What’s it been for you? The Backyard (2/5)

Monday 5 March 2012, 6.00am HKT


However 2011 has been for you, it has been an all-too-memorable one for me. Here’s what has happened in my miserable life last year while trapped in this toilet living in Hong Kong.

* * *


Love Life

In a word: Timewasting.

Last year, the love of my life got hitched with some other guy.

They’ve been hitched a year already.

I’ve met him too. He’s a good (and goodly) fellow, I have to say in all honesty.

The upsetting part of it all was that the love of my life had hijacked two scarves — the only relics of my mother’s existence on Earth — and not likely to give them back.

Mum gave her the scarves as gifts of obligation, if you know what THAT means.

I don’t know why she (or anyone else) would want to keep those scarves — it’s not like they’ll bring luck or anything like that.

But I am a superior man, by general upbringing and inclination, so I don’t dwell on that (present blogpost excepted).


Work life

In a word: Profitless.

Trivia: March and November have always been ‘my months’ — projects that start in those two months have a strong tendency to succeed.

No new projects last year. I kid you not but those work-in-progress projects that weren’t started in March or November have gotten stuck.

Job No. B08045 is one of those stuck projects. That’s the Ph.D. thesis that I was involved in editing for a sociologist from 2008 to 2009. That job ended up in dispute and much acrimony, largely because of the pointless and insane (and oftentimes insanely pointless) antics of that sociologist.

How so? Even though B08045 was pro bono (believe it or not, a term hitherto unknown to that sociologist), the time cost clocked in at a staggering HK$750,000 — more than the printing price of a medium-sized IPO (initial public offering, or public flotation of stock). That’s US$96,500 or £62,000!

It truly baffles the mind what kind of person — any kind, academic or otherwise — who could generate THAT amount of editorial workload. I’ve lost a considerably amount of time, effort and actual money on B08045 (to say nothing of the goodwill with my co-workers).

That level of time cost just points to the probability that the sociologist hadn’t actually finished the draft even past the halfway point. That sociologist was lucky not getting thumped with three-quarters of a million dollars’ worth of billing. I was unlucky and had lost a very considerable sum of money on that pro bono job.

The plan had been to start litigation this year, but because of the general downturn in business, there’s not a whole lot of cash to spread for that kind of stuff right now. Maybe next year.


Protips on how to work with an editor
Read the staggering sidebar here.


Meanwhile, business conditions started to sour by second half of last year. Pretty soon, I figured I’ll be a 100% non-profit organisation. Don’t mean to be, but there you go.


Home life

In a word: Clusterf*ck.

The two home ACs (air conditioners) finally died in September last year after labouring their lives away quiet as a churchmouse in the soupy summer heat. Last summer turned out to be hotter and longer-lasting than usual.

I was eating less (because of the inflated food prices) and sleeping less (lack of AC).

And earning less (tougher business conditions).


The main faucet nearly broke, held together but for a single pin, but stitched up in time that saved nine and so averting major disaster.


The lawsuit carried on by my building’s I.O. finally got heard in the High Court around the second quarter last year.

(‘I.O.’ is ‘incorporated owners’ — Hong Kong lingo for ‘owners and residents committee.’)

The I.O. promptly flubbed both the main lawsuit and subsequent appeals by presenting witnesses whom one judge practically branded in written judgment as liars. But it wasn’t really the I.O.’s fault — no one’s lived long enough in my building to know the ins and outs of the facts of the case, so the I.O. had to settle for second best. And second best turned out to be unhelpful.

Since then, courts have slapped the I.O. with a contempt of court order for failing to remove or reconfigure four waste-water pipelines as required by building regulations. Again, it’s not the I.O.’s intention to go against the law. The pipelines in fact reside in another owner’s property and that owner has always refused giving access to the I.O. to carry out pipeworks. How the hell is the I.O. able to fulfil official orders when it’s being barred from access? Die if you do, die if you don’t.


Health and stealth

In a word: Decrepit.

July 2011 marked my one full year of no use of crutches.

I was on crutches for 37 months that ended on 13 July 2010. Then I decided I had enough of the bleeding nonsense and told the hospital to piss off sign papers to get me off the crutches.

I started on the crutches on 23 June 2007 after being hit by pedestrians (go figure).

The doctors were chickenshit scared of any potential malpractice suit, won’t sign papers, and preferred instead to wait it out to see who blinked first about coming off the crutches.

Turned out I blinked first, so the doctors were now off the hook. I came out of crutches by sheer willpower.

Trivia: About six months before that incident, I got rammed in the face by (again) a pedestrian carrying a gigantic sportsbag bolting across a pedestrian crossing. I ended up in a neck brace for several weeks. Go figure.

(That’s me in the photo in 2009, by the way.)


