:: Pedantic Platitudes ::

Greetings! My name is Sam J and I am a student at Harvard University. Perhaps this blog will present a little look into the mundane yet unique events that make up my life.
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:: Tuesday, August 31, 2004 ::

I am typing this as my stomach growls. I am hungry.

Today, I went back to work, and I got to do a bit of reporting. It was nice, except for the annoying people who didn't respond to calls or e-mails! If you are ever contacted a journalist, do them a favor and respond!

I was using the restroom today, and I noticed that the brand of the paper toilet covers was called "Life Guard." OK, I totally understand and appreciate that paper toilet covers help maintain sanitation and cleanliness in the restroom, but I think the brand name of "Life Guard" is kind of pushing it. Sure, it's disgusting when paper toilet covers are not available. But am I going to die because I don't have one? No. I will find another way to maintain sanitation. The paper toilet cover is not a "lifeguard" (in the sense of pool or beach lifeguards) that will save my life or prevent danger because I'm using it. If a company that made antibiotics were named "Life Guard," I would be more understanding, since antibiotics can actually save lives. But a flimsy piece of tissue paper to protect my skin from germs? I'm thinking that it's a bit of an exaggeration to call it "Life Guard."

What name would I suggest instead for a company that makes paper toilet covers? How about something that sounds sanitary. Like "Sani-Layer" or something...

I think I have a bright future in naming personal hygiene and sanitation products.

Quote of the Day: "Wow, she's so talented; she can pick her nose and talk on her cell phone at the same time."

:: SL 11:11 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, August 30, 2004 ::
Well, today I was quite productive. I went to work at the local newspaper to do some copy editing work. It was nice to be in the office again. I talked to a lot of coworkers and got used to working there again. I'll have to get up early tomorrow morning for an appointment to see a doctor. Ugh.

Quote of the Day: "I'm a recessive trait; it takes two of me to see me."

:: SL 1:28 AM [+] ::
:: Sunday, August 29, 2004 ::
I just saw a television commercial for Sara Lee bread, and let me say that I am against their new advertising slogan "Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee." Didn't we learn long ago that we should avoid double negatives? I don't think a Sara Lee marketing slogan is the place for such a rhetorical device. Why the double negative?!?

Along that vein, I just saw a news headline that says "Anti-Kerry Ads Not Unfair, Laura Bush Says." I don't think the ads are fair at all, but that's another issue. The way the headline is written is complicated and slows down the reader. Couldn't the headline just say "Anti-Kerry Ads Are Fair, Laura Bush Says"?

Lesson of the day: Don't not avoid double negatives.

Today, I went out on a nice run/walk around town because exercise is healthy and makes one feel good. I did a lot of sightseeing, and although the sky today was really cloudy, it was a good thing because it helped to cool me down after all that running. I also brought along my iPod, which now has all my music loaded onto it.

I mentioned that I have a new iPod, but I neglected to mention how I became the owner of one. In the spring, I visited a department store at a nearby mall, and they had a "Win an iPod!" promotion. They were giving out an iPod each day of that month, so that boosted my chances of winning one, but I wasn't expecting anything. I filled out an entry card anyways... it never hurts to try, especially if it's free. Well, I received a call the week after notifying me that I was the new owner of an iPod! It was so exciting. It's the 40GB model and holds up to 10,000 songs. It came with all the accessories, too, including a charging dock. I've been wanting an iPod for a long time now, since many of my friends have them, but I didn't want to buy one because they are so expensive. It's exciting to join the "iPod club" now.

I watched a bit of the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, but then my sister and I decided to go see the movie "Hero," so we drove into SLO-town, spent a bit of time at Barnes and Noble, and saw the 9:30 showing of the film. Yay for Asians at the movies!

The film was incredible. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie to everyone. Not only is it one of those great tales rooted in ancient Chinese history, but it also has great action scenes, a tragic love story, and a redeeming message of peace and sacrifice. The imagery was incredibly beautiful, and the use of color in the film was superb. You can see some of the magical scenes in the trailer. The story also had some great twists, and certain moments were quite suspenseful. Excellent special effects, too. It really was a beautiful movie, and it makes me want to learn more about Chinese legends and tales. Everyone go see "Hero"!

Quote of the Day: "I don't have time; I'm too busy! I have to pray!"

:: SL 2:36 PM [+] ::
:: Saturday, August 28, 2004 ::
Today, I wasted a lot of time organizing and adding songs to my iTunes as I prepare to move about 2,800 songs to my new (well, I got it around April, but I haven't opened it until now) iPod. While online, I chatted with a lot of friends. I also watched some television and visited my sister at her workplace. In the afternoon, my mother and I went to the street market (where farmers sell their fresh produce) that they have downtown every Saturday.

Tomorrow, I hope to be more productive.

Quote of the Day: "Jesus loves you." "All right... I'm loved, by another man… Unfortunately he's... kind of dead."

:: SL 7:07 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, August 27, 2004 ::
I'm back! It was a fun vacation. My sister and I got up really early on Wednesday to make the 5-hour drive down to the Disneyland Resort. It was a long drive, but we had lots of music to keep us entertained. The traffic was really bad once we got into Los Angeles. So much smog, so many cars.

