January 2004 Archives

Happy Birthday Christina!


Just wanted to say Happy Birthday to my youngest sister, Christina.

More on Language


An interview with a researcher studying near-extinct languages

"... without their language and its structure, people are rootless. In recording it you are also getting down the stories and folklore. If those are lost a huge part of a people's history goes. These stories often have a common root that speaks of a real event, not just a myth. For example, every Amazonian society ever studied has a legend about a great flood."

I wonder sometimes if this is why bi-culture children sometimes feel as if they are outcasts in this country that is supposed to be a melting pot for people. Everyone has different stories, different folklore. There are no common American heroes, although I suspect if you asked someone down the street to name an American Hero, the answer might be one of our presidents, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, simply because they are people we see every day as we use cash. Is it any wonder why our society worships money as much as it does?

On Languages

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I am sad. My Cantonese class got canceled due to low enrollment. I showed up to the classroom, looked inside and saw about 20 faces I did not recognize, so I ended up going downstairs to the foreign language office, and they told me it had been canceled.

I was really looking forward to taking Cantonese this semester too. I suppose I'll have to look for another way of learning. I still have my book, which came with a CD, so I suppose I can do some independent learning until I find a new class.

Waking Up


My first class is at 7:30 am each morning. It takes me about 10 minutes to walk to class, so I need to be ready to leave by 7:20. Before I went to sleep last night, I pondered about the setting on my alarm clock. Should I set it for 6:00 and hit snooze a few times, or would I go for the 'can't hit snooze or you might be late' setting of 6:30? I set it for 6:30, heard the alarm go off, and hit snooze. I still managed to make it to class on time. So now I'm pondering if I should just move that up to 6:45, thus saving me one interruption from my sleep. But I also realize that will mean I likely will be late... 35 mins is hardly enough time to prepare. What a difference 15 minutes makes, eh?

Birthday of Humans


Today is the Seventh Day of the Lunar New Year. The seventh day is also called the birthday of all humans. I just thought it was cool that mankind has a birthday. =)



This morning as I was driving to work, the radio played the entire recording of the flight attendant of UA Flight 11 before it crashed into the North tower of the World Trade Center. I had read an article about this, but hearing the words, the calm emotion behind the voice, and then remembering their tragic end, I couldn't help but tear up at the memory of these people.

Heroes are just ordinary people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done.

A Pair of P's


Rediscovering Reading

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I don't know why I didn't have the chance to read more books over the last couple of years since I graduated college -- oh, I read them every chance I got, often in bursts -- reading a book or two or three a night, then reading nothing for the next 6 months or longer. I think part of it might have been due to evercrack, and the other part due to the fact that I read almost constantly at work the happenings of the internet. When I went home, I jus wanted to zone out. Now that I have a 45 minute commute (each way) I zone out on that instead and feel the need to 'feed my brain'. Anyway, last night I finished below the line. I had to skip one of the stories because it was just too disjointed to follow (much like Time's Arrow). I hope to finish one more book tonight. I'm running out of time, as school begins on Thursday, and I suspect my reading time will diminish greatly after that.

How to Alienate A Minority and Lose Votes


In this account of a recent campaign event, John Kerry's introductory speaker, a Democrat Senator from South Carolina, Fritz Hollings, used the word "Chinaman" to put the blame on the cause of a mechanical malfunction with the sound equipment. When the mechanical problem happened again during Kerry's speech, Kerry just decided to update the phrasing to the 21st century, but the blame still remained on 'the Chinese guy'. Needless to say, I don't think Kerry is going to be able to count on Asian-American voters to support him.

Lost in Translation


I went to the library yesterday and checked out some books. Most of them are centered around the lives of Chinese living in America and Canada. Reading some of these stories, in a way comforts me, but at the same time, makes me realize just how much I've lost in the ways of my heritage. I have a English-Chinese dictionary as well as a English-Cantonese dictionary by my side to translate some of the italicized words used in these books. Some words I know, some I don't.

The books are:

Troublemaker by Christine Chiu

The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

Many-Mouthed Birds: Contemporary Writing by Chinese-Canadians

Disappearing Moon Cafe by Sky Lee

Below the Line by Sarah Chin

The Flower Drum Song by C.Y. Lee

At Hobee's this morning, one of the specials was "Hobee's Egg Foo Yung". Egg Foo Yung is a real chinese dish, but I don't eat it with the thick goopy sauce poured on top of it. (I think the gravy is one of the changes made for westerners). I just found it amusing that an American restaurant would try to make a Chinese dish, but this got me to thinking... when I cook Chinese dishes, will it be considered "Americanized"?

