Friday, June 29, 2007

Challenge Update: New Educational Proposal Added

Since you just got paid on Friday, we've added another educational proposal for you to fund through the RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge: Developing Cultural Self Awareness with Literacy and Art.

This new proposal engages 2nd grade students in activities that promote pride in who they are. The program will use books like The Skin I'm In, Black is Brown is Tan, The Colors of Us, and Nappy Hair and Cornrolls as a bridge for students to embrace their skin color and hair texture as well as that of others.

Meanwhile, the proposal Myself & Others has received additional funding since last week, and now needs only $81 to complete funding!! C'mon, go ahead and complete this proposal... you can do it!

Remember, InstantYang and his wife will be graciously matching all donations from now through July 4. So, keep your contributions coming. Your donation of $10, $20, $100, or $1000 could be worth double through Independence Day! Doesn't that make you feel good inside?

Donate Now!

UPDATE: And thanks to Daddy in a Strange Land for suggesting our latest proposal. If you have any suggestions for educational proposals that are in line with the RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge, don't hesitate to post them here.

He'll Live

DISCLAIMER: This article dispenses Monster Daddy advice that should be followed at your own risk. So far it has worked for him as his Monsters have not broken any bones or lost any eyes - yet, but give it time as his children are still young.

A few years ago when my wife and I were still a single Monster family and Number One Monster was only 1 year old, we were at a playground. Number One Monster was playing and somehow came to be hanging off the edge of the playset by his hands, his feet were about 1 ft above the soft sandy floor. My wife screamed to me to go get him as he was going to fall. I shrugged and said he's trying to climb back on, give him a chance.

"He'll get hurt!"

"He'll live!" I retort.

THUNK! He lands on his back, then WAHHHHHHHHHHH!

My wife glared at me as she started to rush over but I stopped her and said I'll take care of it. I picked him up (he was alright as I predicted, just a little shock) and after a little more crying I asked him, "Do you want to keep crying or play?" After a little more whimpering, he stopped and went back to the playset like nothing happened.

Fast forward three more Monsters and now my wife has gotten used to my schtick with the kids. Tripping, falling, scrapes and cuts, etc. It's all the same to me, I pick up my crying kid and ask the same question. 9 times out of 10 they stop crying and completely forget they ever got hurt. And if it's their fault I usually hit them with the "Be more careful.. If you weren't fooling around... Pay more attention..." lines. Sometimes, I even make them to say sorry. Dang, I am a Monster Daddy, LOL!

I bring this up because I read a recent article around Father's Day about how dads and moms react differently when kids get hurt. Basically, it said that mom's first instinct is to empathize and comfort. Dads, less so.

Personally, I believe kids tend to turn to their parents for a cue. If the parent goes into a hysterical fit, the kid knows he/she is supposed to cry and make a big deal out of it. Seriously, one time my son was running along a steep slope, slipped and rolled down about 5 ft. When he stopped, he had this anxious look on his face and immediately looked at me. No crying, he just looked at me for a cue. And I laughed and said "Great trick!" and then he started laughing, got up and ran around like an idiot again.

When Number Two Monster would cry it would be like an on/off switch. One time, he was crying inconsolably and I finally got frustrated and blurted out, "Are you done yet?" To my utter surprise, he completely stopped and said, "Yes." That's all, I just needed to ask him a question.

Can't tell you how much of my sanity (especially with 4 Monsters) has been saved by simply not reacting to their hysteria and changing their perspective. Time spent crying isn't time spent playing - hey that logic really works with kids!!! (And I never need to bribe them.)

My wife has sorta gotten used to this. She knows if I think the kids will live, I'm going to let them do whatever risky activity it is they are doing. Now I have a purpose behind the madness, IMHO kids need to learn and failing, getting hurt, etc. is simply part of the learning process.

Which is why I try and keep my Mom away from watching the kids when they do risky things. She gets hysterical over EVERYTHING and never let's my kids do anything. Yes, you Asian daddies all know the type! While it might be great to have grandma babysit sometimes, watch out!

IMHO my crazy methods are working. Lots of friends and family have commented on how outgoing and confident the Monsters are. And there are practical benefits. When Number One Monster took it upon himself at age 3 to take his 1 year old brother downstairs and feed him he made a mess. My response was clean it up and do better next time. (I know my Mom would have told him to never ever do that again.) When Number One Monster at age 5 asked if he could bathe his brother (3) and sister (1) in the tub, I said, "Sure but you also have to dry both of them too and not make a mess." (Don't worry, I watched from afar. Quite cute seeing him lifting the baby in and out of the tub and lathering her up.) Sure enough there was a big watery mess but I made him clean it up and he got better the next time. (That was 4 years ago and since then he has bathed all his siblings all by himself, WOOHOO!) Now he's clipping bushes, takes out the trash. Working on him mowing the lawn and vacuuming soon, LOL!

