Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What Goes Around



     I had it good. Real good...until I messed up. That was about ten years ago now. I wish I could go back. But now I can't. If only there was a way to fix that huge mistake.
     I met him while I was in high school. He was studying at a local college to work in the video game industry. He was passionate and multitalented. Aside from video games, his interests included sewing, sculpting and legos. He sewed all the suits he wore to church and his dorm was crowded with both clay and lego sculptures. Yet, it was organized. Neat and tidy was the way he was.
     When I graduated high school, I went to the same college as him. Somebody had suggested that I joined the college's video game club. That's how I got to know him. I made a few good friends at the club. But I lost all of them except one. I don't even have him anymore, but at the time we were all good friends. They used to be my favorite people with whom I played games with and we were very close. At first, we would just talk about the games. Gradually, we would talk about school, family friendships, tv shows and even our own personal problems. He, out of all of them, was the one in whom I felt was most similar to me. We seemed to like almost the same things. The same books, movies, topics, you name it. We seemed alike in almost every way.
     One day, he decided to have a movie/game night at his house during one of the holiday breaks. He invited me and the rest of his friends to come. At his house, his family was nice and we had a dinner of barbecue ribs, tacos, chips, pizza, mac and cheese, veggies, potato salad and desserts. Come to find out, he actually helped his parents cook the dinner. I was impressed to see a college boy who could cook. He even gave me cooking tips! I enjoyed the time at his house so I asked if I could come again. And so he invited me.
     We started hanging out more and more and soon, we were dating. We had a great time together and he became my favorite person to hang out with. He shared everything with me including his deepest thoughts. We met each other's families, friends and associates. Soon his family felt like my family and my family felt like  his. Of course, we would talk about our futures. He would talk about the gaming industry and I would talk about my career. He even proposed that I helped him self publish a game. And so the project was started.
     For the first few weeks, progress was slow since he could only afford a few minutes a day to work on it. With his self discipline, he somehow found more time despite going to college, working a job, and doing an internship. But my level of persistence with this project foreshadowed the future of our relationship.
     Sometimes, we would talk about how our lives would be like if anybody ever married us. This included whether or not we wanted kids, if we wanted to buy a house, and all the other things we thought were related to marriage. It took two years of dating before he finally said he was cosidering  proposing to me. I told him I would marry him If he decided to do so. But he said he would think  while longer. A while longer turned out to be a few months. Within that time, he graduated from college and got an entry level job in the gaming industry. The job was not prestigious, but it was enough for him to live in an apartment by himself.
     Meanwhile, I was getting increasingly irritated at my parents. They would upset me often and frequently. I literally believed I couldn't take it anymore and that's one of the reasons I said yes to him.
      He wanted to wait until after I got out of college before marrying him, but I managed to convince him to do it earlier. He graduated two years before I was going to and I didn't want to wait that long. If I was not so determined to leave my parents house, I likely wouldn't have pushed to have the justice of peace so early. My parents urged me to wait a few years since they believed I needed some "growing up" before actually being ready for such a move. Of course, they couldn't stop me. So two months after he moved into the apartment, we got married. By the third month, I had completely moved in with him.
      We were doing good for a bit after that. My new husbands income was enough to support the apartment so  I was able to attend college full time like I had when I was still living with my parents. My husband insisted that I worked a part time job for the sole purpose of saving money. He wanted this money for three things: emergencies, a small house, and his in progess video game. I agreed, but I did not succeed at giving him what he wanted.
     He and I continued to be close, but this gradually start to change. First, he would stop cooking dinner for the both of us, and would only cook for himself. I was annoyed at this. "I consider you when I make stuff!"
     "You don't 'make' anything," he said. And continued doing the same thing. As time went on, he would slowly stop talking to me about his projects even though he was still working on them. He made much progess, but he struggled to do it by himself. I would help him...sometimes but I wasn't helping enough. So I stopped directly helping him and told him that when I get a part time job, I would use the money to fund his projects.
     The arguments came next. He would complain that I didn't appreciate anything. This made me feel that nothing was good enough for him at the time. What I didn't realize was that he was right. I was being ungrateful. I was going to college full time and didn't have to work. All I had to do was keep my grades up and do domestic work. I searched for a part time job, but the one I got was not of my own doing. My mother convinced the managers to give me that job. My husband was unhappy when I quit. I thought the job was hard despite the fact that I was only there a very short time. My husband said I quit out of laziness. He knew this because of the way I handled the apartment. My dinner cooking was reserved to quick to make stuff and my cleaning was done with partial effort. He began complaining about this as well as the fact that I wasn't helping him enough with his projects. Most of his complaints reciprocated the problems I had with my parents. The only difference was that he was worse at it. He was more bold and frequent with his protests whereas my parents were more indirect and less complain less often. Instead of working to improve myself, I would complain to my friends about him.
     After a year of marriage, I told my parents I wanted a divorce. They told me to let them know when I made my final decision. I filed for a divorce and was back at my parent's house within a month. What I didn't expect was for them to tell me "I told you so". It was especially embarrassing since they new that I divorced him because he had the same problems with me that they had. They said that I was lazy, inconsiderate, and unappreciative. They also said if i had done things differently, I would have never divorced. Worst of all, they were right. I had lost a good husband over my own actions. I realized my error after I graduated. It was too late. What goes around comes around. I had lost both him, and several of my friends. And I can never fix it. I hope no one else makes the same mistakes as me.


