Tuesday, October 30, 2007



Monday, October 29, 2007


A few weeks ago I went into Walgreens to get a cold drink. While there, I saw the tropical mix was on sale for only $1.99 for a 12 oz bag, so I purchase two bags. The total, included tax, came to be $6.66. The cashier had a funny look on his face when he told me how much the total was. He then proceeded to say, "Wow, it is scary." I responded, "It must be my lucky day."

There is a house in my neighborhood with an address 666 and the people who are living in this house are parishioners of my church (I found out from the church directory). In modern western culture, particularly Christian belief, the number 666 is a symbol for Satan or the Devil. In contemporary Western art or literature, the number 666 is referenced as the sign of the Beast or satanic associations. Perhaps one day I would find a way to ask these people why they don't mind living at this address or maybe because they don't believe in the meanings attached to the number 666.

In the movie "The Omen" (I only saw the original 1976 version), the character Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) saw the proof that his son Damien true identity as an offspring of Satan after seeing the "666" birthmark on Damien's scalp. There are other movies in this series as well as others with similar theme of "demonic child" such as Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist (I never saw this movie in its entirety because I did not want to get nightmares).

There is a building in New York City, 666 Fifth Avenue and it is considered a trophy building because it is located on Fifth Avenue, across from Rockfeller Center. It is a 41-story office building between 52nd and 53rd streets. I read in Wikipedia that the Tishman family built this 41-story office building in 1957, sold it for 80 million in 1976, then in 2000, the price tag stood at $518 million as purchased price. It was sold again in 2006 for $1.8 billion. Since 2006, Citigroup logo has replaced the prominent 666 address on the side of the building.

From mid-1983 to late 1984, I worked for an insurance agency in an office building at the corner of 53rd and 5th Avenue. It was a full time job and I worked in premium collection department. I was finishing up my Associate degree at LaGuardia Community College when I started working there and transferred to Hunter College in the Fall of 1984. Looking back, I really had a good memory working at the agency. Most of the people were nice to me and I kept to myself. I did not have much opinions about anything, being a good employee and quietly doing my homework during lunch.

I used to take my lunch to Rockefeller Center, eating my sandwich while watching people going by. The library was just around the corner and across the library was the Museum of Modern Art. I believe the Museum is still at the same location, I am not sure about the library. My concentration used to be much better. I could do my homework no matter how noisy the surrounding was or in a crowded room where people were talking about different subjects. I also loved going to St. Patrick's Catheral. I was drawn to the Christian faith even though I was not baptised or confirmed or did not know anything about the religion. I sat in a pew, quietly praying or simply resting my body and soul.

There were many young agents in the agency. There was one person, let's call him Jeff Greenberg, who asked me whether I would like to go out with him. He asked me where I would like to go. I suggested meeting at a museum and to McDonald for lunch. He laughed and said that no woman ever suggested such thing. (He was too polite to say that I was a cheap date or too naive to demand a fancy dinner.) He agreed to meet at the Museum of Modern Art on Saturday afternoon. We walked around town and he finally told me where we would be going for dinner. He took me to the Top of the Sixes Restaurant.

The Restaurant was a penthouse of the building, 666 Fifth Avenue. I remembered we were seated at a table by the window, but I don't remember much about the view. I do remember the impressive menu. The cover was made of an inch thick black particle board, approximately 4 inches wide and 17 inches in length. Inside were the menu in cardstock cream color. On the left was the appetizers, soup and side dishes. On the right was the main entrees. I don't remember the price for each items, maybe I ordered a cup of soup and a well-done sirloin steak. I did not drink any wine and asked for a club soda instead. I don't remember what JG ordered or what we talked about the whole dinner. It must not be very special as that was the only time JG ever asked me out on a date. We saw each other often but it was all business. It could be because after dinner, I told JG that I would like to go home instead of go dancing at a club he suggested. I shook his hand, thanked him for dinner and took the subway home!

This entry is a long story of my only dinner at the Top of the Sixes Restaurant. In 1998, the Restaurant was replaced with a private club/cigar bar called the Grand Havana Room.

