Wednesday, June 28, 2017

City of Baldwin Park Worst Offender in Tow Scandal According to Civil Grand Jury

Royal Coaches is Baldwin Park's Hired Tow Company
The Los Angeles Civil Grand jury released a report this week that has found Baldwin Park the worst offender in Los Angeles County of an ongoing police-tow scandal. The news is relevant, especially given You can find the report here. Civil Grand Jury Report.

The towing scam worked like this. The Baldwin Park Police would target undocumented drivers at DUI checkpoints. They would then tow and impound the car for 30 days. The fees would be in the thousands of dollars, and the owner would lose the car at auction.

According to the report, Baldwin Park failed Due Process by not notifying those it impounded cars from, charged extraordinary administrative fees, and towed the most cars of any city, raking in millions for Royal Coaches and the Baldwin Park Police.

On June 21, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal also held that cities can no longer hold a car for 30 days, unless it has probable cause (a fancy way of saying there needs to be some evidence) that releasing the car would cause danger to the public. Holding a car any longer than necessary violated the rights of the owner of the vehicle, under our Fourth Amendment Right to be free from an unreasonable seizure.

What the report didn't say, because the City Council fought the court order to release records is that over a 5 year period, Baldwin Park towed 15,247 cars, making $12 million between the City and the tow company. The City essentially used the police department to steal all that property to enrich certain members. Who are they? How come they don't tell us?

Since Manny Carrillo, the Director of Parks and Recreation tried to shut down the boxing club, I've been pointing out how corrupt this city is. Now, even the courts have come to find the same conclusion. (The problem, however, has been that nobody wants to prosecute these people making these decisions and hold them accountable.)

The city officials and administrators, like the Mayor and Council Members, are professional thieves that add no value to our City. Instead, they just take, and many of them don't even live here, like the Mayor. In my mind, it really makes me wonder why we need to be taxed and why we even need a city council. (A small percentage of our taxes are going to services, and it seems like most of it is getting laundered to corrupt players.) I think our lives are just fine without having a city council.

The residents of this City are poor. The last thing they need is for oppressive city officials and an oppressive police force to make their lives harder than it needs to be.

Remember, "Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice." -Aleksander Solzhenitsyn

Sunday, June 25, 2017

On What It Means to Be Redeemed: A Milestone in My Life

Prodigal Son by Rembrandt
(I saw in St. Petersburg, Russia). 
Yesterday, I was feeling kind of down after a difficult week, but I received a letter in the mail that changed my mood. I opened it, and it was a check for a modest sum of money. (I told you finding that pearl was a good sign; you can read about it HERE). 

I smiled. I showed it to my mother, and she asked,"How much is it for?"

I said, "That's not important. It's enough to pay off the last of my student loan."

"Really?"

"Yup. That's it. It's over. I'm free. Told you that pearl was good luck."

"Maybe, huh? Well, you're lucky to live with me. That's how you paid off your loans so quickly."

"That is true. I'm so glad it's over."

I looked at the check. I looked at it again. It wasn't because it was a large sum of money, no. But it was about the right amount I needed to pay off the last of my student loan. It represented my freedom, and I was so happy to feel free: Free at last. Debt really is bondage.

For five years, it's felt like a millstone around my neck. I remember leaving law school, wondering how am I going to pay off this huge loan (which stays with you until you die, because you can't file bankruptcy against it).

This morning, I thought about it. Really, with my student loans gone, my life reads like a Grimm's Fairy Tale. The fairy tale would go like this.

Once upon a time, two poor foreigners from another land married and had two children in the Wastelands. This Wasteland was so bad, all the children stayed poor when they grew up and never made it to a good school. And the family didn't have much money, but the father always worked extra hours so that his children had books to read. Even though they didn't read much, they always told their children to read.

When his son became a teenager, he realized that the only way out of this Wasteland was going to be for him to do better on examinations than the smart and rich kids all across the kingdom. So, he told himself this every day for four years. And, because his grades were so good, the state decided to pay for his entire undergraduate education. 

At the State Academy, he struggled at first, but worked very hard, competed and did well, receiving an education in literature and biology. 

Afterwards though, he decided he needed a break and lived in a foreign land for awhile. In the new land, they too gave him an education, a job in technology, and made him a subject to enjoy the benefits of the new land.

But, in the other kingdom, the state academy called him back and offered him a spot to study law. It was his dream to be a lawyer and go to a good jurist school. 
At the time, 8,000 students applied for 320 spots. He was picked.

Sadly although the school would pay some, he was going to have a heavy burden of debt. (Especially, because the legal job market was one of the worst in history.) In any event, he decided to go. Graduated. And took the state law exams and passed. But still had debt.

Upon passing the exams, he found the people running the Wastelands, where he grew up, to be terrible and corrupt administrators, oppressing and stealing from the people. But fighting them wasn't going to really make him any money. And he had a crisis of faith on how he was going to make a living, pay off his debt, learn lawyering, and challenge those in power. 

But in time, other people, like his fair godmother and godfathers, saw what the new lawyer was doing and supported him. So, in five years time of graduating, he was free from debt. 

And at this is the point, this is where we're at in this saga, which is still ongoing.

[To be continued . . .]

I'm just grateful I made it against all the odds. And I'm very grateful to be free and out of debt. I'm very grateful to the one who decided I was worth it to free me, not because of anything I've done, but because of his own goodness and kindness and forgiveness. In short, to be redeemed means that someone pays a price to buy you from the bondholder; so that you can be free and know what that feels like and is.

