LIVE and Collective Soul

Musikfest is here again. This time I went to the LIVE and Collective Soul concert. I bought the cheapest lawn tickets and got Marcie to come with me. Borrowed 2 collapsible lawn chairs from another friend and off to the concert we went. The weather forecast was troubling. The sky looked pretty scary when we reached the concert area.

Found a nice spot and set up our lawn chairs and waited for the concert to start. Then we saw a lady walking around the lawn area asking if people would like a free upgrade to the seated area (courtesy of Joe Straub, one of the big sponsors of Musikfest). Nearer to the stage? Definitely! We quickly packed up the chairs and moved to the seated area.

But the sky still looked rather bad..

8pm, the concert started, I looked around and saw all the empty seats behind us. I guess the two bands are not as popular now.

Collective Soul started the show. The lead singer with long blonde hair was very entertaining with his headbanging and hair flinging acts 🙂 I knew that my camera was really low on battery power, so I limited the length of the video clips that I took.

After about an hour of Collective Soul, there was a 20 minute break for LIVE to set up.

LIVE was definitely much louder. They did a nice version of Johnny Cash’s I Walk The Line.

Here is a full video of them doing Heaven.

And at last, their megahit Lightning Crashes. And the low battery icon started blinking, so the video is incomplete.

Overall, I liked Collective Soul better but LIVE had several really good songs. Considering I didn’t know them when they were really popular back in the 1990s, it was a really good show. Their songs are those really good ones that you hear but never know who sang them. It’s funny how each time a song started, both Marcie and I had the same look, the “wrecking our brains trying to figure out if we recognize the song” look. Most of the time, I didn’t know the songs, even though, I had been catching up on some of their more popular tunes on youtube the past 2 weeks.

Finally at 11pm the show ended. We carried our lawn chairs and took a long walk back to the parking lot. Even with the scary looking sky, the weather turned out to be really great for an outdoor concert. It was nice and cool. I may possibly go for another concert before Musikfest ends. This time it would be to see Over The Rhine. By the way, even Lonestar, famous for the song Amazed (the super sappy wedding song), will be playing at Musikfest this year.

Dalai Lama’s Public Lecture: Generating a Good Heart

Many problems not deliberately caused by people or by lack of knowledge, but by lack of compassion.

I have 3 commitments:
#1: Emotional Human Value (Things that support a happy life).
#2: Promote harmony among different religious traditions.
#3: Tibet

Commitment #1

With a calm and peaceful mood, things will work out well. Calm mind will lead to good health. Good sleep, don’t have to rely on pills. Good digestion. Calm mind will lead to peaceful harmonious home.

DL talked about sometimes his calm mind also gets disturbed: When I sleep, sometimes mosquitoes come. My relationship with mosquitoes not that good.

Every 10th of March since 1959 (the day he left Tibet), DL said that he gets worried and experiences sadness, doubts and uncertainties.

Calm mind so sleep never disturbed. Calm mind is a very good thing. Calm mind not due to indifference but a calm, sensitive, sharp mind.

Compassion, loving kindness builds inner strength.

Two levels of love:

1. Affection/compassion (a biological factor)

Our survival depends on others’ care (e.g., a mother’s love). Baby feels secure. Mother’s physical touch important.

DL quoted research about baby monkeys separated from their mothers do not thrive, are weaker and prone to illnesses.

Biological factor has nothing to do with religion. But that compassion is biased because it depends on the action of others. That compassion can reach only friends and not enemies.

2. True compassion extends to our enemies. True compassion can solve all conflicts.

Destroy an enemy, you lose a friend.

20th century is a century of war. What’s happening in the 21st century is due to resentment from the 20th century.

No matter the goal, non-violence is the method. Non-violent method has no side effect. 21st century should use dialogs. We need disarmament, both external and internal.

How to promote compassion:

1) Religious approach

God is blessing with love. God means infinite love. But these approach is only for believers of God which is about half of the population in the world.

Non-believers think love and compassion is for the religious.

Non-believers think money money money. Money does not equal happiness. Must not neglect inner value.

Ultimate source of happiness is within us.

Faith comes from religion which comes later. Affection comes from birth.

The thought that practicing compassion is good for others but not necessary for our ownself is totally wrong.

I do not smile at dog. They do not appreciate. During car ride, I smile at human being, the person wonder why I smile. It brings more suspicion to others. Practice of compassion first benefit oneself then others.

