:: ln m ::

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:: Wednesday, December 31, 2003 ::

I am a packrat when it comes to things. My computers reflect this. The amount of stored goods I have reflects this. I was going over some computer records, and there's a pretty big gap in my computer life between March of 1999 and May of 2002. I had thought I had kept pretty good records, but it turns out that when I upgraded ICQ in May of 2002, I had accidentally wiped out the history of hundreds of conversations I had with people over the years. This saddens me greatly, as that was when I first met Cat, and I had always thought that I had these conversations stored somewhere.

I found a bunch of old journal entries and writings ... some that I posted on the old website, some that I didn't. I imagine I'll organize and group this stuff up if I ever have a new website.

The new year is always a time of reflection for me. I think about the past, and I think about the future. I've had the tradition of posting my resolutions on my blog for some time now, so I guess this is as good a time as any to over over them.

Last Years Resolutions:
Take some classes
I did accomplish this. I started in the spring by taking a creative writing class (which I dropped), and then finished off the year with Mandarin and Cantonese.
Travel places
2003 was the travelling year for me. I managed to visit Chicago, Vancouver, Edmonton, as well as take trips to San Francisco, Monterey, San Diego and Los Angeles. I also moved to San Jose, a city which I rarely visited.
Be kinder to myself
Reading this resolution now, I'm not quite sure what I meant by it. I imagine it meant don't take things so hard, and don't beat myself up over things.
Get rid of junk
I managed to get rid of a lot of stuff before I moved to San Jose.
Finish writing at least one book
Didn't finish. Maybe next year.
To stop always running away
Yeah, I've pretty much stopped with the escape artist routine. Before this year, my way of dealing with situations was to try and escape. Even after I got laid off, I still ran away to Vancouver, but I made sure that I had dealt with the situation so that I could enjoy my time there.
Cook at least 3 times a week
This did not happen. I was doing pretty good in Foster City, but this stopped around the time that I met Cat. My kitchen in San Jose is horrific, so I doubt this will be improving in the near future.

Next Year's Resolutions:

  • Continue with self-improvement.
  • Continue to learn more about my heritage and culture.
  • Try and go home at least once a month.
I feel like there should be more.

As far as recollecting this year goes... It's one in which lots of things happened, some good things, some bad things. There were things that happened this year that I will never forget, and some which have already been forgotten. It was the year that I truly and deeply fell in love with someone, and the year that I finally let the past go.

:: m 12/31/2003 03:06:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

A story of a girl, a fish and airport security

I hate airport security. I know that it's a neccessary part of the process of flying, and that it's for safety, but that doesn't make me hate it any less.

But I think what I hate most is just how unreasonable and rude some screeners can be. Not only that, but I think they specifically target certain nationalities and ethnicities. I've always been pulled aside for the through check, even if I pass through the metal detector without any beeps. Now, to be perfectly frank, I do carry alot of electronics when I travel, so it could be that as well.

:: m 12/31/2003 12:52:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a safe and merry celebration tonight! I can hear stuff going on outside, a few minutes early. Just a reminder for those of you driving back tonight, be safe -- the snow (for those of you with some) and the drunks can make conditions dangerous.

:: m 12/31/2003 12:00:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Monday, December 29, 2003 ::
The Bay Area is currently being battered by rain, causing some flash floods. There's up to 4 inches of standing water in some places (I definitely do not want to drive through something like that).

It's hard to get my mind back onto working today.

One of the things I miss about having a webpage (as opposed to a blog) is being able to do all the nifty little art projects I used to be able to do, or the experimental stuff that I would play with every once in a while. It makes me wonder if I'll bring my personal site back, since there are some things that I simply cannot illustrate with eloquence in my words.

:: m 12/29/2003 04:42:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

Driving to work this morning, the traffic was relatively light, considering that the rain is falling fast and hard outside. I guess a lot of folks are still on their holiday vacation. I don't hate driving in the rain, however I do dislike the way that some people drive in the rain. Second to snowy and icy conditions, I think rain is a pretty dangerous condition to be driving in, which is why I don't understand why people aren't more cautious in the rain.

Although this accident isn't due to rain, it is still a tragic event . I can't imagine 7 kids stuffed into a single car going 85 to 100 mph all without wearing seatbelts. My thoughts of sympathy go out to their parents.

:: m 12/29/2003 03:34:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Sunday, December 28, 2003 ::
Last night, I was tired and went to bed extremely early. This is good, because I'm well rested for the drive back to San Jose today. The week here has gone by far too quickly, and it has been a good reminder of how special time with family and friends truly is. Home is always so comforting that I hate to leave.

Last night, my sisters and I watched Bend It Like Beckham and Pirates of the Carribean, so it was essentially a Keira Knightley double feature movie night. I had never seen Bend It Like Beckham before, and I didn't expect to like the film as much as I did. Although wrapped in the guise of a girl's soccer movie, the movie is ultimately about family obligations, tradition, culture clash and being true to oneself. It's a good movie for anyone who ever feels torn between two cultures.

Been doing a lot of thinking about going to grad school again.

:: m 12/28/2003 08:00:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Friday, December 26, 2003 ::
Happy Boxing Day!

It's hard for me to believe that I've been home almost a week now, and that I'll be going back to San Jose Sunday morning. Home is always so comfortable, I hate leaving, but I know that I have to return to my life over there. Time always seems to pass quickly here.

