• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


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    Wednesday, July 27, 2005

    Gay birth certificates?

    Fox reports that another battle is starting in Massachussetts. Gay rights activists want the birth certificate changed from Mother and Father to Parent A and Parent B.

    Who would ever want Parent A or Parent B?? Sounds like something born out of a test tube. So impersonal. Gov. Romney wants to add a "Second Parent" line, and activists say that's discriminatory.

    Pardon me, but what's so discriminatory about it?? Sounds to me like somebody's got a burr under their saddle. OR should I say a stick up their ....

    Anyway, I personally disagree with same-sex marriage for a variety of reasons that won't be explained here. But I do respect the rule of law, and same-sex marriage is legal and should not be discriminated against in Massachussetts. However, "parent A" and "parent B" is just plain stupid. It's dispassionate, unnecessary, and slaps every traditional family in the face (and there are far more traditional families than same-sex ones).

    There is no reason that this needs to be changed. Regardless of whether a child is reared in a same-sex household or not, our species requires that every child have a father and a mother. If a "second parent" wants to be put on a birth certificate, so that lineage can be traced through the people raising the child, I think that's magnanimous. But you cannot eliminate the fact that where possible, the father/mother must be noted.

    Hey gay rights activists, you won the right to be married, now leave it alone. This isn't worth your time or others, or the future of the child you say you love and want to rear.

    Darfur Genocide

    I've been worried about the lack of press coverage for Darfur for some time now. Instapundit has a good link.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2005

    Blog Search 2

    Did a little more reading at work (shh...don't tell anyone), and found some interesting student blogs linked to No Star Where. Although these blogs seem to all start just 1-2 months ago, they focus on social issues. These are the blogs we need more of in Vietnam. We need personal blogs like Such is Life! and social issue blogs like these students. Through both, the Vietnamese will develope voice and awareness, and join the ever-growing blogosphere. Unfortunately, these are all student blogs, and will end this month (if not already) as the class ends. Perhaps some will continue to write...

    Testing Vietnamese Fonts

    I've found, on this blog and others I've read, that often writing in Vietnamese leaves funny boxes where letters with tones should be. While finding that cache of Vietnamese-language websites last night (I make it sound like hidden treasure, don't I?), I found a blog entry on writing in Vietnamese. At Down and Out in Saigon, the blogger suggests UniKey. I have always used Vietkey 2000, which can be downloaded from the Ministry of Health, but it has had some problems besides working with blogger.

    Anyway, here's my test of Vietkey 2000 and Unikey 3.62 NT:

    Vietkey 2000

    Chào bạn, khỏe không? Tôi viết bằng tiếng Việt.

    Unikey 3.62 NT

    Chào bạn, khỏe không? Tôi viết bằng tiếng Việt.

    Interestingly, when using the preview button while posting this, neither program successfully showed tones. However, once posted, my browser (Internet Explorer) accurately displays both sentences. Tell me if your browsers allow you to read both sentences, or if one (or both) is jumbled.

    The Search for the Vietnamese Blog...

    Ok, so it's late at night, and I'm sitting online hoping that my wife is back in Saigon from Phan Thiet, and getting online to talk to me. So far, no such luck...Oh well, she's probably still lounging on the beach at that four-star resort she told about and taunted me with...

    While I'm waiting for my beach-loving wife, I decided to continue the nearly-futile search for the Vietnamese blog. The blog of a Vietnamese person born, raised, and still living in Vietnam, written in Vietnamese. Such is Life! fulfills two of the three requirements, and he's currently working on the third. But I have hope that there is more than just one blog in Vietnam!!

    Here's my journey:

    found the blog of an ex-pat teaching english at Down and Out in Saigon.

    another ex-pat in Vietnam, hasn't written since Jan 2005, at Long Xuyen, Vietnam.

    an ex-pat from West Virginia at No Star Where. He/She however, seems to have links to blogs by Vietnamese students.

    found the ever popular Noodle Pie. If you want a culinary blog from Saigon, this is as good as you get. (also an expat).

