Monday, December 7, 2009

H1N1 疫苗篇 Getting H1N1 Vaccination

I have been trying to get my kids H1N1 vaccinated since end of October. My kids' pediatrician said the U.S. government allocates the H1N1 vaccines to various pediatric clinics when it becomes available, but for some reason, my kids' pediatrician never received any allotment of the H1N1 vaccines. We have been on our pediatrician's H1N1 vaccination waiting list. Meanwhile, I have heard that kids at the school have been getting their H1N1 vaccination. I am not sure where these kids are getting vaccinated, but the fact is that our pediatrician will probably not get any H1N1 vaccines before everyone goes on the Christmas holiday. I had thought about getting the H1N1 vaccines through the Los Angeles County Health Department, but like anything free offered by the government, it means long waiting and long lines at the county health offices.

The last time the County Health Department offered any H1N1 vaccination to the public was in October and it was a drive-through event. The organizer underestimated the amount of people showing up to get vaccinated, so the traffic was so congested that a neighboring city complained of providing extra police force to control the crowd and traffic congestion. People had lined up for hours and by noon, the organizers ran out of H1N1 vaccines. So when last Wednesday, my children's school district sent out a mass email informing the parents of a County-sponsored H1N1 vaccination event on December 7, I took notice, but I wasn't so keen of the possible long lines.

But at my son's 8 Year-old annual check up a day later (last Thursday), the pediatrician indicated that they have not received any H1N1 vaccines. So now, that County-sponsored H1N1 vaccination event becomes our only option if I want my kids to be H1N1 vaccinated before the holidays. However, there is a scheduling conflict. My son's 8th birthday party was to be held on December 7 from 2PM to 4PM, so if I want my kids H1N1 vaccinated, we would have to leave directly after the party. Luckily, the Chuck E. Cheese's at Torrance is not very far from the H1N1 vaccination location, so I arranged with my husband to meet us at the party so we can all drive to the Wilson Park's Sports Center in Torrance together.

The birthday party ran late, so we didn't get to the Wilson Park until 4:40PM. I was worried that we might be late and the vaccines would run out. However, today had the biggest rainstorm in recent years, so I am guessing that the crowd for vaccination didn't gather until the rain let up a bit in the afternoon. The line was long and we were at the tail end of it. There were less than 100 people behind us as the organizers promptly closed the line at 5PM.

There was police presence to control the crowd. The city had volunteers and city workers to show us where to go. We were directed to enter a skating rink about 500 yards from where we parked our car. Then the winding line looks like we were waiting for a Disneyland ride. My kids did not enjoy the anticipation of getting the shots, but at least it felt like a "family" outing. After 20 minutes in line, we were told to fill out 2 forms per person. The line moved quickly, but there were many people ahead of us, so we waited another 20 minutes before reaching a row of tables where people checked our forms. My husband and I were worried that we were not qualified for the H1N1 vaccination because we did not belong to the priority groups for vaccination. But I guess with the low turn out in the morning, they had plenty of H1N1 vaccines left to vaccinate everyone who was there.

The ice rink was outdoor and it was cold waiting there. I didn't expect it to be waiting outside, so my daughter was cold in her thin jacket. Another 10 minutes, we were ushered into a gymnasium where tables upon tables of people were getting vaccinated. Once we were inside, we didn't mind waiting, but soon it was our turn to get vaccinated. All four of us got vaccinated. My daughter was fearful of the shot, so my son volunteered to go first. Because it didn't hurt (it felt like a tiny pin prick), my son was able to tell my daughter that it didn't hurt. That put her mind at ease. The woman who did our shots seemed to know what she was doing. The whole process was quick and painless. It was exactly an hour later when we got back to our car.

What a load off my mind to get the family H1N1 vaccinated! To top everything off, it was free! If we had received our shots at the doctor's office, it would have cost us $20 co-pay per person for the visit and who knows how much the pediatrician will charge us for the injection itself (the H1N1 vaccine would be free) because the act of injection is considered an "invasive" procedure. Our insurance pays 80% of most invasive procedures.

The city of Torrance made this H1N1 vaccination event a painless endeavor. Although it was cold, wet, and windy outside, well-organized events like this showed what the Americans are so great at doing -- public service.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

暴笑篇: “梁”家婦女 Quanta Women

自從廣達電腦公司的副董事長梁次震先生在台北的信義計劃區幫太太及三位千金蓋了一座精品購物中心 (Bellavita) 以後, 這四位梁姓婦女在一夕之間變成媒體的焦點。 她們四位自然而然的成為模仿節目喜愛的題材。 日前, “全國最大黨” 表演了一段有關她們四位的滑稽短劇,非常好笑!! 上面這則新聞就可以看到四位本尊。

Many have said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. But in the world of television and parody, this may not be the case. A recent opening of an high-end mall in the most exclusive neighborhood of Taipei brought to light a family of wealthy women. The head of the family, Liang Ci Zhen, who is the Vice Chairman of Quanta Computer, bought the land and built a spacious mall from scratch simply because his daughters had the idea of opening an European-style cafe. Unfortunately, they were unable to find a place big enough to fulfill their dream, so they asked their father for help. The result was Bellavita ( where many exclusive European brands situate their flagship stores. Most of the Taiwan public were not aware of these women until the opening of Bellavita. With a bit of envy, the press didn't have anything bad to say about the mother and her three daughters. At least they work when they didn't have to. With a proud husband and father looking on at the Bellavita grand opening, the four women became instant media sensation.

With press came notoriety. People are curious about who they are, what they wear, and how they live. But they are really rich, so they can afford to show to the public only the parts they want to show. The rest remains private. Because these people are indeed rich and they dress and look different from the norm, they are the obvious targets of parody shows in Taiwan. The show "Country's Largest (political) Party", an actor and three actresses imitated the four Liang women. It's very funny. Apparently, the Hermes Birkin bags that these actors were carrying were made from paper! There are 2 parts to the Liang parody:



Sunday, November 8, 2009

孤狗 = Google

我今天才知道原來 Google 的中文俗稱是孤狗。 太有趣了,順便跟大家分享一下中英及英中翻譯所衍伸出的故事。 我就曾經看過一本以翻譯失誤為主題的書。 書名是 “Are you kidding?你是凱蒂嗎?”。 作者是呂安琪。 下面這故事是我從BBH的雯雯媽媽家中的日記裏看到的。懂中英文的人一定能瞭解這笑話:

老外學中文的第一堂課就昏倒! 據舊華社報導,一位老外在中國準備長期居留,於是,他報名了專給老外準備的中文課程。 第一堂課,中文老師教了兩個英文單字的中文解釋--Wife 和 Husband.




I just found out today that Google's Chinese nickname is 孤狗 (goo-go) and its literal translation is "Lonely Dog". Being bilingual, the process of translating English words into Chinese and vice versa always fascinated me. BBH's "Kirsten & Charlene's Attic" wrote in her Diary that there are 40 ways to say WIFE in Chinese and 28 ways to say HUSBAND in Chinese. Pretty amazing if you stop to think about it.

Many years ago, I came across a book on Chinese-English translation faux pas. The book, "Are you Kidding? 你是凱蒂嗎?”, written by Anchi Lue, showed many examples of Chinese translations of English gone wrong. It's a fun read if you are fluent in both English and Chinese.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

王雪峰事件 An Acquaintance From the Past

This piece of news shocked and saddened me. The woman at the center of this news storm is Wang Xue-Fong. In her heyday, she was once the star Taipei City Councilor, and later, a top Legislator. In April, news surfaced that Ms. Wang was collecting garbage for living. She came out and said that her husband's family is in the "recycling" business and she was just helping her mother-in-law occasionally. Since there is nothing inherently wrong with this line of work, and she said she's very happy and content with her life now, who is to argue otherwise?! I was nevertheless shocked with the disparity in her lifestyle between the time I met her and now. What kind of man can lead a woman down a path of such a degradation of lifestyle change!?

I met Ms. Wang in 1996. One day a friend of mine called me up and asked if I want to have dinner with Ms. Wang. A little naive (and new in town), I had no idea who Ms. Wang was. I readily agreed to the dinner date because the Japanese restaurant my friend chose sounded great (the set menu started at about US$80pp)! There were 4 people at this dinner and 3 of whom were Cornell University alumni. Ms. Wang came with her then boyfriend. Her boyfriend and my friend were buddies. The dinner conversation was pleasant and Ms. Wang was as nice as anyone can be. After dinner, she invited us over to their apartment for a night cap. I knew she entertained us because we were her boyfriend's friends. She was a wonderful hostess. In any case, our paths never crossed again. I left Taiwan in 1997.

