Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The Hong Kong SAR includes about 260 islands, with the two major islands being Lantau and Hong Kong. Many of the outlying islands are inhabitated and served by numerous ferries. I was fortunate to hike on three of the islands - Lantau, as previously described in the Sunset Peak entry, Chueng Chau and Lamma. I guess you could also count Hong Kong if walking around Central is 'hiking.' Andy Smith, Shawn Yoon and I visited Chueng Chau, and went on a long hike around half of the island, up some peaks, and as shown below, around a rocky point. I opted out of the rocky point - looked too much like I could die. I visited Lamma with my cousin Steve Heller and Marilyn. On both of the islands, we concluded our outing with a great seafood dinner.

Andy and Shawn on Chueng Chau

The Adventurous Duo
The Village of Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma Island
Steve and Marilyn Strolling a Lamma Beach

Friday, December 14, 2007


In one of my early blogs on Hong Kong, I mentioned how strange it was to see high-rise construction cranes surrounded by bamboo scaffolding. Recently a construction project was begun to add a tenth floor to the building where my office is located - so I got some photos of the action. The first photo shows the super-sturdy walkway that was built to protect pedestrians. I could hardly believe that it was going to be a temporary structure as I watched it being built - cement with rebar; steel I-beams welded in place; corrugated steel wall; steel plates for roofing. The fellows put up the scaffolding in a couple of days, and one nice thing about using bamboo - if the length is not quite right, just cut it off to fit!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Lion Rock
The prominent peak straight north of the HKBU campus is Lion Rock. Stage 5 of the 100 kilometer [62 mile] MacLehose Trail passes just behind Lion Rock. The MacLehose winds its way along the rugged range that more-or-less separates the Kowloon Peninsula on the south from the New Territories to the north. It undulates with many ups and downs from Pak Tam Chung on the east end to Tuen Mun on the west, and it is comprised of 10 sections. There is an annual Trail run/hike for 700 teams that attempt to complete the trail in less than 48 hours. The leading groups finish in well under 24 hours.
From campus, a 20 minute walk will get you to the trailhead of a stone path that goes from Lion Rock Park to the Trail. Another 20 minutes of fairly steep grade will get you to Kowloon Pass and the intersection with the Trail on Stage 5. Here one has several choices - head west toward Beacon Hill and Sections 4-1; head east toward Sections 6-10; start to the east, and then break off on the trail that goes to the summit of Lion Rock; or go straight on a trail that leads to Amah Rock. Below are some pictures related to each of these choices.

Kowloon Pass Looking Out on Kowloon Tong

This is the decision point - if one needs a bit of time to ponder which way to go, there are a couple of shelters available for contemplation. Let's first head toward Beacon Hill

The path to Beacon Hill

One of the Beacons

The trail toward Amah Rock with Amah in the distance. The legend is that a woman holding her child stood on the ridge, awaiting the husband's return from the sea. He never returned and she and the child turned to stone.

Amah Rock

The trail toward Lion Rock - for those familiar with running in Colorado Springs, this is rather like a hybrid between a Garden trail and the 16 Golden Stairs

The summit of Lion Rock

Just like in the Rockies, wildlife can be seen along the Trail :-)

