Wednesday, November 30, 2005

On His Own

A detainee from Mexic has been ordered to be deported by the judge. He knows no one in Mexico. He has been in the U.S. most of his life living on the streets. His mom was physically abusive and he never felt loved. His dad left when he was a baby. He's been on his own must of his life. He chokes back the tears as I sit listening to his sharing.

Stories like this are a dime a dozen if you're in the right place to listen. No doubt, people like them and myself should have never committed crimes. There are no excuses. However, there are motivating factors.

With compassion, changes are possible.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More than just a Word

There's not way I'm going to get used to hearing the word "nigga" without associating it as derogatory.

There have been debates, opinions, and controversies over the usage of the "n" word. For African Americans, there are those who have found it acceptable as a cultural thing and others who despise it as racial issue.

Over the years, the usage of the word "nigga" instead of "nigger" has become an acceptable catchy word like saying, "How are you?" among the younger generation.

I made the above observations based on the young people I had encountered and heard using the "n" word. The new (only to me) phenomenon has bypassed all racial backgrounds. For the past month, I've heard people from Fiji, Philippines, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Samoa, and Armenia using the "n" word daily in their conversations.

I have so much to learn.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Chinese Kung Fu Comic Books

It's been years since I read a Chinese kung fu comic book. When I was around 13, I used to wait at the Chinese bookstore in Oakland for the weekly comic books arriving from Hong Kong. That's who addictive those kung fu stories were.

When a Chinese detainee handed me 6 kung fu comic books today, I was surprised. It brought back some fond memories. After reading those books, I felt like I didn't miss the storyline. I still remember some of the characters.

What a treat.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Quote of the Week (47)

"What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. They are but trifles to so be sure; but scattered along life's pathway, the good they do us is inconceivable."

- Joseph Addison

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Lesson in Love

Take a break and breathe
Love as if the two of you are the only people who exist
Don't hold back
Be brave and embrace the feeling of letting go

Take a break and breathe
When you are floating in the ait like a bubble
Cushioned by a bed of goose down

Take a break and breathe
Feel the pain of losing someone you loved
Feel the frustration when the two of you can no longer see eye to eye
Love will be so much sweeter and longlasting once you have suffered

Take a break and breathe
Talk to a friend who is watching on the side with crystal eyes
DOn't lose the feeling of standing on solid ground

So when love consumes your existence
Take a break and breathe

Friday, November 25, 2005

Living In Moments

I once wrote a Buddhist friend "We all live to the fullest in different moents in our daily lives. It's being able to do so consistently, that is what we strive for."

He responded "...that all our joys and all our hells can be maintained through consistent thought, but without consistent thought on changing the habits that got us into living hells, the only consistent thought will be on maintaining the thoughts that keep us there."

Most of the time we're not aware that we are living in a specific moment because that moment comes and goes in a second. It is being able to consciously recognize a specific moment, whether it's good or bad, that enables us to make changes. What is good could be bad and visa versa.

The consistency that I'm striving for is to embrace the moment and let it go.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Tea Party

Though I couldn't be at the Tea Party's tenth anniversary celebration, I was given a copy of the magazine.

I learned the Tea Party's mission is to support and expand progressive thinking among the arts and literary communities as well as the general public.

Tea Party features poetry, fiction, reviews, and art. It's good to discover another magazine that allows critical and creative minds to share thoughts.

Thank you for inviting me to the Tea Party.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

For God and Country

James Yee, the former U.S. Army Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, was considered the "Chinese Taliban" when the government decided to lynch him.

If he had been a Lutheran like his mother or maried a white woman instead of being a Muslim and married to a Muslim woman, James Yee would have been just another patriotic American living his dream.

In his book For God and COuntry, James Yee tells his story of a dream deferred.

It's wise to understand Jame Yee's story because it could happen to you, like it happened to Wen Ho Lee.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Snow Pear

Young at heart
Sassy classy and jazzy
Her steps Bounce
Gentleness freshness and my goodness
Her presence
Laughing sparkling and expressing
Her face
Sweet tender and ripe
Her fragrance
Silver hair weathered skin and delicate frame
Her experience
The secret to lasting life
Young at heart

I'm thinking of and missing a dear friend.

Monday, November 21, 2005


I was watching Korean Music Countdown on AZN TV and it reminded me of the only concert I've been to in my life.