I finished one book this morning called "follow your heart", about an elderly italian woman writing some farewell letters to her estranged granddaughter. I only chanced upon it because it happened to be next to Amy Tan's books. I had to read it, and if you know me, you'll know that 'follow your heart' is a favorite expression of mine.

Ok, back to reading. =)



I just came back from my cooking class. It wasn't quite what I expected, but we did get to make lots of yummy food, which i hope I can do the next time I cook for people. I learned several new techniques for cutting, dicing, slicing and mincing, as well as how to make various appetizers. Now, if I only had a good fancy schmancy kitchen...

Driving back from San Francisco in the rain was fun though -- it being such a late hour, traffic was non-existent, and the highway was mostly clear, which made the view of lights from the surrounding cities quite beautiful.

I need sleep though. I didn't get very much sleep last night.



It's supposed to get cold in San Jose tonight, and we're supposed to see some frost and ice tomorrow morning, due to the cold. I know it doesn't compare to the blizzards or the snow back east, but for this native California boy, it's pretty darned cold outside.

Happy Chinese New Year!


I was reading a little bit about Chinese New Year this morning, and I came across a reference to 2004 (or 4702 in the Chinese calendar) being the year of the Green Monkey. Curiosity got the better of me, and I found a little Chinese Astrology Page which further led me to A Chinese Horoscope Calculator.

From the San Francisco Chronicle: "The Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco is the oldest of its kind and largest outside Asia. It began in Chinatown in the 1860s, when a group of recent immigrants marched down what is now Grant Avenue carrying colorful flags, banners, lanterns -- and drums and firecrackers to drive away evil spirits. The event used an American tradition -- a parade -- to showcase traditional Chinese cultural themes."

Xin Nian Kuai Le or Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Why Sleep is Good


Sleep shown to enhance problem solving and creativity

I've read a lot of reports that say that a good night's sleep is often better than an all-night cram session, and I think that this research definitely supports that. At the same time, as a student, I can understand the need to stay up all night, particularly if one needs to finish a paper.

"I have a dream..."


Today is the observance of Martin Luther King's birthday (his actual birthday is January 15th).

I always take some time off on this day to remember that this man started a movement which made it possible for me to be where I am today.

Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Nationality and Immigration Act 0f 1965, there still existed in America many laws which specifically targeted the Chinese population. There were laws which imposed a tax on being Chinese, or for running a laundry without a horse or carriage (which were most Chinese laundromats in Chinatown) or forbade the laundromat from operating if it was constructed of wood (which most Chinese shops were at that time).

The first Chinese were brought over as immigrant workers to work the gold mines and build the transcontinental railroad during the 1850s. Many Chinese died during this period as a result of the working conditions. In 1868, Congress modifies the 14th amendment, which states that anyone who was born in the United States is a citizen, to include people of Africa and their descendents. Asians were excluded from this right, and would remain excluded until 1952.

Discrimination and prejudice still ran rampant during that period, with many laws made to target the Chinese: the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which forbade the wives of Chinese laborers to enter the United States, and suspended the emigration of Chinese for 10 years. In 1892, emigration is once again suspended, and Chinese are forced to obtain a "certificate of residence". In 1904, the ban on Chinese immigration is suspended in definitely. From 1880 to 1920, the Chinese population in the United States drops from 105,465 to 61,639.

In 1913, California passes the Asian Land Law, which prohibits those not eligible for citizenship from from owning land. In 1943, the Chinese Exclusion Act is repealed, and the immigration quota is set at 105. In 1952, the McCarran-Walter Act ends the Asian immigration ban and extends naturalization rights to all races, but continues with the 2% resident population quota. (Basically, the limit of how many would be allowed to enter the country was 2% of the current U.S. population of your ethnic group)

California also changed the state institution to include "No corporation shall employ, directly or indirectly, an Chinese or Mongolian. No Chinese shall be employed on any state, county, municipal or other public work, except as punishment for crime." Also in California, Asians could not attend public schools -- a separate school system existed for them.

In 1965, the United States sets the quota at 20,000 per country, with a preference for skilled workers. This finally allows for the immigration of larger numbers of Asians into the United States.

