I apologize to Wicked haters ( or rabid Idina fans), but I actually like this rock version of Defying Gravity as sung by Kerry Ellis at the 2008 Royal Variety Performance.

I am of the opinion that just because we can build a mosque near Ground Zero, that doesn't mean we should. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg's eloquent defense of the Muslims' right to do so made me think twice. He made these remarks at the Ramadan Iftar dinner at Gracie Mansion:

"Well, good evening, and Ramadan Kareem, and I want to welcome everyone to our annual Ramadan Iftar at Gracie Mansion.

"We call this 'The People's House,' because it belongs to all 8.4 million New Yorkers who call this city home. And people of every race and religion, every background and belief. And we celebrate that diversity here in this house with gatherings like this one.

"And for me, whether it's marking St. Patrick's Day or Harlem Week or any other occasion, these gatherings are always a powerful reminder of what makes our city so strong and our country so great.

"You know, America is a nation of immigrants, and I think it's fair to say no place opens its doors more widely to the world than New York City. America is the land of opportunity, and I think it's fair to say no place offers its residents more opportunity to pursue their dreams than New York City. And America is a beacon of freedom, and I think it's fair to say no place defends those freedoms more fervently, or has been attacked for those freedoms more ferociously, than New York City.

"In recent weeks, a debate has arisen that I believe cuts to the core of who we are as a city and a country. The proposal to build a mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan has created a national conversation on religion in America, and since Ramadan offers a time for reflection, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on that very subject.

"There are people of good will on both sides of the debate, and I would hope that everyone can carry on a dialogue in a civil and respectful way. In fact, I think most people now agree on two fundamental issues: First, that Muslims have a constitutional right to build a mosque in Lower Manhattan and second, that the site of the World Trade Center is hallowed ground. And the only question we face is: how do we honor that hallowed ground?

"The wounds of 9/11 are still very much with us. And I know that is true for Talat Hamdani, who is here with us tonight, and who lost her son, Salman Hamdani, on 9/11. There will always be a hole in our hearts for the men and women who perished that day.

"After the attacks, some argued - including some of those who lost loved ones - that the entire site should be reserved for a memorial. But we decided - together, as a city - that the best way to honor all those we lost, and to repudiate our enemies, was to build a moving memorial and to rebuild the site.

"We wanted the site to be an inspiring reminder to the world that this city will never forget our dead and never stop living. We vowed to bring Lower Manhattan back - stronger than ever - as a symbol of our defiance and I think it's fair to say we have. Today, it is more of a community neighborhood than ever before, with more people than ever living, working, playing and praying there.

"But if we say that a mosque or a community center should not be built near the perimeter of the World Trade Center site, we would compromise our commitment to fighting terror with freedom.

"We would undercut the values and principles that so many heroes died protecting. We would feed the false impressions that some Americans have about Muslims. We would send a signal around the world that Muslim Americans may be equal in the eyes of the law, but separate in the eyes of their countrymen. And we would hand a valuable propaganda tool to terrorist recruiters, who spread the fallacy that America is at war with Islam.

"Islam did not attack the World Trade Center - Al-Qaeda did. To implicate all of Islam for the actions of a few who twisted a great religion is unfair and un-American. Today we are not at war with Islam - we are at war with Al-Qaeda and other extremists who hate freedom.

"At this very moment, there are young Americans - some of them Muslims - standing freedoms' watch in Iraq and Afghanistan, and around the world. A couple here tonight, Sakibeh and Asaad Mustafa, have children who have served our country overseas and after 9/11, one of them aided in the recovery efforts at Ground Zero. And I'd like to ask them to stand, so we can show our appreciation. There you go. Thank you.

"The members of our military are men and women at arms - battling for hearts and minds. And their greatest weapon in that fight is the strength of our American values, which have already inspired people around the world. If we do not practice here at home what we preach abroad - if we do not lead by example - we undermine our soldiers. We undermine our foreign policy objectives. And we undermine our national security.

"In a different era, with different international challenges facing the country, President Kennedy's Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, explained to Congress why it is so important for us to live up to our ideals here at home. Dean Rusk said, 'The United States is widely regarded as the home of democracy and the leader of the struggle for freedom, for human rights, for human dignity. We are expected to be the model.'

"We are expected to be the model. Nearly a half-century later, his words remain true. In battling our enemies, we cannot rely entirely on the courage of our soldiers or the competence of our diplomats. We all have to do our part.