I wanted to end this post with a parable Jesus told that I'm reminded of. In Luke 7, a prostitute spends a great fortune on perfume and pours it on Jesus' feet and cleans his feet with her tears and hair. A teacher of the law sees this and is disgusted, because the woman's lifestyle made her filthy. (He's probably also upset that all that money went to waste.) The teacher of the law says, "If this man really were a prophet, he would know who this woman is who is touching him[.]"

So, Jesus asks his apprentice a question. He tells Simon that there are two who are in debt. One owes 500 silver coins. One owes 50 coins. Then asks Simon, who would be more grateful of being forgiven his debt? And Simon answers, obviously, the one who owed 500.

And Jesus then states, whoever has been forgiven of much loves much. Whoever has been forgiven of little loves little. Stop and think for a moment why would someone spend so much on perfume and do what she did.

Personally, I've been forgiven a lot; so, I need to remember that and show it more often.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How to Start a Social Revolution (Part 1 of the Change Series)

The Rage, Flower Thrower
by Banksy
Today, I'm convinced that we are in desperate need of change. In America, it appears that a seething anger is brewing against the players controlling corporations and governments; they are also known as the 1%. So, how are things going to change? And how do we bring it about?

The answer to this question almost always fall into one of two answers: violence and non-violence. In other words, does might make right? I've spent a considerable amount of time reading what others before me have said.

To be honest, I was actually unhappy and disturbed to hear the answer of some in the nonviolence camp, some of who actually argue that we have to talk to those in power with reason and that reason will change them. Andre Trocme, who I highly respect, advocated this.

So does, Scilla Elworthy, a peace activist. She says in her TED talk (you can listen to it here: Fighting with Nonviolence): " . . . but it is hopeless to be angry with the people. They are human beings just like us. And they're doing what they think is best. And that's the basis on which we have to talk with them."

Her talk echoes the same belief as Trocme: The enemy could be reasoned with, which I don't know if I agree with. I do agree, though, that she's probably right that it's hopeless to be angry at these people.

I laughed to myself when I heard the idea about reasoning with the tyrants. I thought about our Mayor and City Council and our City Attorney and manager and thought sarcastically:

Oh, like they're really going to listen to reason. Please stop stealing from our funds, because it's making everyone in the City worse off. And you're promoting poverty by doing it. And people need to have a future, and you're stealing from their future too. 

And by the way, lying, cheating, and stealing is morally wrong and promotes a culture where you say it's ok for everyone to do. So, please stop, even though you're taking millions of dollars from us to buy your nice houses and cars. Just stop. Please, so everyone can be better off.

I don't think that's going to work with these people or other tyrants in power. Nonetheless, I completely agree with Elworthy when she says this about bullies and tyrants:

"Bullies use violence in three ways. They use political violence to intimidate, physical violence to terrorize and mental or emotional violence to undermine. And only very rarely in very few cases does it work to use more violence."

It's easy to see why violence or the use of force or power becomes more attractive when tyrants are violent, immoral, sociopathic, and indecent. And in my view, violence isn't limited to just the use of force. It encompasses the evil tactics of lying, cheating, stealing, and defaming others too, as I mentioned in my post on: On Honoring or Profaning God's Name

And the reason these methods don't work, is really; one evil regime is being placed by another one, though it is true, it can be the lesser of evils. No; really, a social revolution or change has to be focused on having good and just governance from the start. And I believe this will never happen, when it is founded and started by immorality, violence, and deception.

So, what's the answer? The starting point is for all of us to do our part to hold ourselves and those who govern us to a higher standard. This, I'm convinced of. What does it mean? That in times like this, we're called "to be strong and courageous." (Joshua 1:6).

Trocme argues in his sermon that we're called to oppose a tyrannical society, because in the end, we're all morally accountable to God first, and we all have a part in enabling that tyranny.

That means, it's not good enough to use as an excuse that you or I did something that you and I know is wrong, because our boss told us too, or that we're afraid of losing our job. That's a price that all of us have to pay; so, in the end, when we give an accounting of our thoughts, words, and actions we can say that we did the right thing - even though there was a cost in doing so, like the heroes and heroines that came before us.

In short, no tyrant can exist without people following his or her evil orders. And if we all do our part to not obey such evils, whether you're a citizen or an employee of such tyrants, then I believe that such a regime will be destroyed and come to an end.

What's the tyrant going to do? Shout more orders and shout louder, when no one is listening? That's why all of us should no longer participate in carrying out and empowering such people in power.

I end with the message Jesus announced in the synagogue, after being tempted by Satan. He quotes from Isaiah, a book of the prophets, that the time for forgiveness, mercy, freedom, and equality is now. He says:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed
and announce that the time has come
when the Lord will save his people. (Luke 4:18-19).

Sunday, June 11, 2017

On Staying Young and Court Updates

I took a break this week from litigation; this Monday the California Supreme Court filed Julian's brief, a Petition for Review, against the City of Baldwin Park. Supreme Court link to Julian's Case I asked the Supreme Court to please review this case, because even though we proved that Baldwin Park was engaged in a multimillion dollar towing scandal, which it did everything to hide, the court denied me my attorney's fees.

The law says that if you get records from a city, as a result of litigation, you get attorney's fees; there's no exception to the rule. So, after the Court of Appeal went out of its way to say the City didn't have to pay for being bad about hiding records, which it stated in an opinion with incorrect and heavily flawed logic, I respectfully asked the highest court in the Golden State to please take up our case.

