind me. The approaching person got up to the step right behind me and stomped hard on the final step.

I’m not an idiot; I knew what that meant. He was upset I was in his way.

Sidenote: I think it’s important to note that this escalator wasn’t one of those really long ones. It’s one story up and takes probably 10 or 15 seconds even if you just stood still the entire time.

Anyway, his behavior is trivial to me at this point. He’s just being a jerk. I let things like this slide because otherwise, I’d be too busy being mad about every jerk I see on the street.

What happens next is what pushed me over the edge.

I get off the escalator. He brushes past my shoulder, walked quickly ahead until he was a couple of feet ahead of me and loudly uttered the F-word.

W. O. W.

I took exception from this not because of the F-word. I mean, come’on. It’s so washed up from overuse in our society and the media. It means nothing at this point.

I took exception from the fact that this douche had something to say but not the courage to say it to my face.

So I called after him “Hey!”
He’s got his headphones on and pretended not to hear me.
I went after him and called after him again “Hey, you!”
Sidenote: I left the kids in the stroller behind with my wife. I didn’t completely forget about them.
He gave me the finger while walking away! What a coward!

So I went right up in front of him and told him “If you’ve got something to say, say it to my face.”

His response: “Fxxx you!”

Sidenote: This is Hong Kong. He’s Chinese. He could’ve used a Cantonese slur but he chose to use the English F-word. That’s why I approached him in English.

Anyway, back to the story. Basically what went on then was just us getting in each other’s face. A bunch of profanity came out of our mouths.
Sidenote: If this was a contest and there was a judge, he’d declare me the winner since the stuff coming out of the other guy’s mouth made no sense whatsoever.

At this point, I could have clocked him. He was being hostile. He even pushed me. And I would have unloaded on him or at least pushed him back had his push been a bit harder for me to actually feel it.

The fact was this guy weighed probably 40 pounds lighter than me. I’m not in the best shape of my life, but I’m 100% confident he was going down if this turned violent. Do you know of any fathers of twins? Check out his arms. They’re probably huge. It was simply a physical mismatch. It was like Joey Gamache vs Arturo Gatti. Search that on YouTube to know what I mean.

Anyway, it reached somewhat of a boiling point when he bumped me with his chest.
Sidenote: That was hilarious to me.
I had my fists clenched and I even prepared a fight-plan in my head.

I told myself, don’t aim for the head. That’ll just hurt my own hands. Start with a left hook to the liver. That should expose his right cheek. Double up on the left with a jab and then combo that into a right cross. Follow-up with another left hook. Objective wasn’t to hit him with those 3 punches. Just wanted to get him to cover up so I can finish him off by breaking a couple of ribs with a right hook.

My fight-plan never took off. Something happened to me at that point. A wave of calm washed over me. I’ve no doubt that God was intervening. I had every reason in the world to just knock that guy out. He instigated a confrontation. He was being hostile to me. He even threatened my family. But this puny man didn’t matter to me at that moment. And then it was like God spoke through me because what I said wasn’t something I would have said at that point.

I told him calmly “I’m sorry I approached you. You should turn around and leave.”

And he left, predictably. He knew he wasn’t in a good spot. And that was the end of it.

A couple of things I took from this encounter:
1. God’s intervention is powerful. He was able to turn my rage into peace right at the last moment. While I really wanted to just beat that guy up, I thank the Lord for giving me the strength which allowed me to simply brush that cowardly prick away.

2. I’m embarrassed to be ethnically Chinese and disappointed in the society of Hong Kong as a whole. I grew up in a country where people go out of their way to hold doors open for their fellow human-beings. Women need not worry when pushing a stroller or have heavy luggage when they approach a staircase because men would actually compete for the right to assist. Neighbors say “good morning” to each other. Complete strangers would offer to help push your car when it’s stuck in the snow.
Yet, I’d encountered a man who chose to express his disgust at being delayed a mere couple of seconds because of my twin stroller. A cowardly man who turned hostile despite clearly being in the wrong.

Sure, he’s not representative of all Chinese people. He’s not even representative of all of Hong Kong. But what type of parents did he have to instill such attitude in him? And what type of attitude will he instill in his kids? What reason is there for me to believe there’s hope for our society?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

10 NBA Basketball rules that Soccer should adopt

I'm not exactly a fan of soccer, as alluded to before. I've been thinking and it occurred to me that if soccer adopted some of the rules in the NBA, it would be infinitely more entertaining to watch. It'll never happen, but I can dream, eh?

