Archive for the 'Our World' Category


Mexico City was a place where, if people began to muster on the pavements, a patrol car was liable to roll up and bark at them through a loud-hailer the words: "Disperse! It is dangerous to gather in groups. Disperse!"

~The Independent

I can imagine other situations where such an order would be necessary. School for one…. ;)

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Challenge Me

…American pilots rarely have a chance to demonstrate their prowess any more, because no one is crazy enough to challenge them.

~James Fallows on the F-22 fighter plane

Sounds like me…. Yeah, right. I wish!!

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How To Unassociate Zip Files from WinZip on Windows Vista

Apologies for the bad grammar above but “unassociate” was the keyword I used to find a fix to my computer problem this morning.

Some time ago I installed WinZip to extract .zip files. I’m not sure why I did that except that I must have been unable to figure out how to use Windows Vista to open zip files. Anyway, the trial version of WinZip expired and to get it working again, I would have had to pay $29.95.

I was about 2 seconds away from doing so after a fruitless search trying to figure out an easy way to de-associate my zip files from WinZip and back to a neutral file status. Luckily, I found out how at Tech Support Guy Forums without needing to delete or edit registry files (scary!!).

Here’s how to re-associate (associate, link) zip files for extracting with Windows Vista:

  1. Right click any of the zip files associated with WinZip
  2. Click Change next to the “Opens with” line
  3. Click Browse
  4. Click Computer under Favorite Links on left sidebar
  5. Double click your hard disk
  6. Open Windows folder
  7. Scroll down and select the “explorer” file (this is NOT Internet Explorer)

Now when you click on the zip files, they will open with Windows Vista and there will be a button at the top that says “Extract all files.”

windows vista extract zip

Hope this helps some of you frustrated Vista users!

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Do Not Feed the Ducks

Oops. I honestly did not know how bad it is to feed the ducks, geese, and swan that live on the River Thames just outside our house. And I was just thinking of going with Stephen to feed them some stale bread and popcorn.


Wild ducks need to eat the green foods that grow naturally in their environment in order to maintain good health and a normal lifespan. Their ability to fly and retain natural instincts for survival depends entirely on the foods they eat. By feeding wild (or dumped domestics) you are contributing to their early death, shortening their lives ten-fold.

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Hit By A Bus

Yes, any one of us could get hit by a bus tomorrow.

  • This morning, a pedestrian was killed when a double decker bus in London crashed into a tree.
  • A British exchange student was hit by a bus and killed while out jogging at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
  • A woman is in serious condition in Australia’s Gold Coast after being hit by a bus yesterday afternoon.
  • A six-year-old boy was hit by a school bus last week. He was chasing the bus and fell under the wheel.
  • Another school bus incident when a bus driver was killed after a school bus backed into him at a garage.

I think I may have to find another analogy to use when telling people not to worry about every little thing that could kill them in 10 years.


Do you know the world’s 100 most powerful women?

The Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list has been released and I’m embarrassed to say that of the top 10, I only really knew who one of them was right off the bat.

Here are the top 10:

  1. Angela Merkel – Chancellor, Germany
  2. Wu Yi – Vice premier, China
  3. Ho Ching – Chief executive, Temasek Holdings, Singapore
  4. Condoleezza Rice – Secretary of State , U.S.
  5. Indra K. Nooyi – Chairman, chief executive, PepsiCo, U.S.
  6. Sonia Gandhi – President, India
  7. Cynthia Carroll – Chief executive, Anglo American, U.K.
  8. Patricia A. Woertz – Cochairman, Archer Daniels Midland, U.S.
  9. Irene Rosenfeld – Chairman, chief executive, Kraft Foods, U.S.
  10. Patricia Russo – Chief executive, Alcatel-Lucent, U.S.

Other women I recognized from their names alone without any descriptors:

20. Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Supreme court justice, US
21. Oprah Winfrey – Chairman, Harpo, US
22. Margaret Whitman – Chief executive, president, Ebay, US
23. Queen Elizabeth II – Queen, UK
24. Melinda Gates – Cofounder, cochairman, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, US
25. Hillary Rodham Clinton – US senator, New York, US
26. Nancy Pelosi – Speaker of the House, House of Representatives, US
32. Dr. Julie Louise Gerberding – Director, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, US
51. Gloria Arroyo – President, Philippines
55. Meredith Vieira – Host, The Today Show, US
60. Laura Bush – First Lady, US
62. Diane Sawyer, Co-anchor, Good Morning America, US
63. Katie Couric – Anchor, managing editor, CBS Evening News, US
71. Aung San Suu Kyi – Nobel Peace laureate, Democratically elected leader of Myanmar, 1990
74. Christiane Amanpour – Chief international correspondent, CNN

How many of these powerful women did you know about?