This short story was originally posted on goodreads for a short story competition.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Not So Earth-Friendly Ebook industry

The Not So Earth-Friendly Ebook Industry

     E-books are very new in comparison to printed books. Environmentalists often promote them as eco-friendly since they could replace print books. I am led to believe that e-books have lot of advantages but eco-friendliness is not one of them . The primary advantages of e-books is the ability to get them faster and cheaper than printed books as well as their ability to be read everywhere and anywhere. But those of us who use e-books under the idea that they are greener may not be helping the environment after all. After reading several news articles, I have decided that it is better to simply enjoy reading what you prefer. I believe that we all should look at various sets of sources and make the decision ourselves on what to read. Today, I will list several factors that most people don't consider when buying e-books.

1. Using Less Paper May Mean More Deforestation

     Many of our power plants are still powered by coal . In fact, mediashift.org claims it's about 57% percent. Coal mining is a major contributor to the destruction of mountain top forest and other plants. Explosives are used to blow up the actual mountains leaving local streams and rivers polluted(source: earthjustice.org). The electricity used to power our devices use the power that leads to such destruction. Therefore, we are not saving trees by reading on electronics.

2. Electronic Readers Are Often Retired Too Early

     Some individuals buy an electronic device every year. Others buy one every few years. E-waste is a known environmental hazard. Electronics are being thrown in our landfills and we are not yet effectively recycling them. Paper, although still a major part of our landfills, is one of the most recycled items in our society. Although paper products are not pollution free, it is estimated that a book lover would have to read at least 100 books to offset the environmental costs of reading electronically. Most people will not read that many books before they retire their devices.

3. E-book purchases are rising with print book purchases

     Both E-books and print books are rising in sales. The use of e-books have not decreased the amount of print sales, but rather, they have grown alongside of print sales. This means that the environmental impact of e-books has not slowed the production of print books at all. As a matter of fact, publisher often burn unsold copies of print books. In turn, your book purchase might have saved a book from the dumpster or furnace. 

4. Possible Solutions

     Both E-books and print books give pollution to the environment. Therefore, neither is completely green, but there are things we can do to reduce our carbon footprints. The first thing we could do is stop buying so much stuff. Part of our problem is the amount of stuff were are throwing away. If we reduce our waste, we can help the environment. At the same time, going extreme does nothing to help at all, so we should, therefore, be reasonable. The easiest and most reasonable way to help the environment is to keep the stuff we already have and take good care of it to make it last as long as it can. We can also avoid buying things we don't need. When we decide to buy things, we should search for better quality items since they are usually more durable. Buying used items can also help the environment. A print books could be read many times before it is retired. It may also help to keep your current electronic device for as long as they are properly working.

