25 January 2008

Hapa Height - It's No Fun Being Short

When little Asian people have kids with tall round-eyes, interesting things can happen. Most of my cousins are also hapa (half and half) and we all look different. At a family reunion a few years ago I said to my cousin,

"How'd you get to be so tall?"

She replied, "How'd you get tits?"

Yeah well, she can get a boob job. I can't get any taller.

Some of the ladies at work tell me they would prefer to be petite, but I think one day in a short person's shoes and they'd change their mind. First off, let's look at a short person's shoes*:

* Shoes. The one thing we short people can buy just like you regular people. Don't even get me started on finding a pair of pants that fit right.

These are the Dansko's I wear just about every day. Look at the platform on those babies! I get at least an extra inch or two in these - but I still can't reach the top shelf at the grocery store. I have to reach as far up as I can just to bat at the taco shells - like a cat! Who's idea was it to put the breakables on the top shelf anyway?

The grocery store is one of the worst places to be if you're short. One-sixth of the store out of reach, and the staff is generally unsympathetic. Look, I don't WANT to be climbing up into the freezer case but they've left me no other choice. There is one exception...

For some reason, Trader Joe's keeps all of their products at a reasonable height. I don't know if this is true or not, but an employee once told me that the CEO is "a little Napoleon." Apparently any shelf more than five feet high is verboten. One of the many reasons Trader Joe's gets the majority of my business.

Speaking of eating, the other thing that is non-enviable about being a smaller person is the standard dosage of food and medicine. The nutritional facts on a packages of let's say Macaroni and Cheese are for a human who needs 2,000 calories a day. Someone my size needs only 1,200. An average sleep aid is meant to knock out a 200 pound man, guess what happens when a little person takes it? Forget operating heavy machinery I can't even set my alarm clock.

I know I should just get used to it because I'm not going to get any taller. Still, I wish other people would show a little more consideration for the wee folk. It makes me bananas to be constantly weaving behind a tall person at a concert. Stand still, damn you! Movies are kind of the same situation. Also, people who design airplane seats, thank you for making a chair perfectly designed to give me a neck cramp by forcing my head to jutt forward. That's not a neck rest, it's reverse chiropracting.

Turns out I'm on the taller end of short, I can't imagine what it's like to be under five feet. I'm actually above average height for a Japanese person (my finger marks how tall I am while the red line marks the height of an average Japanese woman).

I guess I should embrace my shortness, my shortitude. I'm not short, I'm fun-sized! I don't need to be tall. I don't need to be all squashed up in airplane seats. I kind of like soft tacos!

Yeah . . .

Now can someone please help me hang a picture?

15 January 2008

Soup Maven

I recently read a book that said (I will paraphrase):

Hey greenie! Yeah, you. How do you think all those fresh fruits and vegetables get to you anyway? Think those blackberries walk themselves to the produce aisle or some shit? They come by plane! They come by diesel truck! You want to talk about the carbon footprint of a tomato in January? Let's go motherf*cker!

So I decided to eat more seasonal / regional foods. Mom had a recipe for winter vegetable soup and I figured, why not?

Keep in mind that, in my world, if dinner takes more than five minutes to make I'll either:
a) check to see if the microwave is plugged in
b) decide I'm hungry for Vietnamese Food instead

It took me an hour to round up everything for this soup: including a phone call to Mom when I asked her what a turnip looks like and she tried not to laugh. Seriously though, I had to go to two stores! All it calls for is: potatoes, turnips, leeks and carrots. There are some other veggies in there too, but I don't like them so I left them out. Why?

'Cause I'm a grown-up, that's why.

So I get home and dump everything out on the counter. I have to make the vegetable broth from concentrate but the only container big enough will soon be occupied with chopped veggies. The next-largest container I have is a pint glass. Okay, that's not 100% accurate. I have a big crystal salad bowl, but it won't fit in the microwave.

The pint glass holds two cups so I make eight cups of broth two cups at a time. I collect the broth in the salad bowl. When this is done, I prepare the leeks. This is when disaster strikes.

I chop the white bits off the leaks and I'm in the midst of slicing them lengthwise when I whack a chunk out of my finger. The knife is so sharp it doesn't hurt at first but then . . .

At the sight of my own blood I start to feel faint. Tunnel vision begins and my ears start ringing. I wrap a towel around my finger and step out on the porch to get some air. I feel thiiiisss close to passing out - which would be a real bummer because I'm home alone.

My finger's still bleeding. It's gross. I'm trying to focus on this podcast about Daniel Day Lewis* so I won't lose consciousness. It's not one of my prouder moments.

The bleeding finally stops and I wrap a band-aid around my finger really tight (I'm not looking forward to pulling that little bastard off). Meanwhile the leeks that were supposed to be saute-ing have burned. Oh well. I resume chopping and the rest of it goes okay.

Behold! The soup! It turned out pretty tasty I have to say . . .

If you're interested in making this delicious hearty meal what you'll need is:

3 (each) leeks, potatoes, carrots, turnips
2 cloves garlic
8 cups vegetable stock
1 cup dried pasta
3 drops of your own blood (optional / to taste)

* Want to know something really freaky? The podcast was about Daniel Day Lewis' most recent film - There Will Be Blood

12 January 2008

Hapa issues

I'm feeling like a bit of a fraud.