It was some time in 1985. The young popular singer Allen Tam was giving a concert in San Francisco. A couple of friends bought tickets at the last minute. We were seated the third to the last row of chairs. Though I couldn't see Allen Tam's face very clearly, the performance was captivating.

At 15, I was impressionable. After all, it was my first concert. I still remember and him the lyrics of some of Allen Tam's songs.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Quote of the Week (46)

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

- Albert Einstein

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Missing KPFA

It's been over eight months since I'd tuned into KPFA listener-sponsored radio. I miss listening to APEX Express, Hardknock Radio, Democracy Now, and Flashpoints. I miss those familiar voices who deliver alternative news that kept my mind critical over the years.

Friday, November 18, 2005

One Morning at a Time

I woke up at 4:30 this morning feeling wode awake. I grabbed a blanket and did my yoga exercises. The sun salutation warmed my body up in 2 minutes. The rest of the asanas just flowed. That's always a good way for me to start the day.

However, I haven't been able to get up at 4:30 every morning as I have wanted to. There's no clock or watch in my cell to wake me up. My internal clock hasn't been cooperating. Therefore, a day like this morning is what I cherish.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

SBC Strikes Again

The charge for a collect call went up again. During the 8 months I've been in Yuba County Jail, the phone prices have increased twice. From $3.30 for the first minute and $0.30 for each additional minute, it is now jacked up to $4.85 for the first minute and $0.85 for each additional minute. A 15-minute collect call will cost $16.70.

That's the beauty of capitalism. It's all about the dollars.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Sense of Urgency

In light of the rioting and burning of cars across the nation of France, President Chirac emphasizes the dire need to right the "poison of discrimination" against the country's racial, ethnic, and religious minorities.

How long has the "poison of discrimination" been going on?

Why did the government only recognize violence instead of addressing the long standing discriminations against its ethnic minorities?

As the unrest in France unfolded in front of the world, I wonder when the United States government is going to address the "poison of discrimination" that has plagued its racial minorities.

Where is the urgency for the people of color to demand equal education, employment, health care, and housing?

What can the United States learn from the events transpiring in France?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Note to Supporters

As you know, the scheduled hearing for the 18th was cancelled. The judge will make a decision on my custody issue without a public hearing. We'll wait for his decision. I will keep everyone updated.

I'm sorry for the inconvenience that the cancellation of the hearing may have caused. Things are subject to change when it comes to legal issues. Thank you for your patience and continual support.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Kids will be Kids

As I sit in the GED class today, I feel like I am in an all-boys junior high school. The teacher is teaching math and two class clowns are goofing around. They don't know how to do the math problems, but they need attention so they won't feel left out.

Reality is, they are kids trapped in adult bodies. When kids don't build solid foundations at an early age, their immaturity stays with them into adulthood.

I always admire a teacher's position.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Quote of the Week (45)

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."

- Rumi

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Reading Steinbeck in Chinese

I finished reading The Grapes of Wrath in Chinese. Though I didn't understand all the Chinese characters, I was able to comprehend 90% of the text.

Whenever I read anything in Chinese, I read in Mandarin. That's the official dialect in China when I was learning the language. Though I speak Cantonese, it's awkwadr to reading in Cantonese unless the text is written that way. There is too much slang in Cantonese writing and speaking.

One of the difficulties that I had in reading Steinbeck in Chinese was the translation of English names. They're translated phonetically so many characters can be used to sound the same thing. There is no universal translation for foreign names.

I guess with more reading of translated books, I'll get better in sounding out the names in Chiense.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Before You Were Born

"I've been locked up too long. I can't wait to get out of here," a young Hmong guy complained. "It's been 11 months since I was out."

"When were you born?" I asked him.

"1985," he said.

"You know, I was doing time before you were born," I had to say it, "and I'm still doing time."

I went on to encourage him to go legit after he gets released. However, I know some youngsters have to learn the hard way.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Community

Today marks the 8th month I've been in Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention. How time flies?!

The past 8 months have been an emotional rollercoaster for me, my family, and friends. However, we're able to support each other and continue to believe in the power of community. It's that same belief that keeps me going. For I'm all about me & my community.