     Individual efforts are not enough to help the environment. The companies producing our products need to change they way they are doing things as well. In the case of books, publishers should use recycled materials and stop doing print runs. When publishers do print runs, they print hundreds, possibly thousands of book copies in hopes a book store or reader will buy them. Instead, they could print books as they are sold so there is no excess. Are E-books greener than print books? What do you think? 


Friday, August 25, 2017

New in September

     Just a few days until September! Exciting month! New school year, new job, and soon, new adventure! I learned a lot in this past year. Despite the fact that I didn't accomplish what I wanted, the things I have learned brings me some hope. Anyway, September has is a fresh new start for me, and one of the things that will start me off is the following list of book releases. They are all coming in September and I hope to read some of them. Enjoy.

                                      1. Little Fires Everywhere

                                                 Publication Date: Sept. 12, 2017
Image result for little fires everywhere google books


Little Fires Everywhere is written by Celeste Ng. The story takes place in a peaceful, happy suburb. Elena Richardson's family rents out a house to Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl. The Richardsons and the Warrens become friends, but this is threatened when old friends of the Richardsons decide to adopt a Chinese-American baby. This leads to a custody that divides the town. Suspicious of Mia's motives, Elena investigates Mia's past which comes at devastating costs.

2. The Black Tides of Heaven

Publication Date: Sept. 26, 2017 
Image result for black tides of heaven


    As infants, the Protector's twin children, Mokoya and Akeha were sold to the Grand Monastary. Mokoya developed a strange prophetic gift while Akeha saw what moved adults into action. They saw the sickness at the heart of their mother's protectorate. 
     Rebellion grows. The Machinists discover new levers to move the world everyday, while the Tensors fight  them and preserve the state's power. Unwilling to continue  be used in her mother's schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and follows the rebels. But every step Akeha takes towards the Machinists is a step  away from Mokoya. Can Akeha find peace without shattering the bond they share with their twin?


3. I Eliza Hamilton

Publication Date: September 27, 2017

Image result for i eliza hamilton
     
     Elizabeth Schuyler, a general's daughter, is used to socializing with dignitaries and soldiers. But no other visitor to her parents' home has affected her as much as Alexander Hamilton, a charismatic, ambitious aide to George Washington. They quickly marry and despite the uproar of the American Revolution, Eliza is confident in her brilliant husband and her role as his helpmate. But it is in the aftermath of war, as Hamilton becomes one of the country’s most important figures, that she truly comes into her own.  
     In the new capital, Eliza becomes an adored member of society, respected for her fierce devotion to Hamilton as well as her grace. Behind closed doors, she astutely manages their expanding household, and assists her husband with his political writings. Yet some challenges are impossible to prepare for. Through public scandal, betrayal, personal heartbreak, and tragedy, she is tested again and again. In the end, it will be Eliza’s indomitable strength that makes her not only Hamilton’s most crucial ally in life, but also his most loyal advocate after his death, determined to preserve his legacy while pursuing her own extraordinary path through the nation they helped shape together.


4. Once an Heiress

Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Image result for once an heiress renee ryan
     Boston society darling Gigi Wentworth leaves behind everything she holds dear for the sake of love—only to learn that the man with whom she’d planned to elope is nothing but a thieving scoundrel. Abandoned in New York City and saddled with debt, Gigi must sell a prized family heirloom, but even that sacrifice isn't enough to get her home. Her determination drives her to take on work as a lady’s maid, keeping her identity a secret…until she’s discovered by a former friend with a hidden agenda.

Although dealing with his own serious family issue, Christopher “Fitz” Fitzpatrick sets out to return the missing heiress to her rightful place in society. But the more he interacts with this new Gigi, the more shocked he is to find her so changed. Gone is the frivolous beauty in expensive gowns. In her place is a woman he could grow to love. When secrets are revealed, will Gigi and Fitz find the trust they need to confront the past and open their hearts?

5. Little Soldiers

Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Image result for little soldiers lenora chu

When American mom Lenora Chu moved to China with her little boy, she faced a tough decision. China produced some of the world’s top academic achievers, and just down the street from her home in Shanghai was THE school, as far as elite Chinese were concerned. Should Lenora entrust her rambunctious young son to the system?

