One would think being a middle class white male in America has got it all — the American dream. But no, that’s the upper class white American males, a.k.a. members of the Republican Party… If you take a quick look at most of the social programs and policies, few (or none?) of them is aimmed at helping that specific group of working class, who works just as hard, if not harder, as anyone else. The social programs are almost exclusively for the low-income groups; tax policies are wealthy-friendly; and yet, for humanitarian reasons, other programs are illegal-immigrant friendly. So what’s to be gained by the middle class, specifcally the white males (females are considered “minority” by some programs)? Apparently not much except that they get to be the majority (which is increasingly untrue in some communities).
All kinds of minority or ethnic groups have their own organizations and societies that serve the purpose of helping out people from that specific minority or ethnic group. But god forbid, if an all white-male only organization is established trying to help other white-males in America, I can only imagine what kind of name-calling they’ll get from everyone else. And they can forget Federal or any kind of government funding. But then again, they do have this “Triple K Club” to thank for all the hostilities towards white-male-only organizations (though not related, the name “Big K Mart” makes me uneasy).
But what do I know… I am not even white nor am I American…
Whoever came up with the MLA Style is an idiot. There are so many different ways of citing different sources that it requires a fricking handbook to write a paper. As if writing the paper is not enough labor, the institutions all buy into the worst form of cource citing and bibliography using the MLA Style. Shouldn’t source citing be more intuitive and uses common sense than having to master the MLA Style itself as an art form?
Argh! Stupid MLA Style…
I said good-bye to Yi-sheng on Friday. He’s one of the last remaining Taiwanese ISB grads to return to Taiwan to face the reality of compulsory military service. A couple of them were able to get out of it with bullshit excuses (at least to me, they are). Yu-Yow seems to be the only one man enough to play the cards he was dealt. The rest of us just struggle to stay out of it for as long as we can.
Now that most of us are 30-somethings (or about to be). Joining the military is like a career suicide. For those of us with families, it’s especially tough to spend almost a year and a half slacking off. For my particular situation, the predicament is even worse. Some relatives who championed staying away from the service now think it’s a better idea to just get the service over with and get on with life. But is that really the choice they would have made if they really truly understand our circumstances? Highly unlikely.
It seems like there would be just as many hurdles to cross returning to Taiwan as they are if we stayed. Yi-Sheng’s return somehow puts everything in an even more surrealistic perspective. But then again, for him, it was long overdue. The problems he faced here were significantly more entangled than mine. And I can’t imagine what kind of complicated feelings he must have been going through having decided to go back. How did he feel when he finally purchased that one-way ticket to Chiang Kai-shek International Airport? All the combusting emotions and conflicting yearnings he must have felt boarding that plane… He fought so vigorously for so long to stay. But now everything was just a pipe dream.
If we were to go back, I imagine I’d be one of the most repelled figures among friends there because of my growing sarcasm, inability to bullshit diplomatically, impatience dealing with village idiots and relentless resistance to certain traditions (on the last point, I do it just to piss people off) — survival skills required to stay ahead (or to stay invisible, depending on your objectives in life). I enjoy being accepted as “the angry Asian” too much here. I mean, for someone who spreads rumors about himself (I once started a rumor about how I got my ex-girlfriend pregnant just to see how far it went; it went all the way to my mom [to her distress]), I don’t think I will fit in too well in a society where people like me are frowned upon (fine by me; but it probably brings shame to my parents).
Having Bryan makes us that much more reluctant going back. Maybe it will rain frogs tomorrow and the Catholic Church will declare the end of the World and non-Christians will all rejoice. Or maybe America will declare war on vegetables and being vegetarian would be banned. Whatever happens, I am sticking around at least until my stinking MFA thesis is done. But before that happens, everyday is just another “angry Asian” day. Yay.
After having seen this video of a shark being attacked by a giant octopus, it reminded me of an article I read about remains of giant squid and colossal squids being found from the stomach of a shark. The same article also cites how it is common to see whales bear the scars from a fight with giant squids. Jesus Christ… fighting a whale?
