Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy

By the century's deathbed

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware

(written in 1900)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


"Size isn't everything by any means," he said aloud to the dog, as if suspecting her of entertaining high ideas. "Take my word for it, freedom is of more account than the height of a roof beam. I ought to know; mine cost me eighteen years' slavery. The man who lives on his own land is an independent man. He is his own master. If I can keep my sheep alive through the winter and can pay what has been stipulated from year to what -- then I pay what has been stipulated; and I have kept my sheep alive. No, it is freedom that we are all after, Titla. He who pays his way is a king.He who keeps his sheep alive through the winter lives in a palace."

From "Independent People" by Halldor Laxness

How true.

Monday, 14 December 2009


'If there were ten men insured against either weath or starvation, and offered a green ribbon for five hours' work a day and a blue ribbon for ten hours' work a day, nine out of ten of them would be trying for the blue ribbon. That competitive instinct only wants a badge. If the size of their house is the badge they'll sweat their heads off for that. If it's only a blue ribbon, I damn near believe they'll work just as hard.'

'To hold a man a woman has to appeal to the worst in him.'

From "This Side of Paradise" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I like his expression.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


"I discovered that physical courage depends to a great extent on the physical shape a man is in. I found that I was as brave as the next man--it used to worry me before."
"What else?"
"Well, the idea that men can stand anything if they get used to it and the fact that I got a high mark in the psychological examination."

From "This Side of Paradise" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Friday, 11 December 2009

A signpost

A week ago there was a day I felt a surge of energy in me after having breakfast with my granny and thoughts of carpe diem kind of returned, for a moment. This term has gone in a flash. I have been busy. Haven't learnt as much as I could have but I guess I have indeed stretched my timetable enough.

For that reason I have sadly abandoned this blog so long. I know there are a few good friends who still read this from time to time, so I should keep this up, to open my world up to you.

In order to encourage myself to read up the books on my shelves I've decided to add a literary element to this blog and cite some quotes :)

Quote for today:

'Women she detested. They represented qualities that she felt and despised in herself--incipient meanness, conceit, cowardise and petty dishonesty. She once told a roomful of her mother's friends that the only excuse for women was the necessity for a disturbing element among men.'

From 'This Side of Paradise' by Scott Fitzgerald

Thursday, 27 August 2009

On the move

So I'm on the move again. This time I'm not moving away from HK, but only away from HK Island to Lantau Island (Mui Wo). I've finally come home, but I'm leaving home in no time at all. I guess as my friend said there's no return once the journey has started - I have after all isolated myself long enough.

It comes as a surprise to many of my friends both the fact of living out without a full-time job and moving to a rather remote place. But I have, for once, swiftly have this decision, as if the wind was taking me there. I am quite keen and sanguinely hopeful that the turning of this page will mark the beginning of a more interesting and fulfilling chapter of my life. There will be mountains to climb, trails to explore, and a breeze to awaken my soul :)

Of course a housewarming party will follow!

Thursday, 13 August 2009


想的就是过了这些日子,终于回到家了. 从离家的那一天开始,一直都很想回来; 到回来之后,发现虽然家人都一样疼我,但我深知自己是已经长大了,还是想起那一句我表姐赠我的: 路是自己走的,别期望其他人可以帮你.家庭担子该开始肩负, 不过负担不起. 很快我得搬离老家,回到香港这么一年将是过渡期,因为很快要搭上人生另外一条路. 回来自己荣升了成为表舅,是喜事,不过却没有原来预期的喜悦感.

读了这么多年书,来到今天, 还是得多读一年.离家已经四年,来到今天,还是得预备下一次的离开.


由一个人孤身离开香港,来到今天,有小宝作伴回归香港, 是莫大的福分.

见了一些朋友,发现过了几年,还是很有抱负,热诚,我感到很骄傲:) 自己也在审视,反思中,感觉是制造了许多借口给自己...




Monday, 4 May 2009

another blow...

as with many of my entries i tend to write one when i have the least time to do so. i've got two more essays to write in the next couple of days... i'm fortunately still determined to get through them somehow.

today i had a bit of a blow by a tutor literally telling me off for saying 'it's nonsense' a couple of times, emphatically and how i've made an unforgivable fundamental mistake about the law. i must have worn a blank expression, and i was desperately trying to hide away. it was rather depressing to hear a comment directed at myself in a tutorial on this level--and one that was sadly, rightly deserved. I admittedly got it wrong for various reasons. the first one i read something not critically enough - taking some old instrument for its accurate reflection of the law haha, so much for my legal training... and the second one i couldn't remember the answer and made some stuff up. never pretend to know something you don't, but i never learnt that. i don't blame him because i agree with the chinese saying that insults come from others only after one has insulted himself. for the egregious errors i made i deserved nothing but a very rightful pointer.

i had and still have hard feelings indeed, and kept asking myself why my emotions would betray my rationality (i need to work and can't afford to feel sorry for myself anymore.) i just felt really ashamed of myself >< the feeling is sour and bitter. during the tutorial i told myself to be proactive, and prove myself ... all the positive things i could think of. if he thinks i'm shit i should show that i can do better... i'd like to say i couldn't care less but i really do.

