A Whole New Cat

After Baobao’s near death experience, it seems like she’s gained a new perspective on life. It’s like we’ve got back a whole new cat since the incident.

A few observations we’ve made:

1. She’s a much gentler and kinder cat now; she’s actually okay with random strokes by me, Grace and even Bryan! She even let Jason and Alicia pet her!
2. She now appreciates every inch of the apartment; she now sleeps at places she’s never slept at before!! This is a big thing for her.
3. She’s a little more talkative now; she now talks to Grace quite a bit more than before.
4. She’s not a bitchy and mean when handled. We’ve successfully fed her medications via a syringe and even administered inhaler puffs through a home-made mask (modified 1/2 gallon milk bottle) with much success (much fewer hisses and less intense struggles).

I wonder if this means some other animals can also appreciate life more after encountering near-death experiences…

Strange Behavioral Note

Ever since Baobao came back from the vet’s, Wawa has been acting strangely:

1. Refusal to approach Baobao and even gets hostile (hissing) towards Baobao;
2. Refusal to eat her favorite treats if they have been touched by Baobao;
3. Stays in our room with us during the night even though her favorite sleeping area is by the window in the living room;

Baobao, on the other hand, is enjoying the time of her life.

Grace thinks it’s the smell of the clinic mixed with the scent of other animals; I have no freaking idea what’s going on… but that assessment seems probable…


Respecting Death

Confronting death isn’t something one does often nor is it something one would choose to come to grips with if given alternatives. We almost had to make that decision on behalf of one of our cats today — and it was painful.

Wawa (the friendlier, skinnier cat of the two) uncharacteristically came to the bedroom and meowed so loud that it woke me up this morning. She’s never done that unless something was wrong especially when Grace had already been up in the kitchen all morning! Soon I learned that Baobao was having another asthma attack and had to be rushed to the vet for emergency care…

After a series of events, the ER vet finally delivered the bad news — there’s a chance our cat may not make it… and I needed to give her permission to euthanize Baobao if her condition drastically plummets beyond humanly tolerable level even without my presence. Also, given Baobao’s feisty personality, it may be in everybody’s best interest to euthanize her so that she wouldn’t have to suffer through another asthma attack should she refuse to take any prescription drugs.

That’s when it hit me that all of a sudden, I’ve been entrusted with a monumentally important decision to make on behalf of another living, breathing mammal… After talking to Jason and Alicia, we thought we should probably give Baobao a fighting chance for survival — after all, she’s tried so hard to stay conscious and alive having been labored to breath all day. So we brought her home with some prescription drugs to see how much we can squeeze from the marvels of modern medicine and her own will to live.

One side note, on the vet’s billing statement, apparently the oxygen (something we take for granted) was the most expensive item in the entire treatment process. I found it ironic that often something that is free and abundantly available sometimes will cost the most if the alternative is unacceptable. On the flip side, it’s also good to know that things that are free and abundantly available are also priceless — the air, love, life, happiness, health… etc. Some of them are irreplaceable while others cost handsomely (monetary and emotional wise) to gain just a little… I wonder if people becoming more and more materialistic has something to do with this — trying to replace something that’s, in essence, irreplaceable with material belongings that ultimately nobody really gives a rat’s ass about during the final moments of one’s life.

But that’s an entry in itself and maybe for another day…

Brian in Salt-n-Pepa Music Video?

Brian sent me a music video of the old pop band “Salt-n-Pepa” and showed me someone how looks just like him in the video. And indeed, that guy looks just like Brian when we were in college — everything from the facial structure, body build, hair color and style to the facial expressions, even…

It’s really quite amusing… He said he even managed to convince some girl at our dorm that it was really him and that he did it for the money… Hah hah!

Hunky Brian 1

Hunky Brian 2

Hunky Brian 3

In case you’d forgotten what Brian looks like, here’s a picture of him at my wedding from 2004:
Hunky Brian 2004

Perhaps if I smudge the image a little you wouldn’t be able to tell him and the guy in the MV apart? Hah hah…

Here’s a YouTube video of the MV. The “fake” Brian appears at about 2/3rd of the way into the video…

On a side note, apparently the “Brian” look is in. Even Wendy’s website now features him…
Brian on Wendy's

Good times.