"Just as we fought communism by showing the world the power of free markets and free elections, so must we fight terrorism by showing the world the power of religious freedom and cultural tolerance. Freedom and tolerance will always defeat tyranny and terrorism - and that's the great lesson of the 20th century, and we must not abandon it here in the 21st.

"Now I understand the impulse to find another location for the mosque and community center. I understand the pain of those who are motivated by loss too terrible to contemplate. And there are people of every faith - including, perhaps, some in this room - who are hoping that a compromise will end the debate.

"But it won't. The question will then become, how big should the 'no-mosque zone' be around the World Trade Center site? There is already a mosque four blocks away. Should it be moved?

"This is a test of our commitment to American values. We have to have the courage of our convictions. We must do what is right, not what is easy. And we must put our faith in the freedoms that have sustained our great country for more than 200 years.

"Now, I know that many in this room are disturbed and dispirited by the debate. But it's worth keeping some perspective on the matter. The first colonial settlers came to these shores seeking religious liberty and the founding fathers wrote a constitution that guaranteed it. They made sure that in this country government would not be permitted to choose between religions or favor one over another.

"Nonetheless, it was not so long ago that Jews and Catholics had to overcome stereotypes and build bridges to those who viewed them with suspicion and less than fully American. In 1960, many Americans feared that John F. Kennedy would impose papal law on America. But through his example, he taught us that piety to a minority religion is no obstacle to patriotism. It is a lesson I think that needs updating today, and it is our responsibility to accept the challenge.

"Before closing, let me just add one final thought: Imam Rauf, who is now overseas promoting America and American values, has been put under a media microscope. Each of us may strongly agree or strongly disagree with particular statements that he has made. And that's how it should be - this is New York City.

"And while a few of his statements have received a lot of attention, I would like to read you something that he said that you may not have heard. At an interfaith memorial service for the martyred journalist Daniel Pearl, Imam Rauf said, quote, 'If to be a Jew means to say with all one's heart, mind, and soul: Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one.'

He then continued to say, 'If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one.'

"In that spirit, let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose. There is nowhere in the five boroughs of New York City that is off limits to any religion.

"By affirming that basic idea, we will honor America's values and we will keep New York the most open, diverse, tolerant, and free city in the world. Thank you and enjoy."

"Family isn't polite and good and happy and perfect. It's a filthy rotten thing that begins with sex and ends with death.''---comedian Louis C.K.

Today was a co-worker's last day. B hasn't been doing her job for the past year or so, and her personal life is the subject of office gossip and intrigue. But it's still sad when someone leaves. We had a going-away card ready for her, but J decided that would be her opportunity to have it out with her. She's off today so she wouldn't be there anyway. I read and re-read what she wrote, and it really just left a bad taste in my mouth. It was all personal attacks, not even related to job duties. It was all stuff we weren't supposed to know anyway. I'm sure it felt good for her to be able to say those things, but on the other hand, it served no purpose to hurt someone instead of just letting them leave on good terms. I wanted to text her today to make sure she wants me to give it. I expressed my reservations to our other co-worker D, who thank goodness eventually agreed with me that we shouldn't let things end this way. That this behavior was so unlike J anyway.

So I dreaded having to tell her that we gave B another card. J texted me first, asking how the day went. I fessed up, that I had meditated on it and thought it wasn't the right card to send her off. She texted back: "I can't believe u gave her another card. I had every right to put what I did on that card after what she put me through. So u gave her a card that I didn't sign?" We haven't had a fight ever, so I didn't know how to respond. Plus I was too chicken.

Thank God D called her to make sure she doesn't hate us. She was mad but said she forgives us. I sent her a message saying that her feelings are valid, that she can sit with it and feel until she doesn't need them anymore.If next week she still wants to send the card, I'll surrender it. J finally replied: Thank u yogi...my spiritual leader...I forgive u and D. U r right. It isn't worth it!"
I said that she should save her energy and spirit for people who matter. Chances are, we'll never hear from or see B again ever anyway.

I hope J truly forgives us.

Overheard my dad's conversation with my mom tonight. He told her nalulungkot daw siya kaya siya tumawag. (He was lonely so he called her.) Despite my contentious relationship with my father, I felt so guilty. I feel sorry for him. He has no friends here, no interests or hobbies. His siblings are far away. He's only seeing two of his children. He's far from his wife. Plus his medical problems aren't helping the situation. I have basically taken the position that we can't make other people happy. No matter how much we try. Happiness has to come from within. And that people have to take care of themselves and I can only do so much for them.