Value of affection, not my teacher, but my mother. We survive because of our mother’s care. We all have same potential to develop warmheartedness.

Please think more. If you find nothing interesting, then forget it.

After the Question and Answer session, DL was conferred the honorary doctorate in humane letters. During his acceptance speech, DL said that he is a Hopeless Professor because (1) his knowledge is limited to one area and (2) he is lazy (lazy to grade homework).

Beginning Jazz Dance

It must have been the realization that my “carefree” days in the US is almost coming to an end that made me sign up for the beginning jazz dance class. Jazz dance is another thing that I never thought I would do.

Unlike spinning, this class requires me to work physically and mentally. Memorizing the steps, counting the beats, keeping up with the rest of the class, trying to not stand out like a sore thumb (believe me, it’s easy to look awkward when you move right as everyone else is moving left). But it’s a forgiving class since there is quite a large number of never-danced-before students.

I’m enjoying the jazz dance class. I even bought a pair of black leather slip-on jazz shoes 🙂 I just need to put aside any inhibitions, try my best and not worry about how I look.

It’s funny how the Chinese dance culture evolved to become a performance-only activity. In Africa, dance is part of life. It’s not a teenage-thing. It’s not a clubbing-thing. It’s not a sexual-thing. It’s not a taboo-thing. My African friends dance at every single party: weddings, birthdays, baby dedications, graduations. It’s like laughing: everyone laughs when they hear or see something funny. So is their dancing: everyone dances when they are celebrating. There’s no awkwardness. There’s no good or bad dancing, just like there’s no good or bad walking/sitting/breathing.

Answers: What will it cost you?


Answers: $1

Answers which require thought: $2

Correct answers: $4

Dumb looks are still free!

Someone posted that above his/her desk in the tiny office beside the university’s media center, where I go to borrow DVDs. Seeing that poster always cracks me up 🙂

Random updates


I just received my advisor’s feedback on my latest draft of my dissertation research proposal. After glancing through the comments, I realized that there’s not much revisions to do…so, I guess this chapter of my life, struggling to write and rewrite my dissertation proposal, is finally coming to an end..whew!! Tomorrow, I’ll have to finalize the date and time (some time end of June) when the 4 professors in my dissertation committee will meet with me for a prolonged they-question and I-answer session.

As I ponder over the whole writing process, it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. I expected more revisions and several more drafts. Wow, now that this writing process is over, I wonder what should I do with my additional stress-free time. Patapon? Crochet? Cross-stitch? Update special ed blog?

Hold on, I’m not done with studies yet. I’m just almost done with the research proposal; after this, I’ll have to actually do what I proposed in the proposal, and pray that everything will go as planned and I’ll get great results in a short amount time. Yup, that would be ideal….

Great South Side Sale

Every year, the university’s community service office will have a move-out sale. They collect all the stuff that students (who have graduated and are moving away) donate. The money from this sale would go to neighborhood charity organizations. This year, I volunteered to help out during the sale. I was there at 7am, helping to move boxes and boxes of stuff from the trucks, and then arranging those stuff (e.g., clothing, housewares, electronic goods, furniture).

There was one really big Sony TV for sale. It had a crack at the back, but otherwise, in good running condition. Two guys removed it carefully from the truck, but the bottom of the TV cracked a little more. As they were lifting it to the TV area, the TV literally fell apart. The plastic casing broke into hundreds of pieces. The inner tube crashed to the ground and circuits spilled out everywhere. I’ve never seen a TV in that condition before…hahaha.

My volunteer shift ended just before the sale started. So, I stayed a while longer and shopped some. I grabbed
– 2 new Lehigh t-shirts (I’ve always wanted to get a Lehigh t-shirt but didn’t want to spend close to $20 on a t-shirt)
– 1 new random t-shirt
– 1 like-new pair of shorts
– 1 very nice reusable shopping bag
– 1 rolling pin
– 1 set of stainless steel measuring cups (I have plastic ones but they are difficult to wash if I use them to measure cooking oil, stainless steel is much better)
– 1 new cap
– 4 pot holders
– 1 small first aid kit
All these only cost $7.50…not a bad deal!

Transformers 2 filming in South Bethlehem

I heard on the radio that Transformers 2 will be filming in my neighborhood of South Bethlehem. I quickly looked it up online and found the news on Morning Call.