The next time I heard about Ms. Wang was on the news. The news of her collecting garbage for living. But soon, with her explanation to the media, everyone left her alone. So when I turned on my computer yesterday, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the headline "Domestic Violence" with Ms. Wang's name next to it! Now, not only do we have to contend with the fact that she collects garbage for living, she is also a victim of domestic violence. The woman fell from heaven to hell in a matter of a decade! Can the situation be any worse?! Yes it can! The latest news is that Ms. Wang had gone back to her husband and they had reconciled. Nobody knows how to decipher the progression of this story. But I have a feeling, this is not the last time we'll hear about this couple.

真害! 王雪峰她又回家了! 夫妻倆之間的事,外人真的無法評論。 可是以她的身世、學歷及經驗,她要離開,甚至遠走他鄉也不是難事。 那為什麼她不願意離開呢? 我想她一定有她的原因。 只是那原因真的是讓人匪夷所思!

十幾年前我曾經在台北安和路上一家有名的日本料理店和王小姐一起吃晚餐。 她那時應該是陪她當時的男友 (不是現在這位先生!) 一起出席這場飯局。那時大概是民國八十五年左右吧 (王小姐那時候應該還是立委)! 那家餐廳的套餐是 $2,500 起跳的。同桌有三人都是美國Cornell 大學的校友。 大家聊得很開心, 王小姐一點名人的味道都沒有。講話和藹可親, 非常 nice 的一個人。後來她還邀請我和朋友到她家坐坐 (我的朋友和她男友很熟)。 王小姐是位很客氣的女孩。 她的年紀跟我差不多。 當時的我們都有點嫁不出去的感覺。可是我的直覺是,就算嫁不出去, 自己一個人也可以生活得多采多姿。 見面一兩次後我就沒有機會再和她碰面了。

再次聽到她的消息竟然是在媒體上--說她在撿破爛! 讓人無法相信人生會有這麼大的轉折! 想說她如果生活得開心、幸福,做資源回收也不是什麼見不得人的事。不偷也不搶,她高興過什麼樣的生活是她的自由及選擇。人世間裏有太多不快樂的有錢人, 但鮮少有像她能從有錢到無錢的還能生活的那麼自在! 我由衷的祝福她!


驚嘆後, 真的無法讓我理解一個女人要如何從天堂掉進地獄裏, 是宿命、人為、還是人的選擇呢?!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

臺北巿動物園沙畫完整版 "The Zoo" Sand Art by a Taiwanese Artist

Art comes in many formats and this one impressed me tremendously. Who knew sand art could be elevated to such a form?! This piece of animated artwork is done by a world-renowned Taiwanese sand artist, Zhuang Ming-Da. Enjoy the video!

藝術是沒有限制的。 如何發揮某種藝術形式也需要藝術家本身的個人風格。真的沒想到沙畫也可以提升到如此境界。 這個動態沙畫是台灣沙畫藝術家莊明達先生的作品。 這位國際級的沙畫大師所畫出的作品真的是讓人嘆為觀止!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

快要開學了! The summer is almost over!

My children's school will begin the 2009-2010 school year exactly a week from today, on September 1. This is the first time in our school's history to have the first-day of school before the Labor Day weekend. Typically, schools begin the day after the Labor Day long weekend, on a Tuesday. So many of our neighboring school districts are still following this traditional and will begin school on September 10. My kids are mourning the end of their summer. I am worried about their morning regiment once the school begins. How am I going to get them to wake up at 7:30 AM again when they have been sleeping until 10 AM, and sometimes even until 11 AM?!

To get them into the swing of things, I took my kids to the library after lunch today. They have been reading over the summer, but nothing really challenging. My 9 year-old daughter have enjoyed the Beacon Street Girls series by Annie Bryant ( and the Camp Confidential series by Melissa J. Morgan. She has read all of the Beacon Street Girls books, except the two latest books (Sweet Thirteen and Ready! Set! Hawaii!). As for Camp Confidential, she also has read all of the Camp Confidential books that have been published so far. Two more Camp Confidential books are scheduled to be published in the next 7 months--Extra Credit (September 3, 2009) and Politically Incorrect (March 4, 2010). My daughter is waiting anxiously for our library to purchase these books.

Unfortunately, schools don't usually assign these books as reading material. Beacon Street Girls and Camp Confidential are fine for summer readings, but as my daughter is heading into grade 5, these books are not difficult enough to be on the grade 5 reading list. And hence a trip to the library was necessary today. I want her to pick out some books that are more appropriate for her grade level. I steered her towards the Newbery Award winning books (, but she wasn't going for them. Instead, she borrowed some Nancy Drew Mysteries. Those are books that she thought I would approve, but realistically, I still think she should go beyond these books as well. At this point, I am not going to push her too much. As long as she gets into the habit of reading, I am happy.

Going back to our library visit. I actually saw 4 families from my children's school at the library today. During the school year, once in a while, I would see only a family that I know every time we visit the library. So it was rare to see so many parents from our school at the library in one visit. I got to chat with them about their summer break and how everyone was doing. I guess all the parents are trying to get their kids back into the swing of things before the school starts next week.

時間過得好快喔! 再七天就要開學了。 兩個小孩已經開始感覺到開學後的壓力了。今天帶他們去圖書館借書。 我希望女兒能借一些有點深度的書, 符合五年級的小朋友該讀的書。 在美國, 沒有教育局指定的閱讀課本。 都是老師採用現有的兒童讀物來教學。 小孩子上了五年級之後, 老師就會陸陸續續的介紹西洋英文文學名著給小朋友做為上英文課的題材。 所以只要看得懂, 小朋友自己就可以到圖書館借一些西洋文學名著來看。 當然這種事, 我的女兒不可能會自願去做的。 從五月中, 加州政府的基測 (STAR test) 結束之後, 老師就不再積極的教學生新的課程。 小朋友就自由的等著暑假的到來。 就在那時候, 我幫女兒在圖書館找到二套系列的書-- Beacon Street Girls (Beacon 街的女孩), 作者是 Annie Bryant ( 以及 Camp Confidential (露營密事) 作者是 Melissa J. Morgan。 這二套系列的書籍非常適合閱讀能力較強的小三女生, 或者是給小學高年級的女生做為輕鬆簡單, 閒暇時可閱讀的書籍。 不愛看書的女兒就靠著這二套書過了一個愉快的暑假。

Friday, August 21, 2009

好康逗相報...蛋篇 Great eggs!

Our family has a history of cholesterol problem, so when I eat my eggs, I always just eat the egg white and throw out the egg yolk. Unfortunately, my kids see how I eat my eggs and they imitate me, to my chagrin! My son loves hard-boiled eggs, so we always have hard-boiled eggs in our fridge (easier for him to snack on). One day, we ran out of eggs and my husband happened to be at Trader Joe's, so I asked him to pick up some. He came home with these Sunshine Farm Grade A Jumbo eggs. I was mad at him. I said these are more expensive than the ones I normally buy. Why spend more money for something that's not going to make a difference?! My husband told me those eggs were the cheapest ones left on the shelves. Well, we did need eggs, so I let it go. It was really a $0.30 difference per dozen eggs!

But to my surprise, these jumbo eggs had the greatest amount of egg white and the smallest egg yolk I have ever seen in an egg. Since we only eat egg whites, these eggs proved to be a better deal for us. For $0.30 more per dozen eggs, I'm sold.

I took some photos of these Grade A Jumbo eggs from Trader Joe's. That's a roll of quarters ($10) next to the single egg, so you can see the actual size of each egg. These eggs are a great deal at $1.79 per dozen!

我們家 (老公除外) 吃蛋時都只吃蛋白, 不吃蛋黃。 小孩子長久以來都看我只吃蛋白, 不吃蛋黃。 有樣學樣,他們也養成這“不良”習慣 (我老公很不能認同)。 可是我娘家有高膽固醇的基因存在, 所以有高膽固醇的食物能不吃我就不要吃。不愛吃肉的兒子喜歡吃水煮蛋, 所以我就時常放水煮蛋在冰箱裏給兒子當點心吃。

有天老公正好在 Trader Joe's 時, 他打電話來問說要順便買些什麼東西回家。 我說蛋, 家裏沒蛋了。 結果老公回家後,我發現他買錯蛋了。 他沒買最便宜的蛋。 正要問他時,他說我要買的蛋已經賣完了,所以他只好買貴一點的蛋。 沒辦法了,也只好這樣了。 結果沒想到, 陰錯陽差老公卻買對了。 這打Sunshine Farm 的 Grade A Jumbo 的蛋只有小小的蛋黃, 蛋白卻很多。 讓我這個只吃蛋白的人吃得很過癮。 其實這些蛋只比我平常買的蛋多 US$0.30, 一打蛋才 $1.79, 真的是物超所值! 好康逗相報!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

台灣加油! Devastation of Typhoon Morakot

Being a Taiwanese, one can not ignore the landslide disaster caused by Typhoon Morakot on August 8, 2009 in southern Taiwan which obliterated many remote hillside villages. The death toll from Typhoon Morakot stands at 160, with at least 500 people missing, presumed dead. This was the worst weather disaster to hit Taiwan in recent history. The political blame game has started and all the rescue operations have ceased and it's now in the phases of recovery and rebuilding. The tasks at hand are daunting and no one has any idea how this aftermath will resolve.

