Hongkers Time

Posted in Hong Kong, long time no post, work by expatatlarge on April 9, 2012

E@L feels comfortably at home with the jarring discomfort as his rattling red taxi bounces from tram-track to barely-repaired pothole down Queens Road West towards his hotel in Sai Wan. (Sai Wan? you scream, WTF are doing out there?).

He is trying to get a 3G signal is what. What is with this place and roaming?


E@L may have time to relate somethings about this breif sojourn to his old stomping grounds tonight (it is lunch-time now, nearly the hour upon which he has to turn up at work – a seminar in one of the big hospitals just up the hill.)


Time. How to measure it? Why to measure it? E@L was on the walking machine thingie at the gym for the last 4000 drops of water, half an incense stick and several cms fall in a iron ball attached to an escapement mechanism listening to this…

IOT with Melvyn Bragg

Measurement of Time 29 Mar 12
Thu, 29 Mar 12
42 mins
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the measurement of time. Early civilisations used the movements of heavenly bodies to tell the time, then mechanical clocks emerged in Europe in the medieval period. For hundreds of years clocks were inaccurate but now atomic clocks are capable of keeping time to a second in 15 million years. Melvyn Bragg is joined by Kristen Lippincott, Former Director of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich; Jim Bennett, Director of the Museum of the History of Science at the University of Oxford and Jonathan Betts, Senior Curator of Horology at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

Podcast – 20MB)


Horology. There’s a term to conjure with.

OK talk to you a leap-second later, your favorite horologist,



Posted in blah blah, bored as fuck, dying any minute now, long time no post, rain, writing by expatatlarge on October 2, 2010

It is raining; a long “shhh” that is both distant and near. There are memories dull and deep that this sound evokes*. It is hard to place where the “shhh” comes from, the present or the past. I turn my head this way, that way. The rain’s loud hushing is coming from everywhere, everywhere outside that is; the trees and bushes and flowers, from the pool surface, from the paved paths, from the air itself. The rain’s hush is so loud, so continuous, so all-enclosing that it takes an effort to hear it, to realize that there is a sound. Water for fish.

Golf is out of the question, I guess. Did I bring my full set for nothing?

Thunder grumbles loudly, ignoring the rain’s request for silence. I want to write something, I want to sit outside while I write it. On the balcony, pebbles have been laid in white in a single large floral pattern, maybe a tree shape, against brown background pebbles. Half the balcony is exposed to the weather, half sheltered under a rendered-concrete, not quite terra-cotta, more peach-coloured roof. There are four narrow windows in the wall at the left side, spaces between columns of the concrete. The wooden chairs and their single green, square cushions are wet however, as is the wooden table. Even though the furniture is several feet from the rain, splashes from the large drops that fall from the edge of the balcony’s roof onto the pebbles are leaping back at the table and the chairs, or they sneak through those narrow open spaces between the columns, hopping from the pebbles on the floor of the balcony next door. The roof-drops make a cracking sound as they explode against the pebbles, a sound like turned-back knuckles. There is no rhythm to these drops, they fall at random. After I wipe the water away with my bathroom towel and pull the table and one of the chairs even further away from the open half of the balcony (hardly a balcony really as the three steps at the end take you down to pool level, there must be another word for it – porch?), I move them toward the glass door to my room.

The splashes continue to leap at the table, at me where I sit, even at the laptop. There are splashes like tears on the screen as I type. You should see them. It is raining heavily now, then it becomes softer. The “shh” is almost a shout, almost a whisper.

Thunder rolls from the clouds like a god turning in his giant creaky bed and the rain picks up again, heavy and inevitable, like death, like metabolic syndrome.


I wanted to write today, if not on some novel or short story at least in the blog. Be funny, be grumpy, amuse, but nothing comes easily this morning so I describe things. When I am not writing, internally heard passages of fiction-like observations come into my head, but I have no chance to write them down as I am walking or shopping or drinking beer or eating or getting a blow-job in a massage parlor. I can never remember them later. Mostly.


“Is it off season in the back-lanes of Hua Hin around the Hilton? The many beer bars are sparsely populated, only a few customers in this bar, one in that bar. Many bars are empty. The girls who are still awake, who have not given up hope at 10pm, these girls call to me, bar after bar. (Are there more bars here than last time?) Hello, they call. Welcome. Hey mister, come in.

Some girls are pretty, most are not.



“The blustering wind scatters leaves like seed on barren ground, it bends the trees in supplication. I stop the cross-trainer, take a breather, look out the gym window to the road by my flat. I see a yellow bird, a small-to-medium sized bird. The strong yellow, makes it easy to find and see it skitter from a branch on this tree to a branch on that tree. A yellow bird. How beautiful.

Maybe it eats its own weight every day. Steven Wright wonders: how does it know how much it weighs?

I start the cross-trainer again. My heart rate is displayed. It is in the fat-burning zone.”


“The roar of cicadas, I notice this roar finally. It is amazing, it has built up so gradually that I didn’t notice it, like a frog in heating water. It is deafening: If I was talking to someone, if I was with someone, I would have to shout.

The eye-burning vapour of eucalyptus leaves. I walk on soft sand that has been spread across the prepared walking path through Litchfield park. Hardly natural up here on the top of escarpment. Scrambling across rocks not strictly on the trail to get a better view I observe the thin waterfalls, the deep pools at the base of the cliffs. There are safe cascades sometimes, where girls in bikinis and men in surf-shorts bathe languidly. Dry season, low water, no crocodiles. It is safe for those sybarites in the pools. No-one will be eaten today.