Disgusting rashes and blisters broke out all over my body in October after suffering through months of heat and humidity, especially after the ACs had died.

Never had anything remotely resembling a skin condition, and now this. When the blobs started coming on, I thought they might’ve been some kind of infestation.

Living without air conditioning in a subtropical place like Hong Kong means your living quarters and your body very quickly become infested with mites, ticks, fleas, roaches and sundry bugs and vermin.

The environmenterrorists rather prefer not to mention that small fact of life.

At the end of the day, less AC means a faster death for Mother Earth rather than the other way round. I’ve explained all this in my AC Myths article: more use of water for baths and laundry, more use of detergents, more use of pesticides, more use of lights to scare the bugs away at night.

This environmentalism isn’t all what it seems on the surface, I tell you.

No, the rashes weren’t infestation. Actually they’re the effects of prolonged exposure to heat and humidity — it could end up becoming a semi-permanent skin condition. I kept myself in a happy state of mind, since, with good reason, a happy person gets well quicker.

Environmentalfags, pay attention.


Much more horrifyingly, my past-shoulder-length hair started dropping out in worryingly big chunks, especially after taking showers. Prolonged high heat and humidity can do this to you — especially if the onset is sudden, as in after an AC breakdown.


I grew a moustache — well, I managed only a semi-goatee, actually — partly because of some stupid moustache-growing competition at the pub, but mainly to stave off the possibility of rashes on the face.

Anyhow, the rashes have (sort of) subsided by December. I rue the day they should come back when warm weather sets in.

Now, I’ve been told my whiskers are homoerotic-looking and make me look like a Chinese fortuneteller or a ghey-fag scooter rider on expired steriods. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at that.

(Photo: The one with the whiskers is the more brain-damaged.)


Public life and connections

In a word: Disembodied.

Nothing. The only highlights of 2011 were going out to various gigs around town and having a good ole’ chat with pub goers. And, of course, going to the memorably named Clockenflap festival.


A whole year had now passed and I’ve heard nothing from my friend Q whose life in northwest England started unravelling in a serious way in late 2010.


I managed to write quite a lot for this blog and I’m chuffed to the bollocks to have good, kindly people like YOU reading it and even subscribing it. Thanks.

* * *

I’m no smurf, but I feel blue enough

* * *


© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: Laser-cut scarf via Little Factory | Face behind books engraving via Research Consultation Inc. | All other photos by me.

Air-conditioning bullshit (roundup)

Thursday 15 September 2011, 6.30pm HKT

WELL, it had to happen sooner or later.

Because of the sweltering heat and soupy humidity, the lack of AC and various other annoying things, some of you will have noticed the snafus in numbering for the 10-part feature “Air-conditioning myths exploded.”

This post rounds up the whole series as follows:

Part 1 – Air-conditioning myths exploded

Part 2 – Thermostat setting at 25°C is all wrong

Part 3 – Not AC and fan together

Part 4 – Temperature is relatively relative

Part 5 – Lower temperatures cost more?

Part 6 – Metabolism doesn’t count, not really

Part 7 – Temperature and humidity for all and sundry

Part 8 – Insulation can be daft

Part 9 – Protips and hacks

Part 10 – Protips and hacks (cont.) (feature ends)

Betcha that’ll keep you going for a whole week.

Originally, I planned on releasing one part a day, but I figured you dopes my esteemed readers just don’t have the brainpower would be so much more entertained by the posts hammering at you all at once.

Srsly, if I didn’t release all 10 ASAP, I’ll probably never get round to it, what with the lack of AC, lack of money, the heavy drinking, the emotional distress from work, and all.

* * *

Invasion of the Off-post Commenters

Oh, yah, there’s always some imbecile who had to email in (instead of commenting directly in the post) asking me, “What made you want to write something this big about air conditioning?”

Which I’ve already explained in Part 1 — if these people actually paid any attention to anything at all.

Holy gamoly, the nerve these people have…

* * *

Invasion of the Zealots of Grammarfaggotry

Not to be outdone by the off-posters, the emo douchebag grammarfothermuckers also wrote in (by email, not directly in the post) (ostensibly) complaining about — never mind, I’ve summarised their key points:

  • the posts are not in English (!)
  • the posts ARE in English but why are there apostrophes and non-standard spelling?
  • the language doesn’t sound like academic English because there are contractions
  • the spellings are American (yeah, right)
  • the spellings are “too British” (yeah, right)
  • what is the meaning of the word “urlogiciznotsound”? (*sigh*)
  • “Your English had been poor because the passive voice was not being used.” (*facepalm*)
  • why so much on the aircon? (*headdesk*)

Srsly, I’m not making this up.

