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Hello everyone. I am on vacation, which is a rare chance for me. Currently, I am typing away from Florida, after an amazing visit to Disney World. If you have enough money and time on your hands, I encourage you to go. It was really quite amazing. But bring good shoes. I don’t think my feet will ever be the same again.

I also had a really spectacular New Years. It’s pretty funny, I left NYC for Orlando, and I spent my New Years Day watching the ball drop from NYC. Way to shove it in my face that NYC is great during the winter season.

Currently Reading: Out of My Mind by Andy Rooney
Currently Eating: Nothing
Currently Drinking: Mountain Dew (MTN DEW)
Currently Listening To: A Girl Worth Fighting For (Mulan, Disney)
Currently Located: Florida
Current Mood: Childlike, giddy, relaxed, happy 😀

This weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Orlando, Florida. And, as a result, I had the equally distinct pleasure of GOING TO DISNEY WORLD FOR THREE DAYS. It was particularly interesting because my last visit to Disney World was a family vacation. Disney world, as a theme park, is an especially popular place to take children on vacation, and it is rather interesting to see how parents interacted with their children. Everyone thinks of Disney World as the “happiest place on Earth.” After all, the park encourages you to smile till your face falls off. And yet, my memories of Disney World (and many other family vacations in areas that encourage family vacationing) are filled with bad memories.

The problem with most family vacations is that, although the parents intend on making it a vacation, parents also want to make the most out of their time by making sure their children sees everything! This results in a lot of running from sight to sight, rushing through food, complaining at someone when things go wrong, and getting into fights with other parents who are doing the same thing. Instead of taking the time as an actual vacation (you know, to relax), parents feel rushed to finish everything and make sure their children get to “do what their kids want to do,” even though their kids don’t know what they want to ride on, or see. As a result, the parents just try to do everything. And while we don’t know what kids want to do, we know what they don’t want to do: rush around and bump into things while their parents fight over what to do next.

Another problem with family vacations (and parenting as a while) is that parents like to use their children as a way to “extend” their dreams. Rather than the child living as an individual, the parent lives vicariously through their offspring (I’m sure plenty of you guys know THAT feeling). On a larger, lifestyle scale, this is when a parent forces a child to pick up an occupation that “I’ve always wanted to do as a child and never got to,” or when the parent makes the child attend a college of the parent’s choosing. On a smaller, theme park scale, this is when a parent drags a child to a ride because the parent really wants to go on it, or makes the child take pictures with characters that the child might not want to take pictures with (this was especially popular with my family, who forced both my brother and I to take pictures with every character that came within vision). The child gets really frustrated, because s/he doesn’t want to do all these crazy (and possibly scary) things, and the parents get frustrated because they thought that’s what the kid wanted to do (“because that’s what I always wanted to do as a kid”) and the action resulted in more stress and more crazy/upset children.

This leaves the family with a rather unpleasant vacation, full of dragging, screaming, crying and unhappy memories. Another family vacation, ruined.

In hindsight, I realize that a lot of this stuff could have been avoided by taking me on vacation to places at a slightly older age, and to places that actually had stuff to do. Families that brought their children when they were older (and not between the ages of 2 and 6) avoided the hassle of using strollers (there was a ton of “stroller parking lots” in Disney World) and encouraged a family-vacation atmosphere by allowing their kids to choose what they wanted to do (because kids were able to make decisions on their own by that point). Children were able to vocalize when they were doing things too fast, or when they didn’t want to go on a particularly scary ride (this doesn’t actually mean that the parents listened…. another major problem with family vacations). Children were also able to better appreciate areas like Epcot that were geared towards a slightly older audience, and they had a slightly better patience for long lines.

The nice part about Disney World is that some parts are geared towards a younger audience. Even in a park such as MGM Hollywood Studios (where there were increased thrill rides and older-movie references), there were places that were specifically geared towards the younger audience. In other family vacationing spots, such as a city like San Fransisco or Washington DC, there is a lot more stress with regards to planning to do everything and a lot more of those “things” are adult-oriented. I wonder what family vacations are like in New York City, with parents dragging their kids to Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and the tons of museums, all the while having to deal with their kids whining about the walk and trying to understand the rather confusing subway system (I don’t think it’s really that confusing, but I’m sure that’s just because I’ve lived there the majority of my life). The worst tourists to deal with in the city are the family vacationers, since the parents are in a continual state of stress and anxiety, and the kids are always complaining and screaming.

