Monday, August 25, 2014

Why Am I Worse Off Than My Parents?


Yes, I'm worse off than my parents, financially.  When my parents were younger than I am now, they had kids, they made more money and they seemed to be able to afford to own their own home, to buy  homes for their parents (who were living in rental slump previously), support my grandparents financially and  to pay for our private schools, our tutors, and our vacations, etc.  Yet, they themselves had only 6th grade education. My siblings and I always wonder how come we are not as financially secured as our parents were when they were our age.  Now I realize we aren't the only ones who feel we are "over qualified" with more university degrees than we will ever need.  I realize it's getting a lot more competitive in the entire world, not just in the USA, but in Britain, in Hong Kong, in Singapore, in Japan, in China and everywhere else...  People just get too educated and yet education isn't generating much benefits like it used to.  The education bubble is finally bursting.

My parents also said that when they were young, poor and uneducated, they were able to make good money as long as they were willing to work hard.  But nowadays, there are too many people competing for the same handful number of jobs. Why is this happening?  The world now has 7 billion people and huge number of people from China and India and other countries which used to be in turmoil and where people weren't really working but just were trying to survive from epidemics, wars and political unrest; are now competing for the same jobs that my parents' generation used to have plentiful.  With the advanced technology, computerization and robots, the world today needs much less educated and skilled labor than ever but can stay very productive.  So this is what's happened. It's only going be more difficult for young people to find decent  paying jobs in the future. I can see it just when I am looking at my young nieces and nephews and the millions and millions of young Chinese kids like them.... How in the world are there going to be enough decent paying jobs for them in the future?  My kindergarten nieces and nephews are now already speaking 3 languages fluently because the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten they attend are teaching them.  They are taking computer classes and so many more classes that I had no clue about when I was that age.  Now even my 2-year old toddler niece is starting school next week and my brother tells me it's pre-pre  pre-school....and no pre-kindergarten will accept any student nowadays without a pre-pre pre-shcool that 2-year old kids are supposed to attend.  Is the world going insane now that even babies are going to school?  I didn't start school when I was 4. When I started, I knew nothing, I didn't know how to count even from 1 to 10.   Then I saw my sisters' kids starting school at 3, now my brother's 2-year old daughter is starting at 2 and she can already count from 1 to 20. She was trained early on by  her parents to do that to pass the interview for her pre-pre  pre-school.  I can't believe it....  All the kids in China, are like that now and it's scary and there are millions and millions of them even after many people having observed the one-child policy. These kids are going to kill each other off in the job market in the future.  As much as I feel I'm not doing remotely well compared to my parents, I am thankful that I'm not my nieces' generation...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Roller Coaster Rides In Hong Kong That I Will Never Dare To Go On


When I was growing up, I spent many many weekends and many family birthdays in Ocean Park Hong Kong. My parents would ground me by not taking me to Ocean Park to see the dolphins or the birds when I did something wrong.  When I was a teenager, my friends and I also went there all the time on our own because getting there only took a short subway and bus ride and we loved to eat at the restaurants there.  I never dared to misbehave whether I was in elementary school or even in high school because of my fear of my parents not taking me to Ocean Park when I was a young kid, or not giving me the money to go there when I was a teenager.  I always saw rides there but I never dared to try any.  It was frightening for me to even look at those rides in person before I could gather the courage to get in the line. I mainly went for the animals, the dolphins, the birds and the food. There was also once a water park there where I also went to swim for an entire day and got sun burnt... But  the water park was  closed only after several years' operation  and was replaced  with new attractions.  This  theme park /zoo combo in Hong Kong never stayed the same and is always changing. My sisters told me the theme park is now building a new water park on site that will  open in 2017.  I can't wait because I remember those good times that I had in the old water park.

Meanwhile,  thanks to the thrill seeking foreign tourists, I get to see how it's like to be on one of those rides without getting on it myself.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Easy To Cook Chicken Kabobs

Fresh & Easy Ready to Cook Chicken Kabab

This is one of  the ready to cook items from one of my favorite grocery stores: Fresh & Easy.  All I did was to pop the pre-marinated kabobs into the broiler for 22 minutes or until fully cooked; and turned once during broiling.  The chicken kabobs were deliciously seasoned and they came out moist and very flavorful. Since I started cooking at home, I had tried both raw meats and pre-seasoned meats from a lot of grocery stores, but they all tasted either very gamy or very salty to me and they really discouraged me from cooking.  These chicken kabobs however tasted so good and fresh.  I paired them with half a container of the $2.49 Trader Joe's Mediterranean Hummus, and also  half a bag of the 98 cents salad bag which was also from Fresh & Easy.  Trader Joe's has exceptionally good Hummus, which I think Gordon Ramsey had bought  for a Kitchen Nightmare episode to humiliate the hummus made by a middle eastern restaurant. 


I love the fact that I can cook fresh chicken kabobs at home without handling raw meat. A pack of 3 skewers are perfect portions for my husband and I.  I hate eating leftovers from previous night so I like perfect portions that feed us well without leftovers.  The total cost of the meal for two is about $10.00 before including the cost of running the broiler, and washing the dishes, and of course the cost of shopping time and gasoline for driving my car to grocery shop...  Sometimes I feel it's cheaper to just go order delivery from the Chinese restaurant.  But then I guess this is healthier...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Street of Two Worlds

third world Los Angeles

If someone presented this photo to me before I moved to Los Angeles and asked me what country was this photo taken, I would probably throw out  the names of some third world countries in South America or Africa.  This isn't the city of Los Angeles either, this is however a suburb in the Los Angeles County. Aren't suburbs supposed to be nice looking ?  Yes, we foreigners assume they are, this is why there is even a very nice Japanese hotel with solar panels just right cross these rundown houses.  These houses actually look much worse now because this photo was taken a while back.


