Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Farewell to Father

I'd like to open by thanking everyone for coming out and sharing this experience with us.

Seeing such a large gathering of extended family members at once is heartwarming; I'm certain Dad would have been extremely touched to see everyone assembled together for this final chapter of his life's book.  In fact, I would almost wager Dad would be almost embarrassed by our "making such a fuss" over his final bon voyage.

As I contemplated what I would say at this evening's event, I found myself struggling to match the portrait that I wanted to present with the reality of the man that I knew.  At first I thought I would write about his love of Go and the machine he invented which would automatically record the moves of a Go game.   This was back in the early 70's, way before the age of "Oh, there's an app for that."  I remember thinking that this would not only be in great demand for the half a dozen  Go tournaments held in Ohio (yes, that's sarcasm) but that tech could easily be modifed for chess... which was the rage back then thanks to the Fisher Spassky tournament.  We would be rich! I thought.  But Dad had no such inclination.  His high tech device would remain unknown to the rest of the world, sitting in the basement of our Ohio home.  Fame and fortune would remain distant dreams. 

Dad invented a device that eliminated the static electricity build up that often short circuited early LED watches.  Ahhh, I thought to myself.  Now we're talking.  EVERYONE was loving the new, high tech LED watches (which today we would totally laugh at their display.)  But, while I think he did get a patent, he never did anything with it.  I think HE used it on HIS watches, but again, no huge fanfare... no glory, riches or fame.  But he saved a fortune on not needing replacement watches, I'm sure. 

At one point, Dad had applied for a job as a game designer at Mattel, or Hasbro, or one of the huge game companies of the early 70's.  I don't know if Patty & Victor remember that, but we were SO excited.  In fact, we went through a brief phase in which we would design our own board games... pieces of papeer with things like "Go back 3 spaces" and "miss a turn" randomly sprinkled along some twisted path of rainbow colored tiles.   For sure we would get to play test whatever games he came up with... and when he came up with the next great version of Monopoly or Life not only would we be able to say "My Dad invented that!" but we would be rich!  Sadly, he never got hired for this dream job.   Another lost opportunity at being written into the annuls of history.

As I went through draft after draft, it slowly dawned on me that Dad's goals and aspirations were vastly different than mine, and I eventually had a heartbreaking moment when I realized I was judging my Dad and his life based on the fact that his dreams and aspirations didn't line up with mine.  For that reason alone I had been foolishly underestimating their value and ignoring their lessons.  It was a lesson that came late for me.  I'm glad I finally had this epiphany, but I'm saddened it took so long for wisdom to come my way.

With this newfound perspective, I thought back on the lessons that Dad had quietly and subtlely tried to impart.  Some were easy to remember because he would repeat them a lot...  Good health is the greatest treasure.  Love is scarce and should be treasured.  Brush and floss after every meal.  But the one that really struck a chord with me was one that he never actually presented as a lesson, but rather, through repetition of action, has had an enormous influence on many of my life choices (though I really didn't even realize it at the time.)

Many times, after announcing a huge life decision or making a grand announcement, Dad would respond with "Does that make you happy?"  Dad was perfectly happy with whatever choice I made with my life as long as it made me happy.  Whenever we would have a phone conversation, or we would come and visit, usually after the conversations had subsided and the energetic recounting of recent successes had died down, Dad would quietly ask "So... are you happy?" 

In his own, quiet way, Dad was trying to say that fame and fortune, glory and adulation, power and influence were meaningless if you weren't happy as you achieved them.  Dad actually didn't want any of these things-- he knew exactly what he wanted and what would make him happy, and he certainly wanted everyone else to share in that quest for internal peace and serenity.

Dad took a very hands off approach to his parenting style.  He never pushed me to follow any particular career path, although he did succeed in dissuading me from joining the military.  Dad served in the Korean conflict and was a bit disturbed by my glorification of war-- I do remember him sharing tales of the conflict and telling me how horrible war was.  As a result, when I finally changed my mind and announced to him that I was not going to join the armed forces, I think he was quietly relieved, but his primary concern with my new decision was whether or not it made me happy.  Even though I chose a career path that had absolutely no guarantee of success he never spoke out against it and never mocked or ridiculed that choice.  He again simply asked "Does it make you happy?"  Happiness with one's choices was of great importance to him.  He set no expectations, made no demands, insisted on nothing except that I find my own happiness. 

