Thursday, June 30, 2005

Third Time is a Charm

After being in prison for 24 years, Rico Remeidio will find out whether Governor Schwarzenegger is going to approve his parole on 7/10/05, the deadline for the Governor's review.

Rico, who is serving a sentence of 15 years to life for second degree murder, was granted parole by the Board of Prison Terms twice on June 28, 1991, and May 15, 2002. However, previous Governors Pete Wilson and Gray Davis rejected his parole due to their "no parole policy" respectively. (I was rejected once by Governor Gray Davis when I was granted parole on September 16, 1998.)

Similar to my situation, Rico is a model prisoner who has rehabilitated himself through self-determination. He has consistently accepted responsibility for his actions and expressed remorse for this victims. He has strong family and community support. He has realistic parole plans. Most importantly, he is a compassionate, generous, and peaceful man who dedicates his life to service the greater society. I'm privileged to consider him a friend and a brother.

For those who know Rico, please keep calling the Governor's office to express your support for his parole. For those who don't know Rico, but want to show your support, please call the Governor's office at 916-445-2841. Re: Romirico Remeidio C-29667.

Let's hope the third time is a charm for Rico.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

One World One Dream

That's the 2008 Olympic slogan of the People's Republic of China. Since it's China's first time hosting the Olympics in its 5,000-year history, I share its excitement.

From the once labeled "sick men of Asia" to the now "fear men of Asia," the Middle Kingdom has flexed its power in this once world of humanity.

The power of capitalism is contagious.

One Dream. I don't know what that one dream is in this One World China it's envisioning. What I do know is that a thousand citizens of Beijing who live by the Olympic village are being displaced without compensation from the government. I don't believe that is the Olympic spirit people of the one world have in mind.

Let's dream of a better world.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Book Candies

My personal library has steadily increased as friends continue to send me books. I received four books and the summer issue of Colorlines Magazine. Whenever I receive books, I feel like a kid who was given the world's most delicious candy. It's sweet to my eyes and healthy for my mind.

So, I will be reading the following books:

Foreign Babes in Beijing by Rachel Dewoskin
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
The Fifth Book of Peace by Maxine Hong Kingston
Tai Chi for Staying Young by Master Lam Kam Chuen

You can believe that I'll be adding tai chi to my daily workout routine.

Thank you, Book Giver.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Conflict Resolution

Whenever you have a group of immature men together in a confined area, there will be conflicts. However, it's how people choose to deal with the conflicts that determine their maturity.

Far too often, the guys in here have short fuses due to their stressful situation indealing with deportation. Therefore, any little thing can trigger a confrontation. Sadly, the only way they know how to deal with confrontations is through physical violence. The result is always a lose-lose situation.

The cycle of violence often continues for those men who haven't learned alternatives to violence. Whenever they end up after they leave here, they will create victims of their violence.

There is a dire need for Alternative to Violence programs in all institutions where people are confined.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Quote of the Week (26)

"Please use your liberty to promote ours."

- Aung San Suu Kyi

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Involuntary Vacation

When my sister asked how I was feeling on the phone this morning, I told her that I'd just finished doing yoga, meditation, and Pilates. So I was feeling great.

She said that she wished she had time to do yoga and Pilates instead of having to work on Saturday She said that I'm on a vacation that only millionaires could afford.

In many ways, she's correct. I don't have to work. I don't have bills to pay. I have 24 hours to read, write, and exercise. Or, if I want to, I can sleep all day. It sounds like a vacation and sometimes I have to look at it that way.

I guess I better enjoy my little vacation because once I get out of here, vacations like this might not come around again.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Waiting for My Turn

After 5 million years of planning and the relentless determination of Ollis Simmons, the Youth Upraising Center opened for business in East Oakland.

The Youth Center caters to youth between ages 13 & 24 and provides them an alternative to the violent and callous streets that are plagued by poverty and crime. The center gives youth a space to study, learn life skills, work, expand their creativity and feel safe.

