365: Day 50 – Hong Kong on my mind

365: Day 50 – Hong Kong on my mind

The COVID-19 news in the U.S. continues to go from bad to worse, so I turned off the television and instead read some of my favorite foreign periodicals. This evening I was reading articles on the South China Morning Post and a lot of the focus is on the passage of the national security law upholding the one country, two systems policy of China towards Hong Kong. I find the history of this city fascinating and the result of colonization has blended cultures like no other place on earth. Its heritage is as much British as it is Chinese. I won’t make a political statement as to what I think is best for Hong Kong, but I just hope that China sees beauty in the uniqueness of Hong Kong cherishes it.

On a more positive note, there was a nice article about writer Agnes Chee finding Hong Kong’s gourmet scene exciting and intriguing. It talks about how Cantonese cuisine is starting to show new twists by incorporating Western delicacies, her love of Dim Sum, making mooncakes with her family, and how even the most seemingly simple dishes are quite labor intensive. She works with local chef’s to document and preserve Cantonese dishes that are becoming less common due to the amount of work they take to make, such as one where a chicken is first debones, then stuffed with a bird’s nest, and finally inserted inside a pig’s stomach before boiling for hours to create a delicious soup.

365: Day 49 – Memories of Hometowns Afar

365: Day 49 – Memories of Hometowns Afar

I was people watching again and paying special attention to the faces and languages of passersby. Most people in Los Angeles either come from somewhere else or their families did, and I wonder how each of them see my city. What made them come here and leave behind their hometowns? Do they still love the city? Is there something in this city that reminds me of their home? The recent racial tensions that have been widely broadcast by the media paint a picture of a divided place that seems to be turning into the Tower of Babel–a tower of dreams of lofty goals that some higher power seems intent on stopping. Some will tell you about how Los Angeles is a highly segregated city.

You will undoubtedly find truth in all of these, but I will tell you to be patient and wait and see. Let me share the vision I see that some may call naive and romanticized. Brave people, You will undoubtedly find truth in all of these, but I will tell you to be patient and wait and see. Let me share the vision I see that some may call naive and romanticized. Brave people, the first of their kind came here to grow roots and make a home of this strange land. The people that follow–equally brave–seek the familiar in the foreign and huddle near the language and culture they know. The culture, language, and foods of the mother country begin to flourish. Eventually these groves of people expand and begin to cross into new groves and become a forest formed from a patchwork of cultures. Here you can have a traditional Chinese breakfast where you’ll have trouble ordering if you don’t speak Mandarin, then have Persian food, and round out the day with Russian food all while driving by a million places with Mexican food. Each culture is as different as the syntax of their respective languages and sometimes we have a challenging time understanding each other, but it gets better with each passing day. We do not need an amalgamation or customs and homogenization of culture to fix the fissures between our rich cultures. What we need is to open our minds and actively seek to eradicate our ignorance in this infant forest full of ancient memories of hometowns afar.

365: Day 48 – Sometimes I feel a little Atypical

365: Day 48 – Sometimes I feel a little Atypical

I just finished watching the latest season of Atypical–a story about a guy on the spectrum. It’s a comedy with some very heartfelt moments, but I tend to identify with Sam a lot. I don’t of course just blurt out things like he does, but I find myself thinking the things he says out loud. I find long conversations tiring and sometimes I wish I could just walk away from a conversation or end a zoom meeting because I’m no longer interested in what they other persons are saying. When conversations grow too long I say in my mind things like:

  • yes I heard this already
  • please get to the point
  • why are you using so many words
  • can’t you just email or text me
  • please be quiet, please be quiet.
  • God please make them stop talking. etc…

365: Day 47 – Reading the Overstory

365: Day 47 – Reading the Overstory

In general, I have been reading much more these last few months, but it has all come to a halt these last few weeks because of the exciting but arduous process of buying a home. So today I am happy to report that I have been reading a little further along into the wonderful book that is Overstory! It first seemed like it was one great short story after another, but I finally reached a point in the book where they have started to weave together. I was in the middle of one of these beautiful short stories when in a very subtle way characters from the previous stories seemed to float in like faint old memories. Quite beautiful! This is not a review so I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who might be interested in reading it. 🙂

365: Day 46 – Another round of contractors.

365: Day 46 – Another round of contractors.

Today we met with the the man taking measurements of the kitchen, the measurements for more floor, backsplash, and estimate for the restrooms, the French doors replacement, the retrofit contractor, and a representative from closets world to add some cabinets for the garage and laundry area.