I feel tremendous sadness for those who lived (and suffered) through this disaster. Listen to the first-hand account of 3 survivors in a town where more than 400 people had vanished. It is a testament of the human spirit at its best!

今天看到8/20 的國民大會(天災無情劫後餘生), 非常感動。 于美人邀請了在這次受災最嚴重的小林村裡面倖存的47個人裡面的三位村民來節目中描述災難當天發生的事。 聽了之後,真讓人動容! 讓我非常佩服台灣人純樸、刻苦、耐勞的精神! 台灣加油!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

終於回家了! Finally home!

I have been inactive on this blog lately. I apologize. I have been away. I was in Vancouver for 3 weeks visiting my sister's family. I am in the process of uploading photos and updating this blog with all the fun stuff my family had done in the past 3 weeks. So be patient with me. My daughter took this photo of Mount St. Helen when we flew over it this afternoon.

終於到家了! 今天下午從溫哥華飛回洛杉磯。 我們在溫哥華待了二十一天! 女兒和兒子依依不捨的在溫哥華國際機場跟他們的兩位小表妹說再見! 想起來會有點心酸, 不過我覺得小朋友從小要學習怎麼說 goodbye, 因為世界上沒有不散的宴席。 一路小孩子都有點落寞,可是當機長提醒大家往窗戶外面看時,小孩子才暫時忘記離別的難過。他們在窗外看到華盛頓州的火山 Mount St. Helen。 女兒想到照相,隨手拿起我的相機,拍下這張照片。 到達洛杉磯之後,發現機場的車子好多喔! 下次絕對不要訂晚上七、八點到達的飛機班次! 還好有手機,行李拿到之後才通知老公開車過來接我們。他通常都會把車停在機場外圍的街道旁等我的電話。 不過我那有十年車齡的老車,在三個星期沒開之後沒電了。 老公只好開他的小跑車來機場接我們。我和小孩的二大件行李差一點載不回家,因為後車箱太小! 最後只好把比較小的那一只大皮箱放在前座,我和小孩坐後座。 這樣也拖了十多分鐘才離開機場。 才下飛機,狀況還真不少!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

如何取個好的英文名字 The Naming Game

Over the years, I have noticed some strange naming of English names by parents in Taiwan. It wouldn't be so bad if they translated their children's Chinese names phonetically into English. But a lot of parents, in their eagerness to give their children English names, came up with strange names, thinking that those "names" are legitimate English names. A lot of those names looked like mis-spelt names or impossible to pronounce "English" names. Worst names are those of cartoon characters. Just because a parent likes a certain cartoon character doesn't give them the right to name their children after cartoon characters. Well, it's their right to name their children however they want, but think of your children 30 years down the road. How would they feel when foreigners look at them funny at business meetings when they introduce themselves as Snoopy Tsai?!

So I have come up with a few rules if you are Chinese and want to give your child an English name.

1. Use the phonetic translation of your child's Chinese name.
For example, 蔡傑熙 can be translated into Jai-Xi Tsai.
2. Use an English name (those on the top 500 of U. S. census names) that sounds similar to your child's Chinese name. For example, 蔡傑熙 can be translated into Jessie Tsai.
3. Use an English name that you like. It doesn't have to sound like your child's Chinese name at all.
4. Use an English name that has the same meaning as your Chinese name. For example, if your daughter's Chinese name has the following character:
愉、悅、樂, you can use the name Joy which is what those Chinese characters mean.

If you still have trouble coming up with an English name for your child, you can leave me a message and I will see what I can do for you.


1. 用中文名字直接音譯成英文。請用護照上的正式拼音。有漢語拼音法(中國大陸) 或 羅馬拼音(台灣以前的拼法)。

因為大陸人口的優勢,全世界的趨勢是用漢語拼音法。 例如 “張”是拼 Zhang。在臺灣以前是拼 Chang。 漢語拼音是有一定的拼法。每個字有個統一的拚法及念法。學過中文的老外看了這種拼法也一定念得出來。

利: 本來就是自己中文名字的音譯。

弊: 怕拼出來,沒學過中文的老外根本念不出來 (尤其是 ㄓ、ㄔ 、 ㄕ、ㄩ 的音)。而且報上名字時, 還要順便報上怎麼拼。會很煩喔!

2. 用中文名字直接音譯成英文,可是採用了類似中文名字的正統英文名字來做為翻譯的基礎。所以是中文名字英文化 (anglicize)。

利: 外國人看了都會念,也比較會拼得出來,然後又跟自己中文名字的音很像。

弊: 會被人批評說不需要取英美式的名字,用自己中文名字的音譯就可以了。太矯情了!

3. 取個跟自己中文名字完全不一樣的英文正統名字。

利: 外國人看了都會念,也比較會拼得出來。自己喜歡啊!

弊: 會被人批評說不需要取英美式的名字,用自己中文名字的音譯就可以了。太崇洋了!

4. 取跟自己中文名字同意思的英文正統名字。 例如: 中文名字裏有愉、悅、樂 的女孩都可以用 Joy 做為她的英文名字。

利: 外國人看了都會念,也比較會拼得出來。有意義!

弊: 大概沒有吧!

如果要音譯, 千萬不要自己亂拼,寫出來的英文字母可能念出來的跟當初想的不太一樣。 有時候還會因為文化不一樣而鬧出笑話。

在英美國家, 家長幫小孩取名字都不會無原無故的取名。基本上, 英美國家的父母親會採用下列幾個命名原則:

1. 先人的名字。有紀念性。 家族要求。(跟父母、祖父母、親朋好友同名)
2. 地源、時事關係 ( Paris 、April 、June 、 Dawn、Hamilton、Diego)
3. 父母喜歡什麼名字就取什麼名字 (畢竟小孩子長大後,家長說得出來小孩為什麼會叫這個名字。)

取英文名字沒有對錯。只要不要鬧出笑話 或 在二十年後造成兒女的困擾就好。 大家做個參考吧!

Monday, July 27, 2009

膳魔師保溫瓶 Thermos Funtainer Bottle

I have been looking to buy another Thermos Funtainer bottle ( for my daughter. She has only one and I bought that 2 years ago. I missed the Toys R Us sale last week when it was selling for $11.24. I think Target sells it for $15.99 this year. If memory serves me correctly, the cheapest Target ever sold it for was $13. So when my friend told me that Big Lots is selling them for $9 this week, I rushed over! They only had the Flower pattern left. Another friend went to a different Big Lots and they had more varieties for both the boys and the girls. The price tags on the bottles said $10, but the Big Lots flyer said $9, so they honored the $9 advertising and charged me $9 per bottle.

This $9 Funtainer bottle is the old model (with a thin, rectangular lid opener), but it includes an extra set of spout and straw which the newer Funtainers do not have.

If you have any kids in school, this is the perfect companion for lunch or snacks. It keeps drinks really cold! So run to your nearest Big Lots as soon as you can.

