09 December, 2007
Since I arrived three days ago, I've spent virtually all my time with my dad. It's amazing that even in his current state, he can still manage to infuriate me. He just has that special skill to be disagreeable. But never mind my conflicted relationship with dad. I must see him through and make sure his remaining days are as comfortable as can be.
Our days involve daily visits to the hospital for radiation treatment. Mother and I try to take him on daily walks in the park with his dog Patjiang, and special trips to Danshui, a seaside town within an easy commute on the Taipei Metro. Our Friday trip was especially meaningful for my parents since Dansui was where they went to boarding school and got married. I wish time could have stopped for my parents while we were at their alma mater.
During this Taipei trip I'm witnessing an interesting donnybrook between the pro-Taiwan independence political parties (greens) versus the Nationalists (blue). The greens, who control the government, unilaterally renamed the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (TDMH). The blues, naturally against everything green, have been protesting the move. Further, since the blues control the Taiwanese Legislature and the Taipei City Hall, refuse to harmonize the name of the metro station that services the TDMH. IMHO, since Chiang was a fairly despicable dictator and didn't even like living in Taiwan, I'm all for the renaming of the memorial and the metro station. But what do I know, I'm just an American in Taipei . . . .
23 November, 2007
Last night's gathering will also be the last dinner party here before we move out and transfer ownership of this property to the buyer. During the meal, a host of different feelings surged through my head. Many of them were good memories -- our dinner parties, BBQs, friends over to watch rugby matches, etc. We had a lot of fun here.
There is no point in recalling the bad memories.
On the upside, our Franco-American Thanksgiving meal was a smashing success. Our five French friends thoroughly enjoyed this most American event and left with their stomachs full of turkey and fine California and Oregon wine. However, Julien's jello shots topped the cake. Les Garcons are learning the finest American culture!
07 October, 2007
I didn't know Zack Tellier very well. By the time this skinny kid from New Hampshire arrived on the American University campus, I was already on my way out. We played rugby for the AU Rugby Club for a year, but we never talked about anything of any importance.
He was a gentle soul. But also I knew Zack as a rugby player, and as a hard-headed and intense young man who lacked directions but took every opportunity to live life to the fullest.
On Wednesday, words that Zack was KIA in Afghanistan hit me like a ton of bricks. He wasn't my best friend, but he was a part of the AU Rugby Club family and he gave his life serving our country. We had to pay our final respect to Zack, and to the Tellier family.
Chris Rutyna, Dave Radcliffe, and I drove up to Massachusetts on Thursday night. We attended the wake in Falmouth, MA but had to drive back to DC on Friday.
I'm happy we went. But I wasn't sure how I felt about going to the service of a friend - the first among my college friends to leave this world. We conveyed our thoughts to Sara Tellier, Zack's wife. But I found myself lacking words when I needed my wits the most. Seeing Zack's coffin laying in the funeral home affected me a great deal more than I thought it would.
As we pulled out of the service and toasted a drink in Zack's honor, a thick New England fog fell upon us and escorted us the entire drive back to Washington, DC. I like to think that's Zack saying his farewell to us and seeing us home safely. He was that kind of person.
In Zack's memory.
14 September, 2007
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
4 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
fresh ground pepper
1. In a wide, shallow sauté pan over high heat, warm the Olive Oil and the Butter; add the Shrimp and Garlic and sauté quickly for about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the lemon juice, paprika, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings to your liking.
3. Transfer to a warmed serving dish, sprinkle with the parsley and serve at once.
13 September, 2007
On the other hand, I interviewed a PAC manager for my office today. I know it's just how business is done in DC, but I'm still mulling over her claim that political donations are"clean, good, and contribute to the political process." Perhaps political fundraising contribute to further partisan political purposes, but it certainly doesn't serve the greater interest of the republic.
Then again, what's the difference between Hillary Clinton collecting $3 million a night versus the local school board candidate raising $500 through a bake sale?
09 September, 2007
The Eagles made their best showing in the World Cup today. While losing to Le XV de la Rose, the Americans made their most committed display against a top 10 side.
