Is that edible and please read the fine print

white-tiger.jpgThe latest tragedy that occurred in the San Francisco zoo in which a tiger somehow got out and attacked three persons brought a flashback in my memory. If my memory serves me right, it was way back in the 80s, when my parents were still alive. At that time, I customarily took my parents out during Saturdays to do something. One time, it was to the San Francisco zoo. So, we were going through all the animal habitats and guess what the topic they kept asking was? “Is that edible?” Every animal that they saw, they saw them through the eyes of a traditional Chinese person – as food.

I can’t blame my parents for thinking that way. They grew up in a traditional Chinese village setting where survival meant the ability to gather enough food to keep hunger away. Nowadays, we and the animal kingdom seem to be separated by a couple of walls. Any young kid in a modern society would have a crying storm if they watched how his or her animal protein reached the dinner table. I remember as a young kid at a farm how animals were slaughtered so that I would not go hungry. Maybe all kids in industrialized societies should have tours to slaughter houses so that they face the realities of life.

degeneris.jpgOn the Subject of Ellen DeGeneres and the Fine Print

I would like to conclude 2007 by awarding Ellen DeGeneres the award of celebrity gone wild (or I am a celebrity and I can do whatever I want). As some of you may know, Ellen DeGeneres adopted a dog from a private animal shelter. After not being able to co-exist with the dog, she decided to give away the dog to her hair stylist. However, like all fame people who think they are the main prince or princess, she did not read the adoption papers. It specified that the dog should be returned to the animal shelter if things did not work out. Further, it specified that the dog should not live with young children. Whatever the reasons were behind those provisions, I am sure they were for the welfare of the dog.

When the animal shelter recovered the dog, Ellen DeGeneres threw a fit and made crying noises during her show. How pathetic! Her producer even threatened the owner of the animal shelter. If you search the Internet, you will find petitions from her fans to have the dog returned to Ellen’s hairstylist.

My point through all this rambling is that Ellen DeGeneres forgot one principal point. She adopted the dog and she should have read the adoption papers. A dog is not just an item that one owns and disposes at will. Could you imagine if she actually adopted a human baby, decided that the baby did not fit her, and gave the baby to someone else? Most likely, the human baby’s adoption agency would have arrested her for child endangerment.

Anyway, having been taking care of an adopted dog lately, I plead to everyone who reads this not to take the caring of an animal lightly. Ms. DeGeneres may have had a good heart when she decided to adopt the dog, but she was totally wrong in playing the owner who can do with the dog whatever way she wanted. She forgot that as a celebrity, she has responsibilities too. She basically destroyed that private animal shelter.

Do you know your way to San Jose?

car_19001.jpgMy daily life is frantic around the days that surround the Winter solstice and the designated birthday of Jesus Christ. It was just like yesterday that I believe in Santa Kraus and being a good boy. Nowadays, that good boy can be described as naughty in some circles. Who knew that someday one will assume the role of Santa Kraus?

I always wondered whether we humans would have found any kind of excuses to create a holiday. If we look at our history, no matter what culture, no matter what period of time, there has always been some kind of celebration. That is, to get wasted. Gee, we even go into a celebration mode when we mourn our dead ones. So, in that sense, Christmas would have existed, no matter what. From now on, anyone who complains to me about how commercialized things have become will be put on my no-gifts blacklist. Let’s see how soon they change their minds.

So, on other news, my trip to Los Angeles was uneventful. That long stretch of Interstate 5 is like the stretch of Interstate 80 that my friend Happy AMS guy took with me this past April. The main difference being it is all in California and there are mountain ranges on both sides of the San Joaquin valley. Still, it is like a road to nowhere. An endless straight line. On the way back, we decided to detour to San Jose and use highway 152, the Pacheco Pass highway. Highway 152 is known to be a dangerous highway because it is a two-lane highway that goes up and down a mountain range. Given that I was driving the Grand Cherokee and not the normal sports car, I needed to be a bit more cautious. Of course, nothing happened. Or I would not be writing this page.

So, I better excuse myself now and return to my gift wrapping effort. Where are the elves?

Music running through my brain

laura.jpgI have been going through a Chinese water torture ordeal ever since my partner gave me an Ipod last year. Between him and me, we have collected around 240 CDs. So, I decided to rip the CDs and save them in the Ipod. I have done about 1/3 of them. Through this process, music keeps blaring from the computer’s speakers. There are some songs that I took a fancy. One in particular got stuck in my brain. It is Neil Diamond singing “I’ll see you on the radio (Laura).” Here are the lyrics:

Laura,
It’s not the end of the world
It’s just the end of the summertime

Oh but Laura,
I never promised the world
Just till the end of the summer time
But, I’ll see you on the radio
It’s playin’ our summer song
That same old song
It goes on and on
And the radio
Keeps sayin’ the summers gone
But I keep hearing, Laura

Now it’s autumn
Somebody is waiting for you
And someone is waiting to see me too
Yeah, but Laura
I want to see you again
I don’t know how and
I don’t know when
But till I do

I’ll see you on the radio
It’s playin’ our summer song
That same old song
It goes on and on
And the radio
Keeps sayin’ the summers gone
But I keep hearing you….

On the radio
They’re playin’ our summer song
That same old song
It goes on and on
On the radio
They’re sayin’ that’s summers gone
But I keep seeing you

On the radio
It’s playin’ our summer song
That same old song
It goes on and on

Now replace the word “Laura” with that (or those) loved ones who are now part of your past; smell the cold, chilly dry air; let nostalgia set in. Now you know how I feel at this moment. I must say that these lyrics shoved a torrent of emotions out of me. I wonder where all those loved ones are now. We, humans, certainly go through a lot of emotional raw material.

