Monday, February 27, 2006

A sick baby

Aidan woke up every hour last night, whimpering a few minutes then falling back asleep. At 2:30 AM, however, he cried and Mamma went to him. I discovered he couldn't breathe well because of a snotty, stuffed up nose, poor baby. So I coddled him and rocked him. He still didn't sleep on his own, so he had to cry a few minutes and then he slept another hour. By 5 AM he was awake again and I took him to bed with us, only to have that last an hour. Golf and I both got up at 6 with him.

His first sickness in his life and it didn't happen til he was 9 months old. Wow. I'm sure he'll recover quickly cause he'll be like his mommy and daddy who get well quickly from illness.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

What the hell's WRONG with people?!?

Golf was having a potential business partner, a Chinese translator, come over to our apartment this morning at 10 AM. She was supposed to come with her husband and their baby. I was rushing around the house getting it picked up, straightened up, preparing snacks and pastries and getting my hair and makeup done. It was 9:50 AM and I had just finished preparing the platter of pastries and scones, a plate of sliced pears and I had a FULL pot of coffee freshly brewed and we're trying to get Aidan fed before our company arrived.

The phone rang at 10 til 10. Golf answered. It was the translator lady saying something URGENT came up and she'd have to reschedule. WHAT?!?! She should have been in Berkeley by then, nearly to our place in Alameda!!! Why the hell would you call someone you're supposed to meet 10 minutes before you're supposed to arrive to cancel???? She should have let us know the moment she found out something.

I guess I'm old fashioned, but I like to prepare for guests. I like to make sure the house looks neat and tidy and that I have refreshments to serve. I went shopping yesterday for this visit. I made sure my child was clean, neat and fed. I made sure I looked presentable by taking the time to do my hair and makeup. All of this takes time and effort to do.

Why do people these days have so little respect for keeping appointments??? It pisses me off to no end.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

At the Marrakech

Over the weekend, Golf, Aidan and I went to Sacramento to visit my parents, my sister Anna and brother-in-law Jim. My sister is a talented belly dancer at the Marrakech Restaurant and has been dancing there for about 13 years now. We even took Aidan with us! At first, Golf and I were concerned about disrupting his schedule too much, since we would be out way past his bedtime, but on the other hand, he needs to experience things out of the ordinary once in awhile, so we took the baby with us.

Aidan did so well! He never cried and was fascinated with the food and the dancing and all the colors and sounds. He got to sample the Morroccan food, which he LOVED and after my sister's first set, he finally fell fast asleep and nothing could wake him.

It was a very fun weekend!

Eating a bit of the lentil soup starter.

Pretty Aunt Anna or I should say Aunt Zaheea when she's in costume! :)


Watching his auntie dance.

Isis wings for her second set. Beautiful liquid gold!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Universe listened to me

A few days ago, I thought to myself how it was time to donate some money to a charity or organization. I've felt so blessed, thankful and grateful for all that we have been given and help that has come our way in many various forms since our return to the United States last August. I gave a couple bucks here and there to the Salvation Army during Christmas, and a few dollars for Hurricane Katrina (I feel I should have given more) and Golf gave to a fund raiser for the Sherriff and Police of Alameda.

Well, they called again last night! And while the first few requests for donations were too high for us, Golf and the caller settled on a price that was right for us to give. I just thought it the strangest, most wonderful thing to have happen. Like the Powers that Be were listening to me and responded. Cool!!

And my next career will be....

My best friend once commented on the choice one has with careers. You can do something practical, that will ensure an income and a decent standard of living with money leftover to invest -- which will lead to financial freedom and peace of mind. The other choice is to follow your dreams, which is also important, but it comes with a high price tag. For me, the job of my dreams doesn't earn much money, and it would be better suited as a hobby. So I made a decision to be practical with the remaining working years I had. Afterall, I've had a lot of fun and adventure already!

I began thinking that once Aidan is school age, I need to be primed and ready to go back out into the work world and make the most of the next 20 years so that by retirement, Golf and I will be comfortable, Aidan will be sure of a good college education, and we can go travel and do fun things together. I also want to be able to do that WHILE I'm working and putting in the money. It might even be nice to be able to retire early. You never know.

And what will I do? Well, I always have loved watching these shows on TV: House Hunters, Curb Appeal, landscape shows and house flipping shows. It's always interesting to me how the value goes up and for how much. I've walked into a few open houses for sale just to take a looky loo and always look at the price flyers that are sometimes posted with the For Sale signs.

