June 21, 2012

Anniversary of war of 1812

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:16 am by changisme

The celebration of the War of 1812 in the Great White North has always been this interesting spectacle for me. Even before this bicentennial anniversary, I have always heard songs such as this and this  (I always preferred the latter); There have been stamps, comics, toys, you name it. Everyone drank to the victory of the Canadian independence, even though kids in grade schools knew that the Canadian Confederation wasn’t until 1867, and it was from the British rather than the Americans. The fact that I hold no patriotism to any country in this world makes it seem funny.

Recent years I have lived in the United States. To my astonishment, few remembered or ever knew of the great War of 1812 with the shame that has rained down on America with her little leader Madison. Among those who remembered, most told me the war was a draw. Who could argue? Neither side gained anything, and both lost nothing but life of the soldiers who never counted. The burning of the White House Canadians hold dear is also met with sneer, as Washington DC was barely a swamp merely a couple decades after the American Civil War.

Some such as Alan Taylor have argued that the War of 1812 was merely an after shock of the American Civil War, fought between the refugees and the Republicans. It was hence the regressive pro-slavery faction among the Canadians (or ex-Americans?) who were fighting. Woe! I can just feel the scorching fury from Canadian nostrils right now.

But of course, who are the true losers here as it always is on this fertile and ancient continent? The First Nations. They were bullied before when the fighting was directed at them, and they lose again even when the fighting was supposed to be between white men. They lost large number of their territories and the trade support with the British.

A lot of these reminds me of the Korean War. That war was really between the US and China (+Russia maybe). China wanted a cushion between herself and some powerful western country, while the US… actually… the motivations of American wars overseas have always been difficult to be taken seriously. In any case, both sides lost significant amount people and resources before the DMZ was established. The amount of war crime committed in the Korean War was far greater than that during the War of 1812, mostly because east Asia was just been through WWII a few years prior. Nevertheless, no territories were gained or lost by either side. China, like Canada, claims to have won the war, because she has successfully established the “cushion”, though with great cost. The US, well, has somewhat contained communism, though later this container of hers was to capture American journalists and simmer in Nuclear weapon.  Other than that, any significant consequences of this war was that it probably have stopped China’s invasion of Taiwan. Just like the War of 1812 for Canadians, the Korean War became a shining point that established the national identity of post-1949 China and North Korea.

I guess like any war, 1812 is more valuable as a story to tell. It is stories that establishes nationhood afterall. Like when mothers talk about their children, stories from the past are bookmarked, not just by grades and migrations, but also by violence, which may be hard to avoid, but can certainly be lessened and should never taste sweet.

Advertisements

February 25, 2012

Lent

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:25 pm by changisme

Fast for the Feast.
Feeling faint?
Forty fish,
furry ‘n fat.
Feast freakin’ fast.

*burp* <- Jon Reiter style.

February 12, 2012

How I stopped talking about god…

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:16 pm by changisme

Jeremy Lin has recently come under the spotlight in the NBA. I have listened to an interview of him. He’s quite laid back in the most part, and he talks about God in every other sentence, really reminds me of the Chinese church I used to go to. It really made me realize, I don’t really talk about God with anyone anymore.

First, to be clear, I am one who love talking about God and gods. Talking under a certain religious framework is like talking about math: if we abide by such and such axioms, what would be a logical and beautiful theory. What of currently held true is actually inconsistent, and what symmetry or parallel can we see from theory A with theory B. What symbolism or pattern is most representative of what concept. It goes on and on. There is so much fun in talking about god!

I had three friends who used to engage in these kind of conversations with me. We don’t really discuss whether the axioms were true, because if they were axioms, they cannot be proven. Having said that, it’s not that we always held onto one set of axioms, we did experiment with others, but I was not very knowledgeable, then and now, so we did mostly adhere to Christianity, occasionally making observations about others.

Then when did I stop? Why did I stop? Those friends I mostly interacted when I was in undergraduate, and then I moved away, and the only two kinds of people around me who were enthusiastic about talking god, either (a) use cliches by the bucket load, like Jeremy Lin in his interview, or (b) talk about stupid Christians are.

