Half and Half

When you see a glass filled halfway up its height with water, do you see it as half empty or half full?

Wait. Stop.

Before you go any further into some kind of navel-gazing philosophical attitude answer about how you're oh-so-optimistic and blahblahblah, that's not what I mean to ask. I mean to ask it literally: do you see a glass of water that's actually half empty or half full? (And don't cop out and say "both", you sit-on-the-fencer.)

Me, I see it as half full. (By the way, I'm normally a little pessimistic.) And it's because I think about how much water I would normally get if I were to pour myself a "full glass". I usually leave myself some "spill margin" (that little space) at the top; sometimes half an inch, sometimes an inch, depending, but typically less than the thickness of the glass' base. So a glass that's got drinky drink in it halfway up its full height usually means it's got more liquid than half the "full" amount I would pour.

And thus, my final answer is "(more than) half full". It also explains why I snicker to myself pettily when I ask for half a glass of something, and they pour exactly that, giving me that bonus bit, unbeknownst to them. (Score that extra drop.)


Sometimes I have nothing to say, really.

A Blind Eye

I watched as a police officer leisurely walked up to a street vendor near a popular trendy part of town. The guy was the only illegal vendor left on the block -- everyone else had cleared away long before, at the first sight of the cops. The blue slowly pulled out his pad to write a citation against the retailer, and as he did, he said:

"We've been circling the block for a long time, and approached very slowly. Why didn't you pack up and move away??"

Closed-minded folk will see Taiwan has having "no order", but the more astute observers soon discover that there is an alternate order to things here. You just have to see it.

Reflections of a Personal Kind

Mirrors are a great tool used by interior designers. They make things look bigger: rooms, hallways, your ass in that dress. And they're generously used in some nice hotels as well. They use it in the bathroom of my hotel room. No, I don't mean in front of the mirror -- every bathroom has one of those. No, they have an extra one, a full-height one, as the wall of the bathtub. Yeah. There.

With it, I now give myself full frontal nudity each time I shower. And as most of you could guess, I can guarantee you this is not a pretty sight.

But wait, there's more!

With the mirror where it is, it gets worse. I now side-moon myself each time I sit on the crapper. That, I really don't need to see. Who needs to watch themselves on the toilet??

And it's directly opposite the regular mirror, which means I don't just see myself on the toilet. No, no, that's getting off too easily. The two mirrors make a tunnel: a reflective tunnel of millions of perpetual, identical Bens going on forever. All sitting on the porcelain poo station, all moving in unison, all getting up at the same time to wipe their ass.


How Low Can You Go?

Hands firmly thrust in our coat pockets, we ventured into a small street. I looked at a wall of North Face and Oakley backpacks, while he peered at some silk ties in a neighbouring stall. I joined him as the girl showed him the calculator display.


He said nothing, and was preparing to leave with me. Three taps on the calculator in rapid succession, and again held to his face.
"Okay, $190. Cheap for you."
"No, thanks. Maybe we'll come back tomorrow."

I stepped outside, and my colleague tried to follow suit. Problem was, there was a girl in his way and she blocked him. Not the kind of block as in you happened to be in the way, but a block as in the most intentional kind: you don't want him to get by you with a basketball and make the throw.
"$50. $50! Okay?"
"No, it's okay. Really. Really."

He pushed by her, and we proceeded to leave. Heck, we would have made it too if it weren't for that sudden hand grasping his arm at the elbow.
"Okay, how much? How much you want?"

We politely smiled and told her we really couldn't buy it today. Tomorrow, instead. Our steps separated us from her and slowly engulfed us into darkness (but just a block away from the hotel). In the distance, she was relentless.
"Ten. $10! $10!"
"No. Thank you. To-mor-row."

As we walked, I chuckled: I now understood the extent of haggling possibilities. $10 RMB is just $1.25 USD or 1 EUR! My coworker, he looked at me with a big grin on his excited face.
"Tomorrow, let's go back. I'm going to buy the whole store!"

Crabby Cabbie

My first experience in Beijing hasn't been the best.

I had been warned by a friend who lives here that there are legal and illegal cabs crowding the airport. I took great care in lining up at the official taxi line-up, and they pointed me to a black one waiting, where the driver quickly loaded our luggage into the trunk and ushered us in.

The first mistake: he said he didn't know where the hotel was.
Second: there was no meter in the car.
Third: he asked me to call the hotel on my roaming mobile phone.
Fourth: he couldn't even give us a price.
Fifth: he wouldn't stop the cab so we could get out.