This hotel and the rundown houses on the opposite side of the street have been co-existing for many years. One would assume those houses would be re-gentrified.  But no, they are getting more and more rundown.  The entire side of the street across this nice Japanese hotel  remain third world looking and there is an entire neighborhood behind that side of the street that is very shady looking also.  The development from foreign investments  somehow just never crossed the road's divider...While everywhere in Asia, as long as there is a nice Japanese hotel or nice Japanese business, the area surrounding it is usually very nice as well.  But not here.  Every time when I go to the restaurant inside the hotel, I find the contrasts as intriguing as the first time when I saw it, particularly the houses are now even worse looking than when I first visited the hotel... I never quite understood why the Japanese would build such a nice hotel in this not so nice street.  Japanese are very meticulous in terms of aesthetic in everything and they live for everything aesthetic.  I'm very surprised they didn't care about this aspect when they were selecting a location to put their hotel.  This is why the street puzzles me so much every time I drive by.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Kind Of Homes I Prefer


It seems like Florida is building much better houses than California, where all homes are built  using cheap compressed saw-dust wood boards patched together,  that are easily eaten down by termites and are always burnt down during the wild fires here. New single family homes in LA built with all these cheap materials cost easily over $1M  a piece in a safe  middle class neighborhood with good school districts. (No, not upscale neighborhood, just middle class neighborhood.) And people are buying them!!  If my husband is not having a stable job here, I'd rather move to Florida where there is no state income tax and where we can build our own free standing single family  home with the construction method we prefer for much less than the crappy cardboard box here in Los Angeles.  So far, I really like this construction method in Florida a lot.  Australia is also building nice modern and low maintenance homes but I would prefer to have concrete floor base support and steel beam to support the roof because I just don't want to own any home that has any significant wooden support...


Monday, August 11, 2014

How Much Are Termites Contributing To America's GDP??


"Termites" is a word that I hear all the time since I moved to this country.  I never knew what termites were because I never saw them and I never heard of termites inspections or termites control when I was living with my parents.  Growing up, our condos never had termite inspection or any complaint or sighting of termites. But then my dad liked to move home very 5 years and we always lived in new built condos so I am not sure if this is only a problem for older building, or it's because our condos were built in concrete and steel which termites have no appetite for.  My grandmother had lived in her 23rd floor condo for 33 years now and she never had termites even though she knew what they were.  She told me when she was a child, she used to live in a very old Chinese house in the country side where wooden beams were used for roof support and every time when it was hot, she saw termites swarming.  But since she started living in a high rise condo, she has never seen any termites.    She said termites couldn't fly that high.  For me, I had never seen them until today even though I was always notified by my landlords that they would enter my apartment for the annual termite inspection.  Many times they sprayed my apartments or even tented the entire building which I hated very much.  I had never seen termites  but in the past they told me the inspection found colonies so they had to tent the building.  I hated it because I don't think it's healthy for me and I don't care what the pest control says  how those pesticides aren't toxic to human.  How can any chemical  be toxic to the insects and not be toxic to human???  May be if people's houses aren't getting sprayed so often, there won't be so many people with  Cancer, Parkinson, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer and all these weird neurological diseases.  But then without all these inspections, spraying, tenting, home repairs, and medical treatments for all these diseases, then there will be less jobs, and a much lower GDP for the American economy.  Termites after all create jobs that can't be outsourced.

As to me, after all the intrusion of privacy and tenting and spraying that I experienced in my immigration journey here, I had never seen a termite in person.  But today I am seeing some big ants with wings crawling on the living room floor, around the frame of my apartment's entrance door. Now should I call my landlord?  But the HOA had just come to have the annual  inspection last month. The inspection team walked through my apartment and told me, "No Termites." At the time I was wondering how did they know there was no termite when all they did was walked in and walked out in a breeze... I worry that if I call my landlord about this, he will bring the termite control back to spray the place and I really really don't want to be sprayed again.  Besides, from my past experience, even after they sprayed, they always needed to come back and spray again and again and even to tent the building.  Termites were never gotten rid of completely but I was exposed to all the chemicals, and then the intrusion and inconvenience.

Now, I have this big ants with wings crawling on my leg and I just looked up in the internet that they are indeed termites.  Finally, nice meeting you guys!!!  I hope before you guys eat up this apartment, I will find new prospects elsewhere and I will move to a brand new house that is not built in flimsy wood boards and termite food anymore. Until then, please don't stuff yourselves too much, please.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bacon And Egg Breakfast Remix

Bacon & Egg Breakfast Remix

Growing up, my parents forbidded me to order  the "American" breakfast (eggs & bacon & toast) every time when we were at a restaurant.  They said it was not smart to pay so much more money  for something that can cheaply and easily be made at home...I only started ordering this kind of breakfast at a restaurant after I moved to America, because I am so lazy that I don't want to bother to crack a couple eggs....

But this morning, I decided to make it at home because I had bought bacon to season the cast iron grill pan I recently bought.  My mother-in-law told me that I should season it by frying bacon so it will give the pan the non-stick property.  After cooking the bacon on the grill pan, I of course had to eat it for breakfast. So I fried a couple eggs, mirowaved the leftover Japanese sweet potato croquette that I bought the other day, and paired them with fresh pineapples which are always sitting at my home besides the annoying bananas....So here it is, a remix of the bacon and egg breakfast.

I feel that the cast-iron grill pan isn't a great pan for cooking bacon because the ridges of the pan make part of the bacon burn easier. It just can't cook a strip of bacon evenly. As to whether or not the bacon will help my cast iron grill pan become really non-stick, I will have to find out some other days by actually grilling a steak on it...