Saturday, November 24, 2007


On a recent grocery shopping trip, I saw a bag of nacho cheese tortilla chips, and being a bit hungry for chips and salsa, I bought some. While snacking on them, I noted the bag was labelled "Made With Organic Yellow Corn" and "Made With No Genetically Engineered Ingredients." Interesting I thought, particularly since we had just talked about GE foods in one of our classes. So munching away, I began reading the back of the Garden of Eatin' brand package, and thought - this sure sounds like some Boulder granola types. "We are mindful of the soil, water, biodiversity and even worker health." I thought, Even? "Grown without potentially harmful synthetic pesticides and herbicides - our oils are different - our water is filtered." Then I saw the parent company of Garden of Eatin' - the Hain Celestial Group, and then it hit me - it is a bunch of Boulder granola types!!! Send your comments to 4600 Sleepytime Drive, Boulder, CO, 80301. :-)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Ahh, the life of a professor - public opinion is often swayed by folks listening to those they would like to believe. When second lady Lynn Cheney releases a report "How Many Ward Churchills?" many shake their heads approvingly with the conclusion that there are Ward Churchills everywhere. David Horowitz, the jerked-over Marxist, has made a second career by pushing his neoconservative academic bill of rights and dogging the "dangerous" left-wing radical elites in academe. Probably bigger than the liberal bogeyman is the public perception that professors really do not work very hard - ten or twelve hours a week in the classroom, summers off, holiday breaks - and once they put in a few years without getting fired, tenure guarantees employment for life. On the other hand, public opinion polls often put university professors ahead of many other professions regarding prestige and confidence. To me this simply demonstrates that most of the public does not really know what a professor does or what goes on in most university classrooms.

And - I am not going to explain what I do or what goes on in my classrooms!! If you really want to know about what professors do, go out to Malibu and spend a few days trying to keep up with my colleagues such as Steve Davis or Jay Brewster just to name a couple out of many exemplary professors. What I am going to write about are the special opportunities that can come your way as a member of the academy. On the lighter side, I am thinking of playing noontime basketball at Pepperdine with the great Lunch Bunch group, which at times would include David Duchovny, Flea, Jefferson Wagner [aka Zuma Jay] and my good friend Scotty Brown. Being able to occassionally play with guys like Robert Turner was special - Robert made us all look good! Although Reggie Miller did not join the Lunch Bunch, I rebounded for him for quite awhile as we talked of 'back home in Indiana." I am also thinking of dozens upon dozens of esteemed colleagues that I also consider friends - Marv Dunphy, renowned mens volleyball coach; Ron Sega, who has flown on two Space Shuttle Missions; Neal Lane, former head of the National Science Foundation and Presidential Science Advisor; Christopher Parkening, preeminent classical guitarst. And, I am also thinking about having the privilege of attending faculty meetings and academic conferences, listening to Jared Diamond share with our science majors, having Ken Starr, Doug Kimec, and Paul Westphal converse with our science faculty, and being able to chat with folks like Chris Matthews, have dinner with the Reverend Dr. John Polkinghorne KBE, and most recently having conversations and, along with three students, going out to dinner with Peter Arnett. These examples are just a few highlights, but they demonstrate one of the blessings of being a university professor.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Here are a few pictures taken in the HKBU/NTT neighborhood.
Looking Northwest From My Office - Beacon Peak in the Nine Dragon Range
North of Campus - The Palace Residencies with Lion Rock Peak in the Background.
On one of our Saturday hikes, eleven of us went to the summit of Lion Rock. We went in the late afternoon to avoid the heat, had a picnic dinner, and wended our way down in the dark.
On another of our Saturday afternoon hikes, we went to the nearby Kowloon Walled City Park, mentioned in an earlier blog. Along the way was this "Christian Cemetery."
Across the street is an old British Army Barracks that is now staffed minimally by the People's Republic Army. Roughly translated, the sign proclaims "Be Politically Correct! Behave Properly!Protect Your Country Forcefully, and The Military is Hard." :-)
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On Saturdays, I try to organize a hike, city walk or an outing for any of the students who are not traveling or studying. A couple of weekends ago, Rich Johnson, pastor of the campus chapel, led a hike up Sunset Peak. Near the summit, there are a group of stone cabins that were built before WWII by mission workers. They were used as getaways, particularly during the hot, humid summer months. During the war, the Japanese blew the tops off of the buildings so that they could not be used by resistance forces. Many of the cabins have been restored to rustic functionality - there is no road access, it is over an hour hike, and all supplies have to be packed in, including gas cannisters for cooking. Rain water is collected from the roof and there is a spring not too far from the cabins. The Johnson family has been using their ministry's cabin for many years, ever since their now-adult children were fairly young. Unfortunately it was hazy - otherwise one could see other peaks on Lantau Island, the airport below, and across many of the Hong Kong islands.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Kowloon International Baptist Church - Try to visualize an amalgamation of US Baptist Pastor - Anabaptist Minister of Youth - Vineyard Worship - English-Speaking Chinese congregation with a few internationals mixed in - enthusiastically participating in a lively contemporary worship. I guess you would have to be here to fully comprehend a typical Sunday morning service. About 250 folks gather for the Contemporary Praise and Worship service at 9:30, and another 250 participate in the 11:00 Traditional Worship Service. And at 5:00, another 100 or more attend the Evening Worship Service. In the morning, the message and testimonies are the same, but the music is quite different. Early service - band with keyboard, guitars, bass, drums and percussion, amplified but at a level that makes it possible to hear yourself and the others singing songs such as Amazing Grace - My Chains Are Gone, How Great Is Our God, How Great Thou Art, Breathe, All Creatures, Blessed Be Your Name, and Here I Am To Worship. And today's offeratory was a great trio, two guitars and bass, and great vocals on I Can Only Imagine. Second service - organ prelude and postlude, congregational singing of Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, Glorious Is Thy Name, More About Jesus, Word of God Across The Ages, Wonderful Words Of Life, Teach Me O Lord I Pray, and Go Out And Tell with the choir singing This Is My Word. Congregational worship is a great bit of inspiration to begin the week.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


