Day 4-5: America so Plain

After a day of dreadful driving, all 623 miles of it, I arrived at wonderful KCK aka Kansas City Kansas.  Because apparently there is a Kansas City Missouri which is of course more bourgeoisie and a lot more like a metropolitan center.

But oh man, America is so plain, and by plain I mean the Great Plains. With its never-ending rolling greens, it is as if the entire western Kansas is a huge open golf course with bison prancing around. Other than that, well you have no where to hide from the harsh winds, which moves so fast people have thought to put wind turbans up and take advantage of that. It moved the larger trucks left and right and left a new driver like me sweaty with angst.

However, once I hit Topeka and Lawrence, the scene shifted. There was actually trees, I know OMG. And the climate became more humid and wet. Marsh lands and river became more prevalent as well. The drive made me appreciate even more the tenacity and drive of those people who had moved from the east coast to the west coast per-continental railroad. Not only do they have to deal with the crushing wind and boredom of the great plains, but the Rockies in Colorado, and then also the arid lands of Utah and Nevada before finally reaching California. No wonder some of them stopped and just settled along the way.

Other than the Jesus sign over 10 miles, there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary in Kansas. Oh wait, there is. My first Asian family sighting since I left home five days ago was in Hays, Kansas. All American city of Hays, Kansas. I was filling my  gas, and there it was  in a Kansas plated SUV, a full-flesh Asian family. It made my entire trip that much better.

Alas, I would like to thank my friend for being from Kansas, it was so wonderful to see her and let her show me a different side of Kansas City, not to mention the BBQ at Oklahoma Joe’s. Definitely worthy of the title “Best I’ve Ever Had”. It was just so energizing to see someone I knew after thousands of lonely miles, I love her for that and I really appreciate the time spent.

If I have to ever drive across the country again, which I probably do driving back home, I would do it alone. Its so much loneliness, I started talking to my Tepig. My hopes that intense sharing on social media would cure the loneliness, but nope sorry it doesn’t work like that. No matter how many likes you get and how many comments, it’s still just you in  car across the beautiful terrain from sea to shining sea.

Day 2-3: America so Beautiful

The second day of driving gets me exactly 1,000 miles from home in mile high Denver. Population- definitely a lot more than all the parts of Utah I drove through.

I must admit, even though Utah is breathtaking in its own right. I would not lay my eggs there if I were a hen. But Colorado in comparison, just might be the most beautiful state I’ve ever drove through. It’s so beautiful, I decided to stay 2 days here. I mean I don’t kid around with my time.

No wonder this is one of the fittest states and cities in the USA. I woke up at 7 :00 AM to check out the Red Rock Amphitheater and there were already hundreds of people jumping up and down the stairs and biking around as if strenuous activities that breaks down their knees and ankles will help prolong their life. I am sure it does, why else would so many people be out there this early in the morning.

Mt. Evans in nearby Idaho Springs was even better. Supposedly the highest peak in the nearby Rockies, though I have my reservations. It was so cold up in the thin air of 14,900 ft, I had to burst out my old monk robes cause it was the only heavy clothing I got in the trunk. But the view was wow, just wow. If I could marrying into this state, I definitely would.

This section of the road really made me realize just how beautiful America is, how vast the land, how different the Eco-systems it contains, and more importantly how well this wonderful nature is kept (at least the parts I saw in colorado). We are very fortunate to live in a nation whose economy is not solely based on the exploitation of our natural resources, though we do a good job of exploiting our own citizens and other nation’s resources in the name of more nobel pursuits. But man, God sure did bless America.

Driving through the twists and turns of the mountains reminded me of the tough circumstances that the early settlers faced as they wagoned their ways from the east coast through the Rockies and into Utah, then Nevada and California and so on. Even with the amenities of the 21st century, it’s still a tough stretch of land. Much respect to those who travelled the roads before me.

Funny thing though, since I left my home in SoCal, I have yet to see any other Asian homies this entire trip. Not at the gas station, not at the attractions, and not at the restaurants I ate at. Maybe I just took the wrong turns or maybe not. I don’t know.

Next stop Kansas City, i am not even sure if that’s in Kansas or Missouri but I bet I will see lots of great things there.

Day 1: America So Big

End of day one left me in Richfield, UT.

Population, a lot more than Swarthmore and a lot less than 10,000. Driving was fun for like the first 500 miles, then your eyes starts giving out.

525 miles later, I stopped driving. Only because the 1st quarter of the spurs game was starting and couldn’t miss that for a few more miles.

