Wednesday 29 April 2009

Website & TV: Tudou & Mythbusters

Holiday is coming and it is time to watch some shows again! I know I have mentioned about the Mythbusters before but I couldn’t offer a good way for you to watch the show without subscribing to Now TV, but I have found a great website which you can watch as many shows of Mythbusters as you like now, and the website is Tudou!

Tudou is a China-based website which works the similar way as Youtube, but of course, you get to watch a lot more than the latter /'lætə/.

Now every night, I must watch one episode before going to bed, and I highly suggest that you do the same so that you can maintain your listening practice with something fun and unusual. The good news is that you will get the Chinese subtitles that you have always wanted.

So what are you waiting for? Tune in now!

(The speed of the network will largely affect your flow of viewing, so if your network is slow, try to start a browser with the clip and pause it for buffering, or ‘loading’. When it is all buffered, you can enjoy it! I use Hong Kong Broadband 100M, so I am perfectly okay to watch it on-the-fly, meaning ‘instantly’ in computer language)

Monday 27 April 2009

TV & Slang: Densha or Otaku?

More than once I mentioned the now in-and-chic term "Densha (otoko)" in my recent lessons, and as response I got a whole lot of stiff, puzzled faces. I am not surprised as most Hongkongers understand the term in Chinese rather than in Japanese.

The term originated from a once-super-hot TV drama, starred by Itō Atsushi as Tsuyoshi Yamada, aka (also known as) "Densha (otoko)" or "Train Man" in English, and Ito Misaki as Saori Aoyama, aka Hermès over the internet.

The story began with the protagonist, Yamada the typical otaku (a Japanese term used to refer to people with obsessive interests, particularly anime, manga, and video games.), not-so-heroically saving the stunningly elegant and gorgeous Saori from the harassment of a drunken mid-age man on a train. In order to show her appreciation to his bravery and chivalry, model-figured Saori asked for the address of the vertically-challenged Yamada so that she could send him a gift of thanks. Soon Yamada received a set of fine China from Hermès and he shared his incidence over the internet, naming the anonymous girl as Hermès over the internet forum namely '2channel', which was also the place he got his nickname "Densha" from.

The story told the common lifestyle of a group of computer & manga maniacs (or "geeks" in slang) such as how they live their life in the virtual world in contrast to how they are disgusted and isolated by the females in reality. In the drama, the otaku begged for true human love, despite the fact that they enjoyed the company of their virtual dream girls and are proud of who they are.

So, strictly speaking, we should be using the word 'otaku' just as the Japanese do in describing this group of computer & manga lovers, and not using the word 'Densha', as Yamada became Densha after saving the girl and this is missing from the usual otaku. Thus this is what I am suggesting:

Otaku + saving a girl on the train = Densha

It really bugs me when I hear people using Densha without knowing the true origin.


Picture source:

Friday 24 April 2009

Health and Fitness: Chiropractor

If I wasn't injured by the "massage specialist" in Zhuhai, I wouldn't have visited this brilliant chiropractor.
Recommended by my girlfriend, I never really believed him in the past, but after this incident, now I strongly do. His spinal manipulation (or spinal adjustment / chiropractic
adjustment) skills are razor-sharp! He also did some acupuncture for me but maybe I was feeling too painful at that time, so I couldn't feel much better until the spinal adjustment was done.

Anyway, I shouldn't boast him too much. If you needed help, you can pay him a visit.
Image from squidoocdn

Chan Vai Kun

Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner (General Practice)

The Chinese-Medicine Council of Hong Kong No.004141

Falt D. 5/F, Jade Garden No. 9, Pak Shing Street, Tai Po, N.T. (near Tai Wo MTR station)
Phone: 94392505
What the Zhuhai "massage specialist" did to me was twisted my skull in a split of second, after a bit of research, I discovered that the problem I was suffering from was called vertebral subluxation, normally known as vertebral joint misalignment, which "caused pinched nervers in the intervertebral spaces in favour of subluxations causing altered nerve vibration, either too tense or too slack, affecting the tone(health) of the end organ." As for my case, what I do know is my back muscles were too tense that it contracts with spasm even though my body wasn't moving, and what I didn't know was that it could lead to damages of the end organ. Lucky that I got it fixed so soon! Touch wood (also Knock on wood)!

I don't earn any commission for recommending him and consult him at your own risk.

