Friday 30 December 2011

Travelling & Living: Is The Food From Japan Safe?

My snappy doctor friend (see Medical & News: What Causes Cancer? -- Part 1 and Medical & News: What Causes Cancer? -- Part 2), who was not snappy yesterday, is going to visit Japan, and in our recently set up Whatsapp chat group a friend asked if the food in Japan is safe for consumption. This doctor friend said she doesn't care. Then of course, I knew the answer and told her, but she insists on not caring.

Is there anything wrong with her thinking? Nope. Doctors often see life and death as commonplace as missing breakfast. But how about the rest of us?

Many of us thought that as long as the air is clean, like the guy in the movie above, then it will be safe. The fact is of course NOT.

Why not? Because the worst is still in the ground.
Image from
Pay attention to the part which the plants pick up the radioactive elements from the ground, because even if the air is far below the safe limit of radioactive level, like the video below taken in Chernobyl (the region of the Chernobyl Disaster on 26th April 1986), the Geiger counter level started off at a rate lower than Hong Kong's ( roughly 0.200 μSv, microsievert,  for most updated count, see Hong Kong Observatory Ambient Gamma Radiation Level ) and began to signal DANGER when placed next to a patch of grass.

And one of the most dangerous thing to eat? Mushrooms!

As shown and admitted by the Japanese government in the news below.

Then how do I know what food from Japan is safe to eat and what is not? This question suddenly popped up when I picked up two packets of 3.6 Hokkaido milk at a discounted price of $15. I heard those packets on one hand, found a great Android App from Market, check it and then decided to put down the milk.

Which app? FoodSafety -radiation in food-  It is a really good app and I highly recommend you download it and check it when necessary, especially when doing your grocery shopping.
Image from AppBrain
Two things I like this app.

1) It lists out the date of update, the region, the test dates, the food type, the level of iodine (131) and cesium (137) in Bq/kgbecquerel per kilogram

Image from Locky's English Playground
So, from the above screen capture, mushrooms from region Miyagi has been tested on 16th November with radioactive iodine "not detected" ND but 1400 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium. Fukushima, the region of the nuclear plant explosions, has mushroom at 4900 Bq/kg of cesium!!! But the highest is Tochigi with 6940 Bq/kg of cesium!!!! Anyway, they all go under the Red upset face, which means they are over the safety level. Touch them NOT!!!
Image from Locky's English Playground
2) The prescribed safe limits for radioactive elements recommended by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for each type of food are used in this app.

As shown above, the prescribed safe limits for radioactive cesium in milk is 500 Bq/kg. Although the Hokkaido milk gets only 0.1 Bq/kg cesium, I decided to put down the great bargain.

For a detail chart, do read this Bloomberg article.

My snappy doctor friend might not care, but it is your body and your health at the end of the day.

Once again I say, Knowledge is power! The more you know, the better you take good care of yourself and your love ones!

Don't forget to "like" this article and the English Playground

snappy -- (adj) also snappish easily annoyed and often speaking in an angry way
commonplace -- (adj) happening often or often seen or experienced and so not considered to be special
Image from Wikipedia

sievert (Sv) -- (n)[C] the SI unit of equivalent dose. It is the dose of a given type of radiation in Gy that has the same biological effect on a human as 1 Gy of x-rays or gamma radiation. microsievert (μSv), 10 −6 Sv

grocery -- [C] (UK also grocery shop US also grocery storeold-fashioned a grocer's

iodine (131) -- also called radioiodine, is an important radioisotope of iodine. It has a radioactive decay half-life of about eight days. Its uses are mostly medical and pharmaceutical. It also plays a major role as a radioactive isotope present in nuclear fission products, and was a significant contributor to the health hazards from open-air atomic bomb testing in the 1950s, and from the Chernobyl disaster, as well as being a large fraction of the contamination hazard in the first weeks in the Japanese nuclear crisis.

cesium (137) -- is a radioactive isotope of caesium which is formed as a fission product by nuclear fission. It has a half-life of about 30.17 years.