    Found it!!! The first blog that satisfies all three...could it be...it seems so. Check out Nowhere Land. It's written in Vietnamese, and from some comments I've read, it seems to be written by a Viet in Vietnam. This one will need verification. Better yet, there's a "Friend's blogs" list that may open many doors...

    another expat in TPHCM, this time working as academic staff at RMIT International University Vietnam.

    found a "blog" that seems to specialize in asian girl photos. I don't know for sure, because my internet filter at work blocks it as pornography, but if you care to check it out, click on See Lai.

    another blog with vietnamese posts at Nobody's fool. Not sure if the author is a viet in vietnam though.

    a blog from Hanoi, in Viet and english. author likes Korean movies. Fresh as rain...

    the blogger is "Oshin" at the viet-language (sometimes) blog Colours of Life. Also check out his/her list of Viet blogs here.

    a vietnamese female banker in Hanoi at Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

    Nhung Pham hasn't written here since February, but in April she wrote as part of a group here.

    I'm starting to think that maybe some Viet blogs do exist, although 4-5 out of 80 million isn't a good percentage.

    a thriving Vietnamese-language blog by three people at Algo. Good pics. Khoai, the main blogger, also blogs at You Needed Me and Collection (although the latter looks abandoned).

    it's in viet, didn't look it over: НИ ПЕРА НИ ПУХА

    Viet Kieu in Saigon: Ms. Nguyen

    Hi There

    The most active and well developed blog in Vietnamese must be Nguoitapviet, by Tran Le Duy Tien. He's a 21 year old young man from Da Nang who is now studying at the University of Calgary. Close to being in Vietnam, right??

    Well, this has been a surprisingly fruitful experience. I am now stoked to find more Viet blogs. However, it is now 3:06am, and my wife never got online, so I am heading home and getting some sleep. If anyone reads some of these blogs a little more closely (obviously I haven't), fill me in on which one's are good and which are not.

    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    The Seventh Wonder of the World

    Lance Armstrong is the man. For all of us who dream of donning the maillot jaune, he has worn it 82 times and won 7 tours de France.

    I was reading in Men's Health about how to get fit like Lance and listening to Science Friday on NPR where they talked about Lance's genetic greatness and his training that made him greater. He truly is an amazing person. Heart is 30% larger than a normal human. Muscles are 23% efficient in turning chemical energy to mechanical energy vs. 20% in a normal human. He does not produce as much lactic acid as a normal person, so he only needs 30-40 seconds to recover after he "pops" before he can sprint again. His maximum heart rate is well over 200 beats per minute, so not only can he pump 30% more blood, he can do it faster than anyone else.

    A lot of this came from training, which gives hope to me--the little guy. But a lot is good genetics too. Either way, he's an amazing athlete, with an iron will, good tactics, and an inspiration to millions because of his victory over cancer and on the bike.

    Today, Lance was allowed to give a speech from the podium--the first time ever allowed in the history of the tour--where he said gracious things about his rival Jan Ullrich, friend and rival Ivan Basso, and advised us strongly to stop snubbing what could be the hardest sport in the world and give it some TLC. More importantly, when he claimed the yellow jersey he had his kids with him, and that is what is truly important. All the accolades in the world won't make up for being a failure in the home.

    Here's to Armstrong's accomplishments, life after the greatest ever, and may we all have his stamina to overcome the adversities in our lives.

    Sen. Kerry and the Maillot Jaune

    Last night I watched the last individual time trial of Lance Armstrong's career. It was great. I was treated to the best, most sad, and worst of cycling in this year's tour.

    First, Lance was magnificent. I have watched the tour faithfully since 1999, where I happened upon it while at college. I had heard faintly of "le tour de France" before, but had no clue what it was. Then I saw a relatively unknown Texan who had recently beat cancer win an amazing race.

    That hooked me. This year I watched every single stage. The time trial had Jan Ullrich turn in a phenomenal time, only to see Lance win by 0'23". Pure perfection.

    The sad came a little earlier with Mikael Rasmussen. He had ridden so magnificently throughout the tour--earning not only the King of the Mountain jersey, but a podium position. Then, at the beginning of the time trial, he crashed hard, and was never the same. He tried to make up ground, but his bike came apart on him, and he took a turn too wide, spilling into the grass. He went through four bikes while enduring two crashes and dropped to seventh overall in the general classification.