Now I always thought that the real estate market was already saturated. Just look at this housing boom! However, a successful friend of Golf's made a point that real estate will always be a viable investment no matter what. This wave is just ending and there will be another one -- it's cyclical. He mentioned that as a real estate appraiser, I can get enough knowledge about the real estate market to know when I see a deal for our own acquisition. That's the real value in the job, rather than the salary. And in the meantime, we both just have to save, save, save for our first down payment.

So it's a career move that feels practical and it feels like something I would actually enjoy and benefit from. I found an online course for less than $700 and I can do it in my spare time while still taking care of Aidan and the house. Ideally, I could begin working part time after Aidan's first birthday since my husband works from home. I finally feel like this is something that I can actually do, and we might just succeed at it! :)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Becoming financially literate

A reader had commented on a previous post asking to share some of what I'm learning about the world of money. Now I am just a fledgeling, so I cannot give any kind of advice, but I can recommend you to do what I'm doing: Educate yourself.

The whole world of finance has petrified me with fear -- the images conjured up in my head were powerful older white men in pinstriped suits walking briskly to and from their gleaming sky scrapers and into their fancy cars. The terminology used sounded like a foreign language and because I had no money in the bank, I couldn't play the game even if I wanted to!

Well, I still don't have much. But I do have a willingness to do two things:

1. To face my fears
2. Learn about it

Ignorance breeds fear -- they eat off each other. We all know it and have seen this happen in many arenas of life. We hear about it every day on the news. But the world of money and finance is a place that most people refuse to face their ignorance of it, so it eats them up alive, hence all the debt and lack of savings we are seeing in the majority of Americans today.

I've decided to take control of this situation. Knowledge is power and you know what, it's all actually quite interesting to learn about! You do have to learn some new terminology and think when you read, and sometimes re-read. But didn't you do that in college with no complaints? And you got through it, right? How is this any different? Soon you start to learn and when you see a TV show on finance, you don't flip the channel right away because suddenly they aren't speaking in a foreign language any longer.

Then you start dabbling a little bit in what you have been reading. Simple baby steps. Move your savings into a high yeild account like ING Direct, for example. You can do it at home in your pajamas. It's thrilling to know you can make a difference in your family's income and you didn't even have to leave the house. That's empowering!

Small steps. I'm still at the very beginning of this journey, but I've made the decision to go and I'm already planting seeds. The hardest thing to do is to START.

I'm reading a couple of basic finacial books that spell out the fundamentals of investing and finance in an interesting and easy to understand way. Both I checked out from the library and the more you read the more your list of books will too. I urge you to start with them too:

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Rober Kiyosaki
The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman

Just take a look. Face your fears.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Captain of this ship

I've been putting all my energy into three things which is why my blog has been quiet lately.

1. Of course, is the baby. Taking care of him, cooking, cleaning, taking him out for our daily walk -- that takes up the bulk of my time and energy.

2. I'm editing Golf's Thai slang dictionary. This is a lot of fun!

3. And lastly I'm education myself about money. It's such a taboo topic and it's something we're not taught in school. How to manage it, how the whole world of finance works, all the terminology etc. etc. etc. Ignorance about it creates illusionment and will get us nowhere, so it's up to me and Golf to understand it and take control of it in order for us to make it grow. Money really is interesting, how it all works, and now that my fear of it is subsiding, I can have power OVER it instead of it having power over ME. :) It's an almost spiritual awakening and quite an exciting undertaking.

So with these three things in my life, I now find I don't have enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Various things to share

First of all, Happy Birthday Mom! I'm sure we'll talk on the phone later today.

My tendonitis is killing my right hand and yeah, I'm right handed. I got a steroid shot for it when I was in Thailand, but the doctor here said to hold off on getting another one until Aidan is weaned. She said to keep my thumb stabilizing brace on and rub Aspercreme on it. I have this stuff that the Thai doctor gave me that I'm still rubbing on, but it's not helping, so now I'll do it more than once per night. I also put one of those heavy seed filled pillows (Mom made it for Golf) into the microwave to make it nice and hot and I rest it on my hand. The pain is the worst in the evenings after the baby's gone to bed and in the mornings. I couldn't even lift a pan off the stove this morning!

Daryll lent us some DVDs he bought in England when he was there with Mel over Christmas. It's a very popular comedy called Little Britain. They've won all sorts of awards for it and I love to see what's popular with our British bretheren. I have to say it's quite odd, and at times I read the subtitles only because they use phrases we don't here in the States and they speak so fast when they say it too! Michelle, if you see this for sale in Bangkok, buy it! You'll love it!

It's been very warm here, relatively speaking -- close to 70F!!! Good for my parents since they are now making their way back to NorCal -- they were in the South West trying to escape the colder winter weather and now it's safe to come back and see their grandson.

