I like to shop but not for food. I hate grocery shopping almost as much as I hate going to Home Depot to look at lumber and tools (a deep rooted hate that is, well, rooted in frequent childhood trips to Lumberland as my parents spent years and years renovating our previously dumpy flea-infested home). While Simon was away in London last week I decided to see how long I could go without buying groceries. Aside from a quick trip to Trader Joes to get a sushi roll before hitting the gym, I managed to not go at all. Yup, no bumper cars at the Ranch 99 parking lot for me. No freezing my ass off in the produce aisle or carrying 5 bags of food from my car parked a block away from home. I was perfectly fine eating damn near everything in the freezer and then going out for dinner and eating the doggy bag leftovers over the course of 3 days. This weekend we had Mexican for lunch which meant no room for dinner which meant no need to buy groceries. Tonight dinner will be steak (last one from the freezer) and, um, peas (also frozen). After that we're in trouble.


good things

I witnessed two simultaneous random acts of kindness that have restored my faith in humanity. I was at Trader Joe's grabbing some bananas, blueberries, and an unagi roll. The express line for 15 items and fewer was long but I figured it would go fast and I was in no rush. One lady in the express line went over to one of the normal check out lines with a small armfull of items. The woman in front of her with a big cartload of food let the lady in front of her. At almost the same time, the same thing happened at the check out line one row over. Some guy let another person with fewer items in front of him. Not only have I never seen this, I've never seen this happen twice at the same time. Awesome. So people in this world aren't all hateful and selfish.


All I can say is, Canada, you should be ashamed of yourself for allowing this to happen.

Conservatives win Canadian Election

Relations with the Bush administration will likely improve under Harper as his ideology runs along the same lines of many U.S. Republicans.

The Conservative victory ended more than a decade of Liberal Party rule and could shift the traditionally liberal country to the right on socio-economic issues such as health care, taxation, abortion and gay marriage. Some Canadians have expressed reservations about Harper's views opposing abortion and marriages between gays and lesbians.

The Liberals have angered Washington in recent years, condemning the war in

Iraq, refusing to join the continental anti-ballistic missile plan and criticizing President Bush for rejecting the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions and enacting punitive Canadian lumber tariffs.


I'm back

Sorry for the blog break. Getting back into town last week was hectic. House needed cleaning, hamsters needed cleaning, bills had to get paid, and I needed to go out and bask in the glorious sunshine. I've turned comments back on but for now they're going to be moderated because I'm kind of sick of seeing my blog turned into a rant fest for a bunch of bozos.

Anyways, a little over a month until I head to Champaign, IL to present my yet-to-be-written paper. Taking one day in between flights to visit Chicago increased my airfare (paid by my school) by $200 so I think I'm going to take Amtrak ($17) from Champaign up to Chicago for my lone day of sight seeing. That way my flight stays under $400 and my department chair wont freak out. So what are the must-sees for a one day trip in the windy city? And where the hell do you check in a piece of luggage for a day so I don't haul it around with me? I hear there is a check in at Amtrack Union Station but I'm not sure. Anyways, I'm excited and it's actually motivating me to work on this paper.

Today's election day in Canada. According to the local news, there are indications that Bush's church groups sent up helpers for Tory leader Stephen Harper. Several ridings like Coquitlam, Richmond etc are backed by the churches. For all those Americans who joked about moving to Canada when Bush was elected...what do you do now when Bush's wannabe becomes Prime Minister? I guess you move to Sweden or somthing. Well hope is not all lost. Vote Liberal. Layton is wonderfully presentable and the best I've seen come out of the NDP, but (among other issues not worth mentioning) he won't have enough to win and would just take votes away from the anti-Conservative effort. You know, the same reason why you don't vote Green.



I was planning to keep all Spencer stuff on the other blog (http://wearingracism.blogspot.com) but this is a rather notable accomplishment http://www.tolerance.org/news/article_tol.jsp?id=1348 which is linked from their front page.

finally back

I'm finally back in the Bay Area. We came so damn close to setting that rain record. Apparently the weather station where they check for rain is located at the Vancouver Airport and on Sunday it didn't rain there (it rained elsewhere that day, like my house, but not there). If a few drops had landed at the airport, we'd have broken that 28 day record. For all that pain, you'd expect some sort of prize at the end but nope, it rained every day of my 28 day stay in Vancouver. Yay for me.

