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August 2005

Wot, no British cheese?

From the CitySuper website, about their new store in, er, Sha Tin:

The heaven for cheese-lover! We carry the widest selection of cheese types and products in town, may they from France, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Japan. You name it!

OK, I name it: Stilton, Cheddar, Lancashire, Cheshire...

And I understand French cheese getting prominence, but Japan?  USA? 


Faking it

What is that possesses people to spend an entire bus or MTR journey talking loudly into their phones? The Inquirer offers an explanation (old but good):

MANY SAD FOLK who use mobile phones in public, are faking their conversations to make themselves seem important.

According a Rutgers University Center for Mobile Communications Studies report, a surprising number of people make fake phone calls on their cell phones just for the benefit of those around them.  James Katz, a professor of communication at the university, said that in one survey he conducted, more than a quarter of people said they had faked it.

Often it is to cover something up. Like if they are late for work they will wander into the office pretending to be talking to an important customer.  Apparently, the bigger the deal on the phone, the more likely it is to be faked.

Once again, I am not convinced by this "survey", but it's an entertaining thought that the idiots who shout into their phones on the MTR, buses, etc., are actually trying to impress people.

Stop, please!  It doesn't impress me at all.  Like they care...


Twice the fun

It's obvious, really.  Rather than labouring through August to churn out posts every day (well, er, some days), I should announce that I have produced a "double issue" and take the next week off.  Just like most* weekly news and business magazines.

Notice the creative use of the word "double".  Not the dull old meaning of twice as big, but perhaps 25% bigger than normal, if you're lucky.  Mind you, I never seem to have time to read through all the magazines I subscribe to, so perhaps I should be grateful that I get a break from time to time.

* Not the Economist, which manages to soldier on through the summer without resorting to double issues.  Good work, chaps.


Letter of the Week

Another splendid letter from the always enjoyable letter column in the SCMP, where one of the great issues of the day is whether it is necessary to clear your table after eating in McDonalds:

When I go to a restaurant, I always have a waiter or waitress serve me - that is, a man or a woman takes my order and brings the food I ordered to my table ("Change social conduct", August 19).

After finishing eating, I - the customer - am not expected to take the empty plates, glasses or cups back to the washing-up area, so why should anyone do so in a McDonald's outlet?

A McDonald's is not an upscale restaurant, but bills itself as a chain of "quick-service restaurants".

BOB BEADMAN, Tsuen Wan

Indeed. When I visit McDonalds I find a table near the window, summon the waiter, order my lunch (a chicken flat bread, green salad and small mineral water) and then wait for a few moments whilst my food is cooked and delivered to me.  I find it a very agreeable experience.


Pick your own

Is there a more scary sight in a Hong Kong supermarket than a crowd of middle-aged women carefully selecting oranges from the display?  They pick them all up, inspect them and then choose the ones they want. 

The rest are rejects.  I've no idea what's wrong with them, but there's something wrong with them.  Obviously, I don't want those ones, so what do I do?


In one ear and out the other

In spite of everything, cinemas are still around - though they now pack eight screens into the space previously occupied by one, which makes it a rather less impressive experience.

There are many advantages of watching a DVD, and one is that you can choose the language (both for the dialogue and the subtitles).  Similarly, NICAM allows Hong Kong TV to offer viewers a choice of languages (Cantonese and English, or Cantonese and Mandarin, or Cantonese and Japanese). 

Hong Kong cinemas seem to be moving in the opposite direction, and currently offer many English language films dubbed into Cantonese with Chinese subtitles.  If you want the English version you have to go to Pacific Place or Kowloon Tong or one or two other locations.

Which makes me wonder whether a NICAM facility could be made available in cinemas.  Obviously they could only offer one main language, but if airlines can give out headsets for customers, why couldn't cinemas do the same thing? 


Oh not, not vegetables

An intriguing quote from a union official, as reported in The Guardian:

John Nolan, national leader of Amicus, said the use of the vegetables was a totally unacceptable way of getting staff to perform. "It is demeaning to staff and it is demoralising to staff and it does not send a good message to customers when [they] go in and see this sort of method being employed by such a well-known bank," he said.

Sadly, the story turns out a whole lot duller than that quote might suggest.

Two tellers at branches of the bank in Glasgow and Paisley had the vegetables placed on their desks within full public view. In the first case, an 18-year-old male teller was said to be deeply upset by the cabbage put on his desk. In the second case, which only emerged yesterday, a 24-year-old had a cauliflower placed on her desk. She was apparently told she could only pass it on when someone opened an account.

How can you be deeply upset by a cabbage? 


WTF

I don't think I'll ever understand TVB.

They are showing the fifth series of The Sopranos at midnight on Wednesdays.  Which would make sense if it would enable them to show it in its original form, rather than the bowdlerized version that they have previously been showing at around 10.30 pm.  Indeed, other HBO shows such as 'Six Feet Under' and 'Sex in the City' also start after midnight (as did 'The Office').

Except that last week's episode had a 'PG' certificate, which either means that David Chase has toned things done or that TVB are still showing the 'family friendly' version.  Which means that I'll have to buy the DVD.