I'm not holding my breath, because there's only a 5% chance that review is granted. But, I felt like it was important to make a record of everything that happened, so that perhaps in the future, someone could research all this, and ask what really happened with Baldwin Park and those who tried to hold it accountable.

Well, I'm not going to lie, after I filed this brief, I was tired and felt burnt out. Not too long ago, I filed another brief with the Supreme Court on the same case. (Here's the Supreme Court link to it: Casas Supreme Court Petition for Review 1.) I just needed a mental break. So, I took four days off. (I might post my petitions for review on my blog to help other practitioners. Email me if you'd find this useful.)

A number of people have asked me why I don't work for a big firm. There's one reason: A big firm would never give you that much rest time.

But that's what I needed. I was tired and fried. I avoided reading or thinking about anything legal and just let my mind rest. I have another brief at the Court of Appeal to start next week against our favorite City anyways. I needed a break.

So, what did I do on my break?

I found a pearl in an oyster my mother bought me. Apparently, the odds are 1 in two million. I shucked the Pacific Oyster myself, and I slit the abductor muscle at the bottom holding it to the shell. I slid the flesh into my mouth. I chewed on it, although some say not to do this with oysters. And I thought I lost a filling. It was grainy and round and small. But I thought, Could it be a pearl?

I spat out what felt like a marble in my mouth. I rinsed it. And lo behold: I found a pearl! Wow. My first pearl. I couldn't believe it. And bless my mother for buying me those live oysters.

It was a good omen. White pearls represent wisdom. Not that I'm superstitious, but I interpreted it to mean that some type of fortune would be coming my way. It was way, way better than any fortune I could get in opening a fortune cookie.

Well, my friends and family have always said I was super lucky. Some people I know have even said that I'm the luckiest person they ever met. (I don't know about that.)

However, Louis Pasteur once said, "Chance favors the prepared mind." In other words, hard working people are luckier.

Incidentally, Pasteur wasn't the only one who discovered this. Denise Shekerjian found in her book Uncommon Genius, that geniuses tended to have more luck and worked harder than those who were good, but not great, in their field. Well, I'm grateful I got the luck factor going for me.

Blue Ram Cichlid
Other than that, I've been working on my aquarium, which has the South American biome. I bought myself a blue ram cichlid, and it really made me happy. It's one of my favorite fish, and I haven't had one in years. I love how they swim. They come out and explore and have that punk rock hair style. I watched my new fish in amusement. Hey, I told myself it was ok to find something to reward myself; I just finished a Supreme Court brief.

Also, I've been doing quite a bit of research on aging and reversing aging. I wouldn't be the first journeyman in search of the Fountain of Youth. And it seems like there are a number of people today, who are also looking for the solution on aging and degeneration.

Do I have any insights this week? My big insight, as I mentioned in my last post on Heart Disease, (you can read about it Here) is that one of the driving forces of aging is increased levels of hydrogen peroxide. What does that mean for you?

Here's a very short summary. The Standardized American Diet (SAD) or standard Western diet is bad, and it's bad because it has low concentrations of toxins and is low in necessary nutrients. Over time, staying on such a diet, will lead to elevated levels of hydrogen peroxide. To reverse the effects, you have to change the diet. That's a very simplified and in some ways incorrect version of it - for now. And if there's more interest, I'll write more.

I also started on the BBC Series Sherlock. It's highly recommended and well-made.

Finally, here's another insight about aging from Cuban-French writer Anais Nin: "I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing."

Thursday, June 8, 2017

On Heart Disease and Arteriosclerosis

After finishing up my Supreme Court petitions, for whatever reason, I started researching arteriosclerosis (the hardening of the arteries) and heart disease. Although the common theory argues that cholesterol is the cause, the research I've been doing has shown that it's actually the build up of a transitional amino acid called homocysteine. (It's transitional, because homocysteine doesn't exist in a raw form in foods; it exists after processing proteins from our foods.)

I wasn't going to write on the subject, because although I marginally talk about health and nutrition, it's a fringe topic for my blog - which is focused more on municipal corruption, trends in government, travel, food, and reflections. But I was so excited to read about these alternative theories of heart disease that I decided I should share what I've learned.

Doctor Kilmer McCully in his book Homocysteine Revolution argues that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease but that homocysteine is. Homocysteine is the byproduct of processing the amino acid methionine, which is found in heavier levels in meat, milk, and eggs. There's a strong correlation when homocysteine builds up, that all kinds of evils happen in the body - including the hardening of the arteries, heart disease, and cancer. McCully injected rabbits with homocysteine, and it almost always resulted in the hardening of the arteries.

My own independent research confirms that elevated levels of homocysteine increase levels of hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is unstable and can become a radical - meaning it wants to eat up electrons. Generally, in a living organism, that's bad news, because the taking of those electrons means stealing them from our cells - which often leads to the destruction or death of such cells. (In fact, for now at least, I've concluded that a major cause of aging is the build up of hydrogen peroxide in the blood. Perhaps others have reached the same conclusion, but through independent deduction, this is my theory, until a better one comes along; from a biochemical perspective, aging is caused by elevated levels of hydrogen peroxide.)

One of the weaknesses of the book, however, is that McCully doesn't explain why there's a build of cholesterol in people who have heart disease. Seneff, an MIT computer scientist, argues that cholesterol is being built up because the body isn't metabolizing or processing other proteins effectively, which then backs up the processing of cholesterol. She argues that cholesterol needs to bind with sulphur in order to be processed, and when the body isn't processing sulphur from amino acids correctly, cholesterol can't be used by the body; hence, it just builds up in the blood.