    The worst was Senator John Kerry. I almost puked when I saw him interviewed. Leave it to a politician to sully the greatest race of our generation. Somehow Sen. Kerry got permission to ride in the team car behind Armstrong, and then, upon getting out, got his ugly mug plastered on TV as he professed to be such a great cycling fan. He said he watched it every day during last year's campaign, fast-forwarding through commercials. Yeah right, he knows cycling like he knows football, which, if anyone remembers from last year's campaign, is not very much.

    But it's not about Sen. Kerry per se. I probably would have thrown up my dinner had it been any other senator. Our policy-makers have no business being there unless it's John Cornyn or Kay Bailey Hutchinson. They are the two senator's from TEXAS, and since Lance Armstrong is from TEXAS, I could understand them showing up. Kerry's from Massachussets, and last I heard, that's not a state in TEXAS (although Texan's will say Texas is big enough to swallow it whole).

    So there you have it: the good--Armstrong's utter domination once again, the bad(sad)--Mikael Rasmussen falls and drops out of podium contention, and the ugly (worst)--Sen. Kerry tries to steal face time from Armstrong's glory. What a great and horrible world in which we live.

    Friday, July 22, 2005

    Next Earl of Essex??

    Reminds me of the movie King Ralph. Try this on for size.

    Another London Bombing Addendum

    Alright, so I've blogged on this alot lately.

    Last night I got ready for bed and turned on Comedy Central for a quick laugh. Instead, I found The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I have a confession: I find this show the funniest and best news show on TV. The jokes are good, but his interviews are better--poignant, candid, no hot air like you hear from the likes of both Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly (both of whom I do watch, if just for my sadomasachistic tendencies).

    Jon Stewart interviewed Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International. It was a very good interview, and Fareed talked about "Mess O'Potamia." He basically quoted me (where's my royalties??) saying that no matter what the offense endured, there is no excuse for terrorist acts. Saying you understand where they're coming from just gives validation to their actions. What we need to do is stop radical clerics from speaking hate. He called it a "downward spiral." Radical clerics speak hate, causing terrorists to bomb, which causes Europeans to alienate Muslims, which causes more hate-speech from radical clerics and on and on...

    Unfortunately, I can't find a transcript, but you can see the video of the jokes earlier in the segment here.


    Evidently, moderate muslims are split on whether suicide bombings are forbidden by religious law.

    Thursday, July 21, 2005

    More London Bombings

    I posted the other day about Muslims taking responsibility for terror acts, and now this. It looks like more terrorists, whether idiot kids trying to be copycats or a semi-structured ring of professional terrorists has yet again bombed London.

    This time London was lucky. Fox reports that the intent of the bombs was to kill just like two weeks ago, but some bombs did not explode. CNN reports that the failed explosions have given London police significant leads in the investigation. The BBC has an interesting video of some eyewitness accounts.

    Here's my (not so) quick thought: How do you put out a fire?? Does it matter if you spray the tops of the flames with water?? What about digging up the earth around it?? Well, the latter will contain the fire, but not put it out. The former is pointless. The only way to put out a fire is to spray water at its base.

    The terror we live in today is a significantly larger and more frightening fire than a typical fire in the bar-b-que pit. Where does all the hot-headed action and vindicative rhetoric stem from?? Today's policy makers keep preaching protecting ourselves. Some vocal minority in America place the blame on our actions, our existence (Ward Churchill), in inciting the terrorists to act. Today I'm not so sure.

    I think America's existence and presence in areas the terrorists dissagree with (Iraq, etc.) is the charcoal, maybe the lighter fluid--the fuel of the fire--but not what starts it. People who want to be incensed can find numerous reasons to justify taking human life in this diverse, imperfect, and sometimes illogical world. The fire is started by the radical clerics that preach hate. Most Muslims, all the muslims I know, disagree totally with this doctrine of hate. They are good, peace-loving people, who come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jerusalem, Saudi Arabia, etc. They worship Allah faithfully and do not find it in their faith to commit terrorist acts on people of any nationality, race, or creed.

