maybe "rants" isn't the right word. these are simple thoughts about my life. some may be more colorful than others. some language may be offensive, but it depends on your definition of offensive. consider this your warning ;)

20 December 2013

The Duck Call Heard Round the World

People are funny. Anyone that has hung around me for more than fifteen minutes knows I like to laugh and that my sense of humor is awesomely broad, finding entertainment in so many things. But that’s not the kind of funny I’m talking about tonight.

I’m talking about how you use your voice. And not in a technical, vocal theory, Seth Rudetsky kind of way, but in the speak up for yourself and voice your opinion, first Amendment use your voice kind of way.

If you’re on social media sites a lot (which is probably applicable if you’re reading this, by nature of the beast), then you have probably noticed a swarming of posts regarding Phil Robertson, aka the Duck Commander of A&E’s Duck Dynasty. If you haven’t, or haven’t read any of the articles, here are a couple to get you going

The GQ article by Drew Magary that launched this online hornet’s off

So here’s the quick version.

Drew asked Phil a question. Phil answered and shared his opinion about homosexuality and some chatter about growing up in Louisiana. This opinion was taken as a huge kick in the pants and spit in your eye to those in support of marriage equality and pro-LGBT communities. After this article was released, A&E places Phil on “hiatus” and suspends him from the show.

There are two general posts I’ve noticed about this situation:

1. Down with Phil and the whole Duck Dynasty crew for believing in something different from what I do.
2. Hooray Phil for speaking what I believe in.

How about this, folks, when it comes to your opinion…

You’re right.

We’re all right in our opinions, and surprise, there will always be someone with a different view.

Yes, I agree with the principle that a man was asked his opinion and that he shared it. There’s nothing illegal about that. There isn’t anything illegal about publishing it either.

And I don’t work for A&E nor do I know what the conversation was that led to his suspension from the highly-favored show he is affiliated with. For all I know, the suits behind the show may have wanted this backlash to occur and arranged this as a stunt to really bolster viewers in support of Duck Dynasty, filtering out those that don’t share in Phil’s views. But I don’t, so I kick back and watch so many people flail about the online pool of bullshit.

Here’s where the crowds wake up, which leads me to my view of how people are funny.

Social media posts are a great substitute for current event news shows. Whenever someone dies, a major event happens, someone farts in church, anything. I can gauge how grand something is by the variety of people that post about it. When Nelson Mandela died? A few posts here and there. But Obama’s Selfie-gate? That turned into as big a deal as him getting re-elected. Paul Walker’s death. Everywhere. Billie Jean King going to Sochi. (High five if you didn’t have to Google that, or Billie Jean King.) Barely anything.

People like to sound off when it’s something people are talking about, and it’s usually something that doesn’t affect them directly, but they have an opinion about.

Shocker. You can have an opinion about something. Tell me what you had for lunch, I’ll have an opinion about it and tell you a story about why that pisses me off.

And I get it. I really do. It’s easy to share an opinion when it’s about something that doesn’t directly affect you, reflect on you, or make an actual difference in your own life. Because if you do share something about how feel and you offend someone or ruffle their feathers, then, oh snap, you’re getting ignored, blocked, defriended, or worse, not paid attention to.

What about the last time you ordered food at a restaurant and your order was wrong and you didn’t say anything because you “didn’t want to be that customer” or “cause any trouble.” Or the time that awkward co-worker keeps ogling you or making obscene comments about your sister, wife, or daughter. Or what about any other situation like bullying, harassment, or using words like “gay” or “retarded” in a derogatory manner. Did you speak up then?

Probably not. And I’ll be the first to tell you that I’ve been guilty of this too. But I’ll tell you what…in the last two years, I’ve made a conscious effort to say something when someone says something is “gay” or refers to something as “retarded.”

Because that can actually help. That’s using my voice to make me world around me a little better.

Complaining about what someone else did, or defending them when they don’t know you from Adam just feels like waste of time. And maybe I’m wasting my own time, telling you that it’s a waste of time. And so what if it’s ironic that I’m sharing my own opinion?

I guess what I’m really trying to say is, relax. Take some of that energy you have, some of that pomp in your step, and some of that fire in your pocket and refocus it. Try thanking people for things that you make take for granted. Try helping someone out. Try asking someone how they’re doing and actually hang around long enough for them to tell you.

