From the monthly archives:

March 2012

Last week I mused about driving by myself with the kids to Mount Rushmore over spring break. 950 glorious miles. I am sorry if I let some of your down. That was just crazy talk. I was under duress: Spring break week happened to be performance review week at work. The boys seemed to be fine not going anywhere however. They have the entire Minecraft universe to roam about where they can build fanciful things, and probably more importantly, then blow them up. I wanted to make a special effort to do some non-Minecraft related activities because

1. Last Friday, at the beginning of Spring Break, 9-year-old Mr. Monk suffered first degree burns when I bumped into him and he spilled hot tea all over his upper chest. OUCH. He’s been a trooper even though he questions my skills as a Florence Nightingale every time I change the dressing. (I should also admit that when the disaster happened, I immediately Googled in order to find out what to do since I had NO clue whatsoever. Shouldn’t First Aid training be mandatory for people about to become parents?!)

2. On our way to see the doctor (for a followup visit) I actually told Mr. Monk, “I cannot deal with stupid people. Please don’t be stupid.”

3. After seeing all the creative, amazing plots inside Minecraft, I told Number One Son, “I am so embarrassed by your lackadaisical effort. You spend all your time on this, and you only have this pyramid to show for?”


Long story short: We went to Museum of Science and Industry, and a grand time was had by all. I realized one thing: Museum visits become less horrifying once all your children are out of the stroller and have attention span longer than that of a fly.

And really, what kind of monster can resist baby chicks? It’s a shame though: the process of a baby chick pecking its way out of the shell can take up to 10 hours. We did not witness any birthing.





I was very excited to be able to revisit the Twinkie experiment right before closing time. I wrote about this insane plan of MSI back in October 2009: they decided to test whether Twinkie indeed could survive a nuclear Armageddon by leaving a Twinkie out in a display case. I am happy (or actually, horrified) to report that the Twinkie is alive and well, and has not aged a bit.


Here is a picture of the good ol’ Swiss Jolly Ball at MSI. I can stand and watch this thing over and over again. It is a giant pinball machine, essentially. The tour of the ball takes more than 5 minutes to complete. I took a 2-minute video of it because it is awesome and I need more people to know something this fascinating exists near the exit of MSI. Yup. Most people probably don’t even notice it as they rush towards the exit. It bothers me.

Swiss Jolly Ball at MSI. One of the only two in the world. Click on the picture for the 2-minute video if you want to see it in action


Maybe this is exactly how the natural world works: repetitive, fascinating motions. There are many things that I could stand and watch at length. Just watching and being mesmerized. The giant Newton’s Cradle for one. And also something called Avalanche Disk. (The video below is only 30 seconds)

You’ve got to admit, it’s pretty darn cool. No medicinal aid required to get into a trance.


I thought, “Hey, instead of hitting play over and over again, I should just copy and paste the clip to extend it! Multiple times!” Soon, a song popped into my head. The perfect song to accompany my insanity. Oh, sorry, L’insanity. I know this post is now tl;dr. Somebody stop me! I am leaving this 5+ minute video on here because Mr. Blue Sky told me to. I am staring at this video and listening to this song until spring break is over.



What makes reality real?

March 24, 2012

in random

I have not watched the new TV show Awake on NBC. I understand the story is about a police detective who “woke” up from a car accident and realized that he’s caught in two realities, or two dreams, or rather one reality + one dream. In one half of his life, his son died, whereas in the other half of his life, his wife. In order to keep both of his loved ones “alive”, he decided to keep living this dual existence, ignoring the clues threatening to expose one half as “fake”.

I am scared to watch it…

I’ve had realistic, vivid nightmares in which I kept on telling myself, “No, it could not be. This has got to be a dream. Wake up! Wake up!” but I could not wake up. Fear would quickly settle in as I realized (erroneously) that this was not a dream. I would cry out from the pang of despair, with real tears, in from my dream. Often the warm tears would startle me and I would wake up, completely disoriented. “It is a dream after all.” My relief however would soon be overtaken by fear, fear that maybe next time, I would not be so lucky. Next time, I would not have anything to wake up to.

