Monday 31 August 2009

News & Vocab: Foul Language targeting Female

It is indeed a period of burning dry hot days!! And when some people feel hot, they might use the online forums as a mean to release their stress.

UK's Dailymail has an article, titled "Blogger who called Vogue model a 'skank' sues Google for $15million for unmasking her". You may follow the link to read up. What I find it interesting is not what this blogger did, but what she wrote. In my opinions, it is quite educational.

If you watch Hollywood movies, I am sure you have heard of all sorts of foul language, but it is not easy to find a series of them at the same time. Well, from this blogger, you can learn them in chunks. But before we look into those words, you must understand that I am not "teaching" you these words, I am just raising your awareness to various bad words so you can be more careful when hearing them.

Okay, ready? Let's begin!

First, the blogger used a word 'ho' . According to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, a 'ho' is a slang, referring to a prostitute, alternative to 'whore'.

Second, they used a word 'skank'. From the same dictionary, it refers to "One who is disgustingly foul or filthy and often considered sexually promiscuous. Used especially of a woman or girl".

But according to the Unabridged, 'skank' can also have a good meaning, which is also a slang, meaning "to dance rhythmically in a loose-limbed manner".

Lastly, they used 'old hag'. Well, actually, stated that a 'hag' already has a meaning of 'aging':
  1. an ugly old woman, esp. a vicious or malicious one.
  2. a witch or sorceress.
  3. a hagfish.

So, calling someone an 'old hag' is like 'a male man' or 'a female woman'. You know what I mean.

The word 'bitch'is no longer as bad as it used to be, as more and more men are using it to refer to their girlfriends, "Let me introduce, this is my bitch." Don't get me wrong, it is still bad, but the original meaning of "a female dog" is not as common as before.

Of the cruelest words I have heard, it has to be 'slut', which refers to a woman who has sexual relationships with a lot of men without any emotional involvement.

Obviously, all these words demoralise the female, so don't try to use them...... unless you must.

ho / whore
old hag


Tuesday 25 August 2009

Vocabulary: Baldness Terminology

Last week, a student asked me to about the different hairstyles of baldness. I only did an article on common hairstyle but honestly, I really don’t know if baldness is really considered as hairstyle, my vocabulary on this topic was really limited, so I did my research.

According to, “The most common form of hair loss baldness is a progressive hair thinning condition called androgenic alopecia or 'male pattern baldness' that occurs in adult male humans and other primate species.” The description continues and gets more complex, but they sound a little too pro, not what I was looking for, so I decided to start from Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is famous his “comb over”, the only bald style I know, which is covering the top part of the head with the hair on the sides, so I thought that was a good place to start my research.

Another most common type is called “receding hairline”, when the bottom line of the hair retreats backwards.
The final one I think it is worth remembering is “spot baldness”, which means that hair begins losing from one location.


Monday 24 August 2009

Opinions & Proverbs: Only when one is at the end of the road does one finally feel despair

Hi people! I'm finally back from my busy schedule and I can finally update my blog as usual. Maybe I will catch up with the entries I have missed??

Today I read a news article about the wastage of recyclable materials by McDonald’s.

This is nothing new really. If you recall that about 5 or so years ago, McDonald’s Taiwan has already put recycle bins next to the waste bins for the diners to dispose the packaging separately. At that time, I was so so impressed by the act and actually thought that McDonald’s Hong Kong would soon follow its fellow franchisee’s footsteps. And it proves me too simple, always naïve.

I always tried not to eat McDonald’s, mainly because it doesn’t taste half as good as Burger King (BK) but it is also not as environmental friendly as BK. When I eat in BK, they only have one wax wrapper for each burger, and I always bring the recyclable paper and plastic products to the nearby recycle bins to dispose. As of McDonald’s, look at the salad boxes, burger boxes, happy meal boxes, plastic knives and forks. Having one meal there and I have to carry so many things to the recycle bins.

McDonald’s has joined EPD’s Rechargeable Battery Recycling Scheme by putting recycling bins in all its branches, but what does that have to do with the tonnes of plastics and paper waste you produce?

I strongly agree with Green Sense project officer Sun Ho- yan asking the government to impose a 50-cent levy (meaning tax) on each disposable item. Just look at how well it works for the plastic bags? I am sorry to say, but it seems to me that Hong Kong people, including me, are very money-minded, thus the Chinese proverb, "Only when one is at the end of the road does one finally feel despair" -- “bùjiàn guāncái bù diàolèi”, is the perfect clue for solving a lot of problems in Hong Kong.

What is “the end of the road”? Needless to state the obvious.

So, what do I mean by “the end of the road”?