I don’t agree with Phil’s point of view, but I’m not mad at him for sharing it. He was asked. But I look at him like any other celebrity. Yeah, he’s a public figure and people enjoy him and his family for entertainment, and yeah he’s supposed to be aware of what he says, and I’m sure he is. But is what he says or does paying your bills or raising your kids? (well maybe it is the latter if your tv is raising your kids, but that’s a different story.) Is the private life of an athlete really going to make you stop rooting for your team? Or is the social life of an actor or actress really going to make you enjoy their beautiful performance any less?

Because if it is, then you should probably take a vacation. By yourself. For a while.

I believe in marriage equality, human rights, civil rights, and the pursuit of happYness.

I acknowledge that there are still racial inequalities and that makes me sad.

I hope to see the day where there is no more salary disparity between women and men.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and no amount of regulations, background checks, waiting periods, or anything will keep a criminal from committing a crime.

Regulations don’t keep people from taking drugs. Education and experience does.

Music doesn’t make people commit suicide, shoot up schools, movie theatres, or cause riots. Whether it’s rap, rock, opera, or classical, it doesn’t matter. Music tells stories, invokes action, and amplifies your soul.

The act of going to a church doesn’t make you a better person. And neither does not going. You make yourself a better person.

Will there always be people I disagree with? Yes. And some of those people are some of the coolest I may ever meet, but I’ll tell you this, at least they know what they stand for, whether it’s what I stand for or not. And as long as they listen more than they preach, I’ll sit and chew the fat with you.

So preach on, Phil Robertson. Speak your mind. I do, but I don’t have the millions to be famous enough for anyone else to care. This may not be read by even twenty people. But I said it. And I’ll say it again.

I’m sorry you feel that way, because the world is changing for the better whether you like it or not.

But who am I to you? No one. I’m just some Asian kid from the bay area livin in the heartland of America, and guess what? That’s totally cool, because you have your opinion and I have mine, and I can respect that.

I just wish people would use their voices more powerfully. To do something that’ll actually make a difference, and not just spend it on topics that won’t change anyone’s life.

Love yourself. Speak with honesty and conviction. Worry about the safety of your family and don’t think you’re above anyone. Your marriage won’t hurt mine. My owning a gun won’t have anything to do with your grandchildren. My vote in the booth is for my children. And don’t think my appreciation for country music is an attempt to blend in with the crowd. I’ll bump some Tupac too, but don’t be afraid, I won’t  cut you.

17 December 2013

Diving into snow

Looking out the window of my kitchen this morning, I was drawn in by the erratic paths individual snowflakes fly. Yes, we’ve heard it all before…

“People are like snowflakes, unique and beautiful in their own way.”

But what I saw led me to these subsequent thoughts:

Snowflakes are like people in many ways, but obviously not completely.

We travel individual paths, but not completely out of our own control. (At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.)

A gentle breeze may blow us around, dusting the earth with wintry highlights, but as we accumulate, we can bring destruction upon things that are not ours.

When seen from inside, behind the safety of a window, we are safe from the masses and are protected from the bitter cold they are flown in with.

When molded and forced to collaborate by children, artists, and free spirits, snowmen are created, erecting something joyful for others to appreciate.

Snowflakes only exist in certain conditions, in select parts of the world, during specific times of year. Some people feel they can only survive in certain conditions, whether it’s year-long tropics or seasonal, metropolitan or secluded.

We’re part of a cycle that, as many understand, to be finite and quantifiable, but can be viewed as snowflakes do, recycling over centuries, traveling great distances between continents and oceans, sharing the same planet that prehistoric creatures did and future generations will to come.

Sometimes, if you jump early, you can be smothered by those that follow blindly, or even by chance, but in someone or something else’s search for life or food, you can be unearthed, discovered, and redirected.

White is a color of purity for many people, and as the white snow falls to the ground, cars drive by, and dirt is mixed in, leaving it dingy and different, but not necessarily wrong or repulsive. As people, we enter the world without judgments, needing security and food, but as we travel our own roads and are kicked around by other travelers and become dirty ourselves, we can appear repulsive to others, but we are still ourselves.

And when the sun shines again we have lived through our time. Hopefully we have brought joy to others, but there will undoubtedly be those numbers that cause pain, suffering, and hardship for many they don’t know.