昨天我妹告訴我說她想要買罐 Thermos Funtainer Bottle 膳魔師兒童保溫瓶( 給她的女兒。我就罵她不早說, 因為上上星期玩具翻斗城 (Toys R Us) 有減價, 才 $11.24。當初我有去看,可是店裏只有賣男孩子的樣式,女兒不喜歡我就沒買。我妹說她女兒男孩子樣式的保溫瓶她也能接受, 所以我一早就趕到 Toys R Us 。結果店裏恢復原價, 又是 $14.99 了。 我知道 Target 的價錢是 $15.99 , 所以我決定打電話問一個朋友看她在 Toys R Us 減價時有沒有多買。 她說沒有多買可是 Big Lots 在減價,一個才賣 $9! 天大的好消息, 我馬上趕到 Big Lots 買了店裏剩下的三個兒童保溫瓶。這個膳魔師兒童保溫瓶是二、三年前的樣型, 打開蓋子的按紐是長方形,平平的。 新的樣型的開蓋按紐是圓形的。 舊型的保溫瓶內有多送一套吸管, 新型的保溫瓶內就沒有多給一套吸管了。

比較奇怪的是, 在 Big Lots店裏, 這商品的標價是 $10, 電腦也掃描到 $10,不過我告訴店員說妳們的報紙廣告寫的價錢是$9, 所以她只好收我 $9。 我買了三罐, 花了$29.63 (含稅)。女兒高興,我妹也高興!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

女兒的保溫便當盒 Zojirushi's Mr. Bento

I have decided to buy Zojirushi Mr. Bento Stainless-Steel lined Lunch Jar, Silver for my daughter. It's selling on for $36. We have Amazon Prime, so shipping is free. Since Amazon doesn't have a store in California, there is no sales tax applied to all sales originated in California. I saved 9.75% in sales tax. I have been looking for a similar Bento jar when we visited Taiwan and Japan last December, but similar models were selling around $60 (or more in Japan) in Taiwan. $60 is a lot of money for a child's lunch container. Thermos' Funtainers are selling at Target for $15.99, so in comparison, anything over $20 is pricey. I have been browsing Amazon lately for larger Thermos containers, so Amazon knew I was looking for a lunch container. So when I logged in today, I saw this Mr. Bento product right in my Amazon front page.

At $36, it's still pricey, but with our school lunches costing $2.75 per lunch, we'll break even at about 30 lunches. Not a bad deal considering I know my daughter will be eating well in the coming school year. After reading the reviews of this product, the only drawback is the smell and odor that potentially can persist in the container and the fact that it's not machine washable. I'll have to be more diligent in washing the containers as soon as my daughter comes home from school. If anyone knows of any effective detergent (or substance) that will wash off the grease and odor in these plastic containers easily, please let me know!

我剛剛上網時,我的 的首頁出現了象印牌 (ZOJIRUSHI) 不鏽鋼保溫便當盒SL-JAE14 的圖案。上面寫說 $36 (55折, 省了$29)。我當機立斷, 馬上決定買兩個,一個給女兒用,一個兒子跟老公可以合用。其實這類型的保溫便當盒我已經看了很久。去年十二月回台北和去日本玩時也有去找 (但是沒有很積極的在找)。看到的都在 NT$1,500 (US$50) 以上。 日本更是貴。 後來就擱著沒買, 想說請住在台北的朋友幫我注意,有促銷時再幫我買。這事一隔就半年多了,眼看著再六個星期就要開學了。學校的事、務又要開始準備了!

雖然一個不鏽鋼保溫便當盒要 $36 是有點貴了些,但是女兒學校的午餐費是 $2.75。 女兒正當發育期,吃得比我還多。 想說沒有個大點的便當盒裝食物也不行, 所以一看到 Amazon 有在賣這象印牌的不鏽鋼保溫便當盒,我馬上下訂單。 我們有加入 Amazon Prime, 所以二天內的運費可以免付了, 再加上加州人從 Amazon 買東西免加稅, 所以我又省了9.75% 的稅金。還真的不買不行。只要女兒在這學年帶超過三十次的便當牛餐,我買這保溫便當盒的本錢就回來了!

現在比較讓我擔心的是--我聽說這款保溫便當盒裏面的內碗是塑膠做的, 所以污垢及氣味常常殘留在碗裏, 很難清洗。看樣子我這個做媽的要勤勞一點! 女兒一回家就要馬上把保溫便當盒洗乾淨! 如果大家有什麼清洗塑膠碗的祕訣 -- 任何可以除油及除臭的秘方或清潔劑, 請各位不妨留言告訴我! 先謝謝大家喽!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

FEDEX 終於把貨送到了! FEDEX delivered!

FEDEX finally delivered my husband's Dell Laptop today at 11:05 am. I didn't hear the door bell ring at all. I asked my husband how he knew the FEDEX man was here. He said he just happened to be outside. Oh sure! I'll bet he was standing outside the door waiting for the FEDEX truck!

老公寶貝的 Dell 筆記型電腦終於寄到了。 可是我並沒有聽到我們的門鈴響。

我就問老公: “你怎麼知道要開門?”
老公: “我剛好站在門口!”


Friday, July 24, 2009

拜託, FEDEX! Come on, FEDEX!

My husband ordered a refurbished laptop from Dell on-line last week. It is scheduled to arrive today. My husband called many times this morning asking whether his laptop has arrived. I volunteered to stay home and wait for the delivery. I really don't like the idea of these FEDEX drivers leaving shipped items right at our front door. I would prefer to be home to sign for the shipment.

Anyways, I waited until my husband got home at 4 pm, then I had to take my son to his violin lesson. It's hard to tell when FEDEX will get to my house. It can be any time. The tracking of the shipment said the laptop is already in the truck ready for delivery. So we waited. When I got home at 6:30pm, still no delivery. That's when we decided to call FEDEX and find out what happened to our shipment. The customer service rep looked into it and informed us that their driver told them that he came by our house at 6 pm, but no one was home. Oh come on, FEDEX! Both my husband and my daughter were home. No one rang our door bell. Later, my husband even went outside to test out our door bell. There is nothing wrong with our door bell.

I don't think the FEDEX driver ever rang our door bell. It's possible that he didn't even come by. I am guessing that because he couldn't finish the delivery, he just said that no one was home. It's annoying when we waited the entire day and the delivery was never made. We were able to reschedule the delivery of the laptop for tomorrow morning between 9 and 10. Hopefully we'll get it as scheduled.

When a courier says the package will be delivered on a certain day, they should deliver it as promised. Mind you, FEDEX is not the only company who doesn't like to ring door bells. Our UPS delivery man and our post man simply knock and then leave the packages in front of our house. So my advice to these delivery services is...please ring the door bell!!!

上星期老公從 Dell 訂了一部翻新過的 (refurbished) 筆記型電腦。一早網路查詢時知道今天會送到, 所以我和小孩就在家等貨。 我們不想錯過送貨時間,就怕有時候送貨員找不到人,就直接把貨放在門口。 老公在公司惦記著他的新電腦, 所以我就告訴他說我可以在家等快遞。 我本來是想去買菜的,結果什麼地方都不敢去。

我在家等了一天, 四點半才跟兒子出門, 陪他去上小提琴課。老公及女兒則繼續在家等。結果等到晚上七點多才再打電話去 Fedex問。 Fedex 說它們的司機登記六點曾經到過我家,可是沒人在家。真是睜眼說瞎話! 老公及女兒都一直在家啊! 根本沒人按過電鈴! 可是 Fedex 的客服說它們相信自己司機所說的話。

我想一定是 Fedex 司機送貨送不完隨便說說。哪有人送運不按門鈴的?!?! 明明就有人在家啊! 重點是跟 Fedex 爭這個沒有用。最後還是重新安排了送貨時間。 Fedex 說明天早上九點至十點會再送一次。我想到時候老公得搬個椅子到門口坐著等那 Fedex 的貨車。 今天其實我有好多事情要辦喔! 真的是浪費我的時間!

Friday, July 17, 2009

膳魔師保溫午餐袋 Thermos Lunch Bags

Last September, my daughter decided that her Princess lunch bag was too girly. She was too embarrassed to carry it, so I rushed to Target and bought her a grown-up looking lunch bag. The one I bought was a pink Thermos Raya Lunch Cooler (see photo on the left). She loved it and we used it to the max. It is designed to fit 6 cans. I would fill it with 2 Ziploc containers and 2 juice pouches as well as various snack bags. I think my daughter grew quite a bit this year thanks to the amount of food I can pack in this Thermos lunch cooler. However, by May, the seam right below the handle (and above the zipper) became loose. Soon, a ripped hole developed along the seam. We still used it until the end of the school year. So I was going to throw it out when the school year was over. But the more I thought about it, I decided the lunch cooler should have lasted more than 1 year because I have never packed anything that was heavier than 6 cans in that bag. So I went on-line and emailed Thermos. Within a week, a customer service representative from Thermos emailed me back and asked me to send our Thermos lunch cooler back for repairs. In mid-June, I sent the lunch cooler back to Thermos (I spent $4 in postage). I had totally forgotten about it until I got a package from Thermos this morning.

When we opened the box, a nice surprise was sitting in the bag. It was a brand new blue Raya Sling Pack Lunch Cooler (see photo on the right) that can fit 12 cans!!! My daughter was so happy. We have been searching for a larger Thermos lunch cooler for September. My daughter has been progressively eating much more these days and the old 6-can lunch cooler just would not fit all the food I pack for her school day. We have been going to different Target stores looking for the perfect lunch bag. We found a Thermos Raya Lunch Duffle bag that was perfect for her. It's a 9-can bag. Unfortunately, we weren't able to find the pattern she liked, so we haven't bought it yet. So that blue Sling Pack Lunch Cooler arrived at the perfect time.