So if "He'll live" maybe it's worthwhile to let your child take a few chances. As long as he/she gets the right message when they fail it will work out in the long run. (Just first make sure you and the spouse are capable of handling it and no grandparents are around!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What should this RiceDaddy Drive?

For Father's Day, I was supposed to have picked out a new car. Needless to say, I've been slacking off on that matter, not that I don't want a new car. I've just had a hard time deciding. But now that we've got the baby, and we're moving out to the 'burbs, we're really gonna need something that'll comfortably fit me, my wife, the baby, her baby gear, Costco-sized groceries, bikes, and some camping gear.

I need something versatile.

It's gotta be safe and it's gotta be comfy. And it's gotta be nimble enough to avoid the antics of stray NYC cab drivers & certain Jersey drivers. It's gotta be age-appropriate too, so you won't be seeing me in a Benz, a Cadillac or a Town Car anytime soon.

I've spent a fortune on pothole-related repairs on my VW Golf, so the next car's gotta be capable of handling the chapped, cracked and blistery roads of the Northeast, with a minimal amount of maintenance. I've also been through many a nor'easter, so all-wheel-drive is a must.

I want something that handles like a car, though, so most SUVs are out. Not that I have a moral aversion to them, I just prefer not to flip over while taking hairpin turns at 75mph.

It's gotta have room, but like I mentioned in the last RiceDaddies podcast, I'm just not mature enough psychologically ready for a minivan. So, a good compromise, I guess, would be a station wagon. Station wagons are cool again. In a few years, everyone's gonna want one. You'll see.

So here are the candidates:
  • BMW 325xi SportWagon: I've driven the sedan, and it handles like a dream. It fits me like a glove, like it was built just for me. So I figure the wagon can't be much different. I also luvvv its hrrUmmm when you turn the key. It's orgasssmic.

  • Subaru Outback 2.5XT Wagon: Subaru is famous for its proven four-wheel drive system and solid boxer engine. And its rally-racing heritage really intrigues me. And unlike most other Japanese cars, the Outback actually feels solid.

  • VW Passat 4Motion Wagon: If the Jetta Station Wagon TDI was still available in the USA, I'd get it in a heartbeat, and convert it to run on biodiesel or soybean oil. But alas, it's no longer available in this country. So the next best thing would be the Passat, and it's available with all wheel drive!

Cars I've ruled out right off the bat, mainly cuz they're not my style:
  • Volvo: don't see myself in one
  • Saab: ditto, one of them is a rebadged Subaru WRX
  • Ford: been there, done that (drove an F-150 years ago)
  • Mercedes E-class wagon: just cuz I'm a suburban Asian dad doesn't mean I have to look like one
  • Dodge Magnum: I need something I can park easily
  • Audi A3: What's the point? Audis are just VWs for guys with small pee pees

Further Evaluation

I was |<-this close->| to making a beeline to the BMW dealership. |<-THIS CLOSE!->| What healthy red-blooded guy does not want a Beamer? But mom says they're a hassle to maintain. And a friend told me today that he's looking to replace his with something other than a Beamer cuz his is falling apart after only a couple of years. Furthermore, I like rugged. Last I checked, BMWs weren't known for being rugged.

Considering how poorly my VWs have dealt with potholes and crappy roads, I think I'm done with with these Nazimobiles. They can get away with being less than solid cuz they're built for German roads, which are far superior to American ones. Ich habe ein Nazimobil für verkaufen. Möchten Sie ein Nazimobil?

With the Outback, I have one problem: It's bigger, but not much bigger than my Golf. So what would be the point of replacing it with the Outback? Well, considering its aforementioned rally-racing heritage, perhaps it could handle crappy roads a lot better. And with its 5-star crash test safety rating, it beat the pants off the other two contenders (4-stars each for VW & BMW). The daddy in me now says safety trumps style. Also, other Outback owners testify that they're virtually maintenance free.

At this point, I've just about eliminated the Passat. So it's pretty much between the BMW and the Outback right now, though the Outback has more of the emotional pull at the moment. I never thought I'd say that. Perhaps the RiceDaddy in me longs for a RiceWagon?

So, dear readers, what should it be? Enlighten this RiceDaddy, please!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Soccer Dad: Why We Write

For some, writing is a solitary experience. The sole reason is for self-expression, to scratch a creative itch dwelling deep inside. For others, it's about standing up for the little guy, to right wrongs and spring innocents from jail. Then there's the addictive quality of spotting your hard work staring back from the newsstand, or seeing some people at the coffee shop engaged in something you wrote.