and as i slowly reflected in the back of my mind i realised this whole year i'd been trying very hard to avoid the law, and made up lots of excuses not to work. i blamed everything without really looking at myself. Now i see myself through his words - it's probably been a lot of nonsense. i have only myself to blame for all this...

maybe this blow has come rather late. it came last year quite early with a friendly and kindly phrased reminder of my state of work from an eminent professor. that was definitely what pushed me to work hard. this year this 'overdue' blow has finally arrived. i'm not sure much can be done now though.

it's not really a big deal i guess. 'mistake is the mother of success'. ha ha ha. nonsense is the mother of wisdom perhaps.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Extracted from http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/travel/12outback.html

America’s Outback: Southern Utah

Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

Two hikers squeeze through Peek-a-Boo Canyon in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Published: April 12, 2009

IF the name Dry Fork Coyote Gulch doesn’t give fair warning that this is not your average hike, then the haunting drive to the trailhead will remove all doubt. The sandy Hole-in-the-Rock Road is one of the few routes that even attempt to enter the biblical expanse of desert in southern Utah called the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and when I made a pilgrimage there last summer, I didn’t pass a single car, let alone a sign of human habitation.

But my total isolation didn’t really strike home until I stepped from my 4x4 onto the edge of a mesa above Coyote Gulch, a ravine whose golden sandstone hides three gorgeous, narrow slot canyons. The lonely trailhead offered none of the familiar national park comforts like ranger huts or wooden welcome signs — certainly no dubious snack vendors. There was nothing but expanses of rock stretching toward the horizon, which at 10 a.m. were already glowing like embers under the intense Utah sun. Only a few stone cairns far below indicated that there was any hiking trail at all.

I gamely reminded myself that this was precisely what I’d been looking for — a landscape unchanged since 1872 — and set off into the piercing light.

I’d gone to southern Utah on the trail of an improbable outdoor adventurer — Frederick Samuel Dellenbaugh, who at the ripe age of 18 joined the last great voyage of exploration in the Old West. This Gilded Age Hardy Boy made it through the raw desert in May and June 1872 with a group of amateur explorers who were hardly more qualified than himself. In his later years, Dellenbaugh traveled the world as an artist and writer, and helped to found, in 1904, the esteemed Explorers Club, now on 70th Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

But I was fascinated by his teenage adventure, largely forgotten today, when he and his friends found the first route through southern Utah’s maze of canyons, discovering the last unknown river in the continental United States, the Escalante, and the last mountain range, the Henrys. They were the first to peer into that phantasmagoric expanse of Bryce Canyon and the first to cross what is now Capitol Reef National Park.

At one particularly tricky canyon crossroad, they tried to convince a Ute Indian to act as a guide, “for the labyrinth ahead was a puzzle,” Dellenbaugh later recalled. After the man wandered off, the group pressed on anyway, trusting to their spirit and wits.

This corner of the southern Utah has since been immortalized by the painter Maynard Dixon, the novelist Zane Grey, the photographer Ansel Adams and countless Hollywood westerns. And yet, it still qualifies as the best-kept secret in the West. While millions of travelers are drawn every year to Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks, Grand Staircase-Escalante and its surrounding area offer a seemingly endless choice of natural wonders that lie blissfully forgotten and empty. It’s America’s Outback.

SHORTLY after starting the Coyote Gulch hike, I had to wonder if I might not disappear into the desert void. Back in the town of Escalante, some rangers had given me a printout of directions to the three slot canyons.

“These are unmarked routes,” it screamed in bold print. “Hikers must pay attention to landmarks so they can find their way out.”

I had lost sight of the first stone cairns almost immediately, as I stumbled down to the dry river wash at the bottom of the ravine. (“Water is scarce,” the printout helpfully noted.) After a few false leads, I made it to Peek-a-Boo Canyon, whose hard-to-spot entrance was surrounded by what looked like a shallow pool: I took a step in and sank straight up to my thighs in thick mud. As the sun continued to climb in the sky, I wished for my own Ute guide — or at least a GPS tracking system.

Hugging the canyon wall for shade, I pressed on heroically and found Spooky Canyon, named for its otherworldly atmosphere. It was only an 18-inch-wide crack in the rock, but to me it yawned like the gateway to Shangri-La.

As I squeezed inside, the air was immediately cool and fragrant. The sky appeared to be an electric blue sliver far above, and the reflected light made the golden sandstone seem to glow from within. I remained utterly still, in a lizardlike state, knowing that I couldn’t hide in there forever.

Finally, I drank the last of my water and staggered across the rock like a sun-struck character out of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” I was parched, scratched, encrusted with mud — but triumphant. Out there in Coyote Gulch, I had a sense, however distant, of what Dellenbaugh and his companions had been up against back in 1872.

Back home in Manhattan, I had often walked past the Gothic facade of the Explorers Club and thought with more than a twinge of envy of the halcyon days of travel. The club’s founders had grown up after the Civil War, when you could hop on a train from Grand Central and plunge into the West like a character from a dime novel. They were a tough bunch who set off with little more than their hobnailed boots and a month’s supply of bread and bacon.

Frederick Dellenbaugh, fresh from high school in Buffalo in 1871, heard that John Wesley Powell was looking for men to join his second expedition down the Colorado River. Powell had become a celebrity for conquering the Grand Canyon in 1869; this time, the white-water trip would be combined with the mapping of the Colorado plateau. Hundreds volunteered, but Powell liked to pick his crews from friends and relatives, and Dellenbaugh, who was connected on Powell’s brother-in-law’s side, became the expedition’s artist.

