Valentine's Day 2/14/14
I have a Valentine for Andy when I get back home in a few days, but today my heart goes to the Lions. They've truly enriched my adventure.
Natalie especially has made Hong Kong such a good experience. She's one of those smart competent young people who are a joy to be around and to watch as they move up in the world. Dr. Tam is lucky to have her on his staff, and I'm lucky he has so graciously made her available to me while I'm here.
I haven't done anything touristy here, but Natalie made sure I tasted some of her favorite foods (tonight we had Korean curry, very different from Indian curry and very good). And thanks to Dr. Tam, I had a very productive meeting at the Hong Kong Society for the Blind (HKSB). Natalie and I spent most of the day there, and I met with the directors of the major programs and services HKSB offers, including adaptive computer technology, the Braille literacy program and library, deafblind programs, and of course orientation and mobility training.
I was impressed. The HKSB facility is comparable to the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind, except I didn't see a store with adaptive and assistive products like the Lighthouse and the Sacramento Society for the Blind have. And I don't think HKSB has a Low Vision Clinic like the Sacramento Society for the Blind does.
It was an especially nice welcome for me when almost every staff member I met there told me they'd visited my website and liked my mosaics. "You're good!" one of them said.
I brought the Gecko Mirror I made for Prandy and the Mathru mirror that Judy bought, along with my portfolios, all of which were examined with great interest. I blessed Anne Williams for shooting a few photos of a half-finished mosaic on my worktable with my tools and materials. She did those years ago and I'd forgotten I had them, but today they were the most intently scrutinized of all the portfolio pictures. Short of giving them an actual demonstration with my tools, those photos were the best way to help them understand my technique.
I will send them a proposal, and they are going to apply for government funding that will soon be available. I'm optimistic that we'll work something out.
I like what little I have seen of Hong Kong and would love to spend more time here. It's crowded and busy and has its own ambiance, like Singapore does -- both cities have taken on the flavors and cultures of all the different peoples living and traveling through there. Even with all its international character, Hong Kong is very Chinese, and part of China now, too. But it's very different from mainland China, Natalie said. "Hong Kong is First World and the rest of China is not." I thought that was a good way to put it.
I love the assistive traffic signals here. Wherever there is a streetlight, there is also a chest-high pole at the sidewalk, with a smaller version of the main streetlight on top that flashes red and green like the main light does. The device emits a distinctive clicking noise (Andy claims is sounds like a cowbell) and there is a vibrating panel with a rotating arrow. You place your hand lightly on the panel, and the arrow rotates to let you know which direction you can cross. They're the best assistive traffic signals I've ever encountered. They make traffic information accessible to low-vision, no-vision, and deafblind pedestrians.
I have all my stuff packed in two bags and no carryon (except my shoulder bag), thanks to Natalie, who found me a bigger (and cheap) suitcase. The bellman came up and weighed the bags, and it looks like I'll be okay. The smaller bag that I'm taking to Manila is a couple kilos under Philippine Airlines' limit, and the big bag is right at Singapore Airlines' limit. Natalie is going to keep the big bag for me, and meet me at the airport with it on Wednesday when I get back to Hong Kong to catch my Singapore Airlines flight to San Francisco.
It's odd packing for warm tropical weather in Manila when Hong Kong and San Francisco are both cool. It's been in the mid-60s here, and I've been very comfortable in long pants, warm socks and lightweight shirt jacket. That will be perfect for San Francisco, but way too warm for Manila. It's about 85 degrees and humid there. I have my denim skirt and sandals stuffed into my shoulder bag and will change on the plane before we land in Manila.
And now I better land my head on my pillow and get some sleep.