Secret Agent Man

Written by Michael LaRocca

SECRET AGENT MAN Copyright 2005, Michael LaRocca

Today's mission -- smuggle a contraband calico cat from my flat, past security and a few hundred tenants. Find a taxi. Explain torepparttar driver that we're going torepparttar 147528 Hong Kong SPCA even though I don't speak Cantonese andrepparttar 147529 driver probably can't speak English. Getrepparttar 147530 cat vaccinated. Find another taxi. Return home. Smugglerepparttar 147531 cat past security again.

I began by carrying Picasso, in a cat carrier, pastrepparttar 147532 security guard. As usual, he lookedrepparttar 147533 other way. There must be hundreds of dogs living here, in spite ofrepparttar 147534 rules. Every time a dog is taken for a walk, he rides in a lift with a security camera. A guard sees him onrepparttar 147535 monitor. He doesn't care. Thenrepparttar 147536 dog is walked past a second guard, who also doesn't care. So really, this isn't a problem.

The fun begins when I get inrepparttar 147537 taxi. There's always one waiting byrepparttar 147538 exit, it seems. I toldrepparttar 147539 driver "Wan Chai." That was easy.

Then I said "Wan Shing Road." He didn't understand. Cantonese is tonal language, and I always butcherrepparttar 147540 tones. Plus I've never learned how to say "Road."

I said "SPCA." That was English, but I don't know how to say it in Cantonese. He still didn't understand.

In a flash of insight, I realized thatrepparttar 147541 SPCA logo onrepparttar 147542 side ofrepparttar 147543 carrier was in both English and Chinese. I pointed to it and said "This place."

The cab driver laughed. "I understand. Cat?"


He laughed again. "Is she a good cat?"


"You are lucky." He laughed again. Then he looked atrepparttar 147544 box and said "Meow!" Then he laughed yet again. He's quite happy inrepparttar 147545 mornings. "Is she Bossy Mouth?"


More laughing.

"How big is she? This big?" He put his hands far apart, as if perhaps I had a Labrador retriever inrepparttar 147546 tiny box.

"No, this big." I tried to show him with my hands, but my memory's shot at that hour ofrepparttar 147547 morning. Along withrepparttar 147548 rest ofrepparttar 147549 time. "She's very young."

"Ah, I understand." He paused to look at where he was driving. "Is she cat daughter?"

"Yes," I agreed, and we both laughed.

It didn't occur to me until later that he never sawrepparttar 147550 cat. He just guessed "she." Likewise, she never made a sound duringrepparttar 147551 cab ride. He just guessed "bossy mouth." Maybe he has a cat daughter of his own.

In case you couldn't tell, I really liked this guy. Was his English any better thanrepparttar 147552 other cabbies in Hong Kong, orrepparttar 147553 cashiers atrepparttar 147554 grocery stores, restaurants, or 7-11s? Probably not. But he spoke with confidence, and when I didn't understand what he said, he repeated it until I figured it out. He wanted to communicate. I loved that.

Finally we settled intorepparttar 147555 journey. He drove throughrepparttar 147556 absurd early-morning going-to-work traffic while I read my newspaper. When we reached Wan Chai, he attempted another conversation. I was slow picking up on this one. He repeated what he had said, verbatim. His vocabulary was a bit limited. I caught on at last. This was a sales pitch. He wantedrepparttar 147557 fare back home as well.

He gave me his cell phone number. He made absolutely sure that I wrote down his cab number. He told me to call ten minutes before I was ready to leave, and he'd be there. How could I resist this smiling, friendly, charismatic old cab driver?

Marine Aquarium Do's and Don'ts for beginners

Written by Doug Kamp

Marine Aquarium Do's and Don'ts for beginners Overrepparttar years I have come across a number of helpful do's and don'ts for marine aquarium keeping that would have saved me a lot of time, money and disappointments. If only I had them all together in a list fromrepparttar 147492 start! Well here they are - I have decided to jot a few of them down inrepparttar 147493 hope that they will save at least one new marine aquarist some time, money or disappointment. This is only a very basic guide and is not meant to be conclusive or detailed – just a memory jolter in bullet point form that you can refer to every now and then to refresh your memory. I encourage you to research in more detail any and all of these points using your favourite marine aquarium book or evenrepparttar 147494 internet! The Do’s •Do buy a good book on marine aquarium keeping. This should be your first purchase and most valuable accessory! •Do look at your tank every day to check your fish and invertebrates health. Are they acting differently than normal, do they have any damage or signs of illness etc •Do react quickly when you think something is wrong. Test your water quality and conditions. Look for indicators of problem or disease. Read your aquarium books, searchrepparttar 147495 internet and talk to your friendly marine aquarium retailer for advice. •Do create a maintenance schedule that helps you remember to regularly check your water quality, top up with freshwater, replace saltwater, replace consumables etc •Do feed small amounts of food regularly •Do feed a varied diet that accommodates all your inhabitants needs •Do ensure you have adequate filtration (biological and/or mechanical) •Do ensure you have sufficient circulation in your tank. Most people recommend at least 10x your tanks volume be circulated every hour. This includes powerheads, filters (both internal and external), protein skimmers, circulation pumps etc. •Do use a timer if possible on your tanks lights asrepparttar 147496 inhabitants like regularity with respect to their daytime and night-time. •Do adopt a photoperiod that considersrepparttar 147497 output and intensity of your lights and either mimicsrepparttar 147498 inhabitants natural environment or that of your local environment •Do wash your hands before putting them inrepparttar 147499 tank or working with any equipment that will come into contact with your tanks water. Soaps, creams, medicines etc can all harm your inhabitants. •Do use good quality activated carbon in your tanks - this removes unwanted toxins and keepsrepparttar 147500 water crystal clear. •Do regularly replace your activated carbon (approx. every 8 weeks) •Do keep your tank as close as possible to Natural Sea Water conditions (NSW). These are, forrepparttar 147501 most, a pH of 8.3, Specific Gravity (SG) of 1.025, temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. There are many other levels that need to be considered (eg Calcium, Carbonate Hardness, Iron, Silicon, Phosphate, Copper etc) but these arerepparttar 147502 main ones. •Do acclimatise your new fish and inverts appropriately - your marine aquarium retailer should notify you of their requirements as they can vary from 10 minutes just for temperature adjustment for hardy fish to hours for sensitive inverts. •Do use, where possible, natural sea water in your tank - there is nothing likerepparttar 147503 real stuff! •Do make sure you know whererepparttar 147504 real sea water is coming from - you don’t want it to have been collected in your local marina or just offshore as it will not be suitable as it will contain all sorts of man made pollutants. •Do use RO/DI (Reverse Osmosis/Deionised) water when real sea water is not available. Use it to top up or when mixing new salt - especially in tanks that contain corals and other sensitive invertebrates. •Do use a protein skimmer if possible. It complements your mechanical and biological filtration and in some cases is a mandatory requirement for keeping certain inverts. •Do ensure you understandrepparttar 147505 nitrogen cycle. This isrepparttar 147506 fundamental basis for how wastes inrepparttar 147507 aquarium get converted from toxic chemicals (ammonia and nitrites) to less toxic chemicals (nitrates) by bacteria that live in your water. •Do select your new fish and inverts very carefully. Ensure they are not damaged, diseased or otherwise looking unwell. If possible, quarantine them in a separate tank before adding them to your main tank. An alternative is to use an Ultraviolet (UV) steriliser for about four weeks after addingrepparttar 147508 new inhabitants to kill off any newly introduced diseases.

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