Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Post-Christmas Blogging

We started celebrating Christmas with family as soon as I got home from work on Saturday, Christmas Eve. We (Angel, the kids and I) went out to dinner with my mother, sister and brother-in-law at Outback Steakhouse ("No rules, just right!" - very traditional, heh). After much food and fun discussion, we let the boys open a few of their presents, to their merriment! We went back home and the kids and Angel watched "Madagascar" on DVD while I crashed out in a leanback chair (long day) till the movie was over (I got to enjoy it with Angel last night).

Sunday, we got up somewhere around 8:00 or 8:30 a.m., opened the remaining presents (to the boys' further merriment!)

I did have to go into work on Christmas, from 1:00 p.m. toll midnight. That was a first for me! I've worked New Years' a couple of times but not Christmas. The first half of the work day was pretty slow. I work in a tech support call center and I was getting maybe 2 or 3 calls per hour. So, I had brought my heavy duty headphones, plugged them into the front of the Dell computer and tuned into Yahoo! Launchcast between calls to pass the time (and oh, did it pass the time!). I also worked on some artwork for a comic strip Angel and I have been developing (more on that at another time). About 6:00 p.m., the calls started coming in, sometimes in waves. Overall, though, it was very manageable. There were about 25 of us maintaining the call center. By midnight, though, I was starving and exhausted and ready to come home (and I did). At least the company is paying me well for working the holiday!

Went into work Monday (th 26th) from 9:30 am till 8:30 p.m. That was hard, after working 10 hour days on Saturday and Sunday, but I managed (barely :). Today hasn't been so bad, I've been trying to get decent sleep to balance out all the work hours.

More blogging later, as I get more ideas on what to blog about...

Best Wishes,

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Pre-Christmas Family Evening

Yesterday, after finishing up the last minute Christmas shopping, Angel suggested we get tickets for the whole family to go see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I was a little hesistant about taking the kids to a movie which I knew would have a major battle scene, but I've recently read the book for the first time and knew what was coming. I just wanted to avoid the quasi-debacle that happened when I took the kids to see the first Spiderman movie in 2002 (scared my oldest son, Adam, in a few places).

So we went, we saw -- and we enjoyed! I felt that the movie was very true to the book. My wife and kids really loved the movie and I was quite satisfied as well. Afterwards, we went to the Pappadeux seafood restaurant and had a sumptuous pre-Christmas meal together as a family. It was my first time having grilled fish and shrimp cabobs. I sprinkled a little lemon over it and, I kid you not, it was as good as steak in terms of taste and aroma and texture. They gave us so much food that we all took home leftovers! Yummmm...

It all made for a nice family outing.

Best Wishes,

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Thank goodness for word verification!

I really didn't like having to remove the comments. When people are genuine (and not spammers), the comments are interesting and appreciated. But I was getting spammers automatically leaving rather annoying and disgusting links and junking up all of my blogs, so I removed them.

I decided to check in on IR Haven this morning, since I haven't blogged in several weeks (been working like crazy, my cable company job went permanent -- woohoo!). I noted that Blogger obviously figured out they were being spam-bombed and devised a common sense defense (the same kind of word verification methods like the ones eBay and Google use to screen out spammers). So I've turned comments back on and we'll see how it goes.

I'll try to do a bit more blogging in the coming days, a lot has been going on.

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Apologies for my recent inactivity on IR Haven. Besides being busy with my job (which I love and which is going permanent), I went through a couple of weeks of not feeling so hot (mostly exhaustion).

I've also taken an interest in online gaming for relaxation. There are two games that hold my interest currently.

My kids really love Disney's Toontown, a kid-friendly MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) where you tailor-make a cartoon animal character that fights business-like robot "cogs" with laughter-inspiring slapstick gags (throwing pies, squirting water, dropping anvils). It's quite amusing, graphically appropriate (cartoonish on a kid's level) and surprisingly challenging.

My wife and I have gotten into another MMORPG called The Saga of Ryzom. It is a graphically complex and beautiful game with multiple skills you can learn and develop. Your character can be one of four different "races" and the appearance is highly customizable. I may recommend they create mixed race versions -- that would be cool! (Well, they did hint at introducing children into the game at some point in the distant future).

The players within the game are generally very friendly and helpful and the guild system is designed to help players level up in their skills quickly while bonding with their guildmates.

Like any MMORPG, playing it does tend to consume hours at a time, so one must govern their time accordingly...but it can be a lot of fun and help build some friendships in the process.

I'm looking forward to spending time with my relatives and in-laws on Thanksgiving and the upcoming Christmas/New Years' holidays.

Best Holiday Wishes,

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bus Adventures, Part 2

So, for Day 2 of "Allen's Bus Adventures," I get out to the bus stop a little early.

I catch the bus.

I catch the bus on the wrong side of the street...

...going the wrong way.

I will spare you the story of the friendly woman talking to the bus driver who's every other phrase was "you know what I'm sayin'?"

I got to work 45 minutes late, but my boss was understanding and the time can be made up today.

Lesson learned: Get on the bus going in the direction you need to go.

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Comedy Of Errors, But With A Happy Ending

So, my wife has a new job and takes our vehicle to work now. Today was my first time taking the bus to work. So I call and get the time and location for the bus stop. I get out the door right before the appointed time and as I'm approaching the right street (about half a block from my house), I hear the bus going by. But, it was an hour before work and most buses are on 15 to 30 minute routes, so I figured I'd catch it at 9:00 am.

9:00 am came and went. About 9:07 am I decide to walk back to the house to call and confirm the times for the bus. No sooner do I get a quarter block from the bus stop than the bus comes (I hear it first then see it -- too late). I say to myself "fine, I'll just go to the bus stop across the street. It'll probably be by in a few minutes."

Several minutes went by and nothing. I was getting discouraged and was considering leaving again when something told me to give it until 9:15 (it was about 9:10). I did not want to repeat my previous mistake. Sure enough, right at 9:15, the bus shows up. I arrive about a block from my work approximately 6 minutes later and am in the door on time.

And to top it off, it's an "Ozone Action Day" in Austin, so the ride was free.

Can't beat that with a stick, eh?

My wife will be picking me up from work each evening (I'm doing a 4-day, 10 hour a day schedule now), so I only have to ride the bus in the mornings. No biggie.

Best Wishes,

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Rita Mania: Part 3 - Sunny Morning

Well, the worst has passed Austin by. All we got was some hot wind gusts. East Texas and Louisiana, on the other hand, got the brunt of the hurricane and those people are in my prayers. I'm also grateful that Rita was a Category 3 and not a Category 5 when it came ashore.

It did give me a good reason to stock up on canned goods and bottled water, though...

Best Wishes,

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rita Mania: Part 2

So, in preparations for this weekend and Hurricane Rita, I go to Walmart to get some essentials, like bottled water, canned goods, batteries, over-the-counter medicines, etc. I figured water might be scarce -- and it was -- but I had no idea how cleaned out the place would be!? It was like visiting after a looting or something! Almost all of the basic canned goods were gone, ALL bottled water was gone and batteries, especially "D" batteries? Forget it!

So, I got what I could from Walmart, which was considerable and went to another grocery store (HEB) for the rest. I found a few more items and they were just starting to stock some more bottled water. A gentleman next to me asked the stocker if he could take a case off the palate (a case is a 24-pack) and they stocker said "sure!" So, I did the same. When I got to the checkout line, the checker said "You found water??" (like this was a rare treasure, which it was) and I said "Yep!"

Still no "D" batteries, but oh, well, you can't have everything...

Keep in mind, this is AUSTIN. We're not even expecting the most severe weather. We are not evacuating.

But people don't want to take any chances, and I can't say I blame them. Hurricanes are unpredictable, after all. I think everyone's learned to take things seriously after Katrina.

More as things develop...

Best Wishes,

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"Rita Mania" Begins

I've been made aware of the exact type of weather we could be facing -- even in Austin and Central Texas -- this weekend from Hurricane Rita. We got the leftovers of a hurricane a few years ago but it was just a little rain and wind gusts, nothing significant. This time around, we could get 75 - 100 mph winds, lots of rain and possible tornadoes. The severity will depend on if we are on the west or the east side of the hurricane. If we are on the east side of the hurricane, the effects are more severe.