It is hard imagine that I have been playing basketball for over 50 years, having spent my early years in the long-gone gym at New Paris Grade School. For me it is both a privilege and a blessing to be able to get out on the court and not embarrass myself! Thursday evening is basketball night for me and some of the Pepperdine students. Last night, Maurice, Shawn and Matt all made it over to Junction Road Park where there are nice lighted courts that have been recently resurfaced. The locals play standard playground 21, twos and threes, make-it, take-it. We have been very successful - of course it helps that Maurice and Shawn could both probably play college ball somewhere, and that Matt is 6'8" - it pays to choose your team well! Two of the local fellows that we played with last night were both fairly tall and reasonably talented, but were in awe of the young fellows' play - they even got out their camera to take a group picture! Also, after they played against Maurice for several games [and losing each time], we switched up so that they had the pleasant experience of playing with Maurice - I think that they were very pleased :-)

Friday, October 12, 2007


I believe that all of the students enjoyed their time in Viet Nam, despite the borderline accomodations and four students having a bout with some stomach problems. So, here are a few pictures and abridged comments of several students, taken from their blogs without their permission :-}

Aaron With His Hands Full of "Dragonflies"

Andy, David, Kate & Big Snake

Kris in a Tunnel Entrance at Cu Chi

Chris - End of The Journey, and Perhaps Taking On One Too Many Tigers

"Walking through the dense, muddy jungle with the Mekong River right next to me, it finally hit me: I am in Vietnam. Vietnam is an unbelievable country. It is situated about a 2 hours flight to the south-west from Hong Kong. The South China Sea is on the east border, Laos and Cambodia on the western border. It is one of those countries that you just read about in National Geographic magazines or in the Vietnam War section of your American history book, but it is so much more than that. Get ready; this will be a long entry."

"I was shocked to see so many motorcycles. My eyes widened to images of old and young, two hands strapped on motorcycle handles, in a damn crowded country, moving along so freely and comfortably as if breezing along an ocean side on a beach-buggy. When later I would walk the streets (specifically cross the streets), well, that was a whole new adventure staring at center lights of motorcycles barging my way ready to take me over. At one point, I started singing “I will survive” running across every intersection, hand in hand in a straight line of 5 people. And I thought Hong Kong was bad?!"

"I absolutely loved Vietnam! Viet Nam was a country filled with people on scooters! I thought I was going to die several times!! Viet Nam felt like home because my country is as poor as Viet Nam. Most of the country is filled with rivers, little houses, and lots of wandering animals. I felt like I was in a movie, especially during the boat trip. It was a beautiful experience. We went to this exotic restaurant that seem that it was in the middle of nowhere. The food was delicious and I almost got killed by a Vietnamese woman. I loved it! Everything I see reminds me how much I admire my parents. If it was not for my parents I would probably be the little girl selling flowers on the street just like Vietnamese girls. Most of these people have nothing to give, but they have gratitude, maybe not for God because in Vietnam God is not the center of their lives, but they are loving people."