My youngest sister, Christina, works for a Children's Hospital in San Diego. While driving today, she said something to the effect of "Working at a non-proft, I can't imagine working at a place where the purpose of the organization is to just make money." We were talking about Wal-Mart at the time, whose business practices are slowly putting corporations into bankruptcy and out of business. I responded by saying that having seen both sides of the business world -- I certainly preferred working someplace where, even if I came home from work exhausted, I felt like I was making a difference. Working at Project Read doing tutoring, I certainly felt tired when I'd come back past 9 pm, after getting up to go to work at 8 am, but I really did enjoy what I was doing there.

I think it's better to have a job that is life supporting than life destroying... (more on that later)

:: m 12/26/2003 09:48:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Thursday, December 25, 2003 ::
It was a rainy Christmas Day in Southern California. The first rainy Christmas in over 20 years, they said.

I've noticed that since I started blogging, I don't really blog too much about my own emotions anymore. If anything, I feel like my blog has turned into a journal of the day's events, and less about how I really feel about things. Maybe I've mellowed out, and re-examined my life and realized that what used to be so important to me isn't anymore, and I realize that the goal of just being happy is harder than it seems.

For one thing, how does one become happy? What goes into making a happy person?

It was a problem I struggled with for a long time. I wasn't happy. I wasn't happy with myself or the situations that I had gotten into. I felt like I wasn't in control of my own destiny, but rather I was a passenger, and someone else was driving my life. The problem was, I had settled into a routine. I don't mind routines, but this routine was unhealthy because I was pretty set in my ways and didn't want to change it. I guess when 9-11 happened, something snapped within me and made me realize... life is short and life is precious, and even if I do believe in reincarnation, I need to make the most out of this life, and improve what I can. 6 months later, I'm hit by a car as I'm crossing the street, another gentle reminder of just how quick something can happen to change life. After that, I think I changed my philosophy on life to "Don't regret. Enjoy the moment for what it is. Forgive and forget. Life is important and special. Everyone makes mistakes. Be able to have faith and trust in other people."

Just taking these things to heart and making every attempt to apply them in life is a challenge, but they've helped me realize just how important some things in life are. People and the moments you share with them are irreplaceable. Family. Friends.

Don't let life just pass by. Live life and dream.

:: m 12/25/2003 11:41:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

Merry Christmas, everyone!

There is much to be thankful for this holiday season.

The holidays always makes me appreciate the little things in life so much more. During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, my thoughts always turn back towards the really simple things in life that make me smile, or laugh or be happy.

I'm really thankful that I get to spend time with my family this year. At first, I wasn't sure if I would be able to make it home for Christmas this year -- work was on a pretty tight schedule, and only Christmas day is an official holiday. That's fine if your family is local, but not so great when the close members of your family are 300 miles away.

For my family, this has been a tough year for us -- it's the first year that my parents have an empty nest, where their children have all moved out. It's also the year that my sister fell asleep driving on the highway, crashing into a highway divider, and able to walk away from it without a scratch. It's the year my youngest sister graduated college and set off on her own to find her place in the world. It's the year my younger sister moved 300 miles north of home to go to grad school.

For me, this year is more personal, and as much as I want to express everything that's happened to me this year, it's still pretty hard to write about those experiences, but I think this blog functions as a sort of Cliff's Notes on my life this past year.

Take the time this holiday season, to remind your loved ones just how much you appreciate them and care about them. Have a safe and Happy Holiday everyone!

:: m 12/25/2003 12:55:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Wednesday, December 24, 2003 ::
Hope everyone is having a happy Christmas Eve!

:: m 12/24/2003 06:49:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Tuesday, December 23, 2003 ::
After reading this story on the terror level being raised to orange, I gave thanks that my friends and family are safe and sound at the moment. It's slightly scary to think that tragedy can befall American soil at any point, and that their goal is to kill Americans, so that no one anywhere in America feels safe. I guess what scares me the most is all the possible vectors for attack -- dirty bomb, biological warfare, crashing airplanes. I'm sure bin Laden's followers just took the California quake as a sign that Allah is with them.

Yesterday at Palos Verde Mall, while we were sitting at the tables outside, someone lit a picolo pete not 20 yards away from us. Until the picolo pete went off, no one noticed at all. I was facing that direction, and I didn't even remember seeing who lit it. What uf instead of a harmless firework, that had been an biological weapon delivery device or an explosive? The mall was relatively empty at the time -- what if it had been in a mall filled with Christmas shoppers? By the time anyone suspected it would have gone off... even worse, instead of laying it on the sidewalk, what if it had been placed in a garbage can? Anyway my point is... it can happen at any time.

Have a safe and merry christmas everyone.

:: m 12/23/2003 09:17:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Monday, December 22, 2003 ::

I just felt a small earthquake while I was sitting here at home. It was just a mild rocking quake -- everything just sort of gently swayed side to side for about a minute. I don't even think anything fell off the shelves.

USGS just got the data for the quake. It's a magnitude 6.5 quake centered NE of San Simeon, which is halfway between Monterey and San Luis Obispo. 6.5 is a fairly large quake.

I've always been really sensitive to feeling earthquakes -- I guess it's from growing up here.

Update: At least 2 die in the quake

:: m 12/22/2003 11:20:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

Today is dongzhi - the Winter Solstice. It's sort of the equivalent of Chinese Thanksgiving -- the members of the family are supposed to come together to celebrate the good year they have had and eat tong yuen together. Tong yuen are sweet glutinous rice dumplings. Eating tong yuen together symbolizes harmony, prosperity and unity together amongst the family members.

My favorite tong yuen is zhu ma tong yuen which are the ones filled with sesame seed paste. The lotus seed and peanut ones are pretty tasty too.