The moral of this story is that if a product becomes un-usable, we should first check the warranty of the product (or if there are any recalls on the product) before we throw it out. If it is manufactured by a reputable company and it can be sent back for repairs, please do so. This is not the first time I call a company and inquired about a product's warranty status, but Thermos proves to be a noteworthy company. It's customer service is efficient and friendly. They get things done and we will continue to be Thermos' loyal customer.

去年九月,女兒上四年級。 開學不久後,女兒向我要個新的午餐袋。 問題是她的午餐袋很新又漂亮(有三位迪斯尼公主在上面), 我就告訴她目前不會買給她, 因為她的午餐袋還新新的, 可是 Target 九月底通常會來個清倉大賣 (75% off ), 我說到時候我再買個新的給她。這件事就到個段落, 女兒也沒再說什麼。 直到第二天我載她上學,她下車時大包小包的,可是我看到她刻意的把她的午餐包藏在她的大腿及書包中間。那時我才恍然大悟, 原來她是不好意思再帶那公主包包了。 她也沒講清楚。 這輩子我最防的是不要我小孩為了某種原因被其他小朋友取笑。 我竟然為了省二、三塊錢有可能讓我女兒被同學取笑。 我二話不說就殺到 Target 幫女兒買了個新的午餐袋。 我選中膳魔師保溫杯袋 (Thermos Raya Lunch Cooler), 才$6.99 。粉紅色的袋子(如圖一), 我一看就知道女兒會喜歡。再加上這袋子可以容下六個汽水罐, 我覺得這樣才裝得下二個便當盒。女兒看到她新的午餐袋時, 高興得不得了。我就捨不得罵她了 (我要她學會爭取自己想要的東西,而不要輕意放棄爭取)。

這一天來,女兒天天帶這午餐帶。每天裝滿食物去學校, 回家時袋子裏也都空空的了。 所以呢....她在學校吃得多, 這學年也長高不少。到了五月時,我發現這袋子在手把下方有個裂痕,而且越來洞就越大。心裏想說反正只要能用到學期末就可以把這袋子扔了, 八月時再買個更大的午餐袋給女兒。放暑假後,我看了那午餐袋,想了一下, 決定寫 email 給膳魔師公司 (Thermos) 詢問補修這袋子的費用 (雖然女兒上學不用了,可是我們去野餐時帶著還蠻好用的)。我想說好歹也有一年的保修吧! 結果膳魔師公司的客服回答我, 要我把袋子寄回去給它們。如果能修就免費幫我們修,不能修補的話,它們會再寄一個新的午餐袋給我們。我是有告訴膳魔師公司的客服說我這袋子才用了八個月就壞了。
結果在六月中旬, 我花了四塊把袋子用郵寄回去給膳魔師公司 (Thermos) 修補。 很快的,我也把這件事給忘了。

這幾天趁著有很多 back-to-school sale, 忙著幫兒女添購上學要用的文具用品, 順便看了膳魔師公司 (Thermos) 所推出的 Raya 午餐袋新系列。 我和女兒看中了 Raya Lunch Duffle (如圖三), 大概 $10.99,可以容下九個汽水罐。 可是架上都沒有女兒喜歡的圖樣, 所以就擱著也沒買。結果今天一早收到一箱從 膳魔師公司 (Thermos) 寄來的包裹。 箱子一開, 裏面竟然是一個全新的藍色午餐背包 Raya Sling Pack Lunch Cooler (如圖二)。 女兒高興, 媽媽也高興。這新的背包午餐袋可以容下十二個汽水罐, 所以夠長,可以放整罐的膳魔師保溫瓶在裏面。這下子女兒以後上學的午餐有可能是三菜一湯了!

從這次經驗可以學到美國公司對於產品的認知及客服的要求甚高。 平常東西壞了,一定要查查這產品公司的保修計劃 (warranty)。膳魔師公司 (Thermos) 的產品信譽這麼好, 我們繼續會是它的忠實顧客!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

小約翰肯尼迪 John F. Kennedy Jr.

I can't believe it has been 10 years since John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s plane crashed into the water off the coast of Martha's Vineyard! He was from my generation. He graced the cover of People magazines numerous times and girls like me followed his adventures and mis-adventures (not very many) whenever possible. I read stories of his prep school days, his time at Brown, his several attempts at passing the bar, and finally his marriage to Carolyn Bessette. I always knew people who knew people who knew him. There is always that 6 degrees of separation. But he seemed friendly and unattainable at the same time.

I still remembered the day he died. I was 7 months pregnant with my first baby and the 11 o' clock late night news was filled with the stories of his disappearance (or rather the disappearance of his plane). It was shocking to see a man at his peak ended his life this way. Two years before, it was Princess Diana.

It's hard to explain what role John Kennedy, Jr. played in our generation's psyche, but for those of us who grew up in the 1980s, he symbolizes youth and privilege. The Kennedy family is American royalty. The public's fascination with the Kennedy family did end with John Jr.'s death, but the myth continues. I feel compelled to write something about him on the 10th anniversary of his death. He would have been 49 this year.

十年前的今天, 小約翰肯尼迪所駕駛的小型飛機在大西洋墬毀。機上同行的有他結婚三年的太太及太太的姊姊。小約翰肯尼迪是要飛到瑪莎的葡萄園 (Martha's Vineyard) 去參加堂妹的婚禮。至今,記憶猶新,我還記得小約翰肯尼迪出事的那天晚上, 電視新聞不斷的播出小約翰肯尼迪飛機失蹤的消息。雖然沒有人說出口,可是大家心裏有數, 只是不太願意面對事實。我那時懷孕七個多月, 第一胎, 正在享受美好愉快的夏天。當小約翰肯尼迪的死訊被證實之後, 我的心情真的是很複雜。

我從小到大, 小約翰肯尼迪的故事一直是家喻戶曉的故事。在他成年之前, 因為有媽媽的保護,他鮮少出現在媒體中。可是我總是會從朋友那裏聽到有關他的故事。我的朋友的朋友認識他的朋友的朋友--所謂的第六度分離。所以我們是同個年代的人。出社會後, 小約翰肯尼迪常常出現在人物雜誌的封面。他的故事充滿了精彩的內容, 高潮迭起,不是一般人能過的生活。只是他這一路走來, 適應得很好, 眼看著就要到達他人生的巔峰。可是在那一瞬間,他永遠消失了! 人生的無常真讓人不勝稀噓。

今天是小約翰肯尼迪逝世十週年的記念日, 可是並沒有任何報章雜誌報導了有關他的故事。我想如果他能多活個十年, 創造出他個人的政治生涯或事業, 或許他就不會那麼快就被世人遺忘了。如果小約翰肯尼迪還活著, 他今年49歲!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

阿公級的男人 May-December marriages

The hottest news in Taiwan's tabloid media this week is the marriage of the Chairman and President of Taiwan's Pacific Electric Wire & Cable Co. Ltd., Tao-Tsun Sun, and his 28 year-old bride. There is a 32-year age gap between the newlywed couple. This is Mr. Sun's third marriage and he also had several long-term relationships with women during his marriage. At first look, there is really nothing wrong with Mr. Sun enjoying a May-December marriage, but it's hard to imagine a man who owes his shareholders millions of dollar for running his company to the ground, would have the time and money to wine and dine young women.

Still, it's rather unfair that only men with reasonable financial means can afford to remarry after the demise of the previous marriage, either via divorce or death. So marrying a woman 32 younger is still a sign of wealth and/or power.

This news clip is rather funny. It's about a satirical comedy show in Taiwan. The actors made fun of Mr. Sun and his new bride.

最近臺灣最夯的新聞就是台灣大哥大創辦人孫道存先生的再婚消息。他娶了一位小他三十二歲的吳小姐。媒體喜歡這種新聞, 再加上孫先生本身的情史非常輝煌, 所以這星期的新聞焦點都在講這件事。其實如果孫先生不是個有錢的人, 那麼老了, 怎麼會有人要嫁他呢? 我不是不相信有黃昏之戀這種事,可是老男人如果沒錢, 要談個戀愛, 談何容易?

我有個親戚前幾年喪偶, 所有親朋好友都希望他能續玄,找個人來做伴。說難聽一點是找個人來照顧他。雖然我這親戚身體很硬朗, 又有學識,可是錢不多, 他一個月大概有五萬台幣的收入。有房子住,免貸款 (可是房子是在兒女名下,當初是太太遺留給小孩的), 所以生活得很好。每年還能出國旅遊二次以上。 他當然也很想找個伴陪他到處遊玩,可是只有五萬塊一個月的收入,又已經七十五歲了, 誰要嫁他啊?! 其實我這位親戚也清楚他的積蓄只夠他一個人出國玩,而不夠二個人一起出國玩。所以他也覺得要交到一位知心的女朋友是件非常難的事,更不用說結婚了!

