Monday, July 31, 2006


I first learned of Eastwind Books of Berkeley when I came into contact with some Asian American students from UC Berkeley in the mid '90s. Since then, I've had the pleasure of reading a variety of books purchased from Eastwind.

When I was allowed to choose some Chinese books purchased from Eastwind by the jail, I felt like a kid picking out my favorite candies.

Eastwind rocks.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Quote of the Week (82)

"It's okay to hurt sometimes. But the only thing we can ever do in life is fight to the best of our ability; to fight with all our strength. If we do this and the world still refuses to acknowledge what we have stood for, that fight, even if we loose, will never be in vain."

- Marc Ching

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Big Eye Chicken

When I was a kid in China, the only fish I'd eat was a fish named "Big Eye Chicken." Because it only has one straight bone in the middle of its body, I didn't have to worry about choking on tiny fish bones.

I can remember times when I had to swallow rice balls to push out small fish bones that were jammed in my throat.

These days I only eat breaded fish. I look forward to eating some real fish.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Shakespeare Behind Bars

During my stay in San Quentin prison, the San Francisco Shakespeare company would come and perform for prisoners from time to time. The Shakespeare plays would draw a crowd of captivated audience. On those rare occasions, prisoners could escape their reality temporarily.

According to an S.F. Chronicle article, prisoners were able to act out Shakespeare plays and sonnets for their fellow prisoners. Recently, I have recognized a couple of the prisoners who have the potential to be Thespians had they been in the free world.

One would be surprised how much talent is behind prison walls. More power to those who're willing to go inside of prisons and teach.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Natural Energy

Sometimes the longer I sleep the more tired I get. Other times, the less I sleep the more energy I have.

This morning was one of the sleepless, more energetic days. I woke up at 4 o'clock and did yoga, then meditated. The rest of the day I felt full of life.

I can use more days like that.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Thinking About The Library

I don't like writing anything when I'm in a confined space. However, sometimes I don't have a choice. Sometimes some of my best writings came from being forced to write in a confined space.

Somehow I remember being in a library on U.C. Berkeley campus when I was 15 years old. I was going to a summer church program and my mentor was a Chinese student who attended U.C. Berkeley. Though I didn't speak English, I enjoyed being with him in the library.

So much has changed since I was 15. I would be like a kid in a candy store if I can go to the library in U.C. Berkeley.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Self Respect

It's been a while since I had to put someone in check.

In layman's terms it means I have not confronted someone directly in a long time.

When I confronted an employee on his disrespectful manner in speaking to me I was fired up. However, I did not forget to use "I" message to express how I felt. To my surprise, the employee came back to me a few minutes later and thanked me for sharing my feelings with him. Then we exchanged thoughts.

It's rare to find someone who's willing to admit when he's wrong, especially an employee in jail. That person has self respect.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Happy Anniversary

On a hot and humid summer night last year on this exact date my wife Shelly and I were married.

Somehow my life is full of extraordinary events. That's why it took an extraordinary woman to marry me under the circumstances of my situation.

How many people out there can understand the concept of love without attachment?

I'm a lucky man.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Quote of the Week (81)

A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.

- Anonymous

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Where's the heat?

As people are experiencing record temperatures everywhere, the heat never reaches me. That's because I live in a cell with air conditioning. Imagine that...

I mean I shouldn't complain. After all, I still remember the sweat box cell in San Quentin State Prison where temperatures can get up to 90 degrees F. There's no air conditioning there, only heat.

Then again, I would rather be in the sweltering heat on the streets than in any air conditioning cell.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Word Power

I was surprised when I scored 15 out of 16 in the Reader's Digest Vocabulary Word Power. Normally I would be lucky if I can get 5 words correct. I guess the theme Revolution had something to do with my high score.

I'll brag about my power in words today. After all, who knows when I'll get a near perfect rating.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Final Decision

Finally the judge made the final decision on my case. He denied my petition for adjustment of status and convention against torture. The judge stated that my case or situation is not a matter of national security and that my family and I will not suffer extremely if I'm deported to China. That is all.

I have 30 days to decide whether I want to appeal the judge's decision.

At this time, I don't have a copy of the final decision. My legal and supporting team will have to discuss our options before I make my decision on what step to take next.

I will inform everyone of my decision when it's time. Please bear with me.

I'm feeling mellow. Thank you to everyone who has been supporting me in my fight to stay in this country. I'm overwhelmed by your compassion for me. With your presence in my life I continue to grow.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What a Job!

I know Junichi Semitsu is a poet and professor among many characters. But as designated blogger for the Dixie Chicks band for the summer, that's like far out, dude.

The only thing I know about the Dixie Chicks is the three women country music band had criticized Bush saying, "We're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

Because the Dixie Chicks exercised their freedom of speech, some freedom-loving people boycotted their music.

I guess if they want to make money, they better kowtow to tyranny.

Well, I know whoever hired Junichi as blogger for the Dixie Chicks came up big time. Because he's all that!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Not Holding My Breath

The whole world was waiting for the judge's decision on the fate of my future today, some with fingers crossed and others holding their breath. However, no decision was made. Such is the occurring theme of my life - waiting.

At this point, there's no need to guess when the judge will sign off on the final decision. One of these days we'll get the result.

I'm not stressing about the delay.

Thank you for your patience.

Monday, July 17, 2006

War & Peace

War & Peace

War... It is all bad!

Peace... It is all good!!

War and Peace... It is what it is - good and bad!!!

Let's make love...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Quote of the Week (80)

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

- Mark Twain

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Not Much of a Choice

"I'd rather go back to prison than go back to my country," a twenty-three year old Ethiopian lamented. "At least I know how to survive."

Why would going back to prison be a better option for that young man?