And lastly, I'm off to Albertson's early by 8 AM. It's an older smallish store and it's closing down since there is a brand new HUGE Safeway and humongous Trader Joe's -- nobody goes there anymore. So they're having a 10-50% off sale and it's stock up time!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Muslim cartoon debate within my own family

I have cousins and uncles spread across the US and although I haven't seen many of them since I was a little girl, we all keep in contact with each other via e-mail. I have a cousin who is a good 20 years older than me, and he sent out a group email about his opinion of the recent Muslim cartoon controversy. He said in part:

Remember that article I sent you about Amsterdam going to open up more quality places to get dope for pain treatment and that maybe the American druggies would be going there. Well, Maybe those folks are already there and the ones that did these images were doped but good. Ha!

I read where the U.S. poll said that a lot of the folks here are on the Muslim side about this cartoon being wrong (Including Former President Clinton), well, I think they are wrong and I think a lot of Americans are wishing they had been the first to do it....

I don't think it is wrong, I think we ought to be publishing these pictures and publishing these cartoons on a grander scale. Why? You should ask, sense we are a country that believes in the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing the burning and desecration of the American Flag because it was freedom speaking. And sense we believe so strongly in those freedoms--Well, The U.S. represents FREEDOM.

So, We need to be printing and sending these pictures out to the world to see and tell the world what we really think of the Muslim Jihad, or something like that.

Wow, do we live in different worlds. I do think Americans have the freedom to publish anything we want, but be prepared for consequences. You cannot publish something that would ruin a person's reputation without the consequence of a libel suit, for example. At first my knee-jerk reaction was "They're just CARTOONS!!" Well, I learned more about the situation and my response to the email follows:

Dear Cousin and anyone else agreeing:

Then don't be offended when someone draws a cartoon ofJesus Christ as a child molester or the Virgin Mary as a whore. You know it works both ways.

At first I thought as you did. But then my Buddhist husband had told me about some occasions when imagesof the Lord Buddha had been expressed in a way that was horribly disrespectful and there were also protests. All religions should be respected. I do not think the violence in these protests of the offended Muslim people is right, though.

Showing the Prophet Muhommud is blaphmemous to ALL Muslims. Showing him with a bomb in his turban is saying that ALL Muslims are terrorists. It's a terrible untruth. Yes, the freedom do express ourselves should always be there but should we publish ANYTHING? Absolutely not.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Happily NOT participating in Super Bowl

The Super Bowl has turned into a new American holiday. I've never, ever cared for American football and every year, a bigger deal is made about it than the year before. We went to the grocery store yesterday to pick up some food for our South African dish we made (my friend Carolyn was here) and it was packed like it was the day before Thanksgiving. Not quite that bad, but nearly so! And all the promotions on TV you hear about it. UGH.

Our plans today are to go visit my friends Melanie and Daryll at their home! Daryll's going away to England to visit his family for a week and this is his last weekend at home, so what better time to make a trip out to the Hoopla House. It's supposed to be close to 70 degrees today, so it's better to be out and about! :)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Dear Mr. Moore

This is a copy of an email sent to Michael Moore from an online friend of mine. She gave me permission to share it:

Dear Mr. Moore,

My daughter has a feeding tube because of reflux. Without going into the details too much, she spent the first 20 months of her life needing a feeding pump and bags that hold formula that are hooked up to the pump. Those things were covered by our insurance and are supplied by a home health care organization that contracts with my HMO.

However the home health care company charges the insurance at least DOUBLE the amount that these supplies would cost if I were to purchase them myself. The pump rental was $10 per day. The bags for the pump were $7 each, at one per day. The g-tube is around $300 and my daughter's is changed every three months. When insurance agreed to purchase a pump for us, it was at a cost of amost $3000. Now, the pump is a great piece of equipment but it's not worth $3000. I can get an IPod with greater technology than this simple feeding pump for $300. It's no mystery to me why health care costs are rising. There is such a huge inflation on the cost of medical supplies.

The insurance company does not cover formula for her tube because, according to them, her mouth works fine. Does not matter that her stomach does not work fine. So every month I pay for this formula out of pocket. If I were to order it through home health, they would charge around $20 for a 6 pack of Pediasure formula. I can get it at the grocery store for $9. My child was needing as much as 4 cans a day at one point.

I cannot imagine how some familes are able to afford this. We are in debt because of our daughter's formula, ER bills, and other things. But she's getting better and we are paying off the debt slowly. My husband is a state worker with a modest salary. We don't qualify for Medicaid or WIC to help pay for my daughter's formula. I am her full time care provider. My husband and I have not been on a date since she was born 2 years ago. We cannot trust her with a babysitter and she doesn't qualify for nursing care. Someday I want to go to nursing school but it will have to wait until she's old enough and well enough to be left with someone, and until we pay off our debt.