I'm not worried at this point but my "caution meter" has gone up a few levels, especially now that Rita is a Category 5 hurricane. I've started praying for the people on the coastline, the people in Central Texas and for the Katrina evacuees who are having to be evacuated yet again. I can't imagine how traumatizing this must be for them.

In my job, I have been doing tech support for people all over the Central Texas area. I have helped many people displaced by Katrina from New Orleans, people who relocated here to Austin. Now, those people will have to face another significant hurricane, only weeks after being forced from their homes.

It's going to an interesting weekend, to say the least. More later...

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Et Tu, Rita? Batten Down The Hatches

Okay, so now a new, potentially major hurricane heads towards the Gulf of Mexico. This one, Hurricane Rita, appears to be aiming for Texas. It looks to be heading for either Galveston or Houston. It shouldn't pose too much of a threat to Austin, as Austin is several hundred miles inland from the Gulf. We may get a lot of rain, wind and possible tornadoes from the outer bands.

The rumor mill wants to say that it could hit Louisiana. It could also turn back out to sea or go to Mexico. Only time will tell.

More here as we get closer to landfall...

Best Wishes,

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Initial Thoughts On Hurricane Katrina And Its Aftermath

I am still not fully comprehending the total devastation caused by Hurricance Katrina. I've gotten to the point where I turn the sound down because the news commentary is either such a political blame game it's nauseating or the facts are just too heartbreaking to bear.

I pray for the survivors and the relief personnel and volunteers daily. I am emotionally wrenched as I read of new deaths and the causes of death. I sympathize till I start feeling numb, then I pray for the Lord to help me focus on Him and His goodness, understanding that He is in control of everything.

I know people in Louisiana but they were spared the worst of the Hurricane's damage. They are in the minority, to be sure.

Texas has certainly contributed to the relief efforts. I've been very proud of my state's involvment. Even Austin has been very involved, taking in and helping hurricane refugees. It's going to be a long road ahead for everyone involved.

Through ISAA, I've encouraged people to give cash or blood to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army.

I have to go for now. I'll blog more on this again soon...

Best Wishes,

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Quick Update!

Hi everyone! Life has been ridiculously busy again. I started a new job this week and have been enjoying it a lot. I also got some pictures from the recent First Light gig that I blogged about. All of the available pics are on the First Light website (link above).

Here's our logo, btw

All of First Light (me on bass guitar on left; drummer not pictured)

Singing our hearts out for the Lord

That's my wife at the mic! (in white)

And yes, I decided to play around with the blog design again. Do you like it?

Best Wishes,

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Blog Design Changes, Part Whatever

Okay, so yesterday, I got tired of the other blog design. It would load but give errors and some other elements of it (such as painfully slow loading times) weren't working too well, so I found another template and have been slowly tweaking it over the past 24 hours. I do hope you like it. I think it's a cleaner template and a bit easier to read and follow. There were certain things about the previous version of the blog that I liked, such as the title graphics, so I am reincorporating them into this template.

Be patient, more changes to come soon!

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Blistered Fingers And Happy Hearts

As a bass player and backing singer, I haven't played a 3+ hour show in many years. When I was in my 20's, it was no big deal to play 4 one-hour sets as part of a rock and blues band; that was a standard "pay your dues" gig, especially in Austin (and not for much money, either!). But that was over 10 years ago and I'm a different person now.

Friday night, First Light (the Christian band my wife and I are in) performed at a North Austin church for a wonderful group of people. Some were from Austin, some were from Mexico, some were from Nicaragua, some were from San Salvador and at least one was from Nigeria. Virtually all of them were enthusiastic and receptive to our music, our message and well, us in general.

The evening started with a special puppet show for the kids. The youth of the church we were visiting put on the puppet show, put to fast, humorous contemporary Christian music. They also turned off the main lights and used fluorescent lights to highlight the individual puppet characters, as if the puppets were a band (at the same time, there were other puppets that acted out other scenes that were related to the lyrics of each song). Needless to say, the kids loved it and most of the adults -- myself included -- were impressed.

That said, First Light (FL) didn't start performing until around 9:30 p.m. We did quite a few songs in just the first 75-minute set, which ran a bit long because we had some words of testimony (in English and in Spanish) in-between some of the songs. One poem was read in Spanish. Our style varies quite a bit, from jazzy Christian to Gospel to Tejano-esque and some is just "First Light." Vocals are
extremely important in FL. On any given song, we have 5 to 10 singers. It's important because that determines how the message of the lyrics is delivered, it's what sticks with people. You can have great music but if people don't know what you're saying, it kind of defeats the point of having singers. FL is essentially a Christian band with a mini-choir, strong lyrics with dynamic delivery and an original international flair.

After a midway 10-minute break around 11:00 p.m., we revved up for the second set. About halfway into that set, my bass-playing fingers really started hurting from the blisters that were starting to develop. There are several of our songs that are very bass-intensive and wonderfully complicated but very hard on the fingers. It goes with the territory. It was kind of humorous between songs because I would finish one song and have to "shake off the pain" from my fingers before starting up a new song.

An amazing thing happened near the very end of the concert. We had been playing light music behind the pastor, who was speaking to the audience and closed out with a prayer. Then he asked us to play our medley of "Victory Is Mine/At The Cross" again, so we did. And we all got a fresh burst of energy and played the song better than we had earlier in the evening (and that version wasn't bad). It was as if
we were just starting the show again. So, we finished the show as strongly as we began and "the crowd went wild!" Seriously, the audience was very nice to us and let us know they appreciated our being there and praising the Lord with us.

They had a dinner for us, even though it was after midnight. They food was good, too! We all got plates and munched down; that many hours of playing really builds up an appetite. We packed up and headed home and collapsed for the evening. It was a rare evening when our kids stayed up as late as us, but they're some of our biggest fans and enthusiastic supporters.

The evening was recorded, too. We'll get the 2-CD set in a couple of weeks. If you'd like a sampling of what First Light is like live, feel free to check out our music at the First Light website:

Best Wishes,

P.S. - First Light also played at our own church on Sunday. And my fingers have recovered.

Friday, July 29, 2005

First Light Update

Tonight, First Light will be performing a two-hour concert in north Austin, Texas. First Light is the Christian band that my wife and I are in. An IR tie-in to that is that there are two IR married couples in the band (including my wife and I, of course). We will also be performing for people of several nationalities tonight, including
refugees from South America, Mexico and even Africa as well as a U.S. crowd. We'll be playing at a small but friendly and very accomodating church whose pastor we met at an April "Jesus Day" event that we played at in April. That pastor was moved by the spiritual nature of the "Jesus Day" performance and invited us to perform at his church, which we're more than happy to do.

It's been a while since First Light did 2 one-hour sets but we do have enough songs, enthusiasm and faith to just go for it. I've been excited all day. I invited just about everyone I could think of from the Austin Metro area and quite a few will be coming.

First Light had three rehearsals this week, in preparation for the performance. Last night's rehearsal doubled as sound check at the church itself. We were there till about 11:30 p.m. (we arrived just before 8:00 p.m.) but the sound was top-notch and we got a good rehearsal in.

The concert is going to be recorded, too, so that's really cool!

I'll give you an update on Monday on how things went...

Best Wishes,

Thursday, July 21, 2005

What Are ISAA Pods?

I've started new podcasting for the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA). My last stint at podcasting was a fully recorded talk radio show called The ISAA Rapport (archives are still online).

This new podcasting will just be me audioblogging regularly on up-to-the-moment size, weight, and health-related topics.

Check it out and bookmark it!


I'll get back to IR topics as soon as possible.

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Cooking With Allen: Grilled Chicken with Sausage and Vegetables

This may sound oversimplified but it is SO good, especially when you don't have a lot of time or ideas for a meal that can feed the whole family!


- 1/2 onion (more if preferred) chopped semi-fine into thin chunks
- 1 lg. garlic clove, chopped fine
- black pepper (2 to 3 teaspoons)
- Seasoning salt (1 to 2 teaspoons)
- Olive Oil (2 tablespoons)
- 4 to 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 links of sausage, sliced to bite-size
- 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (I chose one with carrots, squash, zuccini, green beans and red and green peppers)

NOTE: I own a small electric "George Foreman" grill ($20), which is great for the kitchen on the fly, but any grill will do.


