Day #11 – Why I commemorate Remebrance Day, not celebrate Veterans Day

So today marks the 99th anniversary of  World War I Armistice on November 11th, 1918 at 11 am (the eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour).

Since I don’t have a way with words, I’ll be including bits of War Poems here and there which I have always found to be incredibly powerful in humanizing the war and honoring those who lost their lives.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.”

~ Robert Laurence Binyon, For The Fallen

And here is something that has always bugged me about how the USA treats the day ever since I moved to Hong Kong.

Growing up as a kid in the USA, it was seen as a very celebratory holiday.

Flags fly high (well more than they usually do, which is saying a lot considering USA schools have a flag in every classroom for the pledge of allegiance – something else that is weird about the USA if you think about it too much), discounts for veteran are given for everything and there is a general patriotic sense in the air as you celebrate the heroes fighting for our rights abroad.

There are parades, there are picnics, basically, it is a bit like a toned down 4th of July was more “soldier-ified”

I never realized the significance of that date. November 11th.

You could make the excuse that I was too young to know then, after all, I was 12 when I left.

But that excuse rings hollow.

It’s because I never had a reason to wonder. It’s a holiday to celebrate our troops, what else would it be for?

And now that I do know the importance of the date, the way the USA celebrates what should be a sacred, hallowed day feels….

Sinister to say the least.

Actually no, it’s downright disturbing.

In Hong Kong (and more former/current commonwealth countries), it is a day where you remember those who lost their lives and say “Lest we forget”

Lest we forget the devastating path of destruction conflict leaves behind in its wake.

Lest we forget the human cost of war, not just of our fellow countrymen, but of all of mankind.

Lest we forget the dangers of excessive patriotism and blind faith in those in command.

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
~Wilfred Owens

Poppies are worn to symbolize the ones in Flanders Fields.

In class, you read war poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Rudyard Kipling, Edward Thomas, John McCrae…

Two minutes of silence were observed at 11am in the morning for reflection.

In essence, Veterans Day disturbs me so much because it reminds me a bit of District 2 in the Hunger Games. If you have built up a culture where the military is glorified to the point that the cost of conflict is forgotten, then you get people so eager to leap at the chance to fight, instead of sit down and sort through a slower, yet longer lasting diplomatic option.

So today, I will commemorate those who lost their lives, rather than celebrate the troops fighting wars.

I’ll probably catch some flack from people who think I’m disrespecting our troops by saying that, but I believe war should always be the last option, the worst case scenario, rather than something overtly celebrated and glorified.

I just hope more people in the future (especially to my fellow Americans out there, whether you are still stateside or live abroad like me) understand the significance of Novmber 11th and choose to see it as a sombering reminder of our past.

Because those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.

poppy_field_1_28470946719029

-Rebecca


P.S.

Prepare for complete tonal whiplash:

I will make up a post for yesterday at a later date, was busy yesterday… busy procrastinating that is, did all the Common core essay stuff today. Will likely skip tomorrows post as well, since I have a lab due tomorrow.

Also not sure if this post is over 500 words but I’m over the time limit anyways. Will make the post look nicer at a later date. etc etc. See you on Monday if I can’t find time to post tomorrow.

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Day #9 – An Angry Letter of Complaint to a Bee (of all things)…

Dear Ingeborg “Apidae” Trunchbull the Bee,

Yes, I know that isn’t your real name.

In fact, since you are just a bee that lives around Centennial Garden I don’t even need to make one up for you.

But I’m doing so anyway to make me sound less crazy when I am personifying and writing a letter to a freaking insect.

Ingeborg by the way because it was the most random girl name I could think of starting with an “I” (since I assume you are a worker bee which are all female, and the letter to stand in for Insect, just because). Apidae for the taxonomical family you are in (along with all other bee species).

As for Trunchbull… well I needed a last name and your threatening buzzing around in my hair reminded me of Agatha Trunchbull’s words (clip from the 1996 movie) from Matilda by Ronald Dahl.

matilda_and_the_trunchbull_by_piano_kun-d309n7n
Thanks, GreenGlassesGirl from DeviantArt! 🙂

Anyways…

Hi! I’m Rebecca.

You know, that girl who shows up in Centennial Gardens a lot to help give recorded feedback about friend’s spoken English for a school project?

The one you keep following for no good reason?

