I’ve got no patience for food preparation. For me, when it comes to cooking, the simpler, the better. I’m not a picky eater either, and though I enjoy delicious food, I wouldn’t really call myself a foodie. So when I read about Kyoto’s kaiseki specialities, I was not really interested. That is, until I tried some.
Kaiseki is a multi-course traditional Japanese meal supposedly derived from the tea ceremony and buddhist tradition. There’s an emphasis on detail in food preparation, presentation, and overall dining experience. Elements of the ephemeral and imperfect nature of the world are incorporated, and local and seasonal ingredients set the parameters of the meal.
Not all the meals that I considered “kaiseki” are really pure kaiseki, and they weren’t all in Kyoto specifically, but although I’ve had Japanese food my entire life, it really just struck me on this trip and my culinary experiences this time that made me realize there was a certain tradition of attention to detail found in a lot of Japanese food preparation, from expensive high class cuisine to the most detailed and artistic bento creations made for kids to take to school. As I’ve read up a bit on kaiseki, I began to understand the elements of kaiseki that seem to appeal to me.
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I’ve blogged about the “bamboo ceiling” before, so it’s interesting to see that recently, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders had a panel discussion for their AAPI Youth Forum with the topic of: “Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling”
The panel featured:
Given the recent highlighting of the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley (which often practices “mirrortocracy” rather than meritocracy), the bamboo ceiling is especially topical. Although Asian Americans and Asians make comprises of approximately 50% of the workforce in Silicon Valley, how many are in senior management roles, either in a business or technical capacity? I’m pretty certain not representative of the population.
The panelists discussed their career paths, and the discussion seemed to be more about not following the “model minority” career path of being a doctor, lawyer, engineer or some other “traditional” career and instead going into public service. But then, the panelists did start addressing questions as well as providing advice as to how to break the bamboo ceiling, like speaking up more, etc.
Recently a friend of mine recommended Serial Podcast to me. The first season of Serial aired last fall 2014 and ended up one of the most popular podcasts in America. The series investigates a murder of a young teenage girl back in 1999 Baltimore, Maryland, and her ex-boyfriend was charged and found guilty of her murder, sentenced to life.
I knew the premise of the story when I started listening to it, but it wasn’t until I completely finished the first episode that I realized that in this wildly popular real-life murder mystery series, the murdered teenage girl and her convicted ex-boyfriend were actually both Americans of Asian descent.
Hae Min Lee was a popular senior girl at Woodlawn High School, part of the lacrosse team, manager of the wrestling team, and a top student at the school’s magnet program. As you can probably guess from her name, she is of Korean descent, likely second generation as her mother speaks little to no English. When she didn’t show up to pick up her little cousin from school one Friday afternoon, the search was on for her as a missing person, and sadly, her body was found six weeks later at a park in a shallow grave.
As I’ve blogged before, Asian Americans vote at a lower rate than almost any other demographic group, and this especially is the case in California – the state with the largest Asian American population (though Hawaii has the highest overall percentage). In non-presidential years and off-year elections, voter participation rates are extremely low. In 2014, there were no state-wide race or major ballot initiatives that I could think of, so this was not too surprising to learn:
“A major reason for California’s record-low voter turnout last year was the extremely low rate of voting by the state’s two fastest-growing ethnic groups, a new analysis by the UC Davis Center for Regional Change reveals. … While just 41.7 percent of the state’s registered voters cast ballots last November, the rates of voting by Latinos (27.5 percent) and Asian Americans (36.3 percent) were markedly lower than those of whites and blacks, a combined 47.3 percent. … Asian Americans, with 13.3 percent of the state’s population, cast just 7.4 percent of the votes, the study found. … Overall, 30.8 percent of eligible Californians voted, but it was just 17.3 percent of eligible Latinos and 18.4 percent of Asian-Americans, contrasted with 39.6 percent of whites and blacks combined.”
So that is sad that only 18.4 percent of eligible Californian Asian Americans voted (to be eligible, you obviously need to be a citizen, 18 or older as well as registered to vote (which takes the tiny effort of filling out form)). Model Minority my ass! (LOL …)
Californian Asian American voter registration rates compared to Californians overall as well as other demographic groups:
The party affiliation data didn’t surprise me too much:
When MTV put out a casting call looking for white people to talk about things like “do you think some people treat you unfairly because you’re white,” initial scorn was replaced by interest when the maker of the documentary was revealed to be Jose Antonio Vargas. MTV has recently announced the premiere of Vargas’s documentary called White People.
I have included a few other clips available before the documentary airs. One shows the viewpoints about white people from Native American students. I didn’t know what “wasi’chu” meant before that video. Another is discussion on the confederate flag.
Reactions to the trailers have been mixed, some people applauding, some saying “no news here” to some calling it “white shaming.” The trailers have reportedly generated a lot of anger, controversy, and debate which some suggest was the intent.
White people debuts at 8 PM Eastern/7 Central on July 22, both on MTV and online. After that, it should be available on iTunes and Amazon. Vargas’s Define American organization will continue to explore racial issues and identify.
I have been waiting to get to this part of my trip for a long time because I really enjoyed visiting the city of Kyoto for a lot of different reasons. But first, let’s start with Kyoto Train Station, which is a destination by itself.
The first time I visited Kyoto was back in December 1998, and my mom was our private tour guide. We had been visiting temple upon temple in Japan for over a week. My brother and I, being young and restless, were sick of temples and decided we wanted to explore on our own. So my mom gave in and let us just go wander on our own, and we ended up around Kyoto Station exploring an arcade, and that’s when we discovered the game Dance Dance Revolution before Americans had even heard of the game. Seeing as the first release of this game was on November 21, 1998, we basically played it a month after its first release in Japan.