A good metaphor would be an assembly line run by gears. Someone throws a monkey wrench in the gears. As a result, a number of widgets on the assembly line start piling up and falling to the floor. Is the problem the backed up widgets or is the problem the wrench in the gear? Assuming this analogy is correct, regarding cholesterol, Western Medicine has decided to solve this problem by cleaning the widgets off the floor and not remove the wrench from the gears. (The main drug for it is called statins.) A simpler way of putting it, is that rising cholesterol is part of the smoke, not the actual fire; it's the effect, not the cause. But when we see smoke and fire, it's easy to say that the smoke causes the fire, even though it's the other way around.

So one question I had by reading all this is to ask what causes cholesterol to build up and homocysteine to build up too. I could be wrong, but to harmonize the findings of Seneff and McCully, I propose that the reason there isn't usable sulphur for the cholesterol is because the homocysteine isn't being processed effectively. The byproducts of homocysteine metabolism makes usable sulphur. For instance, one of the byproducts of breaking down homocysteine results in cysteine, which has sulphur. And if more usable sulphur was available, in the form of the correct amino acids, then the cholesterol could be packed with it and the body could use it, which would then result in the lowering of cholesterol levels.

So, now you may be asking yourself - what causes these problems, and more importantly, what's the fix? Well, according to both scientists (and me as well), is that the problem lies in the Standardized American Diet (SAD). If this topic interests more people, I'll write more, I suppose.

Hope you found this piece interesting.

PS: After writing my article on Brussels Sprout sauerkraut, I found a scientific article that showed that changing the gut bacteria of a fish, expanded the fish's life by 40%. Gut bacteria appears to be the next trend in biological sciences.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

What Kind of Influence Are You Having on Other People's Lives?

Rembrant's Artist in his Studio
(If the canvas is your life, and you're the artist,
what kind of picture is going to come out?
(And others will see it, even if you don't want them to.))
The other day, I was catching up with a friend, and I asked what I can pray for him about. It's not a usual question I ask him or others in general.

So his response was: "Why?"

I said, "Because I want to."

"But why?"

"Well, this week, I was catching up with another university friend. And he says, 'Less talk; more pray.' So, we prayed together, and it helped."

Then I said to him, I think we need people like him in our lives. And my friend agreed.

The conversation had me thinking a lot.

What kind of influence am I being on others? What kind of influences do you have on others? From your heart, are you passing on good or evil with your actions, words, attitude, and thoughts?

I can't always say I've been the best influence on others. In fact, I can remember the harm I caused in certain relationships, and can only say that I regret some of those moments.

It's no wonder though that Scripture commands us to be salt and light. In fact, Jesus says:

“You are like salt for the whole human race. But if salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it.

"You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven."

There are a number of important points about the passage, but the one that stand out to me is this. Both salt and light, in the message, are meant for a greater community. This version says we're salt for the whole human race. It says we're light for the entire world. That means we're commanded to be good for the benefit of those around us.

I think it's also important to remember that salt and light are great disinfectants, meaning that they have the properties to destroy evil. Take mold and throw it in sunlight, or drop it in a high concentration of saltwater, and it'll die.

Similarly, being good isn't about being quiet and not causing trouble. Part of the definition means we have to take an active stance against social harms and evils that we see. Evil and darkness can't exist where the salt and light are.

Finally, with reference to light, the light brings the lost back home. And that's what we're supposed to do.

So, that's the take away point for me this week: Be salt and light.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Are Section VIII Housing Vouchers Linked to Voting Fraud?

Thomas Nast cartoon of Boss Tweed stuffing the votes
I have a theory, and at this point, it's a theory until proven, but I believe that Baldwin Park's Section VIII Housing Vouchers are linked to voting fraud. I believe this, because the city has, over and over again, refused to release any information on who is receiving these vouchers and how these people are chosen.

A witness also confirmed that he's seen one of the Mayor's friends collecting absentee votes at Section VIII housing. This confirms my theory that the Mayor has several people collect his votes and has them fill them out for him. Lozano has a proven track record of lying, cheating, and stealing. Remember my post about how the Mayor is most likely undocumented, you can read here: Baldwin Park's Mayor is undocumented.

Lozano won the election against his incumbent because he had 48 votes more. He won his margin by vote by mail (also called absentee). The circumstantial evidence shows that Lozano's absentees only voted for him, and the voters didn't vote on other matters, like other public officials. That suggests that someone collected the votes and was lazy and voted only for Lozano to fill out more votes. (We never said our Mayor was bright.)

I propose that the Mayor cheats the votes this way. People who receive housing vouchers most likely fall in one of three categories, (1) friends and family, (2) criminals, and (3) the undocumented. Friends and family are loyal; so, wouldn't snitch on Lozano. Criminals and the undocumented are vulnerable and have something to lose.

Then, Lozano's men go and collect their ballots and fill them out in the same way, It's simple as that.

To be sure, I don't have the smoking gun. But perhaps more citizens need to ask the city to release the housing information. If they have nothing to hide, why are they guarding it so fiercely?

I know that stench of corruption, and seems like something is certainly rotten in Baldwin Park (and has been rotten for awhile).

