Sunday, April 23, 2017

On Reading - Discovering French Recipes on Pickles

I took a bit of a break from litigation, and delved into reading, and reading a lot. Mark Twain once said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” In other words, if you're not reading, you're the same as someone who is illiterate.

In a week, I read 8 books on bathing and the history of bathing. I only had two insights from it all. One, the Turks have a goat hair mitt they use for scrubbing the skin. I want one. Two, the 16th Century Castille Soap, made out of olive oil, was once the world's prized soap. I want to learn how to make that.

I got about 10 more books on nutrition. I hit the jackpot with one of them, because the author took the time to translate old French pickle recipes. I was very impressed by the secret knowledge of cooking that otherwise would've been lost. (I'll write more on the subject).

All of this has inspired me to study Scandinavian cooking once again. Not exactly sure why. I just have a hunch that another lightbulb will turn on upstairs.

Finally, I've been running a lot. I finally burned off 9 pounds (or 4 kilos) or 6% (at least for me) of body fat. I have to tell you; it wasn't easy, pleasant, or that fun.

One researcher says a pound is the equivalent to walking 35 miles without food. I don't agree it's that much, but you can see how much work it was. (But, even then, I can' really complain: All the running was like being in one meditative Zen state; I wonder if it's done anything for my mind.)

My Christmas holiday in Europe maybe was a little too indulgent, and because of it, I put on 4 pounds. I also put on 4 pounds on my trip before that to Mexico. 8 pounds of fat, extra. No good.

I'm so happy (I really am!) to be back to my regular body fat, of what's estimated to be 12%. Gaining fat is a real psychological downer.

My European indulging stressed one more important lesson I hope never to forget: Sugar makes you fat. Don't underestimate the harm from sugar and simple starches. I'm telling you. I really am.

Well, I'm really trying this time around to get into the single digits of body fat. So, I'll let everyone know how it goes. (Every time I try, it doesn't seem to work. Somehow the body resists and I get back to 12%.) But we'll see this time.

Also, my friend "FX" has come from New Zealand to visit me. So, we'll have to see where we're going to go and what we're going to see.

Update more on my life later. Hope all is well with everyone.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Baldwin Park Fires Newest Chief of Police, David Salcedo

Fired Baldwin Park Chief of Police,
David Salcedo
After working approximately a month for the City of Baldwin Park, Council Members Ricardo Pacheco, Susan Rubio, and Cruz Baca voted to fire the former Inglewood Captain, David Salcedo. In response, Mayor Manuel Lozano and Monica Garcia ranted about what a great chief he was at the council meeting and then left the meeting.

Members of the community were concerned with Salcedo's lack of experience and his corrupt reputation. (Apparently, he bungled the investigation of a young girl who died at the Los Angeles Coliseum.) In his first month of office, Salcedo was seen meeting and greeting people at church and rarely seen in his office.

Salcedo's appointment has been a controversial one. Manuel Lozano stated that he should get paid the same as "the White Boy," referring to the former Chief: Michael Taylor.

In less than a five year period, Baldwin Park has fired (or forced into resignation) three chiefs of police, one city attorney, one finance director, one community works director, and one public works director. In fact, the only person in the executive team that's stayed is Parks and Recreation Director: Manuel Carrillo Jr also known as Manuel Carrillo.

I'll write more later. I've had a lot of work on lately, including a petition for review to the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Court of Appeals Rules Against Casas - Holding that City Doesn't Need to Tell us the Truth

Moses and Aaron meet Pharaoh and Aaron turns his rod into a snake.
by Robert Leinweber. January 01, 1850
Last week, the Court of Appeal of the Second District ruled against Julian Casas, holding that the trial court was correct in ruling that the City complied with court order to release records, even when the City made misrepresentations to the court and us, that they didn't have any records (when in fact, Casas proved that they were lying about it all). In other words, Casas was trying to get the rest of the records from the City, but the courts have said that the City doesn't need to release the outstanding records, which would show who took millions of dollars from the towing scandal Mayor Lozano and his men were running.

