The GeekMan cometh


I was thrilled to see that Happy
Worker
, a new company founded by my brother-in-law Kris
Schantz
and my sister Shirley
Yee
got some very favorable press
the last couple of days for its first upcoming product, the GeekMan
(TM) Action Figure
. The articles I’ve found so far are:

Interestingly enough, a number of the reporters make a point of
comparing the action figure to Kris. I must think that the resemblance
is purely coincidental.

At any rate, I’ve heard Kris and Shirley talk and dream about
their work for many months now — and now it’s nice to get a chance to
share it with my readers. GeekMan comes out on retail shelves on March 1….


I write best in the morning

The best time for me to write is the morning. That’s why I need to get to bed
on time — so that I can wake up and have enough presence of mind to write.
Let me just quote something I typed into my personal wiki this morning:

I need to hop in the shower in the next few minutes if I’m to have much hope
of getting down to work in a timely fashion today. I’ve had a good start of
a day so far. I got up at 6:30 am without too much trouble, after having had
a reasonably lengthy night of sleep. The foggy but frantic confusion that
is characteristic of many days is far away from the calm of the first minutes.
And so far, I’ve managed to keep centered. Morning is a wonderful time to
reaffirm important matters and to get back in touch with God and myself —
and thus, ultimately, with the larger world.

I’ve been saddled with a mild case of "who cares? what does it matter
blues?" lately. One example is that of the re-missioning meetings of
First Presbyterian
Berkeley
. I had to fight hard to drag myself there, bedraggled by cynical
feelings about the process and possibility for change. Fortunately, the meeting
I attended humbled me — and I learned how stupidly smug I can be.

After I got out of the shower, I wrote:

In the shower, I decided that I should start writing bold statements of what
I believe, think, and feel with hedging them. There is room for clarification,
qualification, and even retraction and repentance for them — but I’ve been
stuck in a muddle for two long looking at the details when I’m not just coming
out to say what is really going on (for good or for bad).

I wrote a series of bold statements and was about to copy them into this post….but
I’m not ready to share with you what those statements are. Sorry.

More political muselets

During breakfast, I often read the San Francisco Chronicle. I always wonder what purpose it serves other than entertainment. The Chronicle does keep me somewhat informed.

This morning, I’ve been pondering (as I have on many mornings) some political
issues and how I might respond to them. Take for example, today’s
editorial calling for Antonin Scalia’s self-recusal
in a case involving
VP Dick Cheney, who are apparently good friends and recent fellow-vacationers.
My first reaction was: “This is another blatant example of arrogant power.”
As I reflected further, I wanted to ask, “Well, what are the precedents for
self-recusal in the Supreme Court? Should people who have an obvious and public
distaste for Cheney recuse themselves too? What’s the difference?” No final
answers on my part — but cooler thinking did help me to see the picture in
a more nuanced fashion beyond my definite partisan position.

There’s more to say, obviously — but I figure that since politics is something
that keeps bouncing around the foreground and background of my musings, I should
refer to some previous entries for some background. Here’s some of what I found:

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Gung Hay Fat Choy!

I’m sad that I’m away from the people with whom I have celebrated the Lunar
New Year most often, my own immediate family. Why am I sadder this year than
any of the many other years that I’ve been away from my family? Perhaps it’s
because I’m all the more aware of how little I understand of these great (but
mysterious) rituals that informed my childhood and how much I wish I could connect
now to the past. I know that it’s not just about the past; I can learn as much
as I can now about the past so that I can enter the future with new life and
energy. Now that I have a nephew, I have a great excuse to learn with him what
I hadn’t learned 37 years ago.

Because of this unmet longing, I read a series of articles in the San Francisco
Chronicle
about the New Year. If you too want to learn more about the meaning
of the New Year, go read the following:

Before going in this morning, I was trying to write out in Chinese the various
new year’s greeting but was having a hard time. When I have time, I will come
back to this task by looking at the following links:

Miscellany for the end of a day

Did you know that today was Squirrel Appreciation Day?

On the putative universality of J. S. Bach‘s music from Why a bad playing of Bach is still Bach (Toronto Star):

Perhaps it is the very ability of Bach’s music to survive a variety of approaches that provides a clue to its universality. As Rilling put it, a bad performance of Bach is still Bach, but a bad performance of Handel isn’t very good.

Commemorating MLK Day

Over the years that I’ve lived in the U.S., I’ve tried to honor the intention of various national holidays. I often fail to do so — but today was a different matter. My housemates and I spent part of our meeting tonight to reflect on MLK. I was unexpectedly moved by my housemate’s reading of the children’s book My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Getting a glimpse into MLK (“ML” to his sister) before he became an iconic international figure made that much more sympathetic to his life and the conditions of America 40 years ago.