PS: Lozano has been parading the fired ex chief of police, David Salcedo around to local groups. I suspect that Lozano is trying to run him for public office in Baldwin Park. Does that mean that Lozano won't be around anymore? I predict so. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

On Making Brussel Sprout Sauerkraut and My Hypotheses on Cancer and Obesity

My homemade Brussels sprout sauerkraut
This week, I've finished fermenting my second batch of Brussels sprout sauerkraut (also known as Kimchi). Sauerkraut or kimchi (the former is German and the latter is Korean for the same thing) is generally fermented versions of cabbage. Leuconostoc bacteria eat away at the vegetable's natural sugar, leaving behind its lactic acid byproduct, which is tangy and sour. As a kid, I used to hate kimchi (maybe I still do), so, why have I turned my mother's kitchen into a fermentation lab? Because, I have a theory that obesity and cancer (and perhaps other diseases) are caused by having a lack of the right types of bacteria.

Nobody, at least that I know of, has stated the following thesis: One of the main driver, if not the main driver, of obesity is because of gut flora.

Of course, this is going to get a reaction from a number of critics, who have their own theory. I suppose the main one is that obese people have little self-restraint and eat too much and eat the wrong things. I agree with that too. But why?

In Jason Fung's brilliant book, The Obesity Code, Fung points out that obesity is really driven by hormonal imbalance with insulin being the main culprit. I reached the same conclusion independently on my trip to Europe this winter. There, because it was Christmas time, I was eating too many sweets and carbs, and I came back about 5 pounds (2.2 kgs) heavier. No good. A surge in insulin causes all kinds of hormonal changes, including but not limited to, increasing the size of fat cells, as well as causing one to be chronically hungry. Because quick food is generally bad food, one can see how hormonal changes makes one fat.

(In fact, I read a report about how a man wasn't eating and was getting fatter. Impossible you say! If no calories comes in, he can't get fatter. Not true. I figured it out. There was a hormonal imbalance in his body. Starving himself caused his body to eat away at his muscles, making more calories available for the body. But instead of the body using it, insulin surges was storing the calories into fat. Hence, it's not always as simple as calories in versus calories out in a complex system, which the human body is.)

The question, is then, what causes such hormonal imbalances? Is it just the foods we eat?

No, gut flora can also cause such hormonal changes. If one has a lot of yeast or fungus in their digestive track, the byproduct is often carbon dioxide and alcohol and other signals that we have yet to identify. The results of having good bacteria has shown to reverse even Crohn's disease. Livescience has this article that demonstrates that obese children have different gut bacteria than lean children. Fat Flora This article shows that bacterial transfer by fecal transplant heals Crohn's disease. Fecal Microbiota Transplantation for Inflammatory Bowel Disease The Russian Nobel Prize winner Élie Metchnikoff believed that Bulgarian peasants lived long lives because of the yogurt they ate. In other words, the bacteria they ate, helped them live longer.

In any event, my theory has anecdotal support. Surveys show that 80%-90% of all people on a diet regain their fat back. We all know people who have lost weight, only to find that over time, they're back where they started or worse. (Even, I've been there). The 10%-20% who keep off weight, generally do so, through discipline, according to National Weight Control Registry.

But what about those people, who effortlessly don't ever have to worry about putting on weight and can eat what they want? Discipline isn't the answer for them.

Anyways, that's my theory - keeping fat off requires a change in gut flora. (It's not only fat; I think cancer is also driven by this too, but that's a topic for another time.)

Brussels Sprouts before fermentation
Here was how I made my Brussels Sprout sauerkraut.

(1) I chopped up my sprouts.

(2) I smashed in real ocean salt into the sprouts. (Real sea salt is a bluish grey, as all the trace minerals are in it still, because it hasn't been bleached. I think mine comes from the Red Sea. Thus, my sauerkraut also has trace minerals and elements too in it.)

(3) I made a brine of sea salt.

(4) I put everything in a jar and added smooth river stones to press the chopped sprouts. I think the rocks make it taste different, but my mother disagrees and says I'm being silly. Since the sprouts float, you need to have it submerged in water, or else, fungus and mold in the air gets on it.

(5) I let it sit out in room temperature for two and a half to three weeks. Three weeks was too long last time, because it's hotter now in Southern California. The heat makes the bacteria more active, which in turn, makes the greens less crunchy in the end.

That's it, folks. For my American readers, have a Happy Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

On Honoring or Profaning God's Name - the Jewish Thought Corner

Writing in the Sand by Carl Bloch
"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"
I wanted to go to synagogue this week, but I chose to go on Sunday, instead of Shabbot (Saturday) (it's a habit from going to church most of my life); so, I missed it and had to settle on listening to the synagogue podcast. The talk really forced me to reflect on my own behavior and question if I was behaving in a way that honored God.

Rabbi Sharon Brous gave a short 15 minutes thought-provoking talk titled “Yes, But Are You DECENT?”, which essentially argued that the difference between honoring God's name and profaning God's name is reflected in if we're willing to engage in small acts of cruelty against the outcasted or not. I never thought about how shaming it is to God's reputation to strike out against the outcasted, no matter how petty such acts can be. (She goes on to say that the descendants of Aaron are commanded to honor God's name.)

Rabbi Brous talked about how cruel teenagers could be to the unpopular. I remember once, in middle school there was an unpopular guy in school, and because he looked funny, dressed weird, and talked in a way that irritated me, I treated him badly. No, I didn't break any rules per se. I just ignored him or made fun of him, and I never knew how hurtful it was, until a friend told me years later, "Paul, he still remembers how you treated him." I wasn't a Christian then, but I'm sure even as a Christian I behaved in such ways to other people before.

