Thursday, September 24, 2020

beans and kings

Me: "There's a chinese story of a king who was envious of his brother. He ordered that his brother be brought to him. Then the king said, "I heard you've been boasting about your poetry ability. You must walk seven steps at a normal pace in front of me right now. You need to come up with a poem and recite it on the seventh step. If the poem isn't good, then I'll have you executed."

Aff: "Is that the punishment for boasting?"

Me: "Apparently."

Aff: "Let's hear the poem."


煮豆燃豆萁Boiling beans by burning the beanstalk
豆在釜中泣The bean is crying in the pot
本是同根生We were birthed by the same root
相煎何太急?Why the rush to burn each other?
Aff: "Wow, it rhymes. So is the king supposed to be like the bean?"

Me: "No, the king is the beanstalk. He's hurting his brother, like how the beanstalk is burned to cook the bean."

Aff: "Ok."

Me: "When the king heard this beautiful poem, he wept."

Aff: "He wept like a bean?"

Me: [lol]

Aff: "Plot twist: they were both beans."



Thursday, September 17, 2020

yummers (Parts Unknown)

Aff, my mom, and I started watching "Parts Unknown" starring Anthony Bourdain. We watch one episode per evening, after dinner.

So far, we've watched five episodes. My mom liked Quebec the most. 

Aff likes Tangier, Morocco. He says the chicken stuffed with olives and spices looks amazing. 

I also liked the Quebec episode. So many desserts! So much foie gras. 

Watching "Parts Unknown" together has cheered up all of us!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Sad about ICE's latest evildoing

 I am very upset and sad about this news:

‘Like an Experimental Concentration Camp’: Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Mass Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Center

Multiple women came forward to tell Project South about what they perceived to be the inordinate rate at which women in ICDC were subjected to hysterectomies – a surgical operation in which all or part of the uterus is removed. Additionally, many of the immigrant women who underwent the procedure were reportedly “confused” when asked to explain why they had the surgery, with one detainee likening their treatment to prisoners in concentration camps.

The complaint details several accounts from detainees, including one woman who was not properly anesthetized during the procedure and heard the aforementioned doctor tell the nurse he had mistakenly removed the wrong ovary, resulting in her losing all reproductive ability. Another said she was scheduled for the procedure but when she questioned why it was necessary, she was given at least three completely different answers.

“She was originally told by the doctor that she had an ovarian cyst and was going to have a small twenty-minute procedure done drilling three small holes in her stomach to drain the cyst,” according to the complaint. “The officer who was transporting her to the hospital told her that she was receiving a hysterectomy to have her womb removed. When the hospital refused to operate on her because her COVID-19 test came back positive for antibodies, she was transferred back to ICDC where the ICDC nurse said that the procedure she was going to have done entailed dilating her vagina and scraping tissue off. “

Another nurse then told her the procedure was to mitigate her heavy menstrual bleeding, which the woman had never experienced. When she explained that, the nurse “responded by getting angry and agitated and began yelling at her.”

Friday, August 14, 2020

many valid paths

With the Kamala Harris announcement, people are celebrating "first Black VP", "first Indian VP" etc. 

Let's also note Kamala was unmarried until age 49. When she got married in 2014, she became stepmom to two kids.

Society pressures women to marry and have kids. The stereotype of a woman who is single and childless at 45 or 50 is "sad" or "unfulfilled" or that she must feel like something is missing in her life. I think Kamala serves as a counterexample of someone who was living a perfectly great, childless, husbandless life.

I'm reading a book about how the immense pressure on women to get married and have children (and the judgment toward women who don't) is part of the backlash against feminism.

Kamala Harris dances at the Polk County Steak Fry

Monday, July 06, 2020

One per day

I read a quote that I liked. (Can't find who said it!)

It said how there are so many overwhelming societal problems, and the speaker would just try to do one thing every day to make the world more fair.

I worry about climate change, police brutality, voter suppression, unfair workplaces, domestic violence, covid, and so many other things. It is easy to feel overwhelmed. 

So I have been doing what I can, a bit each day. I pushed for a racist logo to be banned [1]. I urged my professional networks to commit to challenges like the Pull Up or Shut Up. I met virtually with young Black women in STEM. I tried to convince Asians to focus on legacy admissions as the true unfairness in college admissions, not affirmative action.

It feels inadequate, but hopefully it accumulates over the years. 

[1] Sam's Club and Walgreens responded that they're looking into it, and then went silent for weeks. Costco has been the most responsive, and pulled the product with the racist logo from their warehouses within a few hours of my email!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Today is my mom's birthday!