所以喽, 阿公級的男人要談戀愛、結婚還真是沒點錢不行呢!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

往事只能回憶 Catching up to past blog entries

I was going over the entries I had published in this blog and, to my surprise, I had started, but never published, 49 entries! I had every intention of going back to finish up what I was writing and publish every entry. But as time passes, I wonder if anyone would bother reading my old blog entries from months ago?!

這兩天在整理這個部落格的時候,才發現我還有四十九篇尚未發表的文章。都是我過去寫了一半的文章。不是只寫了英文就是只寫了中文。反正還要花很多時間,才有可能把那些文章全補上。可是我在想...看我部落格的讀者們會再回去看我以前寫的文章嗎? 有些文章有可能已經不即時了。我會盡快完成補日記的動作!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

大雪拼/大血拼! Stefan Kaelin 75% off sale!

My brother-in-law called yesterday and said their favorite ski equipment store in Aspen, Stefan Kaelin, has a store in Newport Beach and it is having a closing sale. Everything at the store is 75% off. I was reluctant to go at first because I know my in-laws frequent high-priced boutique stores and the things sold in that store are likely out of our price range. But since my husband is eager to outfit himself and the kids for the next skiing season (and what better time to do it than the off-season?!), I figure the trip will give us an excuse to drive down to Orange County for an overdue visit to the South Coast Plaza.

We made a pit stop at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant Pho 79 ( in Westminster for lunch.

We got to Stefan Kaelin ( at 3pm and proceeded to spend the next 3 hours there browsing through the entire store for bargains. At our last ski trip in April, we had bought some ski goggles for the kids already, so they don't really need any other skiing equipment. What they need are ski jackets and pants that they can grow into. I was surprised to see all the kids' ski/snowboard jackets at the store selling between $25 and $35. The store is also giving an extra 10% off if we pay cash. I found this beautiful Lavender Burton Element Jacket (Girl, size L) for $25! I figure with another 10% off for paying by cash, the jacket will be an amazing deal. I also found some Hot Chilies (thermal underwear for winter sports) for $9 (children) and $19 (adults) and ski/snowboard socks for $5. My husband bought a set of skis, poles, ski boots, and a ski bag with wheels for $250 total!!! Anyways, I ended up buying 6 ski/snowboard jackets for the kids (and my sister's kids) and 1 pair of ski pants for my daughter, as well as a pair of winter boots for myself. The total came to about $550, including my husband's loot, but the lady gave us another 25% discount as well as the 10% off for paying everything in cash. We paid a total of $480 for 8 large bags of skiing outfits and equipment. So my daughter's lavender Burton jacket came to about $18 (regular price: $120) and the matching skiing/snowboarding pants was only $16. I don't think I can find any winter outfit for that price anywhere else. I am psyched; we are ready for skiing this winter and the next winter!! For those that are interested, the Stefan Kaelin store in Newport Beach is located at the corner of Coast Highway and Tustin in downtown Newport Beach (2700 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA).

昨天我小姑的先生告訴我老公在 Newport Beach 有一家有名的滑雪專賣店正在舉辦清倉大減價! 這家店(Stefan Kaelin, 的本店在 Aspen, Colorado。Newport Beach 的店是分店。因為老闆要把 Newport Beach 的店關起來, 所有店內的商品將要廉價出售。 我本來也懶得開那麼遠的車子去逛一家價錢不凡的滑雪專賣店。可是想想我已經好久沒有去 Costa Mesa 的 South Coast Plaza 購物中心。我們順道去看看也無妨。

我們每次去 South Coast Plaza 購物中心時都會路過越南城,就會順便去吃碗越南麵 (Pho79, 再繼續開往 Costa Mesa。 我的兒子喜歡吃的東西不多,可是他就偏偏很愛吃越南麵, 也不知道為什麼。

我們大概三點多到達 Newport Beach。 一進 Stefan Kaelin 的店, 就看到一箱一箱的滑雪用的配件放在地上。我想我得花點時間一箱一箱的找看看有沒有什麼便宜的東西可以買。結果發現真正便宜的東西是掛在衣架上一件件的滑雪衣物。小孩子穿的滑雪外套及褲子都好像沒人在買。一看標籤才發現一件外套才 US$25 (原價 $90-$120)。 太棒了, 連在 TJ Maxx 或 outlet 店也不可能找到這麼便宜的雪衣或冬天穿的外套。大小孩的服裝只分 Sizes XS, S, M, L 及 XL 。 我看到只剩下一兩件 size S 及 size M 的外套,其它都是大號的外套。這下子女兒賺到了她選了一件淺紫色的滑雪外套 (US$25, 如圖) 及同系列的滑雪褲 (US$20)。我總共拿了六件小孩外套、一件女兒穿的滑雪褲、十雙滑雪襪 (一雙US$5)、二雙靴子 (US$39) 及四件滑雪時穿的內衣( Hot Chilies)。只可惜大人的滑雪外套還是賣得太貴。我看到一件原價 US$2,000 的雪衣, 店家要賣 US$500! 大貴了, 根本下不了手, 也買不起。反正我也不滑雪, 買滑雪外套做什麼?! 我老公自己跑到樓上選了一套滑雪板及滑雪桿, 外加一雙滑雪鞋及二個裝這些滑雪裝備的袋子。他的總額是大概 US$280 左右,我選的東西加起來大概也要 US$250。結帳的時候, 老闆娘再便宜我們七五折, 然後因為我們付現, 她又算我們九折。我們連稅總供付了 US$480, 搬了九大包的東西上車。我們挑選的東西足夠我們用二、三年! 常去滑雪的朋友應該知道我們賺到了, 真的買到不少便宜的東西。

之後,我們又到 South Coast Plaza 邊的 Nordstrom Rack 去逛了一下。老公買了兩雙上班時可以穿的鞋子, 然後也幫女兒買了一雙夾腳拖鞋。逛完 Nordstrom Rack,小孩就喊肚子 (奇怪,我怎麼還飽得很?!), 只好放棄去 South Coast Plaza 購物中心血拼, 直接到 Nordstrom Rack 旁的 Karl Strauss ( 啤酒釀酒公司吃晚餐。 兒童餐份量很多(US$6.25,包含飲料), 兒子根本吃不完,只好打包回家。我叫了一杯 Pin Tail Pale Ale 啤酒 (US$5), 淡淡的還有柑橘類水果的味道,還真不錯喝!

喝了點酒,就不想讓老公開車上高速公路。 我就建議先到附近的 Target 逛逛。 我想買幾個塑膠箱子回家。我想開始整理房間,把冬天的衣服收起來。這星期 Target 56-quarts 的塑膠箱子只要 US$4,還算便宜。我也順便買了些文具用品回家。


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

阿公阿嫲從歐州回美國 My Parents

My parents returned from Europe after 2 cruises to Northern Europe. I had forgotten which flight my parents were flying in, so I had to wait at home all day yesterday. My dad finally called at 11:30pm and I rushed to the airport to pick them up.

Cruising is my father's favorite pastime and because of this hobby, I had become an expert on cruises because of all the research I had to do for him. On June 12, 2009, my parents boarded Holland America's MS Eurodam for a 10-day roundtrip cruise to Russia via Copenhagen with 4 friends. Then on June 22, 2009, they flew from Copenhagen to London. They had an overnight stay at a London Heathrow airport hotel, booked via Priceline. Then on June 23, 2009, they took a shuttle bus from London to Southampton and boarded Cunard's Queen Victoria for a 14-day cruise through northern Europe with 6 other friends. This would sound like a once-in-a-lifetime vacation for anyone, but my parents have been on these two cruise itineraries before. They just haven't tried the Eurodam (which they raved!) and Queen Victoria (which they said was a waste of money!) before, so they were eager to try out the new ships.

Anyways, as it turned out, my parents flew back to LA from London via Air New Zealand. I would never have guessed, but in April, my dad had found these inexpensive fares on-line and booked them. I think he did tell me about it, but the information completely escaped my mind.

My parents will be visiting us until Thursday, so it'll only be a 2-day visit. They will leave for Vancouver tomorrow afternoon. My sister lives in Vancouver. My parents split their time between Taipei, Vancouver, and traveling, using my house as intermittent stopover between their travels. So I actually see my parents quite often, but just never for a long period of time. Even though my parents' visit is short, my kids are always excited to see their Taiwan Grandpa and Grandma.