Whatever the motivation, nothing prepares you for the day when you dazedly walk into a fried chicken joint after a long day of moving stuff to see this huge vinyl poster next to the soda machine:

That quote is a snippet from a mini review I quickly scribbled off about ten years ago, when I was helping out the food section of the paper I worked for. The piece was about Popeye's Fried Chicken, and how the recipes are derived from respected cajun chefs. Really, their red beans and rice is the bomb. I thought nothing of it, forgot about it actually, and now ten years later it's hanging in every Popeye's franchise coast to coast.

It's the most bizarre validation I've ever had over something I wrote. The cashier, however, was not impressed and would not break me off a free 3-piece (spicy with red beans and rice, natch).

Popeye's fans, represent!


Friday, June 22, 2007

Soccer Dad: Clocking Lots of Dollars

Props to my homeboy Kevin who shot this clip earlier this year, during the traditional bowing to elders. Kid is too damn cute.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Challenge Update

Thanks to everyone's donations, two of our three educational proposals have been fully funded!!!!! THANK YOU ALL! YOU ROCK!

The one remaining proposal, Myself and Others, is already 65% funded, with only $487 needed to complete funding.

So, if we can only get $243.50 donated to Myself and Others, then InstantYang will graciously match the remainder. Then, all three of our educational proposals will be complete! (Thank you InstantYang for picking up the dollar-for-dollar match through July 4!!)

Don't worry, this is not the end of the RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge. Once all of our proposals are fully funded, you will still be able to donate to your heart's content. I have a list of proposals in the pipeline which will be activated once the current ones are fully funded.

Let's have a round of applause for the following donors, whose generosity has enabled about 1,225 students to obtain approximately 1,960 hours of learning:
  • Alfredo C.
  • Anthony M.
  • Debra H.
  • Debra P.
  • Ella Ruby J. E.
  • Evie and James-Tai Murakami
  • Gail E.
  • Ivette B.
  • Jackie L.
  • Jason & Michelle Sperber
  • Judith A.
  • Larry C.
  • Linda S.
  • Lissette V.
  • Margaret Hughes.
  • Maria M.
  • Mary G.
  • Mary Jane L.
  • Mary O.
  • Matthew Callaghan.
  • Melissa P.
  • Natalie G.
  • Regina D.
  • Rosezella M.
  • Sam W.
  • Shavonne K.
  • Susan Ito.
  • Susie A.
  • U. Angie H.
  • William K.
If you haven't yet made your donation, it's not too late to join the ranks of the heroes listed above. Simply click here to make your donation today!

Firecracker Chili

Who says daddies can't cook? Thanks to prodding from my fellow dads, here's my recipe for no bean chili just in time for the 4th of July. (It even took first place in two chili contests. OK, they were small contests but hey it's still good chili!) Best of all, my kids seem to like it a lot whether it's with rice, baked potato, on hot dogs/burgers or just served with cheese on top. I serve it at my kid's birthday parties.

It's really easy to make. Just make sure you have a skillet, a big pot and buy one of those huge 20 oz bottles of chili powder. The ingredient list below is for every 1 lb of meat so you can easily scale it up as much as you need (i.e. for 2 lbs of meat, double everything else, etc.):

The Meat
1 lb regular hamburger (fattier meat will taste better than lean)
1/2 onion diced (optional)
oil for cooking

The Rub (for every lb of meat use:)
1 1/2 tbs corn starch
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Other (for every lb of meat use:)
14 oz. can of diced or whole tomatoes
1/4 cup water (depends on how thick you like the sauce)
1/8 cup Ketchup
2 oz. chili powder

To Taste
cayenne pepper
more garlic powder
more ketchup

Here's the secret to this recipe, you prepare the meat as you would in many Asian dishes. First thing to do is mix up the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Now get out a big bowl to mix the rub into your meat and onions (optional on the onions). Don't mash the meat too hard or it will get tough. You just need the corn starch to be incorporated into the meat. Let it sit now.

Now put the Other ingredients except the chili powder all in a big pot and bring to boil. As soon as it boils reduce heat immediately and leave it on very low heat to simmer.

Break out the skillet, put in some oil and stir fry the meat/rub mixture on high heat. Unlike other chili recipes, you don't want to brown the meat, cook it through and toss it into the big pot. Now toss in the chili powder. Make sure the chili looks nice and dark, add in more chili powder as needed (chili powder really isn't spicy so no worries about putting in too much.)

Since the meat is already cooked, the chili is done as soon as the flavors meld. I usually taste it after 15 minutes and add in more chili or garlic powder or salt. Some people like it sweeter so you can add in more ketchup. If you like the tomatoes to be softer and sweeter you can cook it for longer, just add water if you are in danger of burning and stir often.

Serve it any way you wish and add cayenne pepper to taste. This spice is really neat in that the spiciness doesn't linger on your tongue for hours on end. But it does fade away with long cooking so there isn't any reason to add it to the dish until it is served.

Chili is pretty versatile so add in any condiments you see fit like salsa, cheese, torilla chips, etc.