The URL of this blog is "themadhapa.blogspot.com" and I haven't been talking a lot about hapa / hapanese stuff. I could easily make the argument that there isn't a lot to write about to begin with, but I should make more of an effort to go find it.

Luckily, my friend Kenny gave me a good news nugget over sushi the other day. We were talking about Asian food and he mentioned an interesting article about human evolution.

Some scientists suggest humans are evolving faster than ever before. Good nutrition, better medicine and stable living conditions have allowed us to not only live longer, but evolve our species.

Here's an obvious one: we're a hell of a lot taller than we used to be. Anyone who's been to Shakespeare's house can attest to that.

The article also described how certain races were evolving:

* People of African descent had a stronger immunity to disease.
* Caucasians can eat red meat without a significant an impact on their cholesterol.
* Asians - we've developed flakier ear wax.

That's right. Flakier ear wax. I know you're all jealous.

I told Kenny it was because we Asians are so highly-evolved to begin with, there's not much left. You can't mess with perfection. Kenny rolled his eyes. He recently had to cut red meat out of his diet, so, something tells me he'd take a steak over the ear wax.

07 January 2008


As you know, I am terribly fond of traveling. What you might not know is - a little creature accompanies me on my trips.

Yes, it's a bit like the roaming gnome prank. It's just Portlandyer. Oddly, I don't have any photos of my minimal? in Portland or in Orange County.

The minimal? came from Portland, just like me. My friend Shanno bestowed it upon me several Christmases ago. Heather Q is the mother of the animal?s and minimal?s. As I understand it, they first appeared as stickers - popping up on bathroom stalls from PDX to NYC. Eventually they morphed into three dementional(sic) beings.

There are sixteen places represented in the slideshow. Some of the places (such as Colorado and Japan) have more than one photo. Can you figure them all out?

Sometimes I get a photo in an obvious place, sometimes not. Here's the complete list (sorry, it does not match up to the sequence in the slideshow).

Tijuana, Mexico
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Washington DC
Santa Cruz, CA
San Francisco, CA
Big Sur, CA
Chicago, IL
Nova Scotia, Canada
New Mexico
Hell, Grand Cayman, BWI

05 January 2008

Looking Down the Barrel of Year Five

I'm currently looking down the barrel of year five in the OC. Hard to believe, isn't it?

I've been back in Portland for the last couple of weeks and I'm happy to say - it feels like I never left.

But I can't claim that living in Southern California hasn't changed me. Looking back on my initial reactions upon moving to Orange County, pretty much everything freaked me out. These days, I take it all in stride. For example:

A few months ago, I was in the OC waiting at a stoplight. As I idled at the intersection, three bearded guys on custom motorcycles pulled up next to me. Across the street was a Korean Presbyterian church, and behind it there was a horse trail. I'd never noticed the trail before, but all of a sudden, three people on horseback appeared. The motorcycle guys waved at the horse people. The horse people waved back - except for one who was on her cell phone. When the light turned green I was promptly cut off by a minivan with a bumper sticker that said, "Some Choices are WRONG." I thought nothing of this fairly odd encounter until later.

I was pumping "regular" at $3.69/gallon and it hit me . . . that was pretty bizarre. So I sent myself a text message reminder to blog about it later.

It will be interesting to see what 2008 brings. Orange County is one of (perhaps the most) conservative county in California. It floors me every time I see a sticker that says "Keep Congress out of Iraq."

Actually, no, I take that back. It floors me when I see an "Is it 2008 yet?" bumper sticker.

Regardless, I'll never get used to seeing people with more money than sense buying into whatever Fox News is selling. It's really horrifying. I know, it's all the more reason for me to volunteer for a Dem campaign. But I don't want to spend my Saturday getting in an argument with some right-wing shithead who believes Republicans are infallible (but can't locate Iraq on a map).

Speaking of maps, next time you're bored at work, try the Traveller's IQ challenge. The game starts off easy: there's a world map and you to locate places like Rome, Las Vegas, London, etc. It gets progressively more difficult: next you'll have to find Mexico City, Copenhagen, and Fenway Park. At level six it's asking East Timor, the Ivory Coast, Kodiak, and so on. I think level twelve is the highest, I got to level nine.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I saw Todd Haynes' new movie I'm Not There awhile back and I picked up an interesting quote:

The more you live a certain way, the less it feels like freedom

There are times . . . sometimes when I'm home, and sometimes when I'm in California . . . I wonder, "why the hell did I leave the best city on earth?" But the challenge of finding my way in a place that's so different has really been rewarding. Okay, it's not like California is another country but it's close.

Of course, no city is weirder than Portland, God bless it.

So begins year five in Orange County. I keep threatening to take the GRE. I even have the study guide CD-ROM! The problem is, I haven't worked things out much beyond:

STEP ONE: Buy GRE book
STEP THREE: Graduate.

Maybe this time next year I'll be planning my escape . . . or maybe I'll be taking advantage of that sweet, sweet in-state tuition deal. Or maybe I'll just stick with staying up into the wee hours writing rants and making obscene cookies.

Happy New Year everyone!

- MD

01 January 2008

My first video on The You Tube

I used The iMovie to capture highlights from my Japan trip.

I put it on The You Tube.

It's about three minutes long. Enjoy.