Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I feel strangely inspired now at 3 AM after waking up from a 4-hour nap after putting in another 14-hour day at work, where at one point I asked my team leader to hit me in the back of the head with a pole to put me out of my misery.

First, while I was scrolling through my photo library yesterday collecting my Vegas pictures, I rediscovered this awesome picture of my dad that I took at the Mall of America 4 years ago. I believe it was just after he and Mom received their American citizenship. What a fine patriot! I don't know why, but we really went a little crazy with the hats that day :)

A few weeks ago while I was in Vegas, I hanged out with my sister's friend Yuyan, who has been in Vegas for 6 months now after having lived in New Orleans for most of her life. She works as a dealer in Rio. I learned some pretty interesting things while hanging out with her and her friends, who are also Chinese and work in casinos. They work Monday through Thursday from 9 PM to 5 (?) AM, make pretty decent money (she makes $80K/year), and get a 20-minute break for every 40 minutes they work, which looks quite attractive now considering I've getting 2-minute bathroom breaks every, oh, gazillion hours for the past few days at work. Asians have also taken over the casinos in Vegas. It seems like a third to a half of the dealers are Asians. Yuyan took me to lunch at this Korean restaurant that's next to 7 or 8 other Asian restaurants/shops. Although she does not gamble at all, her friends are big gamblers. One of the guys lost $80 in 5 minutes playing three-card poker, borrowed a Benjamin from her, and then won $300 playing blackjack at the same table I was playing at. I of course only played with $60 and ended up losing $10 in about 20 minutes of playing, which is not bad at all considering the fact that I got a free drink in addition to some gambling action. In fact, I was actually up $10 and about to leave the table when the drink came. While I was sipping my Jack'n'Coke, I lost $20. Shifty casino operators!

A week after I came back from Vegas, I went to the K-Mart at Astor place to get some supplies. Because it was such a beautiful day and there were some people playing jazz right outside of the uptown 6 station, I decided to sit in front of the cube and enjoy life a little. I ended up talking to this girl from New Orleans who's going to the New School now because she came to visit New York when Hurricane Katrina hit and couldn't go back to her home. As I was chatting with her, I was blown away by how incredibly nice she was. Apparently, the three and a half years I've been living in New York have made me forget how nice and courteous and kind people can be. Even in Vegas, I had a bad experience: I was gimping along the strip back towards MGM (which is where I was staying with Sachin and his Apple crew) after suffering the crushing disappointment of not being able to ride the rollercoaster at the top of the Stratosphere because it was taken down last year. While I was waiting to cross the street at a traffic light, a bus stopped next to me for the light. I knocked on the door to ask the driver to let me on the bus. He shook his head. I pointed to my big, black cast and he gave me this look like I was retarded and then drove off. To be honest, I wasn't really expecting to get on the bus because I knew I would get the same cold shoulder in New York. It would have been nice though.

As I was telling this story to Joe and his roommate, both of whom moved here recently from California, while having dinner with them in Soho last weekend and listening to Joe rant about the fact that people here don't hold the doors open for others, the couple seated at the table next to us were smiling. They were clearly enjoying our conversation. Later we started chatting with them. They were also really really nice and of course they were from out of town, Buffalo to be exact. It turns out that the husband was in town to be confirmed as the Secretary of State of New York. On our way out, I joked with Chris, "tell Pataki to send us more money." He smiled and replied, "Give me your address so I can send you the money." I'm a cynic when it comes to politicians, but this guy seemed like a really genuine, personable guy. If first impressions were everything, I would totally vote for him if he ever runs for governor in the future, assuming I will stay in New York for a while.

Anyhoo, time to go to bed now so I can wake up for physical therapy at 8:30.