ND -- "not detected"


Geiger Counter Readings from Central Tokyo as of 4pm, 3/17/2011 @ YouTube

Medical & News: What Causes Cancer? -- Part 1 @ Locky's English Playground

Medical & News: What Causes Cancer? -- Part 2 @ Locky's English Playground

Chernobyl Disaster @ Wikipedia

Ionizing Radiation Units @ Wikipedia

Ambient Gamma Radiation Level in Hong Kong(Updated hourly) @ Hong Kong Observatory

Geiger Counter at Chernobyl @ YouTube

Bavarian Mushrooms - Maronen - CS137 and RadioactivityCounter Android App @ YouTube

Radioactive Mushrooms & Typhoon eyes Fukushima 7/17/11 @ YouTube

FoodSafety -radiation in food- @ AppBrain

Specific activity @ Wikipedia

ND @ Wikipedia

Japan Sets Safe Limits for Consuming Radiation-Contaminated Food @

Wednesday 28 December 2011

News & Technology: iOS 5.0.1 UNTETHERED Jailbreak

Image from

While I was away on my Taipei trip, perhaps the most exciting news is the hint of the release of iOS 5.0.1 Untethered Jailbreak. Pwned Apple Pwned!!!

Yesterday, it is finally officially out as cited on reputable Jailbreak website, Redmond Pie. Do note that this jailbreak only works on  iPhone 4 / 3GS, iPod touch 4, iPad 1, so don't try this on your iPhone 4S and iPad 2!

Here's the video tutorial.

If you want to read the text, please go to the website below.

But before you start jailbreaking your iPhone, do read my earlier article, Technology: iPhone 4 Failed-Downgrade Rescue Tutorial (without SHSH) and learn how to back up your SHSH blob, just in case.

And once again, Jailbreaking is LEGAL, otherwise, there won't be so many legal jailbreak websites, and legal hackers around and are not caught.

Don't forget to "Like" the entry and the English Playground

Jailbreak iOS 5.0.1 Untethered On iPhone, iPad, iPod touch (A4 Devices) Now Using Redsn0w 0.9.10b1 / Corona [Video Tutorial] @ Redmond Pie

iOS 5.0.1 UNTETHERED Jailbreak for iPhone 4 / 3GS, iPod touch 4, iPad 1 @ YouTube

Technology: iPhone 4 Failed-Downgrade Rescue Tutorial (without SHSH) @ Locky's English Playground

Travelling & Living: Day 1 in Taipei

Image from Locky's English Playground

Hi all! Hope you all had a lovely Christmas! 

I went to Taipei for holidays for the first time and it was really fun! First thing I like about going to Taiwan is the duration of the flight. It took only 1.5 hours on a small plane, and 1 hour 15 minutes on a large one! Amazingly quick! I love it!
People. They make an airline.
Image from Locky's English Playground
This is also the first time my Canon 7D-cum-24-105mm f/4.0-5.6 L is travelling with me, so this trip is a real test for its performance. And it turns out that my new camera has not disappointed me. In fact, it performed so well that I actually think my photography skills have improved with the familiarity of this camera.
Image from Locky's English Playground
My first impression of Taipei is that the Taoyuan airport isn't big and it looks pretty old, definitely nothing like the one in Hong Kong; the streets look very much like mainland China; the MRT (train systems) stations have a design which look almost exactly like those in Singapore, kept giving me a deja vu every time I took the trains; cars and motorbikes use low quality petrol or non-catalytic exhaust pipes which stink the place every time a vehicle drives past, despite these, there are many things very charming about Taipei.

Stone at the entrance
Image from Locky's English Playground
Number 1, it is the scenery at the Hot Spring Valley of Beitou.
First glimpse of the Hot Spring Valley
Image from Locky's English Playground
As an island on the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is reasonable to have real hot springs across the entire Taiwan, and thus, the spectacular rush of continuous steam and sulphurous gases from the hot spring.
Image from Locky's English Playground
The hot spring water flows down from the mountain across the entire hot spring hotels region as shown in the photo below.
Hot spring stream
Image from Locky's English Playground
Hot steam
Image from Locky's English Playground
Hot steam and gases rushes through every openings of the sewage! Remarkable!