We went on the new Tower of Terror ride at Disney's California Adventure, and that was a blast. I had been concerned about this version (the original opened ten years ago at Walt Disney World) because I had heard about budget woes and other problems, but it still turned out to be pretty thrilling. The sudden drops were a lot of fun, and they still managed to pack in a lot of special effects in the show scenes. I also saw the new Snow White musical at Disneyland, and that was a lot of fun. The only downer was that Disneyland is preparing for its 50th birthday celebration next year, so several rides were down, and a lot of the beautiful buildings (including the magnificent castle) were behind tarps due to construction. After two days at the resort, my sister and I drove back in the middle of the night and got home very early this morning. It was quite tiring, especially after two days of non-stop walking. It was worth the fun trip, though.

On the trip, I managed to find the soundtracks to the original "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" attraction and the "America Sings" show at Disneyland.

Today, I finished watching the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I then ran some errands and watched the Olympics on television.

Quote of the Day: "It's like she's constantly doing vibrato while talking."

:: SL 8:50 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 ::
Today, I started watching the movie "The Prince and Me," which stars Julia Stiles. I only watched about half of the film because I had to go to a doctor's appointment in SLO-town. My mother and I then drove to Santa Maria again because she had to run an errand. We returned to SLO-town, and my mother dropped me off because I was meeting friends in town. I spent some time walking around the old mission and creek on this nice day, and then I shopped in some random stores looking at strange gifts. Later, I went into Barnes and Noble and read a bit of a book.

Later on, I met a couple of my friends, and we had dinner at Woodstock's Pizza. They sell pizza by the slice there, and it's nice to be able to just get a quick bite without having to order an entire pizza. We conversed and joked around, and then one of my friends had to leave early for reasons I care not to mention, so my other friend and I watched a DVD on my laptop. It was really funny and a good time.

Later in the evening, I worked on my computer and then got ready for my vacation for the next two days. Guess where my sister and I are going? Where else? Disneyland, of course! We're heading out early tomorrow morning, and we're going to have a blast! I plan to take a lot of photos for The Disneyland Report - Disney News and Secrets!

Quote of the Day: "Oh! What's that song that's like 'Sweet dreams are made of these'?" "Um, 'Sweet Dreams Are Made of These'?"

:: SL 12:48 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, August 23, 2004 ::
Today, I slept in! After having lunch, I watched a little more of the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks, but because I have such a short attention span, I didn't finish the movie but instead decided to do some errands, like sending in receipts and writing a thank you card. I also watched the family business for a bit of time while my parents went out for a bit to buy some supplies.

Later, my sister and I went to our local supermarket to rent a couple of videos. I got the film "Miracle" about the U.S. hockey team win over the Soviet Union in 1980 at the Winter Olympics. My sister got "The Prince & Me." When my sister and I returned from the supermarket, my family, including my grandparents, headed off to Santa Maria to go shopping. I followed my sister as she looked through fashionable couture and prom dresses, and we had a meaningful conversation about school and other life issues. We also got these tasty macadamia nut/white chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies from The Cookie Cookery. Later on, I looked at this hooded sweatshirt I really wanted, but the didn't have the size that fits me. Alas.

We then went had dinner at a buffet that offered Chinese food and some Japanese food items like sushi. I got really full, and then we went to Costco, where I walked around because I didn't need to buy anything. I didn't buy anything on this shopping excursion, but that's because I had just gone shopping this past Friday in Boston, so it wasn't a big deal to go shopping again.

We drove home, and then my sister and I watched "Miracle." It was a nice and inspirational film. I liked the trip back to the 80s. I then spent some time on the computer and watched some of the Olympics. Mens' gymnastics had so much drama! Poor Paul Hamm had to face more issues with scoring in one of his events, and all the booing went on for the longest time! I had never seen anything like it before. After staying up late working on a project of mine, I finally went to bed after 3 a.m. My mother will most certainly yell at me tomorrow morning for staying up so late and subsequently sleeping through the entire morning. Sigh. The price I pay for nonconformity.

Quote of the Day: "If you ever feel down or depressed, you should say to yourself, 'Well, at least I can find clothes that fit me when I go shopping.'"

:: SL 3:01 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, August 22, 2004 ::
Today, I got up really early and enjoyed a quick breakfast provided by the hotel in the lobby next to the wonderful pond that one day I will recreate in my backyard (with a waterfall and all the cute little ducks) when I am moderately well-off and able to afford such domestic extravagances. After breakfast, I caught the hotel shuttle to the airport, where I went through security again. I got to my terminal really early, so I started reading my book. I finally boarded my flight and enjoyed a nice flight to San Luis Obispo. My dad was there to pick me up and drive me home.

After having lunch with my sister, parents, and grandparents, I headed out to work to help out with the family business because there was still a lot to do. It was a bit tiring, but then again I haven't worked at the family business in some time. After work, I read from several recent issues of Time magazine that were sitting around my house. I then started watching the Disney film "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" starring Angela Lansbury of Murder She Wrote fame. I didn't finish the film today because I became distracted by other TV shows, and then my father started watching the Olympics, and that got me to pull out my tapes of old Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, so I ended up watching the closing ceremonies of the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Sydney is such a beautiful city; I hope I can visit someday soon. Another reason I love the Olympics: They introduce all the beauty and great things about the host city and country.

After having dinner, I watched some more of this year's Olympics from Athens. I watched some sprinting events, as well as individual gymnastics events. It was nice to finally have time to watch the Olympics non-stop. After the Olympics, I used the computer for a little bit of time and went to sleep, exhausted from a busy, full day.

