China Is Driving Taiwan Towards Independence

Normally I don’t really give a rat’s ass about news in China, but recent arrests and crack downs of human rights activists have made me think twice about Taiwan’s standing with this so-called “motherland”…

See, Taiwan enjoys its freedom, though messy, but the damn “country” is free from being f*cked over by China like Hong Kong is. People of Hong Kong live in a superficial freedom and democracy. If there’s anything they do that upsets Beijing, they can thank the Red Army for shedding blood on the streets. And China can openly and “justly” claim they are merely suppressing domestic matters — spanking the kids, if you will.

Reading news like that makes me want to tell Taiwan’s leaders to run the other way… taking Taiwan’s future with them! Reunification can only take place if there’s democracy in China!

On Facebook

I started using Facebook more seriously when Brian told me that’s how his brothers stay in touch with their high school friends. So I thought that might be a cool way to hook up with friends I’ve lost touch over the years. So the nightmare begins.

First of all, the UI design of the site sucks. And it doesn’t just suck a little, it’s a design disaster from usability standpoint. Every time I want to do something simple, I have to think about where that feature may be, or if clicking on that button will do what I think it’d do. In UI design terms, the site has very low “affordance” to usability, meaning it’s not very intuitive.

One thing I like about Facebook, though, is how it allows outside developers to develop mini-applications that allows users to plug them right in to the existing infrastructure of the site to “enhance” existing features. But I hate how abundant and frequent people have been, or sometimes are forced to be, sending invites to add those mini-applications just because they are there. Over a short period of time, the UI get cluttered up and is littered with trivial and useless crap that other people have too much time doing. So I simply ignore 90% of them.

Facebook started out with noble goals and intentions. But all it is now is a slightly more improved version of MySpace (which belongs to all-time horror site of fame). It’s arrogant to say this, but when “ordinary people” with no design sense are given the ability to do whatever they want, they will make absolutely the worst design decisions ever, hence making the Internet a worse place to be. Sorry to be such a web design Nazi. :(

Having said that, at least Facebook doesn’t yet allow people to mess with crazy backgrounds, obnoxious auto-play audio tracks, movies and other crazy things like MySpace. And for that, I reluctantly still use it from time to time just to respond to messages. And I’ve gotta to admit, it’s gotten pretty easy to find people on that thing than even Google!

Time Salvaged from Curropted Lightroom Catalog!

For some reason, my MacBook Pro has been failing to warn me when it’s running on reserve power before the battery runs out of juice and shuts the computer down unsafely. And today I’d almost wasted days of work on Lightroom due to a corrupted Lightroom catalog

1
.lrcat

file when my MBP abruptly shut off. Adobe’s documentation was less than helpful (another evidence that it’s the new Microsoft!). But thankfully, this article from Jonathan Kingston’s blog has an alternative way to salvage the catalog, and days of my life, back….

Life is good again. Thank you Mr. Kingston!

Memories in an Urn

We got a call to pick up Baobao’s ashes today. We’d paid for and expected an urn. But what they didn’t tell us was that they’d also included a little surprise — an impression of Baobao’s paws preserved in clay! They also did a nice job with the urn with Baobao’s name nicely “decorated” on the urn.

Bao Bao ashes

Bao Bao paw prints

When we arrived at the vet to pick up the urn, Bryan thought we were there to take Baobao home. So when we told him Baobao was in a tiny little box, he got confused and paused for a second. He still has a tough time understanding where’d Baobao gone.

Considerate Vets

I don’t know if all vets or pet clinics do this, but a couple of days ago we got a handwritten card in the mail from our pet emergency clinic about the loss of Baobao. We thought that was very nice of them to send such a card.

And then yesterday, we got another handwritten card in the mail from our regular pet clinic, also to mourn the death of our cat — signed by the head of the clinic himself (whom also happened to by Baobao’s vet). Grace was curious how they’d know. So she called the emergency clinic to find out. It turns out that they contacted our regular vet about the death (from the record in which I’d previously stated whom our regular vet was) so that our regular vet wouldn’t keep sending us reminders for shots and stuff. Now I think that’s very considerate of them to do that.

Another thing that Grace found out about the doctors at the emergency clinic is, they only work at the emergency clinic, not some part-timer who may have a regular job somewhere else (which Alicia was thinking may be the case). This makes me respect them that much more because of their fair prices, no down-the-throat commercial sales pitches and merchandises, and true love for the care of animals.

Nice people make me happy.