:: m 12/22/2003 12:20:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Sunday, December 21, 2003 ::
The drive down to LA yesterday was a bit tiring, but we made it down safe and sound on one tank of gas.

Before I left to go shopping, my mother had me place my ornament on the tree. We have an 6ft artificial tree made out of plastic that we've had since 1985. Everyone in our family has an ornament made out of wood that is the first letter of our names.

Today I went to the Del Amo Fashion Centre to do some more Christmas shopping. I was actually pretty shocked that the mall wasn't too crowded. It's a lot smaller than I remember it, and some of the best features of the mall that I used to love are gone now, like the two bookstores that used to be there. I guess they've been displaced by bigger bookstores such as Barnes and Noble and Borders. The huge holiday display that the put up every year is still there though -- it's a pair of minature snow covered cabins right next to where children can take photos with Santa.

Maybe I've lived in the Bay Area too long and been spoiled by the mainstream stores all being located in the mall, and the smaller, more specialty-type stores being located elsewhere. I'm going to go to Brea or South Coast Plaza tomorrow to hopefully finish the rest of my shopping. They are bigger malls than Del Amo but they don't compare in size at all to West Edmonton Mall.

After coming back from shopping, my sister and I ate dinner, and we talked to my mother for a while about our family history, and we reminisced about when I was younger. Afterwards, we all watched the original Italian Job (made in 1969), in which my mother recognized both Michael Caine and Benny Hill, and this summer's remake of the Italian Job.

I need to get an oil change done on my car, and I want to take in my father's car to get the transmission flushed. I can tell by the noises it's making that it hasn't been done in a while.

Tomorrow evening I think I'm going to be metting up with Erica, Calvin and Theresa for dinner. I'm hoping that if we do end up meeting in downtown L.A., I'll be able to visit The Promenade for some specialty store shopping. As far as I've noticed, places with names like "Spectrum" or "The Block" or "Citywalk" usually refer to outdoor malls, and places that are indoor usually are the names of the city or street they are located on. (i.e. Del Amo Fashion Centre, Los Cerritos Centre, Westminister Mall)

:: m 12/21/2003 04:12:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Saturday, December 20, 2003 ::
I ought to be sleeping, but I can't sleep. I drove around for a while, but still can't sleep. Why do I have to have emotions? Why can't I just turn them off, instead of feeling so passionately about everything. Maybe I just shouldn't care anymore about anyone or anything. I wish I could, but that's not me. I need to sleep. I have a long drive ahead of me tomorrow, which means I can dwell more on the thoughts keepping me awake. Isn't life wonderful?

:: m 12/20/2003 03:22:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Friday, December 19, 2003 ::
There's about a zillion things to do before Christmas. I hadn't realized that it was already the 19th. I have gotten little of my Christmas shopping done, so I went to the mall during my lunch hour and bought some gifts for people.

I went to the asian supermarket to pick up some bottles of sake to give away to my co-workers for their gifts. When I checked out, the cashier asked to see my ID. I gave her my driver's license, and she laughed, exclaiming "You look so young in this picture!" I usually get that reaction from people who have seen my license, so I should be used to it by now, but I am not. I guess it makes me wonder... I don't look old enough to buy alcohol, but my driver's license looks even younger that that. It kind of makes me wonder how old people think I am when they meet me.

It's raining outside right now, and looking outside of my corner office window, the parking lot looks as if it is covered by a sheet of water, reflecting everything, an asphalt lake. November through March or April is usually the rainy season in the Bay Area.

I believe it'll rain all weekend, but I'm driving back to L.A. tomorrow. The SF to LA drive is always a little more dangerous in the rain this time of year -- especially passing through the Grapevine where the elevation is high enough that in the rain the road turns into black ice. Several years ago, going home for Christmas, I exited the freeway for some petrol, and felt the tires lose traction on a patch of ice. The car skidded a little bit, but I was able to regain control. After filling up the car, on the way past that ice patch, I noticed another car hadn't been so lucky, and was on the embankment.

:: m 12/19/2003 05:05:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

Silver cars are less likely to be involved in serious accidents

Article from the British Medical Journal, Dec. 2003.

It makes me wonder if they took into account the safety equipment of the vehicle. Why? Brown cars, they note, have a signifigantly higher chance of serious injury. Car manufacturers don't really make brown cars anymore. They make gold, champagne, tan, but I don't really classify those as brown. Maybe they did. I think the last of the brown cars were made during the mid to late 80s, which was before the advent of cars with air bags and crumple zones, which makes a huge impact on the safety of the vehicles.

Yesterday, when I took the BMW into the shop to get the shift knob replaced (and do a few other minor things) they gave me as a loaner car, a brown 1980 BMW 320i. The 320i is the oldest car I have ever driven. It really makes me appreciate all the "luxuries" we take for granted.

Equipped with a 1.8L 4-cylinder 101 hp engine, the 320i goes 0 to 60 in a little over 9 seconds. It has a/c and heat, and includes a casette player -- but no radio, and no passenger side mirror. It also lacked all the little powered things we're used to: namely power steering and power windows. Power windows, I don't really care about, but power steering makes a huge difference in the way a car drives and feels. The other thing that changed the way the car drove was the pre-anti-lock brake system.

When I returned the car today, the mechanic asked me if I'd like to swap my 850 for their 320. I chuckled and said "never", truly appreciative of my 850. "Yeah," the mechanic said "I didn't think so. I can't imagine people ever thought that was a good car."

:: m 12/19/2003 11:25:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Wednesday, December 17, 2003 ::
It feels good to be done with finals!

After my final yesterday, a couple of us helped Christine move from her apartment. I am broken. I bruised both of my knees, but I don't think I'll need to do any weightlifting this week.