Social change doesn't happen overnight. It is a gradual process, one that does have to take some rather large leaps if change is ever to happen -- otherwise, it just becomes accepted as a way of life. It took over a hundred years for Chinese to become citizens of this country -- during this time, the status quo was you were Asian, and you didn't have rights.

Asians do have rights now, but we can't forget that such rights are easy to lose, and hard to regain. Immigration these days is even stricter in the post 9-11 world, and many programs for assistance no longer consider Asians a minority group.

Even these days, it is not uncommon for me to encounter people who comment to me "you speak very good English", a result of the stereotype which Hollywood and the media have perpetuated that Asians are foreigners in this country. When I hear something like this, it makes me realize that we still have a long road ahead of us before we truly do live in a country blind to race or color.

Community Thought


Cat showed me the Five Wonderful Precepts this weekend, a set of vows rooted in Zen Buddhism, which derives from both Mahayana Buddhist beliefs and principles from Confuscius. I don't really consider myself a follower of any particular religious belief system -- but I do try to integrate the teachings of various religions or schools of philosophy into my own views of life. I guess you could say that I try to create my own system of morals and beliefs that I follow.

Two weeks ago, the pastor at my church gave a sermon on taking a sabbath to spend time with family and friends, to build community. He talked about how as he was growing up, his parents, uncles and aunts lived in close proximity to each other, and how every Sunday after service, they would go to someone's house and just spend time as one gigantic family with all of his uncles, aunts and cousins. He talked about his latest trip to Los Angeles, how he planned to get together with some of the old church members for a quiet brunch at Denny's before he returned to the Bay Area, just expecting 5 or 6 to show up, and having 20 people show up instead, and how great it felt to be surrounded in the company of friends and family. He encouraged us that day to take the rest of the day off, and just enjoy friends and family.

Last night, as I cleaning my apartment, I watched a documentary they made a few years ago about San Francisco Chinatown, and how the women growing up in Chinatown formed their own sort of mini-family (which is sort of what the women of 'The Joy Luck Club' belonged to), but they also mentioned how during World War II, the Chinese were allowed to enlist in the armed forces for the first time, and how when they came back, they were able to move their families out of Chinatown, and how the community suffered for that. During the 60s or 70s, there were demonstrations, because the inhabitants of Chinatown felt that the community was falling apart, and that Chinatown was just becoming a place for tourists, and not the Chinese that lived there.

Last night, I was talking with my friend Jack (who lives in Seattle with his wife and son) and he mentioned moving back to Los Angeles eventually. 'Why?' I asked him. His answer was simply "There aren't enough Chinese here." I asked him to explain a little bit more, and what it came down to was that it was troublesome to get certain things in Seattle, and that when he and his wife didn't want to cook, the Chinese restaurants, while good, weren't exactly cheap. "There isn't enough competition, so what normally goes for 6.99 or 7.99 in Los Angeles is 11.99 or 12.99 here" he told me.

Which brings me to my final thought about community. In Chinese society, we are taught to respect and cherish our elders. It does not matter if the elder is a poor, blind and homeless beggar, you still treat them with respect. Contrast that to western society, where elderly are more or less mistreated by their own families the older they get. In western society we try to hide our age, afraid of getting old, while in the east, it's celebrated that one is getting wiser, more experienced. A part of me wonders the self-perception of the elderly is why the western lifespan is shorter than their eastern counterparts, even with the advances in medicine that science has afforded them.

I am always making new dreams to follow, because I never want to be without a goal, without something to improve or better myself in. Because, to me, to be without a goal, means that there is nothing to look forward to, and I always want something to look forward to -- that's what keeps me going -- the hope that tomorrow I will be a better man than the one I am today, and one step closer to my dreams.

The older I become, the more I appreciate the importance of attitude on understanding and enjoying life. Bad things happen to everyone. We can't change what has happened in the past, but we can control ourselves in the attitude we take with the misfortunes of life. Attitude is everything.



You represent the element of Water! People often
view you as over-emotional, but you have a deep
understanding of your feelings and the emotions
of others. You are mysterious and, like water,
can be either calm or menacing in your ways.
You are also known to be creative.

Which of the Four Elements are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Not too surprising given that I am a water sign.