On Apple Newton

I used to have one of those Apple Newtons back in grad school. I bought one as soon as I got my first job right out of my undergrad, you know, as a pat on the back kinda thing. But boy, how time has changed…

I think Newton still has one of the best handwriting recognition softwares out there a decade after it was discontinued by Apple. After I sold mine, all kinds of Palm and Windows CE people have tried to get me to buy one of those toys. But the results were always the same — once you’ve used a Newton, everything else just sucks in comparison. Now, granted things have come a long way since, but I’ve also learned to stop relying on those PDAs… that is until iPhone came along.

Damn you, Apple. Why must you toy with my feelings.

So I have my sight set on the iPhone (though I don’t really need it per se; but I am sure Grace could benefit from having one)… as soon as I can afford to feed another mouth come this June…

Making Decisions on Tough Choices

I’ve been lucky in that most of the tough choices in my life had easy answers — which school to go to; what to do after graduation; whether or not to take that risky startup job in NYC; if uprooting from NYC and moving to California was the right decision; how did I know if Grace was the right girl… etc.

Most of the time these choices would have the answer staring me in the face before I even had to lose sleep over them. But deciding whether or not to end a house pet’s life was an abstract concept that required some soul searching and constructive voices from others to help clear the fog in the head.

In that, this is an open thank-you to Jason and Alicia for all the emotional and moral support they’ve provided in the past month over Baobao’s condition.

We are also very pleased with our pet ER with their handling of our very difficult cat. And they also provide very sound medical and practical advise from various perspectives. For anyone living in the San Jose area, I can’t think of a better place to take his/her pet to in the case of emergency…

Another reason I recommend them is, they don’t sell any products in their clinic. So this could only mean that every penny they earn, they’d have to earn it from the servicing and treatment of the animals they admit, which is a pretty drastic departure from almost all the other day-clinics I’ve been to, where the lobbies are stuffed with overpriced products and brochures. And to know for a fact that they don’t charge much like other day-clinics, it makes me wonder if they actually do this for the love of the animals, not trying to take advantage of pet owners who’d probably pay anything just to get their pets out of whatever dire conditions their pets are suffering from. I don’t know how they do it, but they have my respect and trust. And that’s a good feeling.

Baobao in Comfort

Baobao in Comfort

It took me twenty minutes to decide on an image for this post. But then, it was a lot to take in and a lot of emotions to process. At the end, I decided that projecting Baobao at her favorite place during the last day of her life was the most appropriate and captures a more accurate portrait of her characters.

On January 16, 2008 at around 10PM, Baobao took her last laboring breathe and her heart stopped beating. The life of a cat with strong characters came to an end. The burden of this tough call was ours to make as guardians of our pet. For those who knew, Baobao suddenly exhibited symptoms of acute asthma attacks late last year, and her conditions just kept getting worse after a couple of weeks of seemingly healthy recovery.

In the days leading to her euthanasia, her asthma inhaler dosages increased dramatically from 1-3 puffs a day to 13 puffs, and then finally during her last day, 30+ puffs. Modern medicine was finally overcome by the illness.

Bryan didn’t quite understand what happened. And I scrambled to Google for ways to explain the whole idea of “death” of our pet to our two-and-a-half-year-old. It was especially heartbreaking when he routinely said his good nights last night to Baobao as he prepared for bed time albeit to a photograph of Baobao.

I am glad Wawa also came along with us to the hospital as I think she understood what was going on. She got all freaked out and kept meowing as Baobao collapsed beside her in the pet carrier and struggled to breathe on our way to the hospital. She hasn’t looked for Baobao yet since we got back. So she must knows.

The house feels unusually empty even with two adults, a toddler and a cat. It’s hard to comprehend just the mere presence of life can fill a room, and the void of it can make even the most crowded space empty. But it does.

I once read a quote that goes something like this: “We don’t just live. We survive.” After living through the grief of losing a family pet, the quote rings ever more faithful to its core as we try to cope with the loss. And so march on we must with our own lives after saying a heartbreaking goodbye to our friend. March on, we must.

Malaysian Yong Tofu

We owe my cousin a meal. So Grace decided to dish out her Malaysian cooking skills to give ourselves a treat while returning my cousin his favor.

Now, I don’t know how Grace does it. But her cooking has been pretty kick-ass for quite a while now. And her latest rendition of the famous Malaysian Yong Tofu (thanks to Jai’s recipe, actually) with Malaysian curry made returning my cousin’s favor a glamorous event. In fact, I am pretty sure he now owes me a meal because of this! Ha!

Sorry Chi-hoi, we pretty much finished the leftovers as well. Maybe next time we’ll bring some over if you asked Grace really nicely… ;)