"After the Palace, we went to the War Remnants Museum. In Vietnam, the war during the 60’s and 70’s is called the American War not the Vietnam War. This museum showcased war artifacts like tanks, guns, and airplanes, as well as many photographs depicting far reaching devastation of the war. Obviously, each side holds their biases and will present those biases, but it was interesting to learn about the Vietnam War from outside a US History class. There were pictures depicting the tragedies of Agent Orange and cluster bombs as well as the inhumane actions of the Vietcong. It gave me an uncensored view of the reality and severity of war. There is nothing glorious about war that should be idealized in the young minds of our children. It is consistently brutal, savage, and devastating."

"Without a doubt the most awesome part of the visit was our overnight excursion to the Mekong Delta region in the extreme south of Viet Nam. We rode a traditional boat along a stretch of the river, stopping at a couple cool shopping shacks along the way, plus a lovely house-cum-restaurant that's been inhabited by the same family for over 300 years. Our river tour culminated with a stop to hold Anacondas (yes, I mean the huge constrictor snake!), followed by a hike through the countryside and into a village by the main finger of the Mekong River, where we jumped back on the boat for the journey back to our bus."

"I can say that I enjoyed the trip. It was an eye opening experience, and I had the opportunity to share it among my peers. I had first hand experiences with the inhumanity of prostitution. These woman seemed to think massages came with sexual acts. It was not a big deal at all. It was weird for someone to not want what they had to offer. We saw where many American soldiers lost their lives, and the consequences of the war. It was really cool to actually see what we've been taught in school. We had a good time, and I got to spend time with people I didn't really know and form a friendship more than surface level. The hours I spent in bed sick as bad as it was, I will never forget. We made the best of it and I wouldn't change a thing. It was an experience I won't forget."

And last but not least - a semi-serious but hilarious commentary on the quality of our hostel.

The Vietnam Human Rights Manifesto

"For all those who struggle against the tyranny of hostel accommodations, we suffer together in hopes of five star habitation for all travelers of the world. We live for the day where we can have breakfast in bed, without the threat of rodents bravely stealing away our food in front of us. We labor for locks on our hotel doors that function, so that we may never enter our room to find vagrants again. My brothers and sisters, our struggle does not end until we make sure no one ever has to wake up in the morning with a cockroach on their eye, brothers. Join us. Donate your money to our cause. Give us all your money so that one day we can achieve freedom. You are either With us, or against US. Join our 'Coalition Of The Willing To Pay For Your Own Hotel If Need Be' as it is your patriotic duty. Don't let the terrorists win. Live like kings, and you shall reap the rewards of being cool in this life AND the afterlife, but most importantly this life."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


One of the many interesting facts in the CIA Report on Viet Nam is that it is a country about the size of New Mexico, but with 85,000,000 residents rather than the 3,000,000 in NM. When we arrived in the former capital of South Viet Nam, we quickly learned that although Ho Chi Minh City is the official name, many of the locals still prefer Saigon. The names are used interchangeably, but many of the businesses, signs and landmarks are still Saigon. Our tour guide, Viet Nguyen, said that hundreds of years of history as Saigon means that a name change cannot be done so simply and easily. They revere Uncle Ho, but they also maintain their love for Sài Gòn.
Uncle Ho in Can Tho
Most of the time of our Educational Field Trip in Viet Nam was spent in and around Saigon- a city of 7 million people and 3 million motor bikes. We had a day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels and Cao Dai community, and an overnight trip to Can Tho on the Mekong Delta. In Saigon, we toured the city, visited the Reunification Palace which is the fomer Presidential Palace of the Government of South Viet Nam, the Ben Thanh Market, and the War Remnants Museum. Near the Market, I found a place to get a haircut, and it is the first time that I have spent 80,000 on a haircut!!! Of course, the current exchange rate is about 16,000 dong per US dollar, so it really only cost me five bucks. And the fellow did a great job which also included a nice warm rinse.