1. Defensive 3-seconds.
NBA: A defensive player must not remain in the lane for longer than 3 seconds unless he is actively guarding an offensive player.
Soccer: The goal area of a soccer pitch is significantly larger than the key of a basketball court. So perhaps we can extend the time from 3 seconds to 9 seconds. A defensive player must actively be guarding a player in the goal area. This means no more 11 defensive players dispersed throughout the goal area.

2. No off-side penalty.
NBA: There's no such thing as off-side. If there was, there wouldn't be any fastbreak opportunities.
Soccer: Having the off-side rule makes scoring even harder than it already is. Getting rid of it would introduce fastbreak opportunities, which are always fun to watch.

3. Nature of disqualifications.
NBA: If a player is ejected for whatever reason, he is disqualified but his team can still have 5 players on the court.
Soccer: Currently, if a player is ejected, his team goes from having 11 players on the pitch to just 10. The team should not be penalized for the actions of a single player.

4. Different types and values of goals.
NBA: The value of each goal is in proportion to the difficulty of the attempt. A free-throw is worth 1 point. A field-goal within the three-point-arc is worth 2 points. A field-goal beyond the arc is worth 3 points.
Soccer: Currently, everything is worth 1 point. Penalty kicks and normal goals should not be valued the same when the former is infinitely easier than the latter.

5. Shot clock.
NBA: The offensive team has 24 seconds to attempt a field goal on each possession. If they fail, they turn the ball over to the defense.
Soccer: No such thing as a shot clock. A possession can last as long as possible. This makes some matches unbearable to watch. If a team is up by several goals and have possession of the ball, they just play hot-potato with the ball in the back and middle field to burn time. They don't press the action and the defense is unlikely to get the ball back to attempt a comeback. I would propose they have a 60-second shot clock. The offense must attempt a shot within the 60-second time limit. A shot attempt would be if the ball is either scored, touched by the goal keeper, bounced off the goal post, or sailed out of bounds behind the goal line.

6. Back court violation
NBA: once the offense advances the ball past the mid-court line, the offense may not cross back into the backcourt. Doing so will result in a turnover.
Soccer: Currently, there's no such rule. If there was, the game would be faster, spacing would be better, and there would be far greater number of possession changes.

7. 8-second violation
NBA: The offense has 8 seconds to advance the ball into the frontcourt.
Soccer: Currently, no such rule. If there was this rule, the offense would be forced to push the pace. Again, if the rule was adopted, it would likely be lengthened due to the size of the field (perhaps 20 secs)

8. The game should be officially timed.
NBA: Nothing is above the game timer. If a shot attempt was released 0.1 seconds after time expired, it doesn't count. Once the timer counts down to 0 seconds, the game/quarter is over.
Soccer: The length of the match is at the sole discretion of the referee. That makes no sense to me. If a match is seconds away from being over and the team that is down recovers possession and is in position to run an offensive play, the referee would allow the play to continue even though it clearly ran over the time limit.
I'm all for stoppage time. I think it's necessary since the game clock never stops during play. But if the amount of stoppage time is determined, then it should be strictly followed. If at the end of 90 minutes the officials decide that there should be 6 minutes of stoppage time added, then there should be 6 minutes, no more no less. The teams should manage the clock with their play. The referee should not be managing it with his judgement.

9. No penalty shootouts
NBA: If a game is tied at the end of regulation, there's no free throw contest to determine the winner. That would be idiotic. Overtime is the way to go.
Soccer: A penalty shootout at the end of a tied game is similarly idiotic. The game of soccer is one of athleticism, endurance, coordination, etc. Just because the game is tied doesn't mean it needs to be reduced to a penalty shootout. Just go to overtime indefinitely. The team with the best conditioned players will prevail, as they should.

10. Stop touching each other and play by the rules.
None of my proposed rule changes will likely even have a chance of making it into the official rule book. So how about this? No rule changes; just enforce the current rules. Specifically, I'm talking about the excessive amount of physical contact in the sport. In every play of every game, the players are always grabbing each other for position. When jousting for position, players sometimes even get body slammed. There's pushing and shoving everywhere. Strange enough, the rules say that pushing, holding, and tripping are not allowed. Yet, they happen ALL THE TIME. Everyone is breaking the rules at every moment of every game!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Which twin is older?

Here's an exchange my wife and I have with strangers all the time that I can't wrap my head around.
"Are they twins?"
"Which twin is older?"
Seriously, they're born on the same day (unless one is born before midnight and one after midnight). One is not older than the other.

Let's say you share a birthday with a friend. You were born at 10am while he/she was born at 3pm. You don't consider yourself older than your friend, right? You're simply the same age and share a birthday. You're not 5 hours older than your friend.

Ok, I get that the real question is "Which twin was born first?"

