Monday, June 17th, 2013
I wrote the following, and met up with my cousin on Sunday morning where he helped me translate to 繁體字 (Traditional Chinese) for my father to read for Father's Day, 2013.
I am not a religious man, but if I prayed at all - it would be this: that I am not, as Bill Whittle paraphrased Lord of the Rings, the lesser son of greater men, in whose mighty company I am ashamed to stand.
t's a tragedy that some of the best words about the life of our loved ones are delivered at their memorial services, when those we speak of are no longer around to hear them. I'd like to break that chain and tell you today about my father, while he's alive and can know and hear it himself.
My father's life is a story of quiet courage. Not the dramatic courage of a soldier risking his life for his country, or a firefighter running into a burning building, but the courage of making difficult choices in solitude with no fanfare, and no backup. It is this courage I wish to celebrate today.
My father's life was miracle from conception - born to a mother aged 40 at the time, a surprise baby a decade younger than his other siblings.
Orphaned at age six, he fled from China with his older brothers during the Cultural Revolution to Taiwan, where he grew up with no parents, no money, no other family. If he failed along the way, there was no parents to back him up, no one else to fall back on.
From the poorest sections of Taipei City, he rose to National Taiwan University (台大) - the Stanford of Taiwan. A steep and merciless climb that has broken hundreds of thousands of others who attempted the same ascent. How many orphan escapees in Taiwan make it to a University, let alone 台大? The odds were against him the entire time, and he prevailed, and began a career as a bank officer with bright prospects for a prosperous career.
At age 30, he married a fellow graduate of 台大 - and as a couple, their stature within Taiwanese society was all but assured, an easy life of high status and good income. Any man who started as a penniless orphan who made such a climb can look at his life with genuine pride. And I am sure he did.
But he believed in something more.
And even though I was just an infant at the time, he was willing to trade this life of certain ease and status in Taipei for the unknown promise of a better life in another nation - not a better life for himself but for the baby he was responsible for. At the age of 36, he knew that if he made that difficult choice to exile himself from this green island, he will not likely make such a climb to the top of another society again.
He forsook all the advantages and status that would have been his in Taipei, and moved to the U.S. And even though he had no parents to be role models for how to be a man, a husband or a father, he held to the belief that he could do more for the baby he had, and made that hard and irrevocable choice.
It was not an easy life, being in America as an immigrant from Taipei with an accent, and a degree from a university nobody has heard of. An outsider in a foreign land, he was as alone as any man could be; his only contact with friends in Taiwan were the occasional letters exchanged with the world he left behind.
From the top of Taiwanese society where he worked as a bank executive, my father accepted any job in America that paid, no matter how menial or humble.
I remember sleeping in the back seat of his car when he worked swing-shifts at grocery stores. I remember the burns he got on his hands when he worked the grill at a steakhouse, all to provide for his family. A man's pride is deeply wrapped into the work he does, and for a man who earned his place at the top of one society to voluntarily forsake it all to be at the bottom reflects tremendous courage and dedication.
And even though my parents tried to shield me from their arguments about our meager finances and waited until they thought I was asleep before they had strained conversations about money, I was awake more often than they realized, and overheard a lot of their tense conversations in the late hours, when finances were thin and our future uncertain.
During those years, there must have been a thousand nights when my father stared at the ceiling of our little apartment, his heart filled with self-doubt, wondering if moving to America was a terrible mistake, knowing that he's irrevocably committed to this course of action, and knowing that there is no fallback if he fails.
A thousand moments of misgivings, worry and fear, that in the end, we were strangers in a strange land. That he willingly forsook a life of comfort on a green island, for the promise of a better life here - not for himself, but for his children.
As a orphan with no parental role models, he had to learn to be a man, a husband and a father through trial and error, and though he did none of these roles perfectly, he did them with honor, with quiet courage and dedication - fulfilling his role better than many who walked into fatherhood with good role models.
He sacrificed his own comfort for the sake of his family and when faced with hard choices, quietly chose the more difficult path so that his children could face a better life. And while we may never see eye-to-eye during our time here on this Earth, I know he has more than fulfilled his duties as a man and as a father to me.
All my love ...