With all the stress that comes with “I need my kid to see the world,” it’s no wonder that every child always wants to go on vacation with their friends, rather than with their crazy parents.

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I just really wanted to apologize for not posting in a timely manner. Things have been rather hectic on my side (my play just opened [and closed], finals are slowly dawning upon us, and various personal matters have sprung up… I am a student, I don’t get paid to write… yet) and I promise you’ll get to hear more of my needless banter eventually!

I’ve also been working on a new costume. For my final project in Asian Theater, I’ve chosen to make a Kabuki costume. It’s been taking a lot of my energy and will continue to take much of my energy for the following few days.

But, never fear! I will post tomorrow (promise). If I don’t feel free to curse my name to the heavens.

Besides that, I just wanted to mention that I’m not a bitter old spinster, and I’m not some depressed jaded soul. But what would this blog be for if not for bitching and complaining?

And with that in mind, I’d just like to post some things that have been on my mind and are rather tiny, but warrant comments (too short for twitter, too long for wordpress).

  1. Twilight and its accompanying books act as a reflection of our poor reading and writing skills because it proves that we are incapable of liking complex character and must resort to consistently liking empty characters that we can fill with our own personalities.
  2. It’s funny to think that Democrats (and liberals) consider themselves the oppressed ones when they’re currently they hold the larger of two political parties, and the majority of both the Senate and the House (and if you’ve forgotten, our president is a Democrat).
  3. That being said, it’s equally funny to claim that Democrats will “drive this country to the ground with their liberal ideals.” Few people actually understand the platform differences between Democrats and Republicans. You’d be surprised to find out which party believed (or is supposed to believe) in what.
  4. People should read classics, not because they’re classics, but because they’re damn good stories. Romance, lying, cheating, backstabbing, toilet humor and deep human insight can all be found in a good Charles Dickens (maybe) or Jane Austen (definitely) book, and they do a much better job at it than JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyers.
  5. It is not cool for people who do not understand geek culture to suddenly call themselves geeks. It’s not something you can magically become just because your friend handed you a Linux Ubuntu disc or because (OMG) you bought your first hard drive (or because you like LOLcats).
  6. I don’t care how much of a rebel against “the man” you’re supposed to be. Everyone needs a nice set of clothing. No more pit stained dress shirts or mismatched slacks. This goes double for ladies.
  7. People should really do their research before they make a speech on it. This goes double if you’re taking about free speech, net neutrality, separation of church and state (and no, that is not clearly defined in The Constitution) and the Creative Commons License.
  8. It’s much easier to let knowledge go in one ear and out the other, unless you were taught to stick a sponge up your brain. We should all encourage sponge stuffing into American babies everywhere.
  9. The freedom to speak, write and think as you please comes with the responsibility of being able to logically think and analyze. Without that ability, the freedom of choice becomes a dangerous tool used by the ignorant masses who are simply too lazy to think, and too stupid to understand the importance of it.

Special thanks to Phil, Heather, Christian, Bill, Vince and Brian for coming to watch my play at some point in time, even if it was sad and even if I got raped and died in the end.

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Delayed

I apologize for the lateness of my post (not that any of you probably care) and in replacement (the post will be up next Tuesday, or so I’d like to think), here are some mildly entertaining photos:

From my life:

From Shirt.Woot:

And two things I’m ridiculously (stupidly-ridiculously) excited for:

Final Fantasy XIV (which is going to be fucking amazing)
Trailer

Google Wave (which is going to be equally awesome)
Short Synop

There.

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I really should be writing my sociology paper (journal) on racial/gender/group stereotypes, but I stopped reading after a charming little research paper called “New Racism” by a professor in Duke. Were you to put that noun (charming little research paper called…), it would be soaked and dripping in some visual representation of SARCASM.