Heading To The Reunification Palace aka Nick's Crib

{this link is definitely worth your time}
{more links to come}

Thursday, October 04, 2007


And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! We're all gonna die.

Many of you reading this probably do not remember Country Joe and the Fish but Joe's songs were just one of myriad thoughts and memories that came to me during our six-day Educational Field Trip to Viet Nam. It has been 40 years since the most intense years of the American War, as it is refered to in Viet Nam. Even though both countries and most folks have 'moved on,' it seems clear to me that the Viet Nam War was our generation's war, deeply embedded in our psyches regardless of whether one received an exemption from any service, did service as a civilian or in the reserves, or spent time on the ground or in the air in southeast Asia. And thus, just looking over the map, our itinerary, and the flight route from Hong Kong to Saigon brought forth many memories of the 60's - the Gulf of Tonkin, Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang, Khe Sahn, Cam Ranh, Cu Chi, Can Tho, the Mekong Delta.

The 1969 Draft Lottery Number for May 3

However, in 1968, when I graduated from college, everyone got drafted. And as we found out at our physical and mental examinations in Chicago, everyone was fit for the military. Actually there were a couple people who failed and were declared 4-F, but the great majority were I-A, including one friend with a heart murmur [the examining doctor was hard of hearing :-], and another who was nearly blind, but only in one eye! We also learned that by signing our name at the top of the military aptitude test, we had passed our mental competency exam. Thus, being declared I-A, it was then time for my local draft board to consider my request for I-O status and to serve two years in Civilian Public Service [CPS] as a conscientious objector. Given the need for draftees, not many people were granted I-O status. However, with the guidance of the late Bob Detweiler, several of us filled out alternative service papers in 1964 at the time we turned 18 and first registered with the Selective Service System. At the time, we really had no idea how much the war would escalate during our college years with the accompanying pressure on draft boards to meet their quotas, but our group of 5 or 6 guys from College Mennonite Church were all granted I-O status and were assigned to CPS. And each of us had good friends in Viet Nam, which kept us very much emotionally involved in the war, emotions that continue to this day.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Some of you may remember the Kingston Trio singing of poor ole Charlie - the man who never returned. Well, did he ever return? No, he never returned and his fate is still unknown. He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston. He's the man who never returned. The MTA song comes to mind when one is in the MTR system in Hong Kong - you could live down there!! There is more than enough shopping and dining, nice restrooms for grooming and maybe even a few spots to sleep. Well, maybe not.....but the MTR is very impressive. Think 21st century design, high technology systems, air-conditioned quiet running trains, and fare payment with the ubiquitous Octopus card.

The campus is about equidistant from the Lok Fu Station and the Kowloon Tong Station on the Green Line. There is a minibus that runs the circuit from campus to Kowloon Tong, but one must walk to the Lok Fu Station. The big draw of the Kowloon Tong Station is its proximity to the Festival Walk - be sure to check out the link and browse through the directory - I think you will be amazed at the names of the stores. The ride from Kowloon Tong to Central on the island takes about 20-25 minutes, and you can get most anyplace that you would need to go using the MTR.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


One part of the HKBU Orientation Program was a day-long city tour. A couple of the stops were at shopping markets, and since I am not much of a shopper, I wandered the surrounding areas a bit. On a quiet walkway along the bay, I noted a fellow wearing a BHP Billiton hat. I asked him if he worked for BHP, and yes, he was part of the home base office in Australia. This was my lead-in to ask him about BHP in Malibu - and for those of you not familiar with the saga, BHP has proposed an off-shore twenty story-high Liquified Natural Gas terminal that would loom on the ocean horizon off the coast of Malibu/Port Hueneme. He laughed and said that BHP was making enough money around the world that they did not have to bother fighting with the locals in Malibu about the LNG terminal. He gave me the hat, and advised me to invest in BHP!