Hot spring signs
Image from Locky's English Playground
A taste of the Japanese culture can be seen easily from the colonial architectural elements, such as the hot spring symbol above on a bridge across the stream.
Stream of hot spring
Image from Locky's English Playground
Simplistic design of lamp covers
Image from Locky's English Playground
Model of an artist's lodge
Image from Locky's English Playground
There is no reason to be bored as there are museums, a library and parks for you to spend good relaxing time learning the history of Beitou and immerse yourself into the quietness of the natural environment.
Beitou Hot Spring Musuem
Image from Locky's English Playground
Abandoned hot spring inside the Hot Spring Museum
Image from Locky's English Playground
Do note that the museum closes at 5pm, but the library opens till late at night, so if you want to spend more time in the museum, you must not do your shopping first.
Green Natural environment
Image from Locky's English Playground
It was really a great idea to spend the first day of the trip, what's more, the hot spring hotel has a hot comfy hot spring bath waiting for me.

Mites? Bye bye!

Don't forget to "Like" the entry and the English Playground

deja vu -- (n)[U] the strange feeling that in some way you have experienced already what is happening now
Pacific Ring of Fire -- (n) [U] is an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean.
sulphurous -- (adj) from sulphur a pale yellow element which exists in various physical forms. It burns with a blue flame and a strong smell and is used in medicine and industry.
sewage -- (n) [U] the system of carrying away waste water and human waste from houses and other buildings through large underground pipes or passages
remarkable -- (adj) unusual or special and therefore surprising and worth mentioning
immerse -- (vb) [R] to become completely involved in something
comfy -- (adj) informal for comfortable

Cathay Pacific Official website

Pacific Ring of Fire @ Wikipedia

Medical & Vocabulary : Heat Rash and Bug Bites @ Locky's English Playground

Medical & TV: Scabies, Monsters Inside Me & solutions -- Part 1 @ Locky's English Playground

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Vocabulary: Christmas Words To Learn

Christmas is drawing near and everyone is starting to get into their long-waited holiday mood (if not already in this mood since the beginning of December). However, let's not get too lazy before the holidays actually begin, why not learn some vocabulary about Christmas so that you can use them when you are shopping?

The first thing you should do now is going to read my December 2009 article named "Vocabulary: Christmas Stuff @ Locky's English Playground" (don't forget to "Like" the article) and refresh your memory of some very key basic words.

Then you should read on in this article for some more festive objects and their history! Would be kind of fun sharing them with your friends.

Christmas Food
Actually, different countries have very different Christmas food [1]. Christmas turkey maybe the most recognised and Mr. Bean's favourite but it is still not the ultimate food eaten in Christmas. In fact, for countries which do celebrate Christmas, I think only one thing is universal, and that is chocolate! But cakes and barbecue meat are not to be forgotten.

Gingerbread Man
Gingy the Gingerbread Man
Image from

One of the words which comes out no matter in Christmas or not, Gingerbread is a wide-known festive food, an animation character and a version of the Android OS. Not to mention that it is also one of my favourite cute objects.
According to Wikipedia,
"Gingerbread dates back to the 15th century, and figural biscuit-making was practiced in the 16th century.[1] The first documented instance of figure-shaped gingerbread biscuits appearing was in the court of Elizabeth I of England. She had the gingerbread figures made and presented in the likeness of some of her important guests.[2]"

And according to the Guiness Book of Records,
"the world’s largest gingerbread man was made on December 2, 2006 by the Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce in Smithville, TexasUnited States at their annual Festival of Lights celebration. The gingerbread man weighed in at 1,308 lbs, 8 oz,[3] and stood at over 20 feet.

How does it look like?
The world's largest gingerbread man cooked
over an open fire Dec. 1 2006 in Smithville,  Texas, USA

Image from

Here's a great photo album website devoted to all Gingy lovers!