Friday, 10 April 2009

when life is good

The last few months were probably the best time of my years at oxford :) I had lots of fun and my life was more eventful than it had ever been here - as it slowly takes on a new meaning.

Siu-Po and I went to Paris :) which was a fantastic break and saw quite a bit of art and culture.

(that last one on the right corner was me and Van Gogh)

That was a memorable moment on a remarkable bridge.

colourful days :)

and nice walks along the meadows. I want to see the daffodils again...

and some snow ball games.

too much fun these days - saw two musicals too: the phantom of the opera and the les miserables. i'm going to see two operas: Acis and Galatea, and Dido and Aeneas at Covent Garden.

Quite a bit of swimming and squash :) I'm trying to keep fit and use some of my reserve.

Picked up reading again - the sheltering sky by Paul Bowles and the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I'm going to read some spanish classics - sound daunting. they have nice names: 'life is a dream' by Pedro Calderon de la Barca, and the Trickster of Seville by Tirso de Molina. Should be fun....

yes and i'm trying ** (emphasis added) to work and learn lots and lots about the law.

and i should avoid thinking too much as well. Just live in the moment ^^

Friday, 3 April 2009









【楢山節考】原是日本文學家深澤七郎的小說作品,描寫著著日本信川山區裡某個貧窮村落中所發生的故事。而故事的性質不只有點像傳說物語,其實更像警世寓 言,在某種程度上,讓我想起英國作家威廉‧高汀(William Golding)描述孩童們在孤島上展開生存鬥爭的【蒼蠅王】(The Lord of Flies),同樣有些荒謬,有點超現實,但卻也同樣殘酷真實,就彷彿真實悲劇般令人心痛和發人省思。

這篇短篇小說,先後被日本兩位大導演翻拍成電影。首先是擅長悲喜劇的木下惠介導演於1958年拍成電影《楢山節考》;接著在1983年時,由今村昌平導演 再度翻拍,同名《楢山節考》,當時報名參加坎城影展時,更獲得了最佳影片金棕櫚大獎,揚名國際。而今村昌平導演的版本,也是一般市面上較能購買到的版本。 本文所談論的,正是以今村昌平導演的電影版本為主。


《楢山節考》的開場,是一片片無涯的雪景。空拍鏡頭圍繞著白雪山頭,鏡頭以鳥瞰式的大全景包含著雪山的蒼茫和無盡,彷彿一個全知者般,暗示著一種超然的觀 點。接著鏡頭才慢慢從大遠景轉換成遠景,從遠景轉換成中景,再從中景變成近景。故事劇情正以旁觀的「祂」為觀點,慢慢展開。



今村昌平先以極度寫實的筆觸,一一刻畫著村民們的行為。不單單只是他們賣力地播種耕種、採集食物;還包括了他們為了爭奪食物(生存),而不惜偷竊、出賣自 己,甚至是販賣女兒以求溫飽的貪婪(有場戲是村民捉到有人偷竊食物,因而引起公憤,整個家族被村民滅門活埋);更涵蓋了人們於性愛的原始飢渴和發洩(還包 括人獸交)。這些赤裸裸的鏡頭,在在呈現著人性最底限的慾望「食色性也」,逼得觀眾無處可躲,不得不去正視,既殘酷又真實。

但令人驚訝的是,總被人視為罪惡或淫穢的這一切,在《楢山節考》裡,卻都擁有極其自然的畫面。鏡頭不高不低,大都平視,絲毫不帶任何批判與懷疑的眼光,也 沒有懼怕或害羞的擔憂,並在影片中不時穿插著動物的象徵,儼然講述著「人」之於「動物」本能上的等同。藉此,同時消弭了觀眾心中的既有的道德偏見和價值 觀。


男主角的母親已經69歲,雖然上了年紀,卻還是老當益壯,可以說是家裡最重要的依靠。當然,她曉得自己上山的時刻即將到來,也為此做了準備。除了傳授自己 生存的技能給後輩之外,她更刻意撞斷自己口中兩顆堅固的門牙,好讓自己看起來更老些,以讓家人調適心情接受事實。這個令人印象深刻的橋段,好比滿是愛與犧 牲的動態遺書,對比著媳婦肚裡的孩子,世代傳承的意味濃厚,也就是「必須一個人死,換一個人活」。


雖然故事悲慘,但今村昌平是位具有人道關懷意識的導演。當長子要背母親上山時,兩人皆平靜的面對事實,影片調性開始轉變,聲音沉寂了下來,僅用演員來表達 情感。──長子走著走著,腳因誤踩樹枝而受傷了,母親這時貼心地遞出布巾幫忙包紮傷勢;長子走著走著,深怕母親肚子餓,拿出了事先準備的飯糰,母親卻示意 要長子留著自己吃(因為自己終將死亡,不願意浪費糧食);當母親抵達深山後,長子在回程的途中,窺見另有一對上山的父子,父親感到恐懼於是哭喊掙扎,兒子 在慌亂中,則將父親推下山崖。

