Many years ago, I struggled with foot pain.  I had repeated bouts of plantar fasciitis and occasionally instances of gout.  Many have described me as having a high threshold of pain, but for this, I suffered.  The best way that I may describe the degree of pain:  if you’re sitting down, but need to pee, you contemplate how long you can wait until you need to stand up and walk to the bathroom.  It is that painful.  I got custom (molded from my feet) insoles for my shoes.  Every time I changed shoes, I’d meticulously take them out of one pair and put them in the other.  Additionally, they didn’t work reliably enough; those insoles may have halved the number of occurrences.

I decided to try something completely different; I got a pair of Vibram Five Fingers.  I took the plunge and started the minimalist shoes trend.  They have incredibly thin soles, like 3mm thin.  They force you to land on the balls of your feet.  Though one feature that made them even more distinctive.  As the name suggests, each shoe individually wraps each toe.

Continue reading “Aversion, tolerance, and toed shoes”

Decades ago, I needed to cut something in my office at work.  I don’t remember quite was it was nor why I needed to cut that paper; it didn’t matter.  I didn’t have a pair of scissors, so I wandered out to find a pair.  My teammates shared an office across the hall; I made it that far.  I asked my teammate if he had a pair that I might borrow.  He reaches into his desk drawer, pulls out a pair of scissors, and hands them to me.  However, he warns me that they’re left-handed scissors.

“Surely, he toys with me”, I thought.  I did not believe that such thing as left-handed scissors existed.  I simply took the scissors and started to cut, or more accurately I tried to cut.  Though I genuinely tried, I could not get those scissors to function.  Obviously, I could pull the blades apart and then back together, but they didn’t cut paper.  My friend charitably cut the item for me.  I played the fool; left-handed scissors actually exist.

Continue reading “Straight pride month”

I grew up watching baseball.  I watched no other sports, just baseball.  They adhere to many conventions when it comes to sports in general, and baseball in particular.  When broadcasters (or website) list sports scores, they list the home team second.  If the Dodgers play in Atlanta, they’ll list the LA Dodgers first; sometimes they’ll even say, “LA at Atlanta” for short.  Though that’s just a convention.

The home team bats second in each inning; they actually wrote this into the rules.  There are nuances in game play that extend from this rule.  However, this is a generic rule about baseball.  Major League Baseball established a few additional rules.  As a teenager, I had picked up a book on the MLB rules, I had few other vices.  I found some of the more obscure rules to be rather interesting.

The players’ uniforms need to be consistent color and appearance.  Each uniform may have the player’s surname on the back (or no name at all like some Yankee uniforms); it may not be the first name.  Ichiro Suzuki wore his first name on his uniform, but he needed to explicitly get special permission from the commissioner.  Back in the 1970’s, Ted Turner owned both the Atlanta Braves and TBS (which was often channel 17 on the tuner).  He propositioned Messersmith, the player with the jersey number 17, to change his name to Channel, so that the jersey read Channel 17.

Continue reading “Baseball, fairness, and equal representation”

On an evening during the mid 1990’s, I sat at a local bar named Waldo’s.  It’s what you’d expect from a bar, except that they also played live music.  Occasionally, The Beatniks would play here; they covered many classic tunes.  I remember mostly the Beatles covers.  I hang with some of the friends that work at the cafeteria in the next building.

Naturally, I chat with a number of other people at the bar; one sharply dressed Indian man chats with me for a bit.  Eventually, he pauses and declares, “Isn’t it ironic, here we talk… both of us similar as Indians, yet different.”  I know precisely what he meant.  He immigrated from the Asian country of India, and I am (Native American) Indian.  Except I’m not an Indigenous person, not even close.  I was born from two Chinese parents. 

Continue reading “Learning about ‘presenting as’”

While I won’t say that I’m a great tennis enthusiast, I watched a number of matches between iconic players in my teens.  Naturally, I enjoyed watching John McEnroe, the ‘Bad Boy’ of tennis as well as Jimmy Connors.  I can still hear McEnroe’s voice bellowing from the tennis court, “You cannot be serious!  That ball was on the line!”.