Afterwards, we watched the extended version of The Two Towers before catching a 12:01am showing of Return of the King. We didn't get back to San Jose until 4:30am.

For a double dose of LOTR goodness, my boss decided this weekend that he was going to take the company out on Wednesday to watch Return of the King. The movie has been out for less than a day, and I've seen it twice already. Now, generally speaking I don't mind watching movies twice in the theaters, particularly if they are good movies. However, I have a bad habit of watching the Lord of the Rings films multiple times. I watched Fellowship of the Ring twice in the theaters, and The Two Towers 3 or 4 times. I'm drawing the line on 2 times for Return of the King. I am not seeing the movie again until it comes out on DVD, basically. Three and a half hours is simply too much to sit through in an uncomfortable theater seat.

:: m 12/17/2003 05:17:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Monday, December 15, 2003 ::
As someone pointed out to me, I'm stressing out way too much for my finals. I mean, I really shouldn't care what grades I get it -- the class is for my own enrichment. And yet I still finding myself caring about my grades as much as I did when I was at Cal.

Anyway, I hope I do well on this last exam. It counts like any other quiz in the class, so I know I'm over-studying. But I still get the feeling that I won't ace it, simply because my exam needs to be written in hanzi (chinese characters), and I have yet to learn a way which works in retaining those hanzi in my long term memory...

:: m 12/15/2003 11:43:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Sunday, December 14, 2003 ::
I've spent most of this weekend studying for my finals which are on Monday and Tuesday. I'll do alright, but I really can't wait until after Tuesday so that life can resume. I've already got a long list of things that I wish to do after finals.

Now that I'm healthy again, one of the first things I want to do after finals is donate blood. The holidays are a really hard time for blood donation centers, as the holidays really make a mess of the routine of donation. People get busy and have a hard time scheduling their appointments, so traditionally this time of year, the blood stores are very low. The way that blood storage works is like this: blood can be stored for 6 weeks, but as the blood is used up, the stores are depleted, so there might only be a two week supply of blood rather than a six week supply. If you can find the time to give blood this holiday season, please do.

For those who are wondering why I feel so strongly about blood donation, it's because you are helping someone out -- it's someone's brother, sister, mother, father, wife, husband, child, grandfather, grandmother, cousin, co-worker, or friend that you're helping out. You're helping to save the life of someone out there that somebody cares about.

I guess I think of it this way. What if someone you loved needed help? You'd do anything to help them, right? What if you couldn't do anything to help them out? Wouldn't you want someone who could do something to help them out? We don't always share the same blood type as the people we love... but someone out there does and cared enough to help out.

I'm deathly afraid of needles, but I donate whenever I can because I can recover from the fear... those who need blood might not have the chance to recover if they don't have the blood. I know there are those out there who cannot donate, for a variety of reasons... but of everyone who is eligible to donate blood, only 10% actually do.

Anyway, back to studying...

:: m 12/14/2003 10:59:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Saturday, December 13, 2003 ::
Flu Shot Line Stretches for Blocks

I find the extent of this flu bug incredible.

:: m 12/13/2003 07:38:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Thursday, December 11, 2003 ::
Oh yeah. I forgot to mention something. Okay. Basically, if a country wants to establish diplomatic relations with China they must adhere to the "One-China" policy. It's part of the agreement. This is why the U.S and other nations that have diplomatic relations with the PRC cannot support Taiwanese independence. Even then, the U.S, at the same time, will do whatever it will take to protect the island as well. It is quite contradictory.

I normally stay away from politics, but I will comment on certain issues if I have something to say or if I feel strongly about it. This is one of those issues.

Going to resume studying for real now.

:: metamoon 12/11/2003 03:13:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

It has been a long time since I posted an entry in here.

I found these charts in the English version of the Mainland Affairs Council website of the ROC government:

Unification or Independence? (p.2)

Unification or Independence? (line chart)

Unification or Independence? (area chart)

Is the "One Country, Two Systems" Formula Applicable to Solving the Problems Across the Straits?

It looks like most people in Taiwan are in favor of maintaining the status quo for now and are opposed to the "One country, Two systems" formula that they used for the reunification of Hong Kong with the mainland. The 99 year lease on Hong Kong by the British ended in 1997 and one thing that I found interesting was the way they left the former colony. The British left by ship and I suppose that is a symbolic gesture. The British came by ship and so, they shall also leave by ship. It's also symbolic in the sense that with the British withdrawal from Hong Kong, it truly marked the beginning of the end of western imperialism in China. You also have to remember that China had been reduced to a semi-colonial status for much of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Macao was returned to the Chinese in 1999 after experiencing Portuguese colonial rule for several centuries.

The difference is that Hong Kong had been ceded to Britain as a colony during the aftermath of the Opium War, which sparked the first of the unequal treaties including the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895 when China was still governed by the Manchu-ruled Qing (Ching) dynasty. The Treaty of Shimonoseki was a result of the defeat of the Qing army and navy by the Japanese. The outcome of that incident was the loss of both Taiwan and Korea to Japan. For the next 50 years, Taiwan was ruled as a colony by Japan. Prior to Japanese colonial rule, Taiwan had been primarily settled by Chinese from Fujian (Fukien) province and the language that they spoke, Taiwanese, is actually coastal Fujianese (Yes, there are even regional dialectical differences within each province, so if you actually do make a point of going to Fujian someday, you can actually use Taiwanese to communicate with a portion, though not all, of the natives there). Taiwan also has a sizeable Hakka population. There is also a small aboriginal population whose existence on the island predate the first Chinese settlements on the island. The Hakka population was originally from the provinces of Guangdong and Fujian. Japanese colonial rule officially began in Korea in 1910 and continued until the end of the Second World War in 1945. However, it actually began earlier in Korea before 1910.