And then today I read yet another article about this giant octopus attacking a submarine! Holy Christ… These squids and octopuses really kick ass.
Image courtesy of BBC News.
Related articles about these magnificent creatures.
Super squid surfaces in Antarctic
Giant squid ‘attacks French boat’
The Malaysian gang had a gathering last night for hot pot to celebrate Chinese New Year. For the first 5 minutes of the food fest, I was still in the meat-eating mode since hot pot gatherings are rarely vegetarian. So I accidentally ate a piece of meat… [chiils]… After that, I started becoming more conscious about picking what to eat from the pots (there were two pots going… In fact, there were so many people at Michelle’s house that Widodo had to bring his table over to make room!).
At the hot pot gathering, Hanny also announced her pregnancy… Her baby is due in August. Just a couple of weeks back, Su-fei also announced her pregnancy at Jai’s birthday gathering. And interestingly, her baby is also due in August! I guess October/November must be a good baby-making season. Hah!
Bryan was being unusually fussy at Michelle’s house. I think it was because we changed his daily routine by skipping his bath because we were at Michelle’s place when Bryan usually would be taking his bath. We also noticed that Bryan has started to recognize people. He refused to let anyone else but Grace and I to hold him. Days are going to get longer as Bryan grows older…
After coming home, I called my grandma in Taiwan to wish her happy new year. But I got an earful about how my brother and I should go back to Taiwan and stop avoiding the compulsory military service… blah blah… She thinks we are doing the “immigration jail time” by trying desperately staying out of Taiwan. Maybe she’s got a point. This whole immigration thing sucks.
I came across Netdiaster from Yahoo’s “Finds of the Year” collection. You can load up any website and use a variety of natural and man-made disasters to deface the site (virtually). It’s rather fun.
A couple of screen shots of my site being messed up…
I have been writing so much about vegetarian stuff lately, maybe I oughta add a new section called “veggie treats” or something…
After having hunted for vegetarian stuff exclusively for the past few days, I realized something (something Jason and “A” probably knew all along) — some cultural and ethnic food are more vegetarian friendly than others. Take for example, Thai, Taiwanese and Japanese food are definitely veggie friendly. The same can not be said about Korean or American food (entries; excluding side salads or appetizers)… or more accurately, Korean food in America since I have never been to Korea. Maybe to some cultures, being vegetarian is a practical thing (a lot of Buddhists in Taiwan, Thailand and Japan), but not others (Christians are not known to be vegetarians per se).
Most people make homemade sushi rolls straight up like they see them in restaurants. Toasted seaweed, Japanese rice and whatever stuffing they like. Well, it turns out that there’s a special treatment to the rice that one can do to dramatically improve the flavor and texture of sushi rolls that most people probably don’t know about.
The secret is in a special “sushi sauce”. You can buy bottled sushi sauce at supermarkets for maybe $10. But why do that when you can make your own using ingredients you already have at home!?
Here’s what you need:
- 1/3 cup of white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt
- Mix all the ingredients in a small sauce pan
- Bring the sauce to boil or until sugar/salt are completely dissoved
- Let the sauce cool for about 15 min
- Pour into the rice you prepared and stir to distribute the sauce evenly in the rice
- Let the rice cool. And you are ready!
The vinegar makes the smell of the sauce very pungent. Just trust that everything will blend well together when you make the sushi.
I used the above proportion for 2 cups of rice (which makes five rolls perfectly). The difference between sushi rolls with and without this sauce is pretty drastic. First of all, without the sauce, the sushi tastes bland. Something just doesn’t taste right. On top of that, if you put your left over sushi in the fridge overnight, the rice dries out very quickly the next day. With the sauce though, the flavor is consistent to those in the restaurants. And putting the sushi in the fridge overnight doesn’t affect the flavor or the texture of the rice at all!
If I woke up early enough, I could see street sweepers quietly sweeping the streets of Taiwan when I was younger. They quietly collected all the garbage from the day before and dutifully tidied them into trash liners. Maybe it was because no one else wanted that kind of job, or maybe it was really tough work, the sweepers were almost exclusively elderly women or retired soldiers from the Chiang Kai-shek era. And that’s been going on for a long time.