我爸爸的一生就是沈默勇氣的故事,這種勇氣不是戰事、士兵,那種為國家打仗的、或者 是救火員衝向火場救人的戲劇性勇氣,而是在默默獨自承受一切外在壓力、而又無助的境 界,他在人生中做出最困難的選擇,我今天就是要來慶祝這份勇者的勇氣。
在我還是一個嬰兒時,父親寧願放棄在台灣優越的生活,三十六歲那一年,他帶著全家移 民美國,來到一個完全不同的國度,只為了他的孩子。然而除了有著濃厚的口音、拿著一 個別人不認得的學歷,要在這個陌生國度生活,真的是不容易。在台灣父親原本有著高階 的職位,可是來到了美國,變成只要有人付錢,不管那是什麼樣的工作,父親都會去做, 哪怕那是多卑微的職位。
在那些年裡,許多的日子中,父親總是看著天花板想著,他們來到美國是一個錯誤嗎?然 而也無法回頭了。直到現在,我們還是一群陌生人、呆在一個陌生的土地。這一切都只是 為了一個簡單念頭:要給他孩子最好的,而放棄了他在那美麗島上享有最好的一切成就。
身為一個孤兒、沒有父母的導引、教養,他需要自己學習如何成為一個好爸爸、好先生、 好男人。雖然他在扮演這些角色時並不完美,但是他是盡全力的學習付出,他做的甚至比 其他父親都好。
他為家庭犧牲自己舒服的生活,為了給孩子更好的生活,他選擇對自己更難走的路,默默 承受一切的犧牲、挑戰,勇往直前,不退轉。雖然我們這輩子對某些事情可能永遠不會有 相同的看法,但是我知道父親他的確做到了一個好男人、好爸爸的角色。
Friday, May 4th, 2012
n April 28th, 2012 I stepped foot in Seattle for the first time in my life; the first thing I did was give $50 to a stranger on the street who asking for donations.
Those of you familiar with my penchant for eschewing panhandlers are doubtlessly surprised so allow me to explain myself.
The journey from Oakland to Seattle was a 24 hour ride - enough time for solitude and contemplation while taking in the breathtaking beauty of the Pacific Northwest. It's now two years almost to the day since my therapist Maggie Clough died - a thought that still grieves me in strange ways. As a secular man, I have no expectations that Maggie and I would reconnect in some imagined afterlife.
The midnight train I boarded became a sun-filled skylight to the majesty of the unpaved route along the Pacific - first Mt. Shasta, opening up to the vast plains of Northern California, giving way to snow-capped forests of Oregon, until the light faded into darkness again when our train pulled into its final stop at Amtrak's Seattle station.
With my luggage in hand, the first thing I encountered was a large group outside of what I later learned was Pioneer Plaza in downtown Seattle. Tired from travel, my instinct was to move on - I had a bed to check into, and a full day of meetings and conversations following, but my instincts drew me closer.
I had initially thought the crowd to be the northwestern cousins of the "Occupy" movement, but upon closer inspection these folks were too polite, too respectful, too civil to qualify as anyone from Occupy. It was a far sadder gathering - a candlelight vigil for a 21-year-old girl, Nicole Westbrook who was gunned down on that very spot a week prior
The story was as short as it was brutal: Walking home from a comedy show with her boyfriend, she was shot in the neck and bled out in front her boyfriend - and subsequently died in the hospital. The shooter and his associate - two young men, boys really, scurried into the night.
There was no attempted robbery to speak of, no grievance they were looking to settle - it was a senseless drive-by shooting.
I further learned that her family seems to singled out by Fate to bedeviled with tragedy - her father, Sgt Alan Westbrook (Army National Guard, 126th Military Police Company)
was himself KIA in Iraq from a roadside IED
The sensible thing to do was to keep walking. I didn't know this woman or her family - she's a stranger in a strange town, who died under strange circumstances.
I could offer lip service condolences to whoever would hear, shake my head at the wrongness of her tragedy.
That would be the sensible thing.
But in some ways, I am a deeply insensible man.
I saw an online request for financial contributions
to get her a proper memorial service - and bury her remains next to her father's.
