i know the Aussie expression (it is Kiwi depending on whom you ask) of: yeah, nah, yeah can differ based on context and the actual variant used – in this case it indicates ambivalence.

it’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 12 years since i stopped work. don’t get me wrong – i was really glad to see them and i had seen some of them over the years but something was slightly different this time.

i had to reflect on it to figure out why. i don’t know if it was because my wife now worked for the same organisation, the place where we ate was just a stone’s throw away from our offices, they were “purely” social visits before, it was something else, or a combination of some of these factors. there were moments (admittedly, few and far in between) when the conversation was lightly peppered with “shop talk”.

this sounds like i’m nostalgic for work but i still recall it was a hardly a “bed of roses”. the core group is still around even after all these years (which is a testament to my former boss’ management skills). i think, to some extent, i miss the challenge – sure the team sometimes handled things differently, but our goal was, ultimately, to arrive at a singular mitigation strategy.

i guess i felt a little frustrated that stopping wasn’t really on my own terms and it wasn’t a conscious decision on my part: in short i didn’t have a choice.

i feel there were still things i could’ve “accomplished” and my contribution would’ve been much “greater”. Oh, well…

i knew i watched a lot of tennis – i’ve always tuned in to the AO. i thought i liked it because my maternal grandfather, my dad, my sister, my uncle, and my aunt played. my 1st cousin in America even was on the team for his university.

my son plays tennis but neither my wife nor me “encouraged” him to take up the sport. i used to believe that my affinity was primarily due to environment but his “innate” interest makes me think it has something to do with genetics.

usually i’m on my computer most of the time, but the frequency of “long” matches in this years AO has seriously cut into my daily routine – as i’m generally home-bound, it’s a bit more obvious. honestly, i’d rather watch than do other things.

i knew this year was “bad” because i used to just watch a bit and just occasionally checked the score but this year i watched some matches until the end. Maybe it was a bit more “compelling” this year – regardless, a sign i watched too much was when i noticed the players’ sock colours: some of the “next” generation ones sported “darker” shades, whereas the more “well established” ones wore the “traditional” white.

“tangentially”, it didn’t help my schedule that i also watched the SuperBowl (not just the half-time show but also the game – they show different ads in OZ) yesterday – even if it’s “unfashionable” to admit i sometimes do watch the sport.

our parish priest of several years celebrated his farewell mass earlier because he’s been reassigned to PNG. this post isn’t about him but him ending his homily with a few quotes triggered my “tangentially-associative” memory.

i’m not terribly religious but had Augustinian priests for my primary and high school education. one of his quotes was deeply ingrained in me: “To sing is to pray twice”. i didn’t think i would be disturbed but a while back a contemporary personality effectively claimed that the quote was theirs and originated from them.

that was the first time i knew that a person “blatantly” appropriated someone else’s work – the interviewer didn’t challenge them. perhaps it was ignorance. perhaps they didn’t want the interviewee to be embarrassed.

my intent isn’t to shame anybody – in any case, i encourage everyone to share and spread individual’s words, works, ideas, or the like so that they are properly attributed. that said, let me qualify, some times somebody from another time or from a different part of the world may come up with a similar “thing” – the point is that their intent was never meant to “plaigarise”, it’s claiming something is theirs when they clearly know it’s not.

publicising something appears to be an “effective” remedy in dealing with or preventing its occurrence.

we only had a few days to go to China so we chose Shanghai because of Disney (previously visited by my sister and her family) and my best friend was there (unfortunately, he was reassigned to Thailand before we got there). sadly, we didn’t get a chance to ride the bullet train; or see The Great Wall or the Terracota Army but we enjoyed our stay nonetheless.

we’ve been to most Disneys and the castle at Shanghai was, IMHO, by far was the “best”. not only is it more aesthetically pleasing but you can enter and climb it. we started with a ride exclusive to that park. if there are three or more in your party and you are keen to repeat rides, you may want to consider their concierge service. moreover, it also includes reserved areas for the parade and fireworks.

we saw numerous bridges and canals that day – we were told that waterways were historically significant. on our tours, we were able to visit a “traditional” water village (my wife and son were able to go a gondola ride on the main canal) which was about an hour away from the city by car. as a contrast, we also walked by the river during the day (we saw the Bund and the things around it) and went on a “scenic” cruise that night (we saw the Oriental Pearl Radio & Television Tower with its “renown” spheres illuminated) – my son is into photography so he really enjoyed it.

aside from the aforementioned places, we also visited a “traditional” home – like the gardens we visited it was designed for introspection and thought. room entrances (at least those accessible from the outside) were designed with “hurdles” as ghosts supposedly had no knees – and there were a lot of “zig-zags” as apparitions could only travel in straight “lines” we noticed a lot of rocks in gardens and asked about it – apparently large ones were difficult to gather from the river and was a sign of affluence.

we also went to a silk factory and a pearl producer – they also educated us and not only gave us an opportunity to purchase stuff. what was important was they taught us how to tell if something was authentic or fake.

we also went to two museums (it would have been three if the other one had not closed). not to be aloof, but yes, we are museum people. i noticed a “lot” of paintings (not just at “traditional” repositories such as these) – my theory regarding affinity for calligraphy as the source seemed to be validated by my guide.

