Columbia’s Center for Career Education has provided us interns with free housing during our internships in HK. NTT International House is an eleven-story dormitory of Baptist University, which is nestled in the Kowloon Tong (九龍唐) district.
My seat in 36A is next to the window in the wing section. My mom once told me the wingbox is the strongest section of the plane, but I later found out it’s not necessarily the safest. You can die in a plane no matter where you’re sitting. Thinking about Air France Flight 447, I mentally plan out my escape plans for various scenarios: fuselage coming apart in midair (à la Lost), water impact, etc.
It’s t-minus ten hours before I wake up at 4am for a direct flight to Hong Kong via Cathay Pacific, and I am as excited as an intravenous drug user who’s won a lifetime supply of needles, to put it mildly. Here’s one reason why: a mere 2.0km from where I’ll be living in HK is a place that once housed one of the biggest dildo factories in the world. According to Martin Booth’s The Dragon Syndicates: The Global Phenomenon of the Triads,
In the 1980s, [Kowloon Walled City] contained one of the biggest manufacturers of rubber penises in the world: to visit the factory was like entering a bizarre, Salvador Dali-esque subterranean world, with racks of latex male organs hanging up to dry like sausages in a butcher’s shop.
In preparation for my internship in Hong Kong, I’ve devoted the past couple weeks to learning basic Cantonese. A very useful resource I’ve found at my local library is Dr. Paul Pimsleur’s Speak & Understand Essential Cantonese. It’s a self-instructional set of five cassette tapes that gradually introduce everyday words and asks the listener to repeat and respond to the recorded voices. FYI: Dr. Pimsleur got his Ph.D. in French from Columbia University.
Although it’s interesting to watch a single, white mother struggle to raise her two sons with income derived solely from dealing marijuana to an entire suburban California community, I think I’ll stop. I finished the entire first season of Showtime’s Weeds in one day (my gratitude to Megavideo for illegally hosting them all conveniently here). Although the show has smart dialogue and engaging characters, there are aspects of it that don’t sit well.
Spartan33x saw his last team member die. The terrorist had emptied an entire 30-round magazine of .62mm bullets from the AK-47 into his friend’s body, which was now lying unrecognizable heap on the floor. The carnage was terrible. Shredded Kevlar and seared chunks of flesh lay strewn about the hallway as blood from the corpse slowly soaked into the carpet. But there was no time for grief.
Everyone knows China is the treasure trove of bootlegged movies. DVDs of the latest films hit the streets within hours of their box office release and oftentimes sooner. I am grateful to the people who take risks to bring us classics like Jurassk Park 3 and Forzen Impact.
According to the Chinese lunar calendar, today is Duanwujie (端午節), or the Dragon Boat Festival. Celebrating this holiday includes eating zongzi (粽子), glutinous rice wrapped and cooked in bamboo leaves, racing dragon boats, and drinking realgar wine. I’ve never drank this wine before. Realgar is an arsenic sulfide mineral, the wine has the mineral mixed into it, and I’m pretty sure it would taste nasty.
When you think of the CIA, you may envision an elite squad of the brightest and most daring individuals in the country equipped with state-of-the-art gadgets and weapons. You may imagine them penetrating into the highest echelons of terrorist groups and working deep undercover in the most hostile foreign nations. You may see them defending America’s national security by reporting invaluable intelligence procured by deftly cultivating relationships with defectors and suavely deceiving the unsuspecting.
Forget whatever image of the CIA that Hollywood or Tom Clancy portray. The truth is a lot less glamorous and a whole lot more disturbing.
The movie American Beauty completely captivated me. I watched it three times within the span of two days and listened to the entirety of both audio commentaries by the director, Sam Mendes, and the writer, Alan Ball. American Beauty raised such disturbing and profound questions about American society and families. When I learned that Ball had also written HBO’s television series Six Feet Under, which I had not seen at the time, I had to get my hands on the DVDs.
I finished all five seasons in eight months, and I must say, what a journey.