Quote of the Day: "When the teacher bends over at the front of the class, it's hard not to notice her big wedgied ass."

:: SL 1:29 AM [+] ::
:: Saturday, August 21, 2004 ::
Today, I got up early to finish packing all my stuff. It's always a pain to move out all your possessions, and today was no exception. I had packed lightly for the summer, but somehow I managed to accumulate so much more stuff in the course of just two months. Before noon, I met up with my friend Alex A., and he helped me store some stuff. We then went to the Bombay Club restaurant, which offered a most wonderful Indian cuisine brunch buffet. I tried almost all the items, and it was just a great experience because I'm not too familiar with Indian cuisine and I've only tried chicken curry and nan bread before. I really liked all the spices used in the dishes, and my favorite dish, besides the chicken curry, was the rice pudding, which was pleasantly sweet (though not overpoweringly so) and had added texture from almond slivers and raisins. My friend Alex H. joined us a little bit later for our meal. After eating, I said goodbye to Alex and Alex and got my stuff ready to leave.

I was a bit behind schedule for my flight, so I took a taxi to the airport. The driver was a very friendly guy who came over to the U.S. from Algeria. He told me about some of Algeria's history, including colonization by the French, and about growing up learning English, Arabic, and French. We also talked about some Middle East issues.

I got to the airport on time, but unfortunately an intense storm began right before the flight was to leave, so we faced a very long delay. It rained really hard, and there was thunder and lightning. We finally left a little after 5 in the afternoon.

I was seated next to a young family with a pre-teen son who kept trying to converse with me. He then insisted that I play the card game "War" with him, and the game dragged on forever. "War" is a game that really can go on for hours. We probably played for at least 90 minutes before stopping the game because the in-flight film was beginning. It wasn't until then was I able to finally get some sleep on the flight. Of course, in the tragic tale of my life, it was when I was sleeping that all the babies and young children on the flight decided to start crying as if their mothers had deprived them of the breast milk for which they so desperately long. The insufferable screaming of the infants awakened me repeatedly during my nap, and then the cries miraculously stopped after I had finished my nap. For the rest of the flight, it was as if there were no babies onboard anymore. Sigh.

I finally got into Los Angeles sometime after 8 p.m., but the last flight to San Luis Obispo had already left, so I was stranded in LA for the night. Alas. They put me up in a really nice room at the Embassy Suites near the airport, and they also gave me a $20 voucher for dinner. I dined at the Chili's restaurant in the airport and had a bleu cheese and bacon hamburger, along with soda and a cheesecake for dessert. After waiting forever in the heavy traffic around the airport for the shuttle to the hotel, I finally made my way to the Embassy Suites and checked in. The hotel was absolutely beautiful. It was decorated in a Spanish style, and there was a very large lobby and atrium, complete with a huge pond with giant koi fish, turtles, and the cutest ducks ever! They would swim around the pond and carry about with their ducky ways.

I had to get up early the next morning, so I went to bed early – but not before watching a bit of the Olympics on television. I watched the swimming relay, and the U.S. won, giving Michael Phelps 8 medals at this year's Olympics. Go Michael Phelps!

Quote of the Day: "To me, the Radisson sounds like a vegetable; I would eat it."

:: SL 12:25 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, August 20, 2004 ::
Yay! I fixed my blog!

:: SL 9:54 PM [+] ::
So today, I went shopping for the first time all summer. It was a nice break from everything that's been going on. I got a nice summer shirt from Banana Republic.

As I was walking through the mall, I was looking around for signs that would direct me to the food court because I was hungry and wanted something to eat. However, as I was looking around, I noticed that a person was sneering at me! Yes! I don't think I've ever seen a sneer like that before, and it was such a strange sight to see. It could very well be that his face is just like that all the time, but then it would really suck to be him. It was discouraging to see his sneer, but then I walked by this nice Asian lady, who smiled at me, and that brightened my day.

While I was trying on a shirt at Banana Republic, there were two women looking at their new outfits in the mirror, and they had the following exchange:

Woman 1: How does it look?
Woman 2: It looks fine.
Woman 1: What about the butt?
Woman 2: The butt's fine.

I think that line could make a wonderful slogan for some company. Maybe a clothing company. Just imagine the commercial: "Wear [brand name] jeans! The butt's fine!"

Quote of the Day: "I can still visualize the chunks of mascara on his face as he handed me my blue book."

:: SL 6:46 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, August 19, 2004 ::
So I was walking into a public restroom today, and the guy who was walking in front of me pulls out his cell phone as he walks in. He proceeds to dial a number and start having a full conversation on his cell phone while using the restroom. He was complaining to a person who was presumably his friend on the phone about how he wouldn't be able to watch the Olympics tonight. After he finishes talking, he hangs up. Then, the guy standing next to him, a complete stranger also using the restroom, says, "Sucks, huh?" (presumably about not being able to watch the Olympics tonight). The cell phone guy agreed with the random stranger.

It was a strange scene... guys don't usually talk in the restroom... especially with strangers. That's just weird.

Tonight, I watched a bit of the Olympics while visiting friends. I watched some of the gymnastics program. It was neat to see all the gymnasts doing flips on the big blue mat.

Quote of the Day: "OK, I'm an honorary girl, an escort, a whore, and a pet. What gives?"