The main reason the court said that Casas didn't have a case against the City was because Casas didn't present evidence that the City had evidence (but he did). That was the whole point of the case: After a court order issues, does the requester of records have to prove that the City has records, or does the City have to assist the requestor about whether records exist?

Here, the court said, once again, that the requester has to prove that such records exist. (Think about this, if we could prove all the records the City had, why would we need to sue them for records in the first place?)

In any event, of course I was disappointed in the court's decision. But it doesn't mean the conversation between us and the courts are over yet; so, don't lose hope.

According to the Book of Exodus in the Torah, ages ago, a slave and a shepherd (the lowest of the low in Egyptian society) dialogued with the King, known as Pharaoh, and asked him to release God's people from slavery. The back-and-forth conversation included cruelty, miracles, magic, and a contest between holy and evil powers.

Like Casas's case, the whole conflict started with something small. In Julian's case, we just asked the City to extend the boxing club hours, and they said no. In Exodus, Moses asked Pharaoh if the people could have a party, celebrating their God for just three days. (So for those of you who think religion is all about being dull and not having fun, think about the fact that God commanded his people to throw a Burning-Man kind of party in the desert for three days.)

The dialogue ends with Pharaoh releasing the Hebrew people and giving them the Kingdom's wealth for their departure. Pharaoh, a king and a god in his sight, also had to finally ask the slave and the shepherd to bless him and his people.

What's the point of the allegory? To point out, I have no idea what's going to happen next. I only hope it's exciting, because I certainly don't want to be bored.

I also hope that those in power will return to the ancient ways of their ancestors, have faith, and live a life reflected in nobility and honor.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Reading Recommendations and Being Back Home

Well, I'm back home from Jamaica now. While away, I was able to get some reading done; hence, I have book recommendations for everyone.

Also, I brought just the right amount of stuff on my travels. A skilled traveler brings only enough, and not more. On this trip, I only brought a few more pieces of clothing than I needed and two extra books. That's pretty good, I thought, as I analyzed my suitcase's content after coming home.

While I came home, my kitty Jeh Pan laid down on the wall, looking like an Egyptian Sphinx watching the house, as a sentry watches a wall. I called to him, and he came down.

My mom commented I blackened so much that I'm not recognizable as Paul. She scolded me for not wearing sunblock. I just scratched the back of my head and smiled, embarrassed.

She continued, "You're so black, people won't think you came back from a holiday. They'll think you were born that way."

Coincidentally, at home, I brewed myself a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. I felt tired from not sleeping enough. I didn't feel rested enough and thought, I should go away again soon.

Here's my book recommendations and main insight, in any event.

Lincoln and His Generals by T. Harry Williams. Every strategists need to read this book. Williams gets into the head of Lincoln and his main generals and shows you the war from their perspective by analyzing the letters written and battles fought. Although at times, the book gets too technical and dull, it really proves the brilliance of Lincoln and Grant and the creation of modern military communication. Highly recommended.

Art of War by Sun Tzu. Again, every strategists needs to know the simple Chinese treatise on war. Some of the principles are so basic, but basic also means fundamental. In reviewing the Art of War, I realize that I strayed from some basic principles too. It's probably a text that needs to be constantly reviewed, because some of the principles become clearer only after a defeat or a mistake made. For instance, one principle says that when five types of spies are in play, a General is invincible. Now that, I don't remember from reading it the first time. So, this one comes recommended too.

Kids for Cash by William Ecenbarger. This American expose reveals how judges were sending children to detention camps and prison for the slightest offenses, such as swearing, because those same judges were receiving big kickbacks. It's a great reminder to not trust government, who in this case was tied to the mafia. This book proves there's no limit to the evils of government, when profit is involved.

The Obesity Code by Jason Fong. Fong argues that fat is not about "calories in" versus "calories out"; rather, gaining fat is a much more complex phenomenon that is due mainly to the consumption of sugar and simple carbohydrates. He also provides a simple and effective solution to maintaining weight loss. The book is also clearly written. By no means am I obese, but every fighter needs these types of books to remind them of the importance of their own nutrition, which affects the health of their mind and body.