Yeah.

Hi. I’m not happy right and want to talk, Ingeborg.

Please… sit. (or hover menacingly, I don’t care as long as you listen)

I’m not sure WHY you keep chasing me in particular, maybe it is my hair scrunchies that you keep mistaking for flowers or the new shampoo I’m using or whatever,

But please:

For the love of all things holy…

STOP IT!

This is nearly the 4th day in a row now.

And its always me specifically.

Not the person I’m tutoring, not the other students near me, heck not even the dozen or so other people milling around the park at any given time!

No, it’s always ME.

And you have some weird obsession with my hair.

I get it.

You are a vital part of our world’s ecosystem and have a job to do so you don’t starve over the coming winter months.

Maybe you are behind on nectar collection and need to work overtime.

Or maybe I’m giving you too much credit.

Maybe you just want to imitate Barry B. Benson from the Bee Movie (2007) by falling in love with a female human, accidentally altering the world’s ecological balance, before stealing a party float, hijacking a plain and saving the world’s flowers.

Or I’m galactic royalty and you are acknowledging it like I’m Jupiter Jones in Jupiter Ascending (2015).

But today…. TODAY….

Today was the last bloody straw.

Today, you held my freaking laptop hostage to get my attention.

Bee
Caught in the act!

You forced me and my Tutee to relocate to the stairwell of Hoi Oh Chow to continue our recording (which is much louder than the gardens).

Heck, you showed up at Happy Park today to annoy me while I walked around different booths learning about service opportunities.

Don’t you dare deny it! I’ve got a good half dozen witnesses!

Like that’s not even part of Centennial Campus!

What the HECK, Ingie??

(unless it was one of your friends/sisters in which case, tell her to stop as well)

So yeah.

If I haven’t made this abundantly clear by now….

Piss off, Ingeborg Trunchbull the Bee!

Stop chasing me around and messing with my hair, or… or… [Insert statement here that a bee would find threatening]!

Ha!

Signed with (heavily sarcastic) love,

Rebecca

Day #8 – Filler: Writing a post about writing an essay about Kuhnian Revolutions

So the word count for the following few posts will be reduced since I will be super busy the next few days.

You know because I’ve got 1 assignment, 1 lab report, preparation for 1 presentation and research for 2 final history essays.

Oh and research for exchange.

And general exam revision.

Yay stress town!

Whoop Whoop! Yup.


Anyways, I’m going to be talking about Kuhnian revolutions for my 500(ish) words today. Why? Because it has to deal with one of my assignments and I have writer’s block right now about how to structure my essay, so this is just me rambling for a bit to get the creative juices flowing.

Think of this as the equivalent of scribbling in the corner of a piece of paper to get the ink flowing again.


So, back to Thomas Kuhn and his ideas about how scientific revolutions occur (which is a weird mix of history, science with philosophy thrown in just because)

Basically, there are 5 steps to a Kuhnian cycle.

  1. Normal Science – the area where research takes place, where major progress toward the field of knowledge is made
  2. Model Drift – An anomaly emerges, people start doubting the existing paradigm
  3. Model Crisis – The anomalies build to the point where the original paradigm collapses
  4. Model Revolution – A new model for explaining the phenomenon emerges
  5. Paradigm Change – The changed model begins to gain supporters and eventually becomes the new Normal Science

Oh and sometimes people include an extra step before normal science (called Pre-science) where scientist just begin to observe and understand the field before any laws or theories are made that are able to make advances in the area of knowledge.

To be honest, I think the model overly simplifies the complex process of scientific discovery. For example, sometimes an anomaly doesn’t lead to a new model that replaces the old, but creates a new branch of science entirely, like the creation of quantum mechanics being a new branch rather than taking over and replacing Newtonian physics. Or how revolutions in one field trigger model crisis in others, like how the theory of uniformitarianism in Geology lead to the challenging of creationism and the rise of evolution.

But yeah, interesting stuff. The more you think about it the more it falls apart except in very specific cases in physics in my opinion.

Or maybe that just because I study science and the thought that all notable discoveries can be shoehorned into a single framework just intuitively doesn’t feel right to me.

I’m not sure. 😛

That’s the problem with essays like this in my opinion. When you get to essays what get as philosophical as this, it becomes hard to articulate your stance, especially in a way where you sneak under the word count.