Eventually, we figured out the chinese name of TianLun Dynasty Hotel and after much insistent (rude) prodding, he finally quoted me 300 RMB (about $35 USD) for the ride. (For reference, it shouldn't cost more than 80 RMB.) I argued with him but dropped it after much frustration, and instead I asked him for a receipt.
Sixth: he asked me for a pen to write it with.
Seventh: he scribbled "200.00 RMB" on the back of a highway toll receipt and told me that was it.

We got to the hotel and had my colleague quickly get our luggage out of the trunk. Remembering my friend's advice, I brought up the cab price with the hotel doorman immediately upon exiting the car before paying. She inspected his car, peered in, and asked him how much. He told her 90RMB. Satisfied (but not content), I paid the 90RMB and waved him away.

After all that, the hotel is gorgeous, and the room is very comfortable. Now onto the Peking Duck somewhere, but so far, I'm not at all impressed with the foggy, smoggy, dark and corrupted mess that seems to be Beijing.

I Love In-Town

This in-town check-in is awesome; I just checked into my flight and dumped my luggage at the IFC mall in Central Hong Kong! Hong Kong has got it right (with a similar system in Seoul). So now I can kick around here at MIX for a bit for breakfast, and shop last-minute, and then hitch the Airport Express straight to the gate (and security) shortly before my flight! That means no sitting around bored at the airport!

Love it.

From HKG to Peking Duck

It is some disappointment that I have to fly to Beijing today, and leave Hong Kong. This is a beautiful city, made more fun and more exciting by my gracious hosts S&M and canine tour guide Sparky. It had been 15 years since my last visit, and this time was way more fun.

Beijing awaits, and I expect it to be eye-opening, since it's my first step into China ever. But, it will be with my travel companion coworker CrabbyBones. Oh. Joy. Mr. I-don't-want-to-have-Chinese-food-in-Hong-Kong. Well, I'm having Peking Duck, no matter what. And although he is supposed to be with me practically every waking hour while I'm in Beijing, I will have to ditch him if he gets unreasonably stubborn. And then leave him to his own devices in a less-friendly town where he doesn't speak the language.

Okay, time to distract Sparky with a beef bone and then make my noisy escape with all my bags.


Hong Kong is fun, but I think I'm pretty much done with malls. There's just too much shopping in this city, and shopping that I typically can't afford. What else is there to do here??

I Just Want to Sleep

Yesterday's tradeshow day ended at 6:00pm. Exhibitor's party at LUX in Lan Kwai Fong (the pub/clubbing district) started at 6:30pm, free beer and wine and highballs. And very very little food. (Long day, free booze, no food: in case you are new to this game, that's not a particularly good combination.)

And then around 9:00pm, M&S came by and we got in (by invitation) to dragon-i for the opening party of some Gerrard jewellery launch. Again, free booze, and the kitchen was closed. Met a bunch of people, some media mogul folk, and a gay guy who tried to hold S's hand. (S, being the good friend shrugged him off, and spun him over to me, where the dude tried to hold my hand. No, thank you.)

1:00am rolls around, and S and I are looped out our trees and we stumble our way to some burger joint owned by a Canadian guy. An awesome burger and to-die-for poutine finish our night.

This morning, I am not in particularly good shape. Tired, and I have to play nice for another 4 hours. I just want to go home and sleep.

I Just Want to Eat

Four people (some not very culinarily open-minded) from four countries, two barking feet on each of them, eight long tradeshow hours, and one dinner to agree on. Ain't gonna happen.

We walked from the convention center to the complex next to it. Two restaurants.

"I don't want Chinese. I'll have Chinese in the next few weeks anyway."

Uh, okay, that's in Taiwan, which is totally different Chinese, but whatever. And uh, why would you eat anything but Chinese food while in Hong Kong?? So we dropped him and sent him away to his hotel (thankfully on the Kowloon side).

Three left. And thus began the oh-let's-go-here-oh-let's-go-there wild goose chase.

Cab ride around Wan Chai before the taxi driver told us we had to go to this famous 40-year-old traditional Chinese place. Sounded great, actually! And then one colleague says,
"How's the Peak?"

Driver turns around and heads up to the Peak Lookout: closed for private event. Wandering through the Galleria to find no suitable Chinese food (except for the cafe downstairs), after consulting with several tourist shop owners.