Main Insight Learned in Jamaica: “Mammon is still the god of the world's largest and most powerful religion.” - Marty Rubin. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Port Antonio, Jamaica - The Hunt for the Kraken

Blue Lagoon, Port Antonio
I took a four hour bus ride from Montego Bay to Port Antonio, a place a number of people told me to go. I ended up at a German hostel at the top of a hill, in the rainforest, where the fireflies light your way to the path. (Once when I hiked up to the top of the hill, I saw red and blue flickers. In New Zealand, the glowworms only come in blue.)

When I came to Port Antonio, a taxi took me to a soccer field by the hostel. I saw the black soccer players competing. I noticed how tall and sporty they looked, a big contrast to my small frame. There, I ordered fried chicken and rice and beans, a common dish in the Caribbean. It was alright, but not great.

I can't say that my time with the guests was as a nice as it was at my last place. Here, it seems like mostly couples and long time friends are traveling; so, they're more closed off to meeting new people.

Nonetheless, I still felt it familiar with Germans. And at one point, my host caught me listening into their German conversation. Although I said nothing, he looked at me, and said, "Do you understand what we're saying?"

I smiled and nodded and said, "But not everything."

He said, "I can tell."

At first, I disliked the locals. Several times, I was called "Ching Chong" and "Mr. Wong" and "Mr. Chin" (though the last one, Mr. Chin is not so racist; he's a Chinese-Jamaican billionaire). It got annoying. At one point, a prostitute in a hot pink dress grabbed my forearm and said, "I have a place upstairs. You like?"

"No thank you," I said.

But some people have been really friendly. And over time, I've really liked some of the people. Down the hill, there's a fried chicken shack. And the guy also calls me Mr. Chin. I call him, Mr. Chicken. But he has the best fried chicken I ever ate. So, I go there every lunch.

He also makes Caribbean rice that's amazing. (Perhaps, it's so good, I should bring some home for my friends.) What makes it good is that he puts the right amount of coconut milk in it and the right amount of beans. Somehow the balance makes it come out very good. I've grown to like him very much, and he's grown to like his Mr. Chin very much; perhaps, because I appreciate his food so much.

One time, at the bank, I was in the senior citizen's line without knowing. The man in front of me was 68 and was a Rasta Man. And he told me, "Hey man, this line is for people that are 68 'o older."

I told him, "I'm 69."

He said, "No you not 69."

"I am. I do the Chinese way. It keeps me young, man. Makes me look like this."

He believed it for awhile, and he said, "Really?! You 69?"

I nodded. I told him, "You need to learn the Chinese way."

"I guess so..."

"But really, if you want to be live long, you need to be right with the Lord."

"Oh man," he said. "I'm right with my Father."

"Ok, good, man. Be at peace."

One day, I went to the Blue Lagoon. It's a blue pool of freshwater and saltwater. When you swim in it, the top part of it tastes fresh. Supposedly, it's over 200 feet (68 meters) deep. The locals say a giant squid lives in the bottom. And I believed them.

So, I held my breath and dove down as deep as I could, looking for my Kraken, the octopus-sea-monster. One of my favorite poems by Tennyson said this of the Kraken:

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth . . .

But, I never found my Kraken, no matter how hard I looked.

The German guy told me they were just making a story for me. Then he added, "I can't believe you would want to find a big sea monster that could kill you."

"Why not?" I said. "It wouldn't kill me. Animals like me."

Well, one day I'll find my Kraken, Leviathan, and Phoenix. But my time in Jamaica wasn't the time to find these ancient and mystical monsters and creatures.

Perhaps on this trip, more than others, I reflected on the importance of having less and not more. The Western World is one of excess, which people don't realize carries with it, unhealthy and unintended consequences. Thus, remedies for such problems can only come through fasting, rest, meditation, prayer, and forgiveness.

