Thursday, September 30, 2004

Presidential debate

So, I'm currently watching the first presidential debate of the campaign season and I'd have to say it's not all that eventful. First of all, I'm sick and tired of talking about the war. Yes, the war and recovery efforts are very important. However, it's not all that is going on that relates to this country. What about healthcare? What about education? What about environmental policies?

Secondly, however much I have to back Kerry, I can't say that either candidate is especially likeable or all that public-friendly. Kerry comes off as more intelligent than Bush, but it's not an eventful debate.

However, I have to say that Kerry did hit the spot on one thing. When Bush justified the Iraqi war using the phrase, "the enemy attacked us," Kerry pointed out, very eloquently, that there has been no official connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Therefore, connecting the Iraqi War to the September 11th attacks on the United States is completely incorrect, even according to President Bush's intelligence reports. Maybe it's just me, but this is one of my biggest annoyances is that people, mostly uninformed, justify the Iraqi War by using a supposed link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Additionally, I don't think that the administration has really worked to make the two separate and distinct from one another - mainly to use people's misperceptions in order to show that public support for the war was more than it would be if people were actually made aware of their faulty logic.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Partying hard

So, in celebration of failing my pharmacology exam (I don't really know if I failed or not, I just have a creeping suspicion that that's the case), I went out on Friday night - and I had the most fun that I've had in quite awhile.

First, I went to Pho Republique, a Vietnamese fusion restaurant that, to tell you the truth, is way too swanky for my tastes. After being there for about half an hour (my friends had been there for almost two hours already), we decided to move on to a house party that someone was throwing. When we arrived, this was no ordinary house party. The "house" was this extraordinary apartment completely covered in original artwork and architectural looking furniture. The guests were all international and the atmosphere a cross between a chic cocktail party and all out drunken debauchery. Well, perhaps my friends and I were the drunken debauchery part and the rest were the chic cocktail party. Nonetheless, we had an awesome time and let's just say that we're all still trying to piece together what happened that night.

But now, it's over and I'm back to studying.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

School sucks

I have to say that I'm damn happy not to have gone to pharmacology school because I seriously don't understand any of it. And yes, I have an exam tomorrow. I would be happy that it's going to be over soon - but ah, it's not going to be. I have three exams next week.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Why do I do this to myself?

I think medical school is making me sick. Seriously. Since I have started medical school, I have started grinding my teeth at night, get anxiety/panic attacks, get less than 6 hours of sleep a night, eat terribly, and work out to the point that my knees hurt (again!).

I went to work out today, for the first time since last week. I knew it would hurt, so I took lots of Ibuprofen before (I say lots because now I have dosed myself to take the maximum allowed by my body each time). It's really sad. But yet I continue to do it because, ironically, it keeps me sane. It's the one thing in the day that I do for myself and no one else. Otherwise, everything is school related (whether it's academics or extracurricular).

So, my conclusion is that I should drop out of medical school. No, really. Maybe this happens to everyone? I know a lot of my friends are feeling the same thing. Maybe it's just that everyone, up until now, has had it easy going through high school then college. Now, medical school hits you and you realize that it does get hard. Damn it. I want it to be easy again.

And to top it off, I'm paying lots of money for this torture. Why, oh why?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Voting in Boston

So, yesterday, I go to the polls like any good person would do (though I have to admit that I skipped out on ten minutes of public health class to do it) and found something very disturbing. I was in a hurry (because I was in the middle of the aforementioned class) and was trying to find my polling place. When I came upon some people who looked like they would be involved in polling and asked them if this was the polling place. They said yes, proceeded to talk to me about something, hand me something in Chinese (I'm in Chinatown, after all) and then dismiss me. When I finally got to looking at what they had handed me, they were campaign materials!

So, I may have been a little spoiled in California, but I think it's totally absurd that right outside my polling place (literally ten feet from the entrance), I was being distributed campaign materials. California does have a law that prohibits the distribution of campaign materials within a certain radius of a polling place, including putting up posters and those silly paper things with wooden sticks. Somehow, that always made sense to me and I took it for granted - until I was inundated with campaign materials right before I step into a polling place. Does this seem absurd to anyone else? I didn't even realize they were campaign workers (i.e. they weren't wearing stickers or pins or anything like that).