What I never thought about, though, is how disgraceful it is to act like this, because it shames God's reputation. In other words, it reflect's badly on the master, when others see the servant treat the weak or marginalized with contempt, no matter how small the act. And although the talk didn't directly address why, the answer is pretty clear: Because we're all created and made in the image of God. (1 Gen. 26-27).

Brous goes further to say that when someone engages in kiddush Ha-Shem, the act of honoring God, that person has compassion, kindness and decency to the outcasted or the marginalized. In contrast, to treat the outcasted in a way that is cruel or makes a person feel more marginalized profanes God's name, which in Hebrew is called chillul Ha-Shem. And the only difference between the two is whether we're willing to engage in small acts of cruelty to the weak, of if we're willing to show small acts of kindness and compassion to those in need of them.

The concepts are re-echoed also in the New Testament. Above, is a drawing which illustrates the incident in which the religious leaders brought a woman caught in adultery (certainly someone ready to be outcasted by the community by stoning) to Jesus. The Hebrew law said that such an act merited stoning.

The religious leaders brought her to Jesus, because they wanted to trap Jesus. If Jesus said to not stone her, he would be branded a heretic, as he wasn't following the orthodoxy of the law. If Jesus condemned her, he would be seen as cruel and partook in the killing of a life. So, what did he do?

He wrote on the sand, "Let he who has no sin cast the first stone." When the religious leaders saw this, one by one, they left (more likely than not dropping the stone they held in their hand). When all were gone, except for Jesus, Jesus asked her if there were any accusers of her sin? She said they were all gone. Under Hebrew law, because adultery requires witnesses (at least two in fact), Jesus told her, "I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again." And with that, the lady, who was most likely naked, ashamed, and afraid to die, was set free from her sentence.

Brous's message certainly has me thinking about the two concepts of chillul Ha-Shem and kiddush Ha-Shem more, and how my life reflects on honoring or profaning God's name. It also has me thinking if it's appropriate to disengage with people, who are saying and acting badly towards others and myself. Sometimes I just don't have the patience to deal with people who are behaving too selfishly for my tolerance. I don't know the answer to this one and will be thinking about it for a few more days.

Hope this helps you think about these two concepts as well, no matter what background of faith you come from. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Mayor's Racial Agenda - When Does Diversity Propaganda Turns into Reverse Racial Discrimination

Mayor Manuel Lozano of Baldwin Park
Recently, Council Members Ricardo Pacheco, Susan Rubio, and Cruz Baca voted to fire the new police chief David Salcedo. He must be Baldwin Park's shortest tenured chief, working for about a month. The firing proves the Mayor's racial agenda to rid the city of white employees. Can the Mayor's agenda be a good thing for Baldwin Park? I think not.

There are several instances in which Lozano has explicitly aired his agenda to eliminate white people from Baldwin Park. Around May, 2015, the Mayor used city money to install an art monument in Baldwin Park. This monument stated, "It was better before they [the Whites] came." The Mayor defended the art installation, until too many protesters pestered him to remove it. The art installation is longer there.

When the Mayor hired David Salcedo, who had no experience as a Chief of Police, a number of council people opposed the $200,000 pay he was seeking. In response, the Mayor said, "He better get paid as much as that white boy [the former chief] should make."

A number of sources have told me at special meeting, Lozano told the city attorney that he was only half-Mexican anyways and that he didn't deserve to be there. What does his race matter if he should be there or not? What matters is merit (which in my opinion the city attorney doesn't have).

After the hiring of Salcedo, the executive management team was almost entirely Hispanic, with the exception of the Finance Director - Rose Tam. There's no blacks or whites. The employee racial makeup is overwhelmingly Hispanics as well, with almost not blacks. Myra Smith, a black woman, the only one on staff, told about how much racial discrimination she faced from Manny Carrillo, the Director of Parks and Recreation.

The former chief's actions also prove the Mayor's racial agenda. The chief first sought to bring in seven Hispanic officers from Inglewood. He was also attempting to waive the testing requirement for them. The Tribune also reported that he was making unauthorized contracts as part of a way to destabilize the local police force. Fired Baldwin Park police chief canceled city’s helicopter contract without approval, officials say.

On a number of occasions, when white residents have accused the Mayor of corruption or nepotism, he pulls the race card and tells such residents that they're white supremacists, who hate Mexicans. (Where does he even get this from?)

All the facts here prove, otherwise. It's the Mayor who is racially discriminating against whites and other minorities to promote an empire of nepotism and corruption. Diversity is a good thing, and it has the potential to be an extra check-and-balance against internal corruption. Nonetheless, the hiring and promotion of only one race is not diversity.

The end result is that cities like Baldwin Park fall into a state of becoming like a third world country. Just look at our educational test scores, the quality of our water (which apparently is causing children to be born with handicaps), and the lack of thriving small businesses (a hallmark sign of organized crime controlling the government).

When confronted with such facts, city employees have told me: "We're just taking back what belongs to us."

What's the solution to such a problem, especially when voter fraud appears rampant and voter turn out is low? Unless these city officials and administrators can be held accountable, it brings this entire country down. There's no benefit for the U.S. (or us) to have a sick and uneducated generation to come.

To be sure, I'd like to reecho that I'm a strong believer in diversity, but this is not the case in Baldwin Park. I cannot support a culture of nepotism or corruption, regardless of who is promoting it. Regarding Lozano, this is what I have to say: "From his heart comes all kinds of evil."