Meeting Kevin Spacey

I was just chatting with Brian briefly about a bunch of silly stuff. Then he reminded me that a few of us good friends actually met and hung out with Kevin Spacey when we were in college!

See, he was filming Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil at the time, and that was when the book had really put Savannah on the map. I barely knew who he was at that time because I was so new in the United States still back then*. Another cool thing we did, which I totally forgot, was that because we knew Kevin Spacey, we got to go to the Wallflowers concert AND hung out with the band backstage in the presence of Kevin Spacey all for free! Actually, we saw the entire concert from the backstage… which was really a weird experience.

Somehow I suppressed all this memory until today! Holy smokes…

Good times.

*True story. All I knew about the U.S. was all academic — I knew a lot about its history; I knew more proper grammar than most in my English class; and I saw many movies with tons of stereotypes ingrained in my head. But to fit in to the crowd at parties, I had to subscribe to a lot of junk reading materials, namely Entertainment Weekly… etc. I literally had to stuff myself with all the gossips, latest trends and a lot of useless knowledge of such nature… A few months later, I was able to fit in and able to carry on conversations without being such a FOB. Hah!

When Being Good Makes Someone Else Look Bad

So can someone explain to me the “real reason” why the Feds shot down California’s proposal for a waiver to implement stricter rules on carbon emission? Is this one of those “about face” rulings? Or does it have real merit in it? I mean, if the politicians are too bought off by the motor companies to get it done, why can’t individual states implement something better? And let’s not forget, it takes a while for those cars to populate the roads en mass that can even make a positive impact on the environment… hence, the sooner, the better… The Fed’s plan looks pathetic compared to rules already in place in other industrialized nations. So if the car companies can make cleaner cars for THOSE countries, I don’t understand what the big deal is to implement the same thing in the U.S.?


A few updates on Bryan… No, not brags. Just updates.

He’s now the king of puzzles… He can complete a relatively complicated puzzle mostly all by himself with little help (even ones without any mirroring images printed on the board itself). He’s attracted to anything that requires tinkering of some sort… mechanical or otherwise. I am worried that when he’s older, I might one day come home to a disassembled DSLR camera, or worse, my MacBook Pro…

Bryan can also blow his own nose without assistance from a stupid nasal aspirator or a syringe. This new learned ability totally makes our lives a more quality one.

He’s also a total maniac during parts of the day — he refuses to apologize or back off if he thinks he’s right; he trashes the apartment about 10x a day; he yells, screams and explodes like any 2.5-year-old; he will jump, hop, pounce and stomp on the bed when he’s supposed to nap, but the upside is, when he’s out of the juice, he drops and takes a nice long nap all by himself; he’s exactly like Grace in that, when he’s in the mood, everything has to be positioned and aligned at exactly 90 degrees — even shoes and his toys; he will do things by himself and refuses help until he gets it right by himself — that frustrates him sometimes because his fine motor skills just aren’t there…

I admire so many of his qualities that it reminds me that we, as adults, should probably stick to some of the basic principals Bryan adheres to so strictly and naively. Sometimes we make less-than-good compromises out of convenience, guilt or lack of character, forgetting that we were better than that when we started in this seemingly complicated life.

As Bryan grows, so do we. I think we are learning as much from him as he’s learning from us.

“Back to basics” is hip again.

Keep Breathing

I came across this song by chance. It’s a deceptively simple song with a lot of stuff packed into it. It suddenly made me remember that “keep breathing” is sometimes all we can do about circumstances we have no control over — financial chaos, ruined life, people, situations… etc. As long as we are still breathing… everything else will pass.

Try to ignore the video clip and pay more attention to the music and the lyrics… (I think she wrote this piece for “Grey’s Anatomy” after someone high up took a liking to her music)


The storm is coming but I don’t mind.
People are dying, I close my blinds.

All that i know is I’m breathing now.