I recently watched an old video clip of McEnroe and Connors in a match.  First, while Connors served the game, McEnroe lost a point on a close call.  Next, McEnroe went on a minutes-long tirade about the absurdity of the call.  Connors simply stood and watched in disbelief of the tantrum.  Of course, the officials didn’t budge, and the call remained.  Once game play finally resumed, Connors launched his next two serves deep into the stands, resulting in a double fault.

Continue reading “Thinking through diversity”

As I grew up in Florida in my teens, we spent many summer days in the movie theaters.  During the 1980’s we did not have access to the internet, of course.  We got the listings for the movies at each theater and their show times from the local newspaper.  Alternatively, you may also call the phone number for the movie theater; each theater established a phone line that played their listings and times on repeat.  My sisters and I had a handful of these numbers committed to memory.  I swear that I’m not making this up.

Today, the movie experience is vastly different.  First, we open a web browser on the computer or mobile app on the phone.  Second, we pick the movie and time in our favorite theater days ahead of time.  Next, we select the seats that we want or alternatively pick a different time if we can’t find good seats.  Enter your credit card number and reserve those seats.  Upon arriving at the theater, simply show them the QR code and head to your seats.  You don’t need to handle cash, nor do you need paper tickets anymore.

Continue reading “The web search as the societal mirror”

I grew up in Fort Lauderdale, that spanned from ages 10 to 18 when I left for college.  I only went as far as Miami for school, less than an hour’s drive from my home in Lauderdale; I spent my impressionable years in the southeast coast of Florida.  While the culture felt generally pretty progressive, it still reflected the 1980’s and painted a vastly different picture than the Seattle area in the new millennium.  Once, you stir in the heavy Cuban influence in Miami, it gives it a very distinctive flavor.

Naturally, my community deviated even further from what is generically ‘South Florida’.  Growing up Chinese American, this blue-collar, Cantonese-speaking community held their own set of values.  While we didn’t have a centralized physical location, like a Chinatown or International District, we still casually knew each other.  We generally prioritized service and family over love.  By the time I left Florida in 1991, I knew precisely one Chinese couple who had gotten divorced.  People stayed in loveless marriages.

Continue reading “Love and marriage”

In 2005, I contemplated getting a new car.  Sports cars, especially two-seater convertibles, have fascinated me for many years.  As such, I finally made my peace with getting my own midlife crisis car.  I made a short list of cars and periodically scheduled a test drive with the local dealership.  Among the cars on my list were:  Honda S2000, BMW Z4 (or possibly the Z3), and the Lotus Elise.  Both the S2000 and the Elise were going to be more difficult to test drive, since the dealerships did not have any in stock.

On one particular sunny weekday afternoon, I arrive at the BMW dealership.  I exchange documents with the salesperson in order for me to go on a test drive.  We take the top down on the car and climb in.  We zip away as I proceed to go on a well-intentioned joy ride.  The salesperson pitches how this is probably the most fun car to drive with the possible exception of the Lotus Elise.  Next, I saw the flashing lights behind me.

Continue reading “The degree of the crime”

I moved from Puerto Rico to Florida as I started the fifth grade.  I attended a bilingual classroom in an otherwise English-speaking elementary school.  Students from all grades filled that classroom; I sat next to other students with a kaleidoscope of accents from other Latin American regions.  I was lucky to land in that classroom, since I failed English when I studied it in Puerto Rico.

Moving to Florida overwhelmed me with all the cultural differences, especially in school.  I no longer wore a uniform to school.  I spoke an entirely different language.  We took a break during the middle of our lessons, in a bizarre ritual called ‘recess’.  I mingled with other kids during recess, and I started to learn English in a conversational setting.

Continue reading “Patriotism or religion, pick one.”

In my infancy, I learned to speak Cantonese at home with my family; I spoke it before any other language.  As I grew up in Puerto Rico, I next learned Spanish.  While I officially learned it in the Catholic school, a block from my home, I also learned it from talking to the locals and watching television.  My parents ran a restaurant, and we spoke to the patrons in Spanish.

As I turned ten, we moved to Florida.  While I studied English in school in Puerto Rico, I failed that class.  I learned English out of necessity when I arrived in Florida and dove into the public school system.  Similarly, I learned through speaking with neighbors and watching television.  Learning a language through a classroom environment lacks the real feel of the language.

Continue reading “Counting your chickens before they hatch”