Friday, October 26, 2007


As the Colorado Rockies and the Boston Red Sox are battling for the World Series Championship, I thought posting photos from our vacation in Colorado last year would be fitting for the occassion. I admit that baseball does not excite me and I don't know much about the sport. However, being from New York, I have to be against the Red Sox. Since my brother-in-law is living in Colorado and we had a great time visiting the State, I prefer to cheer for the Rockies. I hope the Rockies will be able to come back from the two-game deficit (Red Sox won the first two games) and at this writing, Saturday, October 27th, the Red Sox is leading 6-0, bottom of the 5th).

We visited Gardens of the Gods and saw the stunning beautiful giant red rock formations. It was incredible and overwhelming looking up at the rocks, various shapes, mysteriously formed, bright red under the sun. It is a must see when visiting Colorado.
A great view of the Royal Gorge and the Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world, spanning 1053 feet above the Arkansas River. My husband drove the thunderbird across the Bridge (photo below) while I slowly and carefully walked across, trying so hard not to look down. It was somewhat windy that day and my heart stopped while holding on to the steel cables every time the wind "gently" swung the bridge.

I took this photo while driving back down from the summit of Pikes Peak. I read a few books to know about the altitute in Colorado but I was overwhelmed when we finally reached the top of Pikes Peak. I was out of breath when walking fast from the parking lot towards the bathroom. I almost fainted, felt dizzy, unbalance and a sense of the ground moving under my feet. At 14,110 feet above sea level, the temperature at the summit was so cold. It was flurries with a chance of snowing (it was July 3rd!). I got nervous at every turn as the roads were narrow with mountain on one side and the deep cliff on the other. Signs such as "falling rocks" and the rails that were half washed away made me pray harder.

Most of the roads in Colorado were pathways between range of mountains. We stopped often to capture the scenery and of course, with the thunderbird in the photos.

We spent one day in Aspen. We took the tram up to one of the ski lodges. Aspen was nice and as beautiful as any ski resorts. Of course, it is well known for the wealthy residents and visitors. I walked around town, looking at some of the shops but could not afford buying anything. Even the dogs have an attitude with their expensive collars and outfits.

We went to Vail the next day. I liked Vail much better. Somehow the town seemed to be less pretentious and friendlier. I purchased a nice jacket that was on sale and a few postcards.

More photos of the Royal Gorge. It is truly a nature wonder and the determination of men to conquer nature.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


October 24th is United Nations Day and I took a day off to meet my husband for lunch. After lunch, I treated myself to the afternoon of leisure, walking around the mall (the last time I was at the mall was a few months ago), to the library, the bookstore and taking my time to enjoy the beautiful sunny day. I purchased a handbag, two sweaters and three sport undershirts.

I saw in the Sunday Parade magazine that only 29% of 25,000 readers voted 'Yes" to the survey question, "Does the UN still matter?" while 71% voted "No". Those responded yes commented that the world still need the United Nations because the UN does a lot of good work such as peacekeepers, caring for the refugees, people suffering from disasters and maintain global diplomatic ties between countries that would otherwise unable to have open relations.

Those responded "No" reasonsed that diplomacy no longer effective in settling differences in world affairs because countries do not follow UN mandates and are not truly interested in world peace. Another reason was that the UN is undermined by its own corruptions and wasteful spending.

Perhaps my readers (adoring fans) wonder why it is worth mentioning United Nations Day. Who cares, you might ask. I do because of my internship during the Fall semester in 1988 while completing my degree at Hunter College. It was a great experience and I was a diplomat wannabe for those four months. I don't remember exactly what the assignments were but from my blurry memory, what I did during the internship was to research and compiled reports on the funding (from 1960-1980) and how the programs benefitted women and their families in third world countries. For example, such programs would be to provide small loans to women in Angola or India to start their own dress shops, small chicken farms or fruit gardens. I had an office in a separate building, across the street from the UN building. Each morning (Monday-Thursday) I would stop by a deli at the corner to get a cup of coffee and egg/bacon on a plain bagel (toasted), cut in half. On Friday, I would go to a one-day part-time job (unrelated to the internship) performing accounting/clerical work at an office near the New York Stock Exchange.