Fast forward to my arrival to the United States. I started to notice that nobody actually sweeps in their homes in America — they vacuum. In fact, it was pretty tough to find brooms at Walmart. But cheap vacuums were everywhere. As for the outside yard work, Americans use these blowers to blow the leaves around. Is that laziness or ingenius at work? Is it that much more efficient to use gasoline to blow the leaves, dusts and garbage all the while generating polution? But then I realized that some people simply blow the trash into their neighbors’ yards. So the trash actually never gets picked up… because the next time the neighbor’s out cleaning his yard, he’s going to blow them right back!
On the industrial side, Americans have invented these huge street sweeping machines to help clean the never ending streets of America. In fact, these machines are so big and mean, if your car is ever in the way of it cleaning, you get a ticket (in humble Savannah, GA, a ticket of that sort is worth about $12; but in NYC, I think it was $65 or something rediculous like that). But the thing is, these damn machines don’t actually clean the streets either. All they do is sweeping trash from one corner of the street to the next. And a lot of times they are cleaning the streets when the traffic is the worst. Nothing’s more frustrating than to be driving behind one of those monsters. But again, I question these machines’ efficiency and usefulness. Is it really that much cheaper to purchase hordes these expensive machines, and to maintain and insure them, and then to have to hire someone and train that person to do the street cleaning? Is that an attempt to glorify what the society deems a “low paying” job (by driving a machine like that, they become “operators”, not street sweepers anymore)? Or maybe the government just doesn’t want to have to deal with the labors and the unions?
There’s probably more politics and “corporate economics” behind all this than meets the eye. But it sure makes America look all advanced and futuristic having monster machines sweeping the streets and men with blowing devices blasting dirt and leaves everywhere. Long live Land of the “Free“.
The taste of meat products bothers me ever since “the incident“. I had to get a turkey sandwich the other day out in the wilderness of Valleyjo and experienced the disgust I had towards meat for the first time after having eaten only vegetarian food for the past few days. Last night I got a salad from Wendy’s with small chunks of chicken — the smell of chicken made me sick. I had to give the chicken pieces away to Wawa (who gladly accepted my generosity after Grace chopped them into finer pieces).
Then I realized how difficult it is to be a vegetarian in the United States. Every single fast food chain serves almost exclusively only meat products for main meals. Salads, in most cases, are simply side dishes. Not enough to fill someone like me (or Jason, for that matter). Wendy’s has some pretty mean salads, but all of them come with some kind of meat. And here’s what I don’t get… how come vegetables cost more than meat? I mean, seriously… A bowl of mixed greens cost about the same, or in most cases, more than meat! In fancy restaurants, I used to notice, some salads cost more than some of the entries! WTF? Doesn’t it cost more to raise all those warm-blooded living mammals? All the electricity it takes to keep them warm, the land to occupy them, the medicines to keep them from dying (not necessarily to make them feel better), the processes it takes to slaughter them, the care it takes to keep their corpses bacteria-free, the kind of storage it takes to keep them from rotting in transit… etc. I mean, com’on, the economy of mass market demand aside, it CAN’T cost that much more to grow the vegetables, maintain them, harvest them and keep them fresh. Can it? Or maybe it’s just the economy of supply and demand.
Seeing that the fridge is stocked with mostly meat products at home, I had to do some veggie shopping spree. Thank god it was relatively easy to find vegetarian stuff in Chinese markets. And since there are lots of vegetarians from Taiwan (and that Taiwan makes delicious vegetarian products), it was relatively easy to get a cart load of veggie food. But I had to call Jason up to see what goes into a vegetarian Sushi since all I came up with were cucumber and avacado.
I made five rolls of Sushi today with the ingredians Jason suggested. I think I will experiment with some Chinese vegetarian stuffing I got tonight for the next batch.
Being a vegetarian in a mass meat-consuming market is tough. But knowing the alternatives (animal corpses), I am sticking to vegetables (maybe occassionally some seafood), thank you very much.