Articles quoted here:

McDonald's big wrap is the last straw, say greenies

Phila Siu

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fast-food giant McDonald's has thrown out 400 million food containers, knives, forks and spoons in the past three years, according to environmental group Green Sense. And the group is calling on the government to get tough and charge a levy of 50 HK cents on each item.
Green Sense based its claim on a lunchtime tracking survey of 50 McDonald's restaurants it began in 2006.

The group also said that while some food chains have made efforts to cut down on the use of plastic utensils, Hong Kong McDonald's has shown little or no inclination toward environmental protection.

But McDonald's said last night that environmental protection has always been its top priority.
The company said it has adopted a "3R policy" - reduce, reuse and recycle - and that the consumption of foam boxes has dropped 80 percent since it started using paper wrappers.
McDonald's also said it is working with the Environmental Protection Department to recycle waste oil and turn it into biodiesel fuel.

It claims to be the first fast-food chain to join the EPD's Rechargeable Battery Recycling Scheme, with recycle bins placed in all its branches for this purpose.

Green Sense said it approached McDonald's, KFC and Yoshinoya some time ago to rein in the use of disposable utensils and that some branches of KFC and Yoshinoya have already replaced disposable cups or spoons with non-disposable ones.

KFC also uses reusable spoons and forks in its breakfast specials.

Green Sense project officer Sun Ho- yan said McDonald's has scaled down its only environmental campaign, "No Straw Day," to make it voluntary. McDonald's said this was meant to be a long-term program.

Sun said some burgers not only come with a paper wrap, but also a box, which is totally unnecessary.

The situation became worse after the fast-food chain launched a 24-hour delivery service last year, with some branches now open around the clock.

She called on the government to consider a 50 cent levy on each disposable item, starting with cups, lunch boxes and bowls. If this helps reduce wastage, levies could then also be placed on knives, forks and spoons. That means a consumer who buys a meal in a fast-food shop would have to pay a dollar or two more to cover the container and utensils.
Green Sense urged McDonald's to set up a five-year timetable to reduce by half the usage of disposable food containers and to follow the environmental practice of its branches in Taiwan, Japan and Korea.

"There are recycle bins in McDonald's in Taiwan and Japan, and most eating utensils in Korea are not disposable. Hong Kong McDonald's is probably the worst offender in Asia," Sun said.
But parents should also bear some responsibility and should think twice before taking their children to meals in restaurants where plastic or foam materials are used, Sun said.


Tuesday 18 August 2009

Food: Groupers@Hong Kong Wet Market

So so busy these day and I can't cope with one entry every three days, so I hope you understand.


Since we have talked about crabs last entry, let's talk about a type of fish you can easily find in the local wet market. Listed according to the local price.

Humpback Grouper (Capture: $724.10/kg; Culture: $627.00/kg) -- humpback they are called because they have an extra piece of flesh on its back.

Red Grouper (Capture: $594.00/kg; Culture: $264.00/kg)-- They look quite like the previous one, but they have white bands and patches across the head.

Leopard Coral Grouper (Capture: $460.10/kg; Culture: $371.30/kg)-- I'm sorry, but this is the best picture I can get. They are easy to be distinguished because of their numerous small spots.
Image from
Camouflage Grouper (Capture: $239.30/kg; Culture: $ --/kg)-- They got their name because they have skin colour very similar to the surroundings. 

Brown-marbled Grouper (Capture: $226.30/kg; Culture: $ 133.10/kg) -- lots of brown patches like marble.

Squaretail Coral Grouper (Capture: $221.60/kg; Culture: $ --/kg) -- They look like the leopard grouper? They have different colour and this one has a square tail.

Areolate Grouper (Capture: $169.80/kg; Culture: $121.90/kg) -- I guess the large brown spots will make them easy for you to tell.

Giant Grouper (Capture: $166.40/kg; Culture: $129.10/kg)-- this is the type that usually ends up in a restaurant tank, waiting for hundred of tables to be booked before execution. If they are lucky, some rich guys will suddenly pop up and buy the fish and release them back to the sea (before being caught once again later). Can't believe that on average, the meat is relatively cheap.

Malabar Grouper (Capture: $156.90/kg; Culture: $135.30/kg) -- errrr....... It gets harder and harder when they get cheaper. Be careful when selecting.

Yellow Grouper (Capture: $156.90/kg; Culture: $115.00/kg) -- errrr....... they are yellow and they are the second cheapest.

Green Grouper (Capture: $138.40/kg; Culture: $89.70/kg) -- errrr....... they are gree, and the cheapest.

A word to say before ending this entry, groupers are coral fish, and they are mostly near threatened level due to overfishing and consumption. Try to buy the cultured ones and not the captured ones, otherwise, your children will not know what they look or taste like in the future.

