Sucks to Be Middle Class White Male in America

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…

MLA Style Rant

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…

Farewell to Yi-Sheng

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.

Octopus Attack

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.

Giant squids

Image courtesy of BBC News.

Related articles about these magnificent creatures.
Super squid surfaces in Antarctic
Giant squid ‘attacks French boat’

New Year Hot Pot

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.

Meat-Eating Cultures

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).

The Secret that Makes Homemade Sushi Good

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

Procedure:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a small sauce pan
  2. Bring the sauce to boil or until sugar/salt are completely dissoved
  3. Let the sauce cool for about 15 min
  4. Pour into the rice you prepared and stir to distribute the sauce evenly in the rice
  5. 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!

Yum!

Veggie Rant

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.

I digress.

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.

Patlabor the Movie 3

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.

Patlabor the Movie 3

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.