I don't know what the next 8 months have in store for me, but as long as I have my community, I'm ready for anything.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Voting Power

For all the times when people think that their votes don't count, they counted during yesterday's special election. THe people have spoken. No, No, No, and No...

It would have been awesome if all the money spent on the special election went to education and rehabilitation, among other needs.

Congratulations to Phil Ting for winning a new term as San Francisco's assesor-recorder.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Minority Report

When I saw an African American int he GED class, he stood out like a sore thumb. Aside from the handful of deputies, African Americans are a minority in the jail population.

Of course, I won't see any African Americans in immigration detention since they're American citizens.

I assume that lack of African Americans in lockup in this small county jail is due to its small population in Marysville. Compared to whites and Asians, that's a good thing.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Talk to the Door

I stood flabberghasted facing the steel door that the female deputy slammed on me in front of two new trainees.

All I wanted was a whole sheet. Instead, the female deputy violated my right to due process and slammed the door in my face.

When the female deputy gave me my weekly exchange of linen, I noticed I only had half a sheet. I asked her for a whole sheet. She refused. I asked her for a grievance form. She said she'd bring me one, but she never did. Thirty minutes later, I inquired about the grievance form. She decided it was a non-grievable issue and refused to give me that form. That's when she violated my due process rights.

I guess her message was "I have the badge and uniform so I can do what I want." I wonder what influence her unprofressional behavior had on the two trainees.

It took me 5 more hours of peading before a different deputy gave me a grievance. Hoepfully, I'll get some relief.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Quote of the Week (44)

"There is nothing so frightening than ignorance in action."

- Anonymous

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Compassionate Violence

When is violence acceptable in Buddhism?

According to the S.F. Chronicle on the Dalai Lama's question-and-answer session, he stated, "History shows the Second World War protected the western world - protected democracy...The Iraq War - it's too early to say right or wrong." Then the Dalai Lama concluded that "war and violence led to more war and more violence, more hatred and more resentment."

I find the Dalai Lama's sentiment on violence is contradictory. On one hand, the use of violence such as dropping the atomic bombs protected democracy and the violenct invasion of Iraq under the false pretense of weapons of mass destruction to spread democracy is justifiable. On the other hand, violence is not good.

Revolution is violent. Living is violent. Buddhism is violent.

Friday, November 04, 2005


Whenever I read the San Francisco Chronicle, the first thing I do is go to the Datebook section and read Aaron McGruder's comic strip The Boondocks. The challenging, educational, and funny comic strip addresses the issues of race and class.

When one reads McGruder's comic strip, either you're going to love him or hate him. But you can count on him telling it as he sees it. He'll definitely make you think.

Now you can even watch The Boondocks on Adult Swim of the Cartoon Network. It has become an animated series.

So go enjoy yourself.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Matter of Money

My greed for money was one of the motivations that led my to commit my crimes as a kid.

However, after 19 years of imprision ment and transformation, money no longer motivates me. It has become less important in my life. Being able to live a productive life by helping others supercedes the need to have money. The way I see it, as long as I have enough to take care of my living necessities, that's good for me.

It would have saved a lot of grief if I was able to understand the matter of money as I do now.

Life or Death

Before I met Stanley "Tookie" Williams, a condemned prisoner on San Quentin State Prison's deathrow awaiting evacuation, I read a couple of his children's books on anti-gang violence. Then I read about his being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on his series of children's books.

A couple of years ago, while I was waiting in ths cage in San Quentin's deathrow visitng area, Stanley Williams was standing next to me in the adjacent cage. Bespectacled with a snow white beard and balding, there was no trace of a 17-year-old ruthless teenager who co-founded the Crips gang in Los Angeles. I introduced myself to him and applauded his books to stop gang violence.

On December 13th, Stanley Williams is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in San Quentin Prison's killing chamber for his convicted murders. Only the governor can give him life.

It's easier to take a life than to save a life. If Williams can save children's lives from deathrow, why not spare his life? If the governor grants Williams clemency, he will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Swimming with Sharks

A detainee asked another detainee for instructions to use his telephone card. He didn't understand English. The other detainee stole his code number and used up the phone time. That's one example of people who take advantage of the weak and voiceless.

Things that his happen all the time in the world. However, in the free world, people have more choices than those in confinement. There's nowhere to go for those people who are confined.

The choices they make in dealing with predators determine their survival.