On the other hand, I have never had a dream so enticing that I do not want to leave it. (Probably a sign for lack of imagination?) Yet, on some days, when I am wishing for a do-over, I felt I could somehow understand why “the wife” in the movie Inception felt that way about the limbo she was in. (I will stop here lest this becomes a spoiler… even though I assume everybody that wants to see the movie has done so already…)

Remember Cypher (played by Joe Pantoliano) in The Matrix? He basically said “Fuck this. Put me back in the dream because reality sucks!”

If a dreamscape is so real that you cannot tell, what makes it any less real?


You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. — Morpheus in The Matrix


“Which pill would you take: red or blue?” I get a headache whenever I think about this.


You would laugh if I tell you what started this whole debate inside my head. It was the song Video Games by Lana Del Rey playing in the car on our way home after watching The Hunger Games. Now, a digression…

I am one of those empathetic people that cannot help imagining myself in the protagonist’s place when watching a film — That explains why I cannot watch horror movies — therefore I watched The Hunger Games with heightened alarm. The games would be a nightmare I do not want to be caught dead (or alive or sleeping) in. I KNOW, if I were there, I would be the first one to die. And that thought alone makes me want to hide a piece of cyanid in my tooth cavity. (I never claim to be brave so there).

Ok. I am back on track. (According to The Husband, this IS how I talk in real life…) When I heard Lana Del Rey’s voice, I remembered the big brouhaha over her flop on SNL. There was so much hype around her first ever TV/public appearance, on SNL nonetheless, people were shocked (or perhaps even outraged?) to find the Internet sensation could not deliver the promise in a live performance. It appeared that she could not sing nor did she know what to do with her hands. I cringed for the first few minutes and had to turn it off. It was painful to watch. I will admit: I liked her musical videos. I liked her voice in the videos. I still do. The videos were expertly produced, looking and sounding fantastic. The out-of-proportion backlash against her on the Internet (The Internet giveth, the Internet taketh) following her SNL appearance made me wonder out loud:

So what if the persona Lana Del Rey is fabricated? You liked her when you thought she was real, what changed now that you know her daddy is rich and her lips may have been undergone some cosmetic surgery, and that her voice may have been digitally enhanced during production? What if she had simply stayed a virtual Internet sensation a la the Japanese virtual pop star Hatsune Miku: a synthesized presence that, understood by all partaking in it to be “artificial”, yet fulfills something the audience yearns for that is not achievable in real life.


Here is Hatsune Miku in all her digital bits performing live to thousands of screaming fans. She is so real that she stars in commercials for Google Chrome in Japan, and of course, for Toyota.


There are 6 teenage boys now in my house and they are staying overnight until tomorrow noon. Sleepover is a misnomer: there will be NO sleep involved. They will be up all night, taking over the house while I hide in my locked bedroom. Fortunately my boy runs with the nerd crowd so give them each a Wii remote control and time flies, as they say, Mario Cart style. Of course, when the sun comes up tomorrow, I will be ushered into the Dawn of the Dead (Tired): these teenagers, being outside of Asia where the Tiger Moms roam, are untrained in the Tao of Midnight Oil Burning (“OMG. The teacher gives them so much homework. My son spent TWO HOURS last night doing his math homework!” Yah… I bit my tongue for that one.) They all talk a big game, and yet we know, tomorrow they will be complaining about headaches and extreme exhaustion and whimper like little babies. Thank goodness tomorrow also happens to be my least favorite day of the year – I have a slogan for it too, Spring Forward My Ass –  so I am actually one hour closer to liberation.


The lady brigade suggested lots of booze to help me survive the Night of the Undead. When in doubt, add Vodka. And sometimes, bacon. Unfortunately for me though, I have something in my mouth which, actually, is one of the biggest mistakes I have made in my life, I am convinced.

Last Saturday, I got Invisaligned.

