Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pondering Hypothetical Social Morality

This is a bit random but I've often pondered about this idea of what if you didn't raise your kids the way society deems 'fit'.

I automatically think of characters in movies like Se7en or Silence of the Lambs or other such characters that were not just crazy but recluses isolated from society.

The quote 'it takes a village to raise a child' comes to mind and it makes me wonder what would happen in different settings or conditions if you were to raise a child without manners/social graces or even teaching them right from wrong.

1) You have a control where a child is raised as society deemed fit and immersed in a community.
2) Raise a child isolated yet with all the bells and whistles that is expected out of society.
3) Raise a child in a community but don't teach them anything.
4) Raise a child away from society and don't teach them anything
Extra perimeter would be:
5) A child is raised on their own in a community with no guardians or parent figures - not even in the community
6) A child is raised on the own isolated.

Remus and Romulus reared by a wolf.  Hmm...that should be an extra experiment, too!  We have scientific account of that through the Jungle Book and Rome's history so...maybe not.

Just out of curiosity because the Institution Research Board of Human Subject Research would SO not approve any of this but it does make you wonder...

Let's try and walk through some of these just for the sake of thinking
1) Well, it's the control so you see it around you everyday, no biggie.

2) Sound like what people living off the grid would do so no shock there too.

3) This is where things can get interesting and where I started to think about the implications of not teaching you kids basic lessons.  The only think I can think of with this situation is that that child will be a unruly for a while.  Because they are raised in a community, I would think that others would have a huge hand in molding this kid's outlook on what is right or wrong.  Kids are like sponges and are great at observing social behavior and almost have a herd/pack mentality of wanting to fit in because it's in our DNA.  I think in most cases the child will be find and that quote about a village would come into play.

I would say this is akin to how Harry Potter would be like...ish but with more emotional and social ineptitude.

4) This is where I feel anything can happen here.  If you isolate a child away from a community, I feel like it would be like having a clean slate to work with and it can go very bad or turn out pretty good.  Granted, there are some contributing factors that I would say would make a HUGE impact on this study.  Would the parent be kind and loving or would they be just as indifferent as if the child was an object that needs food every now and again.

With the loving and caring parent leave that much of an imprint on this child that they will know what's right from wrong based on what they've observed as 'good, loving behavior' from their parent and intrinsically incorporate it into their behavior if they ever met anyone else.

Or, would the child that was raised indifferently know what it wants and craves for social contact eventually turn crazy because of the deprivation.  There were and maybe still are studies about baby monkeys - for the record, I'm not cool with animal testing of any sort - and what happens when you take them away from their mother.  They would place the baby into a cage with a furry pelt to 'simulate' a mother but the babies are still deprived and show physical and emotional distress.  I'm not sure about all the parameters these test were conducted with but it seems they started off with the baby forming an attachment to the mother and then separating them.  What would happen to a child that didn't have any memory of their parents and were raised indifferently?  I would think they would grow an attachment to the nearest thing to a parent but with no praise or acknowledgment they would stop seeking affection and love and maybe even have a void of emotion when it was never taught to them.  I would think there is a lot of self doubt but after many years, they would not need the reaffirmation of acceptance or acknowledgement even as they would have to seek these things or comparable feelings within themselves.  Now that I think about it, this reminds me of the 'feral child' Genie and how she was raised.

5) I like to think of this scenario as the Naruto scenario...ish.  Naruto without Iruka or any other caring people.  You're just a rock essentially and are completely ignored.  Not even hated.  So what kind of personality or traits would this person have if they technically didn't exist in the eyes of others.  Granted, there were/are groups of people that were almost given this treatment.  Think of minorities or even culturally different groups of people (ie Burakumin, Jews, Syrians, etc).  There were definite psychological inferiority that came with being the ostracized group, but how does that impact a child if that is all they know?  I honestly don't know.

