Tuesday 31 August 2010

Medical & Vocabulary : Heat Rash and Bug Bites

Ever since I went running in one Friday morning under hot sun, I have given myself something to worry about, and that is called "heat rash", something that babies get on their bottoms. It is not a serious medical condition of course, but the itch can be really irritating.

The first thing I did was to go online and look for cure ......

That didn't work so well, and so eventually, I went to search for a few more videos and tried them all out before I went to see a doctor for some real meds. I got some corticosteroid cream and that works wonders.

But before I saw the doctor, I had suspected my rash to be bed bugs bites, especially from the mites, and from that suspicion I found something really scary......

Image from Wikipedia.org

Sleep tight!

work wonders -- (idiom) to produce very good effects



Monday 30 August 2010

Message: School Starts This Week

Hey guys, thank you all for visiting this blog often......

(Locky sees a hand from a reader, he takes that reader's question...)

Actually, Q & A section is at the end, but anyway, I'll answer this question first.
The question is, "do I know who has read my blog?" 
Well, I don't.

(Another question comes)

"Then how do I know people are reading my blog?" 
They told me so, and I highly recommend you to leave a comment below the post if you have any interesting questions in mind, so that I can also have new ideas when I write the next entry.

(Another question)

"Why am I putting up this entry?"
Thanks for asking, this is exactly what I want to say. Since this week is the start of the Master course, I doubt that I would be able to write detail entries that normally take hours to write. Things will be kept short from now on, but I promise the future entries will still be fun and informative, with fun coming first. It will just be the lite version, and I will still write 3 times a week. This might be a good news for those who hate my long-winded articles.

(Another question)

"Is this message counted as one entry?"
No, I will still write something tomorrow, Tuesday. Just that I have used up all my time today doing revision, the Monday entry will be postponed to Tuesday. For this week only.

Friday 27 August 2010

TV: Dual Survival

Some of you guys must be wondering if I have any adventure style TV programs to watch other than the non-adventuring ones like No Reservations, Topgear and House. Well, for your information, I do, and recently I have been all crazy this show you see from this picture above, Dual Survival, brought to you by two survival experts, military trained Dave Canterbury and self-reliant naturalist Cody Lundin.

A mini profile of the two heroes:

Cody Lundin
Primitive Skills Expert
20+ years experience
Teaches survival techniques in Arizona Desert
Walks barefoot
Wears shorts
Hippy style
Full of indigenous knowledge
Prefers easy food

Dave Canterbury

Army trained
S.R.T. Sniper / Paratrooper
Runs the Pathfinder School
Highly adventurous
Risk taker
Meat lover

What I really like about this show, is that you get to learn a huge amount of survival skills -- 2 styles in fact, which are useful, practical and you never know when you will need it, like a language, and thus you can really kill two birds with one stone with this program.

Plus, you get all these dramas between Dave and Cody, their occasional disagreements with each other's survival techniques, how Cody's bare feet work well or bad in different situations, how Dave takes too much risk and pisses Cody off, and most importantly, how teamwork and friendship are built along the way. It is a show of adrenaline rush excitement and neck-and-neck combat of two very different survival strategies.

Here's the episode list, click and enjoy the whole episodes thrill!!!

Season 1 
SHIPWRECKED — Premiered June 11, 2010 
FAILED ASCENT — Premiered June 18, 2010 
OUT OF AIR — Premiered June 25, 2010 
DESERT BREAKDOWN — Premiered July 2, 2010 
PANIC IN THE JUNGLE — Premiered July 9, 2010 
SWAMPED — Premiered July 16, 2010 
SPLIT UP — Premiered July 23, 2010 
SOAKED — Premiered July 30, 2010 
AFTER THE STORM — Premiered August 13, 2010 
BOGGED DOWN — Premiered August 20, 2010 

Really looking forward to Season 2!!!