So began Rainey’s immersion in one of the most extreme school systems on the planet. Almost immediately, the three-year-old began to develop surprising powers of concentration, became proficient in early math, and learned to obey his teachers’ every command. Yet Lenora also noticed disturbing new behaviors: Where he used to scribble and explore, Rainey grew obsessed with staying inside the lines. He became fearful of authority figures, and also developed a habit of obeisance outside of school. “If you want me to do it, I’ll do it,” he told a stranger who’d asked whether he liked to sing. 

What was happening behind closed classroom doors? Driven by parental anxiety, Lenora embarked on a journalistic mission to discover: What price do the Chinese pay to produce their “smart” kids? How hard should the rest of us work to stay ahead of the global curve? And, ultimately, is China’s school system one the West should emulate? 

She pulls the curtain back on a military-like education system, in which even the youngest kids submit to high-stakes tests, and parents are crippled by the pressure to compete (and sometimes to pay bribes). Yet, as mother-and-son reach new milestones, Lenora uncovers surprising nuggets of wisdom, such as the upside of student shame, how competition can motivate achievement, and why a cultural belief in hard work over innate talent gives the Chinese an advantage.

Lively and intimate, beautifully written and reported, Little Soldiers challenges our assumptions and asks us to reconsider the true value and purpose of education.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

China Dolls Review

China Doll by Lisa See


     Last month I read China Dolls. China Dolls is the story of three girls(Helen, Grace, and Ruby Tom) who have the goal of becoming dancers. They become friends as soon as they meet and face the challenges of being Asian Americans during the 1930s and 1940s. They all struggle through the ups and downs of being night club dancers. The story takes a major turn when a betrayal threatens to tear their friendship apart. 
      The story was good and I had a good time reading it. Sorry for the short post but today I have a hard time writing. I will get around to writing a follow up post. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Review of Samurai Girl(Book Series by Carrie Asai)

Titles: Book of the Sword(book 1)
          Book of the Shadow(book 2)
          Book of the Pearl(book 3)
          Book of the Wind(book 4)
          Book of the Flame(book 5)
          Book of the Heart(book 6)

Author: Carrie Asai


Intro

     If you ever see a book series in which all of its book were published in less than a year, do your time one big favor: don't...read it. That's exactly how I feel about Carrie Asai's Samurai Girl. The only way in which I benefited from reading it was an opportunity to write this book review. Below is my opinion of the series:

Plot:

     I must admit that the plot had good potential. It is about a sheltered, Japanese rich girl named Heaven Kogo who was adopted at six months old after becoming the only survivor of a plane crash. The story starts when Heaven is at her wedding ceremony(it's an arranged marriage) and a ninja attacks her. Her brother, Ohiko, fights the ninja and dies trying to protect her. Heaven runs away and finds Hiro, one of Ohiko's friends, and asks him for help. She spends the entire series trying to find out who killed her brother as well as why she is being hunted.

My review:

     I thought the story was interesting and that is what kept me reading until the end. Unfortunately, the series' potential is ruined by the author(s) own doing. The first way it is ruined is the fact that book 6 is the last book in the series. The series needs at least one more book to complete the story. Yes, it is true that many books have cliffhangers, but when cliffhangers are so big that they equate to an incomplete plot, it ruins the story. That's how me and many other reviewers online felt about Samurai Girl. I considered watching the mini series for it, but I changed my mind after reading a blog post from angryasianman.com. The blog post writer makes it clear that the TV version is apparently worse than the books were.

     The plot holes are my biggest problem, but the second one is poorly developed characters. If the characters were at least better, perhaps the reader would consider forgiving the author(s) for their corny ending. I must say though that when writers rush, stuff like this happens. There are several reason why I think the characters turned out to be flat. The first is the fact that the each book revolves around Heaven a little too much. The people who help Heaven do not seem to have any personal ambitions or motives outside of what relates to Heaven. As a result, they seem to be there only to be Heaven's helpers. Now, of course, considering that Heaven is the main character, most of the book is going to naturally revolve around her thoughts. Yet, in order  for readers to get the best enjoyment out of a book, side characters must have goals, needs, wants, desires, and weaknesses just like the main character. They can't be just convenient throw ins.

