Sunday, December 30, 2007
老虎斑 resembles the Camouflage Grouper 杉斑. But take note of the small spots covering the eyes. 杉斑 does not have them.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Resembles and easily confused with the Brown-marbled Grouper 老虎斑. They both have larger blotches and small brown spots. On the 老虎斑 the small spots cover the eyes, but not on the 杉斑.
Many 老虎斑s are now farm-raised. Those from the sea are pale yellowish brown but those farm-raised are darker in colour. My father said it is because those living in the sea can swim to the bottom and get less sunlight. It is important to distinguish them because the wild ones are very tasty but the farm-raised are not as good.
Its cousin, the Spotted Coral Grouper 西星斑, looks similar. But its spots are larger and elongated.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
In any case, we all suffer, to different degrees, and in different ways. What matters is not how healthy/unhealthy, rich/poor, pretty/ugly, smart/stupid, etc. we are. But how we act in the circumstances. God is fair not in the sense of giving everyone exactly the same. He is fair in demanding from a person according to what the person is given.
In fact, instead of asking (or in addition to) why some people suffer in a certain way, perhaps we should (also) ask why we don’t. There are lots of hungry people in this world. Why are we the ones with enough to eat? There are lots of people living in the fear of war or under repressive regimes. Why are we the ones living freely? Is there some purpose is that we are given so much already? Is there something we should be doing with what we are given?
Then on the following day (24th) we went to Hong Chi PineHill Special School to visit the kids with special needs. They seem happy enough, despite their sufferings. Their contentment, their smiles, and their guilelessness should teach us something about what is really valuable in life. And if our little effort can bring a little bit more joy into their lives, isn’t it something?
We have in our hands the power to make our lives and those around us more, or less, enjoyable and meaningful. It is our decision.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
More than 20 kids from the special school came to our party. About half of them teenagers with mild special needs. They live in small houses, eight in one house supervised by a house parent. During they day they attend secondary school, and return to Pinehill after school. Most of them are slower than other kids in development, but can generally take care of themselves. They are very warm towards visitors, and treat you like an old friend right-away. It seems friendship is their greatest need.
They are very straightforward. Once a social worker was discussing differences among people with them. She asked why they thought she would not be able to become an airplane stewardess - expecting them to say “you are too short”, “you are too old”, etc. But one of them blurted out “you are too ugly” without thinking. They are really guileless.
Another half of them were pre-school kids with severe disabilities. One little boy’s hands were gloved with mittens. I thought perhaps it was to prevent him from scratching himself. It turned out his eyesight was so poor that his range of vision was only a few inches. You have to touch him in order for him to know your presence. Perhaps partly for this reason he liked to put his hands into his mouth - so deep that he puked! So his care takers tried to wean him from this habit by gloving and even tying up his hands. When you touch his face to let him know you there, and massage is shoulders, he calms down and makes faces.
Another very young kid just stared into distance, motionlessly in her wheelchair - she was paralysed from the neck down. Apparently she could hear but simply could not respond. Another girl could not talk but smiled broadly when you talk to her.
Certainly these kids can be happy in their own world, in their own way. What they crave the most seem to be human touch and friendship. Their care takers are very caring. But there are just too few of them and the needs of these kids are just too great.
I am sure God loves them as much as you and I. How can our hearts not go out to them, to want to touch them, to want to put a smile on their faces? Particularly for those of us who have experienced God's love? In fact we are all made in God's image. We all have God's love in us, haven't we?
I would like to think this is really the spirit of Christmas.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
He asked about a Yuk Tat Street. I vaguely remember the name, and that it was in To Kwa Wan, but I wasn’t so sure. Then he told me he was starting a new job, and showed me the address. It confirmed that he was looking for an industrial building in To Kwa Wan. Then I pointed him in the general direction.
Imagine having to start a new job on Christmas Day, when most people are out enjoying themselves. He had an open, sincere face. He was polite, and sounded earnest. I prayed to God for him as I continue my jogging.
One of our friends at the party this year was a single mom, with a daughter who just turned five. She was originally from Shanghai but has been in Hong Kong for more than 10 years. The daughter has been living in Shanghai with relatives since she was born, and came to Hong Kong only about a year ago, after the divorce. Her former husband stopped paying alimony one year after the divorce so life has been difficult, since she has no relatives in Hong Kong. Added to that, she had suspected that her daughter had developmental difficulties but could not confirmed it through diagnosis until the daughter came to Hong Kong. She had been very unhappy for the past several years. And had even considered ending her life, but was deterred from it because of her daughter.
Then earlier this year a friend suggested that she try our church. She has since come to believe in Jesus, and started attending Sunday School. She still has many questions and life is still not easy. But she feels now there is hope. And the church welcomes her like her family.