First let’s talk about type A. These people I have always been quite familiar with. They are not usually fundamentalists or even political enthusiasts. Their discussions or answers just all seem to have come out of either a cookbook or a FAQ. Phrases lose their meaning when we use them too much, or rather, we stop contemplating their meaning. For example, what does it mean when they say, all they want is to serve God? I don’t really mean a discussion like that from a youth group or a self help book. These things just focus on finding out what I should do in my daily life in order to be a good girl. Rather, I would want to talk about, how do humans understand serving a higher being throughout history; how is it that we humans can still entertain the idea of servitude when supposedly non-ritualistic religious system. There are many words and phrases people just throw around so much, I am bored, so very bored, of hearing them from anybody by this point. So, I stopped talking about god with type A.

Type B people were those who are more socially progressive, and have seen a lot of the injustices political religious groups have done to the world. I understand and support a lot of what they believe. On the other hand, their speech get old quite quickly. Also quite ironically, they are the same people who rightfully advocate against islamaphobia based on minority fundamentalism. I don’t actively fight against these people’s behavior, because afterall Christians in this country are not so much of a minority and are not victims of racism, as are the Muslims. Yet still, sometimes what they do is contrary to their own logic. Ultimately, Repeating the same point become tiresome.

I am certainly not the only person with some religious interest around, but many, like me, are silenced because we no longer have a community. I have also lost the will and habit to read about the matter, because there is just something special about seeing someone face to face and talk about interesting things like this. It is different and complimentary to reading on my own, and so much better than arguing with faceless people on internet forums.

February 10, 2012

Fear grows in retrospect

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:04 pm by changisme

Recently a friend asked me to go skiing. What’s interesting, and sad, was that I had a surge of fear rising within me as soon as I realized I could easily go skiing again at will. I never actually had any bad accidents downhill skiing before, and never even went on really dangerous slopes, only the small close calls everyone gets once in awhile. It’s probably just that it’s been so long since I last skied downhill, three years maybe? So I guess the fear has little to do with my dull skiing history, more to do with my pitiful psychology and the long gap in time.

When I most loved it, I went on Wednesday nights for the cheap lift tickets, and had no fear of the speed. Honest to god, I probably could barely see what’s on the slope. Even though the lights were bright, I’m not one with the best eyesight, especially with ski goggles on. A year later, I would realize that it was dangerous, I came so close to crash into something and breaking my arms, legs or even neck. Two years later, I would need even more courage to go just once or twice for a small vacation trip. As time passes by, I don’t even want to go anymore. Probably once I’m on the slope, I will get over it again, but the feeling I get just sitting here and thinking is quite paralyzing.

Sometimes, what it takes is just not to think at all. Then again… what if I really break my leg, it’s gonna be sooo painful… eeek, DON’T THINK KAREN, don’t think…

February 7, 2012

Airplane food

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:28 pm by changisme

I have long complained about airplane food, and no one really disagree with me, so I’m not going to elaborate on how much it sucks. What I really want to say is that, airplane food really doesn’t have to suck if they had chosen the types of dishes.

First a disclaimer, I have little experience with foods other than nuts and cookies from Western airlines. The only one I have experienced is Air Canada. I have, however, eaten many meals on long haul Asian airlines, which are commonly acknowledged as having better food. 

First of all, an airplane kitchen is usually just a series of ovens. Since there is no chef in the air, dishes do have to be precooked and maybe later heated. Therefore, all the dishes in the air should be those that taste just as good, or even better, as leftovers. 

In both Chinese and Western cuisine, we have such food items in abundance. In contrast, some dishes are better served fresh and horrible if reheated in the oven. For example, one of the dishes I was served in my most recent flight was stirfry pork strips with bak choy. Not only was the pork no longer fresh, but also lost the texture of a fresh stirfry. The greens were too soft and felt like baby food. Instead, they could serve their pork in chunks and stewed, such as 红烧肉 or 梅菜扣肉, both still pork dish and still cheap. These dishes are known for tasting better as leftovers. Similarly, instead of grilled chicken, they could served curried chicken. I understand some people prefer foods that don’t taste too strongly on the plane, but personally, if my stomach would turn during a flight, mush-like food isn’t going to make me feel less likely to throw up.

Starchy food should also be chosen with care. Asian noodles should never be boiled and reheated later. If it’s Italian pasta in a casserole, maybe… and it’s a big maybe, because I personally don’t like spagetti reheated, but if you have to, heat them without the aluminum cover used in airplane main courses. Many thing with tomato sauce and cheese reheat quite well in an oven, such as pizza.

Desert in the air is another big mystery for me. Recently, I was served “cake” several times. They were stale and dense, and icing cracked like an old man’s face. I would much rather just have a piece of chocolate, maybe with liquor filling (pretty please)? Or, I could take a scoop of ice cream? None of them require that much skill compare to a cake!