I wish we can stop being content by making a good showing against the world's rugby powers. But I am happy today.
07 September, 2007
I always knew this year's tournament in France is fast-approaching, but I always had other matters occupying my life. However, today is the kickoff match between France and Argentina, to be played in Stade de France in Saint-Denis! I am very excited and wish I can attend matches in person. Nonetheless, with work and school taking up my time and my money, I'll have to be content with watching the matches on TV.
While the first match is to be played at 21:00 Paris time, I can't escape work at 3pm DC time to watch the match. I'll be catching the replay at 21:00 DC time at home.
The wait is killing me .....
31 August, 2007
On August 30 we took the yellow dot trail, which is also called the Tusten Mountain Trail, and went for a walk in the woods. The path took us to the summit of the hill (approx. 1,100 ft) and back down to the Delaware.
The views were great and the river was refreshing. But the best part was the absolute silence of the woods. For the hours of my hike, except for my own footsteps and Max's joyful rumps through the bushes, I got to enjoy a quiet walk in the Catskills.
28 August, 2007
Day 2 – Got up and took mom's dogs for long walks. Procured a loaf of onion bread, hot Italian sausage, and apricot rugelach from the Collicoon farmers market and ate man-meal #2. Went and watched the local youth soccer team practice.
Day 3 – Did absolutely nothing. Read a little, visited PB, whom I haven't seen since he left Leesburg, Virginia more than a year ago. Got home and was happy to see J Corveau and his old lady Laura. This was the day of reunions with long-lost friends. Now past 10:30pm – drinking bourbon and writing in me journal.
23 August, 2007
It has been great to have a little of time and space to do my own things. It's tempting to dig into the fall semester's reading ahead of time, but I'm going to resist that impulse and just enjoy the relative free time I have these two weeks (aside from work during the day).
I was going to hop on the bike and truck out to Arlington to get some tacos tonight, but thought I google the subject and found Taco Pepito's Bakery in Adams Morgan. For Angelenos who grew up on roadside taco stands and trucks, DC offers very few options. What most people here refer to as "Mexican" are just "Tex Mex." Some have also referred to "Cal Mex," but as a Californian, I've never heard of Cal Mex.
Anyway, Pepito's is pretty close to the real thing. I got a carne asada taco and a lengua taco, and washed the food down with a lemonade. The price is a little high at $8 and change, but since I don't have many other options within easy metro or walking distance, I'll happily take Pepito's.
I just wish DC is a more civilized culinary town. While this city has plenty of highly priced but mediocre restaurants to serve them Gucci-ass lobbyists and lawyers, it doesn't do everyday comfort food very well. DC needs more street food!
On the walk home, I saw this silly little buggy. It actually fits four regular size people but it's only slightly longer than a scooter.
Netflix finally sent me Das Leben Der Anderen (The Lives of Others). It was a fantastic movie! I really enjoyed the subtlety of HGW XX/7's changes throughout the film.
21 August, 2007
20 August, 2007
I took a good spill on the way to Flint Hill, Virginia yesterday.
As far as falling off a bike, at least it was a lovely spot, surrounded by the Blue Ridge, vineyards, hawks circling above, and just a beautiful silence. I just sat next to my bike, laughed, and enjoyed the scenery.
It was great to get out of DC. After weeks of writing papers and studying for my final exams, it was refreshing to see Virginia's mountains. I started at 11am in DC and rode through Route 50 to Fairfax County, only stopping at my favorite Vietnamese baguette shop to fill up for a couple sandwiches. After that stop, I had no destination in mind and just rode aimlessly through Manassas Battlefield, down Lee Highway, past Thoroughfare Gap, up to the Plains, and down to Orlean via Route 55 and Leeds Manor Road.
While I sat in front of the tiny Orlean Post Office enjoying the sun and making the day's entry in my journal , an Orlean woman still in her riding boots suggested that I give Flint Hill's Griffin Tavern a go. After my soft dismount on the way to the pub, I had meself a pint and a sandwich in Flint Hill.
Nothing to complain about for the day. But I'll have to visit the Red Truck Bakery in Orlean next time.