I want to change the world… instead I sleep.
I want to believe in more than you and me.

But all that I know is I’m breathing.
All I can do is keep breathing.
All we can do is keep breathing now.

All that I know is I’m breathing.
All I can do is keep breathing.
All we can do is keep breathing now.

All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing.
All we can do is keep breathing now.

I did some digging into Ingrid Michaelson‘s songs. She’s one of the best Indie’s I’ve listened to in a long while…

So I keep breathing… and am hoping for the best in 2008…

Bye Bye Wii

So we said goodbye to our Nintendo Wii today. It was a surprise thank-you gift from Jason for hooking him up with a portfolio site (which ultimately got him a freelance gig which then turned into a job). We had mixed feeling having to let go of such a fun console. But we simply didn’t use it enough to justify it sitting there, collecting dust and being devalued every week. So I figured if we were going to sell it, the week before Christmas would be the best time.

I didn’t want to rip off whoever the next owner was (it’s that thing called “karma”). So I put up a fair price that basically got Jason’s money worth. And it turned out an old Japanese woman wanted it for her grandson… It was a bit hard having to explain everything, but we got through! 🙂

So now we are game-console-less again — More time with the physical puzzles for Bryan; and more time getting the LCD screen tan for me!

One Unfortunate Event Is An Opportunity for Another

Yes. Weird title. But let me explain.

One of our cats suffers from asthma attacks once in a while. And when it happens, her shortness of breath can seem frightening especially when the wheezing gets loud. Now, for those who know this cat, she’s pretty much impossible to man-handle in any way. So getting her the asthma inhaler has been a challenge. So in my infinite (lack of) wisdom, I’ve decided to construct a box w/ a tiny opening to puff the inhaler in for the duration of the dose… if I can somehow get her inside the box. But even that doesn’t usually work all that well though it improves her condition.

So last night was one of those times when her asthma was so bad that she just gave up running and reluctantly let me administer the inhaler on her even without the box. So I puffed and puffed. But because she was so out of breath for so long that she decided to lay there and just rest! This was a rare calm mood for this cat. Immediately I took a pair of scissors and started trimming her matted fur — and as the Harlows can attest, it’s a big fat mess on her back that has eventually become a big flat door mat — and it was tough, as in a well-knitted mat. It’s become that way because she’s never allowed anyone to brush her.

After almost two hours of going through some hissing and reposition negotiations, I finally managed to get rid of 95% of that big mess of fur on her back (at the sacrifice of sleep @ 4am when I should be coding for Neely’s project). The good news was, she was so tired and out of breath that 90% of the time she just let me cut through the mess with the scissors even though that meant having to endure some pain in some tough areas. Maybe she was really tired; or maybe she knew I was doing a favor… For whatever reason, she let me do it. And I am glad to announce that she’s now 95% mat free!

So you see, had she not had asthma attacks and as stubborn as she has been, she would never be as tired and been without a care for almost two hours. And if not for that, I’d never be able to trim her matted fur so relatively easily. I feel bad that it takes a bad asthma attack to clear out an old problem of hers. But at the end it all worked out — she got her inhaler doses; I got to trim her hair. And both cats got treats for being cool.

Learning French

So I keep dreaming that someday we’d end up in Canada, and that someday the Chus would be able to at least speak and understand some French (not that we’d need French to survive in Canada anyway; and hopefully my French would be more fluent than my Thai when I lived in Thailand, during which time I knew enough Thai to fool the Thais once in a while that I was one of them. Ha!). So I’ve re-started my efforts in at least listening to some French lessons from iTunes everyday.

I found it interesting that this French-speaking guy thought some English words were hard to pronounce. But I think English is probably super easy compared to some of the European languages such as German and French. And speaking of pronunciations, French “r” sound alone is enough to kill my tongue a few times during the course of a 15-minute “Coffee Break French” lesson. Once Neely’s project winds down a little, I am going to get back to Rosetta Stone French DVD more seriously… Fingers crossed if I ever get to it…

Living in California, maybe I should be concentrating on Spanish. ¿no?