看到這一幕的長子相當震撼。此時,季節更迭,又再次下起了雪(所有人都增加了一歲),他回頭去找尋母親,看見母親靜坐在雪地上,雙手合十,彷彿一尊佛像, 再次示意要長子回去吧!兩人眼神相互對望,一個充滿堅定,一個則依依不捨。人性親情的溫柔大愛悄悄地流洩出來,讓人充滿不忍,這場戲遂成為《楢山節考》裡 最感人的一幕。


事實上,《楢山節考》的影片從冬季開始,經過春天、夏天、秋天,再次回到冬季。結束時也首尾呼應,利用鳥瞰的大遠景俯視白雪山頭。加上片尾母親安祥地回歸 山神,蛇交媾的象徵(新生), 似乎都說明著生命的死與生,不只是生命的必經過程,也是大自然生生不息的一部份。(人真的是萬物之靈嗎?《楢山節考》並非單純的悲劇。)

今 村昌平導演的《楢山節考》有著宏觀的視野和胸襟。不妄下判斷,不給予觀眾絕對的價值定見,只是靜靜地講述故事,充分讓各個角色呈現著自己的貪念、慾望、苦 衷、愛與犧牲。於是在權利和義務之間,在小愛與大愛之間,沒有絕對的優劣對錯,沒有絕對的是非善惡。這是對世間萬物難得的「尊重」(敬重)。

德國心理分析學家佛洛姆(Erich Fromm)是這麼解釋「尊重」的,他說:「尊重並不是懼怕和畏懼,它指一種能力:他人是什麼樣子,我就照他的樣子來認識他,認知他獨特的個人性。尊重的 意義是我關懷另一個人,讓他依照他自己的本然去生長,去發展。因此,尊重意涵著我對他人沒有侵占剝奪的欲望。」

以人權的觀點來看,不也正是如此嗎!社會的進步取決於強勢者對待弱勢者的方式,取決於多數人看待少數人的態度。就像《楢山節考》裡長子和母親對彼此決定的 尊重,就像整個村落對於生存條件(延續種族命脈)的尊重。縱然有爭議,有許多灰色的模糊地帶,但這些問題都將因立場的不同而無法擁有唯一的標準答案,只能 嘗試站在理解的前提下相互尊重。這正是我看完《楢山節考》後所引發的思考。

Monday, 30 March 2009

Old age

Just read an article about old people on a sunday times magazine (though it's already monday night now) - a few quotes:
'We are one of the very few cultures in all the world that does not treat age as an achievement.'
'most people in this country die weepingly lonely, left in no doubt that they have overstayed their welcome. This is the greatest shame and horror of our age.'
'The cure for this youth-tormented terror is blindingly simple. Reclaim the old. Include them in our lives. The antibiotic for loneliness is company.'
'The old aren't the problem. It's the rest of us. We would rather consign them to a netherworld where they are out of mind and out of sight.'
'You really should spend an hour listening to someone who's lived twice as long as you because you'll hear something funny and clever, touching and probably astonishing.'
'We should ensure that nobody ever sits alone wishing for their own death because they know of nobody who wishes them to live.'

This is such an important issue in its own right, and more so given the aging trend in many countries. These people who have contributed to the present well-being of society get forgotten - and even abandoned.
And those 'care services' are only interested in the money.

This reminds me of the elderly's home my great grandmother was put for a couple of years before she passed away >< Its a shame. My grandmother, aunt and uncle had looked after her for a long time until it finally became very difficult. I wasn't the one caring for her so I could hardly say, but I still remember how bitterly I resented that elderly's home (a rubbish private business basically abusing its monopoly over the neighbourhood) for its inhumane treatment of the elderly and wanted to report it to East magazine, which I somehow innocently thought would be interested in these issues. That was many years ago...

Sunday, 1 March 2009


i have read enough about how outcomes of legal cases can be a matter of lottery - there are always certain thresholds which determine the outcome (as far as establishing causation is concerned). In a civil case, it's the balance of probabilities (more than 50% chance), whereas in a criminal case, it's proof beyond reasonable doubt. The pressure point is on that very line. if it's 49.999% it's still somewhere short of 50%, and blame the statisticians whoever are responsible for the unfortunate gap. There's occasionally some controversy about where these thresholds should be drawn. Many people say it's a matter of lottery because it all depends on a lot of circumstantial factors which could be determined completely by chance. Say the evidence that can be and has been unearthed, the nature of the incident, the reasonableness of the judgment of the judge and jury....

And it's actually so true of life in general. it's all determined by chances. The extent to which human behaviour plays out is like the number of lots you draw and which areas you draw from and whether you put in the right box, or whether you have some magic sure win ticket etc. every time we make a decision we're drawing a lot. in fact every moment of life involves drawing a lot of lots. if i were a mathematician, i would definitely work on probabilities.

maybe thats why decisions can be so important because they can change your chances to different extent. they can be life changing experiences, or they can be completely futile mundane steps to take in life..... whether guided by your autonomy they could make a world of difference, and they could also be of complete irrelevance because your lots might totally not count at all.

who has this hand on these lotteries?

how different are go-getters to laid back-ors, really?

can there be more equality of chances? hm.... food for thought.

Friday, 20 February 2009


today the sunshine actually felt warm for the first time in a while. The sunlight shone through the windows into the lovely law bod over the staircase I was ascending. It literally 'dawned' on me (only in the sense of light, not time) that half a year has been spent. I'd like to think this means hope for brighter days to come.

