General

A One-Issue Community

This is my second rest day in as many days after my continuous six-day skiing, under instructions and with Su. The original plan was to rest for one day only, on my birthday, but Su did not think the weather today was conducive to recreational skiing and it rained. We stayed in-door flipping channels often ending with CNN, which seemed to be a one-issue channel, from morning till night and round the clock, namely the mystery of flight MH370. CNN has programming segments with different anchor persons, notably, Breaking News, The Lead, The Situation Room, Developing Story and so on, but almost without exception, each anchor person would call up the same people for interviews and to give so called expert advice. The result is that the same faces appear over and over again and the news reels run ad nauseum sometimes back to back, beginning with the announcement of the disappearance of MH370, now in its 32nd day. It is a bit too much. I was particularly annoyed one evening when the channel pre-empted a special report at 9pm – which it advertized for a week – regarding how a journalist, through painstaking research, discovered evidence leading to the retrial and freedom of a convicted murderer on death row.

The world must be crazy. On the one hand, we have the Malaysian Government creating monstrous gaffes, one after another, raising false hopes and generating tensions amongst families of passengers on board, then on the other hand, careless or carefree commentators making remarks with no regard to the passengers and their families. The Australian Government which has been landed with the task of heading the mammoth operation is to be commended for its professionalism, impartiality and understanding, but I take exception to the somewhat anti-China stance assumed by the West in general and the Americans in particular, which I don’t think is helpful to the exercise in the first place. The bulk of the passengers on the flight being Chinese, China naturally have the motivation to try every means to find the airplane or its flight recorders. I find it somewhat nauseating therefore that some of these experts had dismissed outright the first finds of Haixun 01 as amateurish exercises, while others were allowed to ask questions, unchallenged, on why the Chinese vessel had decided to explore that particular section of the sea in the first place.

Angus Houston is doing a great job as Head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre and I wish him well. By the way, the Air Chief Marshal is also 66 now. He would turn 67 in June. The appointment requires huge administration experience and talents as well as international understanding and the personalities involved. The exercise itself reveals how little human beings know about Mother Nature and the world they are in. Too many people in position have jumped to conclusions too soon before they even know what the problems before them are and before they could assemble the necessary information they need. I would not even begin to pretend that I know anything about the whole saga. My personal involvement related to the flight is this. On 7 March when news of the flight first broke, Su asked me to find out whether our good friends in Kula Lumpur were OK, which I did. Thank God they were.

It seems that each community can only deal with a very small number of issues at any one time, normally one. Just as Hong Kong has been predominantly pre-occupied with the electoral reforms in 2017, the world seems to be concerned only with the mystery of flight MH370, and quite rightly so. I have been on the road for more than three weeks, primarily to accompany Su on her annual pilgrimage to Whistler; and that is my one issue on this trip. Now, the three key equipment for skiing are skis, boots and poles, all of which do not come cheap, which is why beginners normally are advised to go to rental shops many of which offer very competitive packages, particularly at low seasons. Su got herself a complete set after her first three days of skiing, while I got my boots and poles, the instructors at Whistler having advised me to stick to rental skis until I became more comfortable on the slopes.

On my birthday which was my first rest day, Su and I went places in the Village and talked to many people in ski shops. It transpired that this was not the best time to buy myself skis because the ones that would fit me had largely gone and because most shops would only stock up higher end products for more advanced skiers, leaving the rental shops to take of the beginners. Meanwhile, two shops had offered to sell me shorter skis, but we learnt later that one was for juniors and the other for ladies. More important, we were advised that one really should not take on junior or lady skis because typically the graphics on them would not be manly and because they would be too soft and narrow for a man skier’s purposes.

I was resigned to taking to rentals until we accidentally strolled into a shop close to the Market Place, meaning that it is a bit of a hike to the gondolas particularly if one is walking with the complete gears. The shop assistant Brad was very busy, but when I told him my problem, he became sympathetic and began looking round in the shop for something suitable. Eventually, he found one which he described as perfect for me, in terms of length, flex and gender. It was a demo though, as opposed to a rental, and was one year old. The shop policy being not to sell demo skis until the season was almost over, Brad talked to the manager who agreed to make it an exception, and sell it at very cheap price. And that was the story of how I got my birthday present. Subsequent research by Su reveals that the model was designed for men who are experienced beginners, mellowed and not working to be pros, which made it perfect for my purposes. So it seems I am getting on with my one issue on this trip, namely skiing.

I hope to talk to you again soon.

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