Well, he left Ethiopia when he was two years old; he doesn't have any memory of that country; he doesn't have any relatives there; he doesn't know the language and culture; he doesn't have any marketable skills; the only family member he has is his mother.

What option does he have?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Danger on the Road

On the way back to Yuba County Jail last night from San Francisco, I witnessed some dangerous driving behaviours. It's no wonder there's so many casualties from car accidents on the road.

- A man was driving above 60 mph and playing the clarinet at the same time.

- One passenger had his bare feet on the dashboard, leaning back on his seat and reading a book without a seatbelt.

- A woman had her driver's side visor turned sideways to block the sun. The window was open and the CDs strapped on the visor were close to flying out of the window.

- A few drivers were dialing their cell phones without looking ahead on the road.

- A man flipped a cigarette butt out of the window after his last drag.

I sure hope none of my friends share these same dangerous driving behaviors.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wish Me Luck

The weather is beautiful in San Francisco today. It's full of beautiful people on the streets of downtown. There's peace all around.

I can't believe that I've missed all of these beauties because I chose to commit crimes at age 16.

The immigration judge stated at the end of the hearing that he will make his final decision on Tuesday, the 18th. You'll be informed of the result.

Please wish me luck.

Thank you for caring.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I watched the movie "Roots" by Alex Hayley today. It's always difficult to watch the institution of slavery on display back in the colonial days. At the same time, it's important to learn the inhumanity of slavery so it may not rear it's head again.

An African young man said he disliked the movie because if it's language and content. I told him it's that same reason that people need to see it.

We must remember history.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Good Die Young

I heard the news today
the life of a friend's dearest father
was sunday punched away
the passing was so sudden
those left behind were heartbroken

Why do the good die young
a centuries old question with answers
yet to be found

The death of a parent
is the deepest and darkest fear of the children
no matter how young and how old
we are never ready to let go

Whenever the black haired
must bury
the grey haired
everyone agrees it is unfair
but such is the reality of life
what choice we have except to take it in stride

It is natural to mourn the deceased
love for a parent can only increase
so be brave and cherish the good times shared
'cause for you to live happily and well
was all that he cared

To live is to remember
to remember is to treasure his life
treasure his life

Monday, July 10, 2006

Every problem is a big problem

It's good to count our blessings when we're faced with difficulties in life. Knowing that someone else has it worse is one way to get past our miseries. However, we have to recognize that every person's problem is a big problem regardless of its magnitude. It is our ability to acknowledge and have empathy for others' problems that enable us to embrace ours. And the world is heading towards becoming a better place.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Quote of the Week (79)

The world has advanced many years
man has cried many tears
machines take over our very thought
while our brains sit and rot
wires running in and out
people running all about
trying to destroy what they have done
before we decide to take over the sun

- a 20 year old poem by a cook

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Wedding Invitation

A friend of mine sent me a wedding invitation. The bright red traditional double happiness card reminded me of the many weddings that I couldn't attend over the years.

One of those missed weddings I wasn't able to make was my sister's. However, my friend was able to go in my place. He took many pictures to share them with me. And when I couldn't be there at J's wedding, my sister was there.

That's one way for me to make up for my missing presence.

My friend's wedding is at the end of August. With a mini miracle, I can still make it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

i miss... (poem)

i miss
the dew
on blades of grass
as sunrise and sunset
from my existence

my desire
to watch the pearl-like
still burn
as bright as
the sunlight
that does not
my cage

solitude becomes
the light
in my eyes


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Human Lives Supercede Saving Face

Anyone who has taken Psychology 101 understands that you don't give rewards for bad behavior.

North Korea defied the world opinions and fired its test misslles.

The superpowers are angry and concerned. How dare North Korea for spiking their faces?!

North Korea wants direct talk with the U.S. only. It's only deperate for attention.

The U.S. refused any direct talk with the North Korean government.

The U.S. government may look bad or weak if it engages in direct talks with North Korea. It would rather apply sanctions and risk possible war than reward North Korea with direct communication.

If communication can save lives, image is nothing.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Another Sad Story

In detention, everyone has a sad story like a difficult chanting sutra. Just when someone laments that he or she has it rough, there's always another person has it worse.

An African detainee told me that he didn' t know that he wasn't a U.S. citizen until he was fighting his deportation. All his life his mother has led him to believe that he was born in the U.S.A. But in reality, he was both in an African country and came to the staes at age three. He's facing deportation to a country that he has not ties with in all aspects of life. He feels like he's been living in a nightmare.

I just listen.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


We all want personal independence because we want to prove to ourselves that we can make it on our own.

I remember my brother-in-law told me how my nephew almost gave up learning to ride a bike when he failed to ride without training wheels. He saw other kids riding on their own, so he was frustrated. But he kept practicing riding with encouragement from his Dad. Eventually, he was able to ride the bike by himself.

As Frederick Douglass states, "If there is no struggle, there is no progress." We all have to struggle for our independence.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Full Release

"Full Release" are the two words that all immigration detainees long to hear because they will be released. Some of the detainees told me that they would stay up all night and wait for the deputy to call their names for full release.

A Chinese detainee heard the call "full release" this morning. He has won his case. He'll be walking on the streets of America as a free man for the first time. He has no idea what the future holds for him, but for the moment, he's happy.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Quote of the Week (78)

"Hold on for a little longer
Hold on for a little longer
Pray on for a little longer
Pray on for a little longer
Everything's going to be all right."

Saturday, July 01, 2006

1997 - 2006

Hong Kong, China, celebrates its 9th year of freedom from British colonization.

As in any existing system, the one country two systems rule is not perfect in Hong Kong. It's a work in progress, but at least the Chinese people are working on it.

The history of foreign countries carving up China can never be forgotten.

Unity is power.