Candy Canes

Candy cane originated in Germany in 1670s and it was first made to keep the children from making noises when the choir is practising. it was made into a stick to remind the children of the shepherds who paid visits to baby Jesus [2].

It is also one of the sweet food I dislike but I really don't know why.

Apple Cider
Apple Cider
Image from

The drink for Christmas, apple cider is the most original, most natural seasonal drink, foggy brown in colour made from fresh apples, untreated and unfiltered. "Hot apple cider" or "mulled cider" is made after heating with cinnamon, orange peel, nutmeg, cloves or other spices[3], depending on personal preferences.

Christmas Cake / Christstollen
Image from Wikipedia

One of my favourite cakes when I am exceptionally hungry, the Christstollen is said to be a German cake made from orange and lemon peels, raisins, dried fruits, nuts, rum and cinnamon. The English version is called Christmas cake and the difference is the use of icing sugar on the cake top (they love icing on everything basically).
Icing Christmas cake
Image from

According to Wikipedia, Stollen was baked for the first time as Christmas pastry at the Saxon Royal Court in 1427 and was made with flour, yeast, oil and water [4].

Mince Pie
Image from Wikipedia

Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, chicken, pork, beef, mutton, fruits, etc. Basically, anything! Depends on what you prefer, mince pie is one presentable yet easy to make Christmas food. My favourite? Apple pie!

The history of the mince pie traces back to the 11th to the 13th Century at the time of the Crusades [5] [6].

Alright, that's all for today!

Do "like" this article and our English Playground!

Mr Bean - Nativity Scene @ YouTube

Vocabulary: Christmas Stuff @ Locky's English Playground

[1] Christmas Food @ Wikipedia

Gingerbread man @ Wikipedia

Most interesting photos from gingy pool @ Flickr

[House MD] S1E5 - Candy Canes? @ YouTube

[2] Candy Cane @ Wikipedia

[3] Apple Cider @ Wikipedia

[4] Christstollen @ Wikipedia

Christmas cake @ Wikipedia

[5] Mince pie @ Wikipedia

 [6] Crusades @ Wikipedia

Monday 19 December 2011

Website: Google Christmas Easter Egg 2011

Google is famous for its innovation and fun. This year's Christmas they have prepared a lovely snow cold "Easter Egg" for their users to play with!

Starting to get frosty

Merry X'mas Locky's English Playground
If you want to stop playing it, just press "Defrost".

You will need Google Chrome to play.

Do "Like" this article and our English Playground.

Easter Egg -- (n)[C] a gift, used to be for Easter only, now the word is no longer restricted for just that day.
defrost -- (vb) [I or T] to (cause to) become free of ice, or to (cause to) become no longer frozen



Google 'Let it snow' Easter egg brings on winter @ Digital Life

Friday 16 December 2011

Movie: Must-watch & Can-Watch Movies 2011/12

Movie fans have been waiting for this Christmas for a long long time. Sure enough there are many brilliant movies to anticipate for, but there are also some that are not as spectacular or mega which still worth watching! So, here's my guide to the must-watch and can-watch movies this year and next year.

First, 50/50, a movie which has already shown in Hong Kong and didn't raise too much attention. Based on a true story, it talks about a man who lives a normal life has been diagnosed with cancer, and his chances of surviving from it was 50/50. The story talks about how calm this man was at first, but grows to fear of death eventually, how his friendships and relationships develops after cancer and how he faces his treatment. It is not a big production but definitely worth watching. The movie finds a balance between comedy, love, friendship, life and death. Definitely more than a can-watch!

Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows has been on my waiting list since the prequel. I highly appreciate the use of high-definition high-speed cameras in filming actions but showing them as slow-motions. Such technique has become a signature of Sherlock Holmes movies by director Guy Ritchie. The running scene in the forest with bullets flying around is one of the best and most spectacular scenes which took Ritchie 5 days to film.