I can already envision the Asian Youth for POsitive Change becoming a reality. I'm just waiting for my turn.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Silent Poet

I must confess that my poetic voice has been silent for the past four months. Believe me, I don't like it.

It's not that I don't have any material to write about.
It's not that I don't have the time to write.
And I can't say that I'm preoccupied with my immigration case.

It's a lack of self-motivation. True, it would help if I were in a creative environment or surrounded by creative people.
Ultimately, it's up to me to find my own creative space and motivation.

It's time to get busy writing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Best Bed Contest

I remember when I was in juvenile hall, I had to make my bed after breakfast. On Sundays, there was a best bed contest. The two kids who made the best bedds would each win a soda. That was a good incentive to get the kids to make their beds and be creative. I won a couple times.

In jail, everyone is required to make their bed after breakfast. There's no incentive to get the adults to make their bed, only verbal threats from the deputies.

Different times call for different measures.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Summer Solstice

Happy first day of summer!

For some people summer is a time for vacation while others continue to work. No matter which category you fit into, the sun doesn't discriminate.

Please find time to relax and enjoy the sunshine.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Bus Therapy

Mistakes do happen from time to time - since we're human.

Today I packed up my belongings and headed to a detention center in Bakersfield. Though it was an unpleasant surprise, I embraced my uncertain journey with a peaceful mind. For me, I am about going with the flow like eddies.

By the time I arrived at the city of San Francisco around six o'clock in the morning, the sun cleared the darkness away.

I woke up my sister and kept her abreast with my situation on the phone.

Around noon, I had a surprise visitor. A good friend came to tell me that I wouldn't be going to Bakersfield. I enjoyed my visit tremendously. Later in the afternoon, another close friend visited me. It was awesome.

I was glad to head back to Yuba County Jail. For a while, I thought some people wanted to make a name for themselves in the media.

The things I have to endure for freedom will make me appreciate it even more.

Hopefully, we'll learn from our mistakes.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Quote of the Week (25)

"Confession is the first step, but you know the next step is harder: repentance."

- Rev. Norman Fong, director of the S.F. Chinatown Community Development Center, speaking to the 49ers co-owner John York after he apologized for the racist and sexist media training tape

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Collective Punishment

The TV was turned off and nobody knew why. After talking to the Deputy, who has control of the TV, we found out that our privilege was suspended for 10 days. The reason was because a detainee who was in the pod for one day told the Deputy that he didn't feel safe living here. He rolled himself up and moved to another area. The detainees didn't know why he rolled up.

So, the jail rule is this: if anyone for whatever reason feels unsafe and rolls it up to another area, everyone gets punished. It doesn't matter that no one is causing the trouble.

The message is that it's not enough that individual detainees takes responsibility for his actions, he has to police other detainees and be responsible for them.

Personally, I'd rather do without the stupid box (TV) and have more books to read. Then again, I'm not a dictator. Therefore, I enjoy not having the TV.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Body Squat

Since there are no weights of machines in here for exercising, I have to come up with creative ways. I've been working on strengthening my legs lately. I can only get to a limited pump with squats and lunges.

Luckily, I have a workout partner who only weighs a buck forty. So I had him on my shoulder to squat his body. He gets a horsey ride and I get to bulk up my legs. It's all good.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Incarceration Supercedes Education

In San Francisco, the Board of Education is considering closing three schools due to the neverending budget crisis.

In Delano, Kern Valley State Prison is open for warehousing at least 5,000 maximum security prisoners with the annual operating cost of $110 million.

What is wrong with this picture?

What is the priority of California?

Who benefits from closing schools and opening prisons? Who?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Peer Pressure

Lately, I'm reminded that peer pressure is something that can last through adulthood when a person is insecure and has low self-esteem.

When we were kids, we often did things just to feel like we were a part of something. We wanted to be accepted by a certain group of people. We did things that we normally wouldn't do if we were by ourselves. However, with time and experience, we hope to grow out of that mode. But, like anything else, there are exceptions.

Being in detention, I've witnessed so many young adults who are still plagued by peer pressure. They have no respect for themselves. Therefore, they have no respect for others. When there's only one or two of these people, they're quiet as mice. As soon as there are three or four of them, they become a pack of hyenas.