6) This particular child is what I would picture from the movie Se7en because of the way they described John Doe.  It sort of made me wonder about what a person that isolated and out of touch with society to get that fucked up.  You can say that John Doe was fucked up to begin with because he was a sociopath and there's no reasoning with them.  But did he BECOME a sociopath because of his isolation or was it already wired in his DNA to be so out of touch with feelings/emotions as well as right from wrong.  If he was never taught right from wrong, did he think that everything he did prior to being caught and killed was okay because he was just curious or was he really that messed up and just loved to toy with people's lives that way.

It almost makes me wonder how long ago did we start social behavior and morality in the whole evolution of human kind.  We can think even further because I definitely have no clue about this but did single celled organisms have some sort of social behavior or set of rules/guidelines towards others of the same kind.  I would think that thinks like blue-green algae didn't because they could just split and not have to interact with any others of your kind.

Though there were studies in the past few years that record that plants may think on some level we don't understand.  Crazy, I know. Honestly, how do we know if they do or don't because it's just a hypothesis.  We know that plants communicate but not really think and even the author of that article above says he doesn't know.  Maybe we just can't wrap our minds around it or haven't figured it out.  If plants can think and communicate, would you go as far as extrapolating that they have emotion?  Maybe not but who can tell?  That being said, if you have spores from mycology (mushrooms), and they talk to one another and reproduce, it's working its functionality of survival of the fittest by reproducing.  If we think in terms of animals, when did multi-celled organisms not just started to communicate but also form social hierarchy etc.?  I'd say once there was a differentiation between different organisms other than that one has the strongest genes, that would be when they started to form different social structure and from there create parameters.

For the sake of argument, let's think of insects.  There is definitely a social hierarchy especially if you think of those that have colonies.  Termites, ants, bees all have their class differentiation.  I'm more familiar with bees and their social structure and they run like a mini city.  It's very much a programmed structure based on rank, then sex and all controlled by the pheromones of the queen bee.  So there is communication via externally excreted hormones and there actually is a bit of behavior control though those pheromones.  If the colony is in distress or the queen dies or loses its ability to give off a pheromone, it's almost a bit chaotic until a new queen takes over.  The queen controls the fertility of the other bees so that there wouldn't be any competition and if she does, then they need to raise another queen.  Anhoo, my point is there is a definite structure and communication happening between everyone within the colony but I don't know what would happen if someone disobeys.  Granted, they usually don't because they are controlled by the queen otherwise if they are infected by a parasite that makes their inner wiring and everything else go wonky, they'll be killed or just ousted.

Let's talk about bigger multi-celled organisms like fish or even dogs.  They also have communication and you can even say emotions (apparently it has finally been scientifically proven that animals have emotions.  It took 'em long enough to quantify that shit).  Well, when there is isolation, there is a proven stress on the animal but there is also a high mortality rate too when there is no connection.  Think about how many times, we see animals that are isolated from a pack or group, they usually don't have the gumption to live because their purpose was through the group and now they don't have one.  Even loners that were ousted out may eventually fine companionship elsewhere but if not, they would likely die soon after.  It's different if an animal is wired where they are a bit of a loner but you can also say that those loner tendency also comes from nurture - like a honey badger.  They learn those behaviors from their mom or whatever parent.  But it's a whole different story if they were completely on their own.

So what would happen to a human child if it was left to its own devices from childhood.  If it was abandoned at birth, it's SOL because we are so dependent on another to feed and care for use until a certain age.  Let's say that the child was abandoned around 2 or 3 when it was too young to really imprint on someone but knows to feed itself - even if it means shoving anything and everything in its mouth.  Miraculously it survives, like Mowgli or Tarzan but minus the helping animals.  Would that person be feral and unaware of itself as well as other humans?  I wouldn't know.  Think Nell but less communication and even less social contact than Genie mentioned above.  I really wouldn't know what that child would be like but what would prevail Nature v. Nurture?  Would they be just like John Doe from Se7en or would they have some sense or morality?  Not sure.