For breakfast, the Asian airlines just serve regular food, so I won’t make more comments about them. For Air Canada, they served eggs and hash browns. I’m not one to pick on Western breakfast, as I don’t eat much of them, but wouldn’t sausages or oatmeal or yogurt be better for reheating?

Airplane food can be improved without increase the cost, I just hope someone on the job would have the motivation to do so.

October 27, 2011

Things I didn’t know before: Scientists, class conflict, Breaking Bad

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:38 pm by changisme

Another few months have passed. I’ve learned a whole lot more in all fronts. Here’s a list of what I didn’t know.

1. What is a Scientist? Am I a scientist?
For the longest time, I struggled with the definition of being a Scientist.
Is it someone who uses scientific methods to solve problems? Scientific methods at this day in age is just have a hypothesis and conduct an experiment which simply consists of doing things over and over again under controlled conditions, then make an inference. If using scientific method is the definition of being a scientist, then almost everyone would be a scientist. Chefs, for example, or engineers or artists. Even playwrites and actors try different strategies and see the reaction of the audience. Further, strictly speaking people like field biologists don’t conduct controlled experiments, would they not be scientists?
Would a scientist be someone who recognizes the usefulness of theories and also their falsehood? This one.. it’s GOTTA be wrong, otherwise economists and psychologists would be counted, which means the world has just collapsed on itself.

Till today, I still don’t know what is a scientist, but after working for those who are conventionally known as scientists in the Hutch for nearly a year now. I know one thing that’s got to be in the definition: GRIND.

As for myself, I don’t really think I’m a scientist. I can probably be called a skeptist and a member of the supporting staff of scientist though. Then again, my own identity is hinged on the definition of scientist.

2. Another thing I didn’t know, class conflict is apparently something one group of people can infflict upon all the classes. As far as I know, if one group of people hold onto something another group of people want, “conflict” is born. A class conflict would exist if “group” is defined by class. So to it would exist so long as 1) classes exist and 2) one class wants another class’ stuff and the latter class doesn’t want to give it to the former. To inflict this “disease” would mean either either to create classes or to create the desire for something from one class and the sentimental value for the same something in another class.

I know that the Americans, being anti-communists, really believe classes are natural occurrences and will always exist. That leaves the conclusion that someone somewhere in this country has created the lower class’ desire for money and clarity. Wow… story of Eden just repeats itself eh?

3. We’ve been watching Breaking Bad. At the beginning of the show, I thought it’s about how criminality (is that a word?) is arbitrary and we shouldn’t think of taboo crimes like meth cookery being that different from some other less taboo wrong doing.

The more I watch it, the more I feel differently. The amount of suffering each character endures and inflict escalate tremendously over time. It reminds me of how C.S. Lewis talked about sin and hell. Sinning against someone is a matter of alienation from that person. Hell is the state of alienation and loneliness.

What does that mean to me? I guess if I have to sin, I will be sure not to sin against those who I want to be around.

September 18, 2011

On a slightly sad note…

Posted in Life at 12:44 am by changisme

Life is mostly great, but I’m slightly sad today, for several reasons.

For one, it’s midnight, and September 18th, 80 years ago is seen as the day the Sino-japanese war officially started. Many people died and fled, and many Chinese hated the Japanese for years to come. What is more tragic, is that over shadowing the loss of life and general human suffering of war, this day is often portrayed as the symbol of patriotic embarrassment. People seem to care little about the nameless populous who had to spend their life savings (if they had any) running around trying to obtain strips of cabbages, while care more about the fact that the great Chinese race has lost its face on the world stage.

Every year of this day, people talk about 国耻. What does that even mean? It’s like being offended when someone uses a dollar bill to wipe their ass. It’s not like George Washington will actually awake from the grave and get E. Coli. I know people adore a sense of spirituality and pride, and it gives them something to hold on to, but why do we need to entertain thoughts of embarrassment? Feel bad about the current sustained poverty of the people living in the provinces that supported the Communist war effort the most! Feel their abandonment. Feel bad about all the broken families because of the Japanese invasion, and further separated almost eternally because of the tension between Taiwan and the mainland.

It sometimes makes you wonder, what did it mean to have won the war? The war was just like a bloody street fight, where everyone came away with broken bottle stuck in their head. Except the Chinese would jam their broken glass even deeper into their skull and call it a trophy.

