Thursday, November 26, 2009


It's Thanksgiving this Thursday and Friday. It's a holiday tradition that began hundreds of years ago when some American Indians took pity on the starving and dying European immigrants and taught them how to grow food and survive in the New World. To thank the Indians for their help, the Pilgrims invited them to a feast, and thus, the American Thanksgiving tradition was born.

If only those Indians had known that in a few years, those Europeans would start centuries of warfare to eliminate the Native Americans and take over the New World. No good deed goes unpunished.

To celebrate Thanksgiving, you're supposed to spend time with your family, eat turkey and pie, and give thanks for all the good things in your life. The last time I spent Thanksgiving with my family was my last year in high school. After that, I've been spending the holiday with friends or working on the holiday. I don't mind working on Thanksgiving; I get paid the holiday rate, and it's nice to see a hardworking coworker spend time with their family.

When I was younger, I luved Thanksgiving. My favorite part of Thanksgiving was being off from school for two days. I luved the 4 day weekends! All that extra time to sleep in and play and do whatever I wanted! It was fun, hanging out with friends, playing with cousins I hadn't seen in a while, no real worries. The food was always great: roasted turkey, sweet potatoes, ham, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and so many other delicious, rich foods. Of course, in my house, we also had fried chicken and pork chops and chili in addition to the usual Thanksgiving fare. When I started living on my own, Chinese food became one of my favorite add ons to the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

My first Thanksgiving on my own, some friends and I got together and sat down for a meal in a small apt with second hand furniture and mismatched plates. Seeing as none of us fellas knew how to roast a turkey, we had Chinese food and pizza and chicken wings for dinner. It was just the six of us, far away from home, yet we were our own little family. We laughed, we talked, we teased and toasted each other during our Thanksgiving meal. It felt good to be around good friends, being on our own, the world just seemed so full of possibilities.

Since then, every Thanksgiving, we'd have Chinese food on the menu. It was our tradition. Even now, many years later and with us living far apart from each other, we keep the tradition going. Whether we are by ourselves or in the company of others, having Chinese food on Thanksgiving means that we are never alone, because the memory and the spirit of that first Thanksgiving is alive and well with us. It reminds us of when we first started out, so young, having nothing but our friendship and sense of adventure that gave us the courage to be on our own, to seek out something more, to find ourselves.

So for Thanksgiving, I'm having some Chinese food. I want to remember the good friends I have in life, to celebrate the gift of friendship, to be thankful for all the good things that have happened to me. However you spend the holiday, I hope you spend it doing something you love, if not with the people you love. Thank you for all your support. Thank you for your friendship.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Out of all my senses, my vision is the strongest. I can see farther in the daylight and much more in the dark than most people. This has a significant impact on how I do things, whether it be giving directions or describing objects. Growing up in a small town also affected my perception and processing of the world around me. If I were asked to give directions, I'd tell you visual cues more than length measurements; I'd tell you what places to look out for more than I would say the distance.

For example, I'm more likely to tell you to keep driving til you see the yellow two story house on the left; take a left at the intersection and go past the cornfields, then take a right on the dirt road and keep going straight til you see the white farmhouse with the red barn. I use landmarks. It's sort of helpful (at least to me), especially when trying to find a place in a small town or a crowded neighborhood when you can't make out the building numbers. Of course, once I started living in the big cities and had to do long drives, my directions started including time; now I say things like how many hours a drive is supposed to be in addition to using landmarks.

It's not that I don't have a sense of distance. The thing is, I can tell how long a mile is a lot better by running than walking. It's not a problem if I'm going for a jog; but it is inconvenient when I'm required to be someplace where being sweaty is not a viable (or an attractive) option. It's just easier for me to rely on landmarks. I have a very good sense of direction. I can read a map with no problems, even in foreign countries. It doesn't even have to have a scale for me to figure out where to go, so long as I can recognize the landmarks on the map.

I don't mind getting lost--I eventually find my way, once I get oriented in the right direction, and so long as I have the sun and stars, I'll find my way. I could've been a sailor or a caravan merchant on the Silk Route. I've found some really fun and interesting things when going off the beaten path. But I've learned that some people don't like getting lost. So when I give directions, I try to keep them simple and tell them people what to look for and how long the drive should be.