1. Say a little prayer (if you're so inclined -- it helps!)
2. Rinse chicken breasts.
3. Grill chicken breasts 1 - 2 minutes on each side, then remove from heat
4. Lightly season chicken breasts with seasoning salt on both sides
5. Slice chicken breasts into 1-inch chunks on a cutting board
6. In a large skillet, sautee onions and garlic in olive oil until somewhat carmelized
7. Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper to sautee mixture and blend together
8. Add chicken breast chunks to sautee mixture and blend together, let chicken cook a minute or two
9. Add sausage to chicken and sautee mixture, blend thoroughly and let cook a few minutes, add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper
10. Add frozen vegetables straight from package, blend them underneath the already cooked meat
11. Let vegetables cook a minute or two then re-blend with meat
12. Cook vegetables until they look slightly softened from the heat then remove skillet from heat.
13. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Preparation time: Approximately 10 - 20 minutes (slightly more if using outside grill)
Cook time: Approximately 10 minutes

What I like about this recipe is that it gives the chicken that "grilled" taste, which goes well with the sausage, but adds a stir-fry element with the frozen vegetables. It's quick, cheap (I got all the ingredients for less than $15 at the grocery store), easy, healthy and it TASTES GREAT!!!

Suggested side-dishes: mashed potatoes, white rice or wild rice blend

Should I do a cook book? lol!

Best Wishes,

Monday, July 11, 2005

And On A Lighter Note...

My wife asked me to go uproot some very small (young) trees from our backyard yesterday. No big deal, I just got the shovel and dug down to the roots and cleared the way. On the way to returning the shovel, I saw how neglected our poor little back patio was: dirty and half-covered with at least a year's worth of dead leaves. I don't know why but I felt the strong urge to go get a broom and sweep away all the leaves, dirt and dust. Even though it's fairly narrow, I had forgotten how long and nice our patio was! I probably spent half an hour clearing it and then bagging the old musty leaves.

Even though it was 98 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside and I was sweating like crazy, I was determined to clean that patio off and make it look near-brand new -- and I did! It was extremely satisfying, even though I can't even tell you how much water I gulped down later to replentish my fluids.

I dunno, I guess I saw the advantages of being able to sit outside under a covered patio or get a real grill and have friends over for barbecue or grilled chicken kabobs or such.

It passed the "kid test." My oldest son, Adam, said it looked like we had a new patio. And it passed the "wife test." She thanked me for doing it.

I get the same way about cleaning our bathroom and doing dishes (except, ahem, I don't wait years to tackle those -- lol!).

Do you ever get passionately driven about cleaning things or rooms or areas? Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks!

Best Wishes,

Friday, July 08, 2005

London Follow-Up

I found out that my friend in London only lives a couple of blocks from one of the subways that was bombed. She was not injured but like many there, she was emotionally shaken by the experience. She and many of her neighbors are concerned about retribution attacks against Muslims in the area (my friend is Muslim and biracial: French and Algerian). My hope is that the strong condemnation of the attacks by London's Muslim leaders will diffuse some of that tension, especially if those same leaders help round up the Al Qaeda-linked terrorists that carried out these travesties.

My wife and I continue to pray for the London survivors and for the situation in general.

Best Wishes,

Thursday, July 07, 2005

My Sympathies To London

I would like to express my heartfelt sympathies to the people of London, England today, following the brutal terrorist attacks in their subways and on at least one double-decker bus. I know people in the UK, some even in London. To my knowledge, noone I know personally was injured or killed in the attacks but that does not lessen my empathy for those who were. It could just as easily have been my friends...as easily as it could have been the United States or anywhere else in the world.

Targeting innocent civilians at morning rush hour, to inflict the most casualties, is as calculating and evil as the attacks of September 11, 2001. It is just as true in London as it was in New York as it is in Baghdad or Afganistan. There is no justifying it, regardless of how one views the political or even military decisions and viewpoints of the governments of the countries attacked.

This is the world we live in. This is the evil we must face every day.

Understanding that there are people to whom life means nothing while death and suffering is a means to an end and a great victory.

Some people say there's no Devil, but sometimes he makes himself plain and undeniable in the hearts of evil men.

But God is greater. God offers lasting hope and lasting salvation and true comfort while the Devil offers pain and suffering and temporary lust and temporary power.

My prayers and sympathies go out to the people of London. I may be one man but I stand with you today, and many others do also.
I John 4: 17 - 21 (King James Version)

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: bcause as he is, so are we in this world.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

We love him, because he first loved us.

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

Best Wishes,

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Independence Day!

I woke up this morning thinking about an old friend of mine. He and I met in the 4th grade here in Austin in 1979. He was the first person I ever befriended who was from another country. In fact, he and his family were refugees from Laos who lived up the street from me and my family. I became protective of my friend because other kids picked on him for his "rough" English and being Asian.

Even after he and his family moved to Wisconsin, my friend and I stayed in touch via letters. When he joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in San Antonio, Texas, we still stayed in touch via letters. He even visited me and my family a few times.

Around this time (jump ahead to the early 1990s), I moved to San Marcos, Texas, to attend Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). I was already engaged to Angel and we were starting to plan our wedding.

In one of my letters to my friend, I told him the good news of who I was in love with and planning to marry. Now, considering that my friend was planning to become a Methodist minister in Wisconsin, I figured he would be happy for me. He always had an interest in the ministry because it was Christian missionaries who rescued him and his family and made it possible for them to come to America.

Anyway, I assumed he might be upset because Angel and I were "living in sin" but happy because we wouldn't be doing that anymore if we were married. I got that one completely wrong! He was upset that I was engaged to someone of a different race. In retrospect, I believe he was sensitive to the subject because he'd told me that one of his sisters had had a child with someone of another race; in his view, this action had disgraced his sister and, in a way, their whole family.

I never heard from my friend again. Honestly, that hurt me to the core. It's been 10 years and it still lingers, when I think about it.

My friend who was going into the ministry might have reconsidered his position if he'd known that God would use this woman of another race to reach me for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My wife got saved first. Her example of living for Christ and expressing His love was what broke through my barriers of pride and ignorance of the Bible. The Bible speaks of love for all nations and loving everyone, not just people like yourself. Despite what some say, the Bible never discouraged interracial marriage, only marrying those who worshipped other gods. Even in the Old Testament, many who were of other nations were permitted to enter the Jewish faith and become part of the Jewish nation. And in the New Testament, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ made it possible for the free gift of salvation to become available to all nations.

I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't gotten true salvation and been taught the Bible in truth and in love.

The only thing which mattered to me back then was that I loved this woman who happened to be of a different "race" and I wanted to marry her and start a family with her. For that, I risked (and sometimes lost) a lot. I lost friends, I nearly lost family relationships, I lost finishing college (at that time) but I gained the love of a lifetime. I gained someone who was willing to face the same risks. And once Christ came into our lives, we found the strength to continue on despite the adversities.

If only my friend had known this, I doubt he would have discarded our friendship so easily. And if he was truly Christian, then he had the charge from Christ Himself to love everyone.
I John 2: 7 - 11 (King James Version)

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

So what does all this have to do with July 4th, with Independence Day? My friend came to America to escape tyranny and death in Laos. He became a naturalized citizen, even serving his (new) country in the U.S. Military. He lived the American dream. He even went on to further give of himself by trying to give back to this great God for sending missionaries to rescue him and his family. But when this same God allowed challenges to come into his life, to see if my friend would still love and accept his sister and his friend, my friend's actions said "That's too much! I can't do that."

I wish my friend well. I don't even know if he's still alive. But if he is and if by some odd twist of circumstances, he gets to read this and recognizes himself in it, I want him to know, I forgive him, I still love him and I welcome his friendship.

Independence Day is about having the faith to stand for what's right, even when all odds are against you...hoping and praying that a just and loving God can make a way. And in the case of early America and my own marriage, He did and still does.

Have a Happy July 4th!

Best Wishes,

Thursday, June 30, 2005

New IR Haven Logos & Old Star Trek Books

Ever since I found a site called Typogenerator, I've been toying around with new IR Haven logos. I think it's nice to have several available, to liven things up from time to time.

Let me know what you think of the latest one!