But there are things that I miss in Vancouver: Not doing laundry, not making dinner most days, good cheap sushi (how do you beat $6.95 for lunch?), hockey on TV every single damn day, hockey coverage on the news, funny commercials, Whistler. But there are also things I don't miss: twin bed that I or my blankets fall off of each night, parents making comments about everything I do (including going to bed late, getting up late, going out late, etc.), living deep in the suburbs separated from downtown by a maze of side streets because we don't have a decent highway system, no Tivo, and the damn rain.

On an unrelated note, check out this ACLU Pizza video. With the Bush administration demanding records from Google, it's not too far fetched.


no not the conservatives

Oh my God, the advance poll results show that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives leading. The man is a former Reform party MP who glorifies the Republican party, supports the war in Iraq, described our country as a welfare state, and has his wife sending memos to Christian churches to drum up support for him. While I'm pissed at the Liberals for the (overblown, old news, let's get on with things) scandals and I'm mad at Paul Martin for not handling the Head Tax issue effectively, that is something we can deal with again once he's in office, it's not a good enough reason to support an extreme right-winger. Trust me, Harper doesn't give a flying shit about the Chinese in Canada (since when did anyone from the former Reform party give a shit about anyone who wasn't rich and white?), he's just saying whatever it takes to get our vote.

We need to examine the leaders' platforms. A 2% GST cut is (1) insignificant to us (2) going to take money away from the great things that Canada puts tax money towards -- Childcare, healthcare, education. Trust me, I live in the US now and I miss things like subsidized tuition. I did not like doing math in my head to calculate my potential medical bill as blood poured out of a gash in my finger (and I ultimately decided I couldn't afford stitches). I see the mess that is the US public school system. Canadians who have never lived elsewhere take for granted the benefits they enjoy from the high taxes. We don't want to be emulating the United States where everyone, rich, poor and poorer is left to fend for him/herself. I used to complain about the taxes and GST too, but after living here, I'd take the current Canadian system in a heartbeat. His promise to give families an extra $100 a month for childcare is a joke, that would cover less than a week of childcare. Better to put the dollars into subsidized programs that are used by people who actually need them. We don't need an ultra conservative Bush wannabe running our country. Harper would turn around everything that makes Canada a great and liveable country. I agree that we're choosing the lesser of the evils (that's politics afterall), but please, whatever you do, don't vote Conservative. While his image consultants trained him to seem less cold hearted and angry, his ideas are the same. He does not "stand up for Canada."

Need an intro to Canadian politics? http://www.blindeye.net/index.php?cat=4 and start at the bottom of the page where he introduces the parties and leaders. The author seems to lean slightly towards the Green Party (they're not so bad but haven't a chance in hell) but his commentary is funny and he's equally critical of all the parties. Like I said, it's voting for the lesser of the evils, the Conservatives (do not forget the Reform party is rolled in there) being most evil! Please don't fall for the "we need a change in government" rhetoric and remember the NDP (while Layton is charming and an impressive new face for the party) also don't have a chance.


hanging out with kids

So last night was a good time. We had some eats at Steamworks and then made our way over to Shine for the second to last '80s night called White Lies. Tragically, they are going to stop throwing this party and next time I visit I'll have to go find another party that plays '80s.

Anyways, it was a renunion of sorts with some friends we haven't hung out with in years. I tend to like to call everyone out when I'm here to catch up and stuff. We danced our asses off. So a friend of mine, we'll call him O, is sorta seeing this 21 year old on the side whom we'll call C.

O is 31 but very very young at heart. O was catching up with my good friend Mandy and I since we used to hang out pretty regularly especially the summer of 1997 when C was, well, 12 and in elementary school. Back then we were partying 3 nights a week or more, without fail. O is still partying 3+ nights a week but that's another story. So O was chatting with Mandy and I and C wanted him to dance with her. Engrossed in conversation, he told her he would later. She stood there for a while and then all of a sudden she picked up her cocktail glass and threw it at him. The contents of the glass landed all over O, while the glass itself smashed on the glass table top. C stormed off onto the dancefloor and picked up the first single guy she saw there. She danced with him for a while as Mandy and I laughed hysterically at O and the shit he has to put up with when he dates kids. I don't think our out-of-control laughing was C's intended effect and I'm sure that infuriated her more. Anyways, C comes up with a plan to make O jealous, thereby getting back at him for talking to us old ladies. She grabs some innocent dude she met on the dancefloor, brings him back to the table and announces to all of us, "isn't he hot?"

