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Wednesday, January 13th, 2016
2:07 pm
Reflections on the Powerball
Today, the Powerball jackpot is going to be in the vicinity of 1.5 billion dollars. I bought a single ticket, having spent upward of 50 dollars on previous drawings that contributed to tonight's jackpot. There have been a few discussions on Facebook about what one would do with such a windfall.

I admit, I have a list of things. About 250,000 in debt, including some debts of honor that are not legal debts but rather moral debts. 100k in barebones home fixes, probably 100k more in upgrades. A new car? A really good violin. Fact of the matter is, even in my wildest dreams, I can't really see myself spending more than a million dollars. So that's not even a dent in the Powerball jackpot.

So, if wealth is power, and with great power comes great responsibility, by the transitive property, with great wealth comes great responsibility. I therefore am confronted with the conundrum, to whom am I responsible? I suppose I could say first and foremost, God and Country. Alright, let's examine this. God. I have a reasonable belief that at the minimum, I should tithe 10%. That, I believe is a bare minimum. There are no loopholes like in the US Tax Code, 10% is 10%. However, I keep on thinking about the various times in the Gospel where a rich person's gift was nothing next to a poor person's gift, due to the percentage of total wealth that the respective gifts represented. More on this idea later.

As far as country, my obligation is clearly defined as whatever a tax professional versed in the US Tax Code can argue is my obligation. So, the obligation is a mixture of tax professional fees and actual taxes. I clock this number at around 40 percent.

That's about 50% of everything toward God and Country. How about Family and Friends? I know that in the event of winning any sort of money, there will be invariable requests for money, with varying levels of need. I think that should it come down to it, I need to set up a family trust, and out of it would come various monthly allowances. The reason I would do this is to just avoid the embarrassment of a family member having to come to me and ask for money. Face it, my family is prideful.

As far as friends, I'm not sure if giving out money would be constructive. I am reminded of the parable about fish, and teaching how to fish. I think I would be more comfortable giving any one of my friends a job. At the very least, I would like to hire enough of my friends to have someone watching my house 24/7. So, that could come out to maybe another 10%.

So far, I've looked at 10% for God, 40% for Country, and 10% for Family and Friends. That still leaves 40% unaccounted for. Some people would invest, or try and grow the money at the very least. Not sure if that's me. I think that I have a greater obligation with the money, to do good in the world. Call me egotistical, but I think if I am going to use the money for good, I should better be able to pick and choose what form of good is made. With that in mind, I think I'll be making a charitable foundation.

Anyhow, I had to get this out of my head. And it's a slow day at work.
Sunday, September 13th, 2015
6:01 am
The End of an Era
Tiffany and I broke up on Thursday. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. Sad for certain. She had been disappointing me for so long, and I had kept on hoping that she would get her act together that when she called, and for one last time, tried to get me to initiate the break up so she wouldn't have to, I was so proud of her when she actually took responsibility for doing it.

I think Tiffany never really understood that I am a creature of Hope. I don't stop hoping, and I wouldn't give up on us, as long as she was willing to try. But as long as she didn't have a job, she always had the excuse that she wasn't able to move out of her parents' place, and so couldn't move forward with the relationship, lest she be kicked out. When she got her job, I guess she ran out of excuses, both to herself, and to me.

So here I am, after five years of being chaste. I know, shocking, considering who I was before. It was one of those issues I always felt was an imbalance in our relationship. Tiffany so far is saving herself for marriage. In a lot of ways, she really wasn't giving up anything compared to my entering into chasteness. I am quite out of practice at being single, in a lot of regards then. I'm not sure when I'll be in the frame of mind to date. One day at a time.

In retrospect, she was fond of telling me not to do things, for the sake of our relationship. Don't you dare approach my father about us, I will break up with you. Stop psychoanalyzing me or I will break up with you. For the sake of our relationship, do not try to see me while I'm here. Now that I can freely express my take on her, it seems that she learned relational blackmail at a young age. It's probably something her parents have over her. I feel more empowered just writing this, after being banned from it "for the sake of the relationship." I hope she breaks free of those fetters over her that I myself have sensed.

I wish her well, despite the messed up things that happened. We had some wonderful times. My greatest hope for her is that one day she will step out from under the shadow of her parents, and take her own spot in the light. As she is, she is a plant that has become too big for its current pot, root bound, unable to grow further.

That's it for now. I'm still processing.

Be free, my friends. Be happy!