But besides that, I have an issue to bring up regarding voter turnout. Granted, it was only a primary election where only two seats (sheriff and something else) were contested, but only 15% of registered voters turned out. That is so sad. It's a sad, sad world where no one takes the opportunity to take 15 minutes out of their day to circle in a few bubbles. And, God forbid, if they also take another 15 minutes to look up the issues and the candidates on the ballot beforehand.

Well, that's my rant. Go out and vote. Especially on November 2. I don't care who you vote for, but that you at least put your name down. You don't have to vote for anyone. Just show up. Make me believe in a system where people actually exercise some minimal control over what happens in their lives.

Monday, September 13, 2004

my ode to craigslist

I love Craigslist. For those of you who are unaware of Craigslist (Gasp! Where have you been?), you should be made aware. I've been a big fan of Craigslist since it first debuted in San Francisco. I have found anything and everything on Craigslist - including a typewriter, a roommate, a spot in a documentary film on Craigslist, a free couch, and badminton partners. And that was all in San Francisco!

Since moving to Boston, however, I have found Craigslist to be a disappointment. Of course, I can't expect it to be totally up to San Francisco standards because San Francisco's is the original. However, I have found Craigslist to be especially helpful in finding furniture (couch, lamps, coffee table). But one of my favorite parts about Craigslist is their Missed Connections section. If you have never read a real missed connection (not one of those sappy "I hope that my ex reads this cryptic posting and realizes what an ass I've been" or a "how much I hate Boston drivers" rant), then you're missing out. And yes, I do look out for ones that may be for yours truly. I know, it's corny, but it's part of my hopeless romantic side.

But here is my short ode to Craigslist:
Whether you want to find really cheap furniture
Or locate old friends that you've missed,
You can turn to your friend, Craig
And the wonderful, wonderful world of Craigslist.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Vietnamese Americans

As a Vietnamese American who fled post-war Vietnam (albeit, I was a mere 6 months old), I have very personal ties to issues surrounding the Vietnam War and Vietnamese people living in America. So, today, I was reading the New York Times online and came across an interesting story that relates to both of these issues.

Summarizing, the story is of the Oakland Musem in California going through a very deliberative process involving the Vietnamese American community to determine what should be displayed in an exhibit on the Vietnam War. I have very strong feelings about censorship and believe that because something is seen as "offensive," that does not automatically mean that it should not be displayed. The danger in that is the line between offensive and non-offensive is merely subjective and if it's drawn one way or another, it comes very close to censorship. Ultimately, in this situation, I think that community input is very valuable, but it is the museum's decision as to what to display and what not to display.

However, this also brings up a point about Vietnamese Americans and their political involvement. Sadly, Asian Americans are seen as rather apathetic politically and because they do not participate where it counts (i.e. voting), politicians tend not to pay much attention to issues facing Asian Americans. However, I find that Vietnamese Americans, though they fit the general mold, are very passionate when the issue involves the war. I think it's interesting because, like many other groups, they only become passionate when the issue is strictly personal. Sometimes I find it frustrating, especially when trying to talk to my parents about why they should care about gay marriage or abortion rights.

As a person of Vietnamese descent and someone who believes passionately in political involvement, I would like to see a situation where the Vietnamese community, and the Asian American community at large, is not personally involved and they take a stance. I would like to see a large contingent of Asian Americans at political rallies (of either party) and see them at the polls and see them as delegates at the conventions. Sadly, though Asian Americans make up a small percentage of the American population, we make up an even smaller percentage of voters and political activists.

What is the solution? Ah, who knows. I believe that only when the point is made that political involvement is not only an option in issues that are directly personally relevant, but also in issues that are indirectly relevant will Asian Americans really have an impact. Maybe it's my optimism and my idealism peeking through, but I do think that however small a minority (whether it be ethnic or by some other social construct), they can get their voices heard.

Monday, September 6, 2004

cape cod adventures

So yesterday a few friends and I went to Cape Cod on a Zipcar! Yeah, even after my first adventure with Zipcar (did I tell that story?), I decided to give it another whirl. This time was much more successful than last and we had an awesome time. We went to Hyannis, Dennis, Chatham, and ended the day in Provincetown. The beaches are beautiful (though a bit rocky and filled with broken shells) and the towns are just so quaint. However, I can't say that it's too quaint because it's outrageously expensive to live anywhere on the cape.

But yeah. Lots of pictures are up here.

Saturday, September 4, 2004

another saturday night at home

So boston night life seriously needs a makeover. I went out last night to two totally different clubs and had two totally different experiences.

