The Rooster

Another few words of wisdom from my desk calendar, this time for the Rooster:

A pioneer in spirit, you are devoted to work and quest after knowledge.  You are selfish and eccentric.  Rabbits are trouble, Snakes and Oxen are fine.

Career: Gossips lead to possible lawsuits.  Therefore, think twice before you act.

Fortune: It's an uneven ride through the year.  Don't invest all at one time; otherwise there is nothing left in your pocket.

Romance: Love relationship is very emotional.  Try to control your mood and don't force others will.

Such wise words, lah.

Sent to a barren rock

Fumier has already mentioned this, but never mind (from The Guardian):

When a middle-aged man swore at airline staff after he was refused a drink on a flight from Manchester to Tenerife, he got a sunshine break he had not bargained for. The pilot diverted the charter plane and dumped the troublesome holidaymaker 300 miles from his destination on a barren volcanic island off the west coast of Africa.

Well, a barren volcanic island with "several luxury hotels and a golf course".  Moreover, The Guardian reports that he "was was not detained in a cell and was released to enjoy the island's famed tranquillity for 36 hours" before leaving the island.  So, not much of a punishment, really. 

The remaining passengers arrived in Tenerife nearly four hours late, and it must have cost the airline a large amount of money to make this detour.  Was it really such a good idea?

Perhaps they were worried that he might have wanted to smoke.

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...

Getting the message

I liked this story from The Guardian.  Someone took revenge on cable company NTL by changing the message on their automated phone system to something a little rude.

The gentleman was charged with "making a grossly offensive message".  Fortunately the magistrates decided that what he done was merely "offensive" and acquitted him.

Telephone "help lines" do seem to upset a lot of people.  The same newspaper has a rant about the "painting by numbers" approach of so many so-called technical help desks. Yes that probably works for 98% of the problems, but it drives the other 2% of callers quietly mad.   

We apologize for any inconvenience caused

"others who don't blog often like Fumier, Ordinary Gweilo.." [a comment from HKMacs on Simon World]

Well, maybe.

I seem to have contracted the dreaded lurgy that the aforesaid Fumier and Dr Shaky have also been suffering from.  The first day I felt a bit under the weather, but the second, third and fourth days I felt fairly terrible (symptoms here) and on the fifth day I was back to feeling a bit rough.  Since then I seem to have been recovering quite slowly, but now, finally, I feel almost human again. 

Anyway, aren't March and April supposed to be quite pleasant in Hong Kong?  I'm fed up with this wet and windy stuff...

I'd like to say that normal service will be resumed shortly, but the truth is that I am still rather busy at work and for all my good intentions I am not sure that there will be much improvement till later this month.  Feel free to add messages of encouragement, but I doubt that they'll make any difference.

"I'm on the Northern Line"

The BBC reports that passengers will be able to use their mobile phones on stations on the London Underground by 2008, finally being able to do something that has been possible on the MTR in Hong Kong for several years.

However, there is some opposition to this apparently unremarkable idea:

But both the Lib Dems and the Conservatives warned the new technology could enable terrorists to carry out attacks from above ground

Concerns were raised by the Liberal Democrats last year about the security risks of such plans. Former London mayoral candidate, Simon Hughes, said mobiles were a "cheap and effective long range detonator". He added: "Using mobiles on the deep line sections... is unnecessary. Texting is a luxury, security is not."

Well, I have to agree with Simon Hughes that texting is a luxury, but does he really think that terrorists have been planning to plant bombs on underground trains but been thwarted by the lack of mobile phone coverage?  Seems unlikely.

What they need is a device that limits calls to 30 seconds.  Long enough to say where are you but not long enough to annoy your fellow passengers.

Get lost

I have to admit that I am fascinated by maps – well, some maps.  So from Metafilter via Shaky, some interesting London public transport maps.  Firstly, a geographically accurate London Underground map (rather than the classic Harry Beck diagram with straight lines), and secondly, (Mayor of London) Ken Livingstone’s ambitious plans for a much bigger network of underground, overground, light rail and trams by 2016, though unfortunately most of the new lines probably won’t get built. 

Then there’s a rather more elaborate version of the maps they have in all the tube trains showing the stations and interchanges.  This one attempts to show the position of the platforms, which is useful if you want to know where you are going. 

Or if you really don’t know where you’re going, you could try Transport Direct, a new UK government service that will advice you on the best route to take to get from A-B.  Unfortunately, it may take you via X, Y and Z: 

For instance, a person leaving south London in the evening for Sale in Manchester would arrive at 6:31am the following day, but only after spending the better part of six hours waiting for a train at the remote Navigation Road station. No mention is made of the night bus that would deliver the travellers to Sale in little over 40 minutes.

The short trip between the Lancashire resorts of Fleetwood and Blackpool should be a straightforward 45-minute bus ride. Those following the website's advice would embark on a near two-and-a-half journey consisting of two train trips, a bus ride and three bouts of walking.

Sometimes vital transport data can just disappear. A motorist from the Cornish village of Polruan wanting to visit nearby Falmouth would unquestionably choose the ferry across the River Fowey. Yet, on occasion, the system simply forgets the ferry exists, with drivers guided on a picturesque two-hour journey skirting around the estuary.

So just another highly successful UK government IT project.

No pajamas

How come stuff like this never happens to me?

Retired doctor Mr Leigh-Brown, 67, said he picked up the DVD of The Pajama Game, which was sealed in plastic wrapping, for £2.99 from the bargain bin of a Safeway supermarket in Taunton.

"Some topless young women appeared and started talking in Italian... it's not what you expect from a Doris Day film," Mr Leigh-Browne said. "My wife and I were very shocked but we watched it until the end because we couldn't believe what we were seeing.

As you do, of course. If this wasn't on the BBC website I'd assume that someone had made it all up.

The couple, regular attendees at their local Baptist church, settled down with a cup of tea to watch the 1957 musical which has a U (universal) certificate.

At least it's not run by a drunk

This piece from Harry made me laugh:

The British Council is better than most language schools. It’s run by the UK Foreign Office: all the other language schools I worked at were run by drunks. They could use this in pamphlets as their "unique selling point." It would be an improvement on “Creating Opportunity for People Worldwide,” which is the current slogan.

At least it's not run by a drunk.

I suppose Britain hasn't really had a drunk as Foreign Secretary since George Brown nearly 40 years ago, so I guess this claim is quite valid.

Harry is planning his return to Hong Kong to resume his old job of teaching English, though I can't help feeling that travelling around South America creates more promising material for a blog.  However, teaching English presumably pays better (unless Harry is also smuggling drugs on the quiet).