Enjoy! Next time I have to write down my pesto clam sauce recipe!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Full Term, Baby!

If any of you wandered into the comments section of InstantYang's last post, you may have already read that Nakko has reached her 37th week and is officially carrying a full term baby in her belly (left). Our original due date is July 9, and that should still be the case, but it's exciting to know that Kiki could come any day now!

For the most part, the two of us seem to be as prepared as we can be. We've finished the nursery, installed the car seats, taken birthing classes and the dresser's overflowing with enough bodysuits and onesies to clothe an entire brood. All we need now is the kid, I suppose. In the meantime, we've been using a Klappar Panda we bought from Ikea as a substitute for the baby: strapping it in the car seat, riding in the stoller, swaddling practice, etc. By the way, even though the stuffed panda is unbelievably adorable, Nakko and I are convinced Kiki will be so much cuter!

Also, I think our dog Spaz is starting to get a little suspicous. We figured he wasn't completely oblivious to Nakko's pregnancy. He would occassionally rub his head against her belly and be much more affectionate around her. Now he seems to be a little annoyed that Kiki's furniture is encroaching on his space. For instance, we've had to move his doggie bed to the other side of the room to fit Kiki's Pack 'n' Play, so now he refuses to sleep in it. It probably doesn't help that we now keep the baby's room door closed (he used to sneak in there and sleep on the bed.) Also, he sometimes gets queasy and throws up when Nakko takes him for walks in the afternoon. Could the dog be going through "sympathy symptoms" too?!

The other issue we're dealing with now that the baby's almost here is what to do once our leave is up. Nakko's taking a total of six weeks maternity leave before she goes back to work part-time. I've taken three weeks off (you should've seen the shocked looks on my male co-workers' faces when they found out I was taking an unheard-of three weeks for the birth of my baby girl). Since the idea of working from home is blasphemous around the office, I was contemplating finding a new J.O.B. that offered the benefit of telecommuting. Thought I had one in the bag, but that kind of fell by the wayside. SO here's my question to you kindly folks since I know some of you are work-at-home dads. Are there any resources for people to find WAH opportunities? Aside from, you know, starting my own business, turning to craigslist or investing in a bunch of bone-scanners Will Smith-style, that is?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 Father's Day, the Rice Daddy Way

So some of you may know that one of the multiple other hats I wear is that of "Asian Pop" columnist for SFGate, the web edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. Hey, a handful of you may even read the column, which hits the web every other Tuesday. (If you don't, here's some added inducement for us thrifty Asian American media consumers: It's free, yo.)

Anyway, to commemorate Father's Day—and to bring some welcome attention to our little blogging community—I used this week's column to explore some of the reasons why being an Asian American dad of our generation is a unique experience, distinct from that of our fathers and that of non-Asian pops...not to mention from that of our best-beloved spouses and partners. Which means that we often end up turning to one another for advice, camaraderie, and understanding. And that, in turn, is why Rice Daddies has been so important, to me and, I think, to a lot of you. It's where we can brag, vent, celebrate, and commiserate in a forum public enough for a diverse set of responses and perspectives to emerge, but private enough for most readers to, like, get what we're talking about.

A number of RDs responded to my call to contribute Father's Day thoughts to this column, including Newbie Dad, Henri, SoulSnax, Dr. Lo Siento, and Daddy in a Strange Land (who even got his pic with the Pumpkin posted to the front page of SFGate, though I suspect a lot of people are going to assume that that's me and that Hudson is going through gender confusion issues). Their touching, inspirational, and funny-ass words really enriched the piece, and I want to thank them for taking the time—and thank the entire community for, well, being there.

Which brings up the matter of putting one's money where one's mouth is. The prorated fee I get for this particular column will be donated to our Rice Daddy Empowerment in Diversity Challenge—as a way of kick-starting the next phase of our charitable efforts. That's $300 right there.

And to make this sweeter, I'm picking up SoulSnax's funds-matching torch: I'll up that to a full one-to-one match of whatever comes in between now and July 4. So if you guys kick up the fundage over $300, I'll match the difference as well. Donate $400, and I'll donate $400. We're currently at $1,191.55, with $2,005.00 remaining to hit our "project total." So all you guys need to do is kick in $1002.50 between now and the Fourth of July, and I'll absorb the rest (as well as, quite probably, a severe tongue-lashing from my wife, but honey, it's for a good cause...).

Let's get it on, Daddies and Mommies! There are kids to educate out there, minds to grow, worlds to change...and as we know from being parents, every little bit counts.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Soccer Dad: Today Was a Good Day

How was everybody's Dia del Papis? Mine started out great. Went out to breakfast without any hassles (Mace is still mastering the straw, above), got some nice shirts from wifey, strolled around the Sunday flea market in SJ with the fam, scored 3 goals and got 2 assists in my Sunday soccer game (but still lost), took our dog for a walk around the high school football field which is populated by a lot of groundhogs which drives our Sheltie bonkers, splashed around the pool with Maceo after he woke up from his nap.