I love you all madly,
Friday, November 14th, 2014
10:19 pm
Well well well
Looks like Facebook is down - back to lj for the evening! So in the spirit of my lj style:

This week has been pretty murderous. Put in a few 10-hour days, and a 12-hour day. I haven't been hitting my Medicare sign up goals, but then again, I've been putting in long hours as a trainer. Ah well.
Saturday, December 14th, 2013
2:33 pm
Hey Dad. It's been 18 years since your fatal car accident. I finally worked through that massive backlog of guilt. Made something of myself. I take comfort in the fact that you would like where I eventually ended up, though you would probably have some suggestions on stuff I could do better. Comfort aside, I miss you. Your wedding anniversary with Mom is in two days. Christmas is in eleven days. For the longest time, I really didn't feel Christmas. I am trying though. I hope you don't mind.
Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
12:41 pm
It's only a couple of weeks between the anniversary of my mom's passing, and her birthday. I have found myself marking both these many years, but since they are so close, I find my mom's birthday less of a traumatic event, more a time for some introspection. I've found myself saying things that she would have said, or actually did say, thinking like her, even picking up some of her habits. Unfortunately, this extends to a tendency toward hoarding. I was always a pack rat anyhow, but under stressors I see myself with proto-hoarding habits. I should never be alone, lest I become a full blown hoarder. But, there is a lot to be said for being like my mom. She kept so many balls in the air that if one told you everything she was doing at any given time, you'd think it was made up.

My mom was an amazing woman. It was tough being her son. It still is. But it has been, and still is a great honor at the same time. Love you, Mom. Happy Birthday!
Monday, August 12th, 2013
4:56 pm
Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday, Dad. It's been almost 19 years since I last saw you, and I still miss you terribly. Things are going, though not as well as I would like them. But then again, you taught me how to roll with the punches in life, and so I'm putting that to good practice. You taught me that success was a combination of work, ability, and opportunity. I really didn't figure out that your unspoken corollary was that you have to survive long enough for those three factors to work their magic. So, resilience then. Times are tough. But you made me tough too. There's not much I can give you today save for the fact that I'm working at making a Better Tomorrow. I think that's good enough, don't you? Again, Happy Birthday, Dad.
Sunday, June 16th, 2013
2:31 pm
Father's Day
It's been a while since I've been to visit Mom and Dad. These days, the Garden is unkempt and overgrown, and some things have fallen over, yet their cenotaph remains undisturbed, a gleaming monument of granite in the midst of the dry brush. I laid the traditional four fruit offering, apples, peaches, pineapple, and bananas this time, and burned my offering of incense. It was beautiful out there, nary a cloud in the sky, the delta breeze blowing gently. That is the magic of the Gardens - even unkempt, when you're there, you're not really in Modesto. You're not really in California. It's like you're out of time and space, inside a dream of my father.

Despite the fact that nothing was planted this year, a cluster of lotus plants managed to grow this year. They haven't blossomed, but it was a small miracle. I tried to run some water in their dried-up pond, but the irrigation had been turned off and I didn't want to mess with turning on the lines without my brother's ok. So for a while this afternoon, it was me, Mom, Dad, and the lotus flowers. Oh, and the peacock in the distance that wouldn't shut up. Silly bird. Great looking animal, but man, they do make quite the noise.

I took a short walkabout of the flower beds while the incense burned down. They had had water in them from the spring storms, and despite being dry, it was in the beds that green was emerging. I found another couple of lotus plants by the pond by the giant willow, as well as cats o'nine-tail, and lillies. The other ones just had a collection of reeds. All around me, the Garden lay quiescent, half asleep, just waiting for a hand to shake it out of its slumber. For now, it's resting.

The incense had finished burning. I packed up and headed back to Modesto. But the time in the Gardens was the high point of my Sunday. Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you.
Friday, December 14th, 2012
2:31 pm
A sad day
I don't get around to this page too often anymore. Life just gets busy that way. Today however, is a time to step back. Eighteen years ago today, almost to the hour, my father died of blood loss in the hospital after a car accident. The echoes of that event ring throughout the lives of my family and our friends. December 14th is not a good day for me. Added to that is the most recent tragedy in Connecticut. My heart bleeds for the people involved. I have purposefully shied away from being glued to the news. My father's death so many years ago, as well as my mother's, as well as all the rest of the deaths of loved ones, tell me that I cannot erase a day from my life because something bad happened that day.