This strange phenomenon of 'fifth week blues' in oxford refers to an inexplicable feeling of depression halfway through an eight-week term, assuming either a hardcore four weeks full of work and no break, and some psychological sadness called blues OR a consistent and continuous failure and procrastination that has built up to incredible stress, guilt, helplessness, and maybe despondency. Shouldn't dramatise this, but it's a very real feeling that comes in most terms. admittedly sounding a bit silly. A friend of mine described it in a very interesting way - the furthest away from two vacations. It's a fairly short term of eight weeks as people would intuitively think, but it's one thats quite intensive enough to create this feeling of prolonged mental and physical exhaustion - yes even though i didn't actually get much work done lol.

Guess what? I got an emergency chocolate for fighting fifth week blues from Lizzie! Thank you!

I'm going to WORK WORK WORK, and enjoy thinking about the law LOL.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Halfway through, and the superb The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: WARNING: SPOILERS

So i'm halfway through today (end of 4th week and beginning of 5th week of Hilary term - second term of the year) but i'm giving myself one day of allowance as transition to prepare myself for a desperate shift back to the right course. I mean to take action to rescue my degree! I've been lazy for too long and it's seriously terrible. I have entertained myself with enough excuses and procrastinated long enough. Yeah time to work, and otherwise i'd feel like hell at the end of the year. cant really face this myself. So this is my resolution - MUST WORK HARD!!!

It's been a month ^^ the first V day was lovely. Thank you.

SP and I saw the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It was amazing. The picture was fantastic and it would be worth going to the cinema just for that.

(one of the prettiest pics of the film - Daisy dancing in some dim light)

But the story itself is v intriguing. It raises many questions. Imagine the clock turned backwards only for you against a whole world running in a totally different direction. Thats Benjamin Button - a man who ages backwards. As I interpret it, there are three interesting themes: 1. feeling out of place ; 2. timing; 3. eternality

the young Daisy

When he was born, his mother died, and Thomas Button his dad abandoned him after a long run in desperation and confusion. He was born like an old man with a deteriorated body. Maybe it was the combination of both the horrendous aged features on Benjamin's body and the death of his wife that led the father to leave him alone on day 1. So he was born abandoned.

He was abandoned at a very kind family's door and a black lady decided to adopt him and raised him up (in fact originally motivated by the mother's failure to conceive - he was initially only a substitute in some way). He thought he was an old man for quite some time because he grew up in an elderly's home. Ironically, every part of his external appearance resembled an old man, but he was at the same time different from any other old man - he was actually a child. It was an internal contradiction coupled with this external corroborating contrast - nothing seemed to match internally or externally.

He then went on to become a seaman for a few years. He met a woman during that period, but he could only see her during the night in the hotel lobby - it was all in the dark. One day the lady however left with a note saying merely 'it was nice to have met you'.

He went back to Daisy a girl with gorgeous blue eyes he could never forget, and Daisy liked him since she was 7 despite his appearance. But Daisy had grown into a famous dancer in New York and had her own life (her own suitors and everything). He wasn't ready for her, and she was no longer available for him.

An old guy going out with a young girl - whatever love that lies within doesn't matter; it's the external incompatibility that stings. Maybe they could have worked out, but neither of them dared try. maybe they just didnt love each other enough, maybe the obstacle was insurmountable.

Benjamin learnt of Daisy's injuries in Paris, and he found her lying in bed incapacitated. She said he was perfect then - for Benjamin had grown a lot younger into the handsome Brad Pitt look, but poor Daisy had aged a lot and wrinkles started growing, and sadly the inequality was exacerbated by her injuries. She said plainly, 'I don't want to see you, and I don't want your help.' Benjamin left.

After a few years, Daisy came back to find him, and they were still passionately in love with each other. They stayed together happily for a few years - that was the only time when Benjamin's appearance matches Daisy's., and they felt right for each other.

Benjamin said, 'Nothing lasts.' Daisy replied, 'Some things last.' Maybe it would be fine from thereon.

Daisy got pregnant and gave birth to a lovely girl, Caroline, but Benjamin left them behind soon after, because he knew that he was just getting younger and couldn't be a proper father or husband - he wanted to leave before he left an indelible mark.

He started travelling again, this time on his motorbike. It looked really cool, but that belies his underlying loneliness - he has been travelling pretty much his whole life, for the reason that he felt that didn't fit in.

This feeling of not fitting in has stayed with him since his birth, and keeps him away from the people he loves.

After ten years, he came back and he was introduced to his daughter as a family friend. And Daisy was remarried to a terrific father. Though they couldn't be together again, their love for each other hadn't really dwindled. I think at that point, Daisy said to him, 'nothing lasts'.

In a way it seemed like such an irresponsible guy running away from all his responsibilities, but he did it all out of good intentions and partly compelled by his circumstances. It was probably for the better of the family that he did leave......

And later he was found in his old elderly's home, really 'an old person', but looking like a young boy gradually turning into a baby. Daisy went and started looking after him. Ironically, Daisy was like 60 or 70 but Benjamin looked like a boy - it's the contrast to the early scenes where old looking Benjamin met the young lovely Daisy.

