Saturday, December 15, 2007

Laos 2008

a link to the new york times: an announcement that the rest of us knew all along.

the 53 places to go in 2008

Monday, November 12, 2007

who are the people in your neighborhood

so if you thought you were in the city with the most percentage of Lao people, you might be wrong. cause you didn't think consider there are some towns out there (like venus, texas) with only 910 residents to begin with. so look at this website to plan your next move (or your next vacation.) it would be sad to move somewhere with no Lao people at all. where would you get your padek?

top 101 cities with most residents born in Laos

and many thanks to katie, my social-worker-turned-librarian friend, for sending me this link.

for the whole website look at

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


i went to vote today and one of the election workers was laughing and talking to himself as he read the voter's pamphlet. he said, "this guy says 'screw seattle!' i gotta vote for him!" so i pulled out my own copy of the voter's pamphlet and found the guy he was talking about. here he is (and somebody GOTS to vote for him - so seattle get out there and do your job):

America is being destroyed by corporate corruption, and we must fight back. Yet how can we bring George W. Bush and Bill Gates to justice if we can’t even reform our own local school board? In other news, did you know this may be Seattle’s LAST school board election? The media, public officials and school board candidates are complicit in their stunning silence on this issue.
A former Seattle Schools employee turned whistle-blower (see “The Olchefske Files” online), I’ve advocated an authentic audit of the district since my first campaign in 1999. (Our new superintendent hasn’t earned $250K!) Let’s replace the Seattle Education Association with a real union (e.g. the Wobblies) and ban the WASL, a tool used by corporations to keep children down.
I also advocate socialism - not Soviet-style, but more in line with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’ vision. The oil industry should be nationalized, and money spent on weapons used to murder civilians in Iraqistan would be better used to fund free medical care. (By the way, as a children’s advocate, I cannot support the troops who have slaughtered so many children in foreign lands. Shame on them.)
Our schools should similarly be un-privatized, and the Alliance for Education given the boot. (How many schools have been ruined or closed since Bill Gates began “donating” money to the Seattle School District?)
I say screw Seattle civility, and embrace children and democracy instead. Even if your only concern is rising property taxes, you ignore Seattle’s Education Mafia at your peril. Beware candidates who proclaim themselves “national education consultants” and avoid the issues yet are endorsed by our corrupt media. (Remember: The Seattle Times endorsed president AWOL.) (Continued at; Bonus: My adventure with the privatized U.S. Postal Service!)

his website is:

and can you believe he is running for a school board position. his opponent might as well be listed in the pamphlet as "unopposed." but its contests like this one that cause me to sit back and just smile about everything american. and in case you didn't notice, i centered his picture to the left... way left.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

long way to go

so if you saw katie's comment, here are the links to the articles about the party(s) she was referrencing. apparently several of these 2006 Martin Luther King Jr Day "celebrations" were going on at our instutions of higher learning across our great 50 states.

the smoking gun

racialicious blog

CNN's paula zanh

we got a long way to go.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


my sister sent me this email with the following caption:

This is where your calls are directed when you contact customer service for assistance with your new computer or airline reservations and you get somebody in India that is difficult to understand. Maybe it's the wiring......

now for my commentary:
aren't emails like this really funny? makes me glad that i live in amerika where the wires are now finally being put underground so i don't have to see how ugly they look. (but joking aside, these pictures really just make me wanna buy a ticket for india. it's gotta be so completely different from the western world, and with a billion plus people there... ) traveling in asia has to be one of the most exhilarating experiences - it challenges your whole world view. so when you see an email with these type of pictures- if it doesn't evoke a sense of awe in you, but instead makes you wanna laugh, push the delete button on yourself.
(now that's funny.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

fish sauce emergency concluded

about a month ago, i reported that a 24 oz bottle of fish sauce (of lesser quality) broke and soaked into my carpet. and i can now say that the cleanup is complete (or at least as complete as i am gonna attempt. maybe when i move out the landlord will completely replace the carpet - but that'll probably be due to the 101 dalmatian burn spots in the shape of a clothes iron that pockmark the carpet. which leads to another parenthetical: i have a bad habit of knocking over the iron when trying to iron my clothes - and the carpet is made of plastic, because it dissolves under the heat of the iron faster than nestle's quik.)

so you can call this "the easy 10-step guide on how to get fish sauce out of the carpet:"

first off, i made some mistakes. but i will start by giving a step-by-step of what i shoulda done:

1. feel sorry for yourself as you sop up what you can of the fish sauce and shards of glass
2. pull up the carpet
3. cut out the soiled padding underneath
4. buy replacement padding for the soiled area
5. rent a rug doctor or similar contraption
6. place plastic (maybe a large garbage bag) between the carpet and the floor underneath (this prevents the water from the rug cleaner from spreading the fish sauce further into the unsoiled areas of the carpet
7. go at the carpet from both sides (top and bottom) and be careful about how much soap you use
8. if you want, you can use some deodorizer on the carpet (a lot are out there - and i don't know which one's better)
9. replace the new padding underneath
10. return the carpet to its original place - which is hard cause you gotta pull the edges tight - and hope you can't smell the fish sauce

but like i said, i made some mistakes. i tried to clean the carpet first with lemon juice and baking soda, and then i went at the carpet with the rug doctor before putting the plastic underneath the carpet. so with all the water squirting out of the rug doctor, i inadvertently spread the fish sauce into a larger (a much larger) area of the carpet and padding underneath. so even though i cut out the soiled padding to replace it, the fish sauce had bled far beyond the original area. i figured out what i shoulda done after it was too late. and the baking soda idea? i don't recommend it. cause now - although you can't see the fish sauce stain on the carpet - the front room where the incident occurred still has this smell... and it's not just fish sauce, but fish sauce and baking soda. and i don't smell it all the time - just every so often it will hit me. and in some ways it's worse - cause i never know when to expect it. i'll just be doing whatever - watching tv, paying bills, ironing a shirt, and then it gets me - real-life ptsd going on here.
anyway, just remember to buy 3 crabs over squid. its the only thing to do.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

celebrity gossip

i was debating between posting this link or the one i saw about 50,000 Lao kids dropping out of school. but this one speaks for itself: go birdie.

if anybody has heard the cd, let me know if i should go out and buy it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

fish sauce emergency

i know i am always complaining about something, but this one is the realest: i got home last night, and after opening the door to my place, the smell of fish sauce hit me square in the face.

so the story goes like this: i took a group of students camping this past weekend, and as part of the trip, we always cook lots of food. (the students are all southeast asian, and so we make stir-fry, sticky rice with bbq chicken and tammakhoung, and even Lao-style eggs for breakfast). well, i took the students shopping the day before the camping trip at viet-wah, where we bought supplies for cooking. when we got to the fish sauce isle, the students all started clamouring for me to purchase the squid brand fish sauce. (if you are Lao you know what i am talking about. if you are white, then you think fish sauce is that "a taste of thai" junk they sell in the white people grocery stores on the oriental/hispanic food isle for $3.67 for an 8 ounce bottle. so click on the link for squid brand and get educated). well, i argued with them that the "three crabs brand" was a much better choice - even though its three times as expensive (usually running about $2.69 while squid is usually .99 cents) but they countered with "my mom always uses this kind!" "yeah, i be seeing this up in the shelf! she never be using nothing with crabs." "yeah! she be putting the squid on everything!" at this point i really didn't want to explain that the use of the squid brand was a budgetary decision rather than a culinary one. i mean, clearly (a taste of thai excluded) price should indicate the quality of the product being offered. if you pay three times as much, then you should expect a three times as tasty fish sauce. and, to further bolster my defense, i will quote from surfasonline:

Three Crab Fish Sauce 24 oz.

This fish sauce has a subtle sweet flavor and its fish sauce smell is somewhat muted compared to other brands. Three Crabs brand fish sauce has achieved a kind of cult status in the American market, being mentioned in various culinary circles as "the" premium brand.

but i gave in, and put the squid brand in the shopping cart. i mean, its not bad. i used to use it too - because i too saw it on every table, in every cupboard, and at every pho restaurant in fresno back-in-the-day. but i converted to 3 crabs after a dream i had about being attacked by pad thai. that is another post altogether. so i figured i would let them use their squid, and i would bring my own 3 crabs and everyone would be happy.