There are only 365 days in a year. It used to be that August 17th and December 14th were days that I didn't do anything on, save for go to my parents' grave and make ancestral offerings. It was my mindset. I kept with that until December 14th, 2007. That was the date of my final with Prof. Mogil. I did horribly. And I think it was all my fault, just being in that mindset. Since then, I have made my choice to reclaim those days. It's been tough, and I still make time for my parents on those days. Today, for instance. But to sacrifice an entire day? Each day we have is a gift. A lesson my parents taught me is that there might not be any warning as to which day is going to be our last, and therefore while we can make long term plans, we must still acknowledge that we live in the present.

Healing takes time. It took me 13 years to start reclaiming the days missing from my life. The wounds suffered today, in Connecticut, and in the nation, will take time to heal. For some, there might not be healing. My prayers are with them. For them, time has stopped. Time will move on, but every day will be December 14th. As someone who has broken free of December 14th, I can only offer my support and prayers, and if I am in the right place at the right time, maybe I can help others break free of December 14th too.
Sunday, April 8th, 2012
10:01 am
Reflections on Baptism
I was received into full communion with the Catholic Church last night. I was baptized, confirmed, and given the Eucharist. I was contemplating writing down a detailed account of my experiences last night, but honestly, I was too much in a daze. So just some general impressions.

I approached baptism wondering if I was going to feel something inside my soul, wondering if I was going to feel the 42 years of sin in my life be whisked away. Nope. The physical sensation of the warm water just overrides any spiritual sensation you might get. So no, no great whoosh as sin is washed away. But upon emerging from the water, I felt a great joy enter my heart. I'm still riding that right now.

It is in fact that sense of joy that is my lasting memory of the experience. Confirmation involved a very nice laying on of hands, and an anointing with the sign of the cross on my forehead with holy oil. As I was anointed, I thought to myself "How can there be so much oil on someone's thumb?!" because it felt like there was a lot of it on my forehead. Perhaps that was an extrasensory impression! It felt as if my entire forehead was covered.

I took Communion and again, I was at first struck by the physical sensations. The way the communion wafer stuck to the roof of my mouth. How much I had to tilt the chalice back to take a sip of communion wine. An impression of fullness afterward. Fullness, despite being ravenous after the Mass ended and making a sizable dent in the reception buffet afterward.

So I write this, the morning after, on Easter Sunday, amidst a great contentment and joy. I probably wasn't ready for this earlier in my life. So to all of you out there reading this, I want to wish you a wonderful Easter! I love you all madly!
Saturday, October 1st, 2011
1:13 pm
What a difference a month makes! I had my best month in insurance thus far, and am pretty excited about working, and so very thankful to be working at all, much less doing well! I just have to remind myself not to let a good month get to my head, I still have a mountain of debt to pay off to the Dept. of Education, and also the Fantasy Mansion to do repairs in. Tiffany and I still are doing wonderfully, and she continues to amaze me even after all this time :)

So yeah. Life. It is good. I know I hardly post here anymore, but it is my preferred venue still when I have a lot on my mind. Another reason life is good is that the Q&A session for the BoD election for Mind's Eye Society is done. Oh yeah :) I'm running for one of the three spots open on the Board. It really would complete something I started back in the 90's when I was Assistant Director to Pat Thorp. I remember being so mad when Pat's spot on the Board was eliminated after she stepped down. Hehe. Things have come full circle. But really, this isn't me going back. This is me going forward. To infinity and beyond? Maybe. We'll see what the future holds, and I'm looking forward to it! Love you all madly!
Sunday, September 4th, 2011
5:46 pm
Remembrances on a Labor Day weekend
Yesterday was my mom's birthday. She would have been 71. Hard to imagine her that old, she will forever be fixed in my mind as a vital, even scary, 50-something. This is the first year in a while I haven't done anything particular to mark her birthday - I worked half the day, went to a couple of barbeques, then returned home to chat online with friends. To be frank, I didn't have the cash to put on a proper ancestor feast. But I don't think she minds. She's probably amused that I worked on a Saturday on my own initiative. If you were my mom, would you think that a sufficient birthday present? :) Considering how hard she worked at trying to get me to work hard, I like to think so haha. Love you all madly!
Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
11:00 pm
A dozen years
Hard to believe that it's been 12 years since my mom passed away. A lot has happened. I grew a spine. I grew some business sense. Hell, I became a real person. It was only after getting back from work today that I remembered what today was. I guess time heals all wounds. Not that I don't miss my mom. Far from it. But she would be the first person to kick my ass if she found that I was being totally useless every August 17th, something about spending too much time looking backward and not enough time looking forward.