Innocent dude is dumbfounded at this point. He says to O, "is she with you?" Yes, he replies. Innocent dude looks like he feels totally stupid in this situation because C had picked him up and brought him to a table to show her date and his friends. Uh, WTF?? He shakes O's hand, apologizes (even though it was that dumb bitch C's fault), then comes back with water for Mandy and I as if to remedy the awkward situation that C created. Mandy gets up to explain to innocent dude what had transpired in the mere minutes before he got dragged over to our table like a piece of meat and tells him he's very much a gentleman for shaking hands and buying us water and all those nice gestures. Innocent men, I apologize in advance on behalf of all women, for the actions of stupid little girls like C. We're not all like that and girls like that serve only to make the rest of us look bad.



So this is all getting a little juvenile with the vile name calling, the hahaha that's not what he said comment, and the "ching chang chong." This is not an intelligent exchange of thoughts or ideas, this is elementary school playground mud slinging. I'm going to turn off comments and leave you with this for now, from

"There's already some backlash against Asian Americans, who are seen as
anything but fierce champions of freedom, fighting racism wherever they find it.
Instead, they're now being portrayed as humorless scolds -- politically correct,
even -- as if standing up for some moral principle could ever be considered
wrong or shameful.

Hey, I can take a joke. Most Asian Americans can. But maybe what's
needed here is an updated lesson on ethnic humor. For example, if I want to call
myself a slant-eyed laundry boy, that's okay. That's funny because it's
self-deprecating. (Even President Bush is good at this style of humor, though
sometimes unconsciously so. We don't just laugh at him because he's president.)
The beauty of self-deprecatory humor is that it gives people permission to
laugh. It makes the teller the butt of the joke, and invites us all to be in on

But if a non-Asian makes references to Asians as caricatured slant-eyed
laundry boys, then we have a problem. That's not self-deprecation. That's just
denigration imposed by another."

-- Emil Guillermo


ergonomics and such

First off, all updates on the Spencer Gifts campaign will now be posted to http://wearingracism.blogspot.com going forward. So if you want to sign in anonymously and call me an overdramatic cunt as someone already has, please do so on that web site instead. :-)

So we're on day 24 (I think) of rain, just 5 more til we break the record. I'm almost excited about it because I'll forever remember this as my one month visit where it rained every fucking day.

I watched About Schmidt yesterday. I thought it was a funny movie, not the antagonizing bore that one critic described it as. My favorite line, "when I die and everyone who knows me dies, no one will even know I ever existed." So that has inpired me to leave some sort of a mark on the world before I leave. If I can't come up with anything good, I'll have to tackle one of those stupid stunts in the Guinness Book of World Records.

I've been working from my laptop here this whole visit home and it's starting to cause me some pain. Back when I worked for a start-up, we had monthly visits from an ergonomics expert. What I learned from him was that the monitor should be centered at eye level and your keyboard positioned so that your forearm and wrists slope down. If you have your hands bent back to form a V with your hand and forearm, you're going to get carpal tunnel in a big way. Now if you use a laptop, there's no way to have the monitor centered at eye level and your arms sloping down, unless you have really strange proportions. I'm very fearful of carpal tunnel so I've got my seat adjusted high but now my neck hurts from looking down and my shoulders hurt from having my arms hoisted up on my desk a bit. I sure wish I had a docking station and 2nd monitor and keyboard.


who links to me

I finally got around to adding the who links to me thingy to my blog template (below the Rice Bowl Journals logo) and discovered that someone who posted an article on online writing linked to my post on the grammar epidemic. http://magazines.fasfind.com/wwwtools/m/2653.cfm (scroll down to language, usability, and learning). Cool huh?

So here in Vancouver we're up to 23 consecutive days of rain. The rain started the day I arrived in Vancouver. If the rain keeps up until the day I leave (next Tuesday), we will have set a new rainfall record for consecutive days of rain. Why do the gods hate me so? My regular readers and friends know that I HATE RAIN.