I finally got to see “Patlabor 3 the Movie” today. The first movie was pretty good. But I think this one is by far the best of the three.
The storytelling was a bit slow at times, but it was worth the wait for the characters and the plot to climax. The best aspects of this film are probably the aspects that annoy typical Hollywood goers — many things were not resolved when the movie ended. Even though the movie is a fusion of science fiction and detective thriller, the director tried to adhere the plots as close to real life as possible. There are shots of scenes that were nothing more than to show the mundane work of police detective work. But those shots also take the audience all around the suburbs of Tokyo — in the allies, neighborhood stores, corner convenience stores… etc — the less glorious part of being a detective.
Althogh I knew who did what and how the story was going to end, the plot still threw a curve ball at me as the climax drew to a conclusion. The story has a level of complexity and humanity that’s lacking in most Hollywood movies. But even in comparison to other anime films, Patlabor 3 stands out on par with the complexity of Jin Roh in terms of mood, character development and sophistication.
It really pisses me off to see monthly charges on my bank account when the balance falls under a certain amount that my bank sets. I am letting them to use MY money to loan to other people for a much higher interest. And yet THEY want to charge ME money for letting them having MY money? Crooks!
And I love how the poorer you are in America, the more happliy the banks are willling to rob from you, legally. See, in the United States, most banks place a set of restrictions on most checking and savings accounts. Some accounts limit how many checks you can write, other limit how many visits you can have at the counter. Yet others charge you a “monthly maintenance fee” for letting your overall account balance dip under a set amount (varies from 500 to $1500 depending on the bank).
It’s precisely because I am f*cking poor and that’s why I can’t consistently keep a strong balance, but somehow the bank has to labor over the fact that I have no money and charges me a “maintenance fee”?! What the f*ck is there to maintain a broke man’s checking account? Seriously?! While they are charging me for having too little money in the checking account, “premium” accounts, where people have tens of thousands of dollars, get this, receive free checking with no penalties. If you asked me, it takes more effort to manage and monitor THOSE accounts than someone who’s life depends on the social service. It should be the other way around! Crooks.
And what’s the deal with all the limitations on check writing that certain banks impose? Why do they care if I wrote more than 8 checks a month? Sure, the bank has to process them and post them. But isn’t that the bank’s job? And how come they are loaning money out to people anywhere at 5% to 20% depending on the terms, but yet they will only allow you to make a meager interest of far less than 3% in most cases — across ALL banks!?
And don’t even get me started on ATM fees and outbound and inbound service charges! Why does MY bank charge me $1.50 if I use someone else’s ATM machine? It’s bad enough that THEIR bank already charges me $1.50! And then how come they charge me for incoming wires as well as outgoing wires? Shouldn’t the bank be happy that I am getting money INTO the account? Hello? The worst part is, it costs $10 to recieve money via wire. TEN WHOLD DOLLARS!! WTF?! In Taiwan, a wire transfer costs NT700 (roughly $2) to send and nothing to receive! ARGH! CROOKS!.
All of these things, of course, are legal under current U.S. banking laws. Just like Howard Hughs once said of the U.S. Senators, “I don’t want to bribe them. I want to do it legally — I want to own them.” Banks pretty much own the United States Senators and Congressmen (as do the major corporations). Laws are passed in favor of those corporate entities and the people who run them, not in favor of the little guys who are struggling to make ends meet. And THAT, friends, is what’s wrong with America today. When lobbyists and corporate executives can call the lawmakers’ private numbers in the middle of the night to sneak a provision into a bill while ordinary citizens can’t even get an appointment to meet their aids.
Big, socially unconcious corporations suck. But worse are the lawmakers who are had by the balls of those corporations. Voting in most countries these days seem to have lost its meaning. Everything’s bought with money and corporate favors. And nothing is being done to address them (this is even more visible in Taiwan where the president is involved in many publicly known and visible scandals but yet it’s clear that he’s not going to get in trouble for them).
God, I hate banks.