What caught our eye was someone who was dancing and spinning and stepping on this arcade game, something like this:
Intrigued, we found our own machine and started playing it. We spent $40 USD, failed every time we tried, and loved every moment of it.
Fast forward to 2014/2015, and Kyoto Station looks pretty different 17 years later. However, the features that I totally remembered were still there–the glass roof and ceiling and the series of escalators at the main entrance that basically took you all the way to the top and back.
I had blogged before about PG&E before for 8Asians’ Asian American Commercial Watch – most recently in March 2014. Recently, I saw this new PG&E television commercial:
“Eddie is a gas service representative who lives and works in San Francisco. Learn how he is committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable energy to the local community. (This communication paid for by PG&E shareholders.)”
I’m always fascinated how companies like PG&E and others try to improve their overall corporate image, despite some of their misdeeds. Most recently, PG&E was caught up in some controversy when the company wanted to have their $1.6 billion penalty for the San Brun, California gas pipeline explosion be a tax deduction expense. Although I guess technically, a penalty is an expense, but I don’t think the spirit of the settlement is reflected in the tax law, thus the California state legislature is looking to close that loophole. As a reminder, that gas pipeline explosion happened back in September 2010, killing 8 people, and destroying 35 homes and damaging many more.
But like I’ve blogged before, I am sure Eddie does want a safe PG&E since he lives in the Bay Area!
We have talked about dating difficulties before, but Ren You’s approach has gotten a lot of publicity lately, as he is offering US$10,000 dollars to anyone who can find him a girlfriend. To get the $10,000, people have to wait for Ren to date the suggested girl for a minimum of 6 months. You, an investment banker who recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama, says his long 12 hours days make it inefficient to do the bar scene, online dating, or suggestions from friends, all of which he has tried. I don’t know how hard it would be for an Asian American man to get a date or girlfriend in Birmingham Alabama, but I would have expected this kind of thing first in Silicon Valley. Maybe someone already has.
Those interested in trying to get the $10,000 can go to a dedicated web site that he set up: dateren.com. Women are free to nominate themselves.
This isn’t breaking news, but as those of you who have followed Jeremy Lin’s career, you know that his past season with the LA Lakers had a so-so season and that he was a free agent at the end of this season. On July 8th, Lin announced on his official website:
“Going into my first true free agency as an NBA player this off-season, the one thing that mattered to me the most was finding a team that would be a good fit for me. I wanted to be on a team where I would be able to play freely and truly play the game I love with joy again. That has always been the most important thing to me. After a LOT of prayer and long discussions with family and friends, I wanted to personally let you guys know I’ll be joining the Charlotte Hornets.”
According to news reports, Lin signed a contract for two years and $4.3 million.
On an interesting note, the general manager of the Charlotte Hornets Rich Cho is the first (and only) Asian (Burmese) American general manager of an NBA team (and I think had read, of any professional sports team).
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m not sure if the Hornets will be playing the Golden State Warriors during the regular season, so I’m not sure if I’ll have a chance to see Lin play in 2015 – 2016 regular season
On June 30, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed bill AB 7 making October 25 in California Larry Itliong day. Who is Larry Itliong? He was one of the key Filipino contributors, along with Phillip Vera Cruz (shown on the left, Itliong is on the right) to the founding of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. While Caesar Chavez has his own California holiday, Larry Itliong’s role has been considered as neglected in retellings of the UFW’s story. Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American elected to the California State Legislature, was the principal author of this bill. The documentary The Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heros of the UFW covers the story of Larry Itliong and other Asian Americans in the Farm Worker Labor Movement.
“Paths are ephemeral and strange, at once obvious and frustrating. This world is wild and dangerous, but the path is usually a safer place to be.”
Young-Hee and the Pullocho follows our young adventuring title character on a fantastical journey through the world of Korean folklore. From her dull life in modern-day Korea, Young-hee finds herself in a Strange Land with goblins, ghosts, talking trees and animals, among other mystical creatures that live in stories. While in this new world, her little brother Bum is kidnapped by an evil goblin. Only if Young-hee can find and bring back the mythical pullocho, a magical root, can she save her brother and return with him to the real world. On her journey, Young-hee runs into all manner of interesting characters expected in this type of epic, both sage and conniving.
Written for a middle-reader level, the language and storytelling is straight forward and simply stated, but Russell’s tale is a unique one in pulling together an young girl’s epic adventure with Korean folk stories. Not only are the characters of those stories woven into the main plot, but an occasional italicized interlude relates the original folk tales in brief.
Despite the intriguing setting and character set, Young-hee and the Pullocho lags a bit in momentum, taking about a hundred pages to get going and draw a reader in. And while I may be over-aged for this book, I find the best young reading books are still appealing at least in some fashion to older readers, and on this front I’d hoped for more. An epic adventure ought to be a bit more fast-paced and page-turning and the plot has that potential, but lacks in the follow-through. I will say that by the end, Young-hee becomes a more interesting character, and companions who join her adventure partway–Samjogo, a three-legged crow, and the silly yet also aggressive Tiger–are endearing.
After our tromp through the Aokigahara suicide forest (and avoiding any dead bodies), we arrived at our destination–a lava ice cave near the base of Mt. Fuji. Apparently, there are quite a few of these all over the place around Fuji. The one we went to was rather remote, and there was a moment of wide-eyed apprehension when our guide pointed to this literal hole in the ground to a dark abyss underworld and told us we were going to climb into it.
The first thing we had to do, of course, was gear up.