We can only guess.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Funnest yet Scariest Class of All: SCUBA

I'm leaving the Big Island in December and trying to keep busy by taking different classes.

Well, I've taken one for production and now I'm taking one for SCUBA.

I love to snorkel because there is so much you can see and I'm pretty comfortable with swimming at that depth but SCUBA is a whole different ball park.   

It's pretty stressful and intimidating...almost scary.  This is the scaredy-cat in me talking here.

I have a healthy fear of almost...anything and it's kept me alive so far. *Knock on wood*

Don't get me wrong, I love the ocean but there are just too many things in and various factors of the ocean itself that scares the bejesus out of me!  You have to worry - okay, maybe only I worry about this - about tides, currents, waves, undertow and don't get me started on the various critters that can kill you.

And this...

...and those are just examples of some of the dangerous things lurking underwater.



These things can KILL YOU!...or hurt like HELL!

Getting tangential, so back on the ranch...

I have a healthy fear of varying degrees.  Oh, well.  I deal and one of the ways I deal is by throwing myself headfirst and face - one of many - fears, the ocean.

Okay, I may have painted a horrible picture about how I view the ocean but I truly love the ocean!  Heck, I live on a rock surrounded by ocean, how can you not?

It's absolutely gorgeous and there is so much that the ocean provides.

I'm very land locked and can forget there is a whole different world under the ocean that is thriving a remain unseen by most of the world.

The adventurous side of me just wanted a glimpse into that world.

Just a tiny peek.

Thus, I enrolled in SCUBA classes.

Let me tell you, I didn't know what to expect and it was definitely all foreign to me.

I've only ever seen people wearing SCUBA gear on television and let me tell ya, they cut out a WHOLE LOT OF PREP just to take that first step into the water.

Luckily, I had great instructors were thorough and made sure we were prepped to a T.  Lucky for me they were patient as well.

Funny story, I felt so out of place with all these early 20 to mid 20 year old students in my class and I had a startling realization.  I would be classified as a non-traditional student because the median age was (and this was back in 2003-05, if I'm not mistaken. I have no idea what it is now) 28 years old.  I was turning 30 in two weeks (actually already happened yesterday - yay, 30's!)  I started UH when I was 17 so that was a bit...weird.

Needless to say, I felt old!

Anyhoo, I could see the difference between me and the 'young whippersnappers' - I want to wave around my walker in indignation -  because I had no freakin' energy!  Between all day work, all day clinic and having to take my grad classes at night, I'm completely beat!  Heck, by the time Wednesday hits, it's all down hill from there and you'd be lucky if I can elicit a response other than a 'uh-huh' or 'nu-uh'.  Multi-syllabic words and actually doing shit on the weekend takes an act of god but somehow I managed.

We did our first ocean dive at Mahukona and it was a beautiful day!  The first dive in was the hardest to get used to because now you didn't have the safety of the pool.  One of the instructors however, said something that put me at ease.  "I hope you'd trust me enough to keep you safe."  ...or something along those lines.


I kept my cool until I descended and found I had a hard time with my buoyancy and equalizing but mainly the buoyancy.  Go fuckin' figure!  The one think I have an advantage with over Rico turns out to be the one bane of my existence underwater.  I also had a bit of difficulty equalizing and kept on coming up and down until I got it right.

Second dive was easier and and I had an easier time equalizing and I had more weight added to my BCD.  I was able to relax a bit more during the last dive and we saw some pretty neat things underwater.  Apparently there was a shipwreck that wrecked shop on that vessel all over the sea floor, so we were able to see chains and parts that survived wear and tear of the ocean.

It was pretty neat to see but I had a bit of a stressful time with the buoyancy as well as the equalizing that I couldn't fully appreciate it until halfway through our dive when I wasn't stressing about it at that point.  I can see why the instructors and the book keeps on stressing, Stay Calm.  It's easy to let your fears run rampant, especially if you feel overwhelm now that you're in the open ocean.

Our crew stayed in Kawaihae area and grabbed ice shave until we acclimated and headed on back.

