What is…prejudice then?

“That game is soooo gay!”

“He is probably gay anyway!”

Without thinking, I gave my sour PC disapproving look to both of the comments which led to a discussion of whether I was prejudiced. Am I? When I tread lightly around word usage?

Earlier in the day, when I was researching game shows for a project at work, I came across a YouTube clip of Wheel of Fortune on South Park. Out of interest, I watched the related CNN clip about people’s responses to the episode’s usage of niggers.

So it’s true that in America at least, we get wrapped up in PC terminology. I have trained myself never to use waiter or waitress…instead to use the gender-less word server regardless of the context. I still try to get myself to say mail carrier than mailman. And I have a certain reluctance to say her or him when I fudge it by saying it them.

I don’t want to offend anybody but it complicates communication. And really for what?

At dinner, I was accused of being prejudiced not being able to use certain words in all context even though there was no implication. So why is it that we can use the words if it’s a word that we use to describe ourselves…but other people can’t?

A few years ago…when I first got to Pittsburgh, someone asked me if I was Oriental. I had quickly corrected him on the spot, feeling like he was uneducated. He was unaffected. At the native american reservation last week, my sister’s patients—all poor uneducated native americans—often asked if she was Oriental. She said yes, but didn’t correct them—knowing that they don’t know anybody. Ultimately too, does it matter?

When I was younger, I used the word hate a lot. But then I stopped because people I was making a strong statement although I meant that I preferred not to do something. So I have almost halted all usage…treading the lines of It’s interesting or I don’t think it appeals to me implying doubt and partiality. In America at least, we prefer to exude a facade of agreement and fairness when inside, we think something else entirely.

The recruiter said my name

“Hi Jennifer!” she enthusiastically said in a video. Then she continued describing the company and what they found interesting in my portfolio.

I was surprised, but the gimmick worked. She demonstrated the value of the company—a free video phone-conferencing system. And how easy it was meant to be. And of course, how personal they were because they created a video just for me…to recruit me.

But it frightened me a bit. She never met me and didn’t know how I looked like. But she knew my name from my online portfolio and linkedin. What if I had a difficult first name to pronounce? Hopefully she had a linguistic skills. I wonder if she knows how to be pronounce my last name when most people tend to just yell out over the loudspeaker, “Passenger N-G to the counter please!”

“Thank you Jennifer!” she ended the video.

Kimberly-Clark Instant Cold Pack

The doctor assistant gave the pack to me, reciting a memorized set of instructions. I nodded my head, having already heard it all during the first phase.

When I got home, I pulled out the cold pack and followed the instructions. I shook down the contents to the bottom. Then proceeded to “find” the inner pouch.

I squeezed.

Nothing happen. No surging of fluids that would make the pack instantly cold.

I used both hands, growling with all the strength I had.

It wouldn’t burst.

I recalled the first time when I had rolled on the floor near my bed trying to get the pack cold. Somehow I did it. And then I forgot how frustrating the experience was until now.

I wanted to toss the bag against the wall to break it, but thought better. Then I found the reusable pack in my freezer that Chris generously left for me. Because he knows I struggle too much with anything that requires dexterity.

I stayed at a native american reservation

“Are there teepees?” I obnoxiously asked my sister over the phone. She had just arrived at her first optometry rotation site, a native american reservation south of Phoenix.

“No,” she had said and described her housing. As students, she got to stay on the reservation—lodging free and food provided by the hospital that she was working at. Her house had windows with bars and there was graffiti everywhere. She said that the tribe had many depressed people—a lot of poverty. But she was so excited to be there to be able to see eye diseases that she would never see in a give me lasik optometry office.

I decided to visit last weekend and was surprised how…normal it was. It was poor yes, but no different than the countryside I remember driving through outside Pittsburgh. Ignorance is bliss, but the moment people watch TV, they start dreaming of another life.

It was hot and nobody was on the road. Driving back to my sister’s house one night, she saw some bright lights behind her on the dark unlit road. There was a slight terror in my sister’s voice.

I recalled those scary stories of two girls in a car on a deserted road—initially singing along to music, but suddenly not. A horror story. My sister’s neighbor—a student physical therapist also a rotation—doing often left his light on because he hated living alone. And at night, I had strange dreams—perhaps caused by the heat or the unhappy Native American spirits?