The film-makers are looking for Asian extras (me! choose me!) to be in the movie!! Apparently, they are transforming the old Bethlehem Steel mill into a Chinese city…hahaha.

Hmmm, maybe I can go for the audition and become an extra in the movie! That would be so exciting. I wonder how much time it’ll take. This is so great!! 🙂

Wait a minute! I can’t be a paid extra in the movie, my student visa only allows me to work on campus. Bummer! 🙁

If the international students of Asian/Chinese descent are allowed to work as paid extras, the film-makers can just come to Duh, the little Chinatown of Bethlehem, and find all the extras that they need: grandmas, grandpas, men, women, kids and babies!

Crazy tourism idea

THE Penang Government plans to hold an annual south Korean cultural festival beginning this year in a move to attract more south Korean tourists.
The Star (May 15, 2008)

I don’t know about you but this is such a crazy idea.

It’s like getting Malaysians to fly to Australia for a Malaysian cultural festival.
It’s like getting Americans to fly to Africa for a hot dog eating festival.
It’s like getting the Japanese to fly to Malaysia for sushi.
It’s like getting the Chinese to fly to India for the Chinese new year festival.
It’s like getting the French to fly to Thailand for a French wine and cheese party.

Maybe Penangites can show the South Koreans how to make “Malaysia Boleh” kimchi 🙂

I remember my Korean friend who visited Penang and stayed with me for several days. All she wanted to do was to eat good food (a lot of varieties in very tiny portions), hit the beach, and get a massage at a great spa. Unfortunately, she went to a highly recommended spa that turned out to be a “hanky panky” massage parlor…..hahaha.

If we want to attract South Korean tourists, we really need to work on our “cleanliness”:
– Clean accessible toilets
– Clean eating places
– Clean beaches
– Clean and safe streets
– “Clean” dealings: Honest prices and good customer service
– “Clean” beauty spas

Medicating my allergies

My first three years in the U.S., when Spring came and all the trees, grass and weeds bloomed and spread pollen everywhere, I was fine. And I shook my head at people who complained about sneezing, itchy eyes, lethargy, etc., and who were taking myriads of medications for those symptoms, “What’s with the Americans and their allergies and their medications?!”

My fourth year, when Spring came, I was slightly bothered by it. But I was more bothered by the thick layer of pollen that was sticking to my car, made it looked so dirty, and forced me to take it to the car wash 🙂

I wrote this last year (May 16, 2007):

The onslaught of pollen
In my few years here, I’ve never given much thought to pollen or spring time allergy. This spring however I’m beginning to feel the onslaught of pollen. All these trees and plants pollinating at the same time, spreading pollen everywhere. My car, which I have yet to wash (I cannot believe I’m my dad’s daughter!), is now covered in a thin layer of yellowish-greenish pollen. I also wake up sneezing, my eyes feel puffy, and I just feel like there’s a lot of microscopic things bothering me.

This year, when Spring came, I noticed it immediately. The very first day that a very-high-pollen index was reported on, I felt it. I thought it would get better, but it didn’t. I continued sneezing, my eyes itched, my throat hurts, I just didn’t feel good.

Today, I finally succumbed to the pressure of living in this culture of drug-dependency, and went to the doctor and got a prescription for my allergies. The doctor prescribed Flonase.

FLONASE is an anti-inflammatory nasal spray used to treat the nasal symptoms of indoor and outdoor nasal allergies and year-round nonallergic nasal symptoms.

I went to the pharmacy and got generic Flonase (Fluticasone Propionate). It cost $70!! I didn’t expect the generic version to cost that much. Thankfully, I only have to pay $10, while the health insurance will pay the remaining.

A comparison:
In Malaysia, for pain relief, we have Panadol.
In the U.S., they have Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, Excedrin, Motrin, Bayer and some more. Most of these brands are being advertised heavily on TV. At the pharmacy, the over-the-counter painkiller section takes up a whole aisle!

My response to “Azri: The caged boy of Sanglang”

The power went out in my apartment building. When I came home after my run/walk at around 8pm, the power was still out. The utility worker said that the power will only be back at 10-11pm. No electricity, no microwave, no stove, no food, no light, no computer. So I grabbed my work stuff and laptop, went out for a quick dinner and headed to the library. I had planned to do some dissertation work but decided to spend the 2.5 hours writing my response to the news article about the caged boy of Sanglang. Go here to read it.