The following day we went on a boat dive just off of Leleiwi and really close to Richardson, a place I'm familiar with for snorkeling.  In that respect I felt a bit more at ease when we got there.  I'm not a boat person per say and I took Dramamine before hand because I know I'm not a boat person.  I didn't want to get sick because the last time I got sick was absolutely miserable!

Well, going out to Leleiwi was fine and actually beautiful and I had the back of the boat all to myself.  Everyone was at the bow and because I'm such a klutz, I didn't want to be the person that served as an example of 'man overboard!'.  I don't have sea legs and I'm not coordinated at all so I just stayed put.  Well, because I was alone and overlooking Honoli'i, I started to get nostalgic about picking sea glass with Rico and how if he wasn't puking his guts out at the side of the boat, he would definitely enjoy the ride.  I cried a bit - thankfully with no audience - and tried to reign it in as we approached out destination.

So our 3rd dive was also a bit anxiety inducing because the depth seemed so much greater than the previous day's one; it was.  I had some issues with buoyancy but not as much as with my equalizing this time.  I can never get it right.  Once I settled in, we doing skills and it was then that by buoyancy became an issue because now I wasn't just skimming the sea floor but trying to navigate.  I wasn't paying attention to the fact that I was slowly but surely rising as I was swimming around and eventually popped that up at the surface without intending to.

I descending again and we explored for the rest of the dive.  It was great seeing things at that depth but it didn't feel that...exciting because it looked just like Richardson's Beach Park, only deeper.

We boarded the ship again and had to wait for the other group of divers to go in.  That was when most of my issues started.  We were moored to an anchor and all the waves were choppy and hitting the side of the boat causing it to sway.  A bit too much for my own comfort and I started to get nauseated.  Yay!

Luckily, the other group was in the water and I was told to just jump in and they were going to hand me my gear.  I felt so disoriented that I couldn't wrap my head around it but I did it and actually it worked out best.  The instructor partnered me up with a master diver which I'm very grateful for and actually felt that helped with a bit of my anxiety about being down.  When I descended, I definitely came down too quick to really equalize and the pain in my right ear was excruciating.  It was almost more than I could bear and I signaled my partner that I needed to go up.  While he was signaling the instructor, I equalized and was completely fine and signaled to everyone that I was okay.  From that moment, i have the best dive of all four dives we complete in the past two days.

The deepest we dived was 57 feet and it was really different seeing everything down there and exploring for the heck of it.  We didn't have to work on skills and it felt great just to wander.  Granted, I mainly followed my dive partner because he was had more experience and I felt completely at ease just being a shadow but I enjoyed this dive the most.  Yes, during the previous dive, we were able to see a turtle, but I was actually able to enjoy the fish and coral around me with ease.

We followed behind the others in the group and swam through a sandy patch and I enjoyed just feeling the sand since the only sand on our side of the island was rough and usually black from the basalt.  It was nice to actually reach out and feel something tangible and not worry about ruining the sea floor or getting stung etc.  I felt I could really hone in what's around me an appreciate it.  I had moments where I would almost get claustrophobic because we were own there deep and all the other divers were huddled around me.  I had to consciously breath and keep calm during those moments but this last dive didn't have anything like that.

For the first time in that whole experience, I felt at ease and knew why people got hooked to diving.  Our dive had to come to an end unfortunately and get back onto the boat.

Unfortunately, I was back to where I started with the sea sickness - my Dramamine must have completely worn out by now or I metabolized it faster than anticipated - I was miserable until they started the boat.

I was sicker than a dog!  My stomach was churning and I felt completely uncomfortable for the duration of the trip because I wanted to puke.  Luckily I didn't but I wish I did because if it resulted in some measure of relief, I would have gladly purged all of the contents in my stomach.  GLADLY!

Graphic...yeah, I know.