昨天阿公和阿嫲從倫敦飛回洛杉磯,可是我卻不知道他們什麼時候到? 找遍所有 email 資料及詢問了所有的相關人士, 都沒有人知道他們會坐哪一班飛機回洛杉磯。我只是覺得他們會晚上到(感覺好像阿公有告訴過我),可是還是不敢大意,整天在家等阿公的電話,哪裏都不敢去。最後阿公是在晚上十一點半來電話說已經出關了。我在二十五分鐘內火速的趕到機場,好在路上都沒車,一下子就到了,沒讓阿公阿嫲等太久! 阿公也好厲害,竟然是買 Air New Zealand 從倫敦飛回洛杉磯。現在回想起來,才記得阿公在四月份有提起他買到 Air New Zealand 的便宜票。是我自己忘記的。

阿公喜歡坐船旅遊。七十三歲的他自己會上網找便宜的票,然後再叫我幫他訂購。我還上網幫他找別人的郵輪旅遊報告。阿公都自己看 (英文的喔!),自己決定到了停靠港站之後,是要用自助方式還是要花點錢透過船公司出遊。他玩出心得來,我也變成郵輪旅遊專家了!

阿公阿嫲明天下午就飛回溫哥華。 我妹她住溫哥華,如果阿公阿嫲他們沒事都會回溫哥華去幫我妹看看小孩。溫哥華的生活機能對退休的台灣人來講非常的好! 阿公阿嫲整年就這樣的飛來飛去,不是回臺北就是去旅遊。有空就去溫哥華小住一番。三不五十就一定會經過洛杉磯來我這兒住上幾天 (轉機嘛!), 所以阿公阿嫲他們是常來洛杉磯的, 只是停留的時間都不會很長。這一次, 阿公阿嫲他們只待了二天二夜就回溫哥華去了!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

這就是美國人! Happy Birthday, America!

July 4th is a big day for my family. It's my father's birthday. Currently, he is somewhere in Europe on a cruise, so I can't wish him a Happy Birthday even if I want to. I am glad that he is enjoying life and doing what he loves the most--traveling. Happy Birthday, Grandpa, from your family in Los Angeles!

July 4th is also America's birthday. My family celebrates it every year by going to the beach to see the fireworks. It's a tradition that I started when I was a graduate student in Philadelphia. In 1988, I went down to Washington, D. C. with my friends to see the fireworks in front of the Washington Monument. I parked myself on a hill at the National Mall and waited until the darkness came. It was spectacular seeing the marvelous display of fireworks at our nation's capital. Then it just so happened that my first trip with my husband was to New York City on July 4, 1997 and we were able to see the Macy's fireworks over the Hudson River. Over the years, we would make an effort to see fireworks every July 4th, no matter where we are. Even when my kids were babies, we would bundle them up (yes, it would still be cold and windy on July 4 in Los Angeles), put them in strollers and took them to the beach to see July 4th fireworks. Most of the time, my kids would have fallen asleep in the strollers before the fireworks began. This year, we had another family joining us at the beach. The kids sat together and waited patiently for the fireworks to start. The grownups sat in folding chairs and chatted.

My kids were really excited about July 4th. After all, today is their country's birthday. They are proud to be Americans. They say the Pledge of Allegiance at school every morning, and they mean it. It makes people like me, who pledge allegiance to a country that doesn't exist, think about what it means to have a country that they can be proud of. When they woke up this morning, they put on outfits that they had already picked out yesterday. They wore red, white, and blue!

美國國慶日是我父親的生日。我們通常會用這做籍口,全家會聚在一塊兒一起去玩。 可是今年不一樣,在六月中旬,我爸媽就已經從台灣飛到歐州去坐遊輪了。 所以今年我們全家無法一起慶祝阿公的生日。 到目前為止,阿公阿嫲還在船上。雖然無法親口祝福我父親生日快樂,不過我知道他現在過得很愉快,正在做他最愛的事....那就是坐船環遊四海。快樂也不過是如此--做自己愛做的事!

我家有二個土生土長的美國人。今天對他們來講是個重要的日子, 是美國獨立的日子。他們在學校的每一天早上都要朗誦對美國的效忠誓約 (Pledge of Allegiance)。了不起的是, 美國小孩對於自己國家的效忠熱情不會因為總統是誰而改變或減少。愛國就是愛自己的國家。 我的小孩生長在美國,他們愛美國也是無法改變的事實。真是讓做為臺灣人的我有所省思。

在美國國慶日看煙火是我家的傳統。1988年的美國國慶日,我正在東岸讀研究所,那天我與同學做火車到華盛頓,去到 National Mall 前,坐在山坡上等看煙火。白天野餐、下午聽 PBS (美國公共電視台) 的露天演奏會、晚上看煙火--真是終身難忘。 畢業後, 我也曾經到費城碼頭邊看煙火。 結婚前跟老公去了一趟紐約。剛好是美國國慶日,兩個人就順著38街,往河邊方向走。在 Hudson River 旁,我們看到 Macy's 的煙火秀。那時真的是非常開心。 那種場面也是前所未有的。

現在做媽媽了,我和老公在每年的美國國慶日都帶著小孩到 Redondo Beach 的海邊看煙火秀。那裏的煙火秀都晚上九點半才開始。 年年都要早點到海邊 “站/佔” 位子。 洛杉磯沿海一帶的城巿都有放煙火的習慣。所以站在 Redondo Beach 的海邊,往左望,可以看到 Palos Verdes 市所舉辦的煙火會。往右望,可以看到 Manhattan Beach 市一直到 Santa Monica 巿 (甚至於 Malibu 巿) 所舉辦的煙火會。真的會讓人嘆為觀止!

我的兩個小孩其實已經是蠻大了,他們有他們自己慶祝美國國慶日的方法。姊弟倆在昨天就選好今天要穿的衣服。一早起床就穿上一身的紅、藍、白! 笑死我這個做媽的!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

台灣情! Giving Birth to American Citizens

In 1972, right after Nixon went to China, many wealthy Taiwanese immigrated overseas. Back in those martial law-enforced days, it was difficult to get exit visa to leave Taiwan, but people still immigrated. In the 1980s and 1990s, immigration to the U.S. became more difficult, so Taiwanese people found other countries to immigrate to--Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

As more wealth is accumulated in Taiwan, immigration is no longer restricted to the top echelon of the society. More and more upper-middle class have begin to find ways to get foreign passports without having to live there for the duration of obtaining the citizenship. It was no longer desirable to spend 3-5 years living in another country just so the family can obtain a foreign passport, risking family separation and loss of income. People began to look for short cuts which will enable them to obtain foreign passports without actually immigrating to the foreign country. One of those ways was to give birth in a foreign country. Once a baby is born in the United States, he/she automatically becomes an U. S. citizen.

The number one destination for giving birth in a foreign country is Los Angeles. It's a booming business sector which combined travel, health care, insurance, post-partum doula care, and bureaucratic services (application of SSN and passports for the newborn). Most of these facilities (birthing hostels) are situated in eastern part of Los Angeles where a substantial Chinese population is concentrated.

There is a lot of things a pregnant Taiwanese woman need to overcome to give birth in the United States:

1. She needs to fly before she is 24-weeks into her pregnancy. If an airline detects her advanced pregnancy, they can refuse to let her board the plane. This means she would have to leave her family/husband behind in Taiwan to wait in a birthing hostel in the United States until she gives birth.

2. She pays full amount for OB/GYN pre-natal care. Usually the birthing hostels would have already contracted a list of Chinese/Taiwanese-speaking obstetricians in their area who would do pre-natal care and delivery for a set amount of fees. The pregnant woman would have contractual obligation to pay for every medical expenses she incurs while awaiting the birth of her baby.

3. She must pray and hope that her baby will be born healthy. But in some cases, if the baby arrives early or complication developed from the birth, it would be a financial disaster for the new parents.

Once the baby is born, the birthing hostel would arrange for the new mom to “do-the-month” (special 30-day post-partum care and diet) for a month while they apply for the baby’s Social Security Number and the new United States passport for their trip back to Taiwan. Needless to say, to give birth overseas does not come cheap. Luckily, there are many services and packages that women can choose from so they can give birth to an American baby. There are fervent discussions over many portals regarding the pros and cons of giving birth aboard and why people want to do that. The most popular reasoning behind it all is that these parents want to give their babies more choices in life.