Sunday, September 16, 2007



That was the exchange rate at the time of my first conversion of US$ to HK$. It takes some getting used to, seeing such big numbers on things like the Sunday South China Morning Post newspaper for $7.00, but then you remember, "Oh, that's less than a buck." So, I thought I would give a few examples of the cost of things in Hong Kong, in HK$ and approximate US$, starting with some items from the grocery stores Wellcome and Taste

Coca Cola 8-Pack HK$ 20.90 [$2.70]
Large Tub of Margerine - Ditto
Cola in Vending Machine HK$ 5.00 [$0.65]
Banana Bunch of 4-5 HK$ 4.30 [$0.55]
Five Plums HK$ 10.00 [$1.30]
Mickey D's Double Cheeseburger - Ditto
Loaf of Bread - Ditto
Four Oranges HK$ 11.80 [$1.50]
Mickey D's Soft Ice Cream Cone HK$ 2.50 [$0.33]
Big Box of Frosted Flakes HK$ 28.90 [$3.75]
Half Gallon of Soy Milk HK$ 19.90 [$2.55]
Note - Dairy Milk is Very Expensive
Medium Jar of Blackcurrant Jam HK$ 12.90 [$1.65]
Medium Peanut Butter HK$ 13.90 [$1.80]
Can of Potato Chips - Ditto
Large Crab & Crayfish on Rye HK$ 32.00 [$4.15]
Tsingtao 640ml Bottle HK$ 9.80 [$1.25]
Coffee & Tea - Free in the Hotel Room!

I will try to add some restaurant prices, but for now, suffice it to say - the places that serve traditional Chinese and Asian foods are quite reasonable and the Western restaurants are quite expensive. And if you are in the market for a nice car or home:

New Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder HK$ 3,430,000 [$439,000]
1999 Ferrari 360 Modena Coupe HK$ 1,240,000 [$160,000]
2006 Carrera HK$ 1,388,000 [$179,000]
1999 Subaru Legacy $78,000 [$10,000]
New Three Bedroom Apartment Home HK$ 16,000,000 [$2,000,000]
Seaview Lowrise HK$ 24,000,000 [$3,100,000]
Repulse Bay Highrise $31,800,000 [$4,100,000]
Victoria Peak Highrise HK$ 55,000,000 [$7,100,000]
Large Home High on Plantation Road $120,000,000 [$15,500,000]

Thus, most folks rent apartments and do not own cars.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


I suggest that you begin by flying around the city on Google Maps. Hopefully, it will be zoomed in on the NTT Guest House, on the south end of the HKBU campus, just south and a bit west of the track. You can zoom out and look around the neighborhood and anywhere in the city you choose. If you zoom out a bit and move to the southeast, past the large park with sports fields, you will see a smaller park-like area. This is the area that was once the infamous Kowloon Walled City. And further to the southeast is the old Hong Kong Airport Kai Tak, which supposedly used to be one of the worst airports for landing commercial jetliners. At a recent international air trade fair, the Airbus A380 made two low passes over Victoria Harbour, and folks were saying that it was reminiscent of the Kai Tak days.

The View of Hong Kong Central from Atop Victoria Peak
Kowloon is Across the Bay

Some of the Residences at Repulse Bay

East Meets West
On the Boat Ride to the Floating Restaurant
One of the Two Student Residental Towers at HKBU

Thursday, September 06, 2007


To slighty change a John Denver lyric - It's a Long Way from LA to Hong Kong!! Thankfully, some favorable winds made our flight closer to 13 hours rather than the scheduled 15. And surprisingly, I did not feel any jet lag even though we are 15 hours "ahead" of Pacific Coast Time, 14 hours with Mountain time, and 12 hours with Indiana and Eastern Time. As some of you know, with the arrival of second grandbaby Noelle Paige, the kids close by in Denver, and a major remodel of our condo getting underway, Rhonda decided to stay in Boulder, but hopefully will make it some time during the semester. Folks are welcome to visit, but be forewarned that unlike Buenos Aires, we do not have any guest rooms to offer you - a discount at the NTT International Guest House on the campus of Hong Kong Baptist University is about all that I can offer. There are 23 Pepperdine students in the program, and they join 164 other international students representing 20 countries in the HKBU International Program. All 187 live in the campus highrise dorms with students from Hong Kong and Mainland China. I teach two classes that are open only to Pepperdine students, and the rest of their courses are regular HKBU classes. You may have recently heard about the 9 year old prodigy who is beginning his mathematics studies at HKBU this fall - haven't seen him around campus yet!