PS: Just in case that you don't know, I have indeed recommended the Mythbusters, which is quite a thrilling show too!

minimalist -- (n)[C] an artist or designer who uses a minimalist style
primitive -- (adj) relating to human society at a very early stage of development, with people living in a simple way without machines or a writing system
barefoot -- (adj) not wearing any shoes or socks
hippy -- (n) [C] a person, typically young, especially in the late 1960s and early 1970s, who believed in peace, was opposed to many of the accepted ideas about how to live, had long hair, and often lived in groups and took drugs
indigenous -- (adj) naturally existing in a place or country rather than arriving from another place
sniper -- (n) [C] someone who shoots at people from a place where they cannot be seen
paratrooper -- (n) [C]  soldiers trained to be dropped from an aircraft with a parachute
adrenaline rush -- (n) [U] an activity of the adrenal gland in a fight-or-flight response, when it is releasing adrenaline (epinephrine)
neck-and-neck -- (idiomatic adj) If two competitors are neck and neck, they are level with each other and have an equal chance of winning.
combat -- (n)[C]a fight between two people or things

Youtube Playlist

Discovery Channel Dual Survival Link

Facebook Dual Survival Link

Cody Lundin - It's Rainmaking Time Interview

Dave Canterbury Survival Podcast Interview

More About Dave Canterbury

More About Cody Lundin



Monday 23 August 2010

Travelling and Living: Locky's Trip to Tokyo (Part 4 -- Architecture)

What truly amazed me and definitely gained a lot of shoot from my camera was the architecture, especially that of Harajuku (原宿).

JR Harajuku Station
from Locky's English Playground

Harajuku, an area where tradition meets modernisation, crossing over Japanese pop culture. Youngsters dress in variety of styles such as the gothic lolita are easily seen there, but the first thing that caught my attention was how stunning the buildings were.

They have an entire building just with glass walls just for soccer fans to worship.
Soccer Shop KAMO
from Locky's English Playground

 Boutiques and small shops can have their own external designs, chic at its extreme!
from Locky's English Playground

Some shops truly love nature and allow greens to blend into their architecture.
Harajuku Mochi Chocolat
from Locky's English Playground

from Locky's English Playground

Big brands have their own buildings and allow their beliefs and visions to stand out from the surroundings, yet allowing the surroundings to facilitate their daily operations (eg. use of sunlight, trees shades, glass reflections of the greens)
from Locky's English Playground

H & M
from Locky's English Playground

from Locky's English Playground

from Locky's English Playground

Godiva even puts its "chocolate" on the shop's wall!
from Locky's English Playground

Some shops prefer European style with a touch of modern "glassy-ness".

Bakery Cafe 426 Omotseando
from Locky's English Playground

from Locky's English Playground

from Locky's English Playground
Others are simply highly innovative, obviously, creativity is allowed to boom here! 
from Locky's English Playground

Body Wild
from Locky's English Playground

from Locky's English Playground

Not to forget that simplicity is beauty. 

A Japanese octopus balls store
from Locky's English Playground

Interesting staircases
from Locky's English Playground

Now, what is the message here? Like the case of Dubai, if there is support from the government, any place can have all the creativity you want in the world! Tourists attractions and scenic spots will never be limited! 

Do we have similar buildings in Hong Kong? Yes, of course.

Are there a lot? Nope, not at all.

Otherwise, why would anyone still consider the Golden Bauhinia Square a place to take pictures? We need better city planning here!

worship --(vb)[T] to love, respect and admire someone or something very much, often without noticing their bad qualities
chic -- (n)[U] stylish and fashionable
blend into -- phrasal verb to look or seem the same as surrounding people or things and therefore not be easily noticeable
shade -- (n) [U[ slight darkness caused by something blocking the direct light from the sun
reflection -- (n) [C or U] the image of something in a mirror or on any reflective surface
"glassy-ness" -- (n) [U] Locky's created word, intended to refer to the noun of "glassy" -- literary describes a surface which is smooth and shiny, like glass
boom -- (n) [C or U] a period of sudden economic growth, especially one that results in a lot of money being made



Wednesday 18 August 2010

Travelling and Living: Locky's Trip to Tokyo (Part 3 -- Trains)

Before I left for Tokyo, friends reminded me that the underground system of Tokyo is one of the most difficult to comprehend in the world. That freaked me out, well, a little.

