Friday, January 19, 2007

Putting on Weight

Like many people I put on a little weight over the holidays. This is a particular problem for me because in Hong Kong the holidays are not over until after Chinese New Year. So, I have National Day, Lantern Festival, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year and Ching Ming. Not to mention Buddha's Birthday. That means that for ex-pats with Chinese spouses living here your holiday season is 6 months long. So, in Hong Kong we start with Moon cake, progress to turkey and then eggnog and then finish off with champagne and beer. Not exactly a low calorie 6 months.

I don't under stand how so many of the Chinese are so skinny! Pencil-necks, skinny-minies, milquetoast are way over represented on Hong Kong streets. If you see a girl with boobs you can bet that she either was born somewhere else or is wearing a padded bra. The teenage boys often times look very effeminate because they have no muscles, but perfectly mussed ugly hair cuts that look like something right out of "America's Next Top Model."

They even let their Filipino maid carry their school bag for them. How girly is that?

That said I wish was that skinny sometimes rather the moderately tall slightly overweight Westerner that I am. Gaining weight is a pain in so many ways but mostly because if you don't plan on staying fat you don't want to buy new clothes. So, you continue squeezing into those old trousers and praying that you won't split a seam, bust a button or have to breathe for the rest of the day. Just before Christmas I was down to two pairs of blue jeans and one pair of shorts that I could wear comfortably. My employer was, at that point kind enough to inform me that wearing those to work on any day but Fridays was a violation of the employee dress code and I needed to look more professional.

Well, the last couple of weeks the lovely, gracious, smart, makes more money than me, loving and caring wife and I were in Shenzhen and I purchased several pairs of new trousers with a larger waist. I actually had to look for a shop that carried a 38 to 39 inch waist. Most stores stopped at 34. Because I don't plan of being this big very long I bought cheap pants. They were only $39 yuan each. These not only fit better but they appeal to my innate sense of cheapskatedness. They even look nice and I have worn them to actual complements every since.

While I don't pay a lot of attention to trousers I won't wear cheap shirts. I don't know what it is but there is just something about a cheap shirt, even a t-shirt. They never fit right. They are uncomfortable. They either wrinkle up like an old man's face and have to be ironed with a steamroller or are made of recycled plastic bags and are thus both hot and clammy which seems strange in print but is true on your back. I prefer silk dress shirts. Good, high quality permanent press cotton shirts with about 30% rayon are also OK but, a silk dress shirt is simply the bees-knees of comfort. The only real problem with a silk shirt is that you need suspenders because your trousers slide down the shirt even with a belt. But the need for suspenders is far offset by the way that the silk feels on your back and shoulders.

There are, generally speaking, two types of things in the world. Things you care about and things you don't.

For me, trousers fall into the "I don't care " category. If they fit, are not a strange color and don't smell funny I'm OK with them. While shirts can fall into this category if you are talking about t-shirts or the old sweatshirt you've had since high school silk shirts are another story. I didn't buy a shirt in Shenzhen because I couldn't find any silk ones. Silk is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than cotton and a silk rayon blend can be nearly as low maintenance as a cotton permanent press shirt. Silk shirts make me feel good.

We constantly look for things that make us feel good. Not all of those things are clothing or food. Hong Kong recently passed an absolutely draconian smoking ban which is, essentially a feel good law.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a smoker. But to ban smoking in all restaurants, public parks and all buildings that are not your personal home is bit extreme. They justified this by trotting out all these arguments about second hand smoke. Fine, great, it may be a problem in a perfect world where the air-pollution rating isn't 95 a day every day or where your eyes don't water from the smog or where you don't develop that little cough from breathing the air.

The fact that the government here will pass an anti-smoking law that is this drastic but takes absolutely NO action regarding the ubiquitous air-pollution here is almost comical! Or would be if it were not so sad.

Which is the greater problem, second hand smoke in a Wan Chai bar or (Assuming you buy the theory) Global warming? Which will gave more children respiratory problems in Hong Kong Second hand smoke in a Karaoke palace or air pollution?

Which problem did the HK government address? Smoking.

Why? Because being a bully to smokers doesn't require them to upset their masters in Beijing or make hard economic decisions which a land developer or factory owner might criticize. They gain brownie points with organic food crowd but don't lose a lot of political capital with anybody else, even smokers because smokers know that smoking isn't good for them.

Unlike my penchant for silk shirts this is a dangerous thing for government to do. Laws should not simply make us feel good. Hong Kong is facing a huge problem with air pollution that is basically not being dealt with in a meaningful way.

What about some work place laws?

How about legislation limiting the number hours that employees can work like every other developed country has? Indeed, forbidding employers from forcing people to work 75 hours a week would go a long way towards alleviating the need for a minimum wage. (The logic here is that if a workers suddenly gets the same salary for 30 hours less a week they have received a huge raise.) Not that I'm necesarrily against a minimum wage.

The Hong Kong government needs to get past the touchy-feely warm and fuzzy and deal with real issues. That means they need to take on the endemic corruption that plagues us here in the form of cartels and cabals that control the economy. We need fair competition and anti-monopoly laws.

We need them now. Instead, we got a smoking ban.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Silk-Shirted Blogger

1 comment:

fumier said...

You are right. Shirts are the only important items of clothing. (Apart from some decent boxers if you reckon you're going to pull.)