So we're up to 138 signatures on the Spencer Gifts petition and while it's still getting passed around, I really need people to repost this issue on their sites. AngryAsianMan, AsianMediaWatch and AsianMediaWatchDog -- I need your help!? I most certainly cannot turn in a petition with only a hundred some odd signatures. I haven't even heard back from Spencer Gifts. Typically those companies will at least send some generic "we're sorry you're pissed" type email, but no nothing nada. I also have yet to hear from media. So please link to http://vanessa_au.blogspot.com/2006/01/boycott-spencer-gifts.html and keep up the pressure.

OK gotta get back to my thesis. It dawned on me that I have to present some version of it at that conference in Illinois in early March. That's two months. TWO MONTHS. Crap.



Canadians, please don't forget that our election is coming up. There was interesting article about a Chinese Head Tax redress becoming an election issue. The very fact that this made the paper already makes me giddy. I cannot wait to submit my early vote before I head back to California. Remember the Leaders' Debate takes place 5pm Pacific on Monday. It is so interesting to tune back into Canadian politics after living in the US and watching the Democrats and Republicans battle it out. I think if the Republican party were transplanted in Canada, they'd just be some crazy way-too-far-to-the-right fringe party. Anyways, I have some political research to do so I know I am making the right (I mean correct, hehe) decision. Canadians, please do your homework before you vote...and please vote!

life...and campaign update

Yesterday was hockey day in Canada and what a glorious one it was. I feel for the Russian team. They are good. They deserved the one goal they scored that wasn't seen by the linesman and had the score been 5-4, I would've felt really guilty...but it was 5-0. And so I say WOOHOO TEAM CANADA!! Leafs fans, you guys are so lucky to get Pogge! I also watched a bit of the Canucks-Blackhawks (terrible team name) game but I'm mad at the Canucks right now so I turned it off even though we were winning.

After the games, I headed out to Guu Gastown for authentic cooked Japanese food, tapas style. It was tasty though not as good, in my opinion, as Guu Robson. Then over to Subeez, an old favorite, for drinks. Aside from a birthday Saturday night I have no plans for the weekend but would love to catch some local theatre and this Korean film over at the Pacific Cinematheque but I have a feeling I'll be hardpressed to find someone to accompany me since everyone else wants to see Narnia :( bleh. I need new friends to catch theatre and indie/international flicks with. Anyone? Might also trek up to Whistler on Sunday. Maybe, we'll see.

I've got 2 more weeks here which I should be spending on my thesis and some reading but it's tough to focus when I'm working on this Spencer Gifts campaign and praying (to whatever Gods are out there) for snow on the local mountains. Anyways, the campaign, the other key focus of my time right now, is going well. There are over 100 signatures on the petition and many people have forwarded my email to their friends so keep it up! AngryAsianMan, AsianMediaWatch, AsianMediaWatchdog, ModelMinority -- when are you guys going to repost on your sites? Please help!

Special thanks to the following for their efforts:

Brought up this campaign with a legal association

Jun Zuniga:
posted this on several APIA oriented boards and forwarded the email notice to AsianWeek, Audrey, and AAmovementZine, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Please keep up the communications, blast those newsgroups, repost on your blogs, and point people to http://vanessa_au.blogspot.com/2006/01/boycott-spencer-gifts.html until there's a better home for this campaign (if I use my own domain I'll have to pay for bandwidth overages for sure and, well, I'm POOR!)


boycott Spencer Gifts

** for all updates on this campaign please go to http://wearingracism.blogspot.com ** (they've apologized and pulled the shirts but go to the link for details, thanks everyone!)

Thanks to my observant friend Jong who was doing some shopping at Mayfair Mall in Victoria (with his camera phone close at hand), we got some photos of some very offensive t-shirts being sold at Spencer Gifts. Obviously the execs at this company weren't paying attention when Abercrombie put out their line of racist shirts. Please take a look and email/send a letter/call Spencer Gifts to express your rage. The contact info is listed below along with my own letter. (If that's too much work, at the very least, sign the online petition http://new.petitiononline.com/APA911/petition.html)

To Spencer Gifts:

You obviously learned nothing from the Abercrombie & Fitch debacle. I am appalled and disgusted by your line of “Asian-themed” t-shirts featuring stereotyped Asian caricatures and offensive text. The shirt that reads “SUK MAI COCK POULTRY FARM” is an obvious mockery of the Chinese language and sophomoric jab at Asians and their supposed difficulty with English spelling and comprehension. The shirt featuring the likeness of Buddha, which reads “I MAY BE FAT BUT MY COCK IS HUGE,” demonstrates blatant disrespect for a religious deity and the religion’s followers. One need only replace the image of Buddha with that of Jesus Christ and swap “fat” with “skinny” to see how offensive this would be to the Christian majority. Finally, the shirt that reads “HANG OUT WITH YOUR WANG OUT” features a caricature of a slanted-eyed, buck-toothed Chinese man wearing a queue and rice paddy hat and childishly holding his penis. This image is demeaning and painfully reminiscent of racist images in popular culture in the early 1900s.

Whether you intended to offend or be funny and irreverent is not the issue. The issue is that the shirts are plainly offensive. Images like those on shirts sold by Spencer Gifts serve to promote the misleading notion that Asians are exotic foreigners to be insulted and ridiculed without consequence.

The shirts are not funny, innovative, novel, or edgy. They are racist and degrading and I demand an official public apology and a recall of the aforementioned shirts. Until then, I vow to boycott all Spencer Gifts stores and encourage others to do the same.

Vanessa Au

Email the execs:
Steven Silverstein
President and CEO
Isaac Silvera
Michael D. (Mike) Champion
Manager, Promotion and Publicity

Call or write to corporate headquarters:

Spencer Gifts, LLC
6826 Black Horse Pike
Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
Phone: 609-645-3300
Fax: 609-645-5633

Website http://www.spencergifts.com/

Company Profile from Hoovers.com

Teen years are peppered with trips to mall-based Spencer Gifts for lava lamps, posters, whoopee cushions, and the fuzzy dice dangling from your rearview mirror. Other products include apparel, jewelry, room decor, and seasonal items, including Halloween merchandise. The retailer is expanding its home products selection to appeal to young people looking to adorn their dorm rooms or apartments. Founded in 1947, the novelty gift retailer was acquired in 2003 by Gordon Brothers Group from Vivendi UNIVERSAL Entertainment. Spencer Gifts operates more than 640 shops in the US and Canada, as well as about 130 seasonal Spirit Halloween Superstores in the US.


new years predictions

I've yet to hear this station live (my mother listens to the program nightly), but last night Coast to Coast AM had a bunch of mediums, astrologists, and psychics on with their predictions for 2006. Most notable (for me) include 3 earthquakes in San Francisco, terrorist attacks in the US, and change in the Bush administration. http://www.coasttocoastam.com/shows/2006/01/01.html#recap

Anyone know of a site where they review the predictions from last year to see if any of them were right?


what's in a name

Happy new year everyone! I spent my NYE at a friend's fiance's sister's house in the British Properties. She was kind enough to let us have full run of her place while she and her husband are away at a resort. We had some drinks and stuff and lots of munchie food. I think I ate most of a sourdough bread bowl by myself. We karaoked and watched TV until 3am, crashed for the night, and then headed to White Spot for breakfast where I easily packed away about another 800 calories on top of the thousands I consumed last night. Over breakfast somebody asked why the wealthy neighbourhood was named British Properties. I recalled it had something to do with excluding people of color but I had no idea that it started with the family that brews Guinness! from
Well it looks like the long tradition of institutionalized racism in West
Vancouver is still going strong . For those of you younguns and those with
short memories West Van is the home of the infamous British Properties, large estates built on the side of the mountain with spectacular views of the harbour and Vancouver. This development was built by the Guinness family (yes the brewers) in 1931. They also built Vancouver’s famous Lions Gate Bridge so that people could get to the Properties. Each estate sold in the properties carried covenant on the land title that prevented the owners from ever selling to jews or non-whites.
From http://www.discovervancouver.com/GVB/place_names.asp I also
found the histories of many place names in the lower mainland. My hometown of
Coquitlam has an interesting history too:

Coquitlam • From the Halkomelem Indian word meaning "stinking of fish slime".
During a great winter famine the Coquitlam people sold themselves into slavery
to the more numerous and prosperous Kwantlen tribe. The new slaves, while
butchering large quantities of salmon for their masters, got covered with fish
slime—hence the name.