Love nature, love English.

Friday 14 August 2009

Food: Serious Crab Time!!!!

Yesterday, I read an article from the Standard with great interest. (I have quoted the entire article at the bottom of the page, in case it disappears after a few days ) As I was reading, my mouth was watering and I was almost licking my finger having eaten my imaginary crabs.

Those of you who have finished lesson 4 with me, you should remember that I always suggest you go and do more shopping. I hope you have done so. I love strolling in the supermarket, and because I love sea animals since I was a child, I really like to check on the variety of fresh fish and shellfish for sell at the fish counter. I am also a fan of the Discovery program, Deadliest Catch!

Since we are talking about crabs, let's look at the names of some really nice crabs.

Do remember that Soft-shell crab is not a specific type of crab, but one that is cooked shortly after molting their hand shells.

Japanese Spider Crab
Hairy Crabs/Chinese Mitten Crab
Blue Crab
Flower Crab
Hermit Crab

Fiddler Crab
Lobster (relatives of crabs)
Alaskan Red King Crab
Sand Crab
Rough Shore Crab
Red Rock Crab
Horseshoe Crab

Horseshoe Crab
Coconut Crab
Mantis Shrimp (relatives of crabs)

With prices like this, no wonder he's looking so shell shocked
Nickkita Lau

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Here's an eye-popping offer that seafood aficionados will want to catch: a Japanese snow crab for just HK$90. That compares with a usual retail price of HK$200 - and you can double that if it's on a restaurant table.
The crustacean is among a lip- smacking spread put on by 600 exhibitors from 24 countries in the Food Expo running from today until Monday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.

Last year's expo drew crowds totaling 300,000, and signs are this one will be even more attractive to those with the taste for a bargain in these belt-tightening times.

On the menu - for those who pay HK$25 to get in - are delightful dishes up to 70 percent below their usual prices.

That snow crab from first-time exhibitor Sun Wah Japanese Food, for example, went high on the wanted list even before the expo doors opened.

Sun Wah offers only 100 crabs a day, and those manning other booths have been quick to order.

Champion Fair offers discounts on packages, with three cans of Pearl River Bridge fried dace with salted black bean and a can of sardines at HK$35 against a regular price of HK$72. A package comprising spiced pork cubes, chaosansi, pork mince with bean paste and sliced pork costs just HK$35, half the usual price.

Sales manager Horace Wu Hung- kwong said the company has prepared 30,000 packages, which will probably be gone within two days.

For Mandarin Fish Maw, a New Zealand dried fish firm, this will be the first time it tries "buy one get one free."

A catty of maw with a usual price of HK$2,995 is HK$1,247, but only 60 boxes are available and are likely to go fast.

There are excellent side dishes to the expo.

The Hong Kong International Tea Fair, the New Lifestyle Showcase and the Chinese Medicine Fair run in tandem.

Food Expo ticket holders can visit them without charge on set days.

eye-popping -- astonishing
aficionado --someone who is very interested in and enthusiastic about a particular subject
crustacean --
belt-tightening -- reducing in spending


Monday 10 August 2009

Opinions: Business "Models"

Looks like if I don't say something about this topic, I will be way too out.

Last week while giving private tuition, I read a news article on SCMP about the teen models success in the latest book fair and Anime-Comics fair, and on the page there was the most prominent pseudo-model, Chrissie Chau, hugging and kissing her own supersized blow-up cushion...... the very first thing in my mind was,

"It doesn't look so comfortable to me. Who will want to hug this thing to sleep?"

Then the next thing I read was that a 13-year-old boy purchased exactly a version of this cushion and a copy of the girl's photo album with his hard-saved pocket-money, clearing his bank saving of 4 months.

"Fine! There is someone who wants it."

But the kid was definitely not the only one who have bought it, because today, I read a news article from the Standard, and it said the "Langmo" has already raked in more than $4M dollars.

So apart from becoming a professional HKCEE tutor -- a role-model of all secondary school HKCEE students, there is still another occupation which provide a real chance for earning quick money.

Of course, not everybody can be a tutorial centre instructor who could still smile after losing in a court case and being fined over HK$8M, and not everybody can be Chrissie, because it takes superior talent and courage to brush teeth and lick ice-cream the way she did. It takes a lot of guts to earn big bucks.

And inarguably, there is no doubt that the success of these people is backed up by the demand of the free market, so putting aside the questions raised in terms of the moral values they have brought up, once again it proves my belief right that,

"If you have the quality, there will be a market".

But once the moral values come into play, then only the history book can tell whether your name is sainted or tainted.