I'm amazed and saddened to see so many people who have no respect for themselves.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Habla Espanol?

Someone told me once that if you can speak English, Chinese, and Spanish, then you'll be all right anywhere in the world.

I don't know how true that is, but knowing a little bit of Spanish sure helps me in immigration detention. Since many detainees are from South & Latin America, Spanish is the dominant language. Though my Spanish is limited to simple phrases and vocabulary words, I'm able to sommunicate with Spanish speaikers by combining hand gestures.

I need to learn to speak Spanish fluently so I can be all right anywhere in the world.

Monday, June 13, 2005

You're Not Alone

Do you know anyone in prison? If you're reading this, you do - me.

Since the United States incarcerates more people per capita than any developed nation on earth, there are more people who know a friend or loved one in prison than you think. Because when one person is doing time in prison, his or her family and friends are doing time with him or her.

That's why not only do prisoners need support - people who are somewhow connected to them need support too.

That's why it is important to raise awareness on prison issues within our communities.

Communication is the first step. You know who around you share the commonality of knowing someone is prison.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Quote of the Week (24)

Chingkangshan* Revisited

I have long aspired to reach for the clouds.
Again I come from afar
To climb Chingkangshan, our old haunt.
Past scenes are transformed.
Orioles sing, swallows swirl,
Streams purl(?) everywhere
And the road mounts skyward.
Once Huangyangchieh is passed
No other perilous place calls for a glance.
Wind and thunder are stirring.
Flags and banners are flying
Wherever men live.
Thirty-eight years are fled
With a mere snap of the fingers.
We can clasp the moon in the Ninth Heaven
And seize turtles deep down in the Five Seas:
We'll return amid triumphant song and laughter.
Nothing is hard in this world
If you dare to scale the heights.

- Maozedong

*Chingkangshan is the mountain where the first revolutionary base area in China was established under Mao's leadership in 1927.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Blessings from Africa

Many years ago, I met a Sister from Mother Teresa's Missionary of Charity in San Quentin's Catholic Chapel. Sister Salome talked to me about God's love for me and her work with Mother Teresa. We made a connection.

Four years ago, Sister Salome went to Africa to continue her work for the Missionary of Charity. Through out mutual friend Bradley, who is a selfless, talented musician and motivational speaker, we were able to get updates on each other's life.

It's great to know that I have a sister and friend in Africa who is praying for me.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Learning the Hard Way

I was surprised when I saw someone I knew from Solano Prison in the jail. Eight months ago, he was getting ready to go home after being locked up for about three years and I was counseling him to change his life.

In his early twenties, this Asian youngster is married and has a daughter. His mom and little brothers and sisters visit him often in the prison. He promises everyone that he'll change after he gets out.

He says he did well the first month after his parole, then it has been bad since then. Now, he's facing five years for car theft. His family no longer accepts his calls, sends him money, or writes to him. When he goes to prison this time, he'll truly be on his own.

Prisons are full of young Asian males who didn't get it the first time or the second time. Everyone has his own pace to change his life. However, without family and community support, the road to transformation will be a tough one.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Flashpoint Alert

It has been a few months since I've tuned into any of my favorite shows on KPFA - FM 94.1. I don't have a radio.

I was surprised when I read in the S.F. Chronicle that Noelle Hanrahan, a former Flashpoints host, filed a lawsuit against Dennis Bernstein, the director of Flashpoints, for sexual harrassment.

As a frequent listener of Flashpoints, I have come to respect Hanrahan and Bernstein for their work in alternative journalism.

I don't know the details of the alleged misconduct in the lawsuit against Bernstein. However, if there is any truth to Hanrahan's allegations, I believe Bernstein, the KPFA & Pacifica Foundation should conduct an internal investigation and take responsibility for their actions and inactions. If the allegations are false, Ms. Hanrahan will have to take responsibility for her actions.

