Ruam Mit 11

When I was at Cal in the Stone Ages, email was something used only by engineering/math/CS students. I got an email account merely so I could communicate with my cousin who was in Tokyo studying (engineering, of course). Cheaper than phone and faster than post.

But back then, email was conducted in a Unix-based command-line interface. In other words, it wasn’t in plain English, there was no mouse, no windows, no onscreen buttons. On the other hand, it did allow you to ‘finger’ other users to see when the last time your friends logged on, heh heh. And spam was still nothing but a canned meat product.

For this, I had to pay a weekly visit to the gloomy basement of Evans Hall to the Open Computing Facility (OCF), where there were a bank of terminals that were connected to servers with names like “Hurricane”, “Earthquake,”, “Avalanche”, “Typhoon” and . . . “Tsunami.”

When I applied for my account, I wanted ‘csquared’ as my login name. The OCF’er in charge frowned. “Your login has to have some relation to your real name,” he pointed out.
“Well, my first name starts with a C and my last name starts with a C, so CC becomes C-squared.”
Fortunately the math geek sensibility in him saw fit to let that slide by. Perhaps it was the same twisted cheesey humor that led them to assign such inauspicious names to the servers.

* * * * *

There was some outrage when the US only offered $35 million in aid initially for the tsunami relief. The budget for Bush’s inauguration was going to surpass that by $5 million. Not to mention his delay in public comment and condolences on the disaster. But you know you shouldn’t really expect anything from Dubyah . . .

“I was petrified that America was being guided through perilous international waters by a president who had spent less time overseas than my nine-year-old daughter” – Daniel Glick, “Monkey Dancing”.

* * * * *

A side story to the Crab Feed entry: There was a period in my BKK childhood, where every Sunday, we would go to the market in Yaowarat, and buy one live crab, which my mum would cook for very tasty dinner. The problem with this was that my mum was also the one who had to kill the crab. She was the lone Buddhist in the family; which meant she would accumulate the bad karma, while Dad (the Christian) and I (the atheist) would get off scot-free, yet we still got to enjoy eating the crab. So she stopped after a while.
Somehow, I’m making up for it now with the many crabs I’ve dispatched to the steamy otherworld. And . . .

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Yosemite for the weekend with my cousin and his friend, and her sister. We squished 5 people into our little Civic Hybrid, to save money on a rental SUV. (My cousin had flown in from out of state, his friend from out of the country, and her sister from Fremont didn’t want to drive, even though she had a more spacious Honda Accord. I reckoned later she probably was a stereotypically incompetent Asian female driver: on the way back, she compared my driving to “Pole Position.”)

Anyways, as we got into the winding roads up into the foothills, I asked Joe if he wanted me to drive, since I tend to get least car sick when I’m in the driver’s seat, and I was worried that he might be tired.
Cruising along at ambient speed, we came around a curve in a wooded area, and a deer was already leaping across the road.
“Arghhh!” I screamed.
But it was too late. Joe couldn’t avoid it.
The sleeping beauties in the back seat woke up. “Huh, what’s going on?”
We drove on, didn’t stop, but saw nothing in the rear view mirror. Most likely the deer made it across the road, but the injury was probably fatally severe. 5 miles later we came upon another prostrate deer in the lane in the opposite direction, this one hadn’t been so lucky.

Joe was pretty shook up. I wish it had been me driving, rather then him, so that this load wouldn’t have fallen on him. I would have pretty much done the same thing, hit the deer rather than swerve to end up in a ditch.

Later when we stopped at the park entrance to pay, the ranger said “Would you ladies in the back please put on your seat belts?”

I was horrified. Unlike my parents who have to be reminded to put on their seat belts, as I drive them around when they’re visiting from Thailand, these people grew up in California, for whom I expected it to be a second instinct to buckle up. If we had hit the deer harder, the two sisters might have flown through the windshield. And even after hitting the deer, they still didn’t put on their seat belts.

“Is Joe sad?” asked one of them, when we had stopped to survey the damage of the car. The hood had a dent like a palmprint smashed down by a giant. A tuft of deer fur had been caught in the front headlight, a smear of blood on the bumper.
What a ninny. It wasn’t so much the damage to the car. Wouldn’t you be devastated if you hit Bambi?

The rest of the trip to Yosemite was pretty good though. We tried cross-country skiing for the first time. The weather was nice, and we got in some mini-hikes. On the way back we saw a beautiful salted-eggyolk sunset, and sang along to the Duran Duran greatest hits CD.

* * * *

Once in a while, you hit the jackpot when you give someone a gift, and they really, really like it. My mother-in-law really liked the Wusthof boning knife I gave her for Christmas. She does a lot of cutting up of chicken parts and trimming of fat from big chunks of pork, and I’d observed that the chef’s knife she used was really too big and ill-suited for this tedious task. (A couple of Christmases ago, I gave her a mezza luna knife, for chopping nuts, because she makes tons of the most scrumptious almond cookies, and she mentioned that she didn’t like how her food processor chopped the nuts too fine. I think she ended up returning it though.)
“You have to give me the penny I taped to the box when you see me next time,” I reminded her.
There’s a Thai or Taechiew (apparently it’s not a Toishan) custom that if you give someone a gift like a knife or a handkerchief, the recipient should give you a penny in return as a token payment of the object. Because the ‘gift’ of a knife would symbolize a cutting of your goodwill to each other, but a ‘purchase’ won’t. Similarly, a handkerchief symbolizes tears, and you don’t want to give a gift of grief. . . . So I had attached a penny to the knife so that she could ‘pay’ me back.

My cousin also liked the CD I burnt of ‘children’s songs’ for his baby son. Actually it was a compilation I had made a couple of years ago, when my friends’ kids were their reaching 2nd and 3rd birthdays. I had wanted to provide them exposure to the music of my childhood: 1970’s folk music, the Beatles, and some of the ‘classics’ of Broadway musicals: music that wasn’t watered down or ‘electronic-sounding.’ When my cousin listened to it, he had caught on immediately to my philosophy.
So now I think I’ll come up with a second edition of “Ninos” (Spanish for ‘children”)


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