* * *

On the bright side

The only positive comments were spam, believe it or not:

“Youre soooo gifted in writing. God is truly working with you
in tremendous strategies. Youre doing a superb job! This was
an incredible weblog!”
(IP = Chicago, IL , USA)

“wooow, take pleasure in your things on the point
Active upon everything besides « The Unexaggerated Listener’s”
(IP = Chisinau, Moldova)

“I think that you’d probably do well in a consulting role where you are helping
companies who want to improve in the area of creating passionate users
(products and websites). Your knowledge of the field is shown well by your
and maybe getting out in front of people will give you more
of a reason to stay passionate about this subject area (if not the blog itself).”

(IP = Netherlands)

I never thought I’d live to see the day when I would thank spammers.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

AC myths 10: Protips and hacks (cont.)

Thursday 15 September 2011, 5.08pm HKT

<< Part 9 << || >> Back to Part 1 >>

(Continued from Part 9)

We end the series with general tips on keeping cool and saving energy.

* * *

Keeping cool tips

Home clothes

21. Wear home clothes that allow perspiration to evaporate easily, especially if you live in a high-heat, high-humidity country. Avoid cotton T-shirts (even thin ones) because they’re not that good at allowing evaporation. Wear shirts instead. A cheapo silk shirt from a stocklot outlet is highly recommended. (Details in Part 7.)


22. In hot weather or hot locations, wear loafers at work. Lace-ups warm your feet up quite a bit, as do sports shoes, sneakers, plimsolls and anything with rubber soles.

No fizzy drinks

23. Fizzy mineral water (even uncooled) cools you down better and faster than just plain cooled water. (I’ve forgotten the chemophysical principles behind this, but it works for most people anyway.)

No beer

24. When it’s really hot, stop drinking beer. You have to digest beer (and orange juice, soft drinks, soups, etc), and digestion produces heat. That’s why in hot weather, you end up having to drink more beer than otherwise with water.

General energy-saving tips


25. Close all curtains when you leave home for the day. Always curtain off any incoming direct sunlight. Even indirect sunlight streaming in will heat up the premises. Use common sense: leave some windows uncurtained off to allow heat outflow. (Details in Part 8.)


26. Mirrorise your windows with those one-way mirror films. Highly recommended if you live in any hot, sunny country.

Lights off

27. Turn off lights as you leave a room, especially in summer. Lights add a lot of heat to the room. Switch to using energy-saving lightbulbs, which produce less heat.


28. Vent the clothesdryer to outdoors, otherwise it pours heat and moisture into the house air. Use the automatic cycle if your dryer has this. Clean the dryer’s lint filter screen frequently (once a week or once a fortnight). Check the exterior vent opening once a month. Overdrying clothes wastes energy and wears out your clothes.


Drying rack

29. Use a clothesline. (Preferably indoors, given the high pollution levels in Hong Kong.) Not everything has to be dried by a clothesdryer, although drying jeans takes up the most energy. If and when your laundry load is high, take it to a laundry service because the costs will be far lower than doing it yourself.

Ceiling insulation

30. Bulk up your ceiling insulation. Not really relevant in a concrete, subtropical jungle like Hong Kong or Singapore, but important for some places. For instance, the highest recommended insulation level in Australia is R38, which is about 15 inches (38cm) deep of newer kinds of blown white fibreglass insulation. A good protective layer of ceiling insulation prevents heat from moving inwards in summer and holds heat in winter.

Fridge and freezer

31. Replace your refrigerator or freezer if it’s 10 years old or more. Normally these are low-efficiency units and burn a lot of energy. And put your fridge in the kitchen, not in the middle of the living room (as many people in Hong Kong often do) — it just heats up the living space.


32. Unplug all unused electrical appliances (e.g. phone charger, fans, etc). They still generate heat while plugged in.


33. If your location only goes up to 28°C (82°F) or more for only a few days a year, consider getting a standalone dehumidifier. It is a better bet than using the AC for moisture control. (Details in Part 7.)


Dakin Building, a.k.a. Luke Skywalker Building, in California

34. Whitewash the exterior of your premises. Consider using reflective exterior paint to better reflect heat and light off your premises. Never paint your exterior in dark pink, brown, green or black — those colours absorb heat and infrared radiation like hell. Think of the Luke Skywaker vs. Darth Vader buildings.


35. You’re setting your AC too cold if you have to use a duvet in bed. In warm locales and with the AC on, you should only need a cotton throw (a kind of blanket).

* * *

Use your AC properly and it will give you years of trouble-free service.

(Unless you bought a lemon like I did.)

<< Part 9 << || >> Back to Part 1 >>

* * *

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: Bottled water by Eli Top Food Corporation via Alibaba ♦ Drying rack via Alibaba ♦ Dakin Building via Wikipedia.

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