     Heaven is also what many authors would call a Mary Sue. Everything just falls her way no matter what even if the situation doesn't call for it. She also is also miraculously good at everything. How is her fighting better than all the thugs who chase after her? It just doesn't make sense. And it appears that every reviewer on Amazon thinks the same. What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Home Is a Strong Word

     Pachinko is a novel about a Korean family's struggle over several generations. I wrote about it in my last blog post. Today, I will be talking about the beginning quote. It says, "Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit answered to, in strongest conjuration."----Charles Dickens.
     Home is indeed a strong word and home is in different places since people come from different backgrounds. Most people are proud of their home to some extent. Some show a strong degree of family pride. Others show strong patriotism while others show pride in their home town or the long lost heritage of their ancestors. When we think of home, we do not merely think of a specific building, but rather the pool of memories and emotions related to it. The mere thought of home could change our mood. For some people, it could change their day.
     Charles Dickens' quote suites Pachinko because home is a concept commonly seen throughout the novel. The first mention that I remember is the time when Sunja marries and thinks about whether she will see her mother again. She must move to her husband's home in Japan and start a new life. Throughout the book, many of the Korean characters long to return to Korea. These characters had loyalty to Korea since it was their home.
      Home is a very strong word. It is where we have spent most of our lives and it's the place where our true personality shows. Have you ever seen somebody who you thought you knew and then saw them at home and realized they weren't who you thought they were? You're not alone. The same thing has happened to millions of other people. And it will continue happening.
     Everybody wants a home. A home may be a physical building, but it could also be wherever our comfort zone is. One of the comfort zones could be when we're among family, the second thing we think about when we think about home. Family is not always our blood relatives. In fact, sometimes people outside our genetic families are better than our real families. Regardless of where home is found, it remains part of our identity. Family is the biggest part of our association and where we live can have a major impact on our lives. For example, many college graduates could not find jobs in their career majors simply because those industries were located away from where they planned to live. Those who couldn't move had to work elsewhere.
     Many people are still looking for homes. Some in a physical sense, and some in an abstract sense. I am looking for a home in an abstract sense. A few weeks ago, I realized I should probably look for another language to learn. For years, I wanted to learn Spanish, but I am not sure if I am passionate enough about Spanish culture to continue. I have to learn more about myself before I know where this figurative home is. I think this home is with Chinese, but I am not sure.
     As for identity, Pachinko touch on this as well. One of the characters committed suicide after seeing his mother. The book does not say why, but it gives enough information to give us a conclusion: he could not face the reality of his identity after finding out who his real father was. He wanted to run from it. Had he grown up with his real father, the suicide would have likely never happened. Yet, only the author could imagine how he would have turned out. He would have been different because his childhood home would have been different.
     Identity is part of home since home defines who we are and how we perceive ourselves. Home is indeed a strong word. And we have a longing for it.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Pachinko

Pachinko

Author: Min Jin Lee

Published: February 2017

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Summary

     Pachinko is the first book of a saga featuring generations of a Korean family. The first two chapters feature the story of how Sunja's parents got married. Afterwards, the real story begins. Sunja lives in a boarding house with her mother during a time in which Japan controls Korea. She falls in love with an older man and gets pregnant with his child. This leads a visitor at the boarding house to marry her to save her from shame. Unfortunately, Sunja must abandon her mother to move with her new husband's family. Pachinko shows us the journey of Sunja and her new family as they fight the hardships such as poverty and the political changes imposed on them by the Japanese. 

Review

     I listened to the audio book audition of Pachinko. The first two chapters move slower than my tastes, but the overall themes make up for this. This book covers issues that even our American society needs to examine such as prejudice and identity. This book feels realistic and I feel that I can relate to some of the character's experiences despite never having to go through most of their challenges. Readers must realize that the problems in Pachinko can happen anywhere and not just in Korea. The characters experience loss, disappointment, shame and rejoicing. Sunja is a caring mother, but she too has made mistakes. But the best part about her is her ability to recover from them. I would highly recommend this book and look forward to the sequel. How did you like the book? Let me know in your comments below.