My days are coming to an end in Jamaica. I'll be back in Los Angeles soon. Until then, I need to relax more under the Jamaican sun and sea.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Unwinding in Jamaica; My Days in an Island in the Sun

Jamaican Coconuts
In my early days in Jamaica, a little island in the sun, I just unwound and did nothing. I went to the white sand beach every other day, socialized a lot, and read.

At the beach, I didn't feel like eating a hamburger at the resort; so, I snacked on Caribbean Sea urchins, coconuts, and sea grass. I ate it all raw.

I would go hunting for the sea urchins in the sea. I would grab them. Then crack them open with a rock. Then, I would wash out the guts and undigested sea grass with the ocean water. Then, I'd scrape out the orange eggs and eat them. They tasted fatty and sweet and good, and I liked them.

 I felt like a caveman, and although the Germans frowned that I would crack open a sea urchin and eat its eggs so savagely, I told them it tasted good and was most likely good for me. I figured I might as well fill up on ocean nutrients while I had the chance.

The workers at the resort told me to stop picking the young coconuts. And, I would tell them the younger ones tasted sweeter. Even though I'd pick them, they would always open it for me.

And it tasted sweet and good. So, it was kind of an odd effect. They told me to stop doing it, but rewarded me every time I did it. So, I kept doing it, because I was rewarded and it tasted good.

Lars, one of the German guests, called me a freeloader in German, because I didn't want to pay for food. (The Germans paid for their coconuts, because they didn't pluck them out of the trees like I did.) And why should I, when the beach had plenty for me to eat? (I tell everyone I'm unemployed anyways, so it really makes sense I do this.)

It was odd how the food made me feel full for a long time, when there was so little of it. In contrast, sugary and starchy foods in the States, only temporarily make you feel full; it's a bad thing and perhaps is a leading contributor to our out-of-control obesity epidemic.

In total, sometimes I was social with the guests. Sometimes I was anti-social, retreating into my own world to read or write or think. In this way, I had best of both worlds.

Incidentally, I finished my book on Lincoln and his generals. It gave me many brilliant insights, and I was grateful that the author wrote it. I think it will help me with my litigation going forward.

One other odd trivia. I also noticed a funny thing at my hostel. I realized Germans are coffee thieves. Really! They are!

I would brew myself two cups of coffee in a French press. Drink one of it. Then the other one was missing. Luca, a German told me he drank it. I managed a smile and brewed myself another cup.

Then another German asked me to make him one, because he had no coffee. Then, when I left my coffee sitting, the German girl Mona, the same one who asked me to take her into town, drank my coffee. I had to brew three cups of coffee to have one. Two went to the Germans.

Although I didn't buy the famous and delicious and expensive Blue Mountain coffee at the markets, the Jamaican coffee is very good. There's something with coffee growing in islands in the tropics. They always taste better for some reason; think of Blue Mountain, Kona, and Bali coffee.

So, perhaps that's why the Germans were pinching my coffee all the time. I also fill my coffee with the French cream at the store, which is rich and buttery and makes the coffee taste so much fuller and somehow more complete.

But Luca repaid me. His parents came to visit him from Germany. They brought to Jamaica their famous, locally baked, German black bread and gave it to me. That was kind of them.

It was delicious as well. Luca slathered on it New Zealand butter and German honey. I liked it.

He also got me some French tobacco, and I smoked it and smoked it quickly because it tasted so nice. (It's not at all a habit, so don't rail on me for doing it.)

Because of Luca's parents' hospitality, we were able to chat and introduce ourselves. It was a pleasant breakfast, over coffee and cream and German bread and honey and fatty butter.

One day Mona, a German girl kept asking me to cook for her. So, I cooked for her and the Flemish guy, William. I cooked Caribbean ocean fish with roasted spices, roasted sweet potatoes, and stir fried okras (an vegetable native to Africa) with garlic and butter .

At first I was little annoyed, because good food has to be made with love. And love is work. And working on a holiday is not a pleasant task. But after awhile, I started getting into it, and I appreciated serving them.