"The bullets you see in the air are real bullets -- that's the speed at which they fly," the director said.[1]

That's amazing! From what he said, it is already worth watching! Sherlock Holmes 2 (starring Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law), definitely a must-watch! It's already on cinema! Catch it now!

No more "Bourne", Matt Damon stars in a non-action family movie as a father of two kids, who bought a zoo. Sounds ridiculous? It is based on a true story. It is fun, adventurous, and heart-warming for the cold winter. One point worth noting, I think Matt acts like Tom Hanks in the movie. Fans of Scarlett Johansson will not want to miss it. We Bought a Zoo, showing on the 29th December 2011.[2] A Can-watch I say.

Fans of MIB are back in the hunt for more disobedient aliens because Men In Black 3 is back with agents no other than Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones!! What are they up to this time? Time Jumping!!! Opening on the 24th May 2012.[3] More than a Can-watch, but I need more info to confirm.

Another remake of Spiderman? Well, yeah, maybe the advancement in technology has allowed better movies to be made and so we will be seeing another original Spiderman movie, called The Amazing Spider-man which will be on cinema some time next year (does that mean the last one was not amazing enough?) A Can-watch if there is no better ones to watch by then.[4]

But wait, talking about better ones, Marvel's The Avengers is definitely the one to catch, with the class of superheroes such as Captain America, Ironman, the Incredible Hulk, Thor and the new addition of Black Widow, this action-packed movie is one that you won't want to miss! Coming to the cinema some time in 2012.[5]

Use these trailers to practice your listening skills, and see if you are interested in any of them.

Happy weekend! Don't forget to "Like" the entry and "Like" the English Playground.

50/50 Trailer 2011 HD @ YouTube

[1] To Guy Ritchie, it's elementary @ Los Angeles Times

Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows Trailer 2011 HD @ YouTube

[2] We Bought A Zoo @ IMDb

We Bought A Zoo - Official Trailer [HD] @ YouTube

[3] Men in Black 3 @ IMDb

Men in Black 3 Trailer. @ YouTube

The Amazing Spiderman - Trailer 1 (HD) @ YouTube

[4] The Amazing Spider-man

[5] The Avengers @ IMDb

Marvel's The Avengers (2012) watch the Official Teaser Trailer | HD @ YouTube

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Website: Google Presents Photos of Post-Tsunami Japan

A quick message on the Google Map update. Google has rolled out an update showing photographs of the post-tsunami Japan for users to see the images of even the most devastated Fukushima up close.

Here are some of the photos I captured from the website.

No Photos near Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants
Images from Google

Although it is not a pleasant view, it is worthwhile to understand the power of nature and see how people continue their lives in the areas.

The website is listed in the resources below.

Do "Like" the entry and "Like" the English Playground

devastated -- (adj) completely destroyed
worthwhile -- (adj) useful, important or good enough to be a suitable reward for the money or time spent or the effort made


Memories for the Future - Street View @ Google

Google Makes Street View Images Of Post-Tsunami Japan Available On Custom Site @ TC

Monday 12 December 2011

Slang & Vocabulary: Slang that I Won't Learn from Dictionaries

Image from
In August 2009, I posted an article titled News & Vocab: Foul Language targeting Female, in May 2010 I wrote Vocabulary: Men's World, then in October 2011, I produced Vocabulary: A Helpless Man Sponge Naitard, that is almost like one article a year. Wondering if I will post some more a bit more frequently?

It is one of my habits to look around in the dictionary at times and I found some words that I have never heard of but said to be popular by the Cambridge Dictionary, let's give it a go and see what they offer.

I DON'T blindly learn new words as some words are pretty redundant, so old-fashioned words are filtered out and new words are reinterpreted by me.

House Husband
Image from
In my opinions,"New Man" sounds very much the same as "house husband" to me and I don't feel like learning "New Man" just to replace "house husband" because the latter is so much easier to remember. In a sense that "housewife" is enough and "homemaker" sounds redundant in a way that it doesn't show any wit in its creation.