When the KMT (GMD) administration fled to Taiwan along with two million refugees from the mainland in 1949, they were welcomed by the Taiwanese who had fought underground against Japanese rule and hoped to work with the KMT and the refugees in forming a government for the island, which was now once again a Chinese province. Taiwan had been returned to China in 1945 by the Allies when it was still ruled by the KMT. Due to dialectical differences and a general mistrust of the Taiwanese by the new arrivals, brutally repressive actions were made against the Taiwanese in 1947 and many of their political leaders were massacred by the KMT. Thus, the Taiwanese tend to regard the KMT as even worse oppressors than the Japanese. The thing is, the Chiang Kai-shek-led KMT government had been a repressive regime in the mainland even before their relocation to Taiwan after their defeat in the civil war.

From the 1950s onwards, Taiwan began a period of rapid economic growth. American-directed agricultural reforms that had been ignored by the KMT while they were still in power in the mainland took root in Taiwan. Growing rural prosperity was coupled with industrial growth in the 1970s. Living standards quickly rose as people became more affluent and well educated. As KMT domination became looser, the Taiwanese became increasingly active in their participation in the political arena. As Taiwan's foreign trade exceeded that of mainland China (although the situation is reversed now), wider relations with the world and the political realities of China and East Asia began to soften the harsher aspects of KMT rule in the 1980s. In time, the government abandoned their goal to "reconquer the mainland". With general economic prosperity, the political environment became increasingly liberal, especially after the death of Chiang Kai-shek in 1975 and then under his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, who died in 1988. Chiang Ching-kuo was then succeeded by the vice president, Lee Teng-hui, who was inaugurated as the president in 1990 and was the first native-born Taiwanese to become one. Before his inauguration, the trend was already towards full-scale political liberalization with the transformation of the system to a multiparty democracy with a political opposition. Free elections were held in 1986.

Taiwan is a full democracy at the present time. Aside from the history and the fact that opposition candidates have won more seats than the KMT since 1994, cross-strait relations is one of the most sensitive topics in Chinese politics other than Sino-Japanese relations. Sino-Japanese relations can run very deeply, is very touchy and can be antagonizing due to China's wartime experience with Japanese aggression during the Second World War. The territory under PRC rule today including Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Tibet had all been areas under Qing rule. Although Taiwan had been under Qing rule, the island had been governed very loosely and control was often ineffective due to its isolation and frontier location and environment from Beijing. It had also been one of the last strongholds of Ming resistance (people who were loyal to the Ming dynasty, which had been a native Chinese [Han] dynasty). With regards to Inner Mongolia, Outer Mongolia or the Republic of Mongolia (the Mongolian People's Republic) is an independent country, although it too had been under Qing rule in the past. China recognizes the independence of the Republic of Mongolia and there has not been any claims by the ROM (MPR) on Inner Mongolia.

I guess that would make sense since it would be detrimental to their state to provoke China. To make things short, I think part of the reason why China is so adamant about reunification is because the idea of unity (disunity and eventual reunification) has been part of Chinese history for so long that it has become a deeply entrenched concept. To remain divided is to remain weak, while a unified state would mean and present greatness and strength to a nation. I also think it has to do with the desire to recover the "lost" territories that had been part of the Qing empire. Because China had been subject to many humiliations and suffered many encroachments on its national sovereignty for much of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, there is this desire to reassert its place on the international stage and to recapture the former glory that it had enjoyed in the past. Taiwan had been a part of the Qing empire. China sees Taiwan as an inalienable part of China and it will do whatever it takes to recover Taiwan. Having been seperated for so long, Taiwan has developed a regional identity and because both countries have undergone different changes and have had different experiences, they are quite different from one another in some respects, but the one thing they have in common is the culture, language, albeit different dialects, and ethnicity.

I believe the issue is quite divided even in Taiwan and there is a sense of identity crisis in Taiwan. There are those who support reunification, independence, the status quo and there are also those who remain undecided. There are those who consider themselves Taiwanese, as both Taiwanese and Chinese and those who only consider themselves Chinese. It seems to me that there is no unity over the issue and people remain divided over it. Is there actually a large majority of people supporting one view of the issue? Is the number of people who hold that particular view large enough to drown out and subdue the other voices? The polls above indicate that many desire to maintain the status quo, but are those charts skewed? Or do they present the real picture of the situation on the island?

I don't know how many people frequent Mike's blog, but what I am going to say next might anger those who support independence, but this is how I feel and everyone is free to express their own views just like how those who advocate independence should have the freedom to express their sentiments. The one thing I don't understand is how some Taiwanese can deny their Chinese (Han) heritage. I mean, we're all Han, right? So, wouldn't that make the aboriginal population the "real" Taiwanese since they were the ones who occupied the island long before any Chinese (Han) settlers came to the island? Of course, there will be some who argue that the aboriginal populations of both Canada and the United States are the "real" Canadians and Americans. I'm Cantonese and I'm Toisanese (Taishanese), but I'm also Chinese (Note: Toisan is a county in Guangdong province with its own regional dialect although I can't speak Toisanese). I'm also Canadian, but I've always identified myself as Chinese-Canadian (CBC). I'm also Han or a Tangren (Tongyahn) as the Cantonese usually call themselves since Guangdong (and Fujian) wasn't officially incorporated into the empire until the Tang dynasty. These regional identities give you quite a headache, eh?