Bruce Lee said, "Be water, my friend" and snow is still water with a little persuasion from the elements, so I think we’re still capable of doing some good.


“How can you not get romantic about baseball?”
–Brad Pitt as Billy Beane in Moneyball.

That’s the voice I heard in my head as I drove home from work today. In a light snow, well after the sun has set, I thought, “How can you not be romantic about winter?”

Don’t get me wrong, I miss my California family, and I’m excited as all hell to see them for Christmas, but the more I think about it, the more I’m not really looking forward to the warmer weather.

Call me crazy, and many of you already do when it comes to this, but the lack of four seasons where I’ve lived on the west coast isn’t my preferred weather cycle.

Yes, I love 70 degree weather and the days like April 25th where all you need is a light jacket (don’t judge, it was on tv yesterday and my wife was watching it), but this past year, seeing the seasons actually change here in one of Jason’s “flyover states,” I miss having four seasons even more than I thought I would when I left Virginia to come back to California years ago.

Tonight, as I drove home, and also when I admired the fresh powder on the grass walking up to the door, I realized why I love snow in the winter so much—it has been a part of a few winters along the path of growing up.

In the winter after boot camp, I was still in Illinois for a couple months before transferring to South Carolina. For this California kid’s first winter in the Navy, the snow from the Great Lakes piled higher than waist level around base.

On a North Atlantic deployment with The Mighty Rickover, this time twelve years ago I was in Norway. Yeah, it was cold. Definitely the coldest place I’ve ever been in my life, but damn was it gorgeous. Taking the tram up the mountain and seeing the fjords as snow drifted down from the heavens is something I’ll never forget. Walking through the plazas past decorated buildings, snow filling the cracks of cobblestone walkways. Truly breathtaking. Standing outside the club eating pizza from a place nearby because we felt like a food break between shots and dancing.

A couple of weeks in Maryland, working at Aberdeen Proving Ground and getting a taste of Baltimore.

My last winter in Virginia Beach, playing in the park during the day and driving around in my truck at night to see the Christmas lights.

And now this winter, living with my wife, driving home from my one, full-time job to spend time with my wife in our toasty, little apartment with our mild-mannered Christmas tree and a couple of dorm-lifestyle chairs.

Eventually the winters will be spent in California again, and when they are, I’m sure we’ll enjoy our time with our family and friends who are much closer geographically than they are now. But at some point, I’ll think back to the snow. The places where jackets are actually needed for warmth and snowball fights and snow angels aren’t just pipe dreams.

Because, how can you not be romantic about a white Christmas?

04 December 2013

A response to Adora Bull's Paul Walker article on MWD

The following post is in response to reading the article from Modern Woman Digest by Adora Bull, "Top Five Reasons Why I'm Glad Paul Walker is Dead".

I, like many others, accept and enjoy satirical posts from The Onion and I don't consider myself to be an expert on really anything, but I sure as hell haven't heard of Modern Woman Digest to be a satire-posting site.

That being said, I'm utterly stunned at this post that was written to be published with whom I'm assuming to be loyal readers, knowing there would be a massive influx of new ones. Granted, there is a disclaimer from MWD at the end of the article, and there was a link to a follow up article regarding the author's moving into protective custody, but damn, this is some really messed up stuff.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who's going to take a sick day because someone whom I'm never met has passed in a wreck that some may say was deserved. But what I will stand for is respecting the dead and perceiving them as a friend or family of someone else who is grieving. Someone who caused me no harm, regardless of what happens in his private life. (So yeah, feel free to comment and “take a side” about his 23 year old girlfriend who he had been with since she was 16, I’ve read those articles too.)

Also, I see posts like this and it makes me hurt for the community of journalists, storytellers, and writers that aren’t out for shock value and hit counts. Writers like these get their posts shared, and I wholly acknowledge that my furthering the process is only aiding the intended result, but I’m not doing it without adding my commentary, obviously.

Yes, the comments within the article’s post are there, and many of them are commonplace to any opinionated article, but seriously though…

This is probably one of the most disrespectful posts I’ve ever read.

I don’t think I’ve read anything else by Adora Bull, and maybe I will, just to see how far off the deep end she’s gone with this one, but part of me hopes that the majority of her posts are as grossly inhumane and disrespectful as this one.

Full knowing you may never read this post, my sincerest apologies for the article that this is in response to, family and friends of Paul Walker.