Sunday, August 29, 2010


During the summer, I have gone a Amazon Kindle Shopping Spree. I have bought many books, and I have read them all. This includes buying the whole Twilight Series (Guys I don't want to hear it),two Nicholas Sparks, The Host (which is a very good book), the latest Artemis Fowl (which is terrible), Charlie St. Cloud (which is alright), Shantaram (brilliant), and the Hunger Games trilogy (which was awesome). Expect a review for: The Host, Artemis Fowl, Shantaram, and the Hunger Games.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Forever Young

Today we had the Welcome Back Dance which was a big hit. I would like to thank Sharon Hsu for giving us the oppurtinity to work. I will elaborate on the dance later. I have created my own website.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

US and UN, Who is in Charge?

This summer I spent a couple of weeks getting some extra classes in Chemistry, Algebra II as well as English.  This is one of my better papers.

In 1992, the United Nations created the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) to resolve problems in Somalia.  It was meant to create a safe and secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid in Somalia. They were authorized to use "any necessary means" in Chapter VII of the Charter.  The United States created the idea of UNITAF, by offering their military support to lead a “multinational force”.  In the end, the United States sent 28,000 troops, while other countries in total presented 17,000.  United States had central command for all the troops during the Somalia conflicts, including UNITAF, UNOSOMI and UNOSOMII.   Later in 1993, after many violent skirmishes, UNOSOMII initiated military operations both in land and air.  On October 3, 1993 two US helicopters were shot down, and a huge firefight ensued.  In the end, 18 US personnel died and 75 were wounded.  After the event, President Clinton announced that the US would withdraw its troops in March 31 1994.  Thus officially ending the US part of UNOSOMII.  The US losses during the conflict were insignificant; the attack itself was surprising due to the military strength of the United States.   In this and other events in history, when the US takes full control of an operation, it appears there will be failure and bloodshed.  With the US making decisions about the UN in its forming, as well as in other military campaigns and providing financial support, can the UN really say they are in charge, or are they the puppet in the grand scheme of things?  
While the United Nations was founded in 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the term in 1942, as 26 nations who were united against the Axis Powers.  In 1945, 50 representatives met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organizations to draw up the United Nations Charter.  Finally, the United Nations decided that their permanent home would be in New York City.  Since the US's first use of veto power in 1970, they have been the most frequent user of it. They have vetoed 13 resolutions to date. Eleven of these were regarding the Middle East, one for Bosnia, and one in 1989, following the invasion of Panama.  With their large direct and indirect contributions, influence on the decision making, and even housing the headquarters, the United States has grown to be less a member and more of a master to the United Nations. 
In 2002, the United Nations was voting on Security Council Resolution 1441, regarding the situation in Iraq.  President George W. Bush personally stated that Iraq had committed many violations of previous Gulf War resolutions, such as harboring terrorists and the production and use of weapons of mass destruction.  In the meantime, Iraq denied all charges and even announced that they would permit re-entry of United Nations arm inspectors to search.  The US insisted that this was a ploy and continued to call for a Security Council resolution that would authorize the use of military force.  Thus, legalizing the invasion of Iraq.  This shows that the US can bully its way through UN resolutions and have their way in the end. 
The US also controls the UN in the financial sector.  As of 2010, the United States is the leading financial contributor for UN peacekeeping operations at 27.1%.  Another report shows the breakdown of the United States’ direct and indirect financial contributions during 1996 to 2001.  The US Department of State and Defense directly contributed on average about $3.45 billion during those years.   However, the United States indirectly contributed about $24.2 billion during those years.  The indirect contributions were mainly military support, which is more important due to the fact that they are provided security to the UN.    A member that controls 25% of the UN budget would be hard to ignore, especially if they contributed consistently.
When Americans were asked in 1995 about the US involvement in UN peacekeeping, a majority said that the US was spending too much money and that they were sending more than the fair share of troops.  Another poll shows in July 2006, a large majority stated that the US was playing the role as “world policeman” more than it should be.  Finally another survey showed that 75% of the participants believed that the US should do an equal share as opposed to doing more or less.  This goes to show that the Americans themselves believe that they are doing too much.  Every time America gets into some other countries business, Americans will be lost. 
I personally believe that the United States has control of the UN, and that it would be better for both parties if the United States reduced their involvement.   The United Nations was formed to be a global organization that is in charge of worldwide peacekeeping operations, among other things.      However, I think that with all their recent failures, they can't afford to be the global police.  It is time the Americans step back and let the UN do the job they were formed to do. 

Moraga (formely known as the Stead) Open

This past week, I have been voluenteering my services to help a the Moraga Open, a local tennis tournament, that is sponsored by the Alta Bates Hospital.  I am part of a group of 6 kids working, clearing courts, stowing chairs and doing miscellaneous jobs.  While the other kids are getting paid 120USD for the week, I signed up too late resulting in no pay.  However, seeing as I enjoy helping, I came anyways.  It has been fun working, as I get to watch alot of great tennis.  Some of the highlights include watching the Brogan and Hirshman match.  That match was full of taunts and mind games.  Others include watching Tyler Browne play, as well as Chris Wettengael, Adrian Bohane, Marie Zalameda, Ivana Lisjak, Bjorn Monroe and Brad Weston.  Tomorrow will be the finals, and will be the hardest day, due to the fact that I will be ballboying as well as getting ready to leave California and head back to school.  This year's Open has been fun, and I can't wait for next years to happen. 