I'm sure people wonder why I know all this stuff. Well, I am an East Asian Studies major, but there is still much that I am or may not be aware of. =)

Okay. I have to go back to studying now.

:: metamoon 12/11/2003 02:50:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]


Hogwart's Sorting Hat
brought to you by Quizilla

You are

"I'm rash and impulsive. It's a flaw."

What "Buffy" Character Are You?

Yeah, sometimes I am rash and impulsive.

:: m 12/11/2003 02:02:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

City-wide Wireless Access in my hometown

Whenever people ask me where I'm from, my response is "L.A.". I'm not really from L.A., but from one of the many suburbs of L.A., one which you wouldn't know unless you came from Southern California. It's a small town called Cerritos. It's claim to fame? A plane crash in 1986, and the famous Cerritos Auto Square -- one of the largest auto malls in the nation. Cerritos was the second wealthiest city in the U.S. with a population of 50,000.

My parents and I moved to Cerritos when I was one year old. I believe my parents bought the house for around $50,000 in 1976. Today, the house is worth close to half a million dollars. Since then, the city of Cerritos has changed alot. The city grew along with me, and kept growing. When I returned home from college my first year away, new shopping plazas had been built, empty land lots had turned into townhouses and strip malls, and I could scarcely recognize the town. Up until a few years ago, one could still find horse ranches in the city.

I was pretty shocked when I read the headline and it mentioned Cerritos, but seeing them add wireless access doesn't surprise me in the least, because for the last couple of years, Cerritos has been tremendously wealthy. One of the more recent expenditures of the city was to (again) remodel the library. I haven't been there since the remodel, but it cost over 20 million dollars... and added such necessities to the library such as a large wall aquarium and the skeleton of a T-Rex.

I'm just happy that soon I'll be able to surf on broadband when I'm in Cerritos.

:: m 12/11/2003 12:02:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

President Bush's Kowtow

An excellent analysis of the political situation regarding Taiwan and China.

:: m 12/11/2003 02:10:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

My sister had her purse rummaged through yesterday, and her credit cards stolen. They took the $8 she had in her wallet, and picked through her change. They used her card to buy petrol and spent over $600 at the mall. I am shocked that the store in the mall didn't check for ID. The biggest fear, as always is identity theft. I never really thought about it until today, but those medical insurance cards we carry all have social security numbers on them, and it would not be difficult to steal someone's identity if they had a credit card, an insurance card, and the person's driver's license. It makes me wonder if there is a better way to do things that can hide information that can used to steal someone's identity. I've been fortunate enough to not ever have lost my wallet (knock on wood) but honestly, I would be in such disarray -- everything is in there -- credit cards, membership cards, insurance cards, discount cards, the all-important Costco card, along with cash (in both US and Canadian denominations).

What I'm starting to realize is that my phone is becoming an indispensable resource as well, as it contains all my phone numbers for everyone I know, and has numbers on there that I've never written down.

Three of the things I can't live without are: my wallet, my phone, and my laptop.

There are also people I can't live without. I don't know if they know they mean that much to me, but they do.

:: m 12/11/2003 01:30:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 ::
Why the sky was red in Munch's "The Scream"

It's pretty cool that scientists are able to figure out what was happening when artists painted their masterpieces.

:: m 12/10/2003 04:54:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Tuesday, December 09, 2003 ::
U.S. warns Taiwan, China

The U.S. finds itself in an unique situation. They're telling Taiwan to forget about independence, but at the same time, they are leading supplier for arms for Taiwan, and have already pledged to aid Taiwan, should Taiwan be attacked by China. In addition, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has already stated that "Unless Washington takes concrete steps to prevent Taipei from edging toward full-fledged independence, China won't consider America's views or possible actions when making decisions on ways to take back Taiwan", effectively taking U.S. involvement out of the equation. It seems to me that China wishes to provoke the Taiwan independence movement into action so that they can take back Taiwan. What seems really amazing to me is that Wen will only have an hour to speak with our miserable failure of a president, and the Chinese agenda seems to cover much more than can be beat into the head of our brain dead idiot of a president in an hour.

In the end, I believe that reunification is inevitable, as the Chinese government and it's diplomatic relations with other nations and its position as a burgeoning economic market holds much more value to the United States than a small country like Taiwan. I only hope that reunification comes through peace, and not through militaristic action.

Bush says he opposes Taiwanese independence

:: m 12/09/2003 11:40:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

I finished my oral exam in Mandarin this morning. I think I did alright. I don't think it was perfect, because I got nervous and froze up at one point, but overall, I don't think I did too badly. He recorded it on tape. I didn't expect that. My next exam is next Monday morning, followed by my last one on Tueday morning. Tuesday's will be the more difficult of the two, covering the last four chapters of Mandarin.

Yesterday was a bright and sunny day, with somewhat brisk winds. It reminded me of springtime here. Today, however, is just a dingily gray day, the kind that sucks away the hope of ever seeing the sun again. They say it's going to rain today.

:: m 12/09/2003 11:20:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

I went to the mall today to find a pair of gloves (my hands were quite cold in my office this afternoon). The problem for me is that Men's gloves are large and bulky. All I want is pair of knit gloves -- gloves that are thin but capable of warming one's hands. None of the bulky "Thinsulate" gloves that I see everywhere, which adds a quarter inch to the thickness of your fingers and makes them useless for doing any kind of work that requires manual dexterity. Leather gloves, although nice, often have the same problem as the Thinsulate gloves -- too bulky. I guess part of the problem is I live in California -- we don't have snow where I live, making the bulkyness of winter gloves rather useless. Of course, women don't have this problem. Each glove section that I've ever been in has more variety of styles and colours than the men's section -- which can be summed up in a small variety of styles: Black Thinsulate, Navy Thinsulate, Black Leather, and Brown Leather -- all of them rather large and bulky.