Sounds slam dunk so far, yeah? Well, I invited my folks and my bro and niece over for a BBQ and about a third of the way through cooking a five-pound tri-tip, I ran out of propane. I had to finish it in the oven and it came out waaaay dry. Luckily, wifey made a couple of salads and I had an extra rack of ribs to supplement the wack tri-tip. But still, i was ready to relax with a killer meal and a beer and now I was getting stressed out on how to make the meal right. In the end nobody grumbled, but there were plenty of leftovers.

Going into my second father's day, I thought it might be fun to just goof off the whole time by myself. Disappear: play my soccer game, go record shopping, get some spa treatments, splash out on some new kicks, enjoy the solitude. It didn't turn out that way, but I still had a great Father's Day. That thought and the tri-tip episode could be part of a larger metaphor: when things don't go the way you thought, you just adapt -- a lesson that many new fathers like myself learn every day.

What did y'all do?


Check this video

So I've been rocking the new Blue Scholars joint, Bayani, since it dropped last Tuesday, listening at work and playing it during my post-daycare-pick-up walks with The Pumpkin and our dog, Waldo (babygirl digs it). The Blue Scholars are a Seattle-based indie/alt/underground hip-hop duo made up of Pinoy MC Geologic (who, by the way, is a dad) and Persian American DJ/producer Sabzi, and they are unapologetically political while still bringing the funk. For an example, check the video for "Back Home," which is simultaneously a tribute to Americans of all colors serving their country in the Middle East, an emotional recognition of the struggles and sacrifices made by them and their families, and a deep, heartfelt call to "bring 'em back home." [Hat-tip to Boston Progress Radio, the new indie AsAm internet radio station, which Kimchi Mama Eliaday is a part of, for introducing me to the video.]

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Day in The Life

To all our brothas in the struggle (heh)...

Happy Father's Day.

Now get off the computer and go spend some time with your family.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Celebrating Friday, June 15th...

Today is Friday, and it's also the 15th of the month. You know what that means: You are getting paid today!

Why are we celebrating? We're celebrating cuz I know you will take advantage of this last day of our dollar-for-dollar match to the RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge. That's right, for every dollar you donate to the Challenge, another dollar will be donated by us. So your donation is worth double.

So far this week, we've matched $350 in donations. That makes it a total of $700 donated this week! But it doesn't have to end there... If you donate before 11:59PM EDT today, your $10 donation could be worth $20. Your $100 donation could be worth $200. Or your $1000 donation could be worth $2000!!

So once you've verified that your paycheck has cleared, go straight to the Challenge, and DONATE!

Hey man... it's for the children. Real men take care of children. Be a man. :)

My daughter can't win Miss Universe

This photo is my daughter, Number Three Monster. Before she was even born I vowed that I would raise her to be a strong beautiful person on the inside. Now she's 5 and I will admit I selfishly consider her to be quite pretty on the outside, so please forgive me for a little parental puffery. But I just learned she can never win Miss Universe.

I was reading through TIME magazine when I came upon this article entitled, "Japan's Beauty Queen Factory." I recalled Miss Japan won this year's Miss Universe (kudos to her!) But my mood soured greatly as I read this article.

It's about a French lady who was handpicked by Donald Trump to be the boot camp sergeant to Miss Japan hopefuls. No doubt this lady has been successful:
"For the last 10 years, Ines Ligron has been ordering young Japanese women to strip, walk tall, free their inner woman and wear lots and lots of makeup in an effort to seriously compete in the Miss Universe beauty pageant. And compete they have. The contest, long monopolized by Latin America's goddess industry, has now seen three of Ligron's frightened girls make it into the top five, including a first runner-up last year and, most spectacularly, 21-year-old dance student Riyo Mori, who two weeks ago won the title of Miss Universe 2007 and brought back the $250,000 crown to Japan for the first time in 48 years."

But here is where things get bad:

"Ligron, 44, is the national director of Miss Universe Japan, and her job is to create world-class beauty queens out of young Japanese women in a country that favors smallness over voluptuousness, reserve over unrestrained confidence, a demure smile over a sparkling grin...

... and she was appalled to find in Japan a country of young women hunched over and wobbling in untrendy shoes, avoiding the sun to keep pale, hiding under too many layers of stockings and Bridget Jones underwear. "The first thing that struck me was — I have to liberate these women!" she says... The women would also live with the beauty producer for months to learn "how to be a woman, a gaijin [foreigner] woman, from me."