Obstacle Course


Usually, driving to work is pretty easy on a Friday, this being the silicon valley, many people "work from home" today. I'm someone who has to be in the office everyday, so I'm commuting along the 85 to make the change over to the 101. It's really creeping along, more so than usual. As the curve of the 85 winds downward towards the 101, I see the problem... two highway patrol cruisers, a somewhat agitated driver talking to a police officer, and a tow truck about to pull away the man's Honda Civic.

I'm driving up the 101 towards work, and I see a massive plume of smoke errupt from a car four cars ahead of me -- the cars in front slam their brakes or swerve to the left or right as a silver Integra just comes to a complete stop. The motocyclist in front of me glides to the right, I change lanes into the carpool lane, downshift and drive away, this taking place in a matter of seconds. I felt sorry for the driver of that car, having his car break down on the number one lane in the middle of the morning.

The Second Race To the Moon


Bush's plan for a return to the moon

Personally, I don't think that what Bush is giving NASA really helps that much. 1 billion dollars over the next 5 years? That's close to nothing. Additionally, he wants them to reallocate 11 Billion of their existing budget to the moon missions? To top it off, NASA has to start from scratch, as the equipment, tools and plans for building the Saturn V rocket were lost.

From the Earth to the Moon, a HBO mini-series, is a dramatization of the Apollo missions during the 60s and 70s. Watching it really gives one a sense of appreciation for the monumental task these people accomplished.

It's been said that for every cent we spent on the Apollo missions, we got back about 7 cents in the form of technological advances. Is this Bush's solution to jumpstarting the US economy?

Wednesday Morning Reflection


I was thinking the other day, about how I'm basically trying to simplify my life. I thought about everything I've accumulated, and everything I have, and everything I want. Then I thought about what I need. And placing these two ideals side by side, I was pretty disappointed with what I saw. Call it a revelation, a moment of enlightenment, the fact of the matter is... that my life is filled with stuff that I don't necessarily need or really want that I carry with me everytime I move to a new place. Then I thought about how our personal lives are like that -- we're filled with all sorts of issues and things in our lives -- incidents we've carried since being child, fears and insecurities brought on by our lives as young adults, all these burdens that we still carry, but we can't bear to throw away. How do we start making sense of all this?

I think that one must start with the basics... what do you need, what do you want, what do you already have?

Chinese New Year


Chinese New Year is January 22nd this year. It's the Year of the Monkey.

San Francisco has a bunch of events going on...

Growing up here in the States, Chinese New Year and the Moon Festival was the only cultural holidays we ever celebrated. I don't even remember celebrating the Moon Festival until the Chinese bakery opened in my home town, but I have fond memories of Chinese New Year. I remember for my 12th birthday, being excited, because it meant that it was my special year, even if it wasn't any more special than the year before or the year after... it just felt more special. The last time it was my year was 1999, and something incredible and special did happen that year.

Future Art Project


As I was cleaning my apartment this weekend, i found a bunch of cards from my old collectible card game days... I looked online to ebay to try and figure out what they were worth... and the answer is... practically nothing (or rather, so close to nothing they really aren't worth the trouble of selling). So I've decided to do an art project with them. Something that I could pass off as modern art that, at the very least would look interesting... I'm not sure what I'll do yet, but with over 1,000 of these cards, I'm sure I can think of something.



I went to the San Jose Auto Show yesterday. It's only a few blocks away at the San Jose Convention Center, so I figured why not go and check out the cars?

Unfortunately, the majority of my photos were taken with my Sony digicam, which for some strange reason no longer works on MacOS 10.3.2, but worked fine under MacOS 10.2 . I'm going to have to bring the CD to work and get it copied onto a CD that my Mac can read.

Time to go hands-free


Article from Popular Science
(Includes illustrations of brain damage)

I think the lesson to learn from all this is to go hands-free if you spend an excessive amount of time on your cell-phone. I think the pictures are shocking, considering that is what a rat's brain looks like after 2 hours of exposure, 50 days afterwards... Someone needs to do a test on how the brain looks after a few minutes ... I don't tend to talk on my cell for very long, but I know some people who can spend lots of time on their phones. Having plans with nights and weekends free too I'm sure adds and compounds that problem.

This article makes me question things such as -- maybe the reason why cellphones and driving is such a bad thing is because the people who tend to drive and chat on the cell phone are already getting overexposed to radiation damage.