On an unrelated note, I found both The Ashes of Eden and The Return by William Shatner and Judith and Garland Reeves-Stevens. I read The Ashes of Eden in two evenings! Ironically, it was not my favorite book of the two, though it was an appropriate final send off for the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701A and the original crew in their last adventure together. It was also a great prelude for Avenger and ended on a great cliffhanger!

To me, The Return was what should have made it the movies instead of First Contact. Now, don't get me wrong: I really liked First Contact but the introduction of a Borg "Queen" sort of destroyed the effectiveness of the Borg Collective. If a Starfleet captain or crewmember could outwit the Borg Queen, they could (and later did) do tremendous harm to the Borg. The Return took a much better approach, exposing the Borg's strengths and weaknesses in behaving like the components of one huge machine.

The Return read like a good movie. Just enough character development and action to offset the drama, mixed with a "just right" pace. Shatner and the Reeves-Stevens' delved into and ably represented the Next Generation crew's personalities while still keeping the main focus on Kirk, Picard and Spock. Oh, and I can't leave out the Romulans! They made creepy allies with the Borg. Creepy -- but it worked and made sense. A very satisfying ending that fills in the gaps with Shatner and Picard when Generations left off while still building up to Avenger.

Okay, enough raving about Star Trek books...lol!

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Some Blasian Links

For those who've never heard the term before, Blasian = Black + Asian

Blasian Forums

Blasian Nation

Blasian World

I'll look for more. It's hard to find well-maintained Blasian sites but they are out there...

Best Wishes,
How The Other 'Hafu' Lives

This article from Japantoday.com came out in May 2005. It is a very interesting editorial by Ai Uchida, a singer-songwriter for the Tokyo-based music group AVANT GARDE. This article is her take on being half-Japanese and half-American. It is upbeat, positive and definitely worth a read!

Best Wishes,

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Resurrection of Crossing The Divide

I really hope I don't regret this but I've decided to being back IR Haven's old Delphi Forum called "Crossing The Divide" (CTD). CTD started off as the "IR Haven Forum" but that got tired and didn't necessarily encompass everything the forum was growing into. CTD had its ups (over 20,000 posts over several years) and downs (trolls, racists from both sides of the aisle) but it truly was the reason behind IR Haven's original slogan: "It's not just a website, it's a COMMUNITY!"

For all its flaws and shortcomings, CTD provided an outlet for discussion on IR issues. I met some very interesting people of all different backgrounds and I learned a lot from the experience.

So, I'm going to take a chance that maybe there's still some good that can come of the CTD forum. Check it out and let me know what you think...

Crossing The Divide

I'll also be adding the link back into "Other Sections" in the righthand column.

Best Wishes,
The Ten Commandments
A Brief Thought Concerning The Supreme Court's 10 Commandments Ruling

Question: Is this really about the Constitution anymore?

I don't think so. The whole "Separation of Church and State" argument is an interpretation by a past Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black, and not in the Constitution. The only thing the Founding Fathers wanted was to prevent a State Religion being established. They did not want the abolition of Christianity or any other religion. Religious freedom was the result of the U.S. Constitution.

Displaying the Ten Commandments is not invoking religion. U.S. Constitutional law is based on the Ten Commandments and the Bible.

Final thought: If it's okay to display the Ten Commandments outside a government building but not okay to display the Ten Commandments inside a government building, does this 5-4 Supreme Court ruling represent an endorsement of the idea of Judeo-Christian segregation?

You be the judge.

Best Wishes,
Sports and Interracial Dating - One Reporters View

Wow. Here's the same topic we covered last week but from a female African-American Sports writer who "gets it." How refreshing! Here's the critical segment of the article...

Best Wishes,

Many African American women feel that "brothers" are betraying the race by dating a woman of another race or nationality.

Please, let's stop the madness and get over it.

Are we really that insecure and hung up on race in this country that the University of Kentucky has to tell one of their star athletes who they can or can't date, let alone marry?

Why should the FBI be brought in because some racists, who need to blame someone because they have no life, send death threats to black athletes who are married to white women?

Why should anyone but your own family care whom you chose to spend the rest of your life with?

Even during televised sporting events, we never see wives of athletes who happen to be a diffrent color than their husbands.

We see wives of the same race flashing their "bling bling" and acting the fool when their husbands have done something good on the court or ice.

We are never shown interracial couples. Why?

Are the networks afraid that someone from "Down South" or "Up North" will be offended?

Who cares if Mrs. Kobe Bryant is Mexican-American or that Tim Duncan's wife is white American?

Why should some black athletes have to leave the country because of their relationships off the field?

What happens off the field should be no one else's business unless that athlete is doing something illegal like stealing, doing drugs or beating up the wife and kids.

The last time I looked, interracial dating wasn't a real crime in the United States.

Obviously, some people aren't aware of that fact.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

IR-Asian and Hapa Web Resources

Once upon a time, you were doing good to find a 2-year old issue of Yolk magazine online, a non-updated college campus group website, the occasional semi-active mailing list and maybe some personal pages, in terms of Hapa/IR-Asian websites. That's all changed now. Maybe it's yet another influence of blogs or the increased numbers of biracial and multiracial people using the internet. Whatever the reason, it's a welcome change to me.

Here's a sampling of some pretty cool IR-Asian/Hapa websites and blogs I ran across today. I'll be adding them to the IR Links section, too:

Half Korean

Eurasian Nation

Curls - Superb Hair Care for Multiethnic Women


I'm sure there are many other IR-Asian/Hapa websites out there. If you know of some, you can e-mail them to me!

Best Wishes,

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Yep, last night, I unleashed my "Inner Cajun" (which is interesting, considering my biological heritage is Dutch and British) and made some seafood gumbo! I did have to do some research on the internet to find a few nice recipes to mix and match from. I learned that there's a lot more to putting together a good gumbo than just rice, meat, seasonings and okra-! Oooooeeee! ;)

One surprise for me was to learn that it is almost a capital crime to use imitation crabmeat in any gumbo worth it's weight in shrimp, so I made sure to use the real deal!

There's so much love and pride wrapped up in a hearty batch of gumbo -- and that's just the combination I was looking for.

So, here's my recipe for "Seafood Smorgasbord Gumbo..."


- Creole Seasoning* (2 tablespoons)
- Red bell pepper (1 cup, remove seeds, cut into strips and then cut into 1-inch chunks)
- Yellow onion (1 cup chopped into small chunks)
- Jarred garlic puree (1 teaspoon)
- Long grain white rice (1/4 cup)
- Olive oil (2 tablespoons)
- White flour (1 tablespoon)
- 1 Bay leaf
- Chicken Stock (organic preferred, 3 cups)
- One 10-oz. can of chunk chicken (drain most of the water from can before adding)
- Pre-cooked medium-sized shrimp (1/2 pound)
- One 6-oz. can of real crabmeat (drain most of the water from can before adding)
- Pre-cooked sausage (1 link)
- Frozen okra (1 10-oz. package)
- Diced tomatoes (1 14-oz. can, no salt)

* Creole Seasoning is made of:
Salt (2 tablespoons)
Garlic Salt (1 teaspoon)
Celery Salt (1 teaspoon)
Basil leaves (1 tablespoon)
Oregano leaves (1 teaspoon)
Cayenne Pepper (1 tablespoon)
Black Pepper (1 tablespoon)
Paprika (3.5 tablespoons)
Crushed Thyme (1 tablespoon)
(Blend throughly - makes about 1/4 cup)

1. PRAY. No, I'm not kidding!
2. Add red bell pepper, onion, garlic puree and olive oil to large cooking pot over high heat
3. Blend in flour
4. Add chicken stock
5. Add diced tomatoes, rice and okra
6. Add Creole seasoning and bay leaf
7. Bring to a boil
8. Cover and simmer for 6 - 12 minutes, to soften the okra
9. Add chunk chicken and crabmeat
10. Add sausage and shrimp
11. Cook at low heat for 5 minutes
12. Remove from heat, remove bay leaf and cover

Easily serves 5 - 6.

Unleash your Inner Cajun today!

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Interracial Relationships In Sports Evoke Various Reactions

I'm not a sports fan but this article intrigued me. About mid-article, the writer gave away that she was African-American, which had definite relevance to the perspective of the article. The author more or less identified with what she felt were a majority of African-American women who feel "like they have a better chance of hitting the lottery than finding a black man to marry."