Hope is precisely what Christmas and Jesus is all about. In Him, we can find peace. Jesus said we will continue to encounter difficulties in this world. But we can take heart because He has already overcome the world. [John 16:33]
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Having paid for the maid, many fathers consider their responsibilities to the family fulfilled. Many children these days are effectively raised by the maid. Considering the added responsibilities, some have a legitimate claim to be underpaid.
In this particular case, at least it was the mother who was holding the children's hands, not the maid.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Taking an examination is serious business, particularly in
By the time they get to university, it is so ingrained that it is very hard to change. The examination is not just a way to measure how much and how well they have learned, it has become the goal in itself. It does not matter that material crammed into the students’ brains in the last day before the examination are forgotten the minute the examination ends. It does not matter that the examination is not the best indicator of the students’ achievement in learning – it is merely the most economical.
Having the student do a practical project under the supervision of a professor is a much better way to learn and to measure how well the student has learned. It is also closer to what university education should be like. Unfortunately it is also much more expensive and beyond the means of most people.
Friday, December 21, 2007
We have often discussed this as a possible strategy by students to answer multiple choice questions, and what the expected outcome would be. But this is the first time that I have seen one of my students try this. The actual outcome is close to the expected value, and obviously it is not very good. It is really sad to see one of my students resorting to this.
What do you think of this? This is part of a popular text book on Physics in
At first I thought it was just indicative, meaning to show that the current (15A) in one side of the ring and the current (15A) in the other side of the ring add up to the total current (30A) delivered to the appliance. In reality, of course, that the resistance in the two sides may differ, hence the current may not be carried equally in the two sides.
Upon closer look into some of the exercises following this, I realized that the student is expected to answer the questions exactly this way, assuming an even split of current. This is misleading, as if there are some hidden, sophisticated equipment that ensures the current is evenly split in the two sides. Either that, or there electricity is so smart that it splits itself evenly, seeing that there are two paths to the same destination.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
It is a sunny day in late autumn, as perfect as it ever gets in
Sadly, many of them cannot make it last long enough. Over one full semester, for example. Given one week to complete an assignment, many will not start on it until the last day. Given a month for an assignment, many will also not start on it until the last three days. Given two months for a term project, incredibly, many will still not start on it until the last week.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
A common scene in Central on Sundays – Philippinos sending parcels home. There are more than 4 million Philippinos working as overseas foreign workers. They send home more than seven billion US dollars annually. No wonder they are referred to as the “new economic heroes”. Among them, more than 70% are women.
About 150,000 work in
She was preparing 白蘭花 for sale, on the steps of a busy MTR exit in Yaumati. At two dollars for a pack of three flower buds, it was a bargain. Certainly much cheaper than in Central, where they are going for 10 dollars a pack. They are very fragrant, pretty flowers, and bring back a lot of memories.
These flowers are much harder to find these days, and the people who sell them seem to be always older folks. I suspect many people buy them for the memory more than the fragrance. This lady is in her late 80s – it is a pity that she has to do this at her age. I am afraid the buying and selling of 白蘭花 may pass away together with her generation.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
This was a Friday morning and he wasn’t sleeping. Instead, he was carrying all his belongings on a shoulder pole (扁擔). But he normally sleeps on the streets in Yaumati, sometimes right in front of some of the shops which sells expensive stuff such as 燕窩 (swallow’s nest) and 冬蟲夏草 (cordyceps sinensis).
He reminds me of the story of the beggar Lazarus in the Bible who lied in front of the house of a rich man. When they both died, Lazarus went to paradise while the rich man went to hell. [Luke 16: 19-31] Talk about a story with morals - you cannot get any more explicit than that.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
This is one of the wards of
He is suffering more and more as the days go by. Lately the doctors have started to prescribe morphine to help him bear the pain. His wife has to come to the hospital twice a day to feed him. He does not like the hospital food so she has to make soup, or porridge for him, even though he can eat only very little. His two daughters and two sons take turns to keep him company. Sometimes they have to stay overnight because he was suffering so much. His brother and sisters, nephews and nieces also come to see him. Some would read the Bible to him, and pray with him.
He is one of the more fortunate ones because he has family and relatives who care. Many of the others in the same ward do not often have visitors. In any case, when one person suffers, the whole family and others suffer with him, one way or the other. In such a state, how can they enjoy the trees, lights, decorations, parties, and gifts of Christmas?
But Christmas is joyful precisely because this is a needy world, precisely because the world is full of suffering.
A family that has everything will accept a gift politely, and then set it aside. It means little to them. A family in need, on the other hand, will accept a gift with true thankfulness and joy. What does the suffering world need? Not just relief from pain, not just prolonged life in this world. A man healed of sickness will still die, either from re-occurrence of the illness, or simply from old age. What the suffering world really needs is hope, true redemption from sin and its consequences. That’s what the Christ of Christmas brings. That’s why there is joy in Christmas. Don't you think?