Talking about emotional material, I am preparing for another trip this weekend. Ah, heading south, to the fairy land of Los Angeles. One of my nieces is getting her PhD. So, time to get the Grand Cherokee ready for a road trip. This time sis is sitting behind me. Oh joy!

Going Northwest by Southwest (or my trip with my sister)

emperor.jpgI just could not avoid using this title. Well, going to Portland, Oregon using Southwest airlines. The weekend was an interesting one. Let’s see, I left Oakland, California to Portland, Oregon with my sister and my niece on a Friday evening. This is the first time that I have travelled with my sister by plane. She and I are 20 years apart in age. So, while she remembers me well during my babyhood, I don’t know much of her because she was already an adult when I was growing up.

My sister and I have an interesting relationship. Let’s say that it is a hotchpotch of raw emotions dealing with a traditional Chinese family in a tumultuous period of history. The reason why there is such an age gap between her and I was because of the Second World War. Dad was trying to make a living in a South American country while mom and sis were avoiding imperial Japanese soldiers in southern China. I was the product of my parents’ reunification after the war. Given that I was the last chance for a male offspring, it is no wonder that I became the prototype for Chairman Mao’s little emperor experiment.

I always wonder (and still do) why China is such a male-oriented society. Not that I did mind that. I grew up totally spoiled and it is a miracle that I did not become the bad sheep of the family. Wait! Doesn’t being gay brand me as the bad sheep? Well, since I am not Scottish, I’ll leave the meaning of sheep to a different day and explanation. Returning to the discussion about my relationship with my sister, I can say that there was a long period of time when we were kind of total strangers. During my parents’ golden years, I basically assumed the responsibilities of helping them transition through a difficult period of their lives. I was quite grateful that somehow, their grandchildren (i.e., my sister’s kids) took a keen interest in their welfare. That helped me a lot. But sis was nowhere to be found. She was fighting her own demons.

It was not until the end of my parents’ life that I became aware that some of her demons were created by a society which viewed males as privileged members. She once mentioned that my parents preferred me more. However, I always had the impression that my parents treated us equally. They also paid for her university studies, right? But now, looking back, I can see how her views came into being. I bet my mother went overboard with me in front of my sister. I am sure that sis was a bit jealous about how I was treated. Now, what shall I do as we both take the path towards the golden years? I really don’t know. On this trip, she mentioned that I made a promise to her when I was six years old. She said that I promised to buy her a house. Huh!!!!

P.S. My friend Happy Amsterdam Guy mentions how happy he is in paying his taxes in the Netherlands because of the great government services he gets. He may have a heart attack if he finds out there is no sales tax in Oregon and no state income tax in Washington State. So, if you work in Washington State and shop in Oregon…

Random thoughts on a rainy Thursday

cole_empire.jpgIt is a cold, rainy afternoon over here. So, I have confined myself to my room. Curtains closed lights on, heater on. I just finished double checking my check list of things that I need to do. Tomorrow, I am headed north, to that mystical place called Oregon. Although it is only an hour or so away by plane, I have not thought of visiting that place before. I am doing it because my nephew decided to give up the rat race here and move to a more tranquil place. I can’t wait to see if it is as mellow as people claim.

On other topics, I have been steering into a book reading period. There is nothing to watch on TV and I am boycotting the cable company. Oh, by the way, if you are unhappy with the rising cost of your cable TV bill, try to do what I did. I showed up at the company’s office and politely asked what other options I have besides my current plan. Guess what? The representative offered to lower my bill by $15 for the next six months. So, instead of a rate increase, I got a rate cut. I guess I’ll think of something else when the six-month deadline arrives. Maybe pretend to be poorer?

Now, back to the books that I have read. The current one is titled “Day of Empire – How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance” by Amy Chua. See a synopsis here:. The book’s central thesis is that the world’s most successful superpowers are those that embrace diversity and tolerance. Hence, for example, the rise of the tiny nation of the Netherlands as a hyperpower was due to its tolerance of various minority groups. I did not know that the Netherlands used Jewish bankers to finance their Indian companies. By the same token, Spain almost became a hyperpower but for one tiny event: the Inquisition. I am not sure how much the United States is following those lessons or not. Who knows, maybe we’ll step out of the current go-it-alone mentality.

Another book is titled “Merle’s door: Lessons from a freethinking dog” by Ted Kerasote. See Mr. Kerasote’s website here:. It recounts the 13 years of Mr. Kerasote’s life with his dog Merle. More than it, Mr. Kerasote tries to give some theories dealing with our relationships with the canine specie. I find this book to be an excellent book, even if you are not the guardian of a dog. I do caution though, that you may not like the last chapter…because like all good things, there is an ending.

On that note, Oregon here I come.

Modern technology, here I come

vcr.jpgDecades ago, when the Earth was at its infancy, I was extremely happy to have gone to Macys and bought myself one of those new technological boxes: a VCR. No more watching 8mm porno reels. I could see action in all its wonders. Those were the days when the porno section of the newly established video rental stores was hidden behind a tiny room.
Somehow, as the years progressed, I lost enthusiasm for new technology. I seem to have been like snow White during the past decade of DVDs and MP3s. But no longer…I decided to take a quantum leap to the next level…a level where most Japenese guys have already adopted a long while ago.

What is it? The mobile phone as the modern Swiss knife. I got myself a Nokia N95. This thing does everything. Camera, music player, GPS devise. It can connect to Wifi and supports Microsoft Office documents. All, in a little box.

Actually, I am writing this using the phone. Got myself a small bluetooth keyboard to quicky type too. Now, I can readily say “no” when homeland security ask me at the airport whether I am carrying a laptop computer.
What next? A computer chip implanted in my brain so that the porno stuff keep playing nonstop? Hahahahaha.