Archive for the ‘General Rambling’ Category

Reflections of a Decade: 9/11, Ten Years Later

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 10 years since the biggest historical event of our time. I know, I’m a little late to the 10th anniversary party here (if you can call it a party), but it took a little while to recover from the nearly non-stop coverage of the pre-10th anniversary to really reflect on where we are 10 years later.

On the fifth anniversary, I rescued my posts from September 11 and 12, 2011 from my old hand-edited journal and reposted them both in two posts here.

Looking back at them, I can’t believe that I wrote so well back then. I mean, how the heck did I pull the phrase, “Have nightmares of Godzilla disturbed my early-morning slumber?” out of the literary ether? I also went back through memory lane and dredged up Ryan Ozawa’s post from that day. I think there was something about that day that made poets of us all. Shock, anger, helplessness – strong emotions that create strong writing. Ryan’s introduction to his post that day said it all:

I woke up in a U.S. city that was about as far away from New York as one could get. And still, I was shaking. Those 4,968 miles were too close to home. Anywhere would have been, for a horror like that.

What was striking was how he describes how his then-three-year-old daughter Katie reacted to the utter horror on the tube. Of the three Ozawa children, she was the only one who lived through 9/11 (her two brothers were born since then). Katie is now a teenager, and has probably been exposed as a child to September 11 as a historical event numerous times since then.

Now, fast forward 10 years. Osama bin Laden is no more. Al-Qaeda, while still around, has lost some of its scare factor. The Iraq War is winding down. Afghanistan is still dangerous. The fear of global terrorism has given way to that of global economic collapse.

Yet, we live with the legacy every time we take off our shoes. Not when we come home each night, mind you, but when we go through security every time we go on a plane. I didn’t have the opportunity to get on a plane for about a year or two after 9/11, and it was quite a shock to see how stringent airport security had become. But since then we’ve returned to being able to travel where we want and have taken increased security in stride…for the most part. Mind you, though, a lot of the more inconvenient parts of the TSA experience came about not from 9/11 itself, but from subsequent attempts…from the shoe bomber, to liquids, to the underwear bomber. Still, even though TSA makes it quite hard to do so, I still try to travel carry-on only when I can.

We see the legacy of 9/11 whenever large numbers of people are gathered in one place. We see it in increased security presence. We see it in more intense questioning in cross-border traffic between the United States and Canada. Sadly, we see it when people of South Asian or Middle East extraction are held and questioned because people saw something that wasn’t there. And we see it when our young men and women are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, leaving behind spouses and family to take the fight to militants.

But more importantly, we see the legacy of 9/11 when police and fire personnel put themselves into harm’s way, with little thought of their own welfare, to save others. We see it when the people of other countries still look to the United States as a model of political governance, and, as many have in the Middle East, uproot their own governments in an attempt to emulate what we have. And most important of all, we see it when Americans go about their lives, knowing that the events of September 11, 2011, may have shaken us, may have stirred us, but have not destroyed us.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and for better or worse, September 11 reminded us quite clearly of that fact. In a way, everyday is 9/11.

Happiness is: Hot Running Water

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

If ever you get complacent about life’s conveniences, try this: Since January 9, my mom and I have taken a hot shower only three times each.

And, no, we’re not smelling like ripe Limburger right about now. We have been able to keep up with hygiene, but not in a very comfortable manner. A badly leaking hot water pipe under our house forced us to take baths the old-fashioned way…out of a bucket, with hot water heated on a stove.

I’m not sure how it started, but I had noticed that our hot water would seem to run out quickly. We first got wind of what was going on when the gas company called us to discuss a high gas bill. At first, Mom didn’t think anything of it…she had used the oven recently and knew that our gas usually spikes when that happens. She didn’t expect the bill to be 10 times normal.

Further inspection found a hidden leak in our pipes. I also noticed warmth in the floor in my room, under which the hot water pipe runs. Put it all together and…my first thought was, “No way am I taking cold showers each morning.”

So, I was bathing myself out of a three-gallon bucket every morning for the better part of a month. I would add cold water to a potful of boiling hot water, then use a small scoop to pour the water over myself. I eventually ended up learning how to make efficient use of the hot water…I could wash my whole body and still have at least a basinful of hot water to shave with.

I was able to take a few hot showers…once when we left the hot water running so the plumber could diagnose the problem, and twice when we were off island for the weekend at my grandma’s house.

After what seemed like interminable delays, the plumber was finally able to fix the problem today, by rerouting the hot water around our house under the baseboard. My mom already celebrated with her first hot shower in a while, and I’ll get to do the same early tomorrow morning.

I guess I can look forward to a much lower water bill than normal this month.