I have to wonder though, what about people (like me) who carry their phones in their pockets all the time -- are our legs getting an unhealthy dose of radiation? What are the effects on the rest of the body?

New Beginning


Ok, so this is a little weird. Cool, but weird.

As you can see, I've moved all of my blogspot entries over onto my own server using MovableType. Supposedly, the whole system is pretty powerful, and should allow for some pretty nifty stuff in the future. In software, when something is "powerful", what they mean is "incredibly complicated". I'm still trying to make heads and tails out of the template systems -- once I figure it out, I'm sure it'll look a lot better.

The importing of the old entries took some time, and some of the formatting makes the entries look a little strange. However, seeing as how there are 491 imported entries, I'm not going to correct them all.

Why I don't eat beef


Why I don't eat beef anymore:

Beef Recall at San Jose Grocery Store

In the article they mention 6 other restaurants in the Santa Clara area which also purchased beef from the same source. So no beef for me... at least not for a while.

The Road goes ever


The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say.

The Road goes ever on and on

Out from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

Let others follow it who can!

Let them a journey new begin,

But I at last with weary feet

Will turn towards the lighted inn,

My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

-J.R.R Tolkien

Today is J.R.R Tolkien's Eleventy-Second birthday... and I thought the passage seemed appropriate for this particular day for one particular person in my life.

Good luck on your classes this term and have a safe journey, Cat!

When I left my house


When I left my house in San Jose this morning, I could see the blue sky, and rays of sunshine layered the land. Shortly after I got onto the highway and began driving northbound towards work, sheets of rain begain pouring down. Just outside my office was when it seemed at it's worst, although as I write this, the rain is gone for the moment, and there is a very slight chance I will see the sun again today.

Northern California Battered by Winter Storm

Yesterday after going to the


Yesterday after going to the gym, I came back sore and exhausted. I started working on the chest and the arms. My arms felt so tight and taut afterwards I almost couldn't drive home due to the pain. After going home, I fell asleep pretty quickly after that, much to my surprise.

With the exception of a few things, I'm generally pretty happy on my outlook of life. I was blessed to be raised in a good family with good values on how to live life. I have a lot going for me, and at times, I think that I don't appreciate the moments I live enough until the moment is past.

After my graduation at times my parents did put a little pressure on me to get married before I turned 30, over the recent years they've relaxed on that (which I am thankful for), in part because they know that I'm not going to marry someone that I've only known for a short time. I think having older cousins who are still single in their 30s helps too.

My first task of the New Year is, ironically enough, in cleaning up my past life. Over the years that I've lived in the Bay Area, I've kept everything, and thrown very little out -- receipts, past papers I wrote, old magazines, heck, I know I've probably got a box of newspapers somewhere. The useless stuff gets thrown out, and I've cleared out some of the clutter in my life. This will be one heck of a project but it's something that absolutely must be done. My apartment at present seems even more cluttered than when I first moved in, but that's because organization takes up space.

You're chocolate. You're the old


You're chocolate. You're the old soul type, people
feel that they have known you their entire
life. Many often open up to you for they view
you as thoughtful and trustworthy. Although
people trust you, you have a hard time trusting
them. You prefer to keep your feelings bottled
up inside, or display them very quietly. It is
alright to open up every once in a while.

Which kind of candy are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

It's been raining pretty heavily


It's been raining pretty heavily this entire morning. Even though I like the sound of rain, having the rain outside, being in this cold apartment of mine, it's still kind of gray and gloomy. I know that L.A. is pretty gray, but not raining by watching the Rose Parade.

My sister is watching the Rose Parade on my TV, while I do all the little chores I need to do around the house. In L.A., the Rose Parade is such a big thing, they broadcast it so many times. I remember a few years ago, when I stayed here for New Year's for the first time ever, I was surprised when I found out they didn't broadcast it on every major network channel the entire day, but rather once live, one rerun later in the day, and *maybe* a rerun in the evening.

Happy New Year! It's 2004


Happy New Year!

It's 2004 now and I wonder how long it'll be before I remember to write that on my checks. (Yes even in this day and age, checks are unavoidable).

I tried to blog at midnight, but it ate my post. I wonder if that phenomena is anything like when 2000 came around everyone picking up their phones to check if they still worked (which for a week before they told everyone not to do because it could lead to a collapse of the phone system).

Hope everyone has a Happy and Prosperous New Year!