Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Meet the Grandparents - My parents have been busy since we returned from Las Vegas. They’ve had dinner with Jenny’s parents three times—twice at home and once at a restaurant—and they’ve visited my cousin Lei-Lei along with their good friends the Wu’s from Taiwan (both living in San Jose). They’ve also gone shopping in San Francisco twice and once in Oakland. I’ve put on quite a few miles on my car shuttling them back and forth, but quite gladly. I’m very happy they're here, as I only get to see them twice a year since I moved to California five years ago.

Of course they’re very pleased about meeting their 6th grandchild Russell for the first time, but I also think they’re happy to be able to see relatives and old friends during this trip. It was good to see them swapping stories about life in China and Taiwan and catching up with recent developments. I even have my father convinced that I should buy a vacation house in Las Vegas so they could hang out there during the winter and meet with friends and relatives in Sin City. Now if I can only convince Jenny to come with me on a scouting trip for Las Vegas real estate.

During my parents’ visit to California, Russell began smiling regularly for the first time. You can see new pictures of the happy baby here. He’s six weeks old.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

Bloggers Flog the New York Times - I’m pleased to see that the mighty New York Times is getting spanked by "bloggers" like Andrew Sullivan and others fighting liberal bias in the media. US News & World Report’s John Leo editorializes on the political aspects of "blogging", which to date has served primarily as a check on the liberal press corps. It's really disturbing to find news containing blatant ideology masquerading as reporting and an evident editorial bias rather than the healthy skepticism that the fourth estate should exhibit. Thank God the Internet gives the truth a fighting chance.

One of my favorite NYT front-page observations on the Afghan war was during the prisoner uprising at the old walled prison outside of Mazar-e Sharif. On the second day, the NYT's reporter wrote that the prisoners had gained the "upper hand" in the fighting. Let's see...a few hundred prisoners, mostly unarmed, trapped within the prison's walls, surrounded by thousands of well-armed Northern Alliance members and hundreds of American Special Forces soldiers, being pounded by artillery and helpless under the most sophisticated Air Force the world has ever seen... actually winning the battle? Only in the New York Times. A few weeks earlier, NYT reporter R.W. Apple rhapsodized on now-discredited Afghanistan-as-Vietnam theme by invoking the dreaded "quagmire" scenario. Within a week of the article's publication on the front page of the Times, Taliban forces collapsed north of Kabul, paving the way to victory for the American-supported Northern Alliance by the end of the month.

Shouldn't the Times' motto be "All the News that Fits Our Liberal Views"?

Friday, July 26, 2002

Leaving Las Vegas - With apologies to Walt Disney, I’ve come back from Las Vegas once again convinced that Sin City is truly the happiest place on earth. I really enjoyed this latest trip with my parents and my Aunt and Uncle, who are visiting the US from China.

We arrived in Las Vegas on Tuesday evening and checked into the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino. Along with the Luxor and Treasure Island, I find the Monte Carlo to be one of the most friendly and unpretentious places in Las Vegas. It was dinner time, so we all went to the newest casino on the strip, the Aladdin, to check out their highly-touted dinner buffet. At $20 per person, it wasn’t cheap, but the food was great and my Aunt & Uncle from China gave the Spice Market Buffet a big thumbs-up. The dishes we ate are too numerous to mention, but I would like to give my seal of approval to the chocolate-covered strawberries and the lamb shish-kabobs. The other restaurants/buffets that we patronized aren’t worth mentioning.

After dinner, we spent some time looking for my parents’ favorite type of nickel slot machine called "Reel ‘Em In". We found a cluster of these machines towards the back of the casino, and we basically played on these machines for the duration of the trip, along with the "I Dream of Jeannie" slots. One of the reasons why I enjoyed this trip is because I started playing the nickel slots, which are interesting to play because they often have an amusing theme. Even my Aunt and Uncle became hooked on the machines.

Aside from brief excursions to the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay and to the Stratosphere Tower, our whole trip centered around eating and gambling on the nickel slots. Altogether, no one won any money, but no one lost more than $40. I personally lost $25, which for me is a pretty successful Vegas vacation.

During the trip, I found myself missing Jenny and baby Russell, so I’m glad that the trip lasted only 2 nights. Now, it’s time to plan for the next trip by convincing either Guido Sal or Freddie the Fireman to meet me there for a weekend.

Monday, July 22, 2002

Meet the Parents - My parents flew in from New Jersey yesterday, and will be staying with us for the next 10 days. They're here to see their new grandson, of course, and to pay a visit to some friends and relatives. They were happy to meet Russell, and we spent the first evening letting them get acquainted with the little boy. We had dinner at 168 Restaurant in Richmond (previously reviewed) and then my parents retired at an early hour (they're still on East Coast time).

Today, I drove them down to Cupertino to see Ling-Ling, our old neighbor from down the street in Whippany. She's married, had three kids and house in one of the nicer neighborhoods in the area. Like everyone of her generation from the old neighborhood, she doesn't have a clue about cooking Chinese food, so my parents first took her shopping at an Asian grocery store for the proper ingredients and then proceeded to give her a cooking lesson. I kept her kids (ages 6 and 8) occupied by playing hockey, baseball and riding bikes with them around the neighborhood. They were sad to see us go home before dinner. I like kids--I really do.