17 August, 2007
16 August, 2007
New places to visit and things to do:
- Krakow before it becomes another Prague
- NZ to see Maori haka and the All Blacks
- Sunrise on Mt. Jade, Taiwan
- Moscow, St. Pete, and Russia before someone figures out how to police the country
- Beirut before it's bombed again
- Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu before too many yuppy hotels are built
- Paris anytime
- Hike the pilgrim trail to Santiago de Compostela
- Cardiff and Paris for 6 Nations rugby matches
- Fes to visit its Medina and Mellah
- Mendoza just to drink more malbec
- Travel to Cape Horn and Antartica by sea
- Upper Quebec to see polar bears
- Wagner Festival in Bavaria to see the entire "Ring" cycle
- Pow Wows
- One more buffet meal at Caesar's Palace, Vegas
- Actually finish reading "War and Peace"
- Motorcycle Che Guevara's trail from BA - Patagonia - Chile - Peru - Venezuela (especially if I can find a Norton Commando in working order)
- Learn how to take decent photos
- Find good meatloaf in DC
I wish I can simply travel. I still can, but need to finish my education and figure out a way to fulfill my commitments to my family. My parents aren’t getting any younger and I need to contribute to their well-being and happiness. Further, I rescued Missouri 10 years ago when she was a pup. She’s going with me wherever I travel to. Aside from that, as soon as my condo in DC sells, I am going somewhere (to Brussels for a MA, perhaps Paris and Singapore for INSEAD’s MBA, and at least to San Miguel de Allende to learn how to make molé).
As for my almost 10 years working in politics and government, I am a pessimist by experience but still an optimist at heart. I know how Capitol Hill works, and have contributed to its negative nature by working on campaigns and in congressional operations. But what democracy isn’t factional, chaotic, and self-serving by nature? At least Sulla no longer proscribes his enemies after winning a campaign. With that thought I still keep my faith in a well-managed democracy.
Lastly, I’m a political moderate by policy, but regard very liberal and very conservative individuals as my most trustworthy friends. Don’t ask . . . I’m still trying to figure that one out.
14 August, 2007
I loved this song when it came out. It was 1983 and I was only 10. But I never knew it was about the Cold War.
Here are the Lyrics.
Hast du etwas Zeit für mich
Dann singe ich ein Lied für dich
Von 99 Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Denkst du vielleicht g'rad an mich
Dann singe ich ein Lied für dich
Von 99 Luftballons
Und dass so was von so was kommt
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Hielt man für Ufos aus dem All
Darum schickte ein General
'ne Fliegerstaffel hinterher
Alarm zu geben, wenn es so wär
Dabei war'n da am Horizont
Nur 99 Luftballons
Jeder war ein großer Krieger
Hielten sich für Captain Kirk
Das gab ein großes Feuerwerk
Die Nachbarn haben nichts gerafft
Und fühlten sich gleich angemacht
Dabei schoss man am Horizont
Auf 99 Luftballons
99 Kriegsminister -
Streichholz und Benzinkanister -
Hielten sich für schlaue Leute
Witterten schon fette Beute
Riefen Krieg und wollten Macht
Mann, wer hätte das gedacht
Dass es einmal soweit kommt
Wegen 99 Luftballons
99 Jahre Krieg
Ließen keinen Platz für Sieger
Kriegsminister gibt's nicht mehr
Und auch keine Düsenflieger
Heute zieh' ich meine Runden
Seh' die Welt in Trümmern liegen
Hab' 'nen Luftballon gefunden
Denk' an dich und lass' ihn fliegen
Have you some time for me,
then I'll sing a song for you
about 99 balloons
on their way to the horizon.
If you're perhaps thinking about me right now
then I'll sing a song for you
about 99 balloons
and that such a thing comes from such a thing.
on their way to the horizon
People think they're UFO's from space
so a general sent up
a fighter squadron after them
Sound the alarm if it's so
but there on the horizon were
only 99 balloons.
