Failure. Success.

You say "Potato...".

Once upon a time, two different guys got kicked out of their bands...

In 1983, a guitarist was asked to leave his band abruptly, undramatically. Bewildered and well, furious, he vowed revenge. He. Would. Absolutely Kick Their Butts By Forming A Way Awesome-er Band And Make His Original Band Regret Ever Dumping Him.

He wrote songs, he practiced, practiced, practiced, and he hired new bandmates who were awesome musicians.

Within just a few years, his new band signed a record deal, their first album proceeded to go gold, and they sold over 25 million albums. This guitarist is apparently (I say apparently because I don't know heavy-metal) considered one of the most brilliant and influential musicians of his genre. His name is David Mustaine, his new band Megadeth.

The band he was originally kicked out of however was Metallica. They sold over 180 million albums.

So, Boo Hoo. He failed. (No one else thinks so, but he apparently thinks so.)

The other guy who got kicked out of a band... was kicked out because he didn't fit in. Among others, he was the only one not doing drugs. 

So the rest of the band got together and asked their manager to fire him. 3 days later they replaced him and did their first recording, and went on to sell 800 million albums. The band was The Beatles.

Paul McCartney would come right out and say it: "He wasn't quite like the rest of us." "We were... wacky... He was... sensible..."

Can you imagine being kicked out of The Beatles for being "sensible"? For not doing drugs?

NOW what am I supposed to tell my kids?

So basically one guy was famous and successful... and still thought he wasn't. Another guy then got kicked out of arguably the most successful band ever, and never "made it back".
Guess which one would come to describe getting kicked out as the best thing that ever happened to him?

Pete Best initially experienced "failure" NOT from actually not being good enough, or even from doing anything "wrong". At one point some people (including female fans) thought he was the best-looking Beatle. After getting kicked out, he then also had to "survive" Beatlemania. The idol-status of all those people who did "that" to him. But he would go on to find a steady job as a civil servant, get married for the next 50 years, have 2 daughters and 4 grandkids, and his own band named after him, which he would still do public performances with, just for fun. Just... not for wild fame and fortune and a crazed fan shooting him.

"Wacky's" great for.... entertainment? This is the whole problem with entertainment and reality tv and what-not - what's "bad" will so very often be more alluring than what's "good" (so instead of watching The Kardashians, let's have a gadzillion animals at home and watch what else kids are making on Youtube these days!)

Caveat:

There are three freaking SNAKES up for adoption on the SPCA website right now and if you want them the vet would first like to speak to you about their pre-existing health conditions. We know this because Hamster Ninja was eye-ing "Brownie". Thank God for Sophie The Russian Hamster being in our home right now.

Also, Rockstar likes to play this to irritate me:

PFUDOR = Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing On Rainbows = IWTHMOTHWSJTMIS = I Want To Hit Myself Over The Head With Something Just To Make It Stop :D. There is one version that plays just the unicorn on the rainbow for ONE HOUR. (See kids, you don't need to do drugs to annoy your parents!)

See, I don't believe the Beatles necessarily needed drugs to perform. I think somewhere in their personality along with the wild talent lay a susceptibility to using heavily (lotsa articles about the alcoholics who qualify for Mensa), and I guess I'm just opening the door to getting hammered for laying keyboard to the Beatles, except the alternative - to see probably the greatest band of all time as achieving what they did with heavy drug usage going hand in hand - is worse, isn't it? There are whole books written about the presence of drugs throughout the Beatles' career, a list of songs inspired by drug trips (personally, I always loved Yellow Submarine but how is "We All Lived In A Yellow Submarine" that different from "Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing On Rainbows," which I'm pretty sure is something a bunch of kids came up with while watching Canadian Youtuber Andrew Huang(he credits one of his viewers with first inspiring him to do Unicorns))

pic from ideas.lego.com

What if the real reason such a gifted group of performers as the Beatles couldn't stop with the drugs was because of a correlation between susceptibility to an addiction, and pure creative talent? (That, and the fact theirs was the era of free love, anti-war and yup, drugs, in the '60s.) Nowadays we know differently, don't we? Plus, nowadays we have Youtube (with... the parental controls on, of course.)

Not to mention, what if the need for drugs was just an excuse? See Mark Manson, author of The Book I'm Still A Little Chicken To Name, practically reviles the pursuit of pleasure: "Pleasure is a false god... ...The easiest to obtain, the easiest to lose..." "Ask any addict (or adulterer) how they feel about the pursuit of pleasure..." 

