STS Bebinca

My Dear Rotarians and Friends, in particular my Action Presidents,

I cannot recall when we last had an approach in November by a severe tropical storm that resulted in the Royal Observatory having to hoist typhoon signals. I was expecting air movements and cooler weather; maybe a little rain; that would make me sleep better. It turned out to be rather stuffy and even hot compared with the few pleasant nights last week. I woke up and decided to do some work.

Sitting in front of the monitor, I found that it was four weeks since I last wrote to you in this series. I wondered what had happened: have I lost interest, have I been too busy or otherwise preoccupied, or have I got nothing to tell you.

Something did happen. First, my computer was infected about two or three weeks ago. It would not shut down the way Microsoft requires its users to, and funny messages popped up every now and then. I sought professional help from Joseph, our club’s computer wizard. Now, Joseph is a young and busy Rotarian planning to get married for the first time next January. He gave me some instructions over the phone. I followed them to the word. It worked, but only for less than a day. I called him again and he asked me to take the sick hard disc to him. Unfortunately, mine is not the detachable kind, which means that I had to lug the CPU in a mini suitcase all the way from Central to Kowloon Club the evening we had the last District Happy Hour. I would come back to the Happy Hour later. Joseph fixed it and took it to District Bowling, which explains why I appeared to be going on a short trip that day. When I plugged in the system that evening, I discovered new problems. To cut the long story short and to give credit to Joseph, we had to spend sometime together and separately before the system could begin to work. In the process, I loss all my address files. I had a backup that was six months out of date, but I had no choice. In the six months, I have updated many of your addresses and made many necessary changes to the mailing list. The thought of not having an updated address list turned out to be a negative force and gave me the excuse not to write until I have updated the list. Well, it shouldn’t have, but my friends, nobody is perfect.

I have yet to update my address book; it is such tedious work and the thought alone would put me off; but I suppose I have by now learnt to live with a lot of imperfections including many self-inflicted ones, so what is another imperfect mailing list. Bebinca prompted me to write by keeping me awake in the heat of the night.

As I look back, the last four weeks were quite something and eventful at many levels. Well, I suppose every day means a lot and is as eventful to the individuals who value life as much as anyone should. The past few months have demonstrated to me more clearly than ever the meaning that every day alive is another day gained; and this does not necessarily apply to people with known incurable sicknesses, although it manifests more easily in their cases. The Rotarians and friends who attended the evening meeting of the Rotary Club of Hongkong Sunrise on 24 October and who listened to Regeneration Society Chairman Dr. Margaret Chung and her friends would understand precisely what I have been trying to get across.

Back to the past four weeks. I recall it began with a spate of announcements of Nobel Prize winners, beginning with the Physics, Chemistry and Biology awards going to mainly scientists from University of California at Santa Barbara and Harvard, then the much talked about Literature award going to Gao Xingian and hailed as the first going to a Chinese, albeit living overseas, and of course the thoroughly merited Peace Award going to South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. As a science undergraduate, I was always fascinated by these awards, particularly those in the science divisions. A few of my cleverer classmates upon graduation went into scientific research in genetics and molecular cell biology. These are people who out-performed me in the laboratory and in examinations. They wrote back on their experience of meeting these Nobel laureates at work and would brag about having lunches with them on the same bench. This is something I would always miss.

We had Zhu Rongi meeting Charlene Barshefsky in Japan, Barak and Arafat meeting in Egypt, later joined by Clinton and others, Jiang Zemin giving journalists in Beijing a piece of his mind before meeting Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, and of course, Mr. Tung delivering his Policy Address, aided by technology. In the meantime, our American friends are having to choose their nation’s next leader. The US Campaign 2000 must be the most closely followed and widely reported media events of late. In about two days, we would be fed the results and more analyses on why it happens the way it would happen. In another week’s time, Hong Kong would find out whether we would host the 2006 Asian Games, but meanwhile, Rotarians in Hong Kong are getting ready for the 2000 Hong Kong Rotary Institute to be held here this week.

In the last four weeks, I attended over a dozen club meetings, mostly in the form of Official Visits. By now, I have done three quarters of the visits and I am enjoying them more and more. I went to the anniversary celebrations of Tolo Harbour and New Territories. It rained the evening Tolo Harbour had theirs at the Ocean Park, resulting in some last minute adjustments to the programme. Rosita accompanied me to the Annual Charity Ball of New Territories. Housing Authority Chairman H K Cheng was the Guest of Honour. His son was noticeably not there. One source said afterwards that he probably did not know his father would be there.

Going back to Roista’s conditions. The results of the therapy are generally positive except for the liver. The consultants cannot prove conclusively that the many nodules showing up during scanning are malignant, but they are treating them as such. They did advise that it would not be effective to continue chemotherapy. Instead, they have prescribed hormonal treatment for three months initially. Meanwhile, Rosita has taken up a qigong regime involving extensive walking. The good news is that the side effects of chemotherapy would recede, but the less good news is that she is not out of the woods yet. Once again, we thank all friends and Rotarians for the good wishes, concerns and prayers. We would keep you posted of her progress.

Now the Happy Hour, or the not so happy Happy Hour. There were only 16 attending the October District Happy Hour. If we had not rescheduled the October meeting of the Governor’s Policy Committee, attendance would have been below ten. The very poor attendance has prompted Larry Parmanand to cancel the November Happy Hour pending a review. One suggestion is that the District would invite our partners in service to the next one, if we decide to have one. These would include, in addition to our Rotaractors, our friends from Lions, Zonta, Junior Chamber and Agency for Volunteer Service. I welcome views from you on how to make the occasion more attractive. After all, the Happy Hour was planned for you.

Talk to you soon.

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