Gonna attempt an exercise in replication of this “excessive sharing” thing that people with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, snapcheat, and whatever else there is out tend to do on a daily to yearly basis. So far, I am seeing that the sense of acknowledgement and recognizing you get from other people swiping at a screen is pretty cool but fleeting. And as much as you share it don’t make you any closer to any body, at the end of the day you are still alone on the road heading towards your destination.

Btw, America is hella big.

XC: The Great American Road Trip

Tomorrow morning I will drive from my home Southern California all the way back to Swarthmore College, whether I make it there or not. Well stay tune to the blog for more updates.

This is an exercise in replication of the Great American Tradition, lugging oneself from sea to shining sea, in the confines of ones’ own gas-guzzler. Hopefully everything goes well, and I get to live my American dream.

First stop, somewhere in Utah.

The Business of Sports: An Ugly Affair

Being an avid sports fan from Los Angeles and an alleged Swarthmore student,  this post was inevitable.

TMZ first reported Sterling’s supposed racist diatribe to mistress/girl-friend V. Stiviano, which if verified might cement his position as the dumbest owner in the NBA. Per TMZ, Sterling allegedly said, “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that (instagram)…and not to bring them to my games.” The audio lasts about nine minutes, including all kinds of outdated philosophy reminiscent of early plantation politics.

But the most important question is why now? This isn’t a moment of lapse of judgment, Sterling has a long history of private vices. In 2006, “The U.S. Department of Justice sued Clippers owner and real estate mogul Donald Sterling for housing discrimination, claiming he refused to rent apartments to blacks and families with children,” according to The Associated Press. But all of this was brushed aside soon enough, when three years later, Sterling, “agreed to pay a record $2.725 million to settle [the] allegations,” according to the LA Times.  We would have seen it on Twitter, if he had not spent millions to cover it up (and if Twitter was actually invented). More recently in 2010, former LA Lakers great Elgin Baylor filed a wrongful termination suit against Sterling for exhibiting racism in the workplace. During deposition, Baylor spoke about Sterling’s ‘plantation mentality,’ alleging that in the 1990s, the owner rejected a coaching candidate, Jim Brewer, because of race. Baylor quoted Sterling as saying: ‘Personally, I would like to have a white Southern coach coaching poor black players.’ per the LA Times. This was all part of public record and the league never denounced him, the players continue to take his money, his business partners (NBA and its other owners) shared his immense wealth, and the fans were loyally subsidizing his business.

But why now? Better late than never right? Not quite.

What TMZ reported on tape had been long-standing practice and strongly-held personal belief for decades now. But the situation has received so much attention in social media and prime time news that his business partners can no longer play “hush-hush” to his vile views and overlook the fact that it is a serious risk to their prosperous enterprise. After all, as much as I like to believe otherwise, the NBA is a business and always has been.

Upon closer examination, some of the other owners in the league (Sterling’s partners and cohorts), aren’t exactly  model citizens either.

Richard Devos, owner of the Orlando Magics, allegedly invested millions of dollars in anti-gay marriage initiatives, because gays “keep asking for favors” and “special treatment,” and marriage is “not vital to them, in my opinion.” per Orlando Sentinel.

Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers made his billions in the mortgage business, helping to pass along sub-prime loans to infamous thieves such as Countrywide, which then greased the derivatives that in part contributed to the economic crisis.

New owner of the Oklahoma City Thunders, Clay Bennett, got his billions through fracking, a practice that produces not only toxic drinking water but also irregular earthquakes. And when his business went bad, he simply left and the landowners out of their royalties.

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Russian billionaire and stylish oligarch, got his piggy bank started using political connections to grab billions in state-owned-assets for pennies when Russia first opened up to the world after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Last but definitely not least, you have slum-lord Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clippers, who refused to rent apartments to minorities because they “black tenants smell and attract vermin,” and “Mexicans sit around and drink all day” per LA Times.

This is just a short list of the 30 or so individuals who own and operate the league that I support with my viewership, who pay the players who I grew up idolizing and fantasizing about, and who made a business out of the sport that I loved for all of my life. And I am not going to kill myself over this, the NBA has done much good to counter balance the many illegitimate practices of its owners. Though the owners reaped in massive profits in the realms of billions each year, its local and international charity through NBA CARES, which is mostly promotional in purpose and operate on meager millions, has had a great impact on the world. If not through monetary help, then at least through spreading the sport of basketball through icons like Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutombo to two of the largest continents in the world.

Like most large global enterprises, the business of sports is an ugly affair, and most of the time the public is left in the dark or too occupied to care.

