Monthly Archives: October 2006

Same Bat Time…Same Bat Channel…Yours…


Heard on the radio that the Cambridge based Internet TV company Brightcove announced a new service today: anyone with the right computer and software can now launch and distribute his/her own Internet TV channel for free. Oh, execuse me, channelS.

Wow! Not only we can bypass the traditional publishers and share our…er…thoughts… by blogging, or share our family photo albums and homemade videos (some better than others) with families and friends and complete strangers across the states or oceans, we can also create our very own quality TV programming. I knew this day will come ever since I watched the Jetsons as a kid!

I feel like I’m reading about the “Gold Rush” period in the early American history. Or maybe I should call the current phenomenon the “Silicon Rush”. I wonder what Anthropologists in the future would say about our generation and our time. We are a people who would walk by the same human beings day after day without making any attempt at reaching out (see this other blog about “familiar strangers“), and yet we feel so free to publish our thoughts, our multimedia creations. Never before was there such a wealth of documentation of people’s lives, ideas, opinions, interests and tastes.  It’s as if we’re starved to share about ourselves and yet do not have the courage to be in other people’s lives or to open up and allow others in our own lives.

Nevertheless, I’m happy about our technological advances. Personally speaking, I’d love to create some quality children’s programs if I have the time and talent.


Say It With Six Words…Or Less


Wire magazine November issue published a list of “short stories with six words or less”:

I have some inspirations of my own:

For sale: brand new engagement ring.

She chose not to live forever.

The couple refused to be comforted.

The prodigal son’s train was late.

One glance was worth the eternity.

Her priority changed since Dad died.

Mark marks Mark’s mark for Mark.

You Say Beso I Say Kiss


My daughter M goes to a daycare run by a woman who’s Cuban. When I go there at the end of the day, Carmen the caretaker would say to M, “Beso,” and M would lean forward and kiss her goodbye. Having been brought up in a traditional non-demonstrative Chinese family, I never thought of teaching her the word: kiss. So one day when we got home I thought I’d try out the new Spanish word I learned. I said to M, “B-a-a-z-z-i-l”. She just looked at me the way French people look at tourists brutally murdering their language.

“Sounds like ‘basil’,” my husband said.

“That’s what it sounded like,” I said.

I tried again. And she continued to stand there staring at me.

If she could express it, she would probably say, “You don’t really know how to say it, do you?”

Maybe I inherited my linguistic ability from my mother. My parents used to own an oriental grocery store, and all sorts of people including Filipinos, Vietnamese, and anyone who liked oriental food as well as Chinese went there. One day, while my sister Carol was home from college, a woman brought her grocery to the checkout counter in the store. Not Chinese – probably Filipino or Vietnamese, since she communicated with my mother in English. As my mother had a friendly exchange with this woman, this is what my sister Carol heard:

“One dollar?” She asked like she discovered a treasure.

“No. Three dollars,” answered my mother.

“Three dollars, no cents?” The woman became quite excited.

“Three dollars, no cents,” said my mother, smiling.

“Three dollars, no cents!” The woman laughed like they were sharing a secret.

“Three dollars, no cents!” My mother said, also laughing.

Carol was very puzzled by this point. After the woman left, she asked my mother what was so interesting about “three dollars and no cents”. My mother slowly pronounced: “Three daughters. No sons.”

Just Show Up?


Heard over the weekend that Woody Allen supposedly once said, “90% of life is showing up.” Very clever. Except the quote is incorrect. I checked the almighty Internet, and actually he said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” In either case it’s much better than “I’m such a good lover because I practice a lot on my own.”
Anyway, showing up is the first step of success, but eighty percent is a little overrated I think. When I was in the third grade, my father dropped me off in the morning abacus class taught by one of the teachers in the school. Since we lived practically within a 3-minute walking distance from the school, natually I was late every morning. I’d walk into the packed stadium and squeeze into a seat near the entrance, otherwise I’d step on more people’s toes than necessary. The teacher would be reading off a long chain of numbers, +, -, multiply, etc. And then he’d ask people to raise their hands to announce their answers. It seemed everyone else knew how to use the abacus already. They must have learned the techniques during the first half of the classes that I missed.

One day my mother decided to test what I learned. She asked me to sum up a list of numbers. As she read each number, I pushed the beads on the abacus to show the number. And then she’d read another number, and I’d clear off the previous number to “count” the next number. In the end, I ended up with the last number she read. After this, I was finally relieved of going to the early morning sardine class to listen to people reading off long chains of numbers. I didn’t actually learn how to use the abacus until 5th grade with my homeroom teacher. So much for showing up.

I like this one: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

The Starbucks Culture


The CDs on the display shelves strategically placed next to the check-out line have long been a familiar sight. But what’s this…a table with artfully displayed copies of a new book, a sign encouraging the Starbucks customers to look for this book in local bookstores, and bookmarks with a brief description of the plot and discussion topics relevant to the book. I guess it shouldn’t seem too out of place for me. After all, I met my husband at an art show in a cafe (not Starbucks), and I’ve heard of musicians gigging at the cafe around the corner from where I used to live. The ancient Chinese talk politics in tea houses decorated with traditional Chinese paintings and calligraphy, and the Japanese had geisha’s songs and dances in their tea houses, too. It is then not too surprising that the western coffee houses also present themselves as the ushers of fine taste. And why not? Judging from people I meet in these places, drinking a cup of Joe is usually not an end in itself; rather, people with their cafe mocha or latte are engrossed in their books and newspapers, with legs crossed British style or curling up on the eggplant colored sofa. Drinking a favorite drink, listening to music, and reading are perfect companions. And Starbucks has narrowed down the choices for its customers.

Affiliate marketing after all is very popular these days. We trust the suggestions of someone we already like. The hair products my hairdresser recommended tend to be the ones I reach for on the store shelves. Starbucks likewise has boosted CD sales and raised the profiles of lesser known musicians. It’s mutually beneficial for the cafe and the artists – in fact, for Starbucks customers as well. We don’t have to read the books they recommend. But at least we know before we pick up the books who the target audience is.