:: SL 10:48 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, August 18, 2004 ::
If something really good happens to you, do you share the information? Or do you not talk about it because you think people will find you boastful? I am experiencing such a dilemma. I'm ecstatic about a notice I just received via e-mail, but if I told anyone about it, I might give the impression of being a braggart. Alas... this worrying is somewhat diminishing the excitement I'm feeling.

Quote of the Day: "Have you seen the movie 'Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle'? You look just like Harold!"
[Snarky side note: Yeah, because all Asians look the same (rolls eyes). For the record, I look nothing like the actor.]

:: SL 12:04 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, August 17, 2004 ::
I noticed that Blogger doesn't include Google advertisements on the top of its freely hosted blogs anymore. Instead, there is this new Blogger toolbar. I can't even begin to imagine the lost revenue from this change. I wonder what Blogger will do instead to generate revenue. Meanwhile, my blog is left looking kind of ugly with this new toolbar encroaching on my blog content, and I won't have time to fix it until this weekend. Alas.

Today, I saw a guy randomly doing push-ups at the library. It was quite a strange experience, walking along the rows of bookshelves and suddenly coming upon a person engaging in physical exercise and muscle development on the floor. I tried to ignore the person and go on, but it was such a jarring sight in the context of the library that I could not get it out of my head.

Today's Quote of the Day comes from my friend Alex, who sent me a note expressing his concurrence with an item from my post yesterday.

Quote of the Day: "I would like to register my strong displeasure felt when the accoustic results of knuckle-cracking barrage my tympana."

:: SL 12:16 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, August 16, 2004 ::
I had a nice day today, despite the lousy weather. I hope it brightens up before I head home at the end of this week.

I had a strange moment earlier today when the person sitting to my left started cracking his knuckles. Then, the person to my right started cracking his knuckles, too, so it became like listening to knuckles cracking in 3-D surround sound. I've been cracking my knuckles quite a bit lately... I should have joined in... it could have been a little symphony of little cracks and pops. However, now that I know how annoying the sound can be, I shall strive to limit my knuckle cracking.

Quote of the Day: "The paranormal is not something that can be hinted at!"

:: SL 9:07 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, August 15, 2004 ::
Today, I went with a lot of my friends to have Dim Sum for lunch! Dim Sum, a wide variety of Chinese appetizers, is so tasty! It got a bit pricey, but it was worth the amount and the wonderful variety of dumplings, buns, and meat dishes that we had. There were a lot of different desserts, too, from mango and melon custard, to almond tofu. Yay!

Last night, I had a chance to chat on AIM with a bunch of my friends back at home. They were having a party, and they were nice enough to take time out to chat with me. Yay for talking to old friends again.

Quote of the Day: "Lack of relationships isn't that bad... Look at me...
Well... I'm probably not the best example, but you know what I mean."

:: SL 9:56 PM [+] ::
:: Saturday, August 14, 2004 ::
Today, I had lunch with a great friend, and we then went to the Science Center and worked on his super-secret, soon-to-be-released project that will revolutionize the world. Or at least the internet.

I then joined a couple of my friends, and we set up a table on a busy, touristy sidewalk with a sign that says "Advice, 25 cents - It's a bargain, yo." My friend came up with this really hilarious concept, and we were just doing it for fun, not doing it to actually make any money. Before we were able to give any advice for 25 cents, the street permits lady came around and told us that we really weren't supposed to charge for things on the city streets, but we were allowed to ask for donations, so we changed the sign to say, "Free advice!" Well, after some time, the business started rolling in. We had people coming up to ask random advice, from career advice to relationship advice. One lady came up with her significant other, pointed to him, and asked, "Should I sleep with this guy?" Even though we were giving free advice, people still gave us tips, so we ended up making quite a bit of money

One interesting thing that happened was I was talking to an advice-seeking person, and he asked me where I was from. I told him about my hometown, and he actually knew where it was, because he works for a communications agency, and there is a long underwater fiber optic cable that comes ashore at my hometown. So that was really exciting to be able to talk to someone in this part of the country who knows the small town I'm from.

The kicker is that while he was talking about my hometown, a lady who was passing by happened to hear the name of the town, and she stopped. I had wondered why she would stop to listen to a random man on the street speak Mandarin Chinese, but she explained that she lives in a city fifteen minutes from my hometown! She was visiting with her family, and was surprised to hear someone mention the town. It was really exciting to be hanging out with a couple of people who were familiar with my hometown, thousands of miles away from where I am now, where nobody has ever heard of the small city and where I usually have to explain, "It's a small town exactly between..." blah blah blah. Indeed, as the dear Sherman brothers noted in their classic Disney theme park song, "It's a small world, after all."

So we ended up buying ice cream from Toscanini's, a fancy ice cream and coffee place that supposedly has "the best ice cream in the world." I wasn't sure what all the hype was about... to me, ice cream is ice cream (unless it's the cheap kind at supermarkets that come in the huge plastic tubs). The ice cream certainly wasn't bad (I had the cake batter flavor, and that was yummy), but I'm just not too keen on what all the excitement is about this ice cream place. So I enjoyed my ice cream (one scoop in a sugar cone).

Later in the evening, two wonderful friends of mine went to a nice Japanese restaurant nearby. I love Japanese food, and it was really exciting to have it again. I had a teriyaki chicken combo, which also included miso soup, dumplings, a "sau mai," salad, vegetables, and white rice. I really enjoyed the meal. I then headed back to my friends' apartment, and I had some wonderful ice cream and green tea (yum!) while having lively discussions about albinos and Hello Kitty vibrators (disturbing, I know).