Maybe some things really last - he found someone who could unconditionally love him finally. Benjamin also stared at her before he died as a baby - maybe he still remembered her.

How many temporal scales are there in life? We all seem to be living in the same time zone, but are we? Or is it all just apparent reality? If so does it matter?

For Benjamin and Daisy, there was only a very short period when the timing was really right for each other - how transitory. Benjamin tried to escape coz he felt he was out of place, but Daisy came back to support him when he was an old baby. Maybe that shows it doesn't matter after all, and some things do last?

There were a few really touching bits.

Benjamin's father Thomas abandoned him, and he still loved him.

Benjamin abandoned his own child, and he sent her a postcard for every birthday.

Thomas told Benjamin that he was Benjamin's father when he was almost dying.

Caroline (benjamin's daughter) was told that Benjamin was her real father when Daisy (her mother) was dying. All the cards he sent were only read after his death.

Benjamin was born abandoned at someone's doorsteps, but he died in Daisy's arms.....

Saturday, 7 February 2009






我更開始了花錢減壓,買了一塊壁球拍,70% off at £26.99 (discounted from £59.99) good bargain heh?

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

My second rant about nothing

Sorry ignore this if you dont want to read about my rant.

Disclaimer: I asked for this all because I didn't work hard enough apparently to compensate my brain and physical deficiencies.

The lifestyle of 4 seminars a week was already killing me last term. this term i'm having more tutorial essays to write on top of all these. The reading list for each seminar generally consists of a few hundred pages of reading, and i usually only have a day plus a bit to do each.

The whole evening i have miraculously finished a problem question answer in three hours and a half. i should be very pleased with myself this time because i actually tried to read all the cases (sort of - i realised i missed out a big chunk as i finish it up anyway) - this shows i'm not incorrigibly terrible i guess......and that i really want to rescue my degree. the reason for my suffering: i didnt do the work last term. and this essay means i have to do the work for week 2 of last term (for one of the subjects)... and i haven't read the stuff for the other weeks either...so its going to be fun days this term lol.

okay the reason for my rant: it is actually not the essay in itself.

The last couple of hours after i changed libraries - from the faculty one to my college one at 10pm, just to finish the other half, I was thoroughly tested to the limits of my patience. As soon as I got into the law library and sat down having arranged everything (my laptop, all the books and notes i needed), just as i was about to start, the ceiling began to vibrate coz of some huge party noise right above my room. some idiots are playing loud music and this is really inconsiderate. i already had to bear with a trumpet for much of my second year, and a few days of yuck puke right in front of my room. i had to go to the library to avoid noise, and here i found myself never being able to escape from it.

after i came back, my lovely law fellow students very helpfully made a massive racket just in the room next door. they are still talking and laughing at each other's very good sense of humour in the most appropriate place - the library is for socialising apparently.

okay, guess what? i didn't scream at them. i politely asked the respective parties to do me a massive favour to keep quiet, and i even said sorry guys. The party noise has stopped. the lawyers however are still talking.

Whats worse, the fire alarm sounded four times, each time breaking the chain of thought in my head. Initially i thought it was sirens for a moment. I tried my best to withstand it all nonetheless, but it even changed its tune and I just couldn't bear it.

But I had no choice but to keep writing in the library and finish the essay up despite all this stupidity. it sounded four times. ARGH why does this always happen when i most need a moment of peace and quiet?

Actually this is quite symbolic - noise room as a way of torture. I however 'voluntarily' stayed in the library to listen to this noise. haha i find this quite funny.

My patience is really running out, and I'm sick of it. Oxford is a wonderful place, but does it actually have to drive people crazy?

I still have to read for tomorrow's seminar about subsidies and countervailing measures at 11am. I also have to print out my impressive essay and take it to my tutor's college although it's late. wahaha.

this sums up quite well. theres no choice in my life here. i can only plod on like an automaton. theres no escape. or maybe there's nothing to escape from coz i'm really ranting about nothing. i'm learning heaps (in terms of managing essay crises and controlling my urge to gag people up) and it's all because of my incompetence.

sorry i had to rant.

Monday, 2 February 2009

so here february comes: life in oxford, SNOW, iceland trip

SNOW in OXFORD - a morning walk is always rewarding

Just read about the possible lawsuit by this person called Wang Zhaojun against Sina for taking his post off his blog where he criticised the most sensitive areas of chinese politics (one party rule, falun gong etc). And he said 'I am not afraid to get into trouble because I know that 95 per cent of the Chinese people agree with me.' how feisty and how sad! and i like the figure 95% - i wonder if that refers to the accurate composition of party membership in the Chinese population lol. He has all the admiration I can give, to stick his head out this way against such a controlled environment. The sad bit is how that seems to be the way chinese will continue to behave - accept all the injustices, and i wonder how that subjective agreement will ever translate into a sufficient call for revolution or some sort of political power. maybe the 20 million unemployed migrant workers can join in..... really hope it will be a better year for china after all the disasters last year.