Its kinda sad that I didn't get to finish my Washington DC posts, and that is all due to my fault.  I procrastinated for a long time, and soon began to forget the details.  So here is my dad's post:

We had wanted to visit the Washington DC area for a long time. For one reason or another, we have not done so until this summer. We visited DC between 9-13 June. Of the four of us, only Felicia has had previous visits, but her last visit to the area was probably close to 18 or 19 years ago.

After some research, we decided to stay in the DC suburb of Bethesda, which is a quaint little town around 10 miles (or 20 minutes on the subway) north of the City. Howard suggested the website,, which provided lots of information, reviews on hotels and good deals. We settled on the Hilton Garden Inn which is about three blocks from the subway stop and included free breakfast and Internet. We had invited the Ho's, Chiang's and Chin's to join us in DC and everyone had declined until Hong contacted us in early June told us that he and his family will meet us in DC. That turned out to be the great as we really enjoyed our time with the Chins. The adults caught up on old times and the kids clicked right away and spent the entire time together, including a sleepover with Nick, Matt, Connor and Emma (who we re-named Emmalina for the trip) all squeezed into one room.

After taking the Supershuttle from the Airport to our hotel, we went to the nearby Bethesda Crab House for some Maryland Crabs. We ordered a dozen extra-large crabs, a pound of jumbo prawns, corn on the cobb and coleslaw. The crabs were big, meaty and sweet. The prawns, despite of their size were tender and juicy. Matt didn't want any crabs but did managed to have four claws. Nick and I each had five crabs (I gave my claws to Matt) and Felicia had two. It was a great experience and we had a great time.
With jetleg, Felicia was up at 3am and went to the exercise room on our floor and worked out for an hour. We finally all got up at 6am and went downstairs for breakfast. It was a full spread with eggs (any style), bacon, sausages, home fries, pancakes, waffles, cereals, fruits,,...etc. The quality of the food was surprisingly good and we packed it down well.

I called Hong, shortly after breakfast and he came down to our room for a chat. As we were told (by Bev Gams) that certain exhibits required us to go early in the morning to get the free tickets that are handed out starting from 8:30am each day, we left for DC shortly after 8am. We took the Metro from the Bethesda Station which is about three blocks away from our hotel. Our first stop was the Bureau of Engraving and Printing which is the place where the US dollar bills are printed. It was a relatively slow day and we were able to get tickets to the 9:45am tour. Since we still have some time to kill, we went over to the Washington Monument and waited in line (for about 15 minutes) and got tickets for the 12pm tour.

The Bureau of Engraving turned out to be a bit boring. While it was impressive to see actual USD100 bills being printed and learning about all of the elaborate process of money printing, we would not have rated this tour to be a "must-see" in DC. The tour lasted about 30 minutes before we spent the required time in the Gift shop which the boys promptly exchange some real money for some "fake" souvenir money.

The Chins, after their long drive from NYC arrived in Bethesda at 1am. They got up around 8am, had breakfast and drove into town. We met them in front of the Washington Monument lawn after our tour to the Bureau of Engraving at around 10:30am. We sat around and chatted while the kids fooled around without fuss. Hong and Lilar has lovely kids. They are happy, easygoing and fun to be with. The youngest one, Maxi (short for Maxine), who is two and half, is a real cutie and a lot of fun.

After our long wait, which passed quickly, our turn finally came. The ride up, 70 seconds, was uneventful but the view from top was spectacular!! The views from the four corners of the Monument gave instant overview of the Mall and many of the major sights in DC. We spent about 20 minutes on top, before coming down and headed for lunch. Hong packed all nine of us into his Honda Odyssey and drove to Ben's Chili Bowls on U Street and 8th. We heard about this place from the Travel Channel and magazines. Furthermore, Ben's Chile Bowl, after extensive research done by Nick, was on the top of his list of "restaurants to try."