Thursday 23 April 2009

Technology: Which Intel Processor should I choose?

A day before the Easter holiday, my old computer was busted. Similar things always happen when I have too much time, or at least when something thinks I have too much time. Life is just simply amazing! How would anything knows that I have time? They are non-living! They have no feelings! As far as I can recall, the last 2 holidays I have fixed my old computer two times.

The first time was due to the fact that I was too clever and went to create a removable hard disk of my own, using a non-removable hard disk by pulling the SATA wire out of the case and having the hard disk placed on the floor instead of mounting it inside the steel casing. As a result, it couldn’t transfer the static electricity and blew itself up which cost me another $400+ to get a replacement and the valuable data inside. The lesson learnt was:

“Never put your hard disk on the floor without mounting it to metal casing.”

The second time was due to the clash of video card driver because I went to update the driver from the official website. Bad move! The installation of new nVIDIA drivers led to a clash with old ATI drivers and I had to buy a new outdated video card in order to invoke the display again and roll back the driver. Ka-ching! $500+. The lesson learnt was:

“Don’t ever install drivers before removing the old one.”

Despite the two unfortunate cases, I managed to extend the life of my old computer for about a year, until it finally reached the end of the road on the 9th Apil.

Since I have invested quite a bit on the spare parts, and I guess only the motherboard has problems, I have to buy a new computer in order to save the spare parts (stupid isn't it?), so I have ridden a tiger and I am afraid to dismount.

After going to Wan Chai Computer Centre to get my new computer this afternoon, I returned home to check out my collection of warrantee cards and receipts. I then found out that my old computer has been with me since 5th August 2004. I have never expected it to have lasted so long and have never thought I would be getting a new one to replace it so soon. It was still working very well before the Easter holidays. Reading through the warrantee cards both impressed me with the long life span of this computer and saddened me because it eventually has to leave (partly, because I will keep the parts for reuse). This is exactly the meaning for the word 'nostalgia".

I also found out that my computer in use was bought on the 28th June 2008, so it is almost one year old, but the technology has changed so much in less than a year’s time! If times flies when you are having fun, technology must be travelling at a speed of light. This one-year-old is Intel Dual-Core E2180 (2 GHz, 1024 kb L2-Cache, socket LGA 775), but the one I went to buy is already Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 (2.8 GHz, 3 Mb L2-Cache, socket LGA 775). Last time, the configuration cost me $3580 (+ $400 on an extra display card), and this time $4270, but already much much faster and better.

It does make me feel kind of stupid to buy a new one when I already have a good one, but if I don’t buy a new one, I can’t possibly play any DVDs on the TV (The old computer was meant to be an entertainment centre, for the sake of playing DVDs, VCDs, songs and other videos, it replaces all traditional VCD and DVD players) and take out the data from my old computer again.


Anyway, when you have to spend, you have to spend. I guess life knows well why I can never save up my money.

Updating my computer hardware knowledge once in a while may be a good thing, and I won’t do it unless I have to buy a new one.

There are many reviews on the internet, but this is the best, most comprehensive and most detailed. The tests are the most thorough.

Author Carl Nelson rocks!

Coming soon: A lot more will come very soon because I have not been writing hard enough.

Reply to comments & readers: None.

Friday 17 April 2009

Learning Method: IPA Dephonetisation & Asphonetisation

IPA made easy

(Lucky I still have something I wrote before the Easter Holidays. This is it!)

There is a saying, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap". This is all so true for everything you do in life, no matter you are trying to cook a delicious meal or learn up new vocabulary.

Luckily, there are sometimes short-cuts to learn something and I'm going to share with you my secrets of learning IPA.

Some of you might have heard me teaching this in the class already, but I would like to share with everybody here again, just in case I missed talking about it in class (so ask more questions and you will learn more).

The steps of learning IPA are actually pretty simple.

First, you need to learn how to write the alphabets.

Then, you need to remember one most simple example.

Eg. 'at' /æt/ and 'up' /ʌp/

Next, all you need to do is to apply a method that I invented, called 'Method of Dephonetisation', and that is simply to delete the non-relevant sound from the word and you will get the sound of the IPA.

The advantage of this method is, you don't need to remember the sounds of each IPA by itself, but you have a better reference from an example.

Since you can dephonetise a word, you can of course asphonetise it to form a larger word using 'Method of Asphonetisation'.