I know that a soldier's life is not a life of material abundance. And how wealthy a life would the family of a dead solider be - a family with five (no four) surviving children who must continue on without his income or leadership?
I opened up the request URL on my smartphone - and saw that there was about $8 in contributions so far; their stated goal of US$4000 seemed impossibly far away.
Having buried my own therapist two years ago
, I know how important memorial services are for the living to properly say goodbye to the fallen, and I wanted to kick-start enough money for others to see this as a real fundraiser and join in.
In darkness, I typed off the numbers off my credit card until I came upon a screen
US$50 - Confirm?
I refreshed the page and the donation total now stood at $58 and change - a good start.
And with that, I began my vacation in Seattle.
Friday, June 24th, 2011
emocrats and leftists have long bitterly complained that the Bush tax cuts & unilateral wars are what has brought this country to its precarious situation. According to the narrative, the current administration's massive deficits are rooted in the sins of his predecessor.
Let's go with it for a moment: let's imagine that not only we wave a wand and erase the Bush tax cuts, and actually just CONFISCATE 100% the wealth and earnings of the richest 2% of Americans. Can we even balance the Obama budget through wholesale plundering of our nation's plutocrats?
The answer may surprise you. http://wizbangblog.com/content/2011/04/16/eating-the-rich.php
Thursday, February 17th, 2011
ometimes, we have an opportunity to be a hero in the life of a defenseless person.
A story of someone who failed to do so and is haunted by his passivity (originally on Reddit
I’ve only told this to one person, but I guess this is the Internet and none of you know me, so here it is. It turned out to be pretty long, sorry about that.
I was flying from Manila to Bangkok.
I was settled in, listening to my ipod, when a beautiful young Filipina girl took the seat next to me. Like, smoking hot.
She sat down, placed a small black purse on her lap, and stared dead ahead. I tried to sneak a few more glances at her face without being creepy, but it was too obvious, so I turned and watched the runway crew as they ran around in the humid Manila night, doing whatever is it that they get paid to do.
After the safety instructions were over, I noticed the girl still didn’t have her seat belt buckled. The flight attendant told the girl, in Tagalo, to buckle her seat belt.
The girl had the two ends of the belt in her hand, but after watching her for a moment I realized she didn’t know how to operate it. I offered to help her, and she accepted and thanked me in broken English. I connected the two ends, but when I moved in to tighten her waist-strap, she reached out and grabbed my wrist, probably afraid that my intentions were to defile her rather than help her. When she grabbed my wrist I noticed that her hands were shaking. I explained how to tighten the waist-strap and asked her if she’d ever been on a plane before. She hadn’t, and I could tell she was not enjoying the experience, despite the fact that we hadn’t even left the gate.
I explained, in simple terms, what she could expect, and at the end of my little instructional speech, I told her that she could hold my hand if she got scared and wanted someone to grab onto. Then I went back to my music.
My reassurances didn’t seem to help; I looked over at her as we shot down the runway during takeoff, and she appeared as scared as a person could possibly be. She never reached out for me, instead clinging to the ends of the armrests with such ferocity that I thought her little hands might break into pieces.
When we reached cruising altitude, my drunkenness and curious nature got the better of me, so I decided to interrogate this poor girl. She’d found a job placement in Bangkok as the nanny/housekeeper for a rich Thai family. The story sounded a bit familiar and suspicious, so I asked her where she’d found such a lucrative position.
She told me of “employment agents” who had come to her village looking for teenage girls to fill such roles. After being promised an unbelievably high salary, she and her parents agreed that it was a great opportunity.
What she didn’t know then, but most definitely knows now, is that the “rich Bangkok family housekeeper” story is one of the most common ruses used by sex traffickers to convince young Filipina girls to leave their homes. There are plenty of too-good-to-be-true stories pedaled by those who work in the sex recruiting industry, but this one is widely known in South East Asia.
I didn’t want to hear any more, so I put my headphones back in and looked out the window over what must have been Vietnam. I listened to music and tried to hold back tears (I was drunk, remember).
What, I wondered, would happen if I ripped the headphones out of my ears, explained everything I suspected would happen to her in Bangkok, and offered to pay for her $100 flight back to Manila, which I could easily have afforded?