To be honest, who was born first or second has zero relevance. This makes the question odd and intrusive (coming from a stranger).

Being the first born twin doesn't mean that one is larger, stronger, more mature, or whatever. It just means he/she came out first. It's like being the first user to post a comment on Internet articles. It doesn't make that comment any more relevant than the second, third, fourth, or a hundredth comment.

From a biological/medical/physiological point of view, it makes even less sense.

In a vaginal birth, the baby that's closest to the bottom at the moment of birth will be the first-born. In a c-section, the baby that's closest to the top will be the first-born.

This means that the question now becomes "What was the position of your babies in the womb at birth and what was your delivery method?"
Isn't that a bit personal and, quite frankly, none of anyone's business?

Now, I'm not the type of person who likes to create conflict. So I've developed a peaceful strategy for dealing with the question "which twin is older?". I just alternate my answer every time I get asked. Today, Aidan's older. Tomorrow, Ethan's older. The day after, it's Aidan's turn to be older again.

It's funny how despite who I say is older, the response is always "Yes, I knew it. He's definitely the older one. He looks so much wiser."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Twins Blog - Oct. 24, 2011 - "Fine"

The boys are approaching their first birthday. And I find it frustrating that I still can't answer the question "How are the boys doing?" which just a simple "Fine".

Truth is, they're not fine. Ethan is fine. Aidan is not really. So, they are not fine.

Aidan has some obvious developmental delay. He shows lots of spastic and reflexive behavior. We're told by several medical professionals that it's not too bad. Nobody can comfortably give us a diagnosis other than "developmentally delayed". At this point the diagnosis doesn't really even matter. It doesn't affect the treatment plan or outlook. Using an aggressive and frequent schedule of therapies, we hope to get his development back on track.

Ethan, on the other hand, is the typical cute baby. You know those babies you see on commercials and ads? He's one of those. Just happy all the time. A couple of months ago, he learned how to roll over and he's been doing that non-stop ever since. Lately, he's been able to maintain a sitting posture. He loves to bang things together, put them in his mouth, etc. He's very crafty in that he hides his pacifiers around his bed. We would always find 4 or 5 of them just laying around.
Aidan laughing uncontrollably Ethan with his "laptop"

Monday, June 27, 2011

Twins Blog - Jun. 27, 2011 - "How are the babies?"

Birth announcement
It has now been exactly 2 months since Aidan returned home to join Ethan.
Friends and family always ask "How are the babies?" to which our default reply is "They're alright."

Actually, they are alright. Not everything is rosy, though. But considering the circumstances, I think we were dealt a pretty darn good hand to play.

So, what's the real answer to "How are the babies?"

They're alright. The boys are nearly 7 months old now but they're smaller than full-term babies at 7 months. They do however, compare more favorably with 4-month-olds which is probably more fair since they were 3 months premature.
Against all odds, the boys:
1. Don't have any signs of ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity ). The overwhelming majority of babies born at 28-months have at least stage 1 ROP.
2. They were never effected by NEC (Necrotizing enterocolitis). It affects nearly 10% of all babies born less than 1500g. Mortality rate is over 50%. We've personally witnessed several babies in the NICU pass away from this condition. Each of our boys weighed about 1kg at birth. This coupled with the fact that each of them had multiple episodes of distended bowels (ie, possible early indicator of NEC) left us nerve racking for the first few months at the hospital.
3. They never developed meningitis. The boys combined for 5 incidences of fever while in the NICU. Each time, spinal fluid needed to be extracted and tested for meningitis. Thank god the tests never came back positive.

But are they alright in that they're the picture of health and development? Not exactly since there are still hurdles to overcome. But they're alright and it's really all we can ask for.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Twins Blog - Apr. 26, 2011 - "Welcome Home, Aidan"

On April 25 (Easter Monday), the hospital notified us that we may bring Aidan home on hospital leave. That is, we need to bring him back the next morning so the doctors can examine him when they do their rounds. He's not officially discharged, but it was better than nothing.
At around 4:30pm, Aidan finally came home. After 143 days in the hospital, he finally felt the warmth of family.
We brought him back to the NICU this morning, but it's likely he'll be officially discharged later today.

(Aidan on the left, Ethan on the right)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

10 situations that are only possible in TVB dramas

1. The Elevator Baby Delivery
Pregnant woman plus elevator equals elevator failure and emergency delivery.
Reality: See here for details. This one deserves it's own little piece.

2. The Ankle Sprain
A female character suffers an ankle sprain while chasing/running in the street. It's not just a minor sprain too. It's a major sprain where the person requires assistance just to stand.
Reality: It's impossible for someone with any motor-skill coordination to suffer a major sprain just from running on smooth pavement. You might trip and scrape yourself, but never to the point where it's difficult to stand.