The paper discusses how white supremacy still resigns supreme in a less direct, more “kind” form, which the professor (Eduardo Bonilla-Silva) describes as “New Racism.” He goes on to describe how this new form of white supremacy is imposed most on the middle-class African-American community, and how the white community has created “safe minorities” such as Colin Powell.

He then goes on to talk about affirmative action and how white people don’t support it because they’re not supportive of equal opportunity (which apparently affirmative action promotes). Therefore, these white people are supremacist.

What.

Affirmative Action, if anyone is unfamiliar with it, describes policies that would promote diversity in an environment (work place, school, ect) by encouraging others to take race, gender, ethnicity and other things into consideration. Encouraging a diverse community is one thing, but to fill a job or a seat in college based off of race or gender is unfair to the people who DID work very hard and just happened to be a race or gender that was a majority in said community.

For example, I would be offended if I learned I got a programming (web design?) position simply because I was female. I’d like to think that I got the job because I’m better than my competitors, not because I don’t have a Y chromosome. Yes it makes for a more gender diverse community, but a job is not about creating a more even male:female ratio.

It’s like not getting a seat in MIT because someone is an Asian male and MIT wants more Latino women in their physics program. Never mind if the Asian is CLEARLY better in all things math and physics, because MIT wants to show they have a diverse community, filled with inept people who got in based off their gender, or their ethnicity.

Plus, it’s humiliating. When you ARE a female in a programming community, a lot of people naturally EXPECT that you got in based on your gender. Then you have to work twice as hard to prove that you’re not only as good as everyone else, but you’re better. If employers were not so insistent on making a diverse community, maybe more people would believe I’m actually a good programmer. Yea, maybe the community or program would be like 90 males to 10 females, but at least you’d know those female were GOOD programmers. At least guys (or majorities) would be less bitter about losing positions and jobs due to affirmative action. At least people would be getting jobs they DESERVE.

But back to this white supremacy deal. Denouncing Affirmative Action apparently safeguards white control by giving minorities an advantage based on their race, gender or social upbringing.

He expands on this by bringing other minorities (rather than just blacks and whites) and explaining how there is a Latin Americanization of Whiteness, where there are three distinct communities: Whites, Honorary Whites and Collective Blacks. Bonilla-Silva uses this structure because it is similar to the social structure of Latin America, where skin tone plays a major role in “how white you are” and “how white you’re not.” It also considers the other minorities of America (Chinese, Japanese and Koreans fall under “Honorary Whites”, while Filipinos, Vietnamese and Laotians fall under “Collective Black”).

The big kicker was when he tried explaining that Asians were natural prone to anti-Latino and anti-Black sentiments. He also went on to explain that Asians support the end of Affirmative Action, which puts them in the “Honorary White” section. As if Asians were whites.

I was throughly disturbed when Bonilla-Silva essentially put Chinese/Korean/Japanese Asians (We’ll call them Oriental) in this “honorary Asian” group, and South-East Asians in the “Collective Black” group. You CANNOT simplify racial discrimination into three categories. ALL races have very individual problems. Asian Americans (or Asians in America) have their own shit, their own stereotypes and their own social problems to deal with, just as any other culture does. I still have people who are shocked and amazed that I can deliver a speech without some chinkish accent, so I don’t see how we could be clumped up with the white folk at all.

Or clumped with the black or latino folk (I am South East Asian, after all).

And to end the lovely paper (there goes that sarcastic lacing), he discusses how social scientists should support this sentiment because if 25% of our population is African American / Latino, 25% of all Doctors, Lawyers and Government Officials should be African American / Latino.

Well then. Since 73% of the population is white, 73% of all rappers/hip hop artists should be white. Oh, maybe we’ll even have an Asian in the entertainment business who doesn’t do fucking kung fu.

This is not racial equality. This is a disgusting piece of biased sociology trash that has been put forth for no reason other than to bitch, moan and complain. Yes, racism is rampant, but it is not so easily defined into the three bullshit clumps of society he described. Affirmative Action is not racial equality, it is minority supremacy.

As an Asian and as an American, I am horrified and deeply offended that this shit would be put in my college textbook.