I currently have the song "Hands" by Jewel stuck in my head. Anyone else remember this song from the late 90s? "My hands are small, I know, but they're not yours, they are my own, but they're not yours, they are my own, and I am never broken."

Quote of the Day: "I just cut my nose while licking this envelope." "Oh, I hate it when that happens! Actually, I don't think that's ever happened to me."

:: SL 8:53 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, August 13, 2004 ::
Today, I watched the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympics!!! I've always been a fan of how the opening and closing ceremonies are so full of pageantry and symbolism. Bob Costas didn't seem to like this year's opening ceremonies too much, for he commented at the end of the production, "Well, that was a well-conceived and satisfying opening ceremonies." Ouch.

I didn't think that this year's opening ceremonies were as spectacular as the show in Sydney in 2000, but that was truly a spectacle and nearly impossible to top, with its spectacular musical productions and the incredible torch lighting that involved a giant disc that rose from the water and then climbed an incline to rise onto a stand.

This year's opening ceremonies certainly had its moments. First, the rings of the Olympics created in fire on top of the water was beautiful. I really liked when a sculpture then rose from the water and then broke off into many floating pieces, onto which images of people from around the world were projected. The huge strand of DNA (to symbolize that all human beings are created from the same matter) created by laser projections onto a column of mist was a really incredible effect, and the parade of Greek history, complete with Greek gods and goddesses, featured some of the coolest costumes I've ever seen. Oh, and the fireworks! So amazing! It was a thrilling show that really lit up the night.

I just love how the Olympics use special effects and production numbers in its opening ceremonies to inspire the ideals of humanity and world peace.

Quote of the Day: "I actually dated a narcissist once..."

:: SL 11:44 PM [+] ::
Elementary school drama!

A first grade class renacts the classic tale of Snow White.

I think the child who plays the evil queen/witch was cast perfectly. Her eyes glow with evil!!!

:: SL 12:58 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 ::
Mr. Lin goes to Washington... Part 2

I neglected to include a photo of John Kerry yesterday when he was speaking:

Mr. Kerry


On Friday, we got up early again and met at one of the hotel's meeting rooms for breakfast. Breakfast was quite nice and included scrambled eggs, a potato dish, bacon, sausage, assorted pastries, and orange juice - the pulpy kind (which was nice to have since I always end up drinking the non-pulpy kind, but I digress). We socialized while eating our meal. We then headed to the convention hall, where we heard a speech from the one and only George W. Bush, alas. On the way to the convention hall, we passed the requisite protestors, who lined the sidewalk with posters denouncing Bush and handing out fliers detailing 15 reasons why not to vote for Bush this November.

Security was very tight. There were Secret Service agents everywhere, and we had to go through a bag check and metal detectors. The same thing happened when we went to hear John Kerry speak the day before, but it was more rigorous and intensive for Bush. We then had to wait a very long time as more and more people filled the hall, and the speech started late because, as one security guard put it, "The president will decide when to start, and he likes to speak to a full house," (I of course rolled my eyes when I heard that). Right before the speech began, we heard the loud rumbling of a helicopter above the building we were in. We weren't sure if it was part of some security procedure or if it was W. landing in a helicopter on the roof of the convention center.

Bush speaks

The speech... Ah yes, what can I say about Bush's speech? I seriously think that media outlets edit his comments to make him sound more intelligent. I mean, I had known before that he's not the most gifted with the English language (or any other intellectual capacity for that matter), but I was still truly overwhelmed by his inability to speak.

Here are some highlights:

Bush refused to take questions from the general audience, but he did take questions from a panel with representatives from the four major journalists' associations of the convention. A representative from the Native American Journalists' Association asked, "What does tribal sovereignty mean in the 21st century?" Bush's response (from the event transcript): "Tribal sovereignty means that, it's sovereign. You're a -- you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And, therefore, the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities."

My friend turned to me and commented, "So he just says 'sovereign' six or seven times and that answers the question?"

Another moment was when Bush described the War on Terror:

"We actually misnamed the War on Terror. It ought to be the Struggle Against Ideological Extremists Who Do Not Believe in Free Societies Who Happen to Use Terror as a Weapon To Try To Shape The Conscience Of The Free World."


But of course we couldn't use that name because we need to feed the American public a scary soundbite like "war on terror" to drive them into fearful submission!

Finally, a representative from the Asian American Journalists' Association talked about a new book that proposes a return to internment camps like those used against Japanese-Americans during World War II. She asked how Bush felt about it. His response? "First of all, we don't need intern camps."

Um, you mean internment camps? Well, I suppose he wouldn't want any intern camps after the whole Clinton scandal...

There was a moment during Bush's speech in which everything became surreal for me. I was overwhelmed with confusion about our country. How could anybody listen to him speak and still want to vote for him? Does he even know what he's talking about? I think it's true that media outlets "go easy" on him. Maybe they feel sorry for him. Maybe they are just overwhelmingly conservative. Whatever it is, the truth needs to be told about this man.