At which point I finally feel halfway safe enough to say what book that was from:

Screen shot off Amazon.com

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck by former banker-turned-blogger Mark Manson.

I decided to horribly plagiarise paraphrase the band stories in this book because "over 1 million copies sold" be damned, the title alone might just make some of us parents cover the kids' eyes, "Ah Boy Ah, Don't Look This Way Ah. Got F Word Ahhh.." and unless you actually read it with a pinch of salt, some can come off as a little... too irreverent. (Hard enough already getting all that 'tude from the kids today, without an internationally best-selling book title that appears to advocate "Not Giving A F*ck"). It would be an uprising of F* words and 'tude to match, from which society might never recover! Today it's reading this book about NGAF*, tomorrow issa Life Of Crime 😀 Problem is, while Manson does clarify that he doesn't mean to not care about anything, you do have to read it through. And the colourful language and examples are way more attention grabbing.

Now, I don't have actual tweens yet, (do an almost-10yr old who can Major Eye-roll me pretty good (of course in school and at home he'd get in trouble if it got too far, but kids are not total robots, right...) and a contender for Hong Kong's Biggest Tween-Wannabe* who has just passed her fifth birthday count?) And SO. I shalt falleth on the swordeth and readeth the #1 International Bestseller with the most compelling and bad*ss title because well maybe I could use a Life Of Crime 😀

For real though, I was initially a little misled by the title, and I only looked further into it after Bored Panda re-posted this picture off the Daily Mail awhile ago, along with a collection of others, with a comment that was in essence:

"No F*cks Given"

As in, old couple flips a car, poses for pic even as rescuer climbs in to get Grandma out. I assume this old couple read the memo about not deliberately flipping cars, but as my former Taiwanese RMs (bank relationship managers/Sales) liked to remind me, "As-ident Happen No-bah-dy Hurt Is Best Of Unlucky." If they umm, "gave more of a F-" they might've had heart attacks from flipping a car even if no one was otherwise hurt...

Separately, that was how the internet was won one day by the elderly 😀

ps: *Hamster Ninja already asked why grownups or Youtube or on tv people get to use the F-word but little kids don't. Since I couldn't block out every single F-word there is (though we do try), I told her context is everything - whenever she's heard it it's been when someone caught their fingers in the door or got hit with something - BUT not in proper school or polite conversations.  

Happy Halloween! Try not to eat too much candy! (Or, if you do, at least try to make the next Fluffy Pink Unicorn Video out of it!)

(We were Metatton EX and Sans from Undertale, and Wonder Woman this year. Rockstar wanted company; Hamster Ninja just wanted to get to wear whatever SHE wanted.) Mine's just duct tape, felt and glossy cardboard held together with stick-on velcro - just for the night - but Rockstar'll be wearing that tailored Baleno hoodie for awhile...

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A Fish Story (As In, Somewhere In There Is A Story And Fish)

Know that widely-circulated myth about goldfish (or really, fish) having 3-second memories? Researchers actually debunked it years ago. Well but Disney says Dory fish can be forgetful, so Brutus must be a forgetful fish. Oh wait Disney also put an octopus behind the wheel of a truck but of course no one would believe an octopus can drive

Hank needs to keep his eyes on the road though (pic from tumblr.com)

Anyway, Bored Panda posted about this Goldfish Who Refused To Die (won from a fair - not unlike the ones we've got now - then living in a tank that hadn't been cleaned in 1.5 years) who prompted some good samaritan to redo the entire thing complete with all the aquarium attachments:

   

...and since we'd gotten 8 goldfish in two visits to Tai Tong Ecopark in similar fashion, I thought to mention that the stall lady had managed our expectations that these things would probably only live a week...

It's going on 3 weeks and we still have 6 - one died right after we brought everyone home from the park, but "only" the second one died last night.

Tai Tong Ecopark, we want our money back. The fish we got from you are still alive. 