In addition to reading thru all the reports, I also assisted other people in the office with clerical tasks. In the afternoon I would cross the street to the UN main library and again read all the statistics. I also managed to eat lunch in the employees cafeteria. The food was good and the price was reasonable. I even got special treatment from the employees when I told them that I attended evening classes and did not have time to eat dinner. One nice employee pitied me and always gave me a larger portion of food. Between rushing from the UN at 1st Avenue and 46th Street to classes at Hunter College at 68th & Lexington, I did not get home until 10 pm and a big lunch would help ease my hunger from skipping dinner.

United Nations is a special place because in the summer of 1987, I met my husband of more than 18 years in the UN visitors' cafeteria. (The story of how we met will be featured in future entry). When my husband came to visit from Michigan in November 1988, I took him around to areas only accessible to employees. He still talked about this wonderful experience when we walked up to the podium at the Security Council. I still have a photo of me pretending to officiate over a council meeting, lecturing to countries, "Stop fighting"! The guards there knew me because I always said hello, addressing them by names and practiced my diplomatic skills with small talks, planning for the day when I would be working as a United Nations diplomat. Well, that day never came because I married my husband and moved to a small town along Lake Michigan. In the summer of 1989, I left my family, New York City, Chinatown, my dreams of being a UN diplomat to live in a town with one traffic light, one Chinese restaurant and driving in white out conditions (lot of snow from lake effects). There you have it, a real story of "Love is Blind".

Monday, October 22, 2007


After many months of sending out resumes and going to interviews after work, I finally received an offer that is not only comparable to the current wages but with 20% more of the total compensation (base salary, benefits and pension package). I am planning to give my two-week notice soon. I was able to negotiate with the new employer as there is an important event in November that I would like to stay with the Association and hand in my resignation after that.

I understand that an employee leaving should give two-week notice. However, it is ironic that the employers are not obligated to do the same. Many times employees are given notice right before the holidays or come to work and find out the doors are locked with a notice that the company went out of business.

I am so glad to move on. I will be working in an organization that respects me as a person, and not being treated as a clerical assistant. I will be recognized for my talents (writing), my education (a gradudate degree in communication) and most of all, not being subjected to constant harrassment. I will leave behind the "good ol' boy network" where men find every which ways to reward each other (handing out bonus like lollipop) while someone else is doing most of the work.

I am moving on to a positive work environment where no one will throw tandrum, or turn a minor problem into a tirade and outburst of red-face, yelling demeaning comments or incompetent men are being paid high wages because of who they know and not what they are capable of doing the work required. I am moving on to where I will be appreciated and respected, where I will be recognized for my potentials and not as a threat to someone's egos and where people are treated with dignity and men behave in civilized manners.

Friday, October 12, 2007


(Disclaimer - This entry is not an endorsement of kickboxing. Please consult your physician before begin this type of exercise program.)

I heard of the phrase "Stop and Smell the Roses" but I never knew it was a title of an album by Ringo Starr. The saying is a reminder that we need to slow down and enjoy life, to see the beauty of nature around us and to appreciate simple things. The late author Richard Carlson reminded us in his book, "Don't sweat the small stuff", that we must not let unimportant/minor inconvenience or temporary set backs take away the joy of living. Well, I have been sweating, not the small stuff, but when doing kick-boxing at a nearby Boxing Gym.

How and when did it happen that the little chubby me taking up kick boxing? The incident at the golf tournament (please see entry on "The Dark Ages or It's Still a Man's World" on Wednesday, August 22, 2007), then a few weeks later I had to deal with a staff person throwing tandrum about having too much work to do and the final straw that broke the camel's back was when a person from a higher position made demeaning comments towards me (the person later apologized), I decided that I deserved a day off. The next morning I stopped by the Boxing Gym out of curiosity. I stayed for the tryout, then purchased my first pair of punching gloves and signed up for membership the next day.

For almost two months, twice a week, I have been attending cardiovascular kickboxing classes. It is a workout that combines boxing and aerobics, comprised of 15 minutes warm up (jumping ropes, stretching, push-ups) then 30 minutes of punches, kicks and knee strikes. The trainers are very accommodating and the classes are not too fast or too complicated. I work at my own pace and don't try to overextending myself by kicking too high and slow down when needed.