As for myself, so here february comes. i'm still a couple of days behind even in acknowledging the turning of the wheels of time. it's been a good month, and oxford has suddenly become a lot more agreeable and lovely, happy days. (not in terms of work though which is still seriously worrying because i'm catching up with week 2 work of last term - when i started giving up one subject entirely - i feel like heavily in debt). But here i am writing this because i have a god's gift of two hours free time after a bcl seminar on competition law is thankfully cancelled. It's some relief to me.

and now it's snowing. all this white fluffy stuff beating against my face as i took a nice walk around the meadows and the city centre. it's gorgeous though the snow hasn't quite settled yet apart from some patches of white. oxford is apparently less affected by the snow storm than many other parts of the country. fortunately/unfortunately?

life's slightly different now with an amazing companion :) i'm trying to find every chance to escape from studying lol. fun days. so what have i been up to the whole time??

I went back to hk for the break (mainly to take some evil conversion law exams for qualification purposes). i really hope i passed them. fingers crossed.
I went to iceland for a really lovely trip afterwards with Siu Po. A very unique, memorable experience in the most picturesque environment. we saw the northern lights, geysirs, gulfoss waterfalls, crossed the mid-atlantic ridges (the ends of the atlantic and eurasian tetonic plates), bathed in the blue lagoon... that was very relaxing.

And then i came back and had to do turn on my turbo again right away to welcome my 8 week hilary term, and very nicely packed schedule. i'm enjoying my seminars a bit more though am still lagging behind >< nvm. saw a movie (The Reader, absolutely fabulous), had a few drinks, a nice formal dinner with my Swire family and got interrogated at an unfair trial lol, and a few squash sessions, had Annabel visiting, an extended family lunch, went to my third oxcia chinese new year party and a lot of yummy food. and i think i have been showing people my nephew Theo's photos more than anything else. missing him!

happy times.

Swire Party

OXCIA Chinese New Year Party

Siu Po (left) and Annabel (right)

and yes i can finally tie a bow tie!


Mid Atlantic ridge

The Waterfalls

Thats enough procrastination. have to write an essay......

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Contribution of Finnish society to pursuit of interests and dreams

This is the bit that I really struggled - I know too little about Finnish society to say anything meaningful perhaps, but I have still thought about some observations I had through my own eyes and other people's lenses.

Firstly, I can see the Finnish society provides the necessary foundation for the flourishing art and culture industry.

  • strong social welfare that removes a lot of economic and financial worries and anxiety behind innovation, which is high risk investment. The costs and disincentives of creative endeavours are reduced. This is the MOST important factor I think - people's livelihood is not threatened or undermined or prejudiced by doing what they want to do. (this is also possible only because the population is very small for a country of the size of Finland - only 5 million)
  • a multicultural society that already exists - this is a controversial statement, certainly not to the same extent as London, and most Finnis would seem to disagree with this, but I found the atmosphere in creative industries pervasive, for example. There are enough people to appreciate the diversity - something akin to a cultivated civil society.
  • equality between jobs – different occupations are respected in their own right. There is less pressure to do some kinds of jobs than in many other places. this leads to a more even distribution of manpower and financial resources.
  • society values the individual – respect what each individual thinks and wants to do. less family pressure or pressure from social norms.
  • education promotes freedom and liberty in students’ development from an early age. students have always been encouraged to think for themselves. There is a City architecture project for children, and they apparently adopted children's proposal for building a prominent city building. That sounds like incredulous confidence in children, but that says quite a lot. Regrettably I didnt manage to find out more about this when I was in helsinki.

Secondly, there is some contribution from the 'Finnish character' if there is any such thing (which I believe there is).

  • honest and serious worker who only wants to do the job well. It might initially sound a very plain irrelevant statement, but that actually makes a HUGE difference. I strongly get the impression most people in Finland (except the drunken) had a serious attitude to what they did as a living in respect of the SUBJECT MATTER itself, rather than treating jobs as a means to earning money.
  • don’t like money, just for fun - thats what someone wrote and told me before. I also got that impression from the Finnish guide who led me to wonderful tours at EXTREMELY LOW PRICES with a meagre profit )

Contribution of the education system

The education system promotes the development of interests and pursuit of dreams in these three ways:
A. The system gives students plenty of choice in encouraging their development.

diversity of subjects in the curriculum – broad range of choices for them to dabble in and try out. I have shown just bits of the system really, but one gets the idea that secondary school is like university - students have SO MUCH CHOICE re learning literally what they like.

• the inspiring and liberal teaching approach - "first the forest, then the trees" (see the section on 'interest development' for more details on my discovery!) – Yolanda Chen introduced this concept which I find as well a very accurate description! Basically they show the students the whole picture before going down to details and honing their skills too early.

This encourages the students to explore their own way of learning their subjects, without so much discipline and control in ensuring precision when they are getting started. Students are more likely to keep up and further develop their interests. The more advanced and rigorous training can be reserved for those who are determined and interested to go further.

• postponing the streaming, and introducing flexibility and reversibility in the decisions young people have to make. Students DON'T HAVE TO SACRIFICE AND GIVE UP THEIR INTERESTS BEFORE THEY ARE OLD ENOUGH TO TELL WHAT THEIR INTERESTS REALLY ARE!

• young people are encouraged to have a balanced life with lots of ‘hobbies’. They don’t consider the sports or music as rigid training purely for the sake of cultivating their abilities or ‘talents’ in those areas. Rather, they aim to help the people to enjoy and learn in a relaxed manner, and ultimately to incorporate their areas of interests as part of their lives. This turns on the purpose and attitude in pursuing their interests – it is not for the sake of standing out from others, but for the genuine love of their hobbies. (See Julius's case for instance)

• Individual fine tuning and attention – allowing students to learn at their own pace and the curriculum and learning materials are designed for individual students.