    However, these radical clerics, entrenched in some parts of Britain, France, and the middle east, convert people into murderers through their hateful preaching. Although they may not directly instruct someone how to build a bomb, their message of hatred and intolerance becomes the impetus for murder and the ideological shield terrorists use to justify their actions.

    If we, and probably more effectively, the Muslim community in areas around radical clerics, focused on neutering their speech, convincing people not to listen to them, or stopped them from speaking, we stop this culture of terror and start to build a culture of rational, peaceful deliberations. No, people don't need to always agree. We see the world through different paradigms, but we can discuss and resolve our differences without senseless bloodshed.

    I call upon the people living around radical clerics to stand up like the people of Pakistan against terror, but speak out directly against the inciting radical clerics that cause this fire. This method will lead to the quickest ending of the terror phenomenon that the world now endures.

    ADDENDUM:On idealism, truthfully, I think of myself as a realist. However, I am reminded of a Native American proverb that says "If you aim for the sky you hit the eagle, but if you aim for the eagle, your arrow falls to the ground." Only through identifying and striving toward the ideal can we achieve our dreams. Aiming for something less insures that we will never reach perfection.

    Also, a coworker seemed to agree with my point yet then argued (myopically) that she can understand the rationale behind the terrorists, and therefore America needs to stop its unilateral backing of Israel and its actions in the middle east. Although she says she doesn't support terrorism, this view validates their activities. There is no excuse for deciding to bomb innocent civilians--regardless of perceived wrongs endured. Validating terrorist excuses just gives credence to their bloodthirsty views. Western leaders refuse to cow to terrorism, of course, because nobody would pick up charcoal from the middle of a fire. We must put out the fire first, build an environment of rational discussion by muting radical clerics, and then we can focus on removing the proverbial charcoal and lighter fluid caused by America's sometimes questionable foreign policies.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2005

    Hotel Rwanda

    Saw Hotel Rwanda the other day--great movie. Very powerful. Couldn't help thinking of the Sudanese conflict still continuing as I watched the Rwandan genocide played out in front of me. The United States, if it truly believes in the freedom it preaches, should be in Sudan right now. Yes, I know it's a touchy political situation. I'm willing to make allowances for that. Anyway, elaborating that thought is another post.

    I just wanted to call attention to this post at the Mudville Gazette. Very interesting depiction of the current situation in Sudan. Check it out.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2005

    Quick thought

    I was just thinking about the bombing in London.

    Everybody questions and hypothesizes about varying ways we can protect ourselves from terrorists. This is a necessary thing. Obviously, it's the house owner's responsibility to lock his or her doors before going to bed. You don't outsource that.


    Maybe another way, an effective way, of putting pressure on terrorists, is to call for Muslims in Europe and America to start putting very vocal pressure on the terrorists to stop. Since they often hide behind their religion and their ideology as a shield, a very vocal muslim population--who's majority does not and never did condone terrorism--could place very effective pressure on would-be terrorists.

    The genesis of my thought comes from Europe. It seems that in these bombings, radical clerics played a role in inciting and convincing the bombers to carry out their deeds. What a powerful sight it would be to see the Muslim community of Leeds stand up in a picket line outside a mosque where a radical cleric speaks, with signs, saying "don't listen to this cleric! He doesn't teach true islam! Terror isn't the way!"

    Maybe the pictures of that sight would help someone, somewhere, decide not to go hear a firebrand cleric preach hate of all peoples, but instead visits the other mosque down the street where he or she learns about Allah's love. Maybe that line convinces just one person not to cross it and enter the mosque. Maybe that stops one more bomb from going off in another city like London.

    Wouldn't that be great?

    Bush's pick

    Well, well, well. Look at what we have here...

    Today President Bush made his nominee for the Supreme Court and I feel relieved. Obviously, I'm not a lawyer, nor a real judicial pundit, and therefore, I don't know much more about John Roberts than what I have read on all the major news websites.