I turned over the possible outcomes in my mind. She might call me a liar. The Thai/Filipino mafia might kill her, or me, or both of us. She might already know she's going whoring and was just feeding me a story so I would leave her alone.
The landing was a bit bumpy, and if this girl was freaking out on takeoff, I can’t imagine the terror she felt in the seconds before the tires screeched in on the tarmac in Bangkok.
But I didn’t want to look at her anymore, so I kept my eyes focused out the window, half hoping the plane would skip off the runway and explode into a ball of fire, killing us all and saving her from a potential lifetime holed up as a broken slave in a dirty Bangkok brothel.
I stood back from the luggage carousel, staring at the split rubber curtain, not really caring if my bag appeared or not. After a few minutes another young tourist walked over and asked me if I wanted to go down to Khaosan with him and get drunk until the next day, or maybe share a cheap room. It was late at night, and that’s what I was going to do anyway, so I agreed.
I spotted my bag slowly moving in and out of the silhouette of Filipino and Thai travelers waiting on their giant boxes and plastic wrapped suitcases. I ran over and grabbed it, then went back to Carlos and told him we’d better leave.
As I was walking out, I looked back to see the girl, looking rather overwhelmed, as she collected a small blue suitcase with a flower design printed on the side. A present from her mother, perhaps.
As I walked away, I almost dropped my bag on the white tile floor and ran back to her . . . but I didn’t. I walked out of the baggage collection area, and I forgot about her.
Or at least I wish I did. But I’ve never forgotten her.
I remember that image of her awkwardly moving in towards her suitcase with the same vividness than I remember the most defining moments of my life.
It’s been more than two years since that happened, I’ve realized that it was one of the defining moments in my life . . . and I fucked it up. I didn’t do the right thing. I didn’t do what I knew to be right. I didn’t help this vulnerable person who I knew needed help. I turned my back and I sent her to the wolves.
Every time I think about it, I wish I could go back and do things differently. It was, without a doubt, the worst thing I’ve ever done.
tl;dr I met a girl who was, unknowingly, on her way to becoming a sex slave. I could have stopped it. I could have helped her. But I didn’t.
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
ecent months have been hectic with an odd melange of both great and difficult news.
On balance, things are good: I will be in Los Angeles for the next few days with a VIP backstage pass to the World Cyber Games
and see a bunch of sweaty nerds awkwardly gawk at booth babes in Los Angeles in preparation for a major Blizzard-authorized StarCraft 2 tournament here in SF.
Also been in meetings with two co-conspirators to establish a SF-based academy teaching advanced survival skills (expanding upon the Urban Escape and Evasion class
I took a few months ago) - for those interested in acquiring the ultimate set of self-reliance skills in an increasingly uncertain world.
Tomorrow I will be up to my eyeballs in meetings with one awesome break - in the middle of the day, I will join the founder of a startup I bankrolled for an extended test drive of the Tesla Roadster
in Menlo Park.
In the meantime, I will leave you with the photo of one of the booth babes (taken at my loft) who will be decked out in a full Terran Dominion Ghost
outfit at our San Francisco StarCraft 2 tourney.
Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
first came across JT Tran in 2007 through a random introduction, and we've been good friends since. Often described as the "Hitch
" for Asian-Americans, JT is the founder of the ABCs of Attraction
, which focuses on helping Asian-American men (who, as a population, is statistically shortchanged in a mixed-race dating environment
) improve their ability to relate to and connect with women of all races.
For many people, publication of the 2005 book "The Game
" was their first exposure to the seduction/PUA community which generated a flurry of commentary from the general public. Predictably, many disapprove of the notion of men taking classes to increase their ability/confidence to approach and attract women and JT attracted his share of detractors, even from within the Asian community.
Against this tide, JT has courted mainstream media and culture, presenting a guest lecture at Harvard University
, being interviewed at Channel 5 News
and being featured as a cover story in AsianWeek
His "ABCs of Attraction" have helped thousands of guys (minority and otherwise) in the five years he's been teaching and refining his program - in a week he will be coming to San Francisco/Bay Area to share his knowledge with in-field instruction for the next weekend:
JT, along with his colleague Kevin Feng will be teaching next week in San Francisco
- interested parties who wish to take that final slot are welcome to use "friendofkai" as a discount code.