I took me almost two weeks to deliver my punches properly, sharp delivery, snap and recover. Now I remember the basic combinations, one-two is a left jab and a straight right, one-two-three includes the left hook, a six-punch drill includes a jab, a straight right, a left hook, another right, a left and right uppercut. I also remember to keep one hand in guard position while the other executing the punches.

I still have to learn to master the footwork, moving around the bag, ducking, moving side to side, bouncing between the feet while delivering punches in combinations. My punches are getting better as I recognized the benefits of working off frustration. I really enjoyed this high impact workout. I don't suggest that kickboxing is for everyone or replacement of therapy. For me, punching and kicking the freestanding pillars serve as a form of therapeutic, reduces and relieves stress and the feelings of helplessness. Practicing kicking actually makes me feel empowered while learning simple self-defense moves.

This week I learned to do a strong front kick, but I need to work on the roundhouse kick and the side kick. I have become comfortable throwing the punches, moving around the bag and the whole hour goes by quickly. At the end of each workout, my shirt was soaking wet and I could feel my body burning calories. I still plod through life, being weighed down by stress at work and personal problems, but for that one hour, I feel alive and ready for any challenges coming my way.

I will never get into the ring to challenge Evander Hollyfield and I am not planning to involve in physical competition. I don't think I would look good with swollen bloody eyes and missing teeth. For now, I have so much fun punching away the tension built-up from suppression and stress at work, all released from each jab, hook and kick. I finally found a form of exercise that I enjoy, getting fit, being healthy, learning how to defend myself while punching/kicking away unpleasant stuff in life.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


I spoke too soon about getting rid of the d#@% squirrel. He was back, as shown in the photos, chewing away our plastic picnic table and chairs. Perhaps the heavy rain washed away the special potion we put on.

I look up in the internet to find solutions to get rid of this criminal. There are many suggestions of using repellent to "humane, yet effective" at deterring these destructive "no good" animal. At this point the d#$% squirrel did so much damage to the table and chairs that we gave up on trying to do anything. No wonder George Costanza (of Seinfeld) did not care for squirrel!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


My adoring fans know I am not talking about the television show "Happy Days" about a perfect American life of a middle-class family in late 50s and early 60s. My husband likes watching the reruns. I don't care much for the show, even though Ron Howard played the character Richie, the naive son of Howard Cunninghams, a hardware store owner in Milwaukee. Howard was the adorable Opie in the Andy Griffith Show.

My Happy Days are here again because the NHL regular season has officially started. This entry was started two weeks ago and I am finally getting around to complete and ready for publishing. Serious hockey (specially Detroit Red Wings) fans could tell the photos are old from the numbers on the jersey. Brendan Shanahan (#14) signed with the New York Rangers since 2006. Tomas Holstrom (#96) and Henrik Zettenberg (#40) are still the producing line for the Red Wings.

My favorite goalie has always been Chris Osgood. I don't know if he will ever be recognized for carrying the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in 1998. Osgood never buckled under the pressure of being the #1 goalie after Mike Vernon left. The net has been a bit crowded when Hasek came out from retirement. Just hope Osgood will stay healthy and ready to play when needed.

I look forward to November 13th when the Red Wings will be in town. It is the first game of the season between St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings. The Blues have been playing very well. I expect to see a great hockey game because I did not spend my hard-earned money to see lousy ice-skating. Manny Legace will be the goalie for the Blues and it will be interesting because Legace was the netminder for the Red Wings.

Here is another old photo showing Robert Lang (#20) who is currently with the Chicago Blackhawks.
I thought of the story my Dad used to tell about growing up in Viet Nam, how much he loved to play soccer. Being the oldest son, Dad was supposed to watch his younger brothers and sisters. Instead he took them to the soccer field with him but did not keep an eye on the little ones. No serious injury, just a few bruises and bumps when the little sister fell and of course, Dad was punished for neglecting his duty. My Mom added to the story how Dad often left her alone in a new environment (after the wedding, Mom moved to Dad's village to live with his family) while Dad played soccer with his buddies. Now you see the connections, why I love sports, just like my Dad.


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