    What I do feel is, I am glad it's him. It seems like Bush picked a candidate that is not too far right as to alienate half of America (not to mention enough senators for a filibuster). I didn't think he'd do that anyway. It also looks like Bush picked what he thought was the best qualified candidate, regardless of race, religion, etc.

    That is what makes me relieved. Talking with a coworker today, I opined that I could care less if all the justices were women, minorities, or white males. I don't care if they are all Buddhists, Muslims, or Christians--as long as they are going to interpret the constitution without being partial to any sect or creed, and are the 9 best judges in the land.

    I also worried that Bush would nominate a female to replace O'Connor. Now, like I said previously, I think it would be great if the all 9 justices were female, providing the 9 best judges were women. But I was hearing people say that a female should be replaced by a female. That, to me, is dividing the court into quotas. I don't want someone to say, 4 justices must always be female, 1 must be asian, one hispanic, one african-american, etc. That neuters the court, because it doesn't allow the 9 most qualified judges to sit. Perhaps, 25 years from now, 4 out of the 9 judges will be Vietnamese-Americans. That would be great...if they are the best judges. But giving quotas, and charging that a female should be replaced by a female, or so forth, opens the court to domination by political party and waters down its ability to adjucate.

    When Reinquist or someone else retires, we may see a woman or minority appointed to the Supreme Court, and I will be extremely happy that they are qualified and willing to serve their country.

    I'm happy for this nominee too, and no court quotas.

    Monday, July 11, 2005

    Vietnamese Book

    I just started reading a new book--When Faith Endures--the story of Nguyen Van The.

    Nguyen Van The lived in Saigon and fought for the ARVN (or directly for the US...I'm not sure which) but also served as the bishop of a fledging congregation of Vietnamese mormons. The story follows his efforts at leading his congregation during the war. I will report more when I finish the book.

    On a personal note, I have had the opportunity to meet Nguyen Van The and many of the original Mormons in Saigon. He is a small man, but one who commands respect. I was awed to meet him. His story, as he told me, is one I've heard repeated many times from others in Saigon, Orange County, and Houston. He fought for democracy. Saigon fell and he sacrificed everything to get his congregation and family to safety, and then he spent years in a "reeducation camp."

    Every time I hear a story, whether from Bac The or another veteran, of the atrocities the Communists committed, I am sickened. This book adds to a growing genre of books by Vietnamese refugees remembering their journeys. It also adds a little knowledge to the religious side of things. The world is quite aware of Communist violations of religious freedom and human rights since 1975, and this book shows how people from a small Christian religion that is still not fully allowed to function in Vietnam survived.

    Friday, July 08, 2005

    Vietnam's Response to London's Bombing

    The BBC and news media in America have covered almost nothing but the tragic terrorist bombings in London since they happened. Surely, these bombings are both despicable and ignorant. I have no sympathy--let me repeat that, NONE--for the perpetrators of such cowardly deeds...especially when done in the name of God. There is an added acrimonious nature to a bad deed done in the name of a perfectly good deity.

    Then I wondered how Vietnam would respond to this attack. There are two possibilities. When in Vietnam before, I noticed the government highly censored news, even international news, if the actions or words were deemed immoral or could deflate party allegiance. Perhaps the Vietnamese government would do this to an obviously immoral act in London? Perhaps it would show the event, but neuter some of the pictures and video to eliminate blood?

    The other possibility stems from 9/11. During 11 Sept 2001, I was in Orange County, CA. That day was crazy for everyone, but every Vietnamese adult I met was deeply disturbed, crying even, because of the senseless loss of life. Would Vietnam react the same? Would the memories of a whole generation of war and the atrocities attendant cause Vietnam to cry and open up it's heart to the British people?

    Those were my two thoughts. Well, here's something I've found:

    A quick search found only one Vietnamese blogger commenting on it. Check out this 19 year old in Hanoi at Such is Life!