We then listened to excerpts from his “I have a dream speech”. I was hoping that we’d be able to access the entire speech. I quickly found the full text but at first couldn’t find the audio of the speech. With a few more rounds of reformulating google searches, I finally did find the complete audio for the speech. Listen to the whole speech when you have a chance — it’s worth 17 minutes of your life!

First glimpse at Chinese proverbs

Though my knowledge of written Chinese is practically nil, I am manifestly attracted to the beauty of the characters. I want so much to be able to decipher the words, particularly the wisdom contained in pithy sayings of my father and mother and those who came before them. That’s why I’m spending some time figuring out how to work with Chinese on a computer and why I’m reading A Thousand Pieces of Gold : Growing Up Through China’s Proverbs. Sometimes I just like looking at the strokes of the characters even if I don’t know what it all means.

There are plenty of Chinese proverbs explained in the book — and I wanted to share some of my reflections on them as I went along. I was afraid that I would not be able to represent them in Chinese (since a number of the proverbs are not written out in Chinese but only represented in their PinYin romanization). Fortunately, the author provides a webpage listing all the proverbs of the book in Chinese.

For example,

落 葉 歸 根 (Luo Ye Gui Gen) means “Falling leaves return to their roots.”

Lots of resonsance there for me as I ponder where my own roots are and where I may end up falling.

I’m musing on what Laura wrote today

Today’s essay by Laura is calling from within me a much-needed response. I resonate deeply with what she feels in her heart — but am not ready to make my own heart-felt statement about the the political situation. I don’t think that I’ll be ready until I take up the challenge implicit in the first paragraph of her post:

I can’t quite find it in me to write in a fact-based way right now–even though that’s what we think we all need to do, take an unflinching look at the facts about what’s happening to people as a result of these policies.

I feel called to take up such a way of writing — though frankly, I don’t know whether I’m up for the task. I know how I feel about what’s happening but I can’t say that the feelings are sufficiently grounded in a careful, critical examination of the facts. Not that I have any illusion that I can get to the bottom of things because things are complex — and because people are out to spin things for their own interests, to obfuscate the truth.

I suppose that another reason I’m not ready to publicly claim and make my own what I feel is that I want to sort out for myself why I believe what I do. More to point, is my belief the way it is only because those around me believe likewise? I need to hear fully the viewpoints of intelligent, thoughtful people of integrity who see the world differently from the way I do.

I may be just dense and slow and unwilling to accept what is obvious. Don’t know yet. I also don’t know what I’ll be writing next on this topic. We’ll have to see.

Vancouver greetings

Greetings from Vancouver, Canada! I’m in town to attend the Pan
Canadian E-learning Workshop
, which runs from tomorrow (Monday) to Tuesday.
When I was making my travel arrangements for the conference, I decided to fly
in a day early — not because I wanted to have some time to tour Vancouver but
to save some money. After a full day of walking around downtown (along the waterfront,
through Gastown, the historic
core of Vancouver; to the surprisingly large Chinatown
(which blessed me with the stillness of Dr.
Sun Yat-Sen Park
), but couldn’t get into the museum/archive
of The Chinese Cultural Center
of Greater Vancouver
(though it was supposed to open today); onto the main
branch of the Vancouver
Public Library
, which reminds me of the Toronto
Reference Library
; the Granville
Book company
and Chapters
Books
on Robson
Street
(which I guess is one of the main drags of Vancouver), along with Granville
Street
; to dinner at Hon’s
Wun-Tun House
— and then back to my hotel, the Pan
Pacific Hotel Vancouver
.

As I walked around today, I saw so many things that intrigued me
about Vancouver that I was thinking about ways to share that excitement
with readers. The previous paragraph is a start, a laundry list of
where I was. But it’s 11pm — and I need to hit the sack. Perhaps more
will come later. (I regret not bringing my camera with me but lately,
I’ve gotten tired of schlepping a big camera on my trips to other
cities — it makes stowing my backpack underneath the seat in front of
me that much more difficult.

I’m optimistic — I guess that’s good

It’s January 8 — and I still feel optimistic about 2004. I don’t know what to make of it, save that it beats being pessimistic, I suppose. Not that I’m doing so well on my blogging, mind you. But then again, though I’m tempted to promise to blog regularly, I am learning from friends that it’s better not to set myself up for easy failure in my resolutions. All I will strive for is to blog as faithfully as I can.