Morning in Hong Kong, Reading at Mount Zero, From Words to Prosperity

I’m an absolute scam artist. Despite promising only to fill holes and not dig them, I’ve gone and dug one hole, then another, and another, yet never really filled any back up. Recently, the scam artist in me couldn’t help but dig another hole, launching the first episode of a Cantonese podcast, GM FM, just yesterday.

Morning in Hong Kong

Believe it or not, even though it hasn’t come to fruition yet, every time I dig a hole, deep down, I’m doing it to fill another. The soil unearthed from new holes will eventually fill the old ones, or so I believe. Just like in our podcast GM FM, where my partners Kate and Michael, despite their young age, have already spent several years in the blockchain industry, amassing a wealth of knowledge and bursting with energy. They are bound to become the fertile soil that nurtures our community in the future.

Though it feels a bit awkward, some people often politely address me as “teacher” (老師 / lou5 si1) especially in Taiwan. Part of that statement might hold some truth (“老”refers to someone older), but I’m merely someone who has delved a bit longer and deeper into certain fields. “When three people walk together, there is a teacher among them.” I look forward to learning from and absorbing the vitality of the new generation with the trio on GM FM.

Since 1981, when TVB was still a television station for the people of Hong Kong, the news program Hong Kong Morning has been airing every early morning, once serving as an important channel for citizens to obtain reliable information.

However, for those of you who haven’t watched TV in a long time, you’ve probably forgotten this program exists, replaced by Au Ka Lun’s daily mornings and accompanying short essays (on Facebook). Au’s morning writings sometimes brim with insights, opening one’s eyes to new perspectives; at other times, they’re delightfully witty, eliciting a knowing smile. But most importantly, unspoken yet understood, is everyone’s desire each morning to make sure he can still say “good morning” to Hong Kong, as if it signifies that our city still breathes.

Morning has evolved not only from an era of gathering crowds to one of segmenting audiences but also from the physical world to the digital realm. In the cryptocurrency circle, it’s popular to greet with “GM” (good morning). Given that communities are often spread across the globe, just having members say GM in the morning can keep the chat rooms buzzing from dawn till dusk. Not to mention, in the past month alone, while we were trial-recording a few podcast episodes, my partners and I were in places as varied as Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States and Ireland, yet we’ve never managed to all be in Hong Kong at the same time. Thus, the birth of GM FM. What’s that, you ask? What does FM mean? Ah, youngster, you’re too young.

GM FM harbors no grand ambitions nor detailed plans; it sprang up spontaneously, with the idea of just getting started and seeing where it goes. For now, we’ve decided on releasing an episode every week, casually discussing various topics in the cryptocurrency world to see if we can, perhaps, talk our way to some new path. Besides the few of us partners, what will ultimately influence how far GM FM goes are you, the listeners.

Reading at Mount Zero 

In my refusal to grow old, not only have I continued to dig holes and start a podcast with the young, but just a few days ago, I also hoisted twenty new books from the mountain bottom at Sheung Wan station, all the way up to mid-mountain’s Mount Zero Bookstore.

Mount Zero is closing down at the end of the month. My visit was solely to coerce the store manager into accepting one of my new books as a keepsake, intending to distribute the rest by tram eastward to other independent bookstores in the Hong Kong Island area. However, the magnanimous store manager said, “Bring them all!”. Well, alright then, if you insist, I thought, and left them all behind.

Pushing my luck further, I asked the store manager to select books for Hongkongers, making Mount Zero the collaborative bookstore for the UBR (Univerisal Basic Reader) project in March. True to Mount Zero’s style, the book selection was very distinctive:

– 隧道無車駛進 by Chow Yik Lam

– 斷層裂徑by Ernest Yip, published by pscollabhk

– 真亦幻 by Fan Sin Piu, published by Mount Zero

Readers eager to contribute to the UBR project simply need to purchase any one of the above books from Mount Zero, notify the clerk to keep the book for the UBR project, and for now, we only need one copy of each.

Regardless, readers who support Mount Zero, support Hong Kong, and cherish the written word should not miss this last opportunity. Take some time to climb to Sheung Wan, glimpse old Hong Kong, slow down your breathing, drink in the words, and read amidst the mountains.

From Words to Prosperity

Perhaps it was the experience of transporting books from Taiwan to Hong Kong, and then from mountain bottom to mid-mountain, that got me hooked on lifting books. I’ve decided to take this addiction to UK, moving the originally planned online April meeting to London to have a new book sharing session with friends. The monthly gathering is set for the first Monday of the month, and April 1st just happens to be a Monday, as well as the Easter holiday. Holding the new book sharing session in the afternoon is even more ideal.

I often travel and am used to carrying only a small amount of luggage, often just a backpack without a suitcase. Even for longer trips, I only bring a small carry-on that fits in the airplane’s cabin, never worrying about exceeding luggage weight limits. However, returning from Taiwan to Hong Kong and then flying to London, I found myself breaking the norm due to the heavy weight of books, meticulously packing according to the airline’s weight restrictions.

With a checked baggage weight limit of 23 kilograms, and each copy of Moneyverse: how money works in the multiverse weighing 280 grams, assuming the use of a 500-gram cardboard box, I can carry (23 – 0.5) / 0.28 = 80 books. Assuming I make 10 dollars in royalties per book, and assuming I somehow manage to sell them all, that would result in a total income of 800 dollars. There’s a saying, “How much is the written word worth?” I finally found the answer: 1 kilogram = 1.65 jin (a Chinese unit of weight), so 800 / 23 / 1.65 = 21. It turns out that the written word is worth 21 dollars per jin.

If you think I’m foolish, going through so much trouble for money that won’t even cover the round-trip flight, I can only say that’s because you’re pessimistic. I see the benefits that come from “From Words to Prosperity.” Meeting readers, making friends through books, and speaking freely are all priceless.

The reason words weigh so much is because, as the mosaic in front of Mount Zero Bookstore says, “Ideas are bulletproof.” No matter how heavy the prison, ideas cannot be imprisoned.

Craft work by Mount Zero, a apricot and orange tote bag with print “From Words to Prosperity”, Photo from Au Ka Lun’s Facebook

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