    Talking with my wife, she relayed the Saigon perspective. It seems that everywhere she went yesterday--UNICEF, a law office, and eating out, everyone was talking about it. Here's some of the conversation:

    wife: are you alright?
    me: i'm fine
    me: just reading through today's headlines really quick
    wife: ok
    me: did you hear about the bombings in London??
    wife: yeah
    wife: early this morning
    wife: SAD
    wife: :((
    me: I'd really like to know what the Vietnamese reaction is to this
    wife: oh
    me: and how much information the govt lets the people know
    wife: you forgot to ask mom?
    wife: she was talking about it all day
    me: yup
    me: what was she saying??
    wife: she was very angry
    wife: she said they are animals
    me: do you think her view is pretty normal for people in vietnam?
    wife: :))
    wife: i am pretty sure
    wife: they showed it on the news all day
    wife: and on the papers too
    wife: in fact
    wife: The Prime Minister, Phan Van Khai, sent a sympathy letter to Tony Blair earlier this morning and said that the Vietnamese are very sad and very sorry for the tragedy
    wife: they understand and stand by the British side
    wife: he even said that the world needs a better punishment for these terrorists
    me: wow
    wife: i was kinda impressed
    wife: i did not know Vietnam would do that much
    wife: and stand on British and American side
    me: yeah, me too
    me: did they allow all info to go to the people?
    me: i would expect so
    me: because it's not about vietnam
    wife: the fact is more than just that
    me: but i wondered if they might censor anything
    me: because it is so graphic
    wife: i guessed they did
    wife: because they all watched all the video tapes
    me: oh
    wife: in the past many months
    wife: that the terrorists
    wife: put on public TV
    wife: when they beheaded someone
    me: wow
    wife: my mom even told me detailed stories
    wife: i randomly asked her about those that beheaded
    wife: just to see how much she know
    wife: she know just as much as I do
    wife: amazing hah?
    me: very amazing
    wife: and my mom is just a staying at home mom
    wife: and she know that much
    me: I'm quite impressed
    me: by your mom, and vietnam
    wife: just think about those that work in offices
    wife: and communicate with all of their coworkers
    wife: i stopped by dad's office this morning
    wife: and all the lawyers were talking about it
    me: really
    wife: everywhere I went today
    me: what was the lawyer take on the situation?
    wife: everyone discussed about it
    wife: very funny
    wife: one of my dad's friends said
    wife: No place is safer than Vietnam
    me: lol
    wife: it is the best place to live
    me: probably true.

    Good job Vietnam, for responding like the Viets did during September 11th. I'm quite impressed.

    Thursday, July 07, 2005

    Dentists in Vietnam

    I have to admit--I'm wary about medicine and dentistry in Vietnam. Not that I don't think doctors and dentists can't have the aptitude to perfrom in Vietnam, it's just that I've seen the conditions they are forced to work from, and it's not pleasing.

    Last summer I visited three or four hospitals in Hanoi, but I actually watched a day of surgeries in the Eye and Face National Hospital in Hanoi. There I saw some great doctors perform amazing feats with substandard equipment and operating rooms. From what I hear, dentistry is similar or worse.

    Now my wife is getting a bridge, and consequently a root canal and cap and anything else necessary to fill the spot of her missing tooth. We're lucky, because her family is very well-off, and have the money to pay a very nice (and high priced) dentist. Heck, her sister just bought a $500USD cellphone.

    But I'm not posting about my wife. I worry about the rest of Vietnam. The average Vietnamese person still makes only about 12,000,000 VND a year. That's $757USD, or about $70 a month. Now true, in the Vietnamese economy, it is possible to live on that. You couldn't do that in America. So I'm NOT arguing that we need to increase wages and all that. I hear people complain about factory workers making just a couple dollars a day and I blow them off. If you gave factory workers an american salary, it'd throw the economy in a loop.

    But you can help the economy strengthen, so everyone's living standards increase, and with it, the buying power of the Vietnamese Dong in relation to the US dollar.

    I don't care about the buying power (per se) but I do care about the living standards.

    Although $757USD is middle or lower-middle class in Vietnam, the health care they have access to is pitiful. Someone could do some serious good if they could help give new equipment to Vietnamese dentists and doctors. I went to the Benh Vien Viet Phap Hanoi (French-Vietnamese Hospital of Hanoi) when I was sick, and it was amazing--because it is funded by the French. On the flip side, when visiting Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi, I tripped over broken tiles, looked into a birthing room through a fist-sized hole in the wooden door between it and the hall, and stepped around broken concrete pieces that had fallen off the walls.