A few first impressions:
An important rule for survival - when you are ready to cross the steet, stop, look the direction you would normally look for traffic, and while still stopped, look the other direction. Otherwise you might get run over by the vehicles driving on the "wrong" side of the road. If you look at the driver to determine what they might be doing, and it looks like he/she might be sleeping - well it's because that person is the passenger! One bit of good news is that many crosswalks have signs painted on the street reminding you which way to look.

The streets and sidewalks are quite clean, and there is no 'dog dew dodging' as in Buenos Aires. I have seen a few stray dogs in the park, and very few being walked on the streets. There are fairly stiff fines for littering, and for jaywalking I believe.
The public transportation is great, with small buses making shorter runs on looping routes, and larger buses and the subway to get all over town. Also "subway" is not the subway, but rather is a pedestrian underpass. The underground train is the MTR, and it is very impressive.

All business and classes at HKBU are in English, and many in Hong Kong speak English, with the 'native' language being Cantonese. Many locals also speak Mandarin/Putonghua, and I have been told that you really only need to know about 2000-3000 characters to be able to read :-)
We were warned that it would be hot and humid, and we were not let down. However, it seems to have already begun to cool down a bit, and by October it is supposed to be pretty nice.

There are numerous basketball courts close by, and all of them have nice nets!
HK is truly one of the places where East meets West - Porsche drivers stopping by the temple to burn incense, high-rise construction cranes surrounded by high-rise bamboo scaffolding, elevators without a 4 button because of the negative connotations of the number four, McDonald's next to hot pot and dim sum, 7-11 and Circle K next to the wet market, vintage Glen Campbell hits playing in the hallways of the Dr. Ng Tor Tai Guesthouse Hotel, and on and on......

Home Away From Home - the NTT Guesthouse Hotel

The Living Room - Nice TV!

The Bedroom and Office

The View from the Hotel
This is looking almost straight south on a nice clear day. The University is on the Kowloon Peninsula, and the high rise buildings in the foreground are on Kowloon, and the buildings and mountains in the distance are on Hong Kong Island. The tallest building in Hong Kong is on the island, and is close to the middle of this picture. Here is a map for "orientation" - the University campus is just south of Beacon Hill.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


With a great flurry of activity, the semester and academic year is over!! We are back in Colorado, and it is time for the final post for Swartzendrubers in Buenos Aires. There will be some additions of pictures to the estudiantes pages, so be sure to look them over a few days from now. In addition to all of the usual end-of-semester academic activities of tests and papers, I was also priviledged to say a few words at the last convocation of the year and at the final banquet which was held at the Madero Tango facility. Thus, the closing entry will be a replay, or a close facsimile, of my comments to the students. First - my comments at convo, which preceded the last group dinner and a student-organized after dinner celebration for themselves, with a color theme of Black and White:

Although I have a white shirt on, rest assured that I am not coming to your party - from some of the rumored activities, it is probably best that 'adults' stay away! :-) However, the theme of black and white fits well with what I want to talk with you about this evening - decisions. Oh, it would be so nice if all of the decisions that we faced were indeed black and white; it would make things so much easier. Unfortunately, most decisions that we make are not so clear cut, and there are often many shades of gray to consider. When Rafa says, "Don't be stupid, or I will kill you!!!" what is he really saying?? Yes, he is saying "make good decisions," because who we are and how others see us is based on virtually all of the decisions and choices that we have made in our lives. The choices you make about language, humor, behaviors, alcohol, drugs, sex, and on and on, tell others who you are. Trust me - we, me included, have all made poor choices!! And both our good choices and our bad choices are quite transparent and readily observed by others - even if you believe they aren't - again, trust me, they are. In the Hebrew Bible, the Preacher writes "I put before you good and evil - life and death - choose life!! In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy and his nemesis find the room of the Holy Grail, only to be confronted with hundreds of grails from which they must choose only one from which to drink. When Indy's adversary proclaims "Truly the cup of a King," makes the wrong choice and is destroyed, the elderly guardian knight simply says "He chose poorly." When Indy chooses the Holy Grail, "the cup of a Gallilean carpenter," the knight says "You chose wisely." But what does it mean to choose life and to choose wisely? For me, the key is to try to make all decisions based on building up rather than tearing down, affirming, not degrading, and filled with justice, kindness, love and mercy. Considering these things will help us make good choices, and will also help us overcome some of the bad choices we have make in the past. May your choices be wise and life-giving, and as we begin to say our farewells, my wish for each of you is that you fare well.

And my final comments to the group at the Banquet {with the opening and closing in Spanish}

My dear students, faculty, Pepperdine employees, families and friends. You are a very special group, and you will always live in my heart. Thank you for the gift, and what I would like to give to you are a few words of wisdom from a couple of old songs. In 1973, Jim Seals and Dash Crofts recorded a great song "We May Never Pass This Way Again." At first, it could be taken as a bit melancholy for indeed, in this life, we will never pass this way again. However, the song is about looking forward, not back. Because we may never pass this way again, we should live today and each day as best as we possibly can. And how can we do that? Another great songwriter gives us some advice. In one of Bob Dylan's songs, he writes "May you always do for others, and let others do for you." What great, gospel-like advice for living. Dylan continues with what is one of my great hopes for each of you - "May you build a ladder to the stars, and climb on every rung. And may you stay forever young." So dear students, I now say chau, blessings, and go with God.

Friday, April 27, 2007


This section will contain a salmagundi of pictures and commentary. The first picture is of a very common site in Buenos Aires - a dog walker. We have seen as many as 20 dogs walking in an orderly pack. There was one dog walker that simply had all of the dogs tethered together and was leading them only by voice command - no leash. Virtually all of the dogs here are well-behaved and seem to take the crowds and the traffic in stride. Most of the doggie groups are heterogeneous like this one, but occasionally there are single-breed packs.

The next picture is of a street vendor located about two blocks from the Casa. Even though there is a Coto grocery store in the same block, steet vendors of fresh vegetables and fruits are very common.

Not too far from the Casa is a large park that is great for walking and running, and there is also a lake for paddle boating. On the weekends, there are often special events such as races, concerts and as shown below, car shows.

Before Rhonda headed back to Colorado to be available to help Nick, Jaime and Silas as they prepare for their second child, we were able to spend a long weekend in Mendoza, the center of wine country. We toured two very nice bodegas and also took a tour along the old route from Argentina to Chile through Villavicencio, which is a nature preserve, historic villa, and the site of one of the largest natural water bottling plants in Argentina.

We visited the bodega y cavas de Weinert and the cavas de Don Arturo. Both were very interesting, and very different from one another. Interestingly Don Arturo does not market its wine in Argentina other than at the bodega. They ship to the USA and Europe, and their five dollar wine [a great Malbec] sells for $85 in NYC restaurants.
Vieja Ruta 7

The Chapel at Villavicencio
While walking through our neighborhood looking for a church with a Christmas music program, I happened upon an LDS church and two young missionary boys. The music program had just concluded, piped in via satellite from the Tabernacle. What I did learn is that the church has a basketball court that is open for our use!! So, often on Saturday evenings a group would play for a couple of hours, and the picture is at the end of one of our outings, courtesy of Randy Kunkel.

In addition to basketball, another regular outing was to the bowling alley on Cabildo - Monday nights, after home-stay dinners, which means that it usually got started around 11:00 and often went until closing at one.

Nick picking up the spare