The author is very frank and honest when she states the following:

The root of our discomfort with black athletes and white women is multi-layered, but it's a result of both sides allowing statistics and fear to play on prejudices.

For African-American women, every time we see a black athlete with a white woman we feel like the Bellagio in Ocean's Eleven - as if something just got hijacked from us.

That sentiment seems twisted, but it's based on the fear that all the good black men are marrying white women.

I have heard this sentiment often, in casual conversation but moreso in television and film. I wonder where the line is between the reality behind the fears and the tensions the media can spark by pushing paranoia (as the media well knows how to do)? A problem I saw in her methodology, however, was depending entirely on statistics. Statistics, especially those derived from surveys, have a tendency to be, well, inaccurate. It's best to match real-life experience with any statistics and see if the two concur.

Taking that into account, the real issue here seems to be a much deeper one, one that has nothing to do with interracial relationships. The issue seems to lie with the declining numbers of African-American men marrying, staying married and taking on the mantle of the head of the household.

If this is so, then perhaps something could be learned in studying why IR marriages of Black men (athletes or otherwise) with White women work and why these men are more likely to step up to the plate for an IR relationship and not for African-American women. I certainly don't have the answer to that complex social issue. According to the article, I was fortunate enough to marry one of the 10% of African-American women who marry outside their race. That is, if you believe the statistics (and I'm not sure I do).

One thing I did take issue with in the article, though, was this remark:

Interracial relationships don't just make black people uncomfortable, either. Several conservative whites have expressed concern over the high rate of interracial relationships because they have this crazy fear it will lead to end of the white race. H. Millard, a columnist for the ultra-racist New Nation News, wrote, "Call it what it is: Genocide and the extinction of the white genotype."

Why, oh, why does the author have to resort to using the racist stereotype of White conservative racist nutjob as the only other opinion besides that belonging to Black people? For an otherwise well-written article, this stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb... As a person who happens to be White and happens to be conservative, I can vouch for the fact that I am neither a racist nor a nutjob. In fact, I've had the displeasure of dealing with people who hold such views (over the internet and not in person, thankfully) in the past and it was extremely unsettling; I'd really like to avoid being lumped in with them and I know I'm not alone in that.

The author finishes on a mixed, biased note:

Chapman should be saluted for speaking out against his former university and having the guts to date who he wanted despite what officials thought about it - and in Kentucky of all places.

But real progress won't be made until there is no worry about who white men date or who black men choose.

I'm not sure if the author intended this but she seems to assume that white men only date Black women and thus, don't marry them but Black men will always "choose" (i.e. - "marry").

I guess my final thought on this article is that maybe we need to confront prejudice in every community before we start judging IR relationships and looking for faults in them.

Best Wishes,
Strom Thurmond's Biracial Daughter:
'Remarkable' Life A Complex Story Of Race, Family Shared By Many

This is a very interesting article, from a historical perspective about a tragic but ultimately positive life. Mrs. Washington-Williams, 79, is biracial but considers herself Black only. She acknowledges that this is because of the culture she was raised in. She is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

It is unfortunate that 'One Drop Rule' mentality, the times she grew up in and the lack of acknowledgment of her by her father, the late Senator Thurmond, prevented her from experiencing the fullness of both cultures. It makes me a bit more grateful that enough progress has been made that my wife and I can raise our boys with full knowledge of both of their cultures and even the Native American heritage that my wife and my boys share without the fear and intimidation of times past. If there had been an internet during the pre-civil rights days, I have no doubt that sites like IR Haven would have been taboo if not outright forbidden and illegal.

Best Wishes,

Monday, June 20, 2005

Post-Father's Day Post

Oops, I forgot to post about Father's Day. My bad...

My own father passed away from cancer in 1997. As time passes, I notice that there has been a shift in my focus from my role as son to my role as father. I'm not sure I like the fact that it's become easier to forget about my own father around Father's Day but I'm not going to beat myself up over it, either. It makes sense, it's logical.

My own job as father becomes more complex as my boys get older and into more interesting social circumstances, at school and in life. I also have the responsibility and privilege to answer their questions regarding faith, prayer, the Bible, God and Jesus (and if I don't know the answer, which will happen some day, I can talk with my pastor about those questions). Equally important, however, is that my wife and I are striving to walk this Christian walk in front of them because everyone knows: talk is cheap.

Concerning Dad, I did think of him some yesterday. It was more reflecting in general, not about specific Father's Days. I think it is healthy to remember him. Sometimes, I dream about him…and it really is like he's alive again. When I do dream about him, it's always in the present or near-future, never past experiences or memories. I wonder why that is? Anyway, I'd like to think he'd be pleased with the kind of father I've become, with the help of the Lord.

We woke up early this Father's Day to go to church. The women and youth of our church put on a spectacular Father's Day program. My wife both sang with the choir and played viola on two of the songs, including during a very long (but appropriate) gift presentation by the pastor's wife to all of the men of the church and the male guests. My sons were in the "Children's Church" segment of the program in which those kids sang one song; then, my boys sat with me the rest of the program. The program was very uplifting, inspiring and powerful, very well-organized. The program was followed by a wonderful Father's Day sermon by our pastor.

After church (and a switch to more casual clothes), we went over to Angel's parents' house and visited with them for several hours. A little while after we arrived, Angel's sister and her sister’s husband and their daughters came by to visit, too. We had a fun time and thoroughly enjoyed Angel's dad's scrumptious barbecue (it was my first time to have barbecued mutton -- which went great with the barbecued chicken, ranch style beans and salad). Although 10+ years ago, things started out pretty rocky, I now enjoy a very good and satisfying relationship with my father-in-law and he has a great love for my sons.

My father-in-law even helped introduce my oldest son, Adam, to golf (when we arrived, he was watching the U.S. Open). A bit later, Adam used his grandfather's putter and knocked a nerf-golfball into a cup – a hole in one! Adam really studied the golfers on TV and his grandfather. I think he got nervous in trying to repeat his earlier feat but he really enjoyed himself. His brother, Josey , also took his hand at the practice golfing. For a 6-year old, he did pretty good! (Keep in mind, this was all in a living room.)

So, by the time we got back home, we were all tired.

It had been a good Father's Day. A belated Happy Father's Day to all the dads (and dads-to-be) in the blogosphere!

Best Wishes,

I feel like I'm late to the game on this one. I ran across a few blogs that referred to "twinkified" this and that, and seemed to relate to Asians. The more I saw it, the more I wondered "What on Earth does 'twinkified' mean?" It only took a few clicks on Google to find out, from What Kind of Asian Are You?

  • Your significant other is not Asian and never has been.
  • You have few Asian friends, if any.
  • You are embarrassed at family events because you cannot speak your language and everyone has to switch to English to communicate with you.
  • You have no idea that the other types of Asians on this list even exist.
  • You think Hello Kitty is dumb and do not know what Sanrio is.
  • You are the only Asian on this list that does not know what Bubble Tea is.
  • You drive a Ford or some other domestic car and if you drive a Honda, it is stock.

How long has this racist term been in existence?! Calling someone a "twinkie" or “twinkified” (yellow on the outside, white on the inside) because they date or marry interracially? That's right up there with "oreo" for black/white IRs! How widespread is this term? Did it start on the Net? I think, like all racism, it’s pathetic and stupid but the fact that people, many of them Asian-American (if the blogs I saw were any indication), find this perfectly acceptable -- even normal -- is very troubling.

So, this really peeved me this morning. Not exactly Earth-shattering, but disappointing and annoying. I wonder if IR Haven could (or should) start a little web-based effort to get that term (and others like it) shamed out of existence?

Let me know what you think. Thanks!

Best Wishes,

Friday, June 17, 2005

First Light Update!

I've just finished doing a major overhaul to the First Light website! We also purchased a domain name and web hosting account just for First Light, so it's much simpler to look up! Yup, I personally think http://www.nccfirstlight.com is MUCH easier to remember than http://users2.ev1.net/~crusader/firstlight -- y'know? LOL!

I also signed up for a band profile at MySpace.com. You can actually hear some of our band's music there.

