Thursday, January 24, 2013

It's Fun to Stay at the Y-M-C-A

As long as it's the YMCA/Hong Kong.

The YMCA/Salisbury Hotel is no bare-bones-bathroom-down-the-hall kind of place that normally comes to mind when you think about using the Y for travel accommodation. Now, maybe things have changed over the years and all YMCA accommodation facilities are as lovely as the Salisbury. But I have to tell you that I was a little dismayed when I learned that we would be staying at the Hong Kong Y. Whaaaaaa?

Before you get snippy, thinking I've gone all elitist, you must know that one gets used to staying in Spartan accommodations when traveling on the church's dime. Rightly so. (Yeah, I don't want my annual pledge dollars going toward 4-star digs for the employees, either.) We often stay at bare-bones retreat centers that lack even the simple amenities of a 1-star motel. But, well, Hong Kong. Even church employees get tired of padding down hallways to community showers.

Fortunately, one of the many beauties of the internet is being able to search out information like, say, if I stay in the Hong Kong Y do I have to share my bathroom with strangers? Or worse, colleagues?

Well, no.

First off, it meets my top two essentials for any hotel worthy of praise: a comfortable bed and pillows, and my own bathroom. Bonus: big, deep bathtub. Score! My number three essential has also been met: no tea/water decanted from a pot that has ever held coffee. (Don't think I can't taste the coffee that once lived in that carafe, mister.)

The restaurants have tasty, reasonably-priced food. The concierge is knowledgeable. Wifi (costs extra, but it's not outrageously expensive), flat-screen TV, phones everywhere. The location couldn't be better; just across the street from the waterfront, Hong Kong Culture Centre, and loads of Fifth Avenue-type shopping and street markets. In short, it's as fine, if not finer, than any Marriott, Sheraton, or W. OK, not as fine as the world-famous Peninsula with its fleet of Rolls Royces next door, but truly fine.

So all is very well in Hong Kong. And now, to work!

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Facebook rolled out some kind of search tool called Graph Search this week. Now, Facebook is always inventing new things that nobody wants or needs, and just when you get used to the way things are, they take some stuff away and add something ridiculous.

I could save them so much time and energy. And money, too. Implement these ideas, little whippersnappers, and you'll make the FB world a little happier.
  • Add edit function to posts. Comments can be edited; why not posts? Until this is fixed just consider any mistakes in my posts typographical errors. 
  • Add a political rant filter. Facebookers are free to espouse whatever viewpoints they want, and I'm a big supporter of that 1st Amendment thingy, but I don't go to FB for political news. The only options right now are "unfriending" or "hiding" posts. I'd rather have them pre-filtered for me, thank you very much.
  • Add a photo filter. Especially one for cat pictures. Lord. If I see one more cat picture crowding my newsfeed, well, I don't know what. Still, I'm sure all the cat-lovers are wishing there was a grandchild photo filter. Others need a vacation photo filter. I'm talking about all those pictures that your friends share that you just don't care about. I know we can filter whether we see friends' photos. The problem is that I don't want to block your family pictures or other fun times you've have. I just don't want to see any more cat pictures. For some reason, cat owners feel the need to share their pet pictures way more than the dog owners. I'd just like an option to put a check next to "cat" in a picture filter blocking app. And you can feel free to check "grandchildren" to block mine. 
  • Stop with the "Poke" option, already. Sheesh. Really. It's just rude.
  • Add the same kind of scheduling function for personal pages as there is for corporate/institutional pages. Sometimes you want to go beyond the current day and time-release posts, rather than posting several within a day.
OK, you silly boys, start with these. Don't bother inventing something new until the above are up and running. Especially the cat-picture idea. Yeah, you're welcome. 

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Goodbye, Ebenezer

All of my Christmas decorations are carefully packed away, and everything in the house looks normal - though less sparkly - again. Except for the stack of Christmas DVDs next to the TV. I really do mean to make sure each DVD is in its correct box, then put it back on the shelf with all the others, but, well, I'm having a hard time saying goodbye.

There are all the Ebenezers - Alistair Sim, Reginald Owen, Michael Caine, Scrooge McDuck, and George C. Scott. I can do without the Tiny Tims, but the Ebenezers? Why, they all bring me such hope. Sigh.

Then there's Barbara Stanwyck in Connecticut, Bette Davis and Monty Wooly in Masalia, Ohio, the Snowman flying over Brighton then up to the North Pole, Denholm Elliot in Wales, Bing/Danny/Rosemary/Vera-Ellen in Vermont. Well, it's making me sad to pack these people and places away for eleven months.

And don't get me started on my little animated friends - Rudolph, the Grinch, Charlie Brown, Fred Flintstone, Mr. Magoo. December seems so far away. Ah, me.

Now that I look at these old friends all stacked up and ready for re-shelving, I have an urge to break them out just one more time. One more look before next December. Maybe they can stay put for a few more days. Maybe I don't have to say goodbye to Christmas and all my Ebenezers tonight. Maybe. And that's my Epiphany.

God bless us, every one.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Bankin' on Beans & Greens

We have a New Year's tradition in the South which I abide by faithfully, even living in New York City.  For health and prosperity in the coming year, we eat greens (turnip, collards, kale, etc.) and black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. Some say the greens represent paper money and the peas represent coins that will come your way in the next 365 days. And cornbread, of course, rounds off any meal.

I rate my efforts this year superior. Couldn't have been more delicious (and nutritious). I'll be living off this meal for a week, so here's hoping some of it does translate into folding money and some change.

Happy New Year to all. May you have a year of health, love, laughter, and prosperity.