Long day and just barely squeezed this in before midnight. Will hopefully write more tomorrow. 🙂

365: Day 45 – Needing a Vacation

365: Day 45 – Needing a Vacation

On some days I find myself wishing for a vacation where I can relax and take a break from responsibilities at work, but the irony is that I think I would be more stressed out “unplugging”. I feel much more comfortable being able to check in on things and respond. It’s a good thing I live in today’s world where this is easy to do. The trips I most enjoyed were those I took for my MBA studies. I had projects to work on and assignments for work still due, but I did enjoy the liberty of making my own schedule. Particularly, the two trips I enjoyed most were the one to Asia and the one to Middle East. The time zones were so different from my home one that I was free to explore these places throughout the day with little to no interruptions. When it came time to retire for the evening, I would open my computer and catch up on emails, stay up a little late if I had to, and then check back early in the morning before the end of the day back home.

I still intend to write about past travels, but perhaps when things settle down a bit and I have some more time.

365: Day 44 – Lesson from Sushi Chef

365: Day 44 – Lesson from Sushi Chef

There’s a sushi restaurant across the street and I often see the Chef stay after the restaurant has closed to clean up, water the plants, and do other chores. Later still, he is looking at his phone or on his computer. Now, before you think I am creepy and this is all I do late at night, let me assure you that these observations have happened over the course of a year and half during many quick glances out the window and the countless times I walked past the restaurant to pick up my car from the free charging station in the building next to it.

Last night was a different story as I took a look out the window and found myself staring for about 10-15 minutes. This sushi chef is a Japanese man who seems to be in his forties who moved about very purposefully. He cleaned his patio area, cleaned the tables, and watered the plants. Then he went out to clean the floors around the other establishments, the sidewalk, and watered the plants in the common plaza. It was surprising and nice to see.

As I thought about it some more, I realize that it was surprising to me because I have been raised in this very individualistic culture of the United States where often times we’re hyper-focused on improving ourselves and forget about the community around us. I’m generalizing of course, but we do live in a culture where cleaning up after other people is an inconvenience and something we don’t have an obligation to do. We create these complex rules through homeowners associations and chambers of commerce to make sure everyone contributes their part, but we are very often unwilling to volunteer to do more than our fair share. My mom (not born in the U.S.) would always clean the street in front of our house and then clean the street in front of several of our neighbors. As I started getting older I began to “realize” this was strange and not something most people did. I am sad that I lost that somewhere along the way of me growing up and it is something I want to incorporate more into my life.

In the bigger global picture at the moment, you see the consequences of our individualism here in U.S. in the surging number of COVID-19 cases. Compare our control (or lack thereof) of the corona virus with the Asian countries and you’ll see just how embarrassing the situation is here in America. I remember the first time I visited Asia, I felt like I came back to a third-world country after that trip and I feel that way once again.

I am fully aware that I am generalizing, but seeing this one Japanese man’s work ethic and care for his community reminded me of why I fell in love with Asian culture and how they prioritize the greater good over the good of the individual. I wish we would emulate it.

365: Day 42 – Change of Pace

365: Day 42 – Change of Pace

Today was a welcome change of pace where there was little related to the home and although I’m super excited about the new place, it was nice to be able to focus more on work and do some catching up. In other news, I heard that USC–my alma mater–will be sunsetting the regional clubs. I used to serve on the board of the USC Alumni Club of Los Angeles. I have some good memories from my time serving on the board, but I have mixed feelings about USC’s decision. On the one hand I will miss these, but at the same time they were a little cliquey and I remember one time when I chaired a huge Hollywood Bowl event, I put in a ton of effort and felt like the rest of the board just left me hanging. It was exhausting and worst of all, I felt like I still wasn’t part of the the inner circle. Almost like I was given the illusion that I was running the show even though I really wasn’t just so I can put in the hard work. So in a way, I’m glad things are getting shaken up. It was time for a fresh perspective.

365: Day 41 – Selecting Kitchen Appliances

365: Day 41 – Selecting Kitchen Appliances

Continuing on the Kitchen topic, we went shopping for appliances this morning and we finally have everything all picked out. After loving everything and considering everything we kept narrowing it down until we finally zeroed in on the look and features we wanted. We’re going with these white Café appliances. The general look of the kitchen will be a dark wood for the cabinets and a white countertop. Still trying to decide on the backsplash, but it will most likely be a white color or a very light color. We liked these appliances because they’re fairly unique-looking and they will contrast with the very dark cabinets. To further add contrasting elements, the sinks will be black. Looking forward to using these appliances, but we’re still about two months out from using them. Then need to be ordered and they also cannot be installed until the Kitchen cabinets are installed.