99 fighter jets
Each one's a great warrior
Thought they were Captain Kirk
then came a lot of fireworks
the neighbors didn't understand anything
and felt like they were being provoked
so they shot at the horizon
at 99 balloons.
99 war ministers
matches and gasoline canisters
They thought they were clever people
already smelled a nice bounty
Called for war and wanted power.
Man, who would've thought
that things would someday go so far
because of 99 balloons.
99 years of war
left no room for victors.
There are no more war ministers
nor any jet fighters.
Today I'm making my rounds
see the world lying in ruins.
I found a balloon,
think of you and let it fly (away).
10 August, 2007
I posted this pic because I liked the photo - probably because of the woman, how she looked in her dress, the black and white background, and that she's walking her dog while wearing a fine outfit. But then I looked closer and she's walking a . . . . . piglet. . .
26 July, 2007
I've been to his home/museum in Santiago de Chile and I enjoyed reading his autobiography. However, poems have always been challenging for me. I'll have to mull over this one a little more.
The Brazilian Girls, a New York City band, set the Neruda poem to a song. Have a listen.
Me gustas cuando callas
Me gustas cuando callas porque estás
y me oyes desde lejos, y mi voz no te toca.
Parece que los ojos se te hubieran volado
y parece que un beso te cerrara la boca.
emerges de las cosas, llena del alma mía.
Mariposa de sueño, te pareces a mi
y te pareces a la palabra melancolía.
Me gustas cuando callas y estás
Y me oyes desde lejos, y mi voz no te alcanza:
déjame que me calle con el silencio tuyo.
Déjame que te hable también con tu silencio
Tu silencio es de estrella, tan lejano y sencillo.
Me gustas cuando callas porque estás
Distante y dolorosa
Una palabra entonces, una sonrisa bastan,
Y estoy alegre, alegre de que no sea cierto.
I Like You when you're quiet
I Like You when you're quiet: it is as though you were absent,
and you hear me from far away and my voice doesn't touch you.
It seems as though you eyes had flown away
and it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth.
As all things are filled with my soul
you emerge from the things, filled with my soul.
You are like my soul, a butterfly of dream,
and you resemble the word Melancholy.
I like for you to be quiet, and you seem far away.
It sounds as though you were lamenting, a butterfly cooing like a dove.
And you hear me from far away, and my voice does not reach you:
Let me come to be still in your silence.
And let me talk to you with your silence
that is bright as a lamp, simple as a ring.
You are like the night, with its stillness and constellations.
Your silence is that of a star, as remote and candid.
I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
distant and full of sorrow as though you had died.
One word then, one smile, is enough.
And I am happy, happy that it's not true.
23 July, 2007
The rental agency surprised me with a Ford Mustang convertible instead of my requested compact car. It's nice to drive something that is topless and with a little bit of umph. But I had to spend a lot more money on fuel. From this photo, one can tell Missouri really didn't like flying at 70 mph with the top down!
The weekend to visit mom in upstate New York was a blast! While I put in 12 hour days writing my papers and studying for my finance class, I got to see mom and took long walks with her and the dogs through the meandering countryside. I had the most fantastic dinner at the Main Street Cafe in Narrowsburg, NY. It was calf liver with lightly fried onions. Mom had the Chilean Sea Bass (to my disapproval), and my sister had a lamb stew. We topped it off a bottle of syrah from Bridlewood in Santa Ynez, CA. It was a lovely meal.
18 July, 2007
"Cogswell himself designed each fountain and each is unique. Atop the DC fountain is a water crane; in the center are two entwined dolphins."
"The Cogswell Fountain in DC no longer has water, although there is a city water fountain located a few feet away. Given the notoriously poor quality of DC's water, one wonders whether Cogswell's scheme to get Washingtonians to drink water for their health is such a great idea."
"NOTE: For many years, DC had a Cogswell Society. The master of ceremonies at their dinner was known as the "lead Crane". He would offer a toast to Temperance; the proper response (with drink in hand) was "I'll drink to that!""
05 July, 2007
03 July, 2007
"Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?"
"Certainly, monsieur." The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
"Gosh, that's certainly a drink," said Leiter.