3. The Rubber Burn
Cars always slam the brakes and burn rubber when they stop. I'm not even referring to chase scenes. I'm just talking about regular pedestrians driving casually.
Reality: It's as if the effects guy gets paid a commission every time he uses that screeching sound bite.

4. The Homemade Takeout
If the breakfast scene is at home, the characters always have homemade congee, fried noodles and fried dough for breakfast.
Reality: I can understand homemade congee and maybe fried noodles. But there's absolutely no way that people fry their own dough at home for breakfast. It's just too much effort and not practical.

5. The Concussion-caused Amnesia
Every concussion injury leads to retrograde amnesia (ie, loss of memories formed before the injury).
Reality: Concussions are fairly common. If all concussions lead to amnesia, a lot of professional sports athletes would be wandering the streets wondering who they were. Besides, even if the concussion lead to amnesia, it's more likely to be that of anterograde amnesia (ie, inability to create and save new memories).

6. The Imaginary Restaurant
Characters always meet at a particularly weird non-existing type of restaurant. The entire restaurant consists of small square tables that can only accommodate a party of 2. The lighting is usually dim. Upon sitting down, a waiter (usually dressed very formally) approaches and asks the person what they would like to have. If the fictional restaurant is meant to be a "cafe", the waiter would specifically ask what they would like to drink. The answer is usually coffee. If the fictional restaurant is actually meant to be a restaurant, the main character wouldn't even look at the menu. They'll always have the "set lunch".
Reality: The type of restaurant described simply doesn't exist. There's no other way to put it. There's no restaurant that primarily serves beverages in the format described. And there's no restaurant where there's only 1 set lunch. There has to be at least a choice of appetizer, main course, and drink.

7. The Scenery Shift
In a conversation between two characters (usually romantically involved), one of them might say something like "We need to talk" or "I have something I'd like to say to you". The content of what needs to be said is usually dramatic enough to warrant a change in scenery. Suddenly, the scene shifts to another location which might be miles away.
Reality: Either they teleported there to continue their conversation or they commuted there in awkward silence.

8. The Broken Glass Cut
An item shatters (usually glass). The first person to go ahead and pick up the pieces always gets cut. Always. Seriously. Always.
Reality: In my experience of cleaning shattered messes, it's pretty difficult to cut yourself unless you purposely take a sharp piece and squeeze into it like an idiot.

9. The Imaginary Hospital
Medical surgeries take place in a hospital that can't be found in the real world. If a character requires surgery, the character's family/friends wait directly outside the operating room. There's always a couple of benches but the hallway is always empty except for the family/friends. The door to the OR always has this box with the words "Operation Room" on it and it's always lit from the inside with a fluorescent tube. The light switches off to signal the end of the surgery, the family/friends stand up and the surgeon comes out accompanied by one or two nurses to discuss the outcome of the surgery.
Reality: This type of hospital doesn't exist. Every hospital hallway is always crowded with people and staff. I've never seen that "Operation Room" light indicator in any hospital I've been to. And surgeons never immediately address family/friends right after the surgery.

10. The Incompetent Car
Cars routinely malfunction and break down while being driven. There's only two types of problems. One is a brake malfunction which usually leads to an accident (often crashing into a light pole or road sign). The other type of problem is when the engine sputters and white smoke emit from the hood. Oh, and every single male character is a mechanic. They always pop the hood as if they know exactly what's going on.
Reality: Cars just don't fail that easily. Every car goes through annual inspections to ensure that they are still road-worthy. The brakes are one of the main parts of the car that is heavily inspected. I'm no expert, but the "white smoke from the hood" issue appears to be the radiator overheating. The radiator is also heavily inspected and is routinely flushed. Besides, the radiator never just suddenly fails. There's a temperature gauge on the dashboard that warns the driver of any problems ahead of time. (In fact, I knew someone who drove around a 10-year-old car for months with a leaky radiator. Every hour or so, he would need to refill the radiator with tap water. That car's engine never failed.)

11. The Unfocused Accident
Characters have dramatic things happening in their lives and often, the show producers would like to illustrate that a character is mentally preoccupied with something. Perhaps the character is deciding how to reject a marriage proposal from a millionaire or if she should arrest her fiancĂ©e who is a crime boss. The only effective way to show a character is unfocused is to have her handle a knife and food. She would stare straight ahead while chopping carrots or peeling an apple. She will inevitably cut herself with the knife. This is the only way the audience would know that she is unfocused.
Reality: This is just like #8. You really have to be an idiot to cut yourself with a knife. This just doesn't happen to adults.