First Light on MySpace

Let me know what you think -- about the website redesign, the MySpace profile and the songs!

Best Wishes,
The Next Time You're Ready To Complain, Consider This

I have noticed that a lot of people in the blogosphere like to complain. Actually, sometimes it borders on whining. I may even have been guilty of that a time or two.

If you think your life is rock-bottom horrible or that you're poor, you may reconsider after reading the following true story from West Africa.

Unfortunately, I don't think throwing money at the African governments (some of which are clearly corrupt) is going to solve these problems. All I can do is pray for people in this situation and be grateful to God for what He has blessed me with.

Best Wishes,

West Africa: Impoverished Families Trade Their Children

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
June 16, 2005
Posted to the web June 16, 2005


Thousands of children are taken each year from the poorest regions of West Africa and trafficked abroad for profit. Often, their own families are behind the trade.

It was just after his father died that 10-year-old Dieudonne was put to work farming in his hometown of Zakpota, Benin. But after barely a week, his uncle put him in a car and took him to work at a quarry over the border in Nigeria.

When Zenabou was eight, her older sister working in Gabon sent a friend to collect her from her parents' home in Sokode, central Togo. But the promised schooling never materialised and Zenabou was set to work first as her sister's unpaid domestic worker, then as a market trader.

Zakpota and Sokode are impoverished regions in two of the world's poorest countries, where the majority of the population scratch out an existence on less than a dollar a day, according to UN figures.

Read the rest of the story here...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Continuing IR In Star Trek

Star Trek is well-known for its championing of civil rights. Star Trek was the first show to show an interracial kiss on television (between Kirk and Uhura), despite the controversy. Also, one of the main characters, Spock, was biracial (1/2 Vulcan and 1/2 human). Spock's "death" in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan was so heartfelt and shocking that they had to find a way to resurrect him by the next movie. Ironically, even though I enjoyed Spock in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Spock just wasn't the "same" Spock. I'd thought it would have better served the series if he'd stayed dead...but such was not to be. Then they brought Spock into Star Trek: The Next Generation as an activist for Romulan-Vulcan reunification. It was interesting, generally likeable and thankfully, confined to a two-part episode.

William Shatner and Judith and Garland Reeves-Stevens began writing Star Trek books in the 1990s. And believe it or not, they have brought Spock back to life much better than the post-Khan Star Trek movies ever did. Likewise, Shatner brought Kirk back to life (again) following Kirk's dramatic-but-still-disappointing death in Star Trek: Generations. The Shatner/Reeves-Stevens pairing started with The Ashes of Eden and begins just prior to Kirk's Generations appearance on the NCC Enterprise 1701-B. The adventure continues in The Return, which follows the events in Generations. I have not yet read The Ashes of Eden or The Return but I am looking forward to doing so.

I just finished reading the next book in the series, Avenger, last night. Thus far, this is the best, most satisfying Star Trek book I have ever read. That is not praise I easily give out; I wasn't even sure I was going to like this one, especially with it's "environmentalist" theme. Fortunately, the environmentalism was a secondary theme, more plot device than gripping conversation piece. To me, this was a "tying up all the loose ends" book with a dual primary theme involving both Kirk and Spock. One of those themes heavily involved Spock's biracial heritage and it was used well.

Avenger is more of an "Original Series" book than a "Next Generation" book but that's not to say the authors neglect the TNG characters. Shatner and the Reeves-Stevens know how to write Jean-Luc Picard, Will Riker, Deanna Troi, Beverly Crusher, Geordi LaForge and the android Data. Lt. Cmdr. Worf does not appear in this book; he was probably at Deep Space Nine during this time.

Still, this book seemed like a gift to "Original Series" fans.

I don't want to give too much away because I'd like to encourage people to read this book. Do like I did, check it out from the library. What I can say is this: we learn of an early connection between Kirk and Sarek, Spock's father, going back to Kirk's teenage years. The events from that experience not only saved "Jimmy Kirk's" life and helped fuel his passion for space exploration but also directly ties-in to the environmental threat facing the entire Federation.

In the present, Spock is informed that his father may not have died of natural causes from "Bendii Syndrome" as previously thought; he may, in fact, have been murdered. This clearly shocks Spock and puts his human side's emotions in conflict with his Vulcan side's trained reason and logic. Spock is driven to find his father's killer and learn the reason why this occurred and he is willing to go to great lengths to accomplish this.

Meanwhile, Captain Picard is assigned, along with the Enterprise-E, to help maintain a necessary (but to Picard, maddeningly boring) planetary blockade to help contain the devastating "virogen" that has broken out and is spreading throughout Federation space. The virogen is breaking down and destroying all biological life, devastating ecosystems as well as animal and human populations. The Federation's best scientists have no clue how to stop the virogen, in part because the virogen's rapid spread has been exhausting Federation relief supplies and personnel, causing communication chaos and mechanical failures due to lack of parts. Morale is plummeting while death and ecodamage are skyrocketing. Picard would rather his enemy be some megalomaniac in a spaceship than some nonsentient pathogen best left to medical personnel.

Amazingly, everything I've described thus far ties together in a web of mystery and treachery. It's a really great read (I read all 370 pages in only 4 days -- faster than usual for me). I did have some nitpicks and dislikes but they didn't rob me of the overall satisfaction I had with the style, methodology and care with which the authors wove their web. Spock's biracial nature is handled with some surprise (I can't tell you how many surprises the authors throw in, along with the proverbial kitchen sink) and ultimately, an astounding conclusion connected to his relations with his father. I also learned more than I ever imagined I would about Kirk -- and I liked this. After all these years, in the hands of the right writers (of course, including Shatner), James Tiberius Kirk still has life and intrigue.

Time also reminds us why Kirk, Spock and a certain ornery medical professional were the stars of the original series. And that's not a slight at the other actors and characters from "TOS." I can't wait to read about Captain Sulu and the Excelsior in The Ashes of Eden and I loved getting reacquainted with "Scotty" and McCoy in Spectre. Kirk and Spock demand our respect and attention and Dr. McCoy continues to remind us that Kirk and Spock are human after all.

Best Wishes,

Monday, June 13, 2005

Another Library Visit And Some Old-Fashioned IR Cinema...

We took a family trip to the library on Saturday. We've really enjoyed that this summer, going to the library as a family. Anyway, my boys turned in the books and videotapes they had previously checked out and then checked out some more. Likewise, I turned in Spectre and got another Shatner/Reeves-Stevens book titled Avenger.

The more I read these Shatner team-ups with the Reeves-Stevens', the more I like their work. I've read some other Star Trek books that, frankly, were either dry as burned toast or cheesy beyond reckoning. While Shatner's books have mild overkill on "Star Trek trivia infusement" along the lines of "Oh, wow! They remembered that from episode 'yada yada' in original series season 3 or episode 'yada yada' in TNG season 6," it's forgivably written and usually relevant to the story (even if only 1 in 200 readers actually knows what the reference means).

It's impressive to me that, the more I read 'backwards' in this ongoing series, the more I want to go back to the first writings of Shatner with the Reeves-Stevens and read forward in the series. That means I have two more books to read after this one. There have been more books by the trio since, but I'm not sure I'm ready to delve into them yet; they just seem to show "the continuing friendship/dependency of James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard." Shatner has made it seem like the two are symbiotically joined, which is usually a fun read but it's almost like he's literally re-written "Star Trek: The Next Generation" to include himself in it. That's kind of funny...

Moving on, out of curiosity, I decided to check out the videotape of South Pacific. I had never seen this movie before but I had heard praise of it. I was vaguely aware of the IR aspect to it but I had no knowledge of the actual plot(s) of the movie/musical. After watching part of it on Saturday night and the rest last night (it's 157 minutes long!), my wife and I had mixed reactions about it. Considering that in 1958, it was still near-revolutionary to have a musical film about not one, but two IR-themed relationships. It was clearly very important for the musical to be made.