I did not bring my bathers, my togs, my swimmers on the drive from Darwin (speed limit 130kms/hour! Outstanding in a rental!) The bathers are in my room. I berate myself as the dark water looks so cool, is so inviting.”


“Under my big toe, on the ventral surface of my right hallux, something feels uncomfortable, a slightly piercing pressure, a princess’s pea. When I lift my foot and prod under the breach at the font of my sandal there only a small leaf caught underneath, a soft and innocent leaf. Soft? The neural sensitivity is returning, perhaps; a leaf like this shouldn’t bring such pain. Maybe the drugs are losing their potency in my system. This makes me a little bit sad, makes me a little bit angry. The drugs stabilise my mood as well as try to kill the pain. Every emotion is a little bit.”


“The siren sounds and everybody – 100,016 everybodies – take a large breath in. How can so many people be suddenly so silent? It is like a film, unreal and false, believable despite its cruel unbelievable essence. Some players fall to ground and lie on their backs to stare at the sky. Clouds are gathering, I wonder if they notice. The players who are still standing place their hands on their heads and walk around in a stupor. Some are crying, some blank-faced. Even the players lying down have their hands on their heads. Why? Is this the response to frustration, to disbelief, to resignation, to the realisation that 140 minutes of grueling, body-breaking effort, of continual effort, of hard non-stop running up the extensive playing field (amazing fitness), of leaping and crushing and fast twisting, turning, slipping away from the ball-hunger of the opposition team keen to bash you down and steal the Sherrin – all this has been in vain. OMG, has all that hard physical and psychological preparation of the entire year been wasted? A draw in the Grand Final? It cannot have happened, yet it has.

Rain falls within a whipping wind as we walk home from the ground. Appropriate.”


I am still getting splashed by the rain. It’s heavier again. The roar of the hush continues everywhere around me, like cicadas in the bush, like the birds (are they yellow) in the trees on Orchard Rd.

I wonder what to write about.


* plagiarised from Ogawa’s “The Diving Pool” which I am currently reading while not typing this.

Take A Deep Breath

Posted in apnoea, CPAP, long time no post by expatatlarge on August 1, 2010

Firstly: It’s not that I lack respect, a sense of duty or unbounded love for my readers, it’s just that I have been busy having a life of late. Even though this does NOT entail a change in my relationship status (check FB for confirmation), I have been getting out a lot, day/night in day/night out. Work has been busy, trips all around the place – Oz, Japan, Vietnam, all with entailing heavy social commitments – AND I have been put in charge of the next International training (not that I’ve done anything yet). OK and a holiday or too, but then again, not much done from there either.

Yes – shudder you may, reel in shock you might and be amazed you should. I’ve been busy(ish).

Not sure why this is, but it’s true. I have just not had any spare (and/or sober) time to sit down and write anything. I suspect that the relatively heavy dose of Lamictal I have been prescribed for my IPN* has softened the bumps of my moods, mainly the grumpiness part. I still get get happy happy whenever circumstances dictate (they always “dictate”, don’t they? What are they, grade school teachers? “Get out your books, children, time for dictation of circumstances!”), but as lamitrogine is more commonly prescribed for epilepsy and bi-polar disorder, there certainly has been some moderation in the incidence of E@L’s Irritable Ang-mo Syndrome…

And when I have nothing to complain about, I rarely blog – I become very veewwwwwwy quiet.

Should I apologize for this? Or should I rejoice?


So, moving right along to the topic of this post – an update on the snoring device.

E@L is addicted to CPAP**!

He might look stupid with it on, but at least he is getting MUCH fewer apnoeic episodes according to the results his ENT Doc has shown him. The CPAP mask (must get a leopard skin one) was difficult to acclimatize to at first, and initially he hated it. But he persisted. Now – can’t get a restful sleep without the Respironics (a Philips company) chugging away. It’s very quiet actually, and with the bedside radio on sleep (ironically) for 30mins, it doesn’t bother him and he drops off quickly. The whistle of the air going in and sneaking out through the ventilation holes is a little loud but is zen-like in its regularity.

The air-pump machine records the return pressure up the tube and makes wild suppositions about what’s happening in his naso-pharynx, which correlates (one hopes) with depth and quality of sleep. He certainly wakes up feeling a lot more clear-headed, even after a night on the grog (see above re: social life.) Without it, he feels like shit.

At the sleep test, his results were quite frightening. 50 odd apnoeic/hyponoeic episodes per hour. The longest episode of poor breathing was 56.8 seconds. That’s not good. Let us explain here – and apnoeic episode is 10 second or longer and hyponoeic of a reduction of airflow by 50%.

Breathing stops or is reduced due to blockage of the naso-pharynx by either a floppy soft-palate (the bit the uvula sits on) or by the tongue falling back.

That’s at least 16-17% of the time E@L was not breathing properly. Oxygen sats were dropping to as low as 83%. (That’s measured by the red-light thing they clip on your finger.)

With CPAP apnoeic/hypoeic episodes have recovered to about 4 per hour. That’s normal range.

Excellent results. E@L will live a bit longer! (Or at least not die of this.)


* idiopathic peripheral neuropathy

** continuous positive air-wave pressure or something.