    Although I don't have any links to NGOs, or hospitals, or anything like that in this post, maybe I will have succeeded in drawing attention to an area that needs help.

    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    Do Not Fly United Airlines. Ever!!!

    I hope everyone can see this: DO NOT FLY UNITED AIRLINES!!!!

    We all know that airlines are not the best companies in the world. Anyone who actually has stock in an airline besides Jetblue and Southwest is an utter moron. Who is the worst? UNITED AIRLINES, of course. Exactly one week ago today, my wife went to Vietnam, and had one of the singularly worst experiences of her entire life.

    I took my dear wife to the airport last Tuesday, arriving an hour early for her 7:15pm flight. We chose this flight because she had to catch a Korean Airlines flight in LAX at 12:30am, and we wanted 4 hours between landing in LAX and taking off.

    When we get to Salt Lake City's airport, the lady at the counter says the flight has been delayed out of Denver two hours. I asked immediately to be put on another flight--Delta--so that we can be sure my wife reaches LAX on time.

    The lady at the counter assured me that she and her bags could be checked all the way through to Vietnam, and she would have more than 2 hours at LAX. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE.

    We went and grabbed a bite to eat, returning at 8:00pm, finding nobody at the counter, and seeing her flight delayed until 10:06. By the time she left, it was 10:38pm. She arrived in LAX at 11:45pm

    I kept in constant contact with my wife until she boarded the plane. Little did I know I was in for a long night.

    She arrived at terminal 8 in LAX at 11:45 and sprinted to the international terminal. Made it to her gate by 12:00am, but they wouldn't let her on. She hadn't got her boarding pass 2 hours in advance, so she lost her seat. However, she couldnt get it because her UNITED AIRLINES flight was delayed 4 HOURS.

    She argued that she couldn't call ahead because she was in the plane, but Korean airlines didn't help. She was put on standby for the next flight at 1:10am. After waiting for that, she didn't get on--only one person did--and she was sent back to United's counter.

    By the time she reached United, everyone was gone. Only the janitors were left. She called me, and I called United. After spending 30 minutes on the phone with domestic and international flights, UNITED REFUSED TO GIVE HER A HOTEL ROOM.

    I called my father, and we began tag-teaming the airlines. We called Vietnam Airlines and Korean Airlines. After talking for hours, all we got was nothing. Vietnam Air could move her leg from Korea to Vietnam, but not until they knew when she was going to be in Korea. Korean Air could only give her standby until the 4th of July (6 days away).

    Meanwhile, my wife is stuck at the baggage clain of LAX, without anywhere to sleep, crying, stressed, and nobody around. She's afraid for her safety, because the security guard only comes around every once in awhile, and she doesnt even know where to go to get a hotel by herself.

    I called my friend Phuong in Westminster, and he agreed to pick her up after his classes, about 1pm. My friend Vinh was flying in to LAX wit his wife that evening and said my wife could stay with them until the 4th if necessary.

    At 5am my wife went to the newly opened United counter, having not slept all night, and asked for a help. All they gave her was vouchers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at LAX, and a $150 voucher for united. That does us no good! We're not flying united ever again. They wouldn't even give her a hotel room!

    I called United's customer service and the girl who answered treated me like I was sub-human. She sneered at my father and I's assertion that my wife should get a refund of her round trip ticket (only $30 more than the voucher) and a free flight back to Salt Lake City, where we would deal with getting her to LAX by the fourth of July. The girl on the other end basically told us we were dumb, and would not give out a manager's phone number, or address where we might complain or take up legal action.

    Finally, in a last ditch hope, we called our travel agent--USA TRAVEL--which opened at 10am (fully 12 hours after my wife took off from Salt Lake City). Tina, the agent at work, was very helpful and tagged my wife as "high priority standby." She also moved the Vietnam air leg one day forward. Because of this, my wife made standby on the flight leaving LAX at 11:45am. She made it to Korea at 10:00pm, and spent $110 on a hotel room because the flight to Vietnam didn't leave until 11:00am the next morning.