Enough of the big things, I also saw a play today, called Amy’s View. Not the ideal play for a dreary day such as this. The play is about the life story of Amy and her relationships. Her life is so dominated by what she thinks others think of her and it’s so tragic. The sad thing is, the whole story is just so real, and everyone else’s lives are also tragic because the fact that we all depend on each other so much. It reminds me of the slow and constant loss of control I perceive to have on my own life. There has been a time when I felt I can do anything, stop anything, and my life is all in my own hands, but really it’s not. What song was it that says life is like a rollercoaster. I feel it’s not so much the ups and downs that’s difficult, but rather, I can see more and more how little what I do really matters.

I think that’s why people are into positive thinking, because it’s so much easier to put on a pair of rose colored glasses and say your life is great than actually have a great life. I can’t complain about the actual quality of my life, because it’s really much better than many people’s. Nevertheless, I don’t feel like the driver, and it’s scary. Many years ago I asked God to let me live fully. I guess that’s what people mean by, be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

On a lighter, though not so light note, the play also heavily discussed the notion of films and TV killing stage theatre. Whenever I ask someone, they always like to say that stage theatre is great because it’s more intimate or more interactive. I feel these are all from the point of views of the actors. Most of the plays I’ve been to are not that interactive or intimate. I see Edward Olmos’ wrinkles much more intimately than I do any stage actor however old they are.

You know what I think? I think the reason I like theatre is because it’s so limited. Creativity completely without restriction isn’t always great. For example, there is so much facial expressions in movies can’t be seen in stage performance, so the actors talk so much more. I can get much more brilliant dialogues in a play than in an average movie. It’s like drawing, I love black and white drawings, often more than those with full colours.  

The birth of any piece of work, arts or science is like an escape artist untying hir own handcuffs underwater, full of adrenaline. I guess this is what I’ve decided to view the tragic human existence, a six pack of adrenaline rush, head on with the future.

July 21, 2011

Weird mom: boyfriends are less stinky than cats

Posted in Life, Uncategorized at 2:57 pm by changisme

I love cats and I love guys(or rather a guy). I decided to adopt a cat and (for some unknown stupid reason) felt I had to tell my mother, even though I knew she would totally flip out. We had the argument on the phone. She reminded me how the kittens my dad insisted on bringing home 20 years ago were so naughty, and how they stunk when they peed on the floor. She reminded me how the hair was everywhere at my grandparents house. I won’t list all her objections. She even half jokingly said, for each day she’s alive on this earth, I can’t get a cat. My aunt, her sister, got wind and had similar objections.

It’s so strange because they never objected that much whenever I date a guy. Even when I told them Zhangfei will move in with me, they didn’t object. Why is this?! Men are much more troublesome and stink much more than cats. They also have lots of hair although the shedding isn’t quite seasonal. They also die early. Worse, I can’t even neuter them. Why do my mom and aunt hate cats so much more than men?

July 16, 2011

San Diego 3: Animals

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:55 pm by changisme

Finally, I have sometime to look at the rest of our San Diego trip pictures. I just love all the pictures we took at the San Diego Zoo. I wonder if that’s a form of maternal instinct. In other words, I’m actually baby crazy but I don’t really want a human baby yet, so instead I keep wanting to look at animals. I know this is a far stretched conjecture, but why else do I feel the compulsion to look at some mentally underdeveloped, innocent, self-centered individuals who eat, sleep and play fight all day? Oh god, this is some scary introspection…

The first time I went to San Diego a long time ago, we didn’t go to the zoo, because whoever took me there felt it was too expensive, and they knew all I would do was to look at goats. This time around, I enjoyed all parts of the zoo, and I can’t even say which is my favourite. Maybe the otters?

The polar bears were much more active than any other large animals we saw. I think it’s because these are a pair of playful youngsters. The zoo keepers said that in order to keep the polar bears from over heating, they put them on a diet (with more carrots), so they lose quite a bit of fat and hence can endure more heat. I’m not sure what to this of this tactic. We do a lot of things to animals in order to keep them in foreign habitats, and this is certainly not the least humane. Nonetheless, this feels like starving the model in order to keep them on stage.

And then there’s the lazy folks…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love giraffes, simply because of their incredible looking tongue and disproportionally small head. When I saw the line up of the above 3 giraffes, I immediately thought about I Just Can’t Wait To Be King.