Many learners in Hong Kong can't say the word 'cat' properly. Now with the method of phonetisation, from 'at' to 'cat', all you need to do is to add a /k/ sound in front, thus /kæt/.

Now, let's try some examples:

What is the difference between 'bread' and 'brad'?

Bread /bred/ Brad /bræd/

Now, how do we pronounce them? For 'bread', because we can see the IPA /bred/ having 'red' /red/ inside, so all we need to do is /b/ + /red/.

For 'Brad', because the IPA /bræd/ has 'rad' /ræd/ inside, so all we need to do is /b/ + /ræd/.

If you are not comfortable with 'rad', you can trying the following step by step:

  1. start with 'at' /æt/, dephonetise /t/ => /æ/
  2. asphonetise /æ/ + /d/ => /æd/
  3. asphonetise /r/ + /æd/ => /ræd/
  4. asphonetise /b/ + /ræd/ => /bræd/
You can use these methods and expand to long words and still get perfect pronunciations. The key is just not to lose your sound in every step.

Enjoy your IPA!

To type IPA on your websites:

Coming soon: ...... Wait until I recover first......

Reply to comments & readers:

  1. Thanks for all your caring messages!

Message: Absent from work one more day

Today, I went to see a Chinese physician in Tai Wo and he helped me twisted my skull back in place, after he twisted 6 times, I am practically pain-freed. Now, I still feel a bit of pain in the neck and I can't do any large movements yet, including walking a little faster, so I guess I will have to take one more day rest in bed.

So, sorry to both my Thursday and Friday classes. I'll be back next week.

Thanks for your care and concerns!

Hope you are still learning English at home without me.

Thursday 16 April 2009

Message: Absent from work

Dear all,

I will be absent tonight because I am suffering from a serious neck+back injury. So sorry for that. I tried to teach yesterday but it got very serious.

Should be able to see you next week.

If Prime doesn't call you, then there will be a supply teacher.


Tuesday 14 April 2009

Movie: Departures (Okuribito)

I guess you can easily find much better review of this movie than the one you are reading now, but I do think it is worth to make a few comments using my own words. Don’t worry, there will be no spoiler.

For those of you who have seen some trailers of this movie, you know it is a story about a Japanese cellist who lost his job after the orchestra disbanded, and you know he eventually got a job and became an undertaker, or mortician in the States.

But what I actually want to say is how much appreciation I have for the undertakers after watching this movie. I had always thought that undertakers are for people who have weird interests, or are only taken up by those who find no other jobs to do. After watching this movie, I have totally changed my perception for this. Undertakers are one of the most courage-testing jobs in the world and they can too be highly respected like fire fighters.

I enjoyed the fun and joyful atmosphere that the movie began with, totally unlike what I have first expected of this movie – to be gloomy, grey and sorrowful. Masahiro Motoki’s character of Daigo, looked puzzled, confused and innocent most of the time but carried quite a bit of cuteness (according to my girlfriend) and lots of his moral perseverance (according to myself).

My second favourite character is Tsutomu Yamazaki’s Ikuei Sasaki, the owner of the undertaker company. He kept his cool at all time, and like most Japanese movies, he is an aged yet deep and experienced figure, who is most likely to be elusive and unreachable at first, but later found to be extremely enlightening and incredibly understanding. Although this I had expected, I wasn’t bored by yet another spiritual leader as such.

Finally, apart from the simple yet great storyline, I was deeply immersed into the movie by the music in this movie. Particularly, the theme song “Memory” by Joe Hisaishi 久石 譲 . I did a little search on the internet, and immediately understand why he is the best you can get – even Hayao Miyazaki 宮﨑 駿is a big fan of him and used his music in so many of his animes! Including the latest "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea 崖の上のポニョ"

Comparing with Slumdog Millionaire, I will choose this one. Definitely a movie to watch again and again!

Music on Youtube:

Official English Website:

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Investment: Say “Hi” to Mr. Market

Do you know how to predict the future? I don’t. If I knew, I would have sold some stocks one day before the 30th March, and bought some back before the market closed on the 30th March. Why particularly this day?

The answer is obvious, Adam Cheng Effect / Ding Hai Effect. The King of Snooker premiere led to the fall of 4.70% in the market.

