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



Thursday, 26 August 2010

Herbs: Rue / Ruta in Green Bean Sweet Soup

Summer, summer, summer -- a time for dessert.

Wait, any time is a time for dessert, in a girl's opinion.

Oh, yeah, almost forgot. Maybe I should be more specific, and say, Chinese desserts, cold ones, just in case you want to tell me that most Chinese desserts are hot.

There are so many of them, but the one I want to talk about today, is the Green Bean Sweet Soup.
Image from kaleidoscope.cultural-china.com

Green beans are also known as Mung beans, with the word "mung" derived from Hindi "moong". People use them for noodles, mooncakes, growing beansprouts, and of course, desserts.

Since everybody knows about it, I will then spend more time on green beans' good partner: a green, highly fragrant leafy plant with round leaves, most people call it "stinky grass" in Hong Kong.

What is her real name in English? Rue, or Ruta. The species in the dessert, is Common Rue, or Herb-of-grace.
Image from toptropicals
I love the smell of this plant, and I have even tried to grow it, but it was unfortunately so susceptible to this white bugs that I eventually killed the plant while I applied my home-made pesticide, a combination of ginger and garlic......

Tragic ending, but that doesn't stop me from pursuing the lovely taste and smell of this plant in a dessert form.

What I never knew about this plant, is its medical usage. From Wikipedia,

Rue has been used internally as an antispasmodic (muscle spasm), as a treatment for menstrual (a woman's period) problems, as an abortifacient (inducing abortion), and as a sedative.

You too would never expect so much a simple "dessert plant" can do, right?

sweet soup -- (n)[C or U] belongs to Chinese / Cantonese cuisine, literally means "Sweet Water".
susceptible -- (adj) easily influenced or harmed by something
pesticide -- (n)[C or U] a chemical substance used to kill harmful insects, small animals, wild plants and other unwanted organisms
antispasmodic -- (n) [C] drug or an herb that suppresses muscle spasms
menstrual (period) --(adj) related to the blood flow from a woman's womb that happens every month
abortifacient -- (n)[C] a substance that induces abortion
sedative -- (n)[C] a drug used to calm a person or animal or to make them sleep


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