On the other hand, Angel and I both agreed that the the secondary story, the pairing of a White American officer (Lt. Joseph Cable, played by John Kerr) and a (at best) 18 year old Polynesisan young woman named Liat, played by France Nuyen (would also become a Star Trek veteran years later, as the "Dolman of Elaas") was almost completely mishandled. It didn't help that Liat had maybe two or three lines, only in French. The rest of the time, she smiled incessantly and performed the lyrics that her character's mother (Bloody Mary, played quasi-insanely by Juanita Hill) sang...in English...which was cute, but made no sense. I thought Liat didn't understand any English and only spoke French? Maybe Bloody Mary used her voodoo to help them understand each other, especially since the song insisted that these two lovers talk about so many things... It reminded me of Disney's Pocahontas where Pocahontas learns English by "listening to the wind." Makes about as much sense, but hey, this is entertainment -- it just has to entertain, right?

Liat was just the sex interest of "Lutella" Cable and everything was fine until "Bloody Mary" started talking about the fine babies Cable and Liat would make when he became Liat's husband. Nevermind the fact that Liat and Cable had already had sex twice by this point in the story and probably had one on the way anyway.

Cable just froze and looked like all the blood ran out of him when faced with the prospect of interracial marriage and children. Soon, after singing (quite expertly) about the injustices of racism and how wrong it is to judge someone on the basis of skin color or looks, does he run into the arms of his lover and soon-to-be wife? Of course not! Lt. Cable has to go on a dangerous mission to clear his head and figure things out... HUH??????

Of course, he gets killed on the dangerous mission and can never resolve his plot. I found this resoundingly disappointing, especially since Liat actually had the character (though she lacked the lines) to demand that she would marry noone except Lt. Cable.

Intriguingly enough, France Nuyen (Liat) is biracial. Her father is Vietnamese and her mother is French. Nuyen is still alive, acting (she played Ying-Ying St. Clair in The Joy Luck Club) and making the rounds at Star Trek conventions.

The primary storyline in South Pacific was much stronger and involved more acting (and singing). The concept (to those who haven't seen South Pacific) was essentially this: a White American World War 2 nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas (Mitzi Gaynor) falls in love with a French plantation owner (Rossano Brazzi), learns about his biracial children from a now-deceased Polynesian wife and has to accept the past interracial marriage which produced the present-day biracial children. The ultimate irony of this whole story was she could accept that the man she loves KILLED a man (in self-defense, he claimed) but she almost couldn't accept his IR family. When the Frenchman goes off on a dangerous mission and very well might not come back, that's when she decides what's important and goes to support the Frenchman's kids. Question: how did she get unbridled access to them on his plantation?

Overall, the acting varied, the Rogers and Hammerstein score was musically and vocally strong but lyrically weak (almost ditzy). The story was all over the place but got the points across in the end. It's definitely worth it to see the musical, understanding that, like many musicals, it gets hokey in parts. Cute and lovable with some odd spots.

As an added bonus, I recognized another Star Trek veteral among the cast. Ray Walston, who played the comedic sailor Luther. I could have done without seeing Walston in "island drag" (it was meant to be pathetic...and it was) but he was otherwise amusing at various times in South Pacific. He proved himself to be a sweet, caring guy under a tough exterior. I think he's a good actor. In Trek, he played the Academy groundskeeper, Boothby, in Star Trek:TNG, a role he revised for Star Trek: Voyager (with a big twist). Walston also has a long and distinguished career (with some less than distinguished cameos and roles, like most actors).

I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane, if you were already familiar with South Pacific, or that this raises interest for seeing the DVD, if you've never seen it. It's not everyday one gets to review a movie that's almost 50 years old. Ah, the beauty of blogs!

Best Wishes,

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I'm Back!

This morning, I fixed the computer. The processor had indeed gotten fried the other day but I got a replacement from Goodwill Computer Store. They had my exact processor, and due to a minor computer glitch of their own, they sold me the AMD Athlon "Thunderbird" 1400 Mhz processor at a ripe price of $21.60! Can't beat that with a stick! So, I put the "new" processor in this morning and it works very well.

It was actually kind of nice to have a three day break from the computer at home. It forced us to find other things to do, which led to some creative choices (like going to the library -- not to use their computer! lol).

Anyway, I've been reading Spectre and really enjoying it. I've read nearly half the book in about two days. I really like the authors' knowledge of the Star Trek characters, although some ST canon really doesn't need to be followed (I never liked the idea of Klingons having pink blood, how anti-macho and undignified is that for the mighty warrior race? Geez!). I also like the successful blending of the different characters from the different series, specifically "The Original Series," "The Next Generation" and "Voyager." There's a tossaway beginning at Deep Space Nine but it really doesn't incorporate DS9 characters into the story as a whole.

One thing that is unusual and interesting in Spectre is the use of bispecies characters, specifically the love of Captain Kirk's life, Teilani. She's half-Klingon/half-Romulan, if you can imagine. And within the trilogy of stories, Kirk and Teilani have a multi-species child. Okay, Star Trek rave/rant off...

More later!

Best Wishes,

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

An "Awwwwwww!" Moment

Last night, I was frustrated because my home PC's processor was giving all signs of going on the fritz and dying. I had been troubleshooting it for over an hour since installing a new processor fan (I'll stop there in my tech description, I can see your eyes glazing over already!).

Anyway, I was taking a little breather and my oldest son, Adam, comes in to the computer room and gives me a hug. Then he tells me "I want to be just like you when I grow up, Papa. I want to fix people's computers and help people all the time."

That had to have been my all-time "warm and fuzzy" moment with Adam.

I have GREAT kids. I love my family!

Best Wishes,

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Book Blog Tag Challenge -- Tag, I'm It!

Last tagged: James Landrith

1. Total number of books I have owned.

Hm, for the sake of having something amusing to blog, I will admit I have probably owned less than 20 books in my life. Because I am the Director of ISAA, people do send me books for review, so I do (technically) presently own some books, but I could probably only list about half a dozen.

Do comic books count? I was a huge comics fan for the better part of 20 years, until their quality tanked and prices skyrocketed. I was a big X-Men fan, back in the day. I also scooped up all the "Death of Superman" and "Reign of the Supermen" titles back in 1992-1993.

2. Last book I bought

I'm a big library nut, when I'm in a perusing mood. As I stated above, more people send me books than I actually buy. I think the last time I bought a book was at book fair in elementary school -- and that probably doesn't count since it was my parents' money. I would guess that the last book I bought (if you include comic books) was either an X-Men or Spiderman title.

3. Last book I read

I would have to say Preserver by William Shatner (with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens). Before that, I read the book which preceded that story, Dark Victory by the same writing team. Since this was all library fair, I did not ever find Spectre, which was the first in that three-part series of Star Trek books.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me

a. The Bible (King James Version) - this would have to be the all-time, most important book that means a lot to me. Coming to an understanding of this book, especially the Old Testament, has helped shape my world view and been a source of hope and inspiration to me every day. Let me add that I could not understand the Old Testament to save my life before the Holy Spirit came into me. Now I can truly appreciate the Bible, whereas before I could only theorize and debate about it. Lastly, I prefer the King James Version because I consider it to be the most accurate and least "watered down and fluffy" version that is currently available in English.

b. Bram Stoker's Dracula - An irony, considering my favorite book is the Bible, but I will explain. Dracula was the first book I ever truly LIKED and read all the way through. This happened during my mid-to-late teens, which was also a very dark period of my life. Had I not taken an interest in this book, however, I don't think I would have taken much interest in reading books. This would have made college much less bearable than it already was. Thank you, Mr. Stoker.

c. The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Otto Frank - This was probably the first book I had to read for an assignment in school and it made an impact on me. Even though, at the time, I didn't fully understand all the implications, I found it fascinating and extremely picturesque. I found myself sympathetic to a character and her plight.

d. The Name by Franklin Graham. I read this book from cover to cover in less than a week! Simply put, the son of Billy Graham is an accomplished author who weaves his amazing life experiences in with discussing the relevance of the name of Jesus Christ in times past, present and implications for the future. He is particularly gripping in discussing the Columbine Massacre, the 2001 inaugeration and the events of September 11, 2001. Equally incredible, however, is his compassion in addressing the AIDS crisis, the long-building Sudan crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This book is for everyone, not just Christians; it has something relevant for anyone who reads it and I highly recommend it.

e. The Case For Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Stoebel. What I like about this book is its merciless persuit of the truth. The perspective is that of an agnostic seeking definitive proof for the existence of Jesus Christ and Christ's claims to be God in the flesh. This is not a Bible-thumping sermon. The author questions highly accredited professors, archaeologists, medical professionals and skeptics, creating a "case" and it is the reader who is left to make the final decision on what the truth is, based on the evidence the author presents. Highly informative, entertaining and to-the-point.