Cab ride back down to Central where the taxi driver finally gives up on us and drives us through Causeway Bay, drops us off at Tai Fook which, in my humble opinion of Chinese food, was blah.

I was in a particularly pissy mood, already tired and hungry, and I just wanted to eat. Afterwards, we wandered the streets of Causeway Bay, but the other two guys wanted to head home.

I need to find more people whom I can travel with.

There Are Very Many People in Hong Kong

This place is amazing. Skyscraper after skyscraper of businesses and people. And the prices here for a decent lifestyle are actually more affordable than in Taiwan! Except for housing, of course, which is way off.

After taking care of work things the whole morning and part of the afternoon -- and it was a very testing morning for me today that nearly had me exhausting my sad arsenal of Cantonese swear words -- I managed to take the Star Ferry to the Kowloon side.

You know that mall they got over there, the Harbour City? Holy sh!t, that's a mall. Took me the whole day to get through it, including a small purchase at Zara.

Tomorrow, the real work starts. Plastic smiles and fake laughs for 8 hours. Whee.

What a Day

Recovered from that terrible food poisoning, and managed to keep some food down.

Headed to work, had to negotiate some flight plans (and coordinate last-minute flights to Beijing for me and a colleague) that didn't seem to match up. Found out the travel agent booked me for a flight to Hong Kong for last Friday instead of today. Luckily, they were able to get me upper-deck seating on today's flight.

Scootered home, shut everything off in the apartment (since I'm out for 9 days), hopped in the taxi. Rode along for 20 minutes before realizing my mobile phone is back in the apartment. Dammit.

Turned around, went back to get it, and made it to the airport with time to spare: it only took 20 minutes to get through check-in, security, and exit customs! Now I'm resting a bit at the Dynasty Lounge (damn, I love this) before -- oh, time to board.

See you (virtually) in Hong Kong!

Out the Back

Food poisoning is a terrible, terrible thing. I do not enjoy pissing little brown pellets out my ass. Especially the day before I need to fly out for 9 days on business.

I'm sorry you had to bear witness to this, but would be really sorry if you had to really bear witness to it.

Scattered at 31

Had a small birthday dinner at Salt & Bread yesterday. Lesson: Russians may know their vodka, but their baked oxtail with mashed potatoes is dangerously similar to a fatty starch bomb. And accordions are almost as annoying as bagpipes.

If I don't workout regularly, my energy level decreases in general, and usually after dinner I have the tendency to conk out. Now I'm just missing the white undershirt vest and the sitting on the couch staring at the boobtube while scratching myself.

Rye bread ain't all that. And I am in desperate need of a black belt -- I never realized how restricting to my dress wardrobe it is not to have a black dress belt. Also never realized how difficult it is to find a classy black belt around here; you'd think more people had fashion sense.

I hold efficient weekly meetings at work; for a team of 9, status updates and new topics to discuss can be done between 15-25 minutes. Anything that drags the meeting is taken offline. Bing bang boom, and we're outta the room.

Comme Ca ISM socks are a dream. They feel like satin on my feet, and make me all happy.

Hop, Skip, Jump

Sorry for the recent silence; I know how empty your lives have been without my daily blog entries. (Not.) Just a quick update; suddenly my November (business) travel plans have been jostled around. This is how it landed:

11/14 -> 11/20: Hong Kong (HKG)
11/21 -> 11/23: Beijing (BJS)
11/28 -> 12/01: Essen (FRA) CANCELLED

Will get to see M&S in Hong Kong and spend some good time with them, since they offered to put me up for the time I'm there. Excited!

[ edit: By the way, thanks for all the birthday wishes, though I'm not technically leaving 30 for another 17 hours or so (due to international date line and time difference). ]

Older, Not Wiser

Tequila is evil. And tolerance to it is not something you can grow into.

Ce-le-brate Good Times, C'mon!

The sun is shining, the air is cool; it's a gorgeous day that reminds me of summer mornings in Vancouver when I was a kid. Or a super-early morning in the Bay Area. Gawd, that puts me in a nice mood.

What with the broken belt incident -- "The Great Broken Belt Incident of 2005" -- I found that a good chunk of my pants selections is now no longer available to me. But this morning, I found a pair of Uppercut pants still fresh in the packaging! So today, I am sporting the Uppercut Trooper in Stone (grey). that puts me in a good mood too.

