Tuesday, December 19, 2006

If You Need to Be Reminded of How Good You've Got It, Then This Might Help

I was going to blog about Charlotte's Web, which I saw last night, until a friend sent me an LA Times article about a mother from Vietnam who came to the U.S. to search for her son. With nothing but an old address of his, she set out to find him before her visa expired or her cancer returned.
She arrived in Los Angeles with $600 in borrowed cash, a failing heart and arthritis in both knees. She spoke no English. She had not seen her firstborn son, Tuan, in the 20 years since he fled Vietnam for the United States as a teenager.

Judging from the letters he sent home, he had prospered here. He was repairing watches, living in Santa Ana. Inexplicably, four years ago, his letters had stopped coming. Now, Hai Nguyen had crossed the ocean herself, hoping to find her son before she died.


Chasing every lead, she took cabs to the Asian Garden Mall and Chinatown and across the San Gabriel Valley. She searched homeless shelters and alleys, parks and strip malls. All through the land of promise, to her astonishment, the concrete was littered with human shapes crouched under reeking blankets.

She went from shape to shape, slowly lifting the blankets off ragged, hollow-eyed faces that smelled of beer, off men with tangled hair and dirty hands. They cursed in words she couldn't understand and yanked their blankets back, many of them, sinking back into their covers. Some just looked at her in bewilderment. She looked into dozens of hopeless faces. There were other mothers' sons, but not hers.


Finally, in November, there came an improbable call from a restaurateur in San Jose, a woman named Huong Le who had seen Nguyen's story on Vietnamese-language television. She said Tuan had been living behind her restaurant for the last couple of months at the Lion Plaza shopping center on King Boulevard. He slept on the sidewalk on a patch of cardboard.
I suppose there's a happy ending to this, but I couldn't stop feeling sad. Entire article available here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lowest Common Denominator of American Speech

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The West

Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta.

The Midland
North Central
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Friday Night at the Roller Rink

Where can you hear Xanadu, Last Christmas and Safety Dance with the wind blowing through your hair? Where can you feel four inches taller and twenty years younger? At the Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale!!!

I felt like I was in a time warp. I laced up my rented skates, shuffled to the edge of the rink, leaned over and watched intently as people zoomed by. Eventually, I pushed myself onto the floor. The first few minutes were an exercise in getting some speed, turning without windmilling my arms and hoping that no one knocked me over.

It was seventh grade all over again. There were a handful of teenagers who looked like they'd been born on skates. They went backwards and forwards without any effort. They looked slightly bored as they skated. They knew the people who ran the rink. These kids were probably awkward and dorky outside the rink, but inside they were the coolest people.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


How many people still do Friendster? I started getting invitations to join Friendster some time in 2003. I had a bunch of friends on it. I started hearing about how you could write testimonials and link to your friends' friends. Eventually I created an account for myself-- submitted my name, my relationship status, location and hometown -- but I never actually logged on. Never created a full profile or linked to anyone.

I think I refused to get into Friendster because it was seemed too popular and time consuming. I also didn't want to include personal, identifiable information about myself, which seemed to be the whole point of it. I suppose blogging is somewhat similar, but at least you can still remain anonymous.

Recently though, I've been going onto Friendster to search for people I know. Current friends, long lost friends, acquaintances, relatives. I found my best friend from middle school who I haven't talked to in ten years. She still lives in the same town and she still looks the same. I found that comforting, for some reason. I'm tempted to friendster her, but I guess there's a reason why we fell out of touch so maybe I should just let it lie.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Hot Hot Hot!

We finally turned out heat on last night. What a difference! HVAC man said we should replace our ducts, but that it was fine to run the heater in the meantime. Now I can look forward to going home again!

What a joy it was to see an article in the NYT travel section on the best Chinese food in LA. Mr. Octopus and I read it and made a beeline for Chung King, a dive in Monterey Park that the author says "puts just about every other Sichuan restaurant in the United States that I’m familiar with to shame." Lovers of spicy food unite!

We ordered our dishes "medium" spicy and it came out spicier than what other places would consider "very, very spicy." From the article:
You know how some Chinese restaurants have little chili symbols next to the hot dishes? Every dish in the entire first column of the menu here, with — literally — one exception, has a little chili symbol next to it. Fully half the dishes are blazingly hot — they must go through a coffee-sack of dried peppers daily — but tamed by the mouth-numbing sensation of floral-scented Sichuan peppercorns. This is a mind-body experience not to be missed: your body, abused with chilies, is crying “Please stop,” while your mind, entranced by the incredible flavors, keeps directing the chopsticks from plate or bowl to mouth and back again.
Hardly any of the staff speaks English, but that's ok. They're friendly (not the snarly sort, if you know what I mean). The resident English expert sized us up quickly and came by to point out the dishes that the article had recommended. We'll be back again...soon.

Monday, December 4, 2006

I Couldn't Care Less About Football

But I have to mention that it was a big weekend for Cal and UCLA grads, with both schools beating their better funded, unlikable crossbay/crosstown rivals.

Weekend Wrapup

Weekends are so great now that I have no fear that I'll spend them at the office. On Saturday night we went to the corporate holiday party. It'd been a long time since I got dolled up. Putting on makeup is tricky business.

Makeup can be fun, if you know what you're doing. If you don't, then chanchow's rule of thumb is that less is more. Less eyeliner and certainly less eyeshadow. Don't try the smoky eye. As I was putting on the bronzer and the lipgloss I began to wonder why women wear makeup. I came up with a very crude theory. When you're a teenager, you do it to look older. In your 20s and 30s, you do it to look better. In your 40s on up you do it to look younger.

Sunday night was a different sort of fun. "Smiths Nite" at the Echo. Eastside Gen-Xers were out in full force reliving their happy memories and dancing to The Smiths and Morrissey.