So Much for Power, Strength, and Stamina

Saturday, January 6th, 2007

So I was reading the letters to the editor in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin yesterday morning and suddenly found myself in ’07—1907. This letter is short, so I’m going to quote it in its entirety:

It is God’s blessing that men are stronger, more powerful and free from time-consuming personal care. Therefore, our men’s tasks involve all of the above endowments and differ from women’s tasks.

Full-time or part-time makes no difference. Power, strength and stamina answer the requirement of a wage gap.

The ironic thing was, I was reading this while walking from Starbucks to my workplace, where men and women are assembled together, doing different duties, but pretty much doing the same thing physically: sitting on their glutei maximi and tapping on computer keyboards using nothing more than fingers and wrists.

So much for “power, strength, and stamina” as an argument defending a gender wage gap. Next?

230 Years Old, and Still True Today

Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

I woke up this morning to NPR listening to Morning Edition’s annual reading of the Declaration of Independence.

When I hear it now, I can’t help but think that certain passages ring true to some extent these days under the current leadership we’re under, and that some (but, thankfully, not all) of these passages would hold true if instead of the “present King of Great Britain”, it were the present President of the United States and/or his political party in Congress.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good…

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries…

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither…

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury…

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences…

Listen to it, read it…and work to ensure that no one should ever have to declare independence from us. Eternal vigilance is truly the price of freedom.

The Least We Could Have Done Was Send Flowers

Monday, March 20th, 2006

It’s been three years since our destiny became intertwined with that of Iraq. Says the Borowitz Report, the least we could have done was send flowers.

Of course, considering that it was a shotgun wedding…

I would post more, but…not tonight. I’ve got a headache.

Which Would You Choose? (UPDATED)

Saturday, March 11th, 2006

Originally found at Firedoglake, here’s a dilemma that’ll really make you think, and which has relevance given the current state of politics today. It was put in a simpler manner than this, but I’m going to take dramatic license with it:

You are a firefighter in a major U.S. city. You are a family person, married, and a regular attendee at your local church and a staunch follower of your faith. You and your spouse have also been trying to have children unsuccessfully for about a year. One day you get the call: A fire has broken out at your local university, and it’s a big one. A three-alarm fire. Your truck races to the scene to find nothing short of an inferno.

You are told that the fire had started on one end of the building, but the laboratory on the other end of the building has not yet been touched. It houses a major research experiment into in vitro fertilization. The university has spent years on what would be the next advance in fertility treatments, and its loss would be catastrophic.

Suddenly, you are told that there is someone still in the building. One of the researchers, unable to find childcare, had brought her two year old daughter with her. She was called out of the lab to a meeting, and it was in that meeting that the fire alarm had gone off. Apparently in the rush to evacuate no one had thought to take the child out of the building as well. You are assigned to go into the building and get the experimental embryos and the child out safely. The mother pleads with you to bring her daughter out safely. She shows you a picture of her child. She is as cute as a button. But business is business. In you go.

When you go in, you find that the flames are at the door to the lab, and the building is beginning to lose structural integrity. The fire is starting to burn through the door. Once you get in the lab, you have time to take only one of them with you. Which would you try to save, the embryos or the child?

Update: Changed the scenario slightly to give “you” more incentive one way…

Where Do I Stand?

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

Remodeling Real Soon

Sunday, March 5th, 2006

After I started my blogs with Movable Type, what I realized is that MT relies a lot on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). As a result, I learned my CSS by trial and error, changing things in the stylesheet template and wondering, “OK, what does this do…oops!” Eventually, I started doing more reading on CSS (read: learning how to do things the right way). In my self-studies I came across these two books by arguably the leading expert on CSS, Eric Meyer: Eric Meyer on CSS and More Eric Meyer on CSS.

I cannot recommend those books highly enough. Meyer’s examples push the limit of what can be done with HTML and CSS combined…flowing text around curves, positioning, cool translucency effects, and effects that would take ages to accomplish with table-based design.

Armed with that knowledge, right now I’m working on a “from the bottom up” re-design of Freshly Squeezed. It’s gonna take me a while to work on the stylesheets and templates, but I hope to have it up and running real soon, maybe by the end of the month.

iPod by Apple…Packaging by Microsoft?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

I’m sure my resident Mac nut friends Eric and John will kick my ass for suggesting this, but…what if good ol’ Bill Gates had a hand in designing the otherwise simplistic iPod packaging? The answer might (not) surprise you.

(thanks Linkmeister)

Still Got It…Actually, Never Lost It…

Monday, February 27th, 2006

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!
Could You Pass 8th Grade Math?

Ah, this brings back memories. 8th grade math was good to me…I’ve still got my state Mathcounts trophies somewhere. Too bad they didn’t give bonus points for speed.

Now, if only I could have managed my classes better at King, I would probably still be teaching 8th grade math.

(via Linkmeister)