Can we explain why market goes up and down? Reporters in the evening news are always able to do so, and I do believe that there is some truth to their explanations, but most of the time, there isn’t really a reason. In fact, there is no need for one.

Say you walk down a street one day and see a stranger. Since you do not know him, you have no opinions or feelings towards him. However, the stranger sees you and gives you a big smile. Now, the question is, what is the reason he smiles at you? He likes you? Maybe. He wants to show you politeness? Perhaps. You look funny? Not for sure. Nonetheless, maybe he did so without having any reasons.

Another scenario is for the guys, how often have you seen your girlfriend suddenly in a good mood, but swung to nightmare in just a short moment? I have. Have you then asked why she changed so quickly? What will they tell you? Must there be a reason? Verbally, no; scientifically, yes. It is well-known that people’s moods are controlled by our brain and the messages are delivered by electric pulses and hormones. (Well, I’m not going to get too scientific here, don’t worry.)

Warren Buffett’s teacher, renowned Value-investor Benjamin Graham’s allegorical portrait of the stock market as Mr. Market [1], who in my rephrasing, is willing to buy your stocks every day at price he likes. The quotes he offers might be a worthy or super ridiculous, but you can feel free to take advantage of him or ignore him.

Mr. Market’s moodiness reflects the mood swings of the markets, and thus the irrationality of the human psychology. So by theory, if someone can catch the movement of this irrationality, then he will be rich! But is there any regularity in this irrationality?

Warren Buffett said that, “If a business does well, the stock eventually follows”, so if this stands, the regularity is found. In fact, he ignores the fluctuations of the market (the mood swings), and takes a more relaxing method and waits for the stocks to eventually go up, that is of course, if you are willing to wait. Well, whether it really is a good idea or not, it made him one of the richest guys in the world, and he is for sure a great teacher of everyone (He’s mine too).

But does that mean speculation cannot earn a big fortune? Then I really don’t know how people explain the case of Mr. George Soros. I haven’t read much about Mr. Soros, so I am not going to say more, but my belief is that every method has pros and cons, and timing is exceptionally crucial in investment. Wrong timing can kill.

But then how do we know when is the good time? Is now a good time? Well, with the Hang Seng Index (HIS) at 14998.04 (at the time of writing this article, 6th April 2009, market closed), I personally feel scared to buy in now because from 10917.65 on 17th May 2004, took 301 trading days to break 15000 on 2nd August 2005, but the recent two times of breaking 15000 from similar lows, from the lowest 10676.29 on 27th October 2008 took 7 trading days to break 15000, and from the lowest of 11344.58 on 9th March 2009 took 20 trading days to break 15000 once more. (For your interest, the 7 days to break 15000 took 13 trading days to reach a so-called low point 11814.81)

Where is the rationality this time?

Although history doesn’t guarantee the future and some might say history never repeats the same way, the odds of earning more is just not so great. With not just one market (the HSI) is going up and down by large amount, but the whole world’s markets going up and down at the same time, you know this is not something anyone can predict. Why not? Well, obviously, there must be a group of people so rich and so concurrent in their buying and selling, that they controlled the movement of the markets in the world. To me, this group of people seems like just one person and indeed, it does seem like it is really Mr. Market in action. How can you predict if he will be spending more money in buying something in one day or another?

Guess what, I can! Your chance is 50-50.



[1]: The Intelligent Investor Revised addition p204-p205 ISBN: 0-06-055566-1

Coming soon: Review of the Japanese movie "Departure" because it has been postponed.

Reply to comments & readers:

  1. Question time, how many times has Adam Cheng Effect / Ding Hai Effect worked for the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index?

Friday 3 April 2009

Environment: Earth Hour 2009

Did anyone of you join the Earth Hour event last week? What is Earth Hour? From Wikipedia,
“Earth Hour is a global event organized by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature, also known as World Wildlife Fund) and is held on the last Saturday of March annually, asking households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.”
The event was conceived by WWF and first took place in Sydney in 2007, and then exploded into many parts of the world in 2008.