One other thing: many insurance companies have a lifetime limit on people. Meaning, if my daughter's medical costs reach 1million dollars that's it, she's cut off from being insured by this company for the rest of her life. There are parents I know whose children have neared these limits already, and it's not hard to see why with the inflated costs of health care and supplies. They are starting to buy their own home health supplies so the money doesn't count towards the lifetime limit.I don't know how they are able to afford it.

Like I said, our case is not severe. There are thousands who have it much worse off than we do.


This is wonderful news! I loved Michael Moore's movies (I saw Bowling for Columbine and Farenheit 911) and I just learned through his email list that he's making a movie about the atrocious state of health care in this country and he's calling it Sicko. Here's a copy of the email he sent out to subscribers:

How would you like to be in my next movie? I know you've probably heard I'm making a documentary about the health care industry (but the HMOs don't know this, so don't tell them -- they think I'm making a romantic comedy).
If you've followed my work over the years, you know that I keep a pretty low profile while I'm making my movies. I don't give interviews, I don't go on TV and I don't defrost my refrigerator. I do keep my website updated on a daily basis (there's been something like 4,000,000 visitors just this week alone) and the rest of the time I'm... well, I can't tell you what I'm doing, but you can pretty much guess. It gets harder and harder sneaking into corporate headquarters, but I've found that just dying my hair black and wearing a skort really helps.
Back to my invitation to be in my movie. Have you ever found yourself getting ready to file for bankruptcy because you can't pay your kid's hospital bill, and then you say to yourself, "Boy, I sure would like to be in Michael Moore's health care movie!"?
Or, after being turned down for the third time by your HMO for an operation they should be paying for, do you ever think to yourself, "Now THIS travesty should be in that 'Sicko' movie!"?
Or maybe you've just been told that your father is going to have to just, well, die because he can't afford the drugs he needs to get better -- and it's then that you say, "Damn, what did I do with Michael Moore's home number?!"
OK, here's your chance. As you can imagine, we've got the goods on these crooks. All we need now is to put a few of you in the movie and let the world see what the greatest country ever in the history of the universe does to its own people, simply because they have the misfortune of getting sick. Because getting sick, unless you are rich, is a crime -- a crime for which you must pay, sometimes with your own life.
About four hundred years from now, historians will look back at us like we were some sort of barbarians, but for now we're just the laughing stock of the Western world.
So, if you'd like me to know what you've been through with your insurance company, or what it's been like to have no insurance at all, or how the hospitals and doctors wouldn't treat you (or if they did, how they sent you into poverty trying to pay their crazy bills) ...if you have been abused in any way by this sick, greedy, grubby system and it has caused you or your loved ones great sorrow and pain, let me know.
Send me a short, factual account of what has happened to you -- and what IS happening to you right now if you have been unable to get the health care you need. Send it to I will read every single one of them (even if I can't respond to or help everyone, I will be able to bring to light a few of your stories).
Thank you in advance for sharing them with me and trusting me to try and do something about a very corrupt system that simply has to go.
Oh, and if you happen to work for an HMO or a pharmaceutical company or a profit-making hospital and you have simply seen too much abuse of your fellow human beings and can't take it any longer -- and you would like the truth to be told -- please write me at I will protect your privacy and I will tell the world what you are unable to tell. I am looking for a few heroes with a conscience. I know you are out there.
Thank you, all of you, for your help and your continued support through the years. I promise you that with "Sicko" we will do our best to give you not only a great movie, but a chance to bring down this evil empire, once and for all.
In the meantime, stay well. I hear fruits and vegetables help.

Michael Moore

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Getting it all in order

Been spending the last few days getting our investments added into quicken and accounts set up. I feel so good that I finally stopped doing nothing and took action in the vast intimidating world of MONEY. I transferred some savings into an online account that has a very high APY, finally getting more in interest than just sitting in my regular savings account. Then I set up Aidan's college fund and put a sizable chunk to get him started, and we plan to add $50 per month. I got our IRA account accessed online and into my Quicken program and by March Golf and I want to start contributing to it. I had contributed to this IRA when it was my 401K when I worked for Excite back when it was still the main competetor with Yahoo!, so at least we aren't starting from zero. I feel so good now that I have all these accounts up to date and on my Quicken program so I can see them all at once and watch our investments start growing.

I also bought a book on that should be arriving any day now. It's called Start Late Finish Rich and I bought it because Golf and I are mid/late 30s now and need to aggresively invest. Right now the biggest dilemma for our financial future is whether or not to invest in a home. Do we save up a down payment or do we put that money into retirement. That's the biggest question I have right now.