Then I saw a map similar to this Rail and Subway Map, and I totally understand that this is not just a rumour.

Tokyo Railway Map
from Mappery

Making life even tougher, there are zillions of rules that one must memorise before taking the trains. To name a few -- 3 railway systems make up the Tokyo Subway, , the Toei and the JR East Yamanote Line.

buying the Suica card (equivalent to HK's Octopus, except no personal details are sold),
Suica Card
from Locky's English Playground

finding the right entrance to the right platform,
At the platform
from Locky's English Playground

and finding the fastest train in the right direction,
Searching for the right train
from Locky's English Playground

To do that, I had to continually flip over the map, matching the names of the train lines and the stations at which the trains could reach. Was it really that terrible? Well, no, it is actually really hard to get on the wrong train, but to get on the right one, it was REALLY time-consuming! But after taking a few rides, I found it rather simple in fact, because the tip is, I just needed to ...

  1. pick the train lines that get me to my destinations (probably several), then 
  2. choose the one with the least number of station, 
  3. follow the colours on of the lines (see green for Yamanote line?), know the number (see 5?) of platform, and
  4. ZOOM!!!! I get there at speed of light!!!

After I had understood the rules, I began to appreciate, once again, how detail-minded that the Japanese people are.

You see, there are AT LEAST 6 trains that pass through each station at the same time, big stations can go up to 12 or more, yet the Japanese can guarantee that their trains will arrive at exactly that time, accuracy up to the exact minute!!!!! If a train is considered "late", the train needs to miss that exact minute! And if trains are late, you get a free rail journey, and you get a pass to explain to your employer why you are late!!!!

You don't believe me? Watch from 4:20 to 4:48 of this Topgear video in Japan! (You are welcomed to watch the entire program too, it is really funny!)

Race Across Japan: Nissan GT-R vs Bullet Train (Part 1/3)

Can the MTR do that? Delays, delays, delays are what you hear from the MTR ALL THE TIME!!!! Man, how many trains are you managing?

I didn't take the Shinkansen by the JR East, but it is incredible how accurate their arrival time can be. How accurate, watch the next video from 1:37.

Race Across Japan: Nissan GT-R vs Bullet Train (Part 2/3)

What may not be correct from the above video, is the part that Japanese people not able to speak English, or that the ticket machines do not have English panel (10:00).

Other rules are great and I wished they had similar ones in Hong Kong. One of which if you continue to watch the above video (5:33 to 6:06), you would know -- people always talk with the minimal voice while on the train and never speak on the mobile on the train as it is considered impolite. The day I returned to Hong Kong I took the Airport Express, and this spastic, self-centred, arrogant, selfish business jerk just kept gloating loudly about his success over the phone with his long-missed local friend and wouldn't put a sock in it until the moment he left the train at Hong Kong Station!!!

I also thought that the MTR in Hong Kong really is nothing as compared to the ones in Tokyo. Look at this,

from Locky's English Playground

They have LCD screens showing the routes and another screen to play advertisements and weather reports!

from Locky's English Playground

That's why I am in love with Tokyo!!!

Okay, here's the last part of the Topgear if you want to finish the show.