Tomorrow, my parents, Aunt & Uncle and I will be heading off to my favorite city in the world, Las Vegas, on a two-day excursion of binge eating and gambling, so I won't be blogging for the next 48 hours. My Aunt and Uncle are here from China to visit my cousin Lei-Lei, who is about to give birth to her first baby. I hope I bring them back in time before she gives birth. Jenny won't be going with us because she hates Las Vegas. We'll be staying at the Monte Carlo Hotel/Casino. If you happen to be there from July 23-25, look for us in the nickel (5 cents) slot area in the casino. My parents don't want to lose too much money.

Friday, July 19, 2002

The Diaper Chronicles (a.k.a. The Edge of Wetness) - Thanks to timely advice from my sister Katy, a miracle has occurred in our home. Specifically, Russell’s diaper rash has nearly disappeared since we began using a product called Weleda Calendula Baby Cream. We began applying this miracle ointment to Russell’s behind on Tuesday afternoon, and as of this moment the rash has shrunken to size of a peppercorn and no longer bothers him, even when we wipe his butt during diaper changes. I am going to scream "Weleda Calendula Baby Cream" to any new mother with whom I come into contact.

On the other hand, Russell’s eating and sleeping habits seem to change every week. He’s consuming ever greater amounts of mother’s milk and sometimes needs to be fed every hour. This has put a strain on Jenny and me, especially at night when he refuses to sleep until he is completely satiated. Last night, this meant feeding and changing his diaper non-stop from 10PM to 2AM. I handled the 11PM to 2AM shift, during which time I changed his diaper three times and fed him nearly 350 ml (12 oz.) of milk and formula (I ran out of Jenny’s pumped mother’s milk at 1AM and had to substitute formula).

As a result of his hearty appetite, Russell no longer fits into the clothes that he first wore when he left the hospital. He is now five weeks old and you can see new pictures of him here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

I Was Born a Poor, Black Child - Once again, the liberals running the University of California are attempting to create their vision of a socialist utopia through the admissions process. The Wall Street Journal (thank God for them) reports that the UC Admissions Office has instituted a new policy of favoring applicants that have "overcome life challenges". The Admissions Office is now giving students from poor families and that attend low-ranked high schools the equivalent of a 300 to 500 point boost in their SAT scores.

As reported by the Journal, the net affect of this admissions policy has been a dramatic increase in the percentage of black and Hispanic students admitted since 1996, primarily at the expense of Asian-American and non-Hispanic white students. Former UCLA admissions director Rae Lee Siporin says the new system also was intended to make the student body as reflective as possible of the state's population. By this criteria, Asian students are vastly over-represented in the UC system (Asians are 11% of the population but almost 40% of the undergraduates at UC) and therefore must endure the brunt of this racial gerrymandering.

Legal challenges not withstanding, the University of California system is getting closer to becoming a Marxist version of a fantasy camp, where the children of the rich and unwanted racial classes are not welcome, and the offspring of proletarian workers and party members can sit around campfires singing "Kumbaya" and "We Are the World". Unless these liberal clowns are removed from their offices and classrooms, my children and my money will most certainly not be going to the University of California.

Full Disclosure: I am a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (M.S., Industrial Engineering, 1990).

Monday, July 15, 2002

Mo’ Money - The convergence of the baseball players’ strike and the corporate accounting scandals is befitting since the root cause of both debacles is the unbridled pursuit of "stuff". Millionaire baseball players pumped up on steroids and fat-cat corporate executives pumped up on stock options both crave mo’ money because of their uncontrolled need to acquire more "stuff". How much "stuff"? A lot more than you can ever need or use.

If you’re groping for insight into their thinking, you need only to watch a program on MTV called "Cribs". For 30 minutes each week, viewers are treated to a guided tour of the mega-million-dollar homes of professional athletes, rap stars and singing divas. Imelda Marcos would blush with envy at the shoe collections and wardrobes of these jocks and crooners, most of whom will be flipping burgers, pumping gas or doing hard time once their playing and singing careers have ended. But while their careers are booming, these people don’t mind showing off the contents of their 12-bathroom/bedroom houses and 15-car garages to the MTV audience.

For the flip side of fame and fortune, one needs only turn to a program on MTV’s sister station VH-1 called "Behind the Music" and the Fox Sports Channel’s "Beyond the Glory". Both programs focus on the lives of entertainment and athletic has-beens, with a emphasis on the downward spiral of their careers. From lunch at The Plaza to foraging for dinner in a McDonald’s dumpster, only those who have reached the heights of fame and fortune can sink as low as some of the losers profiled on these TV shows.