(But then I got upset, to think how long it was since I cooked. And the reason, I realized while I didn't cook was because the last big meal I made was for the boxers for Passover. After that, Baldwin Park protested the Jewish holiday and got Julian fired. (Perhaps it's too much to allege they're anti-Semitic, because they appear to be vindictive towards anyone who want to do what's right for the people.) It left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and I realized since then, I never made a big meal again.)

And, so, I was grateful that I had an opportunity to cook again and reclaim a joy that was taken from me. All the food tasted good and hearty and healthy and filling. I ended the meal with coffee, and Mona and William looked grateful.

Anyways, a number of us were leaving the hostel. Mona was going home to Germany. I was moving on. William walked us to the street and waited for us, while we caught a taxi. He gave us both a hug.

They made fun of me for not having social media, which in their minds made me a lot older than them. I smiled, thinking that's not why I'm not on social media (though I never said really why).

And that was how my time in Montego Bay ended. I find that good byes can be difficult. To quote a Caribbean writer, Ana├»s Nin once said, "Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Confession - I'm in Jamaica

Jamaica
So, I have a confession, and it's this: I'm in Jamaica right now. I arrived some time ago, and when I did I was tired because I had a nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Jamaica. I left around midnight, only to arrive early in the morning in Jamaica.

I was tired. I only slept four hours on the plane.

The hostel I'm staying at is owned by a German woman. As a result, most of the guests here are German; there's one guy from Belgium and a few from England. The Flemish guy teaches me French from time to time.

A lady spoke some German. I made a mistake and answered her back in German. The next thing I knew, everyone at the hostel knew the Asian guy can speak German. (But it's not that good; so don't test me - please.)

Well, at least that made me feel like I was "in" immediately. And they all asked me, Where did you learn German? (I do feel like I'm oddly at home with all these Germans around me, and it's nice I can practice and learn more German.)

The problem is that they're all smoking weed around me. Also, marijuana, which is called ganja, is everywhere. No, I'm not smoking it. It smells good, though.

I've learned so much about marijuana in the first few days here, than I think I learned of it in my entire life, such as how to grow it best, how to use a microscope to tell when it's ripe, and how dealers make it heavier by spraying it with hairspray.

The tourists here, I believe, think only of marijuana, since it's so cheap and legal here.

The other day, a German girl named Mona asked me to take her into town. I asked the Belgium guy, William to come with me. We sat at a cafe overlooking the turquoise sea. The day was fine and breezy and balmy, and the air was salty.

We all ordered cappuccinos, which was probably one of the best cappuccinos I ever had. This was because it was made from the premo Blue Mountain beans. Blue Mountain tastes rich and fatty and decadent without being bitter at all. It was nice to have it with the frothy milk of a cappuccino. We just chatted and talked about our lives.

After, we all walked into town. It felt like we were in a movie, with the hustling and bustling Jamaicans constantly stopping us and saying "Hi Man..."

William bought us ice cream. We all sat on the floor like children and ate our ice cream. William looked so happy licking his ice cream. I had raisin and rum ice cream. It was good and tangy and had the lingering taste of alcohol.

Then, we went to the pet store. I looked at the birds - lot of exotic ones. I also looked at the fish, hoping to see some freshwater fish native to Jamaica. No luck.

Then, we all took a taxi to the beach. We ordered drinks and chicken wings. I ordered a smoothie made of rum and bananas and coffee.

William ordered some festival - which is their deep fried bread made of cornmeal and flour and sugar. (It tastes good, like a deep fried cornbread, but I'm sure it's not good for you.) We looked at the ocean, as we ate, drank, and talked more.

There were mangrove trees by us. So, I explained how these trees can live in saltwater.

Then the three of us sat the pier and watched the sunset. Underneath us, I could see the elegant and majestic butterfly fish swimming in the clear blue water.

After, we caught the taxi back to the hostel. Unlike the other drives, our taxi driver was nice and respectful.

It was a nice day.