Oh yeah, and there was a protestor who started shouting at Bush in the middle of his speech. He kept yelling, and a couple of mysterious Secret Service agents approached him and took him outside. On one hand, I agree that trying to shout somebody down during their speech is not really democratic, but on the other hand, I found that moment where the protestor was carried out to be incredibly symbolic of the Bush administration's silencing and launching a smear campaign against anyone who disagrees with them.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson held a press conference immediately after Bush's speech to rebut his comments

After the speech, we gathered again for several meetings as part of our Scholars' Retreat. We broke off into groups and had discussions about being a scholar, working in the journalism industry, and other issues that affect the media, such as ethics and plagiarism. After the day of sessions, we gathered for a big group picture.

Later in the evening, we gathered once again for dinner. We were all going to go to the dinner for the Asian American Journalists' Association, but there was a big ticket mix-up, so we didn't have enough tickets for everyone in the group. The few of us who did get tickets all sat together at a table in the far corner, and the dinner began.

Those of us who made it to the dinner

There were so many celebrities there. "Iron Chef" Masaharu Morimoto was one of the guests of honor, and onstage were Lisa Ling (who was once a host on "The View" TV show), Dr. Sanjay Gupta (CNN medical correspondent), and CBS anchor Connie Chung.

Sanjay and Sam J

Iron Chef Morimoto (Connie Chung is at the table on the left)

Dinner was very much like the night before, with the asparagus salad, mushroom soup, and chicken breast. Because we had the same thing the night before, we requested the vegetarian dish, and that was most delicious. It was a flaky pastry with lots of vegetables. Dessert differed from last night; instead of key lime pie with flavorless meringue, they served this wonderful citrus custard with fresh berries in a martini glass. It was delightfully sweet. I had two of those desserts, and I probably gained twenty pounds as a result.

Fancy salad

Tasty dessert

Connie Chung was the keynote speaker, and having seen her on television, I thought she would be extremely serious and boring. However, she was the complete opposite. She was animated, hilarious, and - dare I say - hyper. She was all smiles, and she injected a great deal of humor into her uplifting address. She talked about Asian American issues, particularly relating to journalism, and it was a perfect speech for the crowd. She started off by singing this absolutely hilarious song about politics and this year's presidential election. She then talked about the Asian American identity. She covered various ways to respond to some more ignorant questions, such as the "double from" question ("Where are you from?" "Kansas." "No, where are you really from?" - as if all Asian Americans are born outside of the United States). Asian Americans are often misperceived as outsiders, as not true Americans, and so she encouraged everyone to fight the misconception.

Connie Chung also made a slight dig at other TV journalists like Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer. She said she didn't want to "act like an ogre," so that's why she would be quiet and do as she was told, even if she didn't want to do certain assignments. The moral of the story was to stand up for what you want, instead of feeling like the Asian who feels the need to always say "yes" to everything. That's right. I'm tired of being the ineffectual Asian American who can't say no! I'm going to have what I want!

Connie Chung's speech was empowering and uplifting. For a very long time I didn't (not that I really got the chance) pay much attention to race issues, especially Asian American issues, and even these days I don't get many opportunities to hear about or discuss such matters, so hearing her speech was especially interesting for me. It's tough to have an Asian background in this country, so it was great being in a hall full of other journalists who face similar hardships and can all relate.

After the dinner, my companions and I went to the silent auction held by the Asian American Journalists' Association. We then went to a get-together with the other Knight Ridder scholars in a private suite at the hotel. We ordered food and had lively conversations into the late night.


It was the last major day of the convention. There was nothing scheduled until later in the afternoon, so everyone was free to do sightseeing, attend convention seminars, sleep in, or do whatever they wanted to do.

I still got up early on Saturday and went to the career fair, where hundreds of media companies - newspapers, magazines, television, radio, internet, etc. - had displays and recruiters. It was the last day of the job fair, and everything closed at noon, but I still managed to speak to representatives from many Knight Ridder newspapers. I ran into a lot of recruiters I had met the year before when I went to the AAJA convention job fair last summer in San Diego.

After the job fair, I had some time to do some sightseeing, so I walked to downtown D.C. and visited the National Archives, where the original copiees of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights are on display. It was neat to see these documents so important to the history of our great country, and even though they are so very faded after so many years, what is important is that the spirit of the words on those documents live on today. The line to get in was very long, and it didn't move very fast, so that took up most of my sightseeing time.

I still had a little time left, so I walked across The Mall and saw the U.S. Capitol building, which is huge and can even be seen from the airport.

The Capitol

The Washington Monument

I then walked over to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, which is huge and would probably take more than a day to see all the displays and exhibits. I only had about 30 minutes, but because admission was free, I went in and just took a quick look at what was inside. It was neat to see old airplanes and the history of space exploration. It was a busy summer Saturday, so there were many tourists visiting all the museums and interesting sights in Washington, D.C. I took some more pictures and then returned to the hotel, where we were meeting for a special trip.

Right before 4 p.m., we boarded busses that took us to a pier, where we boarded a small cruise ship just for all those who work for Knight Ridder and were attending the UNITY 2004 convention. Hors d'oerves were served, and we chatted with many people on the deck. Dinner was later served onboard. The cruise took us to Virginia to Mount Vernon, to the estate of George Washington. It was a long cruise, but we arrived and got a short tour from a guide. After walking up a long path up a hill, we arrived at George Washington's house. There were guides dressed up in period dress, and they told us about the house and served us tasty little desserts and various drinks. There were even a couple of drum and fife players to provide music! They really made the place feel alive as if we had gone back in time.