I wish him inner peace, light and happiness.

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha said: "Peace comes from within; do not seek it without." We sometimes spend so much time and energy trying to make our unhappy loved ones happy. Why should we waste OUR energy if they clearly don't have it in them? Like Dr. Christiane Northrup said, happiness/peace is an inside job.

I had a mini-reunion with college friends this past weekend. We stayed at the home of Noel and Lorraine. When I used to go home to the Phils. for vacation, these two always went out of their way to meet up with me, take me places. Half the time, they would pay for our meal/trip. Mind you, this husband and wife team come from very affluent families. They're not treating us to flaunt their status. You wouldn't know from their demeanor that they're well off. They live simply and put on no airs. Since they moved here to the U.S. 2 years ago, I've seen them 4 times. Each time, they would try to treat me to a meal or pay for admission to any tourist spot we go to. I find it charming that they've kept their values, especially the much-vaunted Filipino hospitality. Of course, I'm not a free loader and pay for myself. Back in the '90s when we all first moved here to America, Noel and I sadly watched how our friends drastically changed their Filipino ways. Perhaps exhilarated by their newfound independence. It's refreshing to be around friends who stay true to themselves.

  • Dear Lord, please give me the strength to not slap an idiot today.
  • I don't need anger management...I need people to stop pissing me off.
  • If you can afford alcohol and cigarettes, you don't need food stamps.
  • Have you ever looked at someone and automatically felt annoyed?
  • I'm not a bitch. I just have a low tolerance for bullshit.
  • I have PMS, and I have a GPS...which means I'm a bitch, and I will find you.
  • Don't like me? F*&^ off. Problem solved.

a dog wagging its tail and waiting to be petted.

I was ready for bed the other night but decided I'll see what's on TV. Chanced upon Dr. Christiane Northrup's PBS Special "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom". I( already have her book but she just came out with an updated version.) I read how the Dalai Lama had noticed how Western culture focuses so much on mental disorders like anxiety, depression, etc. It's like people almost anticipate the body and mind deteriorating. Dr. Northrup came up with a new mantra: Happy...Healthy...Dead. There doesn't have to be a degenerative process in between. Her 80-something mother recently climbed to the base of Mt. Everest. The wise doctor said our goal shouldn't be to live a long life, but to live joyfully. I suppose a long life is inevitable if you 're happy.

Oh and another interesting thing: She spoke about Egg Wisdom. The egg picks a sperm, and if it's defective, the egg has the capability to fix it. Imagine that! And of course she couldn't help but make a joke. She said the reason why all the good men are taken, it's because they've already been subjected to Egg Wisdom. Meaning they've gotten their upgrades already from their wives/girlfriends or significant others. Awesomeness.

  • Life is too short to waste time with stupid people.
  • Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts. Others come into our lives and make us wanna leave footprints on their faces.
  • I wouldn't have to be such a smartass if you weren't such a dumbass.
  • Behind every bitch is a man who made her that way. (This can also be: behind every nagger is a man who made her that way.)

This might be a character flaw on my part, but I kinda approve of Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater's actions. He probably shouldn't have cussed out the passengers, or activated the emergency chute. These poor flight attendants ( and probably most airline employees) get such a bad rap. I also felt bad for him because I heard on the radio that his mother has cancer. Like most people, he probably has a lot on his plate. The errant passenger was just the last straw. Mr. Slater was just doing his job. The passenger, whatever his issues were, shouldn't have been so rude. I hope Steven doesn't get in too much trouble for his stunt.

One of my pet peeves is rudeness. And a sign of this is how people don't follow directions, especially on a plane. We're told over and over to wait until the plane is at the gate before we get up and collect our belongings. Poor Steven got hit in the head as he was telling a disobedient passenger that he shouldn't be up while the plane is taxiing. If that person happened to get hurt if the plane stopped all of a sudden, or get hit himself by falling luggage or the overhead bin door, I'm sure he'll sue the airline. Really, how much time are you saving by getting up ahead of everyone else? It's like people in traffic. I hate when someone's honking their horn, tailgating you, or cutting you off. What could be so important that you're endangering other people? In the end, when you're out of time, you're out of time.

sitting under a tree with a gentle breeze blowing, reading a book while music plays in the background.

Gorgeous summer weekend! Perfect for an ole' county fair.
The famous Shawangunk Ridge in the background. Affectionately named "Gunks" by climbers and locals.

