Saturday, November 11, 2006

Some updates

I've gone on about new stuff for awhile, and it occurs to me that I haven't brought closure to several topics I've posted on before.

1. The weather is now nice. When I first arrived in mid-August, the humidity was oppressive. Ever since mid-September, the humidity has been really come down. It's more humid than Los Angeles, certainly, but it's still comfortable. The temperature is generally comfortable, in the high 70s or low 80s. And the skies are generally clear. Okay, a bit smoggy, but not anywhere near as polluted as Beijing.

2. I'm drinking water from the tap. I have been for many weeks, and no ill effects. So, I'd say, yes, you can drink the water in Hong Kong.

I should mention, however, that I periodically get water bottles from the hotel where I'm staying. When I first arrived and thought I couldn't drink the water, I was forever going to stores getting large jugs of purified water. It was kind of a pain. Then I got a pitcher so I could boil water and put it in the fridge. That was less of a pain. Then suddenly, two bottles of water showed up. Apparently the cleaning staff put them there. The next day, two more bottles came. It's as if the staff somehow noticed I needed water, and decided to enact a policy whereby all guests get two bottles of free water. After about a week of this, the water stopped showing up. Then every now and then more bottles of water will appear. I think it just depends on who is cleaning my room that day. It's kind of nice. Though it's less useful now that I know I can drink tap water.

3. I'm not making a lot of progress on learning the language. I don't normally need to use Cantonese to even get by (except tell a bus driver where to stop) and I don't have many opportunities to use my Mandarin, except a few folks at church who are from Mainland China. I am learning more characters, though, because I'm seeing them on signs.

More importantly I don't have as much time to learn the language as I did in the States. It's always the same, in the middle of the semester, being behind in grading, etc.

4. Halloween was interesting. I didn't do anything special for it, but there were people who did. It's mostly being pushed by a few corporations. There were ads on building-sized TV screens telling people how to celebrate it. I don't think anyone went trick-or-treating, but I may be wrong about that. I do know that a bunch of students dressed up and went to an area of Hong Kong known for its clubs and bars, and saw other people from the U.S. having a good time.

5. The induction cooker is working well. It has the advantage of turning on and off very quickly. As soon as it is off, the heating stops--no residual heat from heating coils. If I have water boiling, there is maybe one second after I turn it off that the bubbles continue to rise to the surface, but after that, nothing.

One of the students' family was in town, so we went to Lantau Island and Ocean Park. Watch here for some pictures coming soon.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Voting absentee

I voted.

Yes, I'm in Hong Kong, but it's possible to vote while overseas. I just did a search on the web and found that it's pretty simple, though it does require advance planning.

I filled out the forms for getting an absentee ballot in early October, sent it in, and around October 30th I received the absentee ballot. Maybe I got it earlier, but it had arrived while I was in Beijing.

I took a few days to get around to filling it out, and then I asked the staff at Hong Kong Baptist University how long it normally takes to get mail to the US. They said, "about a week". Oops: one week later would be the day after the election.

Luckily they had a provision for that. You can fax in your ballot. So I did that on Thursday.

It's a bit disconcerting not really knowing if they received your fax or not, but I guess it would be the same way if I mailed it.

By the way, I've been having trouble uploading stuff to Blogger this entire past weekend. I hope this works now.