1. 可以到美國讀書。沒有拿美國護照的小孩長大後有好成績還是可以到美國讀研究所、深造。
2. 可以到美國居住。這個對沒有拿美國護照的小孩就比較麻煩了。可是在美國還是有很多臺灣人用盡各種辦法在美國住下來。最主要的是要有份不錯的工作才能在美國居住。有拿美國護照的小孩也一樣。他長大後還是要有能力跟美國人競爭,才有辦法在美國定居。
3. 可以到美國工作。沒有拿美國護照的小孩長大後有機會還是可以到美國工作。只是過程要靠公司及老板的賞識。
4. 可以到美國旅遊。這個沒有拿美國護照的小孩也照常可以到全世界旅遊。
5. 可以不用永遠住在臺灣。這就是重點!!!!!
6. 拿美國護照的小孩機會比較多。家裡有錢的小孩本來的生活機能及未來的機會都會比低收入的小孩高很多。
7. 拿美國護照的小孩比較好命。不一定,不過他們的機會肯定比別人多。
8. 拿美國護照的小孩也要同時拿一本臺灣護照才能免於三個月就要出國一次的命運。
9. 拿美國護照的小孩永遠當不了臺灣總統也無法擔任台灣的公職。也就是說這些趕著到美國生產的媽媽斷了自己小孩走政治的路!

三十幾年前,我父母親帶我們移民加拿大。媽媽留下來照顧我們,爸爸繼續留在臺灣賺錢,有空才飛到加拿大跟我們團聚。那時候(甚至於現在)不知羨慕死多少臺灣 人。媽媽在五年後(三年的移民監就讓我們拿到加籍,除了我老爸),毅然的搬回台灣,留下十一年級的我和十年級的妹妹在加拿大自己生活。媽媽不那麼做不行, 畢竟老公真的是比小孩子重要。也就是這樣,才保住他們的婚姻。我和妹妹也順利上了加拿大的大學。這一切聽起來都很美好,可是妹妹和我在這整個過程中受了很多不必要的苦。如果我們當初沒有出國移民,我相信我倆也是有辦法就讀台灣頂尖的大學,畢業後繼續到國外深造。

學業完畢後,就業也沒問題。可是讓父母最擔心的還是我和妹妹的婚姻問題。受外國教育以及在外國長大的台灣女孩子基本上擇偶的範圍就很小,不是嫁外國人,就是嫁ABC(其實是跟嫁給外國人沒兩樣)。可是因為我不是ABC,又有點不中不西,根本就無法跟外國人談戀愛,總覺得文化背景不一樣,很難溝通。不知不覺的就只好回臺灣,希望能認識些台灣人。到最後也不行,緣份把我帶回美國,嫁給一個跟我有一模一樣背景的台裔美國人。那是我的好運氣。我差一點就因為我的成長背景而嫁不出去。我結婚時已經是三十三歲了! 我妹妹也拖到三十四歲才結婚。她嫁給一個跟她同行業的越南人(雖然兩人的收入高,可是畢竟文化及生長過程的不同,我妹這條婚姻路走得比我辛苦。)


話又說回來,在美國我有兩位好友,剛好都是從臺灣來的。一位是到美國讀研究所而認識了先生(先生是197O年代移民到美國的臺灣人)另一位是從台灣嫁來美國 的(先生也是197O年代移民到美國的臺灣人,可是他在十幾年前回台灣相親把她娶回美國的)。我想說的是我們三個台灣女人過得差不多一樣的生活,可是我是唯一當年父母親想盡辦法讓我們移民到國外的人。至少我的朋友可以說她們的生活很多是他們自己的選擇,可是我總覺得我會淪流在國外是我父母親三十幾年前所做的決定而造成我後半生的命運。不管是移民到國外或跑到美國生小孩都是時代造成的悲劇。自己的國家不被其它國家認同及尊重(而且處處遭到某鄰國的威脅及牽制,所以台灣國民才需要想盡辦法找退路)。萬一臺灣不在是我們想要住的地方了,我們的下一代才有另一個自由民主的國家可以落地生根。我只替我的父母親婉惜,因為他們為了下一代的著想,而導至他們的子孫永遠不再是臺灣人了。我可以教我在美國出生的子女愛臺灣,可是這段對臺灣的情不可能再延續到他們的下一代了!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

薑還是老的辣! Taiwanese Pop Music of the 70s

I was going over the playlist of TV programs from Taiwan when I came across a show talking about Feng Fei-Fei, who is a Taiwanese pop music icon from the 1970s. Her husband recently died and the discussion was on her meteoric rise from obscurity to her abrupt departure from the music industry when she married her husband 25 years ago and moved to Hong Kong. I grew up listening to her music and saw her TV variety show every weekend when I was living in Taiwan. The show had on another singer (Lin Su-Rong) who was famous for imitating Ms. Feng because she sounded so much like her. Ms. Lin sang many songs that were made famous by Feng Fei-Fei on the show. Later, another famous variety show host (Kang Hong) who worked with Ms. Feng at the height of her popularity talked about those good old days. He also sang a song that was very popular when I was in elementary school. Gosh, that was a song I haven’t heard for over 30 years and it sure brought back fond memories of my childhood.

今天例行的觀看了 Taiwantalks 所上傳的台灣節目。我一眼就看到國民大會的 “鳳飛飛為愛堅強”,我馬上點閱。雖然我不是鳳飛飛的歌迷,可是她的歌我都非常的熟悉。我從小就愛看電視。星期六及星期天也一定會看鳳飛飛所主持的綜藝節目。 1976年移民到加拿大之後,我們每年暑假也都還會回台灣。那時候的台灣是戒嚴時期,只有三台的節目可以看(根本還沒有第四台),所以能做任何綜藝節目的主持人都是當紅的藝人。那時候大家都非常的愛看鳳飛飛所主持的綜藝節目。雖然這集國民大會的主題是在討論鳳飛飛在最頂峰的時候嫁給了住在香港的商人,而放棄當紅的歌唱生涯。最近她的先生過世,大家都很期待鳳飛飛能再復出。

于美人找了林淑容及康弘上節目談鳳飛飛。這兩位來賓都和鳳飛飛同台過。林淑容因為唱聲很像鳳飛飛,她都一直以模仿鳳飛飛為名。她在國民大會的節目中也唱了很多鳳飛飛的老歌。真讓人回味無窮。更妙的是聽康弘唱 "美麗的星期天" (Beautiful Sunday)。 康弘雖然有把年紀了,可是他真的應證了薑還是老的辣!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wii Spit! 任天堂的 Wii Sports

I took the kids to my sister-in-law's (my husband's sister) house yesterday. They bought a Wii system in May. Everyone is eager to try it out. They have a Wii Sport game and a Wii Fit game. The kids' uncle asked the kids which one they want to play. My 5YO nephew blurted out, "I want to play Wii Spit!!!" (sport + fit = spit) You had to be there. It was very funny and cute.

The kids ended up choosing to play the Wii Sports games. Wii Sport is a lot of fun. We tried tennis, bowling, and baseball. The kids had more fun playing tennis and bowling; the baseball game was more unrealistic. The Wii system made these sports feel so easy. The kids actually worked up a sweat playing these games. It's understandable why the Wii system is so popular with families. It's a game that the whole family can get involved in. While the children play, the parents cheer them on, and vice versa.

My sister who lives in Vancouver has a Wii system at home too. My kids played with it last summer. It was torturous seeing them taking turns playing Super Mario Brothers. My sister had 2 controllers and there were 4 kids. It was too much work just trying to figure out whose turn it was to handle the controllers. But playing with Wii Sports is different. In real life, when you play bowling with friends, you would have to wait for your turns to play. So waiting to take turns in sports comes more naturally to kids.

My kids had so much fun yesterday that they are going back to their auntie's house again today to play Wii. My husband and I don't plan to buy the Wii system for our kids. My kids already have their own Nintendo DS, so they have plenty of games to play with. If they want to play Wii, they can always visit friends or relatives who have Wii. Wii is more fun when played with many people.

昨天帶小孩到我小姑家玩。他們買了一套任天堂的 Wii 系統。大家後來決定一起來玩 Wii Sport (體育)。結果我發現真的是超好玩! Wii Sport 包括 保齡球 bowling, 網球 tennis, 高爾夫球 golf, 和拳擊 boxing。 玩起還蠻傳真的。 小孩大人都玩得滿身大汗! 小孩玩得太高興, 決定明天再去姑姑家玩 Wii。雖然我的小孩很喜歡玩 Wii, 但是我不打算買 Wii 給他們。他們已經一人一台 Nintendo DS 了,所以再買 Wii 給他們也是多餘的。買 Wii 給他們只是滿足他們一時的慾望而已(況且慾望是無止境的)。想玩 Wii 再去親朋好友家玩就行。