i (and my son) enjoy duck so much that my friend (whose tastebuds i trust) sent me this link:

http://www.smartshanghai.com/articles/dining/the-list-5-place-for-peking-duck-in-shanghai

consistent with what my friend said, one of the five “top” duck restaurants had closed as the food scene is really competitive. we managed to book at my friend’s go-to place. i usually don’t name places but i had the “best” duck i ever ate at Quan Ju De and the meal was “cheap”. i learned that it is referred to there as Beijing Duck and not as it’s sometimes known as Peking Duck as this has something to do with the pinyin transliteration (that is, technically it doesn’t really involve a name change). that said, so far our preferred cuisine is Cantonese – which is supposedly the apex of Chinese food according to our guide which isn’t the primary cuisine in Shanghai. what is the saying about Cantonese: they eat everything on land except cars, they eat everything in the sea except boats, and they eat everything in the air except planes. so i’m generally open and will try something first before saying or decide\ing i dislike it – that said, i don’t like everything but i’m more gastronomically”adventurous” than most.

i’m a big coffee drinker but , unsurprisingly, tea was really good there. just as i’m an advocate for beans, loose-leaf is the way to go. we witnessed a “proper” tea ceremony and my wife bought several tins of tea – they even knew how to package it for Australian customs.

i prefer food to shopping but you can’t deny it is world-class. most “luxury” brands have a “major” presence (some have multiple floors and we even went to a mall with only “exclusive” shops. there were even products that were sold only in Shanghai. thankfully, my wife and son only looked.

we wish we had more time to explore the city “fully”.

SPOILER ALERT ; if you plan to watch the film, don’t read the rest of the entry as some aspects of my discussion may ruin the experience for you.

i apologise for chiming in late as i saw it awhile back but out of respect for my brother i held up posting as he was “stuck” on Holidays and when he came back it was the Manila Film Festival (showcasing Filipino films). he was only able to watch it last night because of his “tight” schedule,.

IMHO, it was just alright. that said, ending a “beloved” franchise can be tricky – one only needs to consider the “disincongruous” reactions to the GoT (strangely, i never got into it given my proclivity for fantasy fiction) finale. i can understand why the “fan boys” thought it was good and why the critics panned it – it doesn’t really matter what other people think. i’ve learned being in Australia that if you like something then you like it and you shouldn’t feel “guilty” about it.

IMHO, it wasn’t the best one but it was far from being the worst one. for my money, Episode V is still the best followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story but that’s neither here nor there since i’m not an “influencer”. i was still going to watch regardless of what critics said: i have this “annoying” thing of thinking for myself – maybe if i wasn’t such a fan or on-the-fence about watching it, i’d seriously consider what others had to say. case in point, Frozen 2 (i’m not really their core demographic although i do occasionally “enjoy” their films – i prefer Pixar) was a “smash” in the cinemas in spite of their negative reviews – i don’t think their “market” truly cared. as an aside, i think Disney is really clever to also own “properties” such as Star Wars and Marvel (i have to comment as i can’t help myself: i’m a huge fan of the MCU and Infinity War but not so much of Endgame – i have this thing about using time travel to solve things but i digress…) which have lucrative franchises that gross well at the box office.

i didn’t mind that Emperor Palpatine was back – i just wanted a more plausible rationale for it and not simply glossed over like i felt the film did . i’m a fan, as well as a critic (i don’t think they’re mutually exclusive, i just don’t appreciate “lazy” writing). moreover, i found Poe’s final speech to the Rebellionbaduy“, “cheesey”, and trite.

like The Force Awakens reminded me of Episode IV , this made me think of Episode VI. there seemed to me a congruence between Rei’s and Luke’s offer to join from the Emperor (thwarted by a final “redemptive” act by Kylo Ren and Darth Vader respectively) and the “ruse” which was actually an ambush. there is nothing wrong with paying homage and parallels to the original trilogy but, for my taste, it was a little to close to home which made them predictable – i’m guessing that’s what some fans wanted.

but, all-in-all, i thought it was a valiant effort as ending something “gracefully” is always hard.

it’s been over a month since my last entry – this post is not an excuse but an explanation.

for nearly the first fortnight of December we were overseas: Taiwan-China-Hong Kong. my wife had to present a paper so we took the opportunity to explore afterwards

it’s true that i had my phone with me but condition were not “conducive” for blogging for me. never mind our nearly full-schedule but the “small” on-screen keyboard is extremely challenging for me – this requires significant time and effort, not to mention my frequent mis-hits. i prefer a full-sized physical keyboard and “big” screen so i can “easily” type.

the second half of December was mainly allocated to my wife’s sister. seeing as she went through a long and arduous journey from America to spend Chrissy with her family in Australia, we had to make the most of her “short” time here.

now that she’s back home, i will endeavour to get back to the swing of things and try to post more “regularly” ( sometimes life gets in the way and i have a tendency to “process” things before i post – “overanalyses” is my proclivity i’ve been told numerous times).

that’s my story and i’m sticking to it!

40 days (and nights)

September 22, 2019

we had the 40th day death anniversary of my mother-in-law today. when i researched why the number 40 was such a big thing Biblically (e.g. Jesus in the desert, Noah and the flood), it had something to do with purification in the Torah.  The real question is where did that practice originate from?

maybe it was serendipity that today was also the last mass of a Filipino priest in our parish. a new chapter?  who know?  all that i’m certain about is the mind is skilled in finding patterns…