Really Ms. Ligron? So many f'd up Japanese women. Thank our lucky stars, you're over there to fix their problems and teach them "how to be a woman." /sarcasm. Tell me Ms. Ligron, is this why Western women are so obsessed with silicone enhancements? But maybe I am overreacting? Well, I don't think so...
"Success in the global beauty market, however, is not necessarily embraced back home. Last year's Miss Universe runner-up Kurara Chibana has been a commercial hit back in Japan; and with her east Asian facial features... However, Miss Universe Mori fits the more statuesque, chiseled mold of Latin American and southeast Asian beauties. When a Japanese sports daily mistakenly published Miss Thailand's picture as Mori — and blundered in its apology by claiming the photo was of Miss Korea — local tabloids, instead of faulting the newspaper, criticized Ligron's crowning achievement for having a homogeneous beauty pageant look. Indeed, newspaper writers — reflecting the tastes of Japanese men — wondered if 5'9" Mori (who speaks English) embodies anything Japanese at all.

Ligron, who has been approached to replicate her success in other countries, thinks it may be just as well. "Japanese men want infantile anorexic kawaii [cute] women in their 20s who act like they're 12. Now girls are beginning to find role models in women with real talent, careers, confidence."

Well, that's frigging outrageous - the Japanese preferring women with east Asian facial features!!! Show those barbarians the light Ms. Ligron! I'm so sorry my daughter isn't up to your standards Ms. Ligron. Whoops, I forgot I don't give a $hit about you or your views! Cut the bull$hit about liberating Japanese women, you're only imposing Western ideas of beauty on them!

And I'm not even going to go into the hidden racism, her digs at Japanese men or equating Miss Universe with real talent, careers, confidence? Just too much hypocrisy. Frankly, I see jealousy at play here.

What I do know is my daughter, with her east Asian facial features, is really beautiful on the outside and I'm going to keep telling her that.

Welcome to America, now join the PTA?!

There are soooo many things wrong with this Silicon Valley Moms Blog post from a week ago (and some of the comments that followed): The Problem of the White PTA. [Hat-tip to ARP den mother Carmen for the link.] As a fourth-generation Asian American, as a father, and as a former teacher in a multiethnic working-class urban public school, I had so many strong reactions to this one I had to take a few days to breathe before posting about it here. Okay, so I did write one teensy comment there and pointed to it at Kimchi Mamas [who are discussing it again today], but for me, hey, that's self-control. Just go read it all and you'll know what I mean. Then come back here and let's talk about it!

UPDATE: Looks like I missed the original poster's clarification post, but now, both posts seem to be down (after a flurry of responses by the Kimchi Mamas posse, heh). See here and here for more on what you missed.

UPDATE 2: Okay, so the co-founder of SVMomBlog had the posts taken down (see her comment on KM reprinted in the comments to this post), and posted a public apology. But I guess enough folks said that the dialogue was needed that they reposted only the comment threads, but not the original texts (follow the links above to see what folks are saying there).

***Speaking of parental participation in education, though, check out our new RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge via Donors Choose. Our dollar-for-dollar match ends tomorrow, so let's put our money where our mouths/typing fingers are!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rice Daddies Podcast #2

It's a Father's Day special with the Rice Daddies (Thisislarry, Daddy in a Strange Land, Instant Yang, Poppa Large, and Soul Snax) talking about our relationship with our what we really want for Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Today is a day for Loving

Forty years ago today, just five years before my parents got married and seven years before I was born, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the last state laws forbidding people of different races from marrying. Richard and Mildred Jeter Loving just wanted to be able to raise their children close to their family in Virginia - what they did was so much more. During my college identity-activism days, I used to call my peers "the Loving Generation" because we were the first generation born after the Loving v. Virginia decision to grow up and come of age, wrangling with multiracial identity issues in a world that, for the first time, saw us as completely legal and legitimate.

Four years ago, a hapa design student used his master's thesis to found a holiday commemorating the day of the court decision, and he called it Loving Day. Besides regional celebrations including one hosted in the D.C. area by hapa filmmaker/activist Eric Byler and his parents, this milestone anniversary year's observances include a big conference in Chicago at the end of this month.

Our sisters at Kimchi Mamas are already talking about the significance of this day, and about an NPR piece that ran on All Things Considered yesterday. The first part of the piece talked about the historical impact of the case, but the second part brought things to the present day, via a a young family (white mom, black dad) living in the Lovings' own county in Virginia today. And though they were legally free to marry, it seems that not enough has changed. The wife talks about constant harassment and a recent incident in which her husband was beat up by a bunch of white men in the presence of their children. But even she isn't immune to the history of racist attitudes that may just be more obvious in a place like rural Virginia, calling her children "mulattos" and worrying about what kind of clothes her kids wear (and her husband wants them to go to the school with more white kids). Take a listen, and you're reminded of two things.

One, we've come a long way since that day in 1967.

And two, we ain't done yet. Not by a long shot.