Sunday, May 14, 2017

On Money and Debt

Wild mustangs running on the American plains
This week, I've been having conversations with people about money. And a number of these people were in debt and not just debt, but debt that's consuming and growing and taking on a life of its own.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that such gross mis-management of money really shows the state of a person's heart and mind. The trend I find is that such debt reflects consumption rather, than contribution. (Ask any of these people, do they give to charity? I think you'll find they don't.)

And in the end, there's no amount that can satisfy the blackhole of need within. It kind of saddened me.

In any event, Western society runs on incredible debt. It seems like the American government (and others like it) are just on one big Ponzi Scheme, which I predict will end with my generation, which means we'll be ending up paying for the debt of the generation before us. (A Ponzi Scheme is when you have to steal from new investors to pay old bills, but you're not making any business. You're just scamming new customers to pay old customers.) That works for government, as long as the next population is larger than the previous one. It can also work if the next generation makes a lot more money per capital than the previous one. But apart from those two factors, such schemes are doomed to fail.

Sadly, people also run their lives on this kind of mentality. Just look at the high rate of interest these credit cards charge, but people still apply and use them.

In the end, it looks like property and debt are holding some people I know in bondage. It's certainly not freedom. I always thought that you own your properties, but in some cases, I see property owning people.

For instance, I know one guy who bought a German car he can't afford the maintenance on. So, he has to work another job to pay for the maintenance. Is his property working for him? Or is he working for his property?

Well, I've had debt too (for the first time in my life), from a non-dischargeable student loan that's enslaving the educated of my generation. Law school was expensive. When I left, I think UCLA Law was charging $45,000 a year for tuition. Some of my professors, who were part of the 1960's classes, were paying $800 a year for their tuition at UCLA Law. (I told you, the last generation is enslaving us.)

I'm happy to say I'm well on my way to paying it off soon. Then, I'll be throwing a big party to celebrate my financial freedom. It's taken a lot of self-discipline and self-restraint to get there.

But, I think I really enjoyed the journey of learning to live on less and still enjoy life and still give. It truly has been pleasurable.

Here's my insight this week on money. Richard Devos said "Money cannot buy peace of mind. It cannot heal ruptured relationships, or build meaning into a life that has none."

Thursday, May 11, 2017

How the California Public Records Act Is Being Killed

Last week, in Casas v. City of Baldwin Park, I filed a California Supreme Court Petition, asking our Supreme Court to take the case, because the court of appeals held that governments can say I-don't-have-records as a defense to not releasing them, despite having a court order. This defense is apparently true even when the government is lying about not having records. And although the state legislature and our Supreme Court says that they're supposed to assist us to find records, our appellate court said it's ok if city officials don't. I argued to the court they can't allow for this, because if the court allowed for this, governments will start lying about not having records. The court only asked, whether I had a published study to prove this. 

In any event, I'm not holding my breath about the High Court taking the petition. On average, they take 60-80 cases a year, and there could be up to 8,000 filings. So, that's a 1% to 3% chance. But I'd like to explain the importance of open records law, and how it's being killed.

The reason that we have open records law is because the governments tax us. We have to give them a part of our labor. So the theory is that because we're taxed, we should be able to know how elected officials are spending our money. And we should be able to know and voice our knowledge (which is part of our Free Speech right); so, that we can elect and vote out our elected officials. As our revolutionary forefathers said, "No taxation without representation." Because the power to tax, is also the power to destroy. Thus, knowing the truth about our tax money is derived because we're taxed. If we weren't taxed, we'd have no such rights.

Thus, if we're not able to know the truth, how could we ever vote people out who are misspending our tax money or stealing it for themselves and their friends and family? The answer is we can't, and these people can keep stealing our taxpayer money and the citizens in the end suffer. In essence, each of us have more of our labor taken from us. (Ever think about why at the end of the month, you don't have enough money to pay the bills? It's because of paying taxes to public agencies like Baldwin Park.) And, as a society, we become shamefully incapable of producing businesses, services, products, or any kind of scientific innovation. (This is exactly what's happening in the City of Baldwin Park.)

As per the Casas's cases, we see a new trend emerging. The legal battle doesn't appear to be so much about what can or cannot be released. It's more about how to enforce such rights, when one receives the vested right from the courts to have records. How does one enforce such rights against government?

Well, according to the law, it has to be through the courts. But what governments are now doing, when you ask for records that can prove corruption and malfeasance, is saying they don't have records, even when they do. Apart from self-help (which governments discourage: of course, which is why the Los Angeles Riots happened), courts are the only bodies that could help. But with these last cases, at least in California, they don't appear interested in enforcing records laws against cities like Baldwin Park, who don't want to release records. 

Think about this for a second. Why doesn't the Mayor and his gang not want to release records? Because, it probably proves how much money is being misspent. And that's our money. Not theirs. It should be spent on bettering the lives of the people, not their own lives.

In any event, law is worthless if it can't be enforced. (Look at places like India or Afghanistan. They say child labor and marriage is outlawed, but in practice, it's still happening.) And I think in the near future, this will be the new battle field in open records law, not questions about the law itself but about how to enforce it against people like mayors and council people. 

Is there a solution? According to Alex Kozinski, Ninth Circuit judge, who is fed up with lies from prosecutors, there needs to be more accountability for prosecutors who lie. Likewise, I honestly believe that government officials and administrators who lie to us under the penalty of perjury should be tried for a felony with the risk of being sent to prison or be opened up to the possibility of being sued personally (so they could pay for their own legal fees and damages). The people of Iceland did just that to the bankers and government officials and administrators who robbed them; hence, such actions are in the realm of possibilities. I think that'd stop the bad behavior pretty fast. But the court's at this point are disagreeing with me. 

