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.?

Cells, Mortality and Life

I listened to part of this radio program in the car today with Grace. I was so fascinated by it that I came home and found the entire program and listened to the rest of it. And since I’ve sent enough emails and IMs to some friends to urge them to listen to it, I might as well post it for all to see. The first two stories were what really fascinated me. The third story reminded me of David’s passing and how this family coped with death in a more creative manner.

Great show. It will be worth your time.

Polluting to Wealth

A few weeks ago the local KQED station broadcasted a series of very interesting PBS special called China from the Inside. As China rises in power and fortune, it’s environmental problems are also starting to reveal the ugly side of this unprecedented growth of the “sleeping dragon”. PBS says it best, “wealth touches some, but pollution touches all.”

Seeing the documentary made depressed about just how in the hell is the world going to be able to sustain this kind of craziness for another 5,000 years (how old we think “civilization is). And the fact that powerful and biggest pollution contributors like the U.S. resists changes and denies facing such problems only makes it that much harder for the human race to move forward. Sometimes I feel embarrassed thinking about just what a terrible condition we are leaving this world to our children…

Dethroning Taiwanese President

It seems like recent protests in Taiwan have garnered some international attention. Taiwan woke up one day to a corrupted president whose presidential campaign, ironically, promised to eradicate corruption from an corrupted era*.

It’s been estimated that as many as 750,000 people showed up in a demonstration, forming a human wall circling, and enclosing, the Presidential Palace and his residence. The images from the news were quite impressive as the demonstrators each wore red clothing and red flashlights that represent anger. Surprisingly (to me anyway), the entire demonstration was peaceful.

Depose President Chen

* KMT ruled Taiwan was often cited as a corrupted government; but then again, KMT took Taiwan from being one of the poorest nations, having been a colony of Japan for quite a while, to among the most prosperous in the world; KMT has also been “credited” as a reason China turned communist due to excessive corruption at the top levels of the party and government branches.

Short Trip at the Yosemite National Park

I came home from Yosemite with some mixed feelings about the trip — mostly good feelings but also some strange ones. I guess if I go in depth with each point I have, this post is going to be a pretty long one, so I will just give it a quick dry run and revisit some of them sometime in the future… I posted some images from the trip.

>> Lodging
Curry Village
Curry Village

Pros: Relatively clean tents; relatively rule-respecting crowd; heating provided in some tents when it gets cold; relatively comfy mattresses; electricity outlets; 24×7 shower.

Cons: Extremely poor facility for cooking; expect to dine at on-site commercial dinning facilities or cook on top of bear-proof lockers which is extremely inconvenient; extremely LONG lines for almost everything — parking, front desk check-in, dinning… etc. Small and expensive rooms, but then every lodging facility there is expensive; tiny bear-proof lockers; can be very difficult to find parking; EXTREMELY CROWDED — feels more like a cheap, 3rd class tourist area.

Housekeeping Camp
Housekeeping Camp

Pros: Great on-site cooking facility (provided if you bring your own portable stove; Grace has even seen people bring microwaves!!); literally walking access to mountain and river views; lots of open space; lots of returning families here every year; easy parking (drive almost right up to your tent!); short lines for everything. Feels more like “camping” and closer to nature (except for the “cons” below). Cheap.

Cons: Relatively dirty facilities; loud and annoying crowd (LOTS of kids and “red necks” blasting loud MUSIC! Yes, music in the middle of nature! Idiots!); limited shower and bathroom hours; lousy bunk beds; VERY hard to fall asleep at night because some people stay up with loud voices (including kids at 12AM).

>> Traffic
The traffic both to and from the park are pretty nice. The only traffic jam we experienced was at the entrance of the park where everyone paid for entrance fees. Also, there’s no easily accessible gas station within the park itself; so gas up before you enter the park!

Overall traffic in the so-called Yosemite Village is excellent. Almost everybody takes the free shuttle to get around (which are supposedly made just for national parks to keep emissions low). The shuttles are very frequent and drivers friendly (and some of them humorous). But parking is probably as bad as New York City…

>> People
It seems like there are lots of people who visit the park quite often. We talked to a few families who go back to Yosemite every year as a family tradition. And contrary to what Chee-hoi says about the “Asian crowd”, I heard a lot more French and British-English speaking people than any other ethnic groups. Unfortunately smoking is not banned in the park. It was very annoying and frustrating to see smokers almost everywhere (and lots of cigarette butts!). But mostly people are considerate and nice to each other.

>> Scenes
There’s only one word for the sceneries: Majestic. There are lots of breathtaking scenes no matter what angle you look at them from. It’s no wonder that John Muir lobbied hard to keep Yosemite a protected American treasure. The only regret I had was that we simply didn’t have time to see everything; there’s simply too much to see just within car-accessible parts of the park! It’s probably wise to plan for a longer trip (like one week) if you plan on spending more time at each spot and truly really appreciate everything.

Yosemite Rivers

>> Food
Unless you are camping and bringing your own meals, food can be a serious issue. There are only a few spots where you can have a nice meal. The good news is, food served by the commercial vendors are comparable to your neighborhood service providers both in quality and price.

>> Bryan
Bryan did pretty well considering how long the trip was (both the drives and the duration away from home). He cried about 20% of the time in the car having never been in a car for so damn long. So it wasn’t too bad. He also slept fairly well except at Housekeeping Camp where there were lots of loud people staying up way into the night despite of “quiet hours” imposed by the camp. But nobody cares (even though we did).

Before going on the trip, I taught Bryan how to growl back to bear if we ever ran into one at the park (not sure if he understood all that, but he got the growling down). During the trip, he learned that the growling sound goes with the Mandarin word “bear”. So now if we asked where “the bear” was, he’d immediately show off by growling like a bear (which is extremely funny).

Bryan and the bear

Record High

The past few days in the Silicon Valley have been unbearable. Record high temperatures appear to be everywhere on the map. But of course, that’s no global warming, just the nature… The White House says so.

Bryan has been having trouble sleeping at night because it’s so hot and humid at night. So we have had to mobilize fans in the apartment — one to move cooler air into the apartment when the sun sets and another to cool Bryan off. The strategy is to give him a nice and cool bath before bed time and try to keep him cool with the two fans going… But last night was so exceptionally hot that we had to use THREE fans!

So now Bryan takes 3 cool baths a day to stay cool… Or else nobody gets any rest in the apartment…