I do criticize media for inaccurately portray the false harmony in nature, as if animals and plants get along. It’s similar to the silly assumption that hunter gatherer societies are devoid of war and exploitation. We, being less in touch with nature, should learn what it’s like to respect nature with all its complex ecological politics. Having said all that, when different species dine together, it’s still quite cute.

The following picture I dedicate to my dear friend Jane, who once had the courage and patience to stare at these critters in the middle of nowhere for 4 months.
There are quite a few meercat dwellings in the zoo. The keepers told us that this is partly because different mobs don’t get along. For each of these locations, we only saw the sentries.

Meercat mobs are quite interesting. The alpha couple govern the group together, and they usually evict fertile females. It’s quite weird. On the one hand, they want a sizable gang for easier survival. On the other hand, they don’t want genetic competition. It’s like us girls. We want girlfriends to gossip with, but on the other hand, we back stab each other because they waggle their asses in front of our men.

Vultures, on the other hand, just congregate for no good reason. First one flies up, then a second one follows.

Then a third one joins them.

Eventually, everyone’s on the tippy top of the tree and the latest bird has nowhere to stand. Sounds like Beijing’s restaurant fads? Every couple of years, there would be a restaurant fad blowing through the streets of Beijing. Every second store front would be a restaurant, and every second restaurant would be following the fad. A short lived fad was Shanghai food. A pretty cool one was spicy crawdads. A fun one was skewer bars. Ultimately, each of these fads end and go back to making Sichuanese food. YES SICHUANESE FOOD NEVER DIES!

Most animals were sleeping in the afternoon heat of San Diego summer. I thought I would be more disappointed, but they look so cute!

Even the albino python.

Okay, I don’t actually know if it’s sleeping. It’s simply not moving. Maybe it’s pondering on its own existential questions. It’s quite interesting that we only ask “Why isn’t <insert animal name> moving?”, but we don’t ask “Why is <insert animal name> moving?”. Should we all not move by default unless we need to reach for a glass or water or do laundry?

Not all cute animals are in the zoo. In fact, I saw some in a bar in Hillcrest. They belong to the same mob, because they have quite a few commonalities:

1) a love for music;

2) the same last name;

3) an irrational fear toward bees;

4) an irrational love toward very bitter beer and coffee;

5) a lack of coin pouches leading to spraying coins all over the floor;

6) a need for long and slow… umm. I think my post is getting TLTR.

July 12, 2011

San Diego 2: The food

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:52 pm by changisme

I really looked forward to some good Mexican food in San diego. On our first day, as lunch time was drawing near, we texted our local host and was recommended a taco truck called Mariscos Taco Truck 3.

The truck is in a parking lot where people bought Mexican coke from the corner store and ate giant tacos. We later ate tacos again in another place. It appears the tacos in this part of the country is just giant! There’s no way anyone could pick it up. It also didn’t seem like people were using forks. I was somewhat at a loss to how these culinary delight.

This is a seafood taco, there’re at least 5 types of seafood in there including salmon!

I don’t think there’s anywhere in Seattle where you can get taco this full. It may be a bit unnecessarily large, but still it tasted good.

In the evening, we met up with Zhangfei’s cousin Ben and Ben’s girlfriend Angela. They took us to a Indian restaurant called Punjabi Tandoor, a hole in the wall in the middle of several office buildings. The place was packed. Some of them just buy take outs. We had two types of lamb curry and both are great. It’s not extraordinarily spicy, but had a very rich flavour. It’s about the same level of good as Chili’s in Seattle. Nothing trumps good company though, so we talked a great deal, and didn’t take any pictures.

On the following day, we didn’t pay much attention to the restaurants we went to because we were a bit hungry and just wanted something quick. However, we did try California burrito for the first time. It’s potato chunks with some meat and sauce in a tortilla. I’m not a big fan of it. Zhangfei felt it’s not too bad.

We did have good coffee afterwards. It’s in a coffee lounge called Filter. We heard this from our host Steven also. They roast their own beans. The drip coffee is one of the best I’ve ever had. My taste in expresso is not as refined, so I don’t have a strong opinion on it. I liked both.

The last day was family day, we mostly stayed inside and made spagetti, dumping everything we love in it, namely tomatoes, capers, anchovies, ground beef, parsley, garlic, onion and olive. It wasn’t my ideal summer food, but it felt great cooking on our own after eating out so much.

In our very limited time outside, we got free Slurpy! We had no idea, but it happened to be 7/11, so 7/11 was giving away small slurpies, tehehe, who would have thought?


Next page