I can definitely say that I'm grateful for the people I dove with as well as the instructors and crew.  They all check on me and took care of my equipment when I got out.  I was extremely weak and I had to take really deep breaths to keep from hurling but once we were moving again, I was told to go on the bow because it would have the least impact.

Fuck, I hated life at that moment.

Granted, I was having a blast the previous half hour but now I just wanted to die.  I did the next best thing and fell asleep.  Fortunately, when I woke up, I was all better!  Thank goodness otherwise, FML!

We unloaded SCUBA equipment and got off the seemingly unsuspecting vessel of doom to take pictures on firm, solid ground.  I couldn't have been happier to be back on solid ground!

I would have kissed it if it wouldn't have garnered me odd looks for being that weird old person that gets sick and goes around making out with asphalt.

If you felt as fuckin' sick as I did, you'd be happy to kiss the ground, too!

Instead, we took pictures - the one in front of the boat and had a great time! Woohoo!

I'll need to dive again to get used to being down there but one thing at a time.  I've got to get back to school mode on the weekends...Yay.

So, now that I'm getting closer to moving to Thailand, I really want to book a dive trip over there and after having taken that class and getting used to everything I experienced in two weekends, I'd say I'm about ready to test those waters again.  Maybe sometime next year, I can try for my advanced SCUBA class.  We'll see, but I'm really looking forward to getting back down there!

Open ocean session for our SCUBA training. Taking random pictures throughout our training.
Posted by Danie Takeshita on Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

Susan UHH Interview

I was fortunate to be interviewed by Susan Enright from the UH Hilo Stories through the Office of the Chancellor.  For the published interview, click here.

Can you tell me little bit about the book and what it means to you to return to UH Hilo to share it?
5 Senses is a YA urban fantasy about a friendship between Jaime and Iris.  He and Iris leave home to search for her family since she was adopted at a young age.
I hate to sound cliche but this Talk Story Session is almost like coming full circle.  I attended UHH straight out of high school and though many people say those are your formative years, for me, my formative years were the years I attended UHH.  I joined many organization, learned to network and work with people from various backgrounds.  There are so many opportunities and resources at our disposal at UHH and I just wanted to share what I knew with the students.

Lobbying at the Honolulu Legistlator as a member of the University of Hawaii at Hilo Student Association

Where are you living and working now?

Working with cute stuffed animals and hand puppets and Banned Books

I'm currently living in Hilo and working at the best mom and pop bookstore in Hilo, Basically Books.  They're an indie publisher similar to one that I published through and they have many selections of books based on Hawaiian culture.  I'll be moving to Bangkok in December.  It'll be a big adventure but I'm hoping I'll be getting a lot of inspiration since that last time I lived abroad inspired me to write this book.

And I'm curious about how your studies at UH Hilo have contributed to your writing and other current work.

UH Hilo is like a second home to me because I feel like a good portion of my learning happen through or was associated in some way.  I took a Fiction Writing WI class that not only inspired me to write but also have confidence as a writer.  I'm a Japanese Studies major and my last year I had the opportunity to  study abroad.  During my time there I actually wrote a lot about my experiences in a new culture and learning a new language but also came up with the main concepts of this book while I was there.  I'm currently working on on a project with the Center for Global Exchange to put together stories from Alumni about their culture shock and their experiences while they were studying or traveling abroad.  

  Thank you, Susan, for the interview.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Preview of Little You in the Global World - My New Pet Project

My new project is actually a compilation of stories, not just from me,  but from others that traveled through UH Hilo's study abroad program and some of the not so glamorous aspects of traveling like culture shock.  I'm going to apologize ahead of time if I offend anyone but I'm writing from my naive 21 years old perspective and I'd like to think that I've definitely matured a lot since then...maybe not by much.  I swear a bit in this one - then again, I do in most my posts but you've been warned.  The whole point of writing this is to make our readers aware of what they could expect when traveling to a new, unfamiliar location.  Since this is my first draft, don't expect to see it exactly as is once it's printed.  I'll also be adding photos to this blog just to make it less boring to look at because the book will mainly contain text.

