Search This Blog

Friday, August 25, 2006

Live from New York, its....

Just returned from a trip to New York City with a few friends. Mr. Hippo decided not to come so I took my mother. After all, she enjoys good food, shopping and little culture like her sophisticated daughter. Some of the NYC sites were quite alarming. The fact that the WTC, "Ground Zero" now looks like a ordinary construction site. Seemingly devoid of any clues from the fall of the two towers. Then there were two panhandlers outside the McDonalds near Wall Street who exchanged racial slurs and then fisticuffs.

The food never failed to satisfy. From the seafood restaurant at corner of 53rd and 6th avenue to the very fine omakase dinner at Nobu. No celebrities to be seen but there were a few well dressed and well armed jeeps in the front of the restaurant suggesting other VIPs on the premises. My very favourite apple martini was made at the bar in the Millineum Hilton. Just yummy.

A little culture was taken in at the Museum of Modern Art where admission was free that night. The place was quite crowded but the paintings of Picasso, Modrian, Magritte and other notables could be appreciated nevertheless. And the visit to NYC won't be complete without a walk in Central Park. The Mall, the Obelisk, the Belvedere Castle and of course, Strawberry fields. A late lunch at the Boathouse completed a lovely day in the city that never sleeps.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

This day in History

Birthdates. As part of a profession involving bringing babies in the world, I am always amazed by the strangness of requests. This pertains of course mostly to births which can be planned i.e. CS dates.

The old superstitions of avoiding Friday the 13th as birth date for one. Those of the ancient chinese beliefs avoid anything with combinations of "4" which is a homonym for "death" in the spoken chinese tongue. Then there is the avoidance of dates which coincident with other relatives or friends birthdays or worse, the anniversary death of another relative or friend.

A recent request took me by surprise. A request not to have a CS on September 11th. Very odd I thought. "I would prefer September 13th", she said. I thought about this for a moment and decided to probe furthe and asked her reasons for this decision. She looked incredulous at me at first and then said, "the world trade centre bombing of course occured on this day." "Did you lose a relative or friend at the world trade centre bombing?" "No, no, I just don't want my child's birthday associated with September 11th."

Wow, I had to bite my tongue to stem the laughter. This patient was neither american nor knew any one associated with the bombing in New York. Of course, this is a new form of superstition and astounding ignorance. Lots of other massacres have occurred through out the various dates in history. December 7th...bombing in Pearl Harbour, August 6th and 9th (A-bomb in Hiroshima and then Nagasaki), February 14th (St. Valentine's Day massacre)....etc.

For interest, September 13th 1759 was the battle for Quebec on the plains of Abraham where General Wolfe defeated the Marquis Montcalm. Hence giving the English control over Canada. I wonder where my patient with the September 13th request and who is French Canadian would have thought of this revelation.

September 13th 1942 was the start of the Battle of Stalingard, one of the bloodiest human conflicts ever. Over 800 000 Axis soldiers and over 500 000 Russian troops lost their lives in the 5 month battle. The battle was a major turning out in the outcome of WWII. This number does not include the wounded or the civilians killed. Kind of makes the events at the World Trade Centre pale in comparsion.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

My recent coronation

This blog is now part of the house of royalty. Okay, my name does mean king of the jungle but now the house is part of the Kingdom of Garnet. The annual feast of BBQ and beer was held with the usual dignitaries being present. All the kings save one managed to make the occasion. King Frank (the first king of Garnet) unfortunately had to work and left early but his lovely consort Queen Barb performed the coronation ceremony with her usual grace. Later this month, the big block party i.e. Kingdom of Garnet will be celebrated with a new tradition.....chalking the street.

Pandas in the Forest

Wow, this is a sur-real image, eh. Lots of little tiny cartoon pandas dancing by the moonlight. Who needs LSD?

Chinese Lantern Festival

More for nostalgia and little for curiosity were my reasons for going to the Chinese Lantern Festival down by Ontario place on Civic Holiday Monday. As a child in Singapore, the Lantern festival was one of my favourite times of the year. My sister and I received lanterns usually made from coloured plastic stretched across a wire frame. She was quite young at the time and had a battery lit bulb placed in a plastic swan. I got a candle held in the centre of the wire frame of my goldfish. It was quite magical walking about in the parks at night in Singapore carrying the lantern communing with other families carrying similarly lit objects.

The festival at Ontario Place is a different affair. For one thing, the lanterns are HUGE. Actually, they are more like mini temples, theatre stages, forests and mechanical marvels. They ranged from the traditional dragon on the waters float, to the 12 Chinese zodiac figures wandering in a forest, chinese lions in pursuit of a giant fire ball to the more modern floats which consisted of the Toronto Skyline including the CN tower. I was most amazed by the constructions of elephants, dragons, and a phoenix made of china. There was lots of dim sum dishes to be sampled and a lion dance at the end. So not quite what I envisioned Lantern Festival to be but a satisfying remembrance of things past.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Wrecks of the St. Lawrence

It was a very pleasant surprise for me to discover that there was a place to dive in Canada that did not involve an encounter with thermoclines. The gorgeous and warm waters of the St. Lawrence are literally littered with wrecks. This great shipping lane is home to several well preserved ships of which many are nearly one hundred years old. Thanks to the fresh water, the decomposition process has been retarded. Mr. Hippo and I set off on a weekend of wreck diving in Brockville and Rockport.

After long excuriating wait at the american customs house at Boat Castle, we finally arrived at this splendid wreck. Why in the world we needed to pass through customs considering we never touched american soil (unless you consider the riverbed) remains a bit of a mystery. Not sure if the american divers have to pass through a similar "rigorous" routine to dive in Rockport and Brockville. All this so that we could dive the Keystorm. This wasn't a bad dive but really not sure if it was worth the hassle.

The second dive of the day was on the sunken wooden barge called the Kingshorn. Very pleasant dive with great visibility. The ship is littered with loads of china, a plastic Jesus and lawn ornaments. It is funny how ordinary objects like plates and cups take on new meaning at 90 feet below sea level. Our dives the follow day were both in Canadian waters. The first on the Henry C. Daryaw. A steel frieghter built in 1919 and the second was on the Lillie Parsons off Sparrow Island where Mr. Hippo and I first met a year ago. A lovely anniversary dive trip!