Horrendous Chinese History

wild swans jung changChina is an enigma to me. The closest I’ve ever been is Hong Kong and Macau. The more I know about China’s history, however, the more incredible it all seems. Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng and The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang (and Chang’s subsequent suicide) shocked and saddened me. And today I read this in Wild Swans by Jung Chang:

One day in 1960, the three-year-old daughter of my aunt Jun-ying’s next-door neighbor in Yibin went missing. A few weeks later the neighbor saw a young girl playing in the street wearing a dress that looked like her daughter’s. She went up and examined it: it had a mark which identified it as her daughter’s. She reported this to the police. It turned out that the parents of the young girl were selling wind-dried meat. They had abducted and murdered a number of babies and sold them as rabbit meat at exorbitant prices. The couple were executed and the case was hushed up, but it was widely known that baby killing did go on at the time.

For every day that I’m alive, I should be grateful to be who I am, where I am, and when I am.


China – The Next Superpower?

peking university

Color me skeptical.

I feel the Chinese students do not understand what ‘original thought’ means. It doesn’t mean being an Albert Einstein and inventing lightbulbs when lightbulbs did not exist. It simply means the stance you take in your paper, the sources you select, and the way you argue for your stance using your sources. It means being able to get sources offering different opinions from your stance (probably not so easy for Chinese students since censorship is applied), weighing these opinions, arguing for and against these opinions and arriving at a final conclusion. I think, as far as an essay is concerned, it’s not so much arriving at a right or wrong answer as it is about the way you arrive at the answer. And I think Chinese students are too concerned about arriving at the right answer. I think this is what happens when your education system penalizes you for not regurgitating out correct textbook answers. But above all, perhaps this is the fault of censorship and an authoritarian government making sure that its countrymen share unified thoughts.

~methegirl3, currently studying at Peking University in China

Update: Although Andrew Sun may prove me wrong….


IMAX Roving Mars is a Tear Jerker

roving mars 420

We brought Stephen to his first movie in a theater yesterday. And it wasn’t just any theater, it was the British Film Institute IMAX where they were showing Roving Mars, a movie about the NASA Mars Exploration Rover mission.

The movie started with an explosion of sound showing off all that IMAX cinema can offer. The worst was being in the eye of a hurricane with the cacophony of cows mooing and houses splintering around us. I thought Stephen would freak out and demand to leave considering how sensitive he is to noise but he hung in there and only asked to leave one time. When I explained they were only showcasing the speakers’ capabilities, he stayed fixed in his seat.

He was enthralled with Roving Mars as soon as it begun. When we “flew” over the surface of Mars, he turned to me and said, “We’re moving!” and looked around to see if the theater was spinning. My favorite part of the movie was when the control center received the first green rover signal from Mars. I was so touched I had tears in my eyes. Yes, I cry over strange things.

Here’s a video of that moment and a review of Spirit and Opportunity’s first year on Mars:

And, of course, no experience would be complete without Stephen commemorating it in LEGO.

IMG 5406

BTW, if you’re ever curious what Stephen’s been making lately, there’s a slideshow in the middle column towards the bottom you can watch or click on to see the entire picture album.


Asking People About Their Ethnicity

Family Affair Iii Asian-AmericanIn response to my post earlier this week about ethnicity, both Busy Mom and Liz Ditz told me to go read State of Grace who tackles it from a more personal approach. She wanted to know:

1. Is it okay to ask of someone’s racial background?

Sure! In fact, you might want to ask before making comments like this one – “I think Korean women are the most beautiful.” Huh? Did he know that I’m actually CHINESE? Yes or no, it’s a horrid comment. Butthead.

2. If you are okay with asking someone about her or his ethnicity, how do you pose the question? (Frequently used queries include – “What’s your heritage?” “What’s your race?” Or, the oft-asked but incorrectly worded, “What’s your nationality?”)

This one’s tough. Just cut to the chase. “What’s your ethnicity?” is ok with me. “Where do you come from?” is not so good. In Japan, I’d get that question because people couldn’t understand why I looked Asian but spoke English. Then if I said I was from California, they’d look even more confused and ask where my parents were from. If I were fourth generation Chinese (which I’m not), just imagine how much more I could mess with their minds.

3. If you are curious about someone’s racial background, but hesitate to ask her or him to discuss it, what prevents you from posing the question?

I don’t want them to think that’s all I notice about them although our skin color/ethnicity/race is clearly one of our defining characteristics. In fact, even when I’m describing someone I shy away from using any race-connected terms which is dumb because it detracts from painting a complete profile.

4. If you are of color/not white*, is it okay for a white person to ask about your racial background? If you take issue with a white person asking about your racial background, please explain why this presents a problem for you.

I don’t mind if people ask me. It’s far better than assuming I’m something other than I am.

Political correctness means that we’re to assume everyone is equally the same – men and women, white and black, Asian and Caucasian. Reality tells us that’s not true. We’re different!!! Just that the differences shouldn’t be preset at good or bad.

Yesterday I had someone ask when I came to London. London’s a fabulous place because there’s a mix of ethnicities, cultures, and nationalities in almost every corner of the city. I’m not sure where the woman who was asking is originally from but her English is heavily accented. When I said I had come to London about a year ago but grew up in California, she said, “Oooh. That’s why your English is perfect.”

I was not offended in the least that she wanted to know more about me. My appearance sets-up expectations while my behavior shatters them. As long as people accept me for who I am, it’s all good.