That night, I was out doing some shopping and thus there was no light on at home, but I was rather disappointed that the shops inside the mall didn’t join this remarkable event. I mean, come on, there wasn’t much business to do anyway. Maybe if they did join the event, and lit candles instead, the shops might have attracted more customers because of the mood and the curiosity of the people.
What can an hour of lights out do?
We are not talking about one home, but all around the world! Now that’s something much more different. Power is generated mostly from the burning of oil and coal these days, and by switching off redundant lights for one hour, it was enough to reduce the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by a monumental amount! Data can be found on the WWF national websites as well as from Wikipedia.
What I think is even more important, is that human beings truly see no boundaries of countries, races and beliefs, and stand together to protect the one thing that nurtures as for many billions of years – our planet Earth. This common goal of survival does not base on declaring wars or triggering bloodshed, neither on generating money nor capturing resources, but on protecting Mother Nature. Every time I think about this, it just keeps giving me a rush of heroism to the chest.

How was the movie clip? Every time I watch it, I feel so touched and wants to cry so much!

When I was a little boy, like many other ones, thought about becoming a hero when I grew up, but I had no ideas how I could achieve that. Today, we all know how to be heroes, and everybody can take part in saving this awesome planet of ours – reduce, reuse and recycle.
Here I have a nice song from the Discovery Channel, called Boom De Ya Da! Sang by a lot of program hosts and hostesses, as well as famous scientist, Stephen Hawkings.
Easter is coming, let's make this world a happier and better place to live. If you care, every day is Earth Hour.

"We take so much from this planet, and what do we give back?" -- Locky
Coming soon: Review of the Japanese movie "Departure"

Reply to comments & readers:
  1. Happy Learning as always!

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Grammar: Reported Speech = Past Tenses?

Locky said,I love my students in Maryknoll FathersSchool.


Is this sentence in reported speech: Locky said he loved his students in Maryknoll Fathers School correct or incorrect?

It is a common belief for Hong Kong students in the primary or secondary schools that whenever they are reporting, or reiterating, someones speech, they will have to use past tenses, and that has, of course, stuck so firmly into the minds of these students that even till now that they have grown up, they still unquestionably accept this rule. Is this the rule? Of course not!

The rules of the reported speech go:

All present tenses go to past tenses, past simple goes to past perfect

do à did       

is doing à was doing          

has done à had done        

has been doing à had been doing

did à did/ had done          


will à would

shall à should

can à could

may à might


(present simple à past simple)

(present continuous à past continuous)

(present perfect à past perfect)

(present perfect continous à past perfect continous)

(unchanged / past simple to past perfect)




Actually, just open up any English newspapers, you do not always see past tenses in reported speech.

Quoting from the Standard on the 27th March 09:

“(The Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority)It blames the errors on inaccurate salary information provided by employers or employees. 

The HK$6,000 grant is aimed at helping the lowly paid as part of budget sweeteners.

Obviously, the authority spokesperson must have said the above or otherwise the newspaper article will not print as such. But if this is already said, why does the article say blames(present simple) and is aimed(present simple passive)?

The answer lies in the fact that this action is still on-going!

That is:

1.     The authority STILL blames the errors (by the time of writing this article).

2.     The HK$6,000 grant is STILL aimed at helping the lowly paid (by the time of writing this article).

So the rule should add one extra information to it, and that is,

If the situations of the verbs has not changed, then no change in tenses, else we change them according to the old rule.

An easier example is,

Today, I tell you that I am an English teacher. Tomorrow, will you tell your friend that,

1.     Locky said he was an English teacher or

2.     Locky said he is an English teacher?

Am I still an English teacher tomorrow? Most likely, I guess I will still have my job tomorrow. So it is only correct to say 1, if I tell you that I am quitting English teacher today, so tomorrow, I am no more an English teacher.

Last year, when I was teaching in a band 1 school, students were still so sure what their teachers taught them was right and they rebutted my corrections. I guess these teachers do know the real answer, but due to the requirements of the examinations (that the students do not need to know the truth of the usage – meaning OFS, out-of-syllabus), or the perception that these kids are too young to know the truth (are they?), the teachers decided not to teach them. Whatever the reasons are, students have the right to know the truth when using reported speech and even if time or age of the students makes teaching the truth implausible, teachers should at least say,

Just remember, there are times of exceptions, so you are only learning 50% of it now.

By letting the students know they are not learning all of it, they will at least accept the new knowledge when they appear.


Coming soon:  Earth Hour


Reply to comments & readers:

1.     I have just realised that some of you wrote comments on my very first entry. Thank you for all of you! But private tuitions I guess I really can't offer right now due to the press for time. I will let you know when I eventually can. Until then, please keep reading my Blog.