Race Across Japan: Nissan GT-R vs Bullet Train (Part 3/3)

zillion -- (n) [C] informal an extremely large, but not a stated, number
spastic -- (adj) informal an offensive way of saying 'stupid', used especially by children
self-centred -- (adj) disapproving only interested in yourself and your own activities
arrogant -- (adj) unpleasantly proud and behaving as if you are more important than, or know more than, other people
jerk -- (n) [C] slang a stupid person, usually a man
gloat -- (vb) [I] to feel or express great pleasure or satisfaction because of your own success or good luck, or someone else's failure or bad luck
put a sock in it informal humorous used to tell someone to be quiet or stop making so much noise



Monday 16 August 2010

Travelling and Living: Locky's Trip to Tokyo (Part 2 -- Ladies' Fashion)

Japanese people are famous for their incredibly polite manner, and when you visit Japan, the services you receive make you feel like kings and queens. No objections? I think not, which is why so many Hong Kong people love Japan.

What surprised me was that, I supposed the Japanese female casual fashion to lead the trend, but the truth is far from reality.

 Harajuku 原宿 Fashion 
from Locky's English Playground

In fact, most younger Japanese ladies wore pretty much the same clothes -- the same blouses and skirts or dresses, and very different from my expectations, they were pretty conservative in terms of dressing up.

Okay, how were they the same or conservative?

Well, if you look at the picture above, they wore at least 3 pieces of clothes (excluding undergarments) despite 34 degree Celsius of temperature. (I wonder how they handle this heat?)

It could be

  1. a thin inner blouse with an outer top and then a small denim jacket / a cardigan, or 
  2. a thin inner blouse with a one-piece dress and a jacket. 

What is definitely obvious to me was their fondness of skirts-looking shorts. The shorts looked like a skirt from the first sight, but when the ladies walked, they looked like a pair of pyjamas pants cut short. ( See the girl in the middle of the photo above) That was definitely conservative.

And so it was very very hard to find a girl who dressed less than a girl does in Hong Kong (sorry to disappoint the guys), but this actually suggests that the Japanese girls are generally very well-trained by families, well-nurtured with their cultural values and thus they are decent ladies. (I guess the AV industry has just too much spread.)

Harajuku Fashion 
from Locky's English Playground

But then of course, "conservativity" also has its pros, especially during festivals with fireworks display, the elegant side of the Japanese traditional fashion unleashes to the fullest.

Japanese Lady in Yukata
from Locky's English Playground

Yukata 浴衣, a casual + summer version of kimono 着物, is definitely the highlight of my trip to Japan as it was almost the only way for me to distinguish Japanese ladies from the rest. I had always thought that kimono is one that has a huge obi sash 帯 and Yukata has simply a belt, but after a little research, I know I was wrong. It is the materials used (cotton for Yukata, silk for Kimono) and the design.

Obi Sash around the waists
from Locky's English Playground

Simply looking at the different patterns of the Yukata was enjoyable and worthy enough. I wanted to go to Japan to see Japan as Japan. Had I seen Japan more or less the same as Hong Kong, I would have regretted it.

Yukata of lovely flowery pattens
from Locky's English Playground

from Locky's English Playground

Once I left the pop streets and back to the common places, everything was, sadly, rather similar to Hong Kong (except that all Chinese characters are replaced by Japanese ones, and the streets are 100 times cleaner). People dress pretty much the same as we do in Hong Kong, look pretty much the same as we do (which made it impossible for me to tell whether they were tourists from Hong Kong until they started speaking) ...

Ueno 上野
from Locky's English Playground

... they are as busy as people in Hong Kong (except much more polite and friendly)...

Tokyo 東京 JR Station
from Locky's English Playground

...and they take trains to go everywhere, just like us (except that they get to choose to take the faster trains with less stops but we don't)...

Ikebukuro  池袋 JR Station
from Locky's English Playground

So, what are you trying to say, Locky? Isn't that already very "different"?

Oh yeah! It is! So, I'm glad.

blouse -- (n)[C] a shirt for a woman or girl
conservative -- (adj) If you are conservative in your appearance, you usually do not like fashionable or modern clothes or hairstyles
nurture -- (vb)[T] Formal to take care of, feed and protect someone or something, especially young children or plants, and help them to develop
decent -- (adj) socially acceptable or good
"conservativity" -- (n) a word created by Locky, the noun of "conservative"
Obi sash