Of course, this baffles some people when I end up giving them landmarks instead of miles. I suppose they think I ought to know distance since I'm really good at reading maps. But then I wonder, can anyone really tell how long a mile is without using their car's odometer or a pedometer? Or without a GPS for that matter?

Recently, a friend's husband asked me for directions to a place that I've been to a few times. It's a few hours away from me in the big city and I've driven there before. I had a hard time trying to explain to him what to look for. I told him that I just followed the road signs and head downtown. As I was giving him landmarks to look out for, he kept sighing and finally interrupted, saying that he wanted to know how many miles it would take. Okay, seeing as how he lived in a completely different city from me, I told him I had no clue. He got upset at that. I told him, Dude! I don't live where you are and I'm not a road atlas! He wanted to know how I got to this place the first time. So I told him, I got a map and I followed the road signs. Dude just started bitching and whining. Finally, I just told him to print out map and directions from the internet.

How do other people find their way around? Do they use miles or landmarks when giving out directions? I'm not sure how other people find their way around or give directions. But for me, landmarks work best when I need to find my way. I'm never sure how many miles my journey is going to take, but I do know when it's over, because I've arrived at the right place.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oceans 3, 4, 5

I was watching the news and there was a report of a widening rift in Africa, specifically in Ethiopia, that would someday in the future become an ocean. While I generally find science interesting, I was stumped when the news report mentioned that there were currently five oceans. Five? What the...? When did that happen? Did a major continental shift occur while I was sleeping?

It's like the time I found out about the food pyramid. I was in college when this girl started talking about the food pyramid. And I was thinking to myself, food pyramid? Is she talking about Egyptian foods? When the hell did they change the four food groups? Imagine my surprise when I did a little research and learned that the US Dept of Agriculture was pushing this idea of a food pyramid, instead of the four food groups.

I remember the four basic food groups--fruits and vegetables; meat and poultry and fish; grains; and dairy. Sure it wasn't perfect, I mean, I wondered why beans and nuts were in the meat group, when they really came from plants. I suppose it would've made more sense to rename the meat group as the protein group. But as imperfect as the four food groups was, I still use it. Besides, this whole food pyramid thing is still being sorted out by the government. Now they've added a set of steps and rainbow colors to the food pyramid! So until they figure out a better way to classify foods, I'm sticking with the four food groups.

I needed to find out more about these five oceans the news report mentioned. A quick google search for ocean led me to discover that the consensus is that there really is just one ocean. However, some organizations say that there are four oceans, while others say five! Other agencies still say three, which I know are the Pacific ocean, the Atlantic ocean, and the Indian ocean.

National Geographic, the magazine that publishes fotos of topless native women and nekkid people in the interests of science, says that there is a fourth ocean. It's called the Arctic ocean! Has climate change all ready melted all the ice at the top of the world?

Meanwhile, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the government weather and marine agency that tracks and names hurricanes for the US, says that there are five oceans! The fifth Ocean is the Southern Ocean. Apparently, the International Hydrographic Organization decided to draw a line around the southern parts of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans and called that region around Antarctica the Southern Ocean.

But the hilarious thing is, while all agree that there are 3 main oceans, the traditional Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans, they cannot agree on whether the Arctic and Southern oceans really are oceans! I still think that there are only 3 main oceans. The other two were just made up by some group who thinks that they speak for the rest of us! It got me thinking, who the hell put these people in charge of renaming oceans? And what gives them the right to rename these oceans?

It's like Pluto all over again. Remember when some geniuses decided to downgrade Pluto from a planet? What the hell was that all about? I mean, seriously, who said that these few jackasses can reclassify planets for the rest of us? Moreover, the majority of astronomers and planetary scientists still consider Pluto a planet, and so do I! Don't these jackasses realize the chaos they've caused by trying to deplanetize Pluto? Pluto is the ruling planet for Scorpios! It is necessary for great transformation and rebirth! Not to mention, Pluto is the god of wealth! And given the fragile state of the economy, we need all the help Pluto can give us!