It's no secret that there were some very turbulent years in our family history, but definitely the later chapters of Dad's life were peaceful and happy.  He married Yung and lived a very peaceful and happy life with her.  I took comfort in the observation that the years spent in Seattle with Yung were the serene, peaceful years that I think he sorely wanted; finally he had found the happiness which he had earnestly wished for everyone else. 

I like to think that as we gather here together to bid Yang Hwi farewell he would be happy to see everyone gathered together; he would be happy to know that everyone is healthy, and loved, and that most everyone exhibits good dental hygiene.  But most of all, I think he would want us all to be happy for him-- and though we will miss him, we will always remember him, love him, and when we think of him, we will be happy.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Confessions of a dreamer

We were supposed to be invincible.
So full of creativity - so fearless - we were walking fountains of youth.
Believing the world was ours for the taking, we ignored the nay sayers, the prophets of doom, the voices of reason. 
Because we believed in our dreams.

Now, over a quarter of century later, the realization that perhaps our dreams were simply a mirage of an oasis from which we'll never partake is killing me.

I think of all the steps we took to achieve-- and how they have seemingly have led nowhere, and I weep. 
I curse the fortunes for teasing me with a nibble here- a morsel there- a sip of success but never enough to quench the thirst. 

I look back on the path behind me and see the mounds where the dreams of others died and were buried; perhaps they were the wise ones to let go of those flowers which would never bloom. 
What am I to do? 
What. Am. I. To. Do?

I cried last night.  Alone in my car, on the side of a road.  The realization that a dear friend is suffering and there is nothing that I can do to ease it had finally hit me. 
The acknowledgement that we are aged- that we are no longer the shiny new toy; the sparkling clean novelty so proudly showcased.
We are not invincible... we are not immortal.... we are not deities.
We are left behind, unknown and anonymous, battered and scarred, holding nothing but the remnants of what could have been-- to us what SHOULD have been-- and wondering why we were denied that which we so fervently sought. 

Today I will mourn. 
I will allow myself the luxury of one day to let the frustration, anger, resentment, rejection, pain, and disappointment out.  Today I will rage until I am completely spent.

Once I am exhausted and my inferno is but an ember, I can rest.

Then tomorrow, like all the yesterdays behind me, I will try again.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Zynga Poker cheats you out of your winnings!

I've been playing Zynga poker pretty much since I started on Facebook, which means I've been playing for quite a few years now.  I've seen some pretty ridiculous suckouts and some really gawd-awful play at the tables, but what can you expect with fake money?  It's just part of the package and I came to accept that it was just play money, so who cares?

But then I noticed not only are the cards unbelievably gracious, but the actual amount of chips you win is not correctly reflected.  For example, look at the image below....

As you can see in the upper left pic, I sit down with my "odd chips" in play, leaving me with exactly 4 million unused and 429,335 in play.  Both amounts equal at the start.

Then I win a small pot.  My chipstack shows 41,502, but my total at the top of the screen only shows 40,902.  My running total has shorted me 600 chips.

In picture 3, I've won another small pot, increasing my total by 4200, but notice up top.... it actually GOES DOWN!  Now I'm short 930 chips.

In pic 4, I've won another pot, increasing my chipstack at the table to 46,202, but my running total above only shows 44,672... a 1530 chip difference.

This continues on thru the entire session.  At the end, I've grown my table stack to 120,434 but my running total only shows 115,024... a 5,340 chip difference.

I've contacted Zynga to see if they would offer any explanation... not surprisingly, I have heard nothing back, nor do I expect one.  Time to break out my Xbox classic and fire up some old fashioned computer poker games.... at least THEY know how to properly calculate one's winnings.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A lesson from the Cleveland Browns

Last night, my beloved Cleveland Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though I've lived in Los Angeles for 20 years now, and in Texas for 10 years before that, I've always remained a Cleveland Browns fan. Through the highs and lows, the painful losses, the disastrous meltdowns, The Drive, the -13 degree wind chill loss in the final seconds, through it all, I've always remained true to my Dog Pound. Perhaps it has something to do with my love for the underdogs of the world; I certainly consider myself one and we underdogs have to stick together. Except for maybe that cartoon character Underdog... he can fly solo since he can actually fly. But, I digress...

The Browns were 1-11 going into the game last night; they don't have a shot at the Super Bowl this year, and it would have been easy for them to just roll over and let the game be simply another insignificant notch on the loss column. But they didn't. They played like they had nothing to lose, because, really, at this point in the season, they don't.

And they were magnificent.

So I thought about this today and how there must be a lesson there for all of us. And I think I might have actually found something that almost borders on profound.