"What I Know Now"

I grew up in a large city until the age of 12 before I moved to Hilo where I reside till this very day.  I had never been anywhere on my own and when I finally got tired of only looking at people’s pictures as they traveled, and listened to their stories while abroad, I knew I had to assuage my curiosity.

I bought a cheap flight after more than a year of saving to go to Thailand and planned for my trip to get to my dream destination, Angkor Wat.  What all those travel blogs and guide books don’t tell you when you’re planning a trip on a shoestring and with no help is that it’s extremely hard and time consuming your first time doing this!  Here I was researching everything I could about safety for women backpacking alone and what to expect culturally and financially.  It was a lot of work but I stumbled upon a few great sites that gave me pointers that I use even today.  I sorta-kinda winged the majority of my scheduling, hoping my timing would work out. 

Luckily, it did.

Yes, it was a stressful way to travel, but I’m also okay with that sort of stress because I wanted the flexibility to stay longer at certain places if I needed to.  It also taught me a lesson on planning in general.  I had to plan out my budget for each day, my trips to the next town and other details to get the best out of my short stay.  Every day, when the sun went down after exploring, I hunkered down in my room - I was paranoid after watching movies like ‘Hostel’ - to plan out my trip for the following day.  While I’m out and about sightseeing, I would find a small local travel agency to ask recommendation for the next big town and also book the next shuttle down for the next day.  That was my cycle for about three weeks.  I had to make sure I made it on time to my shuttle and not get lost wandering - as I did in Trang looking at the White Temple and ALMOST missed my shuttle - but I found out by accident that they have something similar to Hawaiian time and I’m ever so grateful that translates to other tropical areas.

It turns out, South East Asia (S.E.A) is pretty safe but a lot of my learning happened while on my trip.  When I first arrived in Bangkok, Thailand.  I knew it was a huge city and I would be overwhelmed but getting out of the airport and finding a cabby that spoke enough English to understand me was something I didn’t expect.  There was this safety notion in my head that everyone spoke or learned English at one point or another in these countries. When I had a hard time finding someone that would understand me saying “Yaowarat”, the name of their Chinatown in their language, I started to get scared.  I went to the hotel I looked up on Lonely Planet - that's what it felt like! - and showed up with no reservations and so Lo and Behold! - no vacancy.

I caught another cab and decided to go to a train station to make my way down south towards Malaysia for a rendezvous with my host through Couch Surfing (CS).  In that cab ride, I broke down and cried because I really felt like I had bitten more than I could chew and what was I going to do?!  

Well, long story short, I found a travel agency that was open late, made reservations for a flight to Phuket and a hotel for a cheap - or at least what I considered cheap - rate and felt better about it in the morning.  Yeah, I felt a bit defeated after a rough start but once I had my day planned and my next destination booked, I knew I would be okay.

Another thing I'd like to point out that travel shows will not tell you about is how exhausting it is to go from town to town, city to city everyday!  I was ‘gogogo’ mode from the time I landed in BKK until I reached Malaysia and I was on a tight schedule because I made arrangement for with my CS host to be at a certain place by a certain time.  It was also my first time really using CS outside of my host country so I wanted to be sure everything worked out perfectly.  My itinerary was BKK→ Phuket → Krabi → Trang → Hat Yai → Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (KL).  I essentially need to get to KL in 6 days and so I hopped in a shared van and traveled all the way down to Malaysia that way to.  I was really bad about reading up on news in general back then and apparently when I was there, southern Thailand had just had a huge coup de tat due to conflict between a Muslim group against the local government.  I had just missed a huge bombing in Pattani and it was a huge selling point for me to take the Hat Yai route down to KL via bus.  Moral of this segment of travel: make sure to know what is going on in the news and the political climate of the area you are visiting.