First, I went out to club cafe, in the South End area of Boston (equivalent to San Francisco's Castro district) with two (gay male) friends. I had never been to a gay bar so this was quite an experience. It was actually very pleasurable and very cool. And I realized that gay men are wonderful. Well, at least the ones that I know. But I have to say that boston's gay male population is significantly different than san francisco's. First of all, my "gay-dar" does not work here. Out of the guys that were there, I would not be able to spot more than just a few of them as gay if they were in the general population. After spending about two hours there, experience gay men in their mating habits (and seeing a friend get up the courage to approach another man), I had enough for one night. So, as the group went off to a club, I decided to join some other people at a bar.

The bar, named Whiskey's, was horrendous. Not only did I have to wait nearly 20 minutes to get in, there was noone there of interest to me. They were all drunken college students and we were crammed in there like sardines. It was terrible. I left after 20 minutes. Then, to aleviate my frustration at the nightlife in Boston, I decided to walk the mile and a half home. It was a nice walk (granted, I had bandages on both my feet because of blisters I got wearing a new pair of shoes earlier in the week).

But as I sit here on a Saturday night with absolutely nothing to do, I wonder if all nightlife just sucks. I mean, it can't, can it? The clubs here are either all college students or full of stuck-up people with money and nice cars - groups that I would rather not associate with often. I want something where I can go, talk to some random person, and them not feel as though I'm picking up on them or that it's strange that some random stranger talking to them in a bar. I find people in Boston to be rather defensive and it's difficult to meet new people.

So, that's my rant for tonight. I'm off to read or something. I just bought Fear of Flying by Erica Jong and I'm excited.

Thursday, September 2, 2004

One after the other

Gosh, as I was watching the Republican National Convention, I realized how much I dislike Bush (or "W" as everyone there affectionately refers to him). In about a third of the way through his speech, he managed to switch from talking about poor families on welfare to mentioning abortion (though never actually saying the word), religious charities, and gay marriage - all three topics in all of three sentences. I have to give him credit, it was quite amazing. I mean, I don't think that anyone could have done so much to insult my values as an individual in so little time. Really impressive.

And as I was watching the festivities, I realized how much I hate the fact that conservatives/Republicans/the right wing has coopted being "patriotic" and "support out troops." Yes, I oppose the war. Yes, I oppose what Bush has done in his "war against terrorism." But by no means does that make me less of an American than flag waving Texans. No way does that mean that I do not wish to make this country better for everyone who lives in it, regardless of their socioeconomic status, their race, or any other characteristic of them. And by no means does that mean that I do not understand and appreciate the sacrifice that so many troops, all around the world, have made to stand up for "American values." I may not support the person who sent them to Iraq or Afghanistan, but I do support them as they need it. They need a country whose citizens, regardless of political views, appreciates their efforts.

However, I have to blame some of the liberals/Democrats/left wing politicians for not taking a more proactive stance and taking back the idea of patriotism and not promoting the idea that supporting our troops is not equivalent to supporting the war.

And back to war. I was looking through a photojournal on BBC about the efforts of doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers in an Iraqi hospital. It was really amazing, seeing the images of children and the cost of war on their faces. Also, seeing pictures of flag-draped coffins and soldiers in full gear fighting in over 100 degree weather really affects me. Seeing images of war, both of fighters and of victims, makes me more of a pacifist than anything. While listening to Bush, I realized that even if a Democratic president decided to wage war, I don't think that I could support it except in the most extreme of circumstances. War is ugly and oftentimes not justifiably so. Some people would argue that just because war is ugly doesn't mean that you should avoid it. However, most of those people have spent their lives in nice little suburban houses with white picket fences. They have not seen the aftermath of war. They do not think of the ethical ramifications of fighting war for one cause but not another. War is not something that goes on in basement offices but in the daily lives of people around the world. It is not a theoretical practice but very real to those taking part in it or those who are victims of it.

Overall, seeing Bush speak tonight made me think of how much I am happy to be an American. I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm proud to be one, especially with the leadership and the actions of that leadership. However, a lot has to change in America and Bush is not that person to do that. The first thing that has to change, before anything else, is Bush himself. He cannot be allowed to ruin America's international reputation and to make America as divided as it is. Seeing news coverage and just walking around Boston, I realized that I have never seen a nation so divided. Divided over war, over civil rights, over our next president.

Whatever happens in November, hopefully the next four years will be better than the last four.