Oh no no. Taking these suckers out is NOT an one-handed job. *He he. Rim shot?* All the glossy pictures featuring beautiful people do not show you the “anchors” on my teeth to secure the braces. These bumps make me look like a vampire (of the non-sexy variety) and make it a pain to take them out, and that means I basically have only limited windows every day to eat and drink. On the first day, I tore the bottom liner out of frustration and panic when I was dizzy with hunger. “What if I cannot take these things out and I have to stop eating for the next 12 months?!” On top of the dreadful task of taking the liners out (which reminds me of the first few days when I got my first contact lenses), I am also very very lazy, and I do not like the thought of having to brush and floss my teeth AFTER every bite or sip before I put the liners back on.

This is torture for a grazer. In this past week I have experienced thousands of moments when I thought about eating but could not. It’s revealing because, if not for my inability to do so, I would not have even given it any thought before I polished off say a whole bag of Sun Chips, or ate half of the strawberries while cutting them. Gone are the days to hold a cocktail giant beer glass and sip my Cranvodka the whole day night. No more lounging at Starbucks for hours. (Ok. Fine. I don’t get to do that anyway… But you get the point) I feel unsettled and restless the whole day, like something is wrong but I cannot quite put my finger on it. The promise of losing weight from this self-enforced starvation? Ha. I am half-starved for the past week but still managed to gain 5 lbs. HOW? Because when it comes time to eat, I eat like a starved person, like someone who has no idea when they are going to see food again. I now eat appetizers, main courses, AND desserts. After I am done with my meal, I survey the pantry and the fridge to find all things that I think I may have a cravings for later during the day and I shove them into my mouth.

At the same time, I also got a raging case of pink eye and was therefore rocking my geek-cred thick-coke-bottle glasses. Along with new braces, my weight gain, and the telltale rash around my waist band…

Liz Lemon: God, three weddings in one day, I’m going to be in Spanx for 12 hours. My elastic line is gonna get infected again.

I’ve had a week of low self-esteem, which meant only one thing: I needed food for emotional support.

Like I said, one of the worst decisions I’ve made in my life. So far.

Maybe I should try and top it with another bad decision? Maybe I should just say “Oh, fuck it”, and go have pizza, cake, chips and a big giant glass of Cranvodka tonight? I mean, it’s my kid’s birthday party right? I gave birth to that little guy (now measuring 5’10”) fourteen years ago so I deserve a night off from this mental torture device, right?

Happy Birthday, Number One Son! Let’s party! Separately of course. I am cool like that. You guys stay downstairs and watch mindless YouTube videos while I surround myself with all the food that I bought for you and watch an R-rated movie. Now who’s going to help mommy carry all the food and the bottle of vodka and cranberry juice upstairs?

Update: I did not even get to eat anything when the doorbell all of a sudden went off. “Are you guys expecting more people?” “No…” We opened the door and it was The Girls. Well, I guess I have officially thrown a cool party right if it’s been crashed? You’d be happy to know that after I corralled them into singing Happy Birthday and cut the birthday pies, I quickly grabbed my bottle of ready-made Costco Margarita (NO cranberry juice in the house!) and headed upstairs while leaving Mr. Monk, my 9-year-old in charge.



Jumping on the Kony 2012 wagon, no, off, no, on, no…

March 7, 2012 mark my word: twitter will doom us all

Unless you live under a rock, or you are my husband, by now you must have seen (or chosen to skip) this video, KONY 2012 (video at the bottom of this post for all you under-the-rock-dwellers), and it is possible you are already tired of “hearing” about it on your Facebook or Twitter (or even, dare […]


How to show your kid what the 80s is about. The hard way.

March 4, 2012 no manual for parenting

By taking them to the exhibit dedicated to the 1980s at Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, of course!   I am kidding on the square, seeing how this is a hard glance back at the 1980s with a critical eye: feminism, gender politics, race politics, AIDES, political upheavals in the Latin America, Disappeared, Reaganism, […]