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
This is the famous 山窿謝記魚蛋. I remember them as a small stall hidden in the alley between a rock cliff and a building in the old
A small bowl of fish balls with noodles is 16 dollars. But I recommend the large bowl of mixed balls (什會) with noodles. At 32 dollars a bowl, it is not cheap, but it is well worth it, in my opinion. You get to try 魚蛋, 炸魚蛋, 炸魚片, 魚餃, 墨魚丸, 牛丸, and 牛腩. Isn’t it great?
These people are lining up not to eat in the shop, but to buy take out. Many people drive there to pick up 雲吞, 魚餃, etc. My favourites are 炸魚蛋 and 炸魚片, at 70 dollars a catty. They make great snacks. But get there early, they normally get sold out by mid afternoon. The proprietress is a jovial woman who sits at the counter collecting money and selling take out all day. When asked why they don’t make more of those, she replied that they want to keep the quality up.
It is a family business, many of the people who work there seem related. And they seem happy, particularly the proprietress. She seems to be in high spirits, and jokes with the customers all the time – many of whom are regulars.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
This was what
The highest roadside Air Pollutant Index was 151 on Friday, the highest of the year. The government, as usual, blamed it on light winds and regional air pollution, a euphemism for
Saturday, December 08, 2007
The Napolean Wrasse is a really beautiful creature. For a fish, it looks thoughtful. These ones are about 2 feet long, still only juveniles. Their colour will deepen and the humps above their eyes will become much more pronounced as they get older. The largest will grow up to seven feet. These will not get the chance.
They normally live in the waters around the reefs in the south Pacific, such as around
Thursday, December 06, 2007
At first glance, you might think the woman was pushing a baby in a stroller. Looking closer, you will find there was no baby, but a little dog. Some dogs in
The average number of children per woman in
This appears to be a good opportunity to move towards smaller classes in schools, in which each student can receive more attention, and hopefully, a better education. Unfortunately, our education officials insist that the benefits of smaller classes have not yet been established, that more studies are necessary, and refuse to put up the money needed to reduce the size of classes. Recently, however, there seems to be some indication that the government, for some reason, may change its stance again. Do there may still be hope after all.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
What were these women doing? They were waiting for the right moment to sneak in and grab as many of the freebie newspapers distributed at this fast food joint as possible.
I heard that recycled newspapers can fetch as much as one pack of instant noodles for every 5 kilograms.
Why are they all old women? Perhaps they are the only ones wth the time and patience? And the thick skin to withstand the stares, ridicules, and even occasional curses?
Monday, December 03, 2007
This man fishing in the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter was an expert. Within a minute of dipping the lure into the water, he would be flicking out a 泥鯭. And he repeated it something like 10 times in the short time I was watching.
This one in his hand was about 5 inches long. You probably need 10 to 20 of these to make up one catty (一斤). Smaller ones he simply threw back into the water. He said in a good afternoon he could catch 200 of these, weighing more than 10 catties altogether.
I picked up the plastic bag into which he threw his catch. There were lots of them in there, and my guess was that they probably weighted about 3 catties altogether. He said there were larger fish to catch even in the shelter. Because the shelter opened into the harbour, bigger fish, such as foot-long mullet (烏頭) would come into the shelter. But he was fishing for 泥鯭 today, using a dough made of flour as bait.
He was fishing mainly for fun, not to sell them. He said he would eat some, and give most of them away to friends. I am not sure I want to eat them though, knowing where they came from, and what they eat.
Friday, November 30, 2007
I read somewhere that there was a study in the
However, if we hate someone so much that in our hearts, we want him or her to be eliminated, is it really any better than to actually kill? Most of us cannot kill a person, but we can gladly kill a fish, or chicken. Because they are considered less than human, and therefore, fair game. That is how some people justify killing other people, that the enemy is somehow less than human. Many reasons can be used – it could be the enemy’s beliefs, or the lack of it; their lowly birth, or heinous crime, etc. That’s what Matthew chapter 5, verses 21 to 26 was talking about. The Bible warned against calling people “idiot” (白癡), or other demeaning names, making them less than human.
Just a few days ago a
Hatred and revenge is one of the major causes of murderous behaviour between individuals, groups, nations, and cultures throughout history. Often the grudge-bearers suffer even more than the enemy. When our hearts are occupied with hatred, there is no room for love, for one another, or for God.
It seems impossibly hard to forgive. But with God, everything is possible, if only we trust in Him. It was in fact God who forgave us in the beginning. From Him, we can learn how to forgive.