Other than this assignment, I’ve got a lab this Friday which is on the Hill reaction (related to photosynthesis). But yeah, week 1 of November is over, and now we are slowly ramping up to the crazy exam weeks…

Oh boy, here we go!

So that should be enough words by now (just checked. Yup!), see you later!

-Rebecca

Day #7 – “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” – A story about how human memory can be an amazing yet fickle thing!

A cool story about something that happened today!

Let me set the scene…

So I had just finished eating lunch with one of my friends (since I have an hour break between a common core tutorial I have with her and an English Peer Tutoring session) and was putting my tray away when I feel a tap on my shoulder.

The following conversation ensues (I can’t remember it word for word but this is the general gist of it).

I’ll be R, she will be G (not going to give her real name but let’s call her… Ginny because Harry Potter :P)


~Set in an HKU restaurant~

G: “Sorry this might be a bit weird but I’m sure I know you from somewhere… did you go to a CityU mooting workshop or CUHK’s summer institute or something like that during the summer?”

Side note: I didn’t even know what a “mooting” was (it’s is a mock courtroom trial) until I googled it just now. This becomes relevant later on…

R:  “You mean the previous summer? Or a few summers ago? No, I’ve never been to CityU, though I went to a CUHK medicine clinical attachment program a few years back?”

G: “No it isn’t that. Huh… you aren’t a freshman right?”

R: “Yeah, wait… what did you say your name was again?” (slightly surprised she new since most people think I’m a freshman, plus my brain is registering her as someone I know, rather than a complete stranger I have never seen before)

G: “Ginny”

R: “Okay, yeah I definitely remember your face from somewhere as well, plus that name just sounds too familiar”

G: “What faculty are you in?”

R: “Science, majoring in Ecology & Biodiversity. We are in different faculties though I think, you are studying something like Law right?”

G: “Wait, how did you know that? I don’t think I mentioned that earlier”

Note: she technically did hint toward it with “mooting” but since I didn’t know what that was at the time, I was just as surprised as she was that I “guessed” right –

R: “I don’t know, just felt it was something related to that subject… Maybe we are in the same common core class?”

G: “What do you take this year?”

R: “CCST____, about scientific revolutions and…”

G: “Nope, it’s not that… and we aren’t in the same faculty or year so it couldn’t have been a general requirement or a freshman meet up sort of thing”

R: “Yeah… huh. Because I’m really sure I’ve seen you before, you look really familiar to me”

G: “Yeah I know right? This is so weird…”

R: “Well see you around I guess, need to go tutor some people now!”

~End Scene~


So after I finish tutoring two people (went really well) and leave, my brain immediately jumps back to trying to solve this enigma.

Doubt begins to set in.

Maybe she just looks like someone else I know, that is always a possibility.

But no, that just doesn’t feel right; maybe she’s changed her glasses or hairstyle, but I’m sure I have seen her before, like over 80% positive.

Besides, I knew what faculty she was in before she told me, and her name and face are so familiar… but I just can’t place it!

At this point, I’m slowly regretting not getting her phone number in case I do actually know her and have just forgotten for some reason.

Wait… maybe…

Yup.

Her number is already my contact list!

Okay, so we have established that we have met and exchanged phone numbers at some point.

We are getting somewhere with this mystery!

Anyways, after a few back and forth WhatsApp messages (where I gave her my number since she switched phones – see! Having a nearly 5-year-old Samsung Galaxy Note 2 does have it advantages :P) we just start listing things:

Secondary schools we went to, Summer programs we did, university clubs, Extra curricular, IBDP…

Everything, anything we can think of where we met a lot of people within the past few years

After a while…It finally hits us!

We were in the same St. John Ambulance First Aid Class!

Suddenly a torrent of information comes flooding back to me (it genuinely felt like something out of a movie, like where a person with amnesia gets their memories back)

Big, general things like our instructor’s name and the names of other classmates to random little things like that fake CPR dummy we made with someone’s ipad, a backpack and a pillow we made during a practice we had outside of the formal lessons.

Something about 30 MONTHS or 2.5 YEARS AGO, that lasted maybe 24 hours over 5 or so days and my brain STILL remembered subconsciously recognized that she looked familiar, even if I couldn’t consciously recall where I met her.

What is crazy about it was that our minds were both dancing around the answer the whole time.