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So much for posting every day… it’s been a war trying to find an internet connection. And time, for that matter. But I still very much want to finish this set of blog posts (about picture books, if you haven’t been back in a while), so here I am, blogging away.

My Blackberry Curve also went bust on the trip to Alabama. It was quite depressing, but I still have it and will be returning it for a new (hopefully living) Blackberry Curve. I also discovered that WordPress.com has a beta app for Blackberries, so I will be testing that out asap. For now, I will be using my older blackberry (thank goodness I have it, or I’d be out of a phone).

Also, the health care topic has been all the rage since… pretty much its introduction. Know that I will… eventually… post about it. I feel I still need to piece out my thoughts on it, so I’ll just leave it at that for now.

Books that Mint would very much like you to read.

By Jo aka Mint

NOTE: I am not a teacher, author, professional writer, librarian or otherwise. I am just a very big fan of children’s books, whether I read them to myself, read them to others or have them read to me. Also, I’m limiting all authors/illustrators to the “Picture Book/Children Book” genre (aka: no chapter books, if that wasn’t obvious already)

Day 3 – Leo Lionni

Leo Lionni was my brother’s favorite children’s author, way back when my brother’s age was still sitting in the single digits, and so I would always read Lionni’s books to him. His favorite book was called Swimmy, which was about a little black reject fish who comes to find his place in a big, unforgiving sea. I didn’t particularly enjoy the book, but he would ask me to read it time after time (if he didn’t read it himself).

From Swimmy, he and I discovered a treasure trove of books that Leo Lionni published. At first, Lionni’s artwork reminded me very much of Eric Carle’s (the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar), but I found that Lionni’s art was far less sharp, and used a larger blend of colors. In fact, Eric Carle mostly stuck to cut up sheets of paper, while Lionni’s collages branched into stamping, felts and other fabrics or materials. For example, in Swimmy, a lot of the fish are shown via stamps. However, Federick seemed to be made out of felt, and the chameleon in A Color of His Own was certainly made out of multiple, vibrant, paint jobs. This element in his art very much separated me from another picture book artist who does collage-type art (Eric Carle), because Leo Lionni always displays a very vivid background that plays with the character(s). For example, in A Color of His Own, the chameleon is displayed with a lot of vivid, mixing colors while the background is very monotone or solid. The different textures also allow Leo Lionni to separate characters without having to draw actual lines, even though two characters might be of the same color (two frogs, for example).

Leo Lionni’s books always concentrated on animals (chameleons, insects, fish, frogs) and some sort of “searching” or “discovering,” which attracted me both as a child being read to and a teen reading it to someone else. It’s one of those “I feel curious… like the character!” situations, where the reader follows alongside the character’s curiosity.

As I mentioned before, my brother’s favorite Leo Lionni book is Swimmy, and my brother (when he was younger) tried to imitate Lionni’s art in Swimmy by drawing tons and tons of fish on pieces of paper, with a little black fish in the middle. Now, however, my brother draws exceptionally well and I can no longer make fun of his fish drawings because they’re significantly better than mine (or so I think… maybe we should have a draw-off). My favorite Leo Lionni book, however, is An Extraordinary Egg. This was the first time I had ever seen the word EXTRAORDINARY (and I think it’s a super-fun word to say), which is what originally attracted me to the book. It is about a frog that discovers this very beautiful pebble, which turns out to be an egg that hatches a… well. You’ll just have to read it (or look at the cover, hehe) to see.

Here is a list of other great works by Leo Lionni:

Inch by Inch
Tillie and the Wall
Geraldine, The Music Mouse
Tico and the Golden Wings
A Color of His Own
Fish is Fish
The Greentail Mouse
Let’s Play
Frederick
Tico and the Golden Wings
An Extraordinary Egg – my favorite
It’s Mine!
Swimmy – My brother’s favorite

For a mostly compiled list of his books, visit http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/lionni/books/ (not a typical address). Most to all libraries and bookstores will have Leo Lionni books (or a collection of them, at the very least).

Happy Reading!

