Thursday, January 7, 2016

13 Ways How I Became More Asian in the Last 13+ Years

On our first date back in the summer of 2000, Megan and I talked about her life in China and a three-week trip I had just taken to Japan. Something I remember from our conversation on Indy's Canal Walk was how Megan said she was more Asian than me. This may seem odd considering she’s white and I’m half Japanese, but her statement was true and is still true in many ways. There are a number of things about me that don’t equate to the stereotypical Asian such as my beloved camo vest, a desire to go bass fishing whenever possible, and my prior ownership of a Chevy Camaro, S-10 Blazer, and Silverado. Because I’ve been living in East Asia since 2002, the Asian in me has grown quite a bit though. Below are 13 ways I became more Asian in the last 13+ years.

1.     I find the Asian squat to be a comfortable position, and I’m not afraid of using squatty potties.
2.     I eat more fish and shrimp, as in, I occasionally enjoy eating every part of the fish and shrimp.
3.     I prefer picking up my bowl of rice and drinking my soup. Having a beverage at my meals isn’t a requirement.
4.     I like eating fat - not a whole plate of fat, but chunks of the stuff in certain Chinese dishes.
5.     I prefer using chopsticks at Asian restaurants in the States and now know the difference between Chinese, Japanese, and Korean chopsticks.
6.     I have a much stronger liking for spicy food – kimchi, Thai curries, Sichuan, and more!
7.     I’m very comfortable bowing to Koreans and Japanese people.
8.     I know a few words in several Asian languages; I’m not smart enough to be multilingual.
9.     I enjoy eating sunflower seeds like an American baseball player or an old Chinese man at the market.
10.  I watch Asian films that don’t star Godzilla or butt-kicking kung fu artists. I have matured some during my time overseas.
11.  I am the owner of various kinds of long underwear, and I will proudly walk around in an overnight train in just my long undies (I still keep the shirt and shoes on).
12.  I have a home and classroom that is decorated with various Asian items. My homes and classrooms in Indiana definitely had different decor.
13.  I sometimes wear clothes that are clearly from China, Indonesia, Japan, or Thailand, and from time to time I get mistaken for being (fill in the blank with whatever Asian group you want)

Perhaps I’m more Asian than I think. If you’ve become more Asian over time, I would enjoy hearing about it. Peace!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Please Don't Call Me Wicket

I’m looking forward to seeing The Force Awakens when it is released in China on January 9th. I saw all of the other movies in the Star Wars series at the theater and that includes a midnight showing of The Phantom Menace. I chewed on the hands of Star Wars action figures when I was a kid and had Star Wars Pez dispensers on my desk when I first started teaching. I even collected the Star Wars cup toppers given at Taco Bell. Although not everything about Star Wars is commendable, I’m a fan of the series like so many of you.

When I was a fourth grader, Return of the Jedi was released. The movie was the ending I had hoped for; however, the movie also brings back many painful memories. In the movie, there is a brave young Ewok who helps the Rebel Alliance defeat the Galactic Empire during the Battle of Endor. This warrior's name - Wicket. Unfortunately, Wicket is also a super short and cute teddy bear which I wasn't into back in my elementary years. That didn't matter to my classmates. I soon find myself with a new nickname - Wicket.

I am quite excited about the latest Star Wars movie, and it is a massive relief knowing that Wicket is not in The Force Awakens. I was concerned that people would stop calling me Wick and start calling me Wicket again. As you can see in the picture below, we share quite the resemblance - we're short, cute, and warriors. If you sense the force telling you to call me Wicket, that would be the dark side. Beware of the dark side. You must learn control. Wars make not one great.

Friday, January 1, 2016

My Hobby of Writing Amazon Reviews

A little over six years ago I began writing book reviews on Amazon. I started writing reviews as a way to help me remember what I read and to help others know about the books I was reading. I enjoy writing reviews not only for these reasons, but because I like to write and improve my writing. I find it rewarding when people vote my reviews as helpful or provide me helpful feedback. The key word is helpful.

Today a good chunk of my Amazon reviews include product reviews. Because I’ve written a few reviews (over 400) and have received a few helpful votes, companies every day want to send me their merchandise (usually for free) in hopes that I’ll provide them a positive review. I don’t accept the overwhelming majority of the products because I’m a mature adult with responsibilities. Writing reviews is a little work, and there is only so much time.

A few reviews that people have enjoyed include my reviews about Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures and a Japanese eau de toilette. These reviews are by no means my most helpful reviews, but they’ve brought me great joy knowing that I’ve made a few people laugh. I have a few other reviews that I find comical that haven’t received many or any helpful votes, but maybe I’m the only one laughing. I am often my biggest fan.

If you desire to have a good laugh, I highly recommend checking out this review on sugar-free gummy bears. In my humble opinion, it is the king of all Amazon reviews. Even if you don’t like this kind of humor, you have to appreciate the reviewer’s skilled use of words. Brilliant. Another review that has made me crack up is this one concerning a unique and expensive watch. What are people thinking?!

Something I’ve learned as an Amazon reviewer is that not all reviews are equal and some can be biased. Can you believe it? Many authors receive reviews from their friends. Shocking. Some reviewers are afraid to be critical of a book or product because they think they'll receive unhelpful votes. This can make their Amazon ranking go down and when you get products from companies because your Amazon ranking is in the top 10,000, this hurts your chances to receive more products. Often my “least helpful” reviews are my most critical reviews.

When I started writing reviews on Amazon, I had no idea it would lead to free health supplements, kitchen gadgets, and iPhone and MacBook products. That certainly was never the goal. I simply wanted to write down my thoughts hoping they might also bless others. I definitely have liked some of the free stuff, but what matters most to me is that my reviews can help people better know whether they should invest time in a book or product. Hopefully I can make a few people laugh too.