We should live our lives like the Browns played - like we have nothing to lose, because we just must amaze ourselves and do something magnificent.

Many of us go through our day to day routine trying to minimize risk, eliminate the chances of public humiliation and embarrassment. We choose the safe routes, the quiet paths, the listless roads again and again, because we don't want to take a chance and lose. Whether it's money, or prestige, or the respect of our peers, we never venture out and do that thing we REALLY want to do because we are afraid; we don't go for it on 4th and 2 because we don't want to look bad, or be laughed at, or ridiculed.

I say perhaps it is time to reassess that mindset, and yes, I'll be the first to admit I've got some things to examine really closely... really hard. I want to win like my Dawgs won last night; I think we all want that joy and exhilaration that comes with a hard earned victory that comes after years of trying and trying again.

So ponder on this, and next time you have a chance, play the next game in your life like you have nothing to lose; try running that play that has been scoffed at by all the others; go for it on 4th and 2; try that two point conversion. You just might be magnificent.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's on the playlist of your life?

For those of you who don't know me well, I recently was turned on to the Laws of Attraction, Laws of Deliberate Creation, and the Laws of Allowing. Some of you may immediately find yourself distancing yourself from what I have to say, but I urge you to take a moment, keep an open mind, and read onward.

I'm not a big iPod guy. I have an iPod that I got a while back at Costco... it has 16 GB of space, and I have about 90% of it full of a wide variety of music. No big deal. Almost anyone these days has some sort of portable MP3 player with music. Much like life itself, we're all alike in that manner.

I put together some playlists; one for working out, one for getting inpired, one for feeling romantic, etc. No big deal. I'm sure others out there have other playlists like "My Favorite Songs" or "Songs to Make Out With" or whatever. Most likely anyone with any MP3 player that has a playlist capability has their set of playlists. In short, its a filter for those songs that you REALLY want to hear when you select that playlist.

Today, I had a sort of epiphany.

Life is like an iPod.

I can choose what I want to put in my iPod of life. If I choose positive, creative, loving, caring, sharing, inspiring thoughts, that's what's going to be in my iPod of life.

If I choose negative, hateful, hurtful, painful, unhappy thoughts, my iPod will be filled with those just as easily.

And when I put together the playlist of my life, what sort of things am I going to put there?

I think you see where I'm headed with this analogy.

Spend some time to review the library of your life.
Choose the songs that inspire love, creativity, happiness, fulfillment, and joy.
Make your playlist one that elevates you to the pinnacle of what you can be.

I don't deny it isn't easy... nothing worth having ever is.
As Tom Hanks said in "A League of Their Own"
"It's supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great."

Go make yourself a great playlist for your life...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A sad sort of passing

Yesterday my 7 year old son went off with his friends to a water park in celebration of his friend's birthday. Eager to take advantage of a free evening, the Mrs. and I went out immediately upon her arrival home from work. I had planned to take her to the restaurant where I had officially proposed to her back in the very early 90's.

Sadly, upon our arrival, the restaurant was boarded up; the ever ominous "For Lease" sign posted on the chain that was barricading the driveway.

It was a sad sort of moment. A little piece of our history was no more.

Yes, I still have a photo of that night; the memories are still pretty strong, considering it's been nearly 20 years since that night, but I found myself sadly nostalgic for a brief moment.

I'm sure there are many others who have experienced this sort of thing, but for us sentimental romantics, it's a bit more painful. I guess we'll just have to go out and create some new memories...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lessons from a 7 year old...

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to work on a "sizzle reel" for a friend of mine who is one of the producers of the show. Flattered that he'd ask, and a bit nervous (after all, I'm dealing with a friend's livelihood here) I accepted the job and found a fellow actress I knew to play my wife. We rehearsed and shot and had a great time doing it, and I believe our work was nothing short of excellent. It was one of those "This is why we came out here in the first place" sort of days and I relished every moment of it.

A day or two later I was explaining to my 7 year old son the whole concept behind a "sizzle reel"; in a nutshell, it's a very short demo or teaser for a new show-- the agency (in this case, William Morris) watches it, and if they're excited by what they see, they start pitching it to the networks. I explained that it was a good project for me because, for the first time, my work was going to be seen by agents at WMA--a real powerhouse agency.

"Of course, " I said, "they're not going to stop the reel and say 'Who's the guy playing the husband? We gotta get a hold of that guy...he rocks!'"

My son looked at me quizzically and asked "Why not?"

And I had a moment of realization that still makes me grin.


Why DO we limit ourselves and our dreams??

Press onwards!
Never surrender!