There were a few points during my month travel that I felt overwhelmed just as I did on my first day arriving to BKK.  I remember after being in KL for a few days of exploring, I took the wrong bus to a very politically enthusiastic part of the city and I was just shocked by the propaganda all over the place.  You know when you watch presidential election and speeches and you see banners everywhere in that stadium, banners and flags waving all over the walls.  Imagine that stadium was hit by a typhoon and blew everything up all over a town, covering it with a parties colors and a person's image. It felt almost suffocating and oppressive in a manner.  I don’t think I’ve felt so uncomfortable by a communities...fervor for a certain party as I did in that bus.  Luckily, the bus driver noticed I hadn’t gotten off - how could he not? I was the only one on it at that point! - and kindly directed me to the right bus stop. He was kind enough to make sure I was in the right place and advised me what bus to take. As odd as it sounds, I was a bit shaken by that experience for some reason and I still don’t know if it’s because of conditioning or a prejudice of what I see in the media about fervent political ideologies or the combined feeling of being lost and surrounded by something so foreign.

By the time I got to Cambodia, I was a bit hardened and felt like a seasoned traveler - though I was far from it - but I still managed to get swindled!  When I landed in Phnom Penh, I was extremely exhausted from all the traveling.  I just wanted a driver that spoke English and would take me to a hotel.  I asked this persistent motor bike driver if he speaks English - mistake #1 - and asked him can he take me to a hotel - mistake #2 - which he readily replied, "Yesyesyes" to.  Previous drivers were honest and turned me away so I was probably too hopeful that this guy would be honest and do the same.  This guy started to rattle on nonsense about where he was taking me and I kept on reiterating I just wanted to go straight to a hotel and rest.  

Well, he started to take me to some random shack that was in the middle of bum-fuck-nowhere, didn’t explain why he needed to stop there and I was almost afraid that that was the hotel that he was suggesting. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect from Cambodia and if he had said it was my hotel, I was so tired at that point that I probably would have taken his word for it. Thankfully it wasn’t but he then took me to the Killing Fields - very eerie place, a shooting range, and a market before stopping at a decent hotel.  He had quoted me $15 when I first talked to him and at the end, his quote turned into $50! WTFF?!  I was fuming and told him off because I only wanted a hotel and I gave him $25 because he failed both of my interview questions on whether he knew English and can he take me straight to a mother fuckin' hotel?! (rant over)

When confronted with Angkor Wat, you are awed by the beauty, scale, and history of these temples but something that no one likes to mention is the destitute poverty the Khmer people live with.  Their lean-to tents and homes against the ancient site was an eye opener for me and then the panhandling from the children was more than I can handle - especially for a sucker like me.  In a way, I’m grateful for the brief trip to the Killing Fields because I was schooled on the despotic rampage that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge inflicted upon the Khmer people - check it out if you don't know but it's pretty fucked up.  They are still trying to rebuild from those four years of his premiership that lead to the death of 25% of Cambodia’s population due to executions, lack of food and medical attention, harsh working conditions and political uprisings.  These children out here accosting vulnerable tourist like me, selling and begging were also missing parts of their childhood because they had the obligation to make money for their family. I don't know about you, but it was opening since my childhood was filled with school and playing and enjoying first world amenities. But not these kids.  They had to work at a young age and yes, I did break down and buy stuff from them - many guides will tell you, DON'T DO IT! you'll just perpetuate a messed up systems but you try and look at these kids and say, "no". Despite my bleeding heart, after a while, I become desensitized to their haranguing .