which is what i did. and everyone was happy (until last night). and that's when it happened. see, we had a good camping trip, lots of food, lots of sun, lots of fish; but as the group facilitator, i am left responsible for clean up. so i unloaded all the stuff into my apartment, and in doing so i stacked 3 large plastic storage containers on top of each other right in front of my tv set. then i left for work this morning with plans to put everything away when i got home. well, the bottom container buckled somewhere between my clocking in and clocking out at work, and the top container came crashing to the floor, and the squid brand fish sauce was in the top container. the squid fish sauce bottle broke. the 3 crabs was just fine... still intact, in fact - everthing else was fine: the bottle of sugar, the shrimp paste, the padek bottle, oyster sauce, msg bags don't break so of course it was ok, but also the soy sauce; the only thing that broke was that cheap 99 cent squid brand fish sauce. i bet even that nasty "taste of thai" wouldn't have broken.
so my night was all about cleaning up fish sauce. and the smell is just not leaving - and there aint nothing muted about the smell. i had to get up all the shards of glass too, and that alone took an hour. and then i called chandra, a friend of mine, and she suggested baking soda. so i dumped a whole box of baking soda, but the smell still won't go away. i couldn't even eat the fish sauce with the vietnamese broken rice today. i am ptsd'ed. the students didn't figure what damage a broken bottle of fish sauce could do to a person when talking me into buying it. i don't know if i will ever be able to eat it again. and i love fish sauce (not as much as padek, but getting there.)
my front room is under quarantine right now. i just go right into my bedroom and close the door. toxic fumes i swear.

any suggestions? any fish sauce emergencies that yall would like to share? help me.

Monday, August 06, 2007

cambodia space needle

we will be showing our film, "i am american" that we made last summer, during this event:

Sunday, July 29, 2007

thai mekong

a couple of weekends back, La Reagan, a good friend of mine came to town (well, actually to graham wa) for the opening of her friend's thai restaurant. (see picture below). so i went down to the foot of mt. rainier to eat food. and that's all i did. eat. La ordered all but four items off the menu, and we had to put six tables together to fit all the dishes in front of us. (la said we had to get a lot of dishes cause that is how asians do it. white people just order one dish per person and call it good. and i kinda got embarrassed, cause it's true.) the food was so good. my favorite: the angel wings. i aint never ate at a thai restaurant this good before.

that's my car parked out front.
if you are going to mt. rainier, you'll have to pass the restaurant anyway, so you might as well stop and eat. so pass puyallup (on the 161) and you gotta go thru about 326 traffic lights; and when you get to graham its right there on the north side of the 161.

in the kitchen. behind the scenes. from now on when yall go to a restaurant, yall gotta be nice. i didn't realize how much is happening back there in the back. so quit the yelling and complaining and the small tips. if you want your food that fast, then go to jack in the box or stay at home and see how fast you can make pad thai and curry chicken.

this is la and vicki (the owner) making some food that tastes better than your mom's cooking. (tammakhoung). in fact, la's tammakhoung tastes so good the khok broke. so she is improvising with a metal bowl.

the whole group.

Friday, July 13, 2007

hey cindy, another reason to stay in seattle:

this has nothing to do with padek, but here is another reason for cindy (and everyone else that is moving away) to stay in seattle.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


this is it. the new camera that will allow me to make the padek movie. it replaces my annual trip to Laos, since it costs about the same. it came in last week (which is good except u.p.s. just left it sitting on my doorstep for the whole world to steal.) abes of maine did ok, but they didn't send me one of the extras they promised, so i still need to call and complain.

- i will also use the camera with work. some of the youth are going to do an oral history project, interviewing their parents about the refugee experience. many of the 2nd generation don't know their parents' story... well, they may know a few basic details: "they came here because of a war." but they don't know specifics, so this should assist in that regard. keep checking back for updates on how the 100% non-professional movies are coming along.

Monday, July 09, 2007

one more on vang pao

the best i've seen yet - especially the last line. (i just pulled all these off so if you haven't read all my other posts on vang pao, then read this one:


the Mien, their culture and heritage, is often veiled in the shadows of the hmong, (just click on the two links above to see the difference in size of the wikipedia articles of the two groups),

so i am glad to see that the sacramento bee has this article about them:

Thursday, June 21, 2007


i am going to editorialize on this situation more than i should... but i am amazed at the resources the stockton police devoted to arresting these guys. i don't know that the gangs where i'm at are this organized. they seem to fluctuate, drying up a bit and then undergoing a recruitment surge. but i would be happy to see california devote as much energy and resources to prevention. (i don't know that they don't).
to oversimplify the situation: the u.s. gangs are a bi-product of american economics/racism, and unfortunately, the police intervention seems to be the method of choice to deal with it. but i like the trash-digging bit, and that they collected a blue rag as evidence.
read the article here - and check out the interesting comments by the recorder's readers:

latest on vang pao

2 articles i pulled from about the ongoing vang pao story. sorry if yall are getting bored of this, but i am really amazed by the whole thing. the sacramento bee has the more interesting article if you don't have time to read both

to understand why the hmong are so intent on regime change in Laos, look at this video about the persecution of the hmong. beware, this is very graphic video posted on youtube - part of a larger series.

general vang pao

another article from the bbc on the vang pao arrests. i think this article reflects well my experience hearing about general vang pao throughout the 90s.