Ben's Chili Bowl is probably not in the best part of DC. But, during the day, it was fine. It has been open for over fifty years (since 1958) and it has been a favorite of Bill Cosby and other celebrates, including President Obama. As we have a large group, we were led passed the counters and small tables in the front and went straight to the back room where there are large tables. Most of us ordered the "Half smoked with Chili's" which is a sausage in a bun, topped with Ben's Chili. We also ordered Chili, Cheese and regular fries to share. Matt also ordered one of their famous milkshakes which was really thick. Overall, I thought the atmosphere was better than the food. The "Half Smoked with Chili" was overwhelm by the Chili which tasted a little blend. It was difficult to taste the sausage itself. Other than the fries which were big, the serving size was modest at best. But the kids had a great time and are still raving about the experience even today.
By this time, it was after 2pm and the kids wanted to do one more sight -- the International Spy Museum!! The Spy Museum is not too far from Ben's Chili Bowl and we were there in no time. The visit to the Museum also gave little Maxi some time to rest after a long morning. So, Hong and I took Emma, Connor and the boys into the Museum. The Chins have visited the Spy Museum on their previous visit to DC but were happy to accommodate our boys for a repeat visit. The kids spent about an hour in the museum, exploring various interactive exhibits and quite a bit of time in the gift shop. We were exhausted by the end of the museum and returned to the Hotel for a quick swim in the 10 meter pool before heading out to dinner at the Barking Dog, a nearby burgers and sandwiches place. We walked around downtown Bethesda after dinner, getting ice cream and visited the Apple Store before returning to the Hotel to sleep. The kids had such a great time together, they decided to all sleep in Nick and Matt's room. Since the Chins only booked one room for the five of them, having Connor and Emma sharing Nick and Matt's room gave Hong a Lilar a long deserving break.

We started Day 3 on a slower pace. While Felicia still got up at 3am and did her 30 minutes on the cross-trainer and we had our huge breakfast at 6:30am (with Emma and Connor), we rested and waited until Hong and Lilar woke up and got ready. We all went to Town together, stuffed in the Chin's Honda Odyssey. Our destination in the morning was the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on the Mall. We thought we would've been done in about an hour, but we spent almost three hours inside. Apart from all of the exhibits, the kids especially enjoyed the flight simulator. Connor went with Matt while Emma stuck with Nick. We saw them pitched and rolled and SCREAMED!!! None of them could walk in a straight line after the flight, but they all wanted to go AGAIN.
For lunch, some had McDonald's which was located next to the Smithsonian Museum. Others had more chili dogs which Peter bought from a street vendor around the back of the museum. Gray Gams, Matthew's best friend from 3rd through 5th grade at TAS, who had moved back to the Baltimore area a couple of years ago, met us by the Washington Monument shortly after lunch. He traveled with his Mom, Bev, all the way from a Baltimore suburb to meet Matthew and us. Together we strolled from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, then to the White House, before taking the subway back to Bethesda. We had dinner at a little Vietnamese restaurant in Bethesda before the Gams head-off back home. After a short stroll in Bethesda downtown where Felicia enjoyed a piece of a great cupcake from "Georgetown Cupcakes", the Chins embarked on their return journey to NYC.

Day 4 was a Saturday, so breakfast wasn't served until 7:30am. For once, Felicia finally slept pass 3am and we woke up at a more decent hour. After breakfast, we took the subway into town and went to the Smithsonian American History Museum. Again, the Museum was surprisingly interesting. With an blink of an eye, we had already spent three hours in the museum and it was lunch time!! After some indecision, we finally decided to go to the food court below the Ronald Reagen Center. Like most food courts, this was no exception. The food was expensive and rather disappointing. Since we had planned to visit Felicia's childhood family friends for dinner, we decided to go back to the Hotel for a rest before heading out towards Annapolis on the Metro. We took the train from Bethesda, changed and Metro Center to the Orange Line and rode all the way to the last stop, "New Carrollton" where we were picked up by Marie. As there was some constructions in the subway line along the way, the ride took about an hour and 20 minutes in total.

Marie's parents where good friends of Felicia's parents and have known each other for the past 40-50 years. Felicia had spent many summers in Marie's home, attending summer school and getting to know the American culture. After we were picked up, we went and visited Marie's parents, Frank and Roslyn Chih, in their home. We chit-chatted for about 30 minutes before heading out for dinner, at a seafood place called, Timbuktu. This was a huge restaurant, probably with seating capacity of more than 150-200 people. Fortunately, we had a reservation as the line was long. Most of us have the famous Maryland Crabcakes which were enormous!! Marie also ordered some calamaris which was delicious, to share. Darryl, Marie's husband, drove us back to Bethesda after dinner. As Timbuktu is actually about halfway between Marie's house and Bethesda, the ride back was quick, about 25-30 minutes.

We began our last day with a little dispute with the Hotel. But, all was resolved in no time and we had our "normal" breakfast at the little cafe downstairs. While the weather was surprisingly cool during the first few days of our visit, it had turned warm and muggy on our last day. Any plans of additional visits were quickly scrapped as we sat in the nicely air-conditioned rooms awaiting for our ride to the airport. We did make a short trip to the nearby Safeway to pick-up lunch as our economy flight was "foodless."

Our return trip was good and the flight departed and arrived on-time. As we had parked our Camry at the Skypark near the SFO Airport, we were back home before 7pm.

Overall, the DC trip was a lot of fun. We think the must-sees in DC were the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and maybe the White House. The Smithsonians were awesome but requires at least a week and a lot of physical stamina to see them all. But the key ingredient which made this trip so great was the visit from our friends, the Chins and the Gams. The Chins, especially, drove all the way from NYC to be with us and was tremendously accommodating in all of our visits. It was so much fun, Felicia is already planning our next trip together!!