Bond laughed. "When I'm...er...concentrating," he explained, "I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I can think of a good name."
-Ian Fleming, Casino Royale
02 July, 2007
28 June, 2007
22 June, 2007
29 May, 2007
This video of Jack was taken about two weeks before he passed away. He was still healthy and very playful for a 14 year old. I'm thankful that he got to go to Wagtime everyday for the last two weeks and was happy up until the very end.
27 May, 2007
26 May, 2007
19 May, 2007
20 March, 2007
14 March, 2007
However, I was disgusted with this AIPAC participant's offer to raise $3 million in exchange for a photo op with my candidate. I know the public thinks politicians are all for sale. But if that's what they want running the country, they'll get what they paid for.
I enjoyed today's Eugene Robinson's op-ed on Barack Obama. I'm not sold on his candidacy yet but I appreciate Obama's sense of ideal and his mission to transform America's politics. I hope he continues with his brand of civil discourse. Maybe he'll make the public think government service is once again honorable.
03 March, 2007
26 January, 2007
- Thomas Folwer from the Quiet American
12 January, 2007
Personally I am very frustration with the violence that is taking place in Shaw. I've live in Shaw for almost six years. Despite Lt. Neal's statistical analysis on the downward trend of crime in the PSA by 24%, I feel like I'm living in more fear today than two years ago. Walking home from the Metro tonight, I found myself looking for solid objects, like cars and trees, that can shield me from incoming bullets.
According to the police, many of the crimes, including auto thefts and car breakins, are being committed by some very young felons. While I appreciate the U.S. Attorney's focus on rehabilitating the youthful offenders, I hope that the MPD will focus its resources on first stopping the crimes in the neighborhood.
11 January, 2007
10 January, 2007
Since '05, my politics have not changed much (I'm still a moderate Democrat. I'm sure my friends in the caucus will still think of me as a DINO). But having spent a year in Los Angeles, I gladly returned to Washington, DC and now desperately want to return to work on the Hill.
I suppose there are a few factors in my change of heart and new-found desire to get back to Capitol Hill.
1) We're in the majority now! Along with an entire generation of Democratic staffers, I have never been in the majority. My fading memory of the last Democratic House majority was the sorry state of the Democratic Caucus in 1995. All we had to respond to Mr. Gingrich's Contract with America were these signs that said GOP=Get Old People. They were mildly amusing but hardly worth bragging about.
2) I got stung by my hasty move to California. More than a year ago, I picked up and moved myself, my girlfriend and our two dogs to Los Angeles. I got a lucrative job at a PR firm and thought we'd both enjoy being out of DC and back in our hometown. But I ended up hating my PR job and quit after just four months. We spent the rest of our time in LA hating our apartment, and doing and hating our telemarketing job for the Hollywood Bowl and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The only thing I like about LA was the food. The weather was even to hot for my taste (I know people will think I'm crazy to dislike summer in January).
3) I realized that I don't hate Capitol Hill or politics. I just grew out of my old job. I enjoy the friends I made on the Hill. I'm not naive and I'm sure I will have things to bitch about once I get back to the Hill. But I have found a renewed vigor for politics and desperately want to go back to the Hill. Only if I can find a LD job.
It was exciting to see a new Democratic House of Representatives. Not that I agree with everything the new majority leadership does, but because I believe we can be better than the last majority party.
However, after three hopeful job December interviews with Cantwell, Perlmutter and Sestak, I still don't have an offer on the table. I know better than to be upset. Afterall, members are still dealing with organizing their offices and working on the "6 for 2006" legislation on the House floor this week. But it is discouraging to know that I have the requisite experience to do the job, have had good interviews, yet still have nothing to show for.
In the meantime, I'm still temping. It brings in income to pay the mortgage, but I feel like doing meaningless work is sucking the soul out of me. It's terrible to spend the day disliking what you do at work.
The weather this winter has been alarmingly warm. It's nice but it's not like PEPCO is cutting me any slack. Despite barely using the heat and having energysaver bulbs in my floorlamp, my electricity bill this month is still over $100!