We knew was something that:

  • Happened during the summer break
  • A few years back, when we were in secondary school
  • Vaguely related to one of our (intended at the time) university majors
  • Had an academic element to it
  • Was something that involved group work

 


So yeah the human brain is amazing, and Hong Kong is a pretty freaking awesome place to study since it is small enough where crazy stuff like that can happen!

That’s all for now, DFTBA!

-Rebecca

~~~~~~~~~~

P.S. Thinking about writing less starting tomorrow until Sunday since I have a few deadlines coming up. I’ll aim for 200 words tomorrow and make up the extra on the weekends. I’ll confirm tomorrow.

Day #6 – Zero ideas? Time for another “30 Minute Story” (#2)

Okay, so its only day 6 of this thing and already I’ve hit a writer’s block.

Well, it isn’t that I don’t have any ideas at the moment, more like I have a few ideas that either need more research, need more time to write about or are dead ends (like I was going to have one talking about how awesome the Dewey decimal system was, but turns out the dude was pretty terrible, stuff like that)

Since I’m running out of time, I will be doing another 30 minute story challenge.

See here for the rules, but the basic gist of it is a randomly generated first line from this website, and 30 minutes of pure typing with no deleting.

Ready? Set? Go!

Continue reading

Day #5 – A Half-Dozen Random Facts About Eggs

So yesterday’s post was a bit long and drawn out, so today’s one will be shorter, based on a daily post prompt, since those posts tend to be more popular on my blog.

 Today’s theme is: Egg!

Egg
Image from Pixabay, Thanks!

Therefore, here are half a dozen short facts about eggs that you probably didn’t know about this food item, with sources of course.

Because as Confucius once said: “A wise person should never trust inspirational words or enlightening facts from others when they fail to provide a source, especially from a random person on the internet because anyone can make a top 10 list or put random words in quotes. Just sayin’…”

So without further ado, here we go!


  1. Contrary to popular belief, an unfertilized 1.4kg ostrich egg is not the largest single biological cell. That honor instead belongs to either the 12m long nerve cell of a Giant Squid, or large algae under the genus Caulerpa that can have over 200 fronds in a single cell with multiple nuclei, depending if you are determining “largest” by length or by volume. Source

  2. Eggs in the USA are sold (and legally required to be) refrigerated, while eggs in HK and many other nations across the world such as the UK are not. This is because USA eggs are power washed and sprayed with a chemical sanitizer to reduce the risk of salmonella bacteria entering the egg, a process that removes the natural protective coating of the egg so it needs to be refrigerated. Meanwhile, places where chicken husbandry regulations are more strict focus on making sure the hens don’t have salmonella, and so can sell unrefrigerated eggs as they still have the enact coating on them. Source

  3. The Guinness World Record for most eggs cracked in one minute with one hand is 32, a record currently held by Washingtonian Ross McCurdy, broken (pun not intended) on the 16th of June 2011 (he owns a breakfast restaurant) Source.

  4. Egg cartons were invented by Canadian newspaper editor Joseph Coyle in 1911 and first sold as Coyle Egg-Safety Carton to replace the straw or sawdust padded boxes that eggs were originally sold in Source

  5. Moving away from bird eggs, the egg cases of Chondrichthyes (that’s cartilaginous fishes like sharks, skates, rays and chimeras) are rectangular in shape thus are nicknamed mermaid’s purses. They are made of collagen, so often lightweight enough to be washed up to the strandline of beaches. Source

  6. Lastly, in the realm of history and art, only 50 Imperial Fabergé eggs were made between the years 1885 to 1916. However, they weren’t the only Fabergé eggs commissioned, as notable people such as Dr. Emanuel Nobel, nephew of Alfred Nobel, were some of Peter Carl Fabergé’s clients as well. Source

So hope this odd tangent was entertaining, or at least entertaining!

(Side note, the NSA or any future historians looking through my google search history must think I have gone mad as it is now just full of websites dedicated to random egg facts… oh well! One must do what one must for the sake of a random blog challenge and daily post prompt)

I’ll probably add a few more photos here in the coming few days since the post is quite text heavy but until then, hope you have an Egg-cellent day! 😀

(oh come on, I had to sneak an egg pun somewhere in this post)

-Rebecca

Day #4 – HKU’s Info Day 2017!

Note to anyone arriving at my blog from google or other sources, I do not speak on behalf of anyone at HKU except for myself, I am just a student who goes to HKU and wants to talk a little bit about it for the sake of completing an arbitrary writing task I set myself for November.