Thursday 6 August 2009

Message: Irony in Life

Before the end of the academic year 08-09, I received high praises for my performance in teaching in a secondary school. In just 4-months' spell as an Native English teacher, I would say both the panel and the principal were more than happy to have me back. I even received words of reassurance from the principal herself, saying that, "We must have you back next academic year! If not, we will cancel all courses at your agency (which means the agency will lose all business of this school)." There is definitely no higher praise than this! It is definitely a boost to my confidence.

It was a joy to behold but I kept my cool because I knew things wouldn't be so smooth in life and yesterday, I was proven to be right.

The school came back to me with a new contract. Like the previous one, summer holiday like August I shall receive no pay. Unlike the previous one, it is paid on a day-to-day basis instead of a monthly salary. The most unbelievable of all, I actually get a pay cut instead of a pay rise!!!

The calculation sounds pretty good at first glance, when they tell you that average pay per day is higher and the total working days is 164 this year instead of 175 last year, but for a contract of 10-months, even if I use the number of working days given to do the calculation, I actually receive $14.29 less per day this coming year as compared to the previous year! Which is a total of $3900 less for the entire contract!!!

This is what I mean, "ridiculous"!

I can give you many more words to describe the same situation, like "pathetic", "unacceptable", "ludicrous"!

Do you think I will accept this contract? The answer is "Over my dead body!"

Everything comes with a price. Even the staff of the HK Immigration Department, the HK Police, New World First Bus and Watsons have been striving for a better remuneration, not to mention a teacher loves the students who teaches with heart and passion, and possesses calibre! But before I can even ask for an increase, I get a pay cut!!!

So what if I am not signing this contract? The answer is quick to see, my agency posted the job up for someone else who is willing to do.

This is a cruel world! And in the past, I will definitely say, "Life sucks!" But now, I won't. I have grown to accept this as the fact and I will stand aside to laugh at this irony while I enjoy my teaching in every class.

I always believe that "Good wine needs no bush", meaning that if you have the quality, there will always be a market for you.

Let's work hard, guys!

(If you do not know the meanings of the word, then you should check the dictionary)

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Learning Method: How to improve your English skills? (Writing)

Chapter 4: The Shortcuts for improving your writing skills
Let's not beat around the bush, here are the tips:
Tip 1: Learn from online samples

Whether you are writing CV, appraisal, invitation or just company emails, it is advisable that you always search for samples as part of learning. Learn the styles and the necessary vocabulary to write them professionally. Practise a few times and you should be able to write like an expert. You don't really need to go through a course to do this.

Tip 2: Have a grammar book beside you while writing
I always have a habit of having a grammar book whenever I write, this is to make sure that you establish a good habit of consulting the book whenever you have questions, so that you don't make the same mistake in the future. A good foundation of grammar comes with constant search for answers.

Tip 3: Check dictionary and thesaurus often
Check dictionary for usage of vocab and check the thesaurus for variety of words. Neither do you want to use the words wrongly nor use the same words every time you write.

Tip 4: Think before you write
Have a habit of thinking in your head before you type or write. Some writers spend a lot of time on the keyboard or with a pen and a paper, but find it difficult to write quickly because their mind goes blank. If that happens to you, you should stay away from your computer or your writing tools and construct your thoughts.
Tip 5: Establish writing habit with blog, MSN, SMS in English
Many Hong Kong netizens use these, but not all use English when writing. A good writing habit is actually very easy to establish: look at the ways of communication around you and use English whenever you can when writing.
Tip 6: Think in English, not Chinese
There are good habits and bad habits, if you have a habit of thinking in Chinese when writing, your grammar will most likely have problems. Try to think English in your head and not Chinese, this will, believe it or not, improve your speaking skills as well (because all actions starts in the head).
Tip 7: Construct a mind-map before you start writing
It is highly advisable for one to construct a mind-map before writing, whether for handling tests or not, since one will have a better picture of the entire piece. Any missing thoughts can be easily seen and the piece will look much more organised.
Tip 8: (Handling Writing in a Test) Memorise the keys of the question and check relevance often
Some test-takers find it difficult to score a good grade for exam, one of the reasons is that he strays off-track while writing. To keep every paragraph relevant to the topic, do look back at the question and ask yourself if you are answering the question. I find this super useful!
Tip 9: (Handling Writing in a Test) One argument to one example
Whenever one is writing an essay of argumentation, never forget that "One argument to one example". A good argument without an example to back up is like asking the examiner, "do you have the common sense?" If you were the examiner, would you give this person a good grade if he challenges you like this?
I hope you find these 4 Chapters useful to you. Do refer back whenever you need to.