Happy Loving Day, y'all.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Introducing The RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge

At the top of our sidebar, there's a link to our first official philanthropic venture: The RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge.

It's one thing for us to blog about the unique experience of being RiceDaddies, and the special issues we face as 21st century Asian-American parents. But with this new challenge, we now hope to add weight to our words by actually putting our money where our mouths are.

We RiceDaddies believe that we have a unique perspective as Asian-American parents because many of us grew up in this country at a time when Western pop culture and media may have had a marginalizing effect upon our social and cultural development. The lack of positive portrayals of diversity has resulted in negative implicit associations with people of color, even among people of color themselves. Such negative associations with people of color continue to perpetuate behavior and violence against people of color.

If media producers fail to portray our children in a positive, beautiful way, then it is up to us to do it. While some things have changed for the better, some things still remain the same. So, for any improvement to continue, we must choose to be the agents of such change.

With that in mind, The RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge aims to mitigate the marginalizing effects of diversity-negligent pop culture and media by funding innovative educational programs that do the following:
  • Promote positive images of ourselves for our children
  • Promote positive images of ourselves for other people and their children
  • Develop skills in our children that empower them to be leaders in the world in which we live
  • Promote pride in one's culture instead of shame
  • Promote self-respect and appreciation for others like ourselves
  • Develop our children's ability to use their imaginations in an empowering way
  • Encourage our children to be who they truly are

Donations to the challenge currently go to the following public school educational programs:
Take the time to read about each of the educational programs featured in the challenge. You'll see that your donation will pay social dividends for generations to come.

As an added incentive for you to donate, my wife and I have decided to offer a dollar-for-dollar match on all donations made from now through Friday, June 15th. That means every dollar you donate is worth double! So go straight to The RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge and donate today!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

My 20th High School Reunion

Whew, dragging 4 kids on the plane to and back was a challenge but we made it back home in one piece. Was a very busy trip – visiting in-laws, cousins, friends and, of course there was the reunion.

I was a little worried about the reunion because a few friends I knew couldn’t make it and at the last second my best friend had to bow out. And those were like the only classmates my wife knew – I wanted my wife to have a good time. Oh, but my high school sweetheart came and so did the first girl I ever asked out, LOL!

Actually, it turned out to be a good thing. I got to mingle and chat with a lot of people I didn’t know so well. It helped that I was doing really well remembering faces and names. But the biggest helper may have been the alcohol!

My classmates seemed to be a lot more fun after a few drinks. I spoke and laughed with one classmate more in a few minutes than I ever did with her in all of 6 years of high school. She’s a mommy now and said she hasn’t been drunk in 12 years. It was great and now I’m thinking why the hell didn’t we drink more in high school??? (Oops, kids don’t read this.) Other folks were really sweet, they actually started conversation by apologizing for being too shy in school and not talking with me more back then (and these were IMHO the “cool” people back in H.S.)

It was really interesting to see after 20 years that we actually wound up with much more in common than we thought we did. People I never thought we could be friends with in high school suddenly became very familiar to me and it didn’t seem too late to strike up new friendships. Of course, it could also be coincidence. I think the classmates who come back to their reunions come with the best of intentions and positive attitudes. Sure, not everyone had a great time but I consider it part of our journey and you need to look back at the good things and forget the bad.

On a final note, it was a total hoot to meet old friends and catch up. Lots of kids among us now. And there were at least 4 classmates I haven’t seen or heard from in 20 years that I used to hang out with. Looking forward to the 25th if I can make it.

Yul Kwon of Survivor, Harrison Update and New PSA

Yul Kwon: AADP Spokesperson
Yul Kwon, the winner of Survivor: Cook Islands has decided to serve as a spokesperson for the Asian American Donor Program (AADP). He actually first became involved with AADP as a Stanford undergrad when his best friend and fraternity brother was diagnosed with Leukemia. He helped organize a donor drive at the time, but unfortunately his friend didn't make it. He's now back helping AADP by publicizing this life threatening issue and encouraging people to register as marrow donors. Finding a marrow match is especially challenging for the Asian American community because of the low number of registered donors. It's great that Yul is using his fame to highlight this hidden and deadly problem. Check out A Message from Yul Kwon.

Update: Harrison Leonardo
Several months ago the plight of then 2 year-old Harrison Leonardo was featured on He was desperately in need of a bone marrow transplant for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). Well, some good news. First, he celebrated his 3rd birthday in March. He also received a very nice birthday present: an umbilical cord blood donation from Spain! He's definitely not out of the woods yet. A bone marrow transplant is a long, painful and grueling process. They first have to destroy the existing marrow to kill off all remnants of the disease to make sure it doesn't return. They then replace the destroyed tissue by injecting the donor cells, hoping the new cells grow into healthy bone marrow. So far things are looking up. Harrison's mom has been keeping a journal chronicling his progress on the web site.