But aside from the now-defunct "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous", corporate executives no longer have a television show that allows us common folks to take a peek at their glamorous homes and lives. Perhaps it’s time to resurrect this once-popular show, and to create a new program that follows the lives of corporate crooks after they’ve been caught and sent to prison. It just might be one of the most effective ways to keep corrupt executives in check.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Diapergate - Jenny is not pleased with my latest Ebeneezer Scrooge imitation. When Russell wet his diaper slightly yesterday (but no poop in sight), I decided against changing his diaper completely. Instead, I popped in a clean, dry tissue between the diaper and his private parts, thinking that I might extend the brief, useful life of his current diaper by about an hour.

This money-saving behavior (diaper=$0.20, tissue=$0.005) got me in hot water when Jenny changed Russell’s diaper later that evening and found a soggy, wet tissue against his sensitive groin. An petty episode that might have escalated into an international incident was averted when I agreed never to pull this stunt again.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

I am an Iraqi - I’m sure you’ve all seen the public service announcements on television by now. A series of serious-looking individuals—looking much like the Harvard class of 2004 and their Ethnic Studies professors—stare into the camera and proclaim, "I am an American". Several of them go beyond this statement and describe their ethnic background. None of them are European-American, except for one woman who announces that she is "Arabic [sic] and German". Not surprisingly, many of them are from the Middle East and Central Asia and are, presumably, Muslim.

These commercials began appearing on TV after the September 11th terrorist attacks and are clearly aimed at preventing outbreaks of ethnic bigotry against Arab and Muslim-Americans. Now, does anyone really believe that these announcements actually work? Will racist viewers watching "Iron Chef" and "Martha’s Kitchen" on the Food Network, as I was, suddenly change their minds about pummeling an Arab?

If it were that easy, the US State Department could just air commercials on Middle Eastern television stations imploring viewers not to murder innocent civilians, hijack airplanes or become suicide bombers. Between episodes of "Saddam Knows Best" and "Who Wants to Marry Prince Abdullah?", we could convince Arabs that we are really just like them—except for the fact that Arab women have no rights, their governments are run by despots and they would like to convert or kill all non-Muslims.

Maybe we could air these new commercials here in the United States and convince Muslim terrorists in America to stop killing Americans and Jews. Perhaps we might have prevented the July 4th shooting at the El Al Airlines counter at LAX, or even the World Trade Center attacks.

Does anyone remember the last words of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl before his Muslim kidnappers cut his head off? I do. They were, "I am a Jew."

Now does anyone think the "I am an American" commercials can succeed?

Sunday, July 07, 2002

Everybody Loves Russell - Since Russell came home three weeks ago, we have been receiving a steady stream of visitors to our house nearly every day. I’ve noticed that Russell is usually on his best behavior whenever guests are over, but as soon as they leave, he starts screaming like a Florida Democrat demanding a re-re-re-recount. His crankiness might have something to do with the diaper rash that has affected his little baby butt. When I put the Desitin on the rash, he often shoots a stream of urine in the air. If he poops and I have to change his diaper, I’ll try along with Jenny to hold him over the sink as we clean his butt-that way he can pee to his heart’s content and not get anything wet. This strategy doesn’t always work, since Russell sometimes holds in his pee until we get back to the changing table.

Last week, Jenny’s numerous Aunts and Uncles came by for a lunch get-together which featured cake and a pungent soup made from pigs’ feet, eggs, ginger and vinegar. In Cantonese cuisine, soup plays a prominent role at the dinner table, particularly for new mothers who have to drink bowl after bowl of concoctions that supposedly stimulate milk production and revitalizes a mother’s blood supply. I’m glad I don’t have to drink that stuff.

On the Fourth of July, we had an all-American barbecue for Jenny’s immediate family, including her two younger sisters. I fired up the gas grill for the first time this year for a carnivore’s delight of hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken. Jenny’s parents and sisters adore little Russell. He’s their first grandchild or nephew for all of them, so to the earliest-born go the spoils.

Jenny’s mom especially loves Russell. After work and on weekends, she is always pampering him with soothing baths and affection. When Jenny’s older sister Sharon gives birth to her child in October, Grandma Sui will have to divide her attentions between two grandsons. However, I think that Russell—being her first grandchild—will always remain her favorite. It’s these days that I’m glad that my In-Laws live only six blocks away from us.

In the meantime, you can view the latest pictures of Russell here. He’s three and a half weeks old.

Monday, July 01, 2002

I Left My Turd in San Francisco - I wonder sometimes whether San Franciscans are ever embarrassed simply for being San Franciscans. Today, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to outlaw public urination and defecation in public, a topic that affects anyone that walks on the city’s sidewalks and streets (and something to which I can personally attest). Liberal activists oppose the law in its current form because they claim it discriminates against the homeless and those with "legitimate medical conditions". All of this nonsense is transpiring in a city where not cleaning up after your dog is illegal, and whose city government considered a law requiring restaurants and public facilities to provide 3 separate bathrooms from which to choose (male, female, and transgendered).

I'm just waiting for Al Gore or some other leftist to blame this on the Bush Administration, because as we all know, there were no homeless people tinkling and pooping during the Clinton administration. Meanwhile, why don’t the liberals think of opening the doors to their homes so that homeless people can use their toilets?