So anyway, the birthday is coming up next week. How should I celebrate it? (Within reason, please.)

(Actually, you're not really becoming a year older on your birthday; you're really just a day older, because the day before, you were just a day younger. The age number is kind of misleading that way; they should change it. But you know what I mean. Just answer the question.)

Meme a Little Meme For Me

I was suddenly under a little virtual peer pressure to do this -- and you know how easily I cave in to such things, on account of my having no backbone. So, here goes nothin'. I'm not that proud of how my answers turned out, so I'm reserving the right to change these at a later date.

Three names I go by:
1. Ben
2. my Chinese name
3. BenBen

Three screen names I have had:
1. Ben
2. concept
3. whipcream

Three physical things I like about myself:
1. my arms (only after workout, thanks to paternal genetics)
2. my babyface
3. that i'm alive

Three physical things I don't like about myself:
1. my lovehandles
2. my babyface (getting carded in Vegas gets old)
3. my build (and how I'm losing it)

Three parts of my heritage:
1. Canadian
2. Taiwanese
3. uh ... CBC/ABC-ese?

Three things that scare me:
1. failure
2. dying
3. being alone (different from being single)

Three of my everyday essentials:
1. food
2. folks
3. fun

Three of my favorite musical artists:
1. 2pac
2. Indigo Swing
3. me (no, I will not show you)

Three of my favorite songs (right now):
1. Nelly - "My Place"
2. Usher - "My Boo, Part 2"
3. Mario - "Nikes Fresh Out The Box"

Three things I want in a relationship:
1. love
2. happiness
3. passion

Three lies and truths in no particular order (you figure out which ones are lies and which ones are the truth):
1. buy more for myself than for gifts when xmas shopping
2. have abnormally big palms and stubby fingers
3. never kissed two girls in one night
4. have a secret stash of controlled substances
5. vandalized someone else's property once, kinda
6. know karate, judo, arnis, and chinese checkers

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeals to me:
1. eyes
2. smile
3. curve of the waist/hips

Three of my favorite hobbies:
1. gym time
2. geeking out
3. eating (it is so a hobby)

Three things I want to do really badly now:
1. get a car
2. leave the office and go back to sleep
3. poo (though not necessarily in this order)

Three careers I'm considering/I've considered:
1. process engineer
2. interior designer
3. street vendor / owner

Three places I want to go on vacation:
1. Australia
2. Western Europe
3. Tibet

Three kid's names I like:
1. Deanna
2. Tyrence
3. !xobile (haha, just kidding)
4. Tobi (haha, it's funny if you know my last name)
5. Sharina (to make up my real third one)

Three things I want to do before I die:
1. live, like really live
2. raise a family
3. um, celebrate my 150th birthday?

Three ways that I am stereotypically a boy:
1. i like toilet humour
2. i gots a gadget fixation
3. i have a peepee

Three ways that I am stereotypically like a girl:
1. care products
2. i get squirmy at bugs and spiders, especially cockroaches; though, rats I can handle
3. i agree: men are scum

Three celeb crushes:
1. Meg Ryan
2. Sung Hi Lee (oh yeah)
3. Maura Tierney (there's something kind of cute about her)

Three people that I would like to see post this meme:
1. Kevin
2. Hougee
3. Misc Musings

Whew. There. Done. Now you do it too, even if your name isn't on the above list. And then comment here and let me know you did it. And then that way, we can all waste a ton of time that we'll never get back. Hahaha.

... Another Dollar

Huh. Something new everyday.

- Since returning from my vacation, I now have fruit flies in my apartment too. Taking action to remove them (from this world).

- The other day, I spotted a fat cockroach in my apartment, scampering along the corner behind the desk -- it's only the second sighting in my place since I moved in, but to me cockroaches are unacceptable. My friend killed it while I pranced around and screamed like a schoolgirl.

- My Kenneth Cole belt broke, and I don't have another black dress belt. (This might also double as a sign of a growing gut, but let's take one issue at a time, hmm?) And the pants I'm wearing today are too loose to hold up on their own.

- More pressure from work, and the directors -- in their infinite wisdom and eagerness to do something -- are doing exactly the wrong something, which makes me question whether they are really trying to help this location or if they are playing a larger game with ulterior motives.

- I don't really feel like celebrating my birthday. Year over year, I don't know if my life is improving or not.

Blah. It's just another blah kind of day, I guess. Ah, well, I'll get over it.