Truth or lies - only time will tell.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Paying Through the Nose

A couple of months ago, I made a phone call from the San Francisco immigration detention tank to a friend. The 15-minute collect call cost close to $30. I thought the phone company must have made a mistake after my friend told me the outrageous phone bill.

Then my mom told me that the one 15-minute call I made from the same place in my previous hearing cost $27. It upset me to know that the government and some corporations are capitalizing from other people's misfortunes.

I guess that's the American way. There's nothing new under the capitalist sky.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Response to hallopeter

I'll try to get the book From the Palace to the the Prison. I'll let you know what I think afterwards. Please stay in tune.

Comic & Cartoon Books

I just finished reading Derek Kirk Kim's comic book Same Difference and Other Stories. The dude is funny and artistic. I can also relate to his cultural narratives.

As a kid in China, I used to love reading comic books. My brother had a cabinet full of them. Many of the books were Chinese classics. It was a good way to learn history.

Somehow, after I came to the United States, I never got into reading American comic books. Maybe it was because I didn't understand English and had no money to buy them. I do remember standing inside a Chinese bookstore reading the latest Hong Kong comic magazine.

The next book I'm reading is Barefoot Gen: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima by Keiji Nakazawa.

Monday, June 06, 2005

No Excuse for Racism

George Chung, an Asian man who played a Chinese character in the skit of a 49er's racis and degrading video, told the S.F. Chronicle staff, "I would have to think about it," after being asked to comment on his participation.

Well, if Mr. Chung had taken time to think about his decision to participate in the perpetuation of stereotypes by making fun of his own people, maybe he wouldn't be in hot water right now.

Just like it's an insult for African Americans to call each other the n-word, it's an insult for any Asian to perpetuate stereotypes of Asians.

Kudos to William Wong, Pati Poblete, and the Asian community leaders for protesting and raising awareness against Asian bashing wherever and whenever it occurs.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Quote of the Week (23)

"When the most powerful country [USA] in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a license to others to commit abuse."

- Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Face the Music

It's the 16th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The Chinese government still refuses to acknowledge any wrong doing. At the same time, it continues to crack down on people who are seeking justice and truth.

However, that's not surprising when the government is dictatorial...

...just like the Japanese government refuses to take full responsibility for the Rape of Nanking and continues to honor those imperialist war criminals...

...just like the United States government refuses to admit to any human rights violations and continues to terrorize people globally through its military industrial complex.

The struggle for freedom and peace continue...

Friday, June 03, 2005

Water Please

Each morning I get up, I drink an 8 oz. cup of water before I eat breakfast. Then throughout the day, I drink as much water as I can.

Since I left prison, I haven't drunk any soda. The commisary doesn't sell it in Yuba County Jail. The jail provides two containers of hot water and refills them twice a day. Therefore, I'm able to drink warm water all the time.

A librarian once told me that it's better to drink warm water than cold water when the weather is hot or when I'm thirsty. He said that if we drink cold water, our digestive system, which is warm, will regulate the cold temperature. If we drink warm or room temperature water, it won't shock our system and will quench our thirst.

Since then, I've always prefered drinking warm water over anything else. I know I'm healthier because I drink plenty of water daily.

Are you drinking enough H2O?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Hobby Craft

A Vietnamese guy made me a couple of origami birds out of a chips bag. I hung them above my cell door as decoration. He also made me a horse, a boat, and a dragon that looks like a real bird.

Looking at the origami reminds me that I used to spend time folding birds, hearts, butterflies, and octagons that turned into stars. I would use different colored paper to fold them.

I also learned to crochet beanie hats. It was time consuming, but rewarding to see the end product. If I had some yarn and a crochet kit, I would be making some serious beanies.

There are so many things people can learn to do in confinement. It's up to them to find what they like to do.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Heart Burns

"My heart burns," an eight-year-old girl runs up to her teacher and complains.

"Your heart burns?"


"Do you want to go see the nurse?"


"Does your heart really burn?"

"Yes. No one is playing with me!"

The teacher finds someone to play with the girl and her heart no longer burns.

My friend, who is a substitute teacher in Lewisburg, PA, shared this story with me.