Great view

We gathered for a private party on the lawn behind George Washington's house, which overlooks the Potomac and offers such a stunningly beautiful view. We snacked on more desserts and socialized some more. We also saw other parts of the estate, including George Washington's garden and the slaves' quarters, which was a bit disturbing to see. There was also a little museum, which featured personal items that once belonged to our first president. There were books, silverware, and even his will.

George Washington's house

We took one last picture of all of us scholars together:

We then boarded the cruise ship again and returned to Washington, D.C. There was a dance party on the ship on the way back, and people got on their feet to party on this last night fo the convention.

It was the last night of our retreat, so we scholars had our traditional last night get-together, where we talk and play games and hang out for as long as we can before having to say goodbye to each other until the next year. We chatted and joked, and those who stayed until the very end played a game called "black magic," which took us forever to figure out. Some of us were so baffled by the game, but we all figured it out in the end, and that was a great ending to a fun night. I then had to say goodbye to everybody and went to bed. It was sad to leave such good friends who I see only once a year. I really miss everybody, even though it has only been a few days.


I was able to sleep in a little today, and then I packed up all my bags and took a taxi to the airport. It was a nice flight, and I was able to get some more sleep. This trip had been a wonderful experience, and I will never forget being a part of such an amazing gathering of journalists. I learned a great deal, and I very much enjoyed seeing many of my old friends once again. I can't wait to see them again next year.

Sunday night, one of my friends held a "prom" in the basement of her house! It was one of the most fun parties I've ever been to. We all dressed up in formal wear because it's fun to do so, and my friend drove us to her house. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and chatted. We then went downstairs to the basement, where there were many decorations. The music was turned up, and we danced and had fun. We also played pool and had a bowling competition. My friend and her good friend also had a "marriage ceremony," and that was hilarious to watch. I had a great time, and it was nice to see my friends again.

Quote of the Day: "We don't need intern camps."

:: SL 5:57 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, August 09, 2004 ::
Wow, what a great time! I got to learn a great deal more about careers in journalism and to see a lot of friends I only get to see once a year. It was an incredible experience to be a part of the largest gathering of journalists ever in the world (I think over 8,000 journalists attended the convention). Here's the first part of the day by day rundown (in the style my fellow bloggers enjoy using):


I arrived in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday afternoon. My ticket had only been purchased at 10 a.m. that morning after some mixup, the details of which are not entirely clear to me. There had been a lot of uncertainty prior to Wednesday morning as to whether I would actually be attending this journalism convention, since I didn't know the details of my transportation. However, I finally made it to D.C., and I took a taxi from the Reagan National Airport to the Renaissance Washington D.C. Hotel, which is located right next to the Washington Convention Center - the site of the UNITY 2004 journalism convention.

After meeting up with my scholarship director and checking in at the hotel, I went to my room and changed before heading back down to meet many of my fellow Knight Ridder friends. It was wonderful to see them again, and we were all excited to see each other. We had dinner at the hotel's fancy restaurant (I had a quesadilla appetizer and a salmon dish accompanied by a baked potato - butter and sour cream were the toppings). The dinner was enlivened by jokes from Cleve, my super-hilarious friend (he interned at The Tribune last summer with me). For dessert, I shared an apple pie dish with ice cream and tasty fruit sauce.

After dinner, we headed out to do some sightseeing of the city. We walked to the White House, and we saw both the front and the back of it. There was a lot of construction on Pennsylvania Avenue, the street on which the White House is located. We then walked to the Washington Monument and walked down The Mall to see the newly opened World War II Memorial. I really liked this memorial; there were many fountains, and they looked spectacular illuminated during the nighttime. Actually, all of the monuments we saw that evening were beautiful at night because of the lighting. We then walked along the reflecting pool (remember in the movie Forrest Gump where Forrest and Jenny are reunited wading into the reflecting pool?) towards the Lincoln Memorial. We went up the stairs and saw the towering statue of Mr. Lincoln. It was a very inspirational sight.

We then saw the Vietnam War Memorial, and that was an emotional site. It was a neat effect how you have to walk down a ramp in order to view the memorial, as that sort of set the tone for the memorial. Seeing all those names, you think about the life that was attached to that name... what was that person like? What was that person's life like?

Here are some photos from the sightseeing tour (photos by Cindy Wong, except for the second one, which was taken by a random tourist):

The White House

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Memorial in background

"Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln"

The Vietnam War Memorial

After seeing the memorial, we returned to the hotel, and some of us remained in the hotel lobby to chat; since we only see each other once a year, we usually stay up late talking.


We met up at 7 a.m. on Thursday (despite having stayed up pretty late the night before) to get good seats to see Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry speak to the convention. For breakfast, we enjoyed Krispy Kreme doughnuts from the little cafe in the lobby of the hotel (which, for those interested, "proudly brews Starbucks coffee"). We then headed over to the convention center, where we had to go through heavy security in order to enter the hall. Before the speech began, however, I helped hand out maps of the city (Knight Ridder had produced the maps as a promotional item). I then watched John Kerry's speech.

Kerry's speech to the journalists was really good. It was so much better than his televised speech at the DNC. Although he delivered his standard stump speech (with many familiar phrases and comments), he still had a great amount of new material tailored to diversity issues and the role of the media. It made the speech very relevant.