But it turned out my sister was afraid of getting pulled over again for a traffic violation, as cops in Phoenix are like hawks.

My weekend passed by uneventfully. The only moment I thought there was a spiritual moment was the three seconds out in the reservation with a native american guide as he pointed out the caves in the hillside where shamans were buried along with their medicine. Then I got distracted by the heat and the broken bottle shards polished by the heat on the ground.

And she observed

She described, “They are unusually close.”

I had laughed when someone told me her description of my sister and me. The two asian girls who were sometimes seen as a single unit. But then came college, then graduate school. And the small breaks we had in between.

As little kids, she still played the greatest role as a little sister. When we played tag with other kids, I was always slow and thus always It. She would slow down to let me tag her so that I wouldn’t be It all the time. Then I would obliviously laugh because I didn’t notice she slowed down and laugh running away because I caught her. Although I would be It again within 30 seconds.

Happy birthday, little sis! You’re quarter century old!!!

Digging up the dirt

“Do you really know who people are?” That’s the slogan for pay site PeopleFinders.com’s freshly launched (and totally free!) companion site, CriminalSearches.com. Do you want to know? Everybody has something to hide — so the cliché goes. That’s where CriminalSearches.com comes in. said msnbc on Was your ex a con?

I would like to know too, but considering the type of people I knew, I doubted it. What if people I knew had a dirty dark secret? Is it my right to know? My own innate voyeurism carefully grown by the growth of reality TV? I mean personally, I won’t do anything with the curious information I want to know…

But I started searching. People in my family. Close friends. Acquaintances. To my dismay, nothing. No dirt. Even people who I know have somewhat of a risqué lifestyle.

I searched for myself. Three matches, but they all had different birthdates and were not from the cities.

It was lacking in flavor. I do have a right to search to protect myself, but my voyeuristic side was not fulfilled.

Finally I searched for a girl I knew whose ex-boyfriend was arrested recently for domestic abuse. Nothing. So what does that mean? A database of intrigue comes up with nothing? Who will pay for this anyway?

Whenever speaking with clients, there will always be one person that says, Of course I will!

I spilled tea on the lappytop…

I had a cold yesterday and took a nyquil. Full strength. I made hot green tea for myself in hopes of alleviating the hoarse voice and congestion.

And then I placed the mug of tea near my computer as I normally have in the last 14 years that I had a personal computer.

But this time, my left hand swooped downward accidentally and knocked the mug to the right, spilling tea on my keyboard. I was in the middle of an im conversation and hastily typed (almost as if I had to exert good manners at danger’s notice), “gotta go”.

And I shut off the computer. Unplugged everything. Then took out the battery. Turned the computer upside down with a rag to soak up all the tea. Then I waited.

And today, I turned it on holding my breath. And it was ok.

Just as Chris said it would. He said he has seen worse.

I wanted to cross out the i

You want to illicit responses my coworker had written on top of the paper.

As he was reviewing the document with me saying that it was important to note that we need to speak in the user’s language—if the user uses misnomers, use misnomers. If they call the DVD player a VCR, call it a VCR. If they call it pop, call it pop too.

I was about to cross out the i in illicit to replace with an e, almost laughing to myself. But I saw how serious he was, so I pulled my pen back.

I can elicit illicit responses too!

UPDATE: Hambone Found

On July 16, 2008 at 7:48:10 AM PDT, the following message was received:

Re: Hambone?

yes, it is next to the pc. good thing you e mailed me. i was ready to dump it in the garbage today. just kidding.

have a good day. dad

Exchange to occur in 4 days at 11:30:00 at GPS coordinates 37.797853, -122.408142.

MISSING: Hambone

Last seen: July 4, 2008 on top of bed near pillows

Pink and beige, fuzzy.


Individual size.

About 10 inches long, 6.5 inches wide and 5.5 inches deep.

Adopted at the Maker Faire from Sweet Meats

First discovered missing when making bed for the first time in a week last weekend. Missing spot among the pillows and other inhabitants of bed. Inhabitants want something to chew and squish.

Toad, I am not listening bunny and blue dolphin miss him terribly.

Bay to Breakers wouldn’t have been the same without hambone.