    Now, my wife is in Vietnam, and recouperating. But it was not worth what she went through. We were given a verbal guaratee, in my opinion a verbal contract, that she would make her connection, after I specifically asked to be moved to Delta.

    THEN, UNITED gave us TWO reasons for the delay--mechanical failure and weather.

    Worst of all was the fact that they wouldn't give her a place to stay. They other people who missed the flight to korea all got hotels. My wife had NO HOTEL. UNITED treated her, myself, and my father LIKE SCUM.

    And we lost an extra $110 on a hotel in Seoul we wouldn't have had to rent.


    P.S. Here's a link to the Better Business Bureau's page on United. United gets extremely poor marks.

    Monday, July 04, 2005

    Opera is the best browser in the world

    Ok, so I love the Opera Web Browser. Y'all have heard me rave about it before, but if not, go to Opera's webpage and find out for yourself. Yes, there's still a little compatibility issue with active x, but that's because Microsoft wants to rule the world.

    ANyway, the reason Opera wows me again is Voice. Opera has a voice feature I just found out about. I can say "Opera Page end" and it will scroll to the end of the webpage I am viewing. "Opera back" gives me the last page visited. Best of all is "Opera read" which reads out loud the text on a page. That way I can jaunt over to a webpage, like Steve's, which has a good essay on Hue, or Doug's, which has a great essay on Vietnamese women, and have it read out loud to me while I do something else, or surf another page. Amazing.

    Saturday, July 02, 2005

    Vietnamese Women

    Excellent essay on the traditional and modern roles of women in Vietnamese society at Virtual Doug. A must read.

    What makes it great is it hits all the underpinnings that form the historical basis of a woman's role, mentions the modern dichotomy, but doesn't try to explain it more than the author is capable. Authored by a female vietnamese student in Hue.

    Constitution in Exile

    Here's a great debate over constitutional interpretation and the upcoming supreme court nomination(s).


    Just got finished watching the women's championship match. Venus Williams defeated Lindsay Davenport in probably the best final I've ever seen--4-6, 7-6(4), 9-7. It took 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

    Unfortunately, I missed the first two sets. I saw the second set tie-breaker, and all of the final set. I was up too late talking to my wife in Vietnam, so I just slept in. Bummer. It also looks like Andy Roddick's match was exciting. Roddick beat Thomas Johansson 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(10), 7-6(5). Wish I had seen that one too. THe two points of the final set that i watched were amazing.

    Tomorrow's match could be just as good as the ladies' today. Federer strikes the ball more cleanly and effortlessly than anyone I've seen in recent years. Roddick is still a miniature Sampras--great serve but just hasn't put it together like Pete did. (I don't think anyone will). Honestly, I'm rooting for the home-town American boy, Roddick, but if Federer won I wouldn't be that disappointed. I watch him and drool. Why can't my shots be like him?? I don't know if he has what it takes to match Sampras' dominance, but we'll see.

    Quote of the Tournament: At one point during the Venus Williams v. Maria Sharapova semifinal, the shots were getting tougher and both girls were grunting...no, yelling quite loudly with each shot. Dick Enberg says
    "It sounds like a house of whores."
    Couldn't have said it better myself, Dick.

    That being said, I have been so refreshed by the commentary at this year's Wimbledon. Obviously, there are problems, and matches called in a boring manner, yada yada, but it is heads and shoulders better than the coverage of the NBA Finals this year. I had no regret missing a finals including two of my favorite teams because Hubie Brown and Bill Walton are utter morons. Both know a lot about the game, but neither can commentate. Walton states the obvious so often I want to throw something through the tv, and Brown is worse. In the finals this year, Brown agreed with every call made by the officials, even when replays showed otherwise, and he'd make up some retarded excuse why he agreed, or why they made a bad call. Plus he misreported scores and stats. Ugh...I think I became dumber every time he spoke.

    All in all, watch tennis! Very enjoyable, and you don't turn your brain into mush by listening to the commentary. (Finals tomorrow, NBC, 9am EST).