Saturday, February 6, 2016

Next Monday Will Be Chinese New Year (Year Of The Monkey)

One of my nieces in Hong Kong sent me this song. "GongXi" means "congratulation" in Mandarin. "Ni" means "you".  This is "the song" for  Chinese New Year.  Its popularity in Chinese New Year is like the popularity of  "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" in Christmas.  Hope you enjoy and pass it along to your friends and family:)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Health Insurance Plans Are Designed To Rip People Off

I miss the good old days when I was totally oblivious to my healthcare insurance cost, and my employer paid 100% of my PPO premium.  I missed my old plan which allowed me to pay only $40 copay for each doctor's office and for any treatment. Back then the statements from my insurance providers meant nothing to me and I always tossed them away; without opening the envelopes because I never owed anything under the pre-Obama era health coverage.  Unlike now, I am seeing I owe a lot for each doctor's visit and even a lot more for some due to the medical procedure or treatment.   

Instead of making the insurance companies reduce their profit by providing coverage to the uninsured, the government just lets the insurance companies keep their lucrative profits by making the rest of us pay more. With Obamacare, the low-income folks now actually have the platinum coverage (the best among the three available categories, bronze, silver, platinum) because their premium is paid by the government now. The