All this reminds me of the words of philosopher Nietzche, who said, "“Everything the [Government] says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen.” 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Brief Update for Early May

Me in Pasadena, California
(Haven't posted a picture in awhile.)
Sorry for not updating so regularly; this week, I finished filing Casas brief to the California Supreme Court. The issue being asked to be reviewed is whether the City can just say records don't exist, even though there's a court order for them to release them?

Anyways, writing a Supreme Court Petition takes a lot of work. It's like being in finals week at school; other parts of your life become neglected. I need to clean the house, pay some bills, and so on and so forth. I just finished washing my car and vacuuming it. It really needed it. I'll update everyone after I get through it all.

Anything interesting this week? Jeh Pan's hunting skills have improved, since changing his diet. He brought home a juvenile possum. It looked like a gigantic rat. My mother freaked out. Also, I found out he likes eating pumpkin, as a piece fell to the floor, and he licked it off. You learn something new every day.

After finishing writing my brief, I also bought myself a small catfish from the Amazon. That made me happy.

Well, it's Sunday in the San Gabriel Valley, Southern California, and it's raining. I'm going to pickle some cucumbers and tidy my life up. Doing so, makes me feel like I have some control over it. Write to you guys soon.

P. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Insight from Sequoia National Park

General Sherman
Largest Tree in the World
We drove four hours to Sequoia National Park, and did a day trip. I've been to Sequoia National Park before, but I wanted to go again and study the sequoia trees.

Some of them are alleged to be over 3,000 years old. Imagine being older than Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. That's rather old.

What I found personally fascinating about the trees is that they transform after they reach 1,000 years old. Can you believe that? Insects undergo such changes with a few days to a few months. And humans do it when they're in their teens. But these trees transform, after living a 1,000 years. Wow!

After a 100 years old, they start looking like a redwood tree, and it's difficult to tell them apart. But after 1,000 years, the top reaches the canopies, their leaves grow upward towards the sun, and the bark becomes thicker and red. No wonder they call them monarchs. Because, they really do look regal and majestic.
Red tail hawk

So that made me realize I need to be more patient with change, for myself or the environment. As the old saying goes: Rome wasn't built in one day.

Anyways, it was fun to be there. It started off cloudy, became sunny, and then the clouds started rolling in, and it felt like we were in a ghost forest. It was a really short trip but well worth it.

Yesterday, I went for a run in the hills. And I found a red tail hawk. She was injured but still gorgeous. She was friendly and let me feed her some water. That made her happy.

I wrapped her up in a towel, and took her home. She looked better in the morning. I thought to myself my life is really getting stranger and stranger.

Maybe, it'll become like a Korean or Grim's fairy tale. And one day the hawk will return and speak to me. She'll remember that I took care of her, and she'll lead me to some secret passage, where there will be all types of treasure. Haha. (I dream a lot.)

I called animal control, and he took it. I hope she comes back to those hills and visits me again.

Anyways, Sunday's rolled around. I better get my weekend chores done. And then, back to the grind tomorrow.

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, Anaïs 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.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

On Understanding the Enemy - Lessons on Strategy

Dante
The secret and real enemy in Full Metal Alchemist
On thinking about all my legal battles, I realized I made a mistake on not understanding my enemy well enough from the get go. I'm writing this, so you don't make the same mistakes I did.

Sometimes in life, we hear a proverb, but we don't realize how true it is until experience comes later and validates such wisdom. During college, I remember that Sun Tzu, the author of the Art of War stated, "Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories."

In short, it means that to win, you need to know both the enemy and yourself. It's simple to understand but harder to put into practice.

So, when I litigated against Baldwin Park, I had no idea the number of unethical tactics that would be prosecuted against me, such as when the City Attorney misrepresented my signature to the court. I didn't even know such tactics existed. I'm sure the English generals were shocked when the Germans bombed nerve gas on them for the first time in human history in World War I.

My introduction to litigation shocked me. And being shocked is not a position any fighter, warrior, or officer should ever be in. A good fighter should be able to anticipate such tactics, because he already knows his enemy. And in hindsight, I now know the information was available on my adversary, I just had to do more digging for it, which I didn't exhaust thoroughly.

Currently, I'm reading T. Harry William's novel Lincoln and His Generals, which echoes the same concept of war. In criticizing one of Lincoln's incompetent generals, Williams says that the general made the rookie mistake of expecting the enemy to do what he wanted. Think and pause about that for a second. Do you expect your adversary to do what's in your realm of possibilities?

Like that general, I made the same mistake as a young litigator. The biggest mistake I made with Baldwin Park is that I expected them to follow the rules of court.

But in hindsight, I can see it now has to be asked: Why would the City follow such rules, when cheating puts them at an advantage? Also, when the City gets caught, it goes unpunished. Of course, it would employ the most unethical of tactics, because it's in its great benefit to do so.

But over and over again, I expected the opponent to do what I wanted, instead of understanding the true nature of how he would behave. (Of course, there came a point in time when I changed my expectations of enemy, who is also the enemy of the people and the hardworking.)

So, that's a leaf from my book. If you don't know who you are, don't go into battle. If you do, then understand who the enemy is. Then, after you do that, really understand who the enemy is. And after you do that, really, really understand who the enemy is. In doing so, victory should be guaranteed.