PS: I understand that all this evidence of bigotry was obtained in an invasion of Sterling’s privacy, which most of his critics decided to address until further information has been disclosed. I will conformed to the norm in this regard.

 

 

 

On Nice Guys and How to Break the Friendzone

Are you a nice guy? Do you suffer from being relegated to the friend-zone, every… single…time? You know, like that one time with that girl who you really liked but rejected you only to go out with some Ivy league protein powder addict who really didn’t care about her the way you did. He really isn’t her type and you somehow just know it.  But girls always seem to fall for those guys. Maybe nice guys really do finish last.

Hold up, I think there is a little problem here.

So as self-proclaimed “nice-guys”, y’all think that just because you spend time listening to her troubles, ask her about how she is feeling occasionally, and is there for her when she needs you warrants an escalation into a serious relationship? Well, if that was the case, then every true friend who has ever cared for and dedicated their time to you must have been in a relationship with you too. Wow, you must have been active. God forbid that a girl enjoys your friendship, but does not want to have sex with you.

But that one time though, when she was really drunk at the party and you walk her back all the way across campus back to her dorm without even thinking about making a move on her. Nope, you didn’t even think about it. So are you suppose to be rewarded now for not committing sexual assault? There is a reward for that, it’s called not being in prison.

The real issue of being a “nice-guy” lies with your mind., A mind full of unreasonable expectations, sexual manipulation, and a skewed view of what friendship and human interaction really means can be a real problem. We treat others with dignity, respect  and honor not because we want something in return from them. This is not a transaction of assets. What being friend-zoned is is really an illustration of cause of effect, how skewed expectations and thoughts can affect our intentions and actions, and how those actions when met with unexpected results can lead us to feel very negatively about ourselves, or “friend-zoned”.

So how can you nice guys break through this friend-zone? By becoming genuinely interested in other people. Don’t get ahead of yourselves with unwarranted expectations. Make the other person feel important, and do it sincerely. Give honest appreciation. Treat people with the dignity and respect that every living being deserves. Do that, and soon you will be breaking down more than just friend zones.

Wisdom of Cultural Inheritance

To live with fertility and harmony without hurting others, might be the most basic endeavor of human civilization. But to arrive at this lifestyle, one needs wisdom, pragmatism, and faith as tools. These tools of life, developed over time, produces what we deem to be “culture”. Especially within the Chinese culture, many traditions of daily life are infused with the wisdom of greater thinkers and philosophers, passed down generation after generation. Foreign friends might be intrigued by or compliment on the effortless beauty of calligraphy, the seemingly magic of acupuncture, and such special cultural artifices, but they might not be able to understand with depth the art of tea, the pondering of the moon on a Mid-Autumn night, and other more multifaceted aspects of Chinese cultural wisdom.

Every one of us hopes to be unique, to be noticed by others; but we also wants to feel a sense of belonging. Our own distinct culture is the medium with which we communicate with our family and loved ones, and it is also the source of that sense of belonging and acknowledgement. We strive to create our own identity, but do not wish to distance ourselves from others, this is a daily tug-of-war for all of us.

But in the fast-paced world of today, it is easy for people to borrow and combine in the process of cultural intersections. And even easier to create the fleeting popular culture. This trend hopes to turn all things into the relatively uniformed. For a culture like China’s, rich in value and deep in wisdom, we are beginning to lose the patience needed to appreciate it. If we are to succumb to these modern circumstances, we will lose the connection to a tradition that can speak to the bottom of our hearts. One day, we may find ourselves lost in a state of  detachment; we might not be able to interact with other people, even worse, we might lose contact with ourselves. Of course, cultures change, no one culture can endure the winds of time and history. But I still believe we should accept the changes of new, without losing the memories of the old.

Living in the modern family of today, it is very difficult to resist the constant need to feel fulfilled. Our urge to quickly complete all the task at hand causes us to lose our patience towards the details. We are on the threshold of a change, about to forgo the wisdom of inheritance and tradition. We seem to think that sitting down to wait for a cup tea to cool to the right temperature is a mere waste of time, but we don’t seem to appreciate that this process is what makes life so full and valuable.

In regards to our own cultural traditions, we are not only responsible for understanding and carrying it out, but also for relaying it to the future generations. The ocean of Chinese culture is as deep as it is powerful, stemming from Laozi to Zhuangzi and many others who has showered us with their thoughts wisdom, all the down to the culturally astute people of today. The stream flows continuously with no sign of slowing down.