Another announcement forthcoming, but wanted to make sure that I give JT the early plug I promised. If you're here and local, I hope to see you at the bootcamp!
Wednesday, July 7th, 2010
ans of the StarCraft in San Francisco - rejoice!
I will be hosting the premier StarCraft 2 launch party in San Francisco on July 27th, the day StarCraft 2 shows up on the retail shelves. Features:
Charity Tournament where top-ranked StarCraft II players from around the world will be flown in to act as champions of chosen nonprofits and battle each other on our jumbotron for
Breakout sessions featuring build-order/strategy lessons by some of the top players on the planet.
Gorgeous gals from the Push Models
decked as as Terran Ghosts
More surprises to be announced on the blog.
So please, do check out the website
and fan our Facebook page
Questions? Comments? Leave 'em here!
Sunday, July 4th, 2010
o today is the day we celebrate our independence from tyranny, of being under the thumb of an oppressive government who has long abandoned the moral high ground.
Today's homework assignment: read The Declaration of Independence
in its entirety.
How many of these complaints against King George could be properly leveled at our own government these days?
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.The Dutch: Looks like you got a pretty nasty oil spill. We've got a lot of experience with oil drilling and our government would love to help out with cleaning resources and manpower
. Obama: Piss off, eh
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.Same as it ever was
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.Obama(Doesn't)Care
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
Ask any entrepreneur who is forced to kiss the rings of bureaucrats from EEOC, OSHA and dozens of other government outfits whose byzantine rules he must obey before he's allowed to start a new company, sell a widget or serve a client whether this is in fact the case.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the worldAn entire god damn list of business deals "free" Americans are disallowed to engage in
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent
Nobody asked ME if I wanted a 1040. Or a 1099.
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by JuryIn a stunning departure from his rhetoric on Guantánamo Bay prison, President Barack Obama signaled Friday he will continue Bush Administration policy with regard to detainees held at a US airbase in Afghanistan, saying they have no right to challenge their detentions in US courts -- and denying them legal status altogether
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offencesNaw, we don't do that any more
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.The casualties in our ill-concieved and completely unconstitutional "War" on Drugs number in the millions
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
Oil Spill cock-up. Civil Asset Forfeiture racketeering
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
So what do you say, Gentle Reader?
Is it time yet for another July 4th revolution?
Friday, July 2nd, 2010
o it looks like Tiger's blonde bombshell wife is demanding $750MM of his fortune for her five years of married life
because of Tiger's insatiable appetite for extracurricular punani.
Now, as a numbers-oriented guy, I couldn't help but wonder how this breaks down, punani-wise, so I consulted the internets for some back-of-the-envelope calculations.
According to About.com, the average married couple has sex 127 times a year
With five years of marriage
, that works out to 127 x 5 = 635 times Tiger theoretically partook of his lovely wife's carnal charms whilst betrothed. Now given his ravenous appetite for extracurricular poon, his actual marital numbers may quite likely be much lower - but on the other hand, he does have a demonstrably above-average libido, so let's call it a wash and just say 635 for purposes of this exercise.
Breaking it down, $750,000,000/635 = US$1,181,102.36
for each time Tiger got it on with Elin. A million bucks a shot is like ... well ... I'll let you fill in your own golf/hole joke here.
And every high-priced escort and opportunistic gold-digger (but I repeat myself) on the planet weeps in envy.
Monday, June 28th, 2010
will be speaking at TEDx Oil Spill San Francisco
in the Financial District in a few hours.
On advice from perich
, I did end up acquiring a Hero HD camera
and shot periodic video footage of the flight from our pursuers throughout the "final" of the Urban Escape & Evasion Class
I took part in a week ago (which made me feel like the protagonist in the Stephen King novella The Running Man
Full video is being processed and will be completed in the next few days, but until then, a teaser from when we made contact with our first friendly operative Liz (who some of you in the PUA community will recognize as "The Long-Term Girlfriend of Mystery
My life is so weird.
Now, off to TEDx.
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