So we now live with a Border Collie on meds twice a day (therefore also her disposable baby bedmats because the meds make her drink a lot of water), a hamster, two kids who produce a mountain of junk modelling and Legos, and 6 goldfish. We recently added two suckermouth catfish to eat the fast-growing algae in the tanks, which get quite a lot of sunlight outdoors, and then two guppies to replace the dead goldfish (go figure)

The old dog likes to make her presence felt when the kids are messing about with their toys which is why she is lying as close as she can to the tracks Rockstar is assembling

She lies a little less close when we trim her - the apartment/ bedwetting means I bathe her rear end every few days (all these animals are my gym!) which made her thick curly fur more prone to tangles... So in between swings at the playground Hamster Ninja looks for snarls and cuts them off with her little kiddie scissors

The apartment was just too cluttered so we put the fish in large flower vases from the supermarket, out on the balcony. A previous helper often lost our lobsters when the top of our old tank wasn't secure after she changed the water - lobsters have a habit of clambering about, and the water filter and air tubes were always fair game. So we'd return them, claws waving and stabbing maniacally about as you picked them up from under the furniture, to the tank. However, if you don't find them before their gills dry out, they die.

This time round we thought anything in a tank might have a better chance outside in large enough water containers to not need plug-in aerations, and Hamster Ninja and I change the water ourselves. It was a commitment she made in order to get to bring the fish home and get to set up "tank" again. Rockstar should appreciate that his little sister, perpetually noisy as she is, has endless energy to mother all manner of creatures in our home, including his. 

Now all I need to do is fill large covered Tupperware with filtered tap water and leave it outside. In the course of her messing with the hamster and checking on her fish after school, Hamster Ninja then scoops out the old water every few days right into the balcony drain hole next to the vases tanks, and replaces it with water from the Tupperware. Extra free labour entertainment for her, since she's always looking for something else to do with the animals (she watches little tv). She says the goldfish now peck at her fingers (I think they're either attracted to the salty sweat on her skin after school, or fish are stupid :D)

By now they've survived the last typhoon 8 outdoors, we seem to have way less critter casualties with Hamster Ninja doing it, leading me to Yet Another Caffeine-Fueled Epiphany: If you have to train your helper and keep reminding, reminding, reminding her to be careful, why not spend all that energy on your little kid instead? At the end of the day, the time invested is about the same, and you come away with the benefits your own child will have, from learning to take care of other living things.

Caveat: Your child with give you reproachful looks when you flush the dead fish down the toilet.

What? We knew the first one for like, a day. It was raining. I saved the dead bloated thing in a bowl for her to examine very carefully and then I got THE LOOK when I put it in the toilet. I am NOT digging up the Waterfront Dog Park for funeral services for every dead goldfish that comes through our home so I flushed the second goldfish before she woke up BUAHAHAHAHAHA.

We uh, knew Blackie for almost 3 weeks. I was LAZY. I know. But I will get better at writing Fish Eulogies.

Next animal - Sophie the Russian Dwarf Hamster:

She was originally living in this elaborate modern hamster run that Rockstar had the responsibility of assembling/ reconstructing at the time (maybe 6 months ago, with Gemma, before Sophie); that's not all of it, it actually spans about 2 desks, but I forgot to take a pic before dismantling it

This modern, formerly-gorgeous, very-educational-to-build plastic thing is an absolute pain to clean, and it took up so much space (picture above is after we already took apart the extensions that span two desks). So this Youtuber must have a gadzillion housekeepers, or at least a gadzillion cage parts. We only have a large trashbag-full. But we can all live vicariously through other people's Youtubes :D:

Also, the stuff we had, both Gemma and Sophie quickly outgrew and then you'd see their eyes totally bug out when they moved from room to room. Don't buy the hamster stuff marked "for Dwarf hamsters". Even if you have a Dwarf hamster. The tunnels are really, really small and your dwarf will struggle even if it isn't fat, and just stuffs its pouches.

So we got wire cutters and a bunch of cheap, small cages.

Hamster Hi-Rise a la most Hong Kong homes - narrow living space that takes up much less room - only about a third of a little kiddie desk, compared to the original 2-desk-wide one.

3 little wire cages piled up, and choice parts from previous cages. This little studio home also boasts a Mezzanine floor (in light blue), so it's 3.5 levels that also house a sand pit for digging, traditional running wheel, two climbing tunnels, couple food stations and nap burrows, a Sylvanian families light-up fireplace and a bathroom sink with mirror.

The bathroom dresser is especially important - Sophie uses it as a step up onto the Mez floor. My personal favourite however is that by unhooking two little clips the entire wire portion comes off and I can shake the entire bottom tray into the trash - the wires make the cage much cleaner because only the bottom floor ever gets wet or dirty. Total cleaning time every 2-3 weeks is now down to 5 mins. (Nope, our helper has never touched the hamster cages in the 1.5 years we've been having hamster. Everyone is much happier this way, and no animals get hurt.)