My senses were on overdrive over in these countries and you don’t realize how you’re used to certain sights and smells until you go to somewhere completely different.  Sure, guide books will warn you about really spicy hot food in Southeast Asia but will they tell you about the tent in the middle of an open market where it smells like old and drying blood remnants from when they butchered the meat earlier in the morning? No, they won't!  I remember staying at a motel in Ho Chi Minh City and sitting on the couch resting when the owner of the motel comes out with a duck and held it by the body and proceeded to hit its head against the floor because it was dinner.  I was shocked to say the least but I just watched in quiet horror because I knew that was how they did things over there.  They didn't have regulations like we do in US about fair treatment of animals as well as humane deaths.  She sees it as food and a means to an end and she only knew one way to kill it.  She then proceeded to take the dying or dead duck and scared the poor dog watching her by shoving the limp duck in its face before it ran off. Yeah, I was shocked to say the least but I wasn't going make a huge production of it and I schooled my expression to make sure my shock wasn't completely evident - I'm sure my eyes were all bugged out though. I almost wonder if the old woman had a sadistic side to her and wanted to see if the shock value of her killing the duck would affect me. I almost thought she was waiting for some kind of reaction from me. Oh, well. I guess I disappointed her but I wasn't going to be her entertainment at the expense of that poor duck - now I do sound like a privileged '1st Worlder' (not a word but I don't care! I'll just coin it!).

I caught a bus on my way back from Viet Nam to Thailand and we made a stop through Cambodiato get there.  The bus stop had a stall of bugs - and mind you I'm not that picky of an eater - I am more than willing to try a few different bugs but not a whole cart of roaches the size of my palm!  I draw the line at roaches and really squishy bugs unless they are cooked but I still won’t try a roasted roach.  Traumatized by them as a kid.

My travels abroad was one of the most exciting, scary and hands-on educational learning experience I’ve ever had in my whole life.  I’ve traveled to places with family but unless you are on your own and have to rely on your own instincts. I, personally, don’t think you’ve really traveled unless you’ve had that bit of fear and a bit of triumph over your own prejudices and overcoming these challenges.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Day as a Fangirl

HawaiiCon is a new Sci Fi/fantasy convention that came fruition last year and I had a blast doing that!  It seems to fall on the week of September 13th and though last year was only Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, this year an additional day was added.  Yay!

Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting the new Battlestar Galactica Cast:

We were also fortunate enough to meet Bill Morrison, the co-creater of The Simpsons and Futurerama and the local comic artist by Sam Campos

Oh, and the added bonus of Tenzen or Avatar Aang drinkin' at the bar:

I'm proud to say that I invested in the Kickstarter to get this Con going and am back to see another one.  Well, I have to admit, I was a huge anime fan back in high school and college and deep down that girl is still oohing and ahhing at the great animation, unforgettable music and memorable stories and character development.

Needless to say, when there was going to be a Cowboy Bebop and Legend of Korra reunion featured on Saturday & Sunday, I knew I had to make my way to that side of the island.  I had to make a choice on what day I could make it and I chose Saturday because Cowboy Bebop holds a special place in my heart.  Granted, if it had been the cast of the original Avatar the Last Airbender Series, I would have go to that session instead!

I did however get a picture with Avatar Korra's voice, Janet Varney and a pic with the TARDIS :D

I was really enjoying the panel between Steve Blum, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Melissa Fahn A.K.A. Spike, Julia, and Edward.

Mary sang for us and Steve played the ukulele.  I found out that everyone on the panel was very musical.  Edward was the understudy for Kristin in Wicked!  I'm curious to see an old show with her now!

Best yet, I had Steve Blum promote my book, 5 Senses and I was absolutely thrilled about that.  You may be wondering why I'm so happy I have a 17 sec clip of someone talking about my book, well it goes back to the whole nostalgic thing.  I was obsessed with animation and was even considering if I wanted to get into art - I don't have the chops for it but at least one of my goals in high school came true - and naturally I loved the talent behind the art and their voices.

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn & Steve Blum - very nice down to earth people

Steve Blum is a legend among the voice acting community.  This guy voiced great characters like Spike from Cowboy Bebop, Mugen from Samurai Champoo, narrorated for Toonami and also voiced parts in Box Trolls, Digimon, Big O, Star Wars the Animated Series and many more!  The only way my day would have been absolutely perfect is if they had Wendy Lee there at the reunion as she's been in just about every show I watched as a teen.  

Here he is.

It still needs some editing but I'm glad I got him to do a recording for 5 Senses but I'm as giddy as a fangirl