- Encourage independent learning and thinking AND ACQUISITION of knowledge and skills - Teachers don’t give them the answers, but they help them to find the answers for themselves. (don’t give them the fish, but teach them how to fish – this way the next generation of fishermen have the ability to explore uncharted waters and go to greater lengths and depths) They are more likely to find their own worlds this way in my opinion. (See independence)

• Actual subject called Student counselling which includes classes and individual sessions with students from Grades 7 to 9 (Forms 1 to 3) to tell them what sort of options are available to them, and help them work out what to do (primarily choose between high school and technical schools). There is also one week of compulsory work experience with enterprises in the real world (organised with the help of the school). This makes the options in society known to young people in time for them to make plans for themselves – options only mean something if they are known to our next generation, and they have reasonable chance of working towards it.

B. education values: equality; respect for every child and free education for all

• no child is left behind – free education for all means every child can in theory have access to good school education irrespective of their family backgrounds and financial situation. Talented children do not lag behind because of a competition at the starting point. The philosophy behind this is that the government believes they cannot afford to lose any member of the society. Teachers IN GENERAL don't seem to think there are bad students in Finland (only with one exception from my experience)

RESPECT THE INDIVIDUAL - the individual ability, potential, thoughts, interests of each child are respected. they are encouraged to think for themselves, independently and critically from very early on. They are not meant to walk the paths already explored by the previous generations – they are meant to find out what they like themselves or their own way of going about things, and do as they wish.

• To look at this from another perspective - the philosophy of no child left behind taken further: the interests, needs and dreams of children are respected, and the society and education system try to facilitate their all-round development to the extent possible for the individuals.

comparison is not encouraged, so students do not easily feel frustrated when they don’t initially excel or master their interests. Students are encouraged to learn at their own pace, and not rushed or pushed much when they are young. Benefits of small class teaching.

C. The education system has plenty of resources and has a firm legal basis to ensure that everyone is capable of working towards these ideals.

I certainly acknowledge the decisiveness of money as a factor.
• education expenditure occupied 6.5% of GDP. Lots of resources were devoted to the system.

• various pieces of legislation to secure the quality and rights of free education for all

• teachers’ masters qualifications (either in education or their own respective subjects). the teachers themselves set good role models for lifelong learning – always enrolled in postgraduate courses during vacation time. there is in-service training as well.

Finnish society and education --> Dreams??

I already feel incredibly ashamed how i have been doing many other things all these months but write up my report and learn a bit more ... (and feeling legitimately excused because of my busy life with all the tutorials and seminars and exams lol) but since I have an opportunity now timewise and after I have unleashed my emotions, I'll write a concluding entry about my understanding after this brief investigation - that is -

my understanding of the original hypothesis I wanted to look into:

How does the Finnish education system and society help their young people to pursue their interests and dreams?

Whilst I'm afraid I still don't have a very simple and conclusive answer (which i dont think exists anyway), I have concluded my thoughts as follows. I have written a report initially which presented an overview. I by no means claim that Finland does this better than anyone else, but I just thought given how well it has done in the general tests and surveys, I wondered if it was equally good in THIS RESPECT.

Please see the following two entries: Contribution of education and Contribution of society.





這次回來就是考那一些試,我已經很厭倦這樣的生活,這樣的人生,從頭到晚都是忙忙碌碌的, 天昏地暗的學習了一整年,回到香港還是要考試,我要的是這些麽?是理性與感性,任性與責任之爭,可笑吧?




Friday, 2 January 2009

a new year

The morning of 1st Jan was greeted with some amazing rejuvenating sunshine and a nice blue sky. I hope this signals a bright year ahead for everyone. i didn't spend new years eve in hk in the last few years and last year i was watching two movies at home. this year i hung out with my school friends after midnight for a late dessert round. and after being prompted to do a review i also quietly undertook a review of 2008 in bed.

A year can be just a number, but there are also so many memories underneath this innocent number. My friend said it was a generally good year for him, and i found myself instinctively saying my year has been a terrible one except for the graduation. I was a bit startled by my own response, a very negative one.

Maybe i can blame it on oxford again lol how this place has depressed me and crowned me with such a negative outlook. as another friend said, no one seems to understand what we've been through. i have very little faith in people understanding each other - we can only try i guess.

Worse still it was probably an unnecessary negative emotion, without reason, without even a plausible explanation. i tend to overanalyse things and think about the same questions for my whole life. dont really want to go into it but i'm glad 2008 is finally over. i have been waiting long enough.

the more important realisation my quiet reflections gave me was how incredibly lucky and annoying i am. I have a most amazing amazing amazing amazing family and loads of great great great great friends. I have really good opportunities and everything can be regarded as plain sailing for me all along i suppose. I probably have everything i can possibly need but theres still this ridiculous lingering unhappiness. I really have nothing to complain about, and must** be a better person to deserve all this great fortune. and thats my new year resolution. I should stop fretting over nothing, and I should be a 'better' man.

This is to say thank you for everyone who has been bearing with me for so long.