It was heartwarming to see families enjoying an old fashioned form of entertainment. I didn't eat too badly either. Of course I had to have a chocolate milk shake. And corn on the cob. (It was my donation to the 4H Club.) No fried dough for me or anything fried for that matter.

Since I have a couple of gay guy friends, I'm happy that Prop 8 was overturned. I love what Judge Vaughn Walker wrote: "moral and religious views" are not a "rational basis" for the state to deny same-sex couples equal marriage rights.

(I stole this blog post's title from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Thanks! And courtesy of The Colbert Report, this is not Armagayddon!)

(Disclaimer: Sorry for this post, but I just found it fascinating.)
Since I started having my teeth cleaned, they had always bled. The dentists in the Philippines never really said anything about it. I knew it was gingivitis. So I brushed more, flossed more. When I moved to the U.S., the dentists here showed more concern and took steps to help me fix it. After my diagnosis of a big-ass brain tumor, all those years of bleeding gums made so much sense. My body was in a chronic state of inflammation, causing cell damage and mutations. Studies have shown a definite link between periodontal disease and heart disease and other medical conditions.

Even now, when I'm not in a good mood, my gums would bleed when I floss. It's interesting how our bodies know when we're not in a good head place, when I'm mentally and emotionally "inflamed".

Watch the great Stephen Colbert brilliantly bring down Laura Ingraham and her appalling New York Times Bestseller book "The Obama Diaries". Click here to see this right-wing know-nothing get schooled by the one and only Master of Nailology. He pretty much said the writing was awful.

I am not a cook. I don't like to cook. I get by on broiling, steaming, stir-frying, boiling. Having my father with me is a source of major stress because he needs to eat. And because of his complicated medical status, healthy food is necessary. But he likes the salty, the fatty, the sweet. Because of my irregular work hours, before he comes to stay with me, I go on a cooking frenzy so he won't find himself hungry or hypoglycemic. I literally slave away in the kitchen all night. And what happens? He doesn't eat.

Over the weekend it was decided without my knowledge or permission that he'll be staying with me indefinitely. No disrespect because I know it's our responsibility to take care of our parents, but I actually couldn't sleep that night when I found out. My sister brought him here yesterday. A little over 24 hours later, I already had a mini-meltdown. I came home tonight and asked him if he ate. He said he did. I saw some pieces of bread were missing. I looked in the rice cooker and fridge where he had a choice of 4 dishes. Fruits, vegetables, healthy snacks. All untouched. I went ballistic. I told him how worried I am that he'll go hungry or that I'll come home and he's passed out. Also how I heard he was saying he's starving at our other sister's place. He denied saying that. When I first heard this, I really didn't believe that my sister or brother in law would let him starve. Because I knew from my experience here that it's his choice not to eat. If he's not eating there (and my brother in law cooks. And they eat the bad stuff), what chances do I have of getting him to eat here?

I told him I'm not a cook but I try. That I do a cooking marathon the eve of his arrival. At this rate, he's gonna end up malnourished, dehydrated, hypoglycemic. How to get through to him? I have no idea. He's as stubborn as a mule. He said last night he'll just order out, Chinese food preferably. But who can afford to order out for every meal? And he can't afford to ingest all the unhealthy stuff anyway. Maybe we should take him up on his request to go into a nursing home. See how he likes that. At least we know he'll be eating and taking his medications as he should. At this point, he really has nowhere to go. His sisters are out of the picture. He talked about finding low-cost housing so he can be on his own. How does he think he's going to eat? It's unfortunate that he's from the old era where the men don't know how to do anything around the house.

He's discontented wherever he goes. That's why he's so eager to go back to the Phils. so he's free to indulge in unhealthy eating and do his own thing. I understand how hard it is to live with other people, especially your adult children nagging you about your medications, exercise, and diet. To have to rely on them to take you everywhere. To wait all day at home with nothing much to do. To have no common interests with your kids. To be a stranger to them and now be expected to live with them. What I don't understand is how he expects things to be harmonious all the time. At the first sign of trouble or a disagreement, or the hint of an argument, he decides to pack his bags and leave.

What's the solution then? None that I can see at this time. In the meantime, I resent that I'm made to feel like a bad daughter. True, I can stand to be a little less adversarial and be more tactful. But like in most conflicts, diplomacy can only get you so far.

"God knows what to give, what to withhold; let's not murmur against Him."---President Andrew Jackson


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