Which brings me to my next issue: Christmas. The stores have been decorated since before Halloween, and yet it still feels like it snuck up on me. I haven't started any Christmas shopping yet. I will likely start after my oral exam today.

:: m 12/09/2003 12:27:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Monday, December 08, 2003 ::
One of the secrets of Stradavarius' Violins

Antonio Stradivari was a famous late 17th century/ early 18th century violin maker in Cremona, Italy. His instruments (as well as those of his peers) were renown for their superior quality of sound, their deep resonance and rich tones. Some have thought it was a secret technique, long lost, that created these masterpieces. However, current research seems to point at the density of the wood of that era being the special secret.

I've always held an admiration for those who can play a musical instrument. There's a few instruments in my life that I've always wanted to learn how to play: the violin, the cello, the guitar. Right now, my life is a bit too hectic to really devote to any truly time consuming hobbies, but at some point in the future, I hope that I can find the time to learn. I've always viewed life as an opportunity to educate and improve myself.

:: m 12/08/2003 04:52:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Saturday, December 06, 2003 ::
I thought I'd take a break from memorizing my material for the oral exam by blogging a quick entry. The wind is blowing quite hard outside and the rain is falling pretty heavily. I guess if the weather were colder we might have had snow. I'm exhausted from studying.

Taiwan plans missile vote.

Despite being born and raised in America, Taiwan is still the homeland of my parents and their ancestors. China views Taiwan as a renegade province, while Taiwan views itself as a independent country. For years, China's seat in the United Nations was occupied by Taiwan. I don't know if I want to see Taiwan under Chinese rule, but I also don't want to see them go to war with China (which they would lose). Is there any hope of peace?

:: m 12/06/2003 07:13:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

I just can't seem to concentrate today.

My sister asked me whether or not I was going to take classes next semester or if I was just going to study independently. The thought hadn't really crossed my mind. I like the idea of a less formal class/study though... I forgot how much I really hated exams -- they're an essential tool for testing your knowledge of the material, I just really dislike the pressure involved in studying.

I wonder if I just went through too many changes too quickly in my life... getting laid off, moving, going back to school, starting a new job... I guess even though I've been here 3 months now, it still doesn't feel like home to me. Home is where the heart is, they say, and my heart doesn't live here in San Jose. It's still too new to feel comfortable.

:: m 12/06/2003 01:33:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

Flu shot makers out of vaccine

SARS vaccine shows promise

U.S. to possibly return to the moon

:: m 12/06/2003 07:22:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Friday, December 05, 2003 ::
It's been raining on and off today. When I first went to school today, the rain was falling in a gentle mist.

My Mandarin class started off with finishing off our current chapter. He asked us to ask him a bunch of questions. One of them was his age. Prof. Yao is 52 years old. He went to University in Taiwan, and speaks 5 languages, but none of the Taiwanese languages. He believes in re-unification with mainland China. He speaks mainly English and Mandarin, but he can speak a little bit of Japanese, Spanish and French.

I hope that in a few years, I will be able to say that I can speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese fluently. If I can be able to walk around Chinatown and be able to converse with the shop keepers, I think I will consider myself fluent enough. I don't know how I am going to improve my Cantonese after next semester, since next semester is the last semester Cantonese is offered at SJSU. Perhaps I will be able to find a class in a cultural center somewhere. Or perhaps I will move to Hong Kong and immerse myself in the language there. I don't really know, and I'll worry about that after the class is over. All I do know is that I want to continue my studies in these languages, because I feel I lost a substantial part of my cultural heritage growing up in American suburbia.

I really do enjoy learning languages, and perhaps in the future, I will be inspired to learn more of them. The Chinese written language is very difficult for me but someday I would like to be able to at least read a Chinese newspaper.

Prof. Yao asked me in class today as we were going over the vocabulary for the last lesson how to say "dianxin" (pastry) in Cantonese. I just looked at him with a blank look on my face. The answer to this question of course is dim sum. I guess he remembered that I am also taking a Cantonese class in the same classroom that he uses to teach 3rd year Chinese, and that sometimes I make mistakes by using the Cantonese words/structures instead of the Mandarin ones. He also said that he likes our class better than his evening class, because his early morning classes tends to be filled with more renzhen (serious) students.

My class today in Cantonese was kind of interesting. It started off with a video that our professor made in 1979 regarding measure words in Cantonese. It was interesting seeing him 24 years younger in his late 30s. I think Dr. Leung was embarassed with it, because he left the classroom while we watched the video, and before he played it, he said the man on the video is his brother. When he came back into the classroom, the students in class said: "Neih hauhsaang" (you're young looking!) and "neih lengjai" (you're handsome). Dr. Leung said laughing in response "That's not me, that's my brother!".

After class, my group in Cantonese today filmed our final video project. It's supposed to be 5 minutes of us talking, and we wrote a script out. When we finally read and executed the script, it seemed quite short to us, so we improvised the remaining footage. I really hate video projects and seeing myself on film. The tape is due on Monday, so one of my group members will be editing it this weekend. One of the little improvised bits was one where we went around saying how old we were. I was complimented on my youthful appearance.

This weekend I shall spend memorizing a dialogue written in Chinese to recite on Tuesday morning.

Tuesday will be my last day of class.