A "bit of rough" sounds to me that it is literately referring to physical labour, people who need to work using more muscles than brains, so I don't know how that is applicable to the dictionary's definition if the boyfriend is from an upper class and the girlfriend is from a middle class. Just doesn't sound so right even in the reverse case.

Image from
A "God's Gift" to me sounds very positive and prestigious and so it is understandable when it is used negatively by someone who tastes sour grapes, but then when a person really is jealous of another, will they be so nice with their wordings and call them "God's Gift"? I doubt it! Even in the case of backstabbing. And the dictionary offers "Lady Muck" as the female version, well maybe, but wouldn't a "stuck-up" be even more direct?

A Suit
Image from
A "Suit" doesn't sound negative to me at all! And I do think that this is very confusing considering almost everybody who works in a bigger and more proper company wears a suit, then how aggressive or disapproving can this word sound when one person calls another a "suit"? More ironically, what if the person who said it actually wears a suit himself? Really want to learn some words to describe business people, why not read my other entries such as Business Vocabulary: The Cogs -- The Boss GroupThe Law GroupThe Cash Group, and The Sales Group?

Image from
Dictionary also says a "footballer's wife" is, in short, a beautiful extravagant married woman. I totally disagree with this! True, being big-spending and beautiful are what some footballers' wives behaves like, but this doesn't imply to any other married women!!! Also, the proper slang is not even "footballer's wife", it is "WAG"!!! People who watch football games on TV or read football news know this word! "WAG" is a short form of "Wives And Girlfriends" and it is specifically used to describe these footballers' lovers!

Lady Gaga
Image from
Talking about "Lady Muck", comparing this to Lady Gaga, I think "Gaga" is an even more popular word! The name Lady Gaga came from the singer's love of a song "Radio Ga Ga" by the band Queen [1].

Radio Ga Ga by Queen
Image from Wikipedia
But gaga is also a word with meanings, 1) unable to think clearly because of old age, 2) having strong but temporary love for someone.

Looks like we have to be careful what we learn from dictionaries.

New Man -- (n) [C] Mainly UK a man who believes that women and men are equal and should be free to do the same things, and who does tasks and shows emotions that were traditionally considered only suitable for women
house husband -- (n)[C] a man who stays at home and cleans the house, takes care of the children, etc. while his wife goes out to work
homemaker -- (n)[C] mainly US a woman who manages a home and often raises children instead of earning money from a job
bit of rough -- UK humorous someone, usually a man, from a lower social class than their sexual partner
God's Gift -- (n)  [U] disapproving If you say that someone thinks or behaves as if they are God's gift (to someone or something), you mean that they believe that they are better than anyone else
Lady Muck --  [S] UK informal disapproving a woman who thinks she is very important and should be treated better than everyone else
sour grapes -- If you describe someone's behaviour or opinion as sour grapes, you mean that they are angry because they have not got or achieved something that they wanted
stuck-up -- (n)[C] a person who thinks they are above the rest
suit -- (n) [C often plural] informal mainly disapproving a man who works in an office and wears a suit, especially a man with a high position in a company who is considered not to have human feelings and good ideas
footballer's wife --  (n) [C] or humorous a beautiful woman who has a rich husband and does not work, but spends a lot of time buying expensive things and taking care of her appearance
extravagant -- (adj) spending too much money, or using too much of something
WAG -- (n) plural "Wives And Girlfriends" of the footballers
gaga -- (adj) informal unable to think clearly and make decisions because of old age; senile;
[after verb] having a strong but usually temporary love for someone

News & Vocab: Foul Language targeting Female @ Locky's English Playground

Vocabulary: Men's World  @ Locky's English Playground

Vocabulary: A Helpless Man Sponge Naitard @ Locky's English Playground

How To Spot A Gold Digger @

Business Vocabulary: The Cogs -- The Boss Group @ Locky's English Playground

Business Vocabulary: The Cogs -- The Law Group @ Locky's English Playground

Business Vocabulary: The Cogs -- The Cash Group @ Locky's English Playground

Business Vocabulary: The Cogs -- The Sales Group @ Locky's English Playground