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Hello everyone. With the start of a new day is the start of a new… blog post! I’m continuing with the series I started yesterday (Books that Mint would very much like you to read), so I hope you enjoy its new addition.

Beyond that, nothing much has happened. I will be going off to Alabama tomorrow, but never fear! I will be alive and (hopefully) sound enough to blog. Even if there isn’t an internet connection, I will use the power of my blackberry to write fantastical posts.

Books that Mint would very much like you to read.

By Jo aka Mint

NOTE: I am not a teacher, author, professional writer, librarian or otherwise. I am just a very big fan of children’s books, whether I read them to myself, read them to others or have them read to me. Also, I’m limiting all authors/illustrators to the “Picture Book/Children Book” genre (aka: no chapter books, if that wasn’t obvious already)

Day 2 – Shel Silverstein

I discovered Shel Silverstein many years ago, back in second or third grade, when my teacher gave me the book The Giving Tree. It remains, to this day, my favorite book by Shel Silverstein, but certainly not the only book that I have read from him. When I tried looking for him in my school computer, I was unable to venture into any site that had his named, and I learned in 5th grade that Shel Silverstein had written various articles for Playboy, which put his name in the “banned” section of our internet.

In any case, Shel Silverstein has given me many good hours under a tree. I find his art to be very simple and easy to comprehend, especially when I was a child. In a way, I felt like I could really understand the unrealistic/cartoon-ish art style that he displayed in poetry books such as Where the Sidewalk Ends and picture books such asThe Missing Piece Meets the Big O, and I had a certain appreciation for reading his rhyming words (which are very unlike Dr. Seuss’, in my opinion). There is always a sense of a satisfied conclusion or completeness in his books that do not necessarily have to be happy, but are filled with some sort of “finale” that makes me feel as if the story could not have ended any other way.

Shel Silverstein’s works always reach something deeper than the surface, even after I have read them over and over again (on the other hand, there is a particular college student I can think of off the top of my head who has read The Giving Tree for the first time in his life). They may not be as thought-provoking as the other books, but Shel Silverstein is incredibly good at leaving this “good vibe” feeling in you for a while, if not the rest of the day.

Silverstein is best known as a children’s book writer, but now that I am older, I am eager to see his other literary works (some novels/books and screenwritings have peeked my interest as of the late). When I went to Barnes and Nobles yesterday, I did make a vague attempt to search for his non-picture book pieces, but eventually went back to the children’s section (Barnes and Nobles Jr.!) to re-read his work.

As I had mentioned earlier, my favorite book from him is The Giving Tree, which is about a boy’s relationship with a tree, and how it develops over time (aka, as the boy grows up). I think it’s an incredibly touching and self-less piece, and I have read it to many kids (probably as much as I had it read to myself by others). My brother’s favorite book is The Missing Piece for the simple reason that the main character (an incomplete “circle”) looks like Pac-Man (it is a good read though).

Other books are included below:

Falling Up
The Giving Tree (My Favorite)
A Light in the Attic
Who wants a cheap Rhinoceros
The Missing Piece (My Brother’s Favorite)
Where the Sidewalk Ends
A Giraffe and a Half

For a full list of his picture books, you can find it atshelsilverstein.com (an equally surprising domain). I have yet to know of a library that does not have at least one of his books (usually The Giving Tree or Where the Sidewalk Ends), and if they don’t have it, it means it’s usually been taken out.

As always, go forth and happy readings! 😀

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Eh. Just keep reading. Nothing special to talk about today. OH, I did upload those cosplay pictures in the cosplay section of mint cafe, so feel free to look at them (and my other previous costumes).

Currently Listening To: Whatever is on the Starbucks speakers at the moment.
Currently Eating: Nothing
Currently Drinking: Green Tea Lemonade
Currently Playing: Final Fantasy Tactics A2 (finished the game, but didn’t max out characters)
Currently Working On: CKI Stuff
Current Mood: Calm / Relaxed
Picture of the day

I was in Barnes and Nobles today (in fact, I’m in Starbucks now, doing the writer thing and buying a cup of green tea lemonade while I blog), when I decided to go through the children’s section. This is something I do often at libraries and bookstores, because I like to see what kind of variety these bookstores/libraries have for children, and because picture books / children books hold a special place in my heart. I feel that, as adults, we can learn as much from children’s books as we can as kids, and it’s definitely worth a second glance when you’re 10 or 20 years older.