With that out of the way, hope you enjoy the post 🙂


So yeah, today I helped out today as an Equal Opportunity Student in a booth explaining the EOU, handing out fliers, chatting with people etc. It was a lot of fun but man there were a ton of people!

Here are some random thoughts I had throughout the day:

  1. I am bloody terrible at giving directions to places on campus.

Sorry for anyone who became even more lost because of me today. There is a reason that even as a Year 2 student I keep a campus map in my folder along with my weekly and daily schedule.

Though in my defense, HKU’s campus is not a flat, level campus like most places, it is built on a slant at 3 distinct elevations or zones, so while two buildings look like they are right next to each other, you usually must go up or down some escalators/elevators/stairs reach a walkway or street before you can get to another part, then you take another set of stairs/escalators/elevators to get to your building.

This is made trickier by the fact that the buildings weren’t built at the same time (some date back to the school’s founding in 1911, while others are brand new from 2012 you can read about the main ones here, though it misses out on a dozen or so other buildings), so they connect in weird ways.

(like the library extension is down 2 escalators to the right of the library’s main entrance which juts out and attaches to the 3rd floor of the main building and is a staircase away from the ground floor of Kadoorie science building)

info day map

 

  1. How the heck do you explain “dem beat” to a non-local student?

So being the resident sorta-local, sorta-not student means that I’m often the person people go to when they have questions about HKU life.

And for the life of me, I still can’t find quite the right words to describe this (from what I can tell) uniquely Hong Kong phenomenon. It’s a bit like “chur” or “hei”, sure I can try my best to explain it, but until you really experience, no adjective feels quite right.

(for the lost: chur = that slightly overwhelming, annoying, nagging and stressful feeling you when you are stuck with a group mate that won’t do anything, or you have a bunch of busy work for a class that is worth just enough to care about but you are running out of time to do it. It’s not full-on panic, but it requires a change of plan and more effort on your part. Basically the word for that “Ughhhh…. Really? This now?” emotion. Hei is the opposite of that, relaxed, chill, not-a-care-in-the-world, mellow emotion)

The official translation for “dem beat” they usually use is “cheering competition” but it’s not like a cheerleading routine or dancing competition (that’s Mass Dance which shows up later in the year), it’s more like a New Zealand Haka combined with a Stepping dance but far less professional (think pep rally level of quality), where the goal is to motivate your hall before a competition or event, with members of a hall wearing the same t-shirt and chanting in unison.

For those of you who have never experienced this mildly impressive display of HK culture, may I present HKU’s 2017 info day “dem beat” competition, cutesy of the  university’s Facebook page (since it was taken from a live broadcast the video is a bit shaky and of poor quality)

 

  1. They have definitely upped their intro speech, branding and presentation game from when I visited info day several years ago!

I mean just look at some of this stuff, they even had a vending machine making custom sticky notes for people! (I’ll post more stuff here tomorrow since I have already written a ton and am running out of time)

infoday-website-banner

  1. Huh, I wonder if the Science Faculty has any traditions I don’t know about

So the EOU booth was in KK Leung building, and the other ambassador I was handing out fliers kept remarking on how I would walk through the center doorway, rather than the left or right-hand side one.

Turns out in his faculty (business) there is a superstition that if you walk through the center one you fail your exams (a bit like how you aren’t supposed to walk through the center doorway in a temple because it will bring bad luck). Got me thinking, I know there are quite a few hall traditions and HKU has Superpass (something else I might post about in the future) but I can’t think of any at the moment that is exclusive to Science.

  1. I have become the one who knocks hands out fliers to people….

Normally, people (including me) just walk by when someone tries to hand them a flyer. Today, I became the flyer-giver (we eventually figured out that if you give a souvenir with the flyer or hold up a sign directing them to the booth with free hot chocolate people will be more willing to take it)

This post is getting a bit long (that’s an understatement, its at nearly 1000 words o.O I’ve turned in papers with less content than this post), so I’ll end here for now (but will return tomorrow to edit a bit and add photos)

Until then, DFTBA!

-Rebecca