:: m 12/05/2003 06:30:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Thursday, December 04, 2003 ::
It's raining now, and I pray that the weather does not make the recovery of the flu worse. It's been raining on and off the whole week, but for those of you out there who drive, I just wanted to urge caution with the weather conditions being what they are. Please drive safely out there.

One of the questions I've been struggling with today is along the lines of "What really matters to me?" Aside from friends and family, which are a given, what else do I really feel is an important aspect of my life? Love, Work, School?

:: m 12/04/2003 02:15:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

I am still sick, and I am still stressed out about my classes. I guess there's a lot of uncertainty in my life again, and that worries me. It's really more a question of "where am I headed and how am I getting there?"

It's also a question about my passions. Before, I was really passionate about games and my work, but as I get older, I feel this passion fading and replaced with a need to do something that will make a more positive impact on society. I also feel like time is running out for me to actually do things -- I feel like I'm not doing enough, and yet I find myself constantly overwhelmed. I'm sure some of the problem lies in my management of time, and the inconvenience of everything in downtown San Jose.

I guess I really miss the days in Foster City where I could be home from work in 10 minutes, take a jog along the coast, walk across the street to the grocery store and cook dinner. I don't really get to do that living in San Jose.

I'm also wondering how I am going to survive the month of January, since classes won't begin until the 29th. I suppose that I shall spend a good amount of time reading and writing.

:: m 12/04/2003 10:44:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Wednesday, December 03, 2003 ::
For those with the flu, this may help: Surviving the Flu

This is Day 10, I think of the flu for me. It's almost all gone.

:: m 12/03/2003 06:52:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

I have less than a week of classes before the end of the semester. This scares me. This scares me a lot. Looking through my text books last night made me realize just how much material I need to study for the final.

I want to get good marks in both classes, so I expect that I will spend much time in these 2 weeks devoted to studying.

I'm still sick. I remember my second year at Cal, having to take final exams with a cold, and how miserable that was.

I really want a day off so I can deal with things. With the startup being what it is, days off cannot really be afforded at the moment. The weekend does not seem to arrive quick enough.

:: m 12/03/2003 03:41:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Tuesday, December 02, 2003 ::
It looks like the flu that I've been trying to fight off hasn't been completely licked yet. I had to make an emergency run to the store this afternoon to purchase more Theraflu to fight off the coughing and wheezing. I can probably just get a pack of cold and cough pills, but I don't know which ones would work the best.

:: m 12/02/2003 03:42:00 PM [+] :: [..::::..]

I woke up this morning, and I was able to breathe again. I think the 15 hours of sleep that I got last night allowed my body enough time to recuperate and expel the sickness from within. I never want to feel like that again, so I think that from now on I *will* get flu shots every year from now on.

My finals are creeping up very quickly, and there is much work to be done if I am do well on them. Because I've been sick, I have missed some classes, and I fear that I did not learn some items as clearly as I could have, so I will need to do a lot of reviewing. I am going to put school first for now. I have an oral final in Mandarin next week, and I really need to work hard.

:: m 12/02/2003 10:37:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

The Test Results Are In! "You're normal!"

For the record, you are:

62% Un-telligent! which is normal since the current average is 60%. Your evaluation is unique, however, so keep reading.

Here is the custom report of your personality that led our team of geeks to conclude (with confidence) that you are bordering on mediocrity, yet more exciting than others:

"The subject shows a very high level of intelligence, and his sense of observation is one of his best qualities. Considering this, he shows a lot of potential, but that's only part of the equation.

"Also, as much as we hate violence, an occasional mauling is one way to solve day-to-day problems like unpleasant coworkers or pesky door-to-door salesmen; he just isn't tough enough, sir, and he avoids any solution that involves violence.

"Finally, the subject displayed a healthy (better than most net freaks anyway) sense of humor, a fair and productive sense of morality, and a barbaric self-confidence. The balance of these three traits is important; high levels of confidence, medium levels of morality, and a good level of humor make for the strongest individuals."

Final Score: 62% Un-telligent

And as always, we publish overall test statistics:

4908197 people have taken the un-telligence test

Of all takers, 53% were female and 47% were male

Currently, males are averaging higher!

The highest score achieved so far was by a female, age 19!

The Un-telligence Test

:: m 12/02/2003 10:21:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

:: Monday, December 01, 2003 ::
In Les Miserables there is a moment in Jean Valjean's life, where he finds himself a free man, fresh from his parole. He meets a chimney sweep and proceeds to con him out of his money. Realizing that this is not the man he is, he then runs after the chimney sweep to give him back his money. But it is too late, the boy is nowhere to be found. Who am I, Jean Valjean asks himeself, Who am I?

I've been asking myself this the last few days since I started taking my medication. I haven't been behaving like myself. I've been pannicky, I've been irrate, I've been snappy, I've been demanding, I've been selfish, I've been cranky, I've been whiny, I've been moody, I've been depressed, I've been downright rude... things that are not necessarily me. I basically become all the worst aspects of me. And when I think about the way I've acted or behaved, it makes me sick to my stomach. I won't get better if I stop taking my medication, but I'd rather just suffer through the sickness than hurt the people close to me I love the most.

Medication is not helping the sleep cycle. I didn't sleep at all last night.

:: m 12/01/2003 07:03:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

My body can't seem to rest right now. I guess it's the medication. It's like my body is on a super mega dosage of caffeine. My body is alarmed and awake and I want to sleep so badly. This medicine is awful for me... it actually makes feel worse. I feel hot I feel cold. I want to sleep.

:: m 12/01/2003 03:04:00 AM [+] :: [..::::..]

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