So, after flipping through some classic children’s books, I came to the decision that I would do my very best to encourage friends, family and readers of this blog to go to a local library or bookstore and pick up a children’s book to read. They’re very short and grammatically easy, but are filled with everything good in a book. And besides, we often forget as adults that we were children many years ago, and it is always wonderful to go back and read long-forgotten books. After all, we’re all children on the inside (or so I like to think… maybe some of us are still children on the outside :P).

If you are never going to pick up a children’s book every again (doubtful as that may be), please just do so this week. My original thought was to have a book per day, but there are so many books from a variety of authors, that it would take me at least half a year of daily blogging to satisfy me. And, as wonderful as that would be, there are plenty of other things I want to complain about (Economics, women, political science, men, history, hair, computer science, gaming, ect), so I decided to spend a day on a particular artists. On the last day, I’ll probably have a longer post to fill in multiple misc books from various authors that have yet to be named.

These are not books that you should or have to read, by any means, so a name like that would not be fitting. Instead, I have come up with the name you will now see below:

Books that Mint would very much like you to read.

By Jo aka Mint

NOTE: I am not a teacher, author, professional writer, librarian or otherwise. I am just a very big fan of children’s books, whether I read them to myself, read them to others or have them read to me. Also, I’m limiting all authors/illustrators to the “Picture Book/Children Book” genre (aka: no chapter books, if that wasn’t obvious already)

Day 1 – Chris Van Allsburg

Van Allsburg has been, is, and probably will always be my favorite children’s book author/illustrator because of his beautiful artwork and interesting stories. I first discovered him in my 4th grade class, when we all read Jumanji (that’s right, Van Allsburg wrote the story), and rediscovered him in my 5th grade class, when I chose him as the concentration of my very first “Author Study.” I think my teacher did a double take when I chose the author, because the majority of my class had chosen other, more “well-known” authors, whereas Van Allsburg was not as “famous.”

In any case, Chris Van Allsburg is very big for having stories that are very “out of the ordinary.” His books always include an element of either magic or dreams (or both), and the main character often “discovers” something, or “learns” something through his or her experience through the magic that has been thrusted upon them in these books. For example, in The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, the main character must find a dog that has ran away. While searching, the main character realizes he must trespass/enter a magician’s home and, through his adventuring, the main character learns more about the existence of magic than he has ever hoped to.

One of my favorite parts of Chris Van Allsburg’s books is that I am always discovering, realizing or learning SOMETHING whenever I re-read his books. I have a completely different interpretation, or I pick up on some of his humor, which I would not have otherwise noticed. For example, I did not understand irony in 5th grade the way I do now, and reading his book The Sweetest Fig a second time definitely opened me up to the more complex side of Van Allsburg’s books.

Two of my favorite books from Chris Van Allsburg are The Widow’s Broom, which is about a widow who comes to possess a witch’s broom that is no longer able to fly but still has magic properties, and The Sweetest Fig, which is about an uptight dentist who discovers a fig that turns his dreams into reality (his sleep-dreams, not his aspiration-dreams). However, he has a variety of books, many of which have reached mainstream popularity in some way, shape or form. Below are some examples:

Jumanji – adapted into a movie (with Robin Williams and all)
The Polar Express – adapted into an animated movie
Zathura – adapted into a movie
The Stranger
The Wretched Stone (This is also a really great story, WITH MONKIES)
The Sweetest Fig – My Favorite
The Witch’s BroomKawarazu‘s Favorite
The Z was Zapped (an interesting visual interpretation of the alphabet)

For a full list of books that Chis Van Allsburg has written, visit his site at chrisvanallsburg.com (yea, real surprising domain). His books can be found in most to all libraries in a variety of amounts (in the Barnes and Nobles in Forest Hills, NY, there is only one book, but I know that the Flushing Library and Chatham Square Library both have most of his books).

😀 Happy Reading!

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