*Pavlov Effect actually works on fish too - researchers found they could train fish to swim back towards familiar sounds months after they had been released back to sea, especially if say, you played the same sound when feeding them while they were still juveniles.

While that has implications for fish farming (you can theoretically raise fish directly in their natural habitat and still be able to farm them), it's also a nod to erm, animal "training" in general - if you appeal to an animal species' built-in defence mechanisms or whatever it is they evolve in order to find food/ not go extinct for reasons other than starvation, you'll find most living things can be "trained"... 

 
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Kennedy School Y6 Swim Gala

"...We want to encourage... children (to) try their best..."

Sports Ambassadors Got Style a.k.a. If you haz brightly coloured 'fro, you iz someone in sports :)(they're usually sporty kids, on at least one school team, and charged with encouraging the other kids and getting them more enthusiastic about sports)..

 

The kids really walk up to and sit in the chairs at that far end before approaching the starting podium, "just like in the Olympics," another mum tells me 😀

Huge event, with pages and pages of carefully organised heats, and both serious swim rounds and easier or "fun" rounds, totalling a whopping 4 hours in that blazing sun. Lotsa prior warnings from the school, that it was going to be super hot and sunny, and boy it really was. 

"...There's some children who never thought they could win a swimming event and here they've won some..."

 

Rockstar had 2 scheduled events (and swimming is by no means his thing.) Ok, I feel like a fluffy swim story is in order - my beloved Brisbane former boss used to describe to us in the dealing room how in Australian competitive swimming, they pick the kids for serious training quite early, and at least partly based on size/height. Somewhat incongruously, given our surroundings, he would talk about sheer arm span and hand size and what-not... and how those chosen kids trained and trained dawn til dusk from young and it was their whole life and later on their whole career... and I might be tempted to say Well My Kid Used To Be In The Lowest 5th Percentile For Size So Bye-Bye Competitive Swimming 😀 (though by now it's closer to 30th Percentile), but there were some pint-size "bullets" from his school torpedo-ing about the pool that day, it wasn't just the (very) tall kids who were strong swimmers (though some really were that amazing)..

And then my former boss would talk about how when he travelled in and out of Aussieland he'd drop that his (now former) son inlaw Kieren Perkins was coming to pick him up at the airport, and watch the Oh Great, Another Fruitcake flicker of irritation cross the face of the immigration officers checking his luggage...... until they looked up and saw Mr Perkins waiting at the Arrivals gate.

(Yes, most of us met him, he used to come into dwarf the little dealing room, and introductions were just art, in their meh-ness:

Boss: Hi --- meet my son-inlaw. <pause> His name is Kieren Perkins.
Local RM: Oh, hello. You must find Hong Kong quite different. Have you been to Yat Tung Heen? You must try their dim sum.
Boss: He's a competitive swimmer you know. He's swum in the Olympics.
Local RM: <looks the towering Mr Perkins up and down again> Oh yeah, can see that. You look like a swimmer. Well hope you enjoy your stay <wanders off>)

😀 Anyway. As for school swim meet, you should see the serious swimmers, some of those kids in the big events like 200m Butterfly/ Crawl/Backstroke/Breaststroke are really, really good. Like, Hang-On-That's-Not-A-Grownup-Charging-Up-And-Down-The-Pool It's A Little Kid -good. I asked another parent if their child trains and swims competitively and they were, "What? No, just.. <10 year old girl in question is bearing down the length of the pool in a brisk butterfly stroke> for fun.." Um, ok. 😀

Everyone got to "compete," and most of 'em in several events (I should amend that to say some kids sat out some of the events they were listed on), just as though they were all strong swimmers.

There was so much effort put into organising this thing, with each child's name listed in each lane, volunteers pairing up to time them, and two "head timekeepers" doubling up to help check the times kept by the volunteers. Many of the kids were also moving between swimming in an event, picking up times scores and running them to the teachers, and cheering their friends and houses on.

There were also the "fun" races, where you have to get a beach ball across, or move with boards and noodles...

..and moving across the pool when attached to two other kids and their noodles 😀

...And thats all she wrote baby, thats our four hours in the sun!

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