stockton gang arrests

i think the comments of the readers of the stockton paper are the most telling.... they don't seem to understand the roots of the gang issue at all. wow. but i especially like killacrab209's comment. this guy knows how to read between the lines of a news article and get to the most important point.

if you've never heard of vang pao

then it's time you did.

this is one of the most interesting things to happen in US - Lao current events in a while. especially if you've followed gen. vang pao and his forever-intent of taking over Laos. get on for all the latest news:

Saturday, June 09, 2007

arizona continued

some pictures of me and the homies from the Lao studies conference. the woman in the center is from france, and the one to the far right (kat sweet) lives in Laos. we ate pho.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


i am in arizona for the Lao Studies Conference. i will be showing the movie we made about teenage gambling in the southeast asian community on friday night. but it is being shown at the same time as another film about a Lao man's refugee experience. i think that film should draw a big crowd. maybe even me. what does it mean when i would rather go see his film than sit through the gambling film again? at least i can sit back and know that i am not a filmmaker. so even if nobody (not even me) shows up to watch the gambling movie, i can still feel ok about the world.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

a link

i have linked to jake's blog before (because he liked kite runner, and i didn't) but his blog is worth spending some time with; he is currently in iraq, and reading the blog provides a view that one can't find elsewhere.

let's wish him a safe return.

Friday, March 16, 2007


it's official: i accepted a position with a new agency. here is my welcome email:

Hi Joseph,
I just received great news from HR Director that you have accepted the position with us. I and the team look forward to be working with you!!!
I understand that you will have about 3 weeks for transition from your former position. When you know more about your first date here with us let me know.
In the mean time if you have any other questions, please also let me know.

Have a great weekend.

so i need to go tell the branch manager now...

wish me luck.

Monday, March 12, 2007


fyi: the film we worked on will be screened at this event. here is their flier. Click on the image to see details.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


i applied for a new job. i will let you know what happens. no pictures to accompany this post; i tried to take a picture of me working on my resume, but it was blurry. so here are some good resume help sites i found:

but my friend katie is the best resume helper ever.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


i am proud to announce: my blog got its first hit from Laos ever (see below). on january 31st 2007. this is what i've been waiting for all my life. i am finally reaching my target audience.

Friday, February 02, 2007


i don't know how they can continue to question that these hmong people in thailand are political (not economic) refugees. thailand has attempted to illegally deport a group of them, thus forcing the hand of the usa and australia. read below:

read this article for some background...

read this article for the backdown...

read this article for the usa backup...,10117,21146779-1702,00.html?from=public_rss

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

break down

this website gives a nice break down on Laos... notice the jump in gni... and look atl the number of people still living on less than $1 a day.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

it's not tahitian...

it's a tokelauan dance... for more info:

i am leaving hawaii for snowy seattle tomorrow. this will be my last post until i get back to the northwest of whatever. so i close out with natahli and ko'olina performing "pate pate" - (this is from sunday night - and this dance aint easy) but, once again... it's not tahitian, it's tokelauan.

for more on te vaka, the group that performs this number:

Sunday, January 07, 2007

2006 in review

wl: here is some of the better pictures of john and the family from 2006. (i stole em off his computer's hard drive while he was at work.) these are posted pretty much in chronological order - starting with january (a new year's dance i think?) through christmas this year. well, i hope this meets your demand...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

gone off island

off island tomorrow with john and ivona (to some place called "mow-eee;" i tried to find it on the map, but it weren't nowhere) so no big post today...

and, shawna, if you are looking at my blog, i promise i will post that video soon! maybe sunday? sometime in the evening? check back again!!!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

the polynesian cultural center

this is ivona's nephew, byron, up in the coconut tree. he's really high up there, but my zoom don't portray that too well.
at the new zealand village, throwing sticks at each other.

tom and jenni stopped in to say hi.

"i wanted to play the drum," said tom.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

what white people do for fun

a certain family (that will remain nameless unless you can read really small print: the toblers) gets together every other year in florida for christmas, and they come up with some amazingly creative competitions for their five sons (four sons this time around - jake, the youngest is off in canada?? i think.) - and this year aint no exception:
a drive-by shooting contest
(or also known as: what white people won't do to get that warm and fuzzy feeling of growing up in inner-city america).
limited editorializing needed...

here comes the bullets...

run forest. run.

someone should tell jeff not to look back when they're after you. (this is clearly his first time).

"a direct hit"

thanks to amy for these photos that i am posting without her written consent (or verbal for that matter...)

yall are awesome. wish i coulda been there.