We then met and had a conversation with the chief of the Knight Ridder Baghdad bureau, and she told us stories of what it's like to live and report in one of the most volatile regions on earth. An interesting moment was when the air conditioning suddenly started loudly with a rumble, and she froze for a moment before breathing a sigh of relief and saying, "Oh, it's not a bomb, just the air conditioning." At the end of her talk, she gave us actual Iraqi currency (I believe it's called the dinar) from the regime of Saddam Hussein. Since they don't use them anymore in Iraq, they aren't worth anything, but it's interesting to have a piece of world history. The bill is blue and has an image of the ousted dictator... very interesting.

Later in the afternoon, we returned to the convention center to listen to a speech delivered by Secretary of State Colin Powell. His speech covered various aspects of America's role in the world and U.S. foreign policy, including attacking Iraq. It was kind of disappointing in that he was acting as just a mouthpiece of the Bush Administration, but at least he was the one in the administration who championed going to the U.N. for more international support.

In the evening, we met up once again and went to the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where we went to the Native American Journalists' Association dinner. There was an interesting keynote speaker who talked at length about various Native American issues. The emcee for the evening was quite extravagant and amusing. I believe he is also a part-time actor, and I can definitely see him doing a great job in that profession. After the dinner, we conversed for a bit in the hotel lobby, but we left early because we had to meet at 7 a.m. the next morning for breakfast.

To be continued...

Quote of the Day: "Oh, Sam J, you're so quaint!"

:: SL 5:36 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, August 04, 2004 ::
Sorry for not posting in the next few days... I'm heading off to Washington, D.C. for a big journalism convention! I'll be back on Sunday!

:: SL 6:54 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 ::
Not getting enough sleep is bad.

Tonight, I went to visit my friends and worked on perfecting my resume to impress the important people at the journalism convention I'm attending this week. I also had some ice cream and green tea. Yay!

Quote of the Day: "You just gotta have some MSG for the food to taste good."

:: SL 11:44 PM [+] ::
Aww... How cute!!!

:: SL 6:26 AM [+] ::
Maggots make medical comeback

"Drop maggots into the wound and cover with a special mesh to keep them in place. Two to three days later, after the maggots have eaten their fill, lift them off and dispose."

EEEEWWWWW!!!!! GROSS!!! Just thinking about it makes me feel disgusting inside.

:: SL 6:12 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, August 02, 2004 ::
Whoa there... I just found out that Sen. John Kerry and George W. Bush will be speaking at the journalism convention I'm going to this week in Washington, D.C.! Kerry on Thursday, and Bush on Friday morning. Secretary of State Colin Powell is scheduled to speak at the convention, too. Wow, what a trip this is going to be. It should be absolutely incredible... It's turning out to be so much bigger than I first anticipated.

One press release praises this convention as "the largest – and arguably among the most important – assembly of journalists in U.S. history." Wow.

Interestingly, Bush is actually going to have a question and answer session, and I just might try to ask a question, so here's my poll: If you could make a comment and ask a question to Bush, what would it be?

I've always wondered what I would actually say to Bush, if given the chance, considering how angry I, and many others, am about his lying to our country about war, taking our budget surplus and squandering it so now we have a record deficit, alienating so many of our international allies, and hastening the destruction and polluting of our environment, among so many other terrible things. It's difficult to even think beyond insults. I need a good question that takes the high road but expresses my extreme displeasure at his policies. This is the chance of a lifetime. E-mail your ideas.

Today, my friends and I gathered for trivia night once again at a local restaurant. It was very entertaining, as usual. We were a bit hesitant this time, since we were without the resources of one of our power players (he answered correctly that the 1904 world's fair was in St. Louis and that the animal that became extinct when the last of its species, named Martha, died was the passenger pigeon). However, we still managed to win third place, so we got cool hats with the restaurant's logo on them. We also snacked on half-price appetizers. Yum!

Quote of the Day: "I suppose it's becoming a vicarious thrill for me to hear about other people getting a good night's rest."

:: SL 6:14 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, August 01, 2004 ::
Alas, it is August. August always feels like summer is over. Granted, I still have about six weeks before school starts again in the fall, but August starts to feel like the fall and back to school time. Summer is almost over!

A strange night of strange dreams...

Last night, I had a panoply of strange dreams. One of them concerned a new ride at Disneyland that was a strange mix of Autopia and "it's a small world." You would drive through the ride in one of those polluting mini-cars that Autopia is so famous for and see little singing dolls, some of them moving up and down (with the help of strings). Then, in the conclusion of the ride, the car you were sitting in would morph into a boat. It was a really strange dream.

Another dream revolved around a new rule in the English language that required a hyphen for English words that had the letter "j" or "k" affixed to it. An English teacher forced me to apply the new rule to my own name, so my name became Sam-J (which it is not... it's Sam J). I was very much annoyed by this new rule in my dream. It's about as annoying as leaving out commas when listing things, as people started doing several years ago ("eats, shoots, and leaves" became "eats, shoots and leaves"). Anyways, that's enough about strange new English rules.

Today, I visited my friends Alex and Alex at their apartment. It was a wonderful time of chatting and drinking tea. I had green tea to get

So, we all know that the Bush campaign is evil, but now I can say that the Bush campaign has physically hurt somebody I know. My friend Alex, upon reading about another negative attack from the Bush campaign, was so frustrated that he started brutally beating his leg. He then limped off the couch in pain. In conclusion: Don't vote for Bush this November because he hurts people... in more ways than one.

Quote of the Day: "Look, Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian; you should be one too!"

:: SL 4:25 PM [+] ::

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