Again, a book for everyone. Two huge "thumbs up" from me!

5. Tag Five People and have them do this on their blogs


Best Wishes,

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Some New IR Headlines Of Interest

New Biracial Club Promotes Diversity, Provides Community

Group, in its startup phase, aims to unite students with similar past experiences

by Rebecca Hyler, Photo by Lisa Johnson
May 09, 2005

The missions of the new Biracial Student Association are two-fold: To make the campus more aware that the world is becoming increasingly diverse, and to provide biracial students with a sense of community.
While the club is only in its startup phase, waiting approval from the Student Government Association, Jennifer Gordon, the co-advisor of the BSA and the director of programs for the Office of Diversity Resources, already has a goal in mind.

"We want members to feel connected--finally," Gordon said. "There's a need for us to feel connected to people like us because we all have a lot to deal with, and we identify with many of the same experiences."

Gordon said she felt an instant connection to Taylor Walker, president of the BSA and a junior sports management major.

Both women are biracial, and they both grew up in racially isolated Long Island neighborhoods.

(Click on headline above to read rest of story)

Other Campuses: Christians, Colleges Deal With Mixing Races, Cultures

(U-WIRE) WACO, Texas - The Old Testament prohibited marriage between Jews and gentiles, but according to the associate professor of religious studies, A. Christian van Gorder, the idea wasn't to prevent marriages between people of different ancestry, but to keep the Jews from worshiping foreign gods.

Van Gorder, who uses the term "intercultural" rather than "interracial," said Christians who are against intercultural marriage aren't dealing with a religious issue, but with an issue "that relates mostly to European-American racism."

He said the Bible doesn't teach the concept of race, but rather warns against inter-religious marriages in passages such as Deuteronomy 7:3, Exodus 12:48-49 and 2 Corinthians 6:14.

(Click on headline above to read rest of story)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Mother's Day Afterthought

A belated but nevertheless sincere Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers! I've been waiting for an interracial (IR) topic to blog on and this is a good one. I mean, given that discussing current headlines, politics and the state of the world in general has been so depressing and/or discouraging that I had no desire to even attempt to comment on any of it. Thus the lack of blogging for awhile. Trust me, you would not have wanted to know my opinion on any of that.

We had a good Mother's Day weekend. One of the most special elements of my relationship with my wife is the fact that we are parents of biracial children. I am proud of my wife as the mother of our kids. We occasionally walk the line between two cultures with our children. I'm glad that most of the time we -- and our kids -- don't see any kind of daily clash between cultures. We make a point not to deny them access to either -- or any -- culture.

I think a parent's job is not to isolate their kids to only the parents' culture or community. I think that really limits a child's understanding of the world around them, which can follow them into adulthood and the rearing of future generations. I see way too much "cultural self-segregation" in virtually every culture.

I personally believe the unintended consequence of this is culturally institutionalized racism. It's subtle because it usually doesn't result in name-calling or violence or direct harm. What you do get is an unwillingness to learn other cultures, other communities, other foods, etc. And if people are not careful, this can result in the type of "cultural pride" that results in people avoiding and even looking down on other cultures. To me, that's racism.

To further clarify, I don't think there's anything wrong with being proud of the culture you come from or the accomplishments of people of one's culture or one's ancestors. What I mean by the racism is when one develops aggressive "cultural arrogance" and actively looks down on people of other cultures. I have seen individuals and families of all cultures do this, so it's not just any one culture that engages in these practices.

So, tying this back to Mother's Day, especially mothers of biracial or multiracial children, many of the ones I know or have met, tend to be more open to other cultures -- or at least the culture of their children's father.

I have also seen the sad example of IR couples where only one culture is infused in the children and the other parent's culture is minimized in the upbringing. These are "One Drop Children," using the "One Drop Rule" mentality (one drop of [insert race here] blood in your veins makes you [whatever race]).

We, as parents, have such an incredible responsibility to our children. If at all possible, we owe them two parents, a mother and a father, to help them feel loved and protected and properly nurtured.

Will we make mistakes in raising them? Absolutely, that's a part of being a parent: recognizing and learning from our mistakes and doing our best not to repeat them.

I am not saying anything negative about single parents. I have seen wonderful examples of single parents, female and male, where there was a divorce or a death. In all fairness, I have also seen good single parents who were never married; they just had to do much more to rise to the occasion of single parenthood. Parenting is always more difficult, though not impossible, with the absence of one parent.

Are there examples of bad two-parent families? Definitely! Half of all pregnancies (probably more) are not planned and some should have been planned. Some people just aren't ready to be parents or should not become parents, period.

Understanding all of this, I thank God for my wife, the mother of my children. She loves our children with a pure love, the same love she has for me. We are an IR married couple with biracial children and a truly special family.

Best Wishes,

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Mail Storage Wars: Gmail Vs. Yahoo!

Okay, so I finally decided to get a Gmail account for IR Haven. I had the "irhavenblog" account at Yahoo -- and that already had 250 MB of storage, promising to go up to 1 GB in May -- but Gmail, of course, offers 2 Gigabytes of mail storage.

The ultimate, ultimate question anyone can ask is: who on Earth actually USES two GB of mail storage and HOW would you do it? Would you make special folders just for Spam and actually save every last e-mail?? Would you send messages to yourself, just so you could save copies to self twice? Would you have to write all your friends with Gmail accounts and ask them to send you all their MP3 as ZIP attachments? And after all of that, would you still have more than about 200 MB? I wonder...

No, my deciding factor was more personal. At Yahoo, I can only have "irhavenblog" (long story, don't feel like telling it right now) and at Gmail, I can have "irhaven."

And I like "irhaven." Less is more.

Unlike Gmail...or Yahoo or MSN (but hey, 250 MB beats the old 2 MB limit!) or -?

Best Wishes,

Monday, April 18, 2005

More Site Design Changes

I decided to do away with the changing color background. It was a novelty two years ago but I think it was also adding to the load time and causing other glitches. For now, it's just going to be these background colors and if I want to, I'll shake things up again later (with the colors).

Please give me your input on the site design, I appreciate all feedback.

Best Wishes,

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Some Site Updates

I've taken out a few things and shrunk down a few site graphics in an attempt to make the blog load faster. I mean, if the Blog Explosion people spend 18 seconds waiting for the page to load, that only gives them 12 seconds to look at the content. It's a no-brainer.

I really tried to do a complete design makeover but well, it just wasn't happening tonight. Maybe I'm just getting a little too ambitious at this stage. I remind myself of the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The page-load time was kinda broke, so I'm trying to fix that, but design itself isn't bad. I don't get complaints that the site is hideous or e-mails with nothing but laughter concerning the look of the site, so that's encouraging...

I think if I ever have time or unbridled ambition, I'll make the move to Moveable Type, but till then, Blogger is just fine.

Best Wishes,

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Okay, so no sooner do I audioblog than a few interesting headlines pop up!

Woman's Biracial Nephew Opened Her Eyes To A Hole In The Toy Market

IR Haven has been a supporter of Real Kidz since last year.

Alicia Tries Different Key: Performer To Star In Movie About Biracial Musician

Thurmond's Biracial Daughter Denies She Will Challenge Estate

I was going to put in a Mariah Carey interview but it was just too silly. How many times can you use the word "bling" in an interview? *sighs* I liked her first album...

Best Wishes,
this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Vacation update # 4

Okay, so here are some pics of some of what we did on our vacation at Cove Haven, a Caesars Pocono Resort in Pennsylvania. Of course, we met a lot of interesting people and went to some interesting places but we didn't take a lot of pictures of people and I wouldn't post those, in the interests of those peoples' privacy. These pictures were from March 19, the day after Angel's and my 10th wedding anniversary.

This is my first time using Picasa2 and Hello in association with Blogger, but I think I finally got the hang of it. You can click on any of the pics below to see larger versions of the pics.

I may give try some narrative of the vacation experience in my next entry. In the meantime, enjoy the pics!

Best Wishes,

Me taking a shot at indoor archery (no pun)