New PSA: Elyse Yu
Korean-American Elyse Yu was born in Southern California on February 1, 2007, the oldest of triplet sisters. According to Hellin's Law, the odds for triplets are roughly 8,100 to 1, making her and her sisters quite special. Those odds pale in comparison to Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a rare blood disease that strikes one-in-a-million people. Unfortunately, Elyse has the rare distinction of being a triplet and also having HLH. Like Harrison and Yul's friend, she also desperately needs a bone marrow transplant and her best potential match lies within the Asian American community. A friend of the Yu family emailed me her story to help spread the word. Kimchi Mamas also posted a story about Elyse earlier this week as well. If you're in the Southern California area, there are several donor drives going on for Elyse. For a schedule of drives and more information about Elyse, visit her web site at
Elyse's Story on YouTube.

Please Register Today
If you haven't already, please, please register as a potential marrow donor. Check the links for a local donor drive or call for a free kit. With Yul as a spokesperson and our individual efforts, we can get the word out about this life threatening challenge to the Asian American community. Look deeply at your sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters, your mothers and fathers. Look deeply at all those who you care about and love. Now imagine them going through the same challenges that Harrison, Elyse and others face on a daily basis. Imagine the ongoing struggles and seemingly impossible odds stacked against you and your loved ones. What would you do? What could you do? You can start be taking just a few minutes to register as a potential donor and give hope to those who so desperately need it. I can't imagine what my life would be like without my baby boy. He means everything to me as I'm sure your children mean to you and what Harrison and Elyse mean to their parents. They and others in the Asian American community need our support. Please register today.

Donor Drives and Home Test Kits
IN NEW YORK for more info including additional drives or to receive a home test kit, please contact DKMS AMERICAS at 1-866-340-3567.
IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA please contact Marc Loresto at Asians for a Miracle Marrow Match (888) 236-4673 X172 or visit the A3M website for more local drives in the LA , San Diego and Orange County areas.
IN HAWAII please contact Roy Yamashiro at the Hawaiian Bone Marrow Registry (877) 443-6667.
IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA (Bay Area) please contact Cynthia Carlson, Recruitment Specialist at the National Marrow Donor Program at or Carol Gillespie, Executive Director of Asian American Donor Program at
IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA (Merced to Oregon Border) please contact Bloodsource in Sacramento at 1-800-995-4420
IN ARIZONA please contact Oscar with NMDP at 602-242-5459.
There's a list of U.S. and International donor centers on the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) web site.
U.S. Donor Centers
International Donor Centers

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Journey From a Chinese Orphanage to a Jewish Rite of Passage

after searching "chinese jewish", via flickr

Listening to the inaugural Rice Daddies podcast I learned that part of DISL's heritage is Jewish.

This occured to me when I came across this article, on (registration required), via inherentthesis, a blog by a friend who is doing a MFA thesis on the modern definition of family.
"Of the 613 laws in the Torah, the one that appears most often is the directive to welcome strangers. The girl once known as Fu Qian has been thinking about that a lot lately.

"Three weeks ago, she stood at the altar of her synagogue on the Upper West Side and gave a speech about it.

"Fu Qian, renamed Cecelia Nealon-Shapiro at 3 months, was one of the first Chinese children — most of them girls — taken in by American families after China opened its doors to international adoption in the early 1990s. Now, at 13, she is one of the first to complete the rite of passage into Jewish womanhood known as bat mitzvah." --continued at

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bar-Hopping with Baby: follow-up

My wife read my last post while she was away, and when she got back, she wasn't as freaked out as I thought she'd be. In fact, she was kinda impressed, being that it was the first time she's gone away since her heroic delivery five months ago. I wonder what she was expecting.

Anyway, we actually took Baby out to the pub again on Sunday afternoon. That makes three weekends in a row now that Baby has been out drinking with me, so I guess we've established a bit of a routine. Hey, it's summertime, we're young, and the baby loves it. We're teaching her socialization. Yeah, that's it. Socialization.

It was right after the festivities following the Philippine Independence Day Parade on Madison Ave. When the rain started, a huge group of us headed to Maker's Bar over on 3rd Ave. It was good to see my wife relaxing with friends she hadn't had the chance to chill with since the pregnancy. Meanwhile, uncle Mark and I drank San Miguel and used Baby as our little chick-magnet, getting loads of attention from the smokin-hot Filipinas coming in from the rain. There were a lot of them. Oooh, and they were wet too...


...the real reason for this follow-up post is because in my last post, I mentioned using that Baby Björn carrier. Well, today, my wife sent me the following link: Infant Carriers and Spinal Stress.

Basically, the article discusses the danger of using such carriers due to the stress it places upon an infant's developing lower spine. It's something my sister had mentioned once, but I'm surprised I haven't heard more about it. The article also explains the reasons why sling-type carriers are more ideal.