My mom turned 71 today.

I told her she is lucky to have her birthday on Juneteenth, because it is a special day of celebration. Also it will probably be a federal holiday soon. 

My brother got a bakery to deliver the cake. 

Saturday, June 06, 2020

powerful video using Monopoly as metaphor

This video taught me a lot:

It reminded me of this Gloria Steinem quote:
it’s also true that in any situation of unequal power, it’s threatening for the more powerful to feel criticized. Think about it: It’s okay for women to ‘sing the blues,’ but not okay to equalize reasons for blues-singing. It’s okay to talk about the feminization of poverty, but not okay to talk about about the masculinization of wealth. It’s okay to talk about poor black people, but not so okay to talk about white racism and rich white people—and so on.
Also we’re so accustomed to hierarchy that it’s hard to imagine equality. I think some men imagine reversal—women are going to do to them what they’ve have done to women—but that’s just guilt talking. Probably our first job is to imagine equality. After all, hope is a form of planning!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

New Favorite-programming-language Energy

I have been learning GoLang and I like it! 

It's concise. It has built-in support for slices, pointers, concurrency, channels. It doesn't have strange indentation rules like python. 

Me: [to Aff] "So what are the reasons you like Go more than Java?"

Aff: [bursts out laughing] "Why don't you ask me the reasons I like ice cream more than being kicked in the nuts?"

Me: "Come on, Java is not that bad."


Ice cream is a bit extreme as an analogy. I like ice cream much more than Go. But Go is pretty good.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

that New Favorite-Book Energy

During video chat:

Me: "I just read the book Fifth Season. I love it!"

Nehsters: "Oh, I read that. It's pretty ... dystopian. A little depressing."

Me: "We're in a pandemic. It's now a how-to guide."

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Fifth Season

I just finished reading the sci-fi book "Fifth Season".

It is so good. I can't imagine how anyone could dislike it. 

Every book in this trilogy won a Hugo Award. I am glad there are two more books to look forward to. Poor future-me who has read all of them and can no longer look forward to them. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Finished playing Uncharted 4

I like the lush landscapes and adventure story of Uncharted 4. 

It seems like the game's demographic aged during the four Uncharted games. The main character was made to look older in game 4, with more wrinkles and maturity. 

I just finished playing and miss the game slightly. 

Thankfully, there's one more expansion pack, starring two of the best female characters. 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

A sweet story

This is a sweet story: Link.
I thought about all the friends’ weddings I missed because I couldn’t travel outside the country and how much I regretted not being there for the people I loved. I couldn’t do it again. If Fernando eventually came to love me, he would need to understand or at least accept my need to hide the more difficult points of my life’s timeline.

“OK,” he said, “I’m on it. Tell me what to do.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Conspiracy theories are self-preserving

I have a hard time responding when friends send me conspiracy theories. 

The conspiracy theories usually have a built-in mechanism for deflecting all criticism.

Friend: "5G is causing covid-19!"

Me: "This has been debunked by reputable scientific organizations X, Y, and Z."

Friend: "Those organizations are all part of the conspiracy!"

Any scientific studies or debunking just get ignored as "part of the conspiracy", so there is no way to disprove them. It is quite frustrating.

Monday, January 20, 2020

asymmetry in taking care of family

In Western society, there is intense pressure to be an amazing parent to your kids, but it's acceptable to neglect your parents in their old age.

A parent who sends their kid to an orphanage is condemned. But if the same person puts their parent into a not-very-good retirement home and only visits them once per year, that wouldn't get a second glance. They'd get sympathy from their friends, "It must have been hard to put your mom/dad into the retirement home and not know if they're being mistreated."

The asymmetry is interesting.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Difficulty of what to say

I have been taking care of my mom for nearly a year now. I am often sad about it. It is lonely, and I get insecure. 

I talked yesterday to a new friend T, who does some caretaking of her own:

Me: "If I tell people how it really is, I feel like a Debby Downer. I don't want to complain to them a bunch every time I talk to them. Sending a holiday card was hard."

T: "Yeah, my grandma used to send a holiday letter every year saying 'Merry Christmas. Here's all the bad things that happened to me this year. I broke my hip. This problem. That problem. Anyway, happy holidays!'"

Me: "Yes, that is my fear. I don't want to be depressing every time I talk to people. But then if I focus on the positive, I don't feel understood. That is not real."

Some people have surprised me by how they are able to understand and empathize. Others keep making an effort, even though they don't know what to say. I really appreciate both those sets of people.