So I take this time to ponder everything that has happened. I look back on my LJ entries for August 17th through the years since her passing, and marvel at the evolution of my emotional status. August 17th is a day to remember, sure. But life keeps on going. I miss you mom. But I have to work toward making things right with work, friends, and family. Who would have thunk it?

Current Mood: contemplative
Friday, August 12th, 2011
7:47 pm
Happy Birthday, Dad
Heya Dad,

We'd be celebrating your 71st Birthday today if you were still around - as it is, I'll make an ancestor offering tonight. I miss you terribly, but I think you'll be glad to know that I finally got to a point where I was too busy to ponder your birthday for the whole day. I remember you always talking to me about my priorities. Heck, you tried to teach me a thing or two about priorities. I think I was too stubborn to learn those lessons from you. Ah well. Now that my life is busy enough to where I have to put them in practice, I find myself looking back on things you said and agreeing. But some lessons can't be taught. They just need to be adopted when they are needed. Thank you, Dad. You continue teaching me lessons I need, even 17 years after your death. I love you very much!

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
11:28 pm
Hopes and Backup Plans
I came to a realization in April. I can't really ignore the rest of the job market while the legal job market is so crappy. It's not that I'm getting turned down. It's that the jobs for a law graduate with no experience is almost non-existent. My RCIA instructor told me that his last hire was someone who had passed the bar a while back, but was working in a pizza parlor. It's just the way things are.

So I bit the bullet and expanded my job interests. Not even a week later I got a call from Bankers Life and Casualty. We did the dance, I got my insurance license after taking a pre-licensing course, and went through their training. I am now an Agent with them. Hehe, who would have thought that my vehicle license plate, AGENT K would actually be relevant? I am grateful for the opportunity that Bankers has presented to me.

At the same time, the PA Bar exam is in 4 weeks. I am still taking it. I am still determined to pass. It has become a *thing* with me. But will it open up doors? Considering the past year of job searching, I'm not all that certain. I shall certainly work Bankers while waiting those long months before the exam results are posted. But I have this sneaking suspicion. Even if I pass, I might still end up working Bankers. At least until the economy has absorbed this multi-year backlog of law graduates. And then? Well, that's crossroads time. My goal is still the same, a run at public office, and a place called Misfit Manor, where Tiffany and I can work toward a happily ever after :) That goal is adiabatic - that is, it is path-independent. Lots of ways to get to Rome. Lots of ways to get to the future. But one thing is certain. The future will happen. See y'all on the flip side - I love you all madly!
Sunday, May 8th, 2011
3:26 pm
Happy Mother's Day
Happy Mother's Day Mom!

I've been struggling to make things work, but I believe in what I am doing. I feel right. I think that's something you were trying to teach me. That you could sail down Easy Street and still have gone horribly astray. I get it now. Thank you. I love you very much.

Your son,
Sunday, April 10th, 2011
11:57 pm
Looks like I'll be taking the PA Bar Exam again in July. I'm not in a down state. To be honest, my first response to the results was fury. I've gone into that emotional shutdown that I go into in crises, and this was a fairly average weekend otherwise. But I learned a bit about myself.

I learned that I have really really changed since ten years ago. And much more so twenty years ago. I'm going to go into a ramble, haven't done that in a while on LJ.

If you know me at all, you know I have a lot of talent in various and sundry areas. I was much more so as a young adult. The career counselors in high school couldn't give me advice because I got Superiors across the whole career aptitude test (well there were a couple of Excellents sprinkled in). Their advice to me was - do whatever you want to do, you can do it.

Sounds marvelous, eh? It was a huge problem for me. I was used to doing what my parents wanted me to do. My mom had Tiger Mom-ed me into a complete lack of personal ambition. Well, I take that back. I wanted to study music. *That* went over like a lead balloon. I ended up in Electrical Engineering. I hated it. And I hated the influence my parents exerted in my life.

Frankly, I ended up in self-destructive cycle that destroyed my parents' grand plan for me, but also ended up with me more or less free to continue my academic career as I wished. Ironically, my mom tried to re-assert control and pushed me toward law school in the 90's, thus ensuring that law school was the last thing I was ever going to do.

I guess that is the hidden cost of Tiger parenting. Success as long as the parents push. But there is little personal motivation. You get someone whose self worth is based on pleasing the authority figure. It's taken me ten years to overcome that. Now, I burn with purpose. I rage because I am temporarily thwarted.

But back to what I learned. I learned that for the first time in my life, I want something so bad that nothing is going to stop me. Much as my job apps go largely unanswered, I feel powerful. I feel ruthless. I might not get my ideal job at first, but baby steps.
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
3:38 pm
A week away...
Today I head out to Reno for a couple days, cashing in on some casino coupons for free nights that are going to expire at the end of the month. That was going to be that, until I got a call last week from the Judge-in-Chambers in DC - they want me to fly out and take their aptitude test, and if I test well, I get invited to an interview. I'm a little nonplussed that I have to take yet another test, but this is for a civil service position, so I guess I don't mind. And really, this is my first callback in my job search, so I have to jump on it.

So, if you're doing nothing at 11 Eastern on Friday, send me some good vibes or prayers :)
Saturday, March 5th, 2011
5:51 pm
Saw Rango on opening day. I enjoyed it immensely. It was a puff of fresh air in what has been a fairly stuffy Oscar season. That being said, I had a couple of quibbles with it. For one, it seems to be in a battle for its own soul. Sometimes it wants to be a parody, sometimes it takes itself quite seriously. It could have worked well either way, but Rango tries to be both, with mixed results. The second is an affectation of one of the characters (you'll know it if you see the movie) that frankly serves no purpose. At first, it was kind of odd. As the movie progressed, I found it to be more and more annoying. It costs money to animate, and I think it was money wasted.

I *did* get into the movie more as a serious western (as serious as a western can be that is) and it's okay as such. There are a couple movie references that had me rolling - one from Mr. Depp's past, and a reference to the Man with No Name ;) Ultimately, while the movie has some genuine moments, I can't really recommend it for evening prices. Go see it during a matinée, that's about the right price for the entertainment you'll get out of the movie :)
Saturday, February 26th, 2011
4:33 pm
The Bar Exam
After months of ramping up for the bar exam in PA, I am done. It wasn't bad. Certainly I felt better about it than California. Could I have been even more of a basket case about Cali since it was my first bar exam? Perhaps. This time, while there was a sense of urgency, I was also feeling a sense of calm. I rather liked it. Plus PA is only two days, essays and the MBE.

I have to thank my cousin, Weishung, for letting me stay at her apartment. Even more thanks to Stephen, Weishung's SO, since she was away in Indiana that week and he was stuck hosting me. Their place was conveniently located close to the SEPTA, the regional light rail, so every day I took the train into the Philly. I discovered that I could take the 7:20 train in on the first day, after missing the 6:54. It was an experience, running for the train in the snow. Never fear, I calmed down after only 5 minutes of panic.

Adding to the sense of comfort, were all the Dickinson students. It was a mini-homecoming. I saw a bunch of friends, and I am truly sorry we didn't get a chance to hang out together after the exam. Everyone just sort of blew out after the exam. Ah well.

Afterward, I got to kick it in the Harrisburg area. Many thanks to Kris and Jessi for their hospitality, and to Mr. Reeder, who agreed to rendez-vous in Carlisle en route to his home in NY. I hope VA bar went well for him!

Most of all, I want to thank Tiffany, who has been ever marvelous, and helped immensely in easing me down from the adrenaline rush that is studying for the bar exam, and back into "real life." Now comes that horrible period of waiting. At least it's only until mid April. Until then, I should be aggressively job searching in PA, in anticipation of moving. Yeah, I am still resolved to move back to PA, now moreso than ever.

Life is good. I think on all the blessings I have received, and and floored by the bounty of wonderful things that go on in my life every day. So take care of yourselves, everyone. I love you all, madly!
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
11:50 pm
An Epiphany
I used to think my dad was a workaholic. Long hours in his home office, calls from China at 3 AM, business trips that would take him away from months. My brothers and I were jealous of the time he spent working instead of being with us. But I have just had a flash of insight, and I am ashamed. Dad worked all those long hours not because he was a workaholic. No. He did it all, because he was in love. At first, with Mom. Then with us, the entire family.

I could not understand until now, when I am in love like that. It's a love that gives you a certain ruthless attitude toward what you must do, because you need to do right by your beloved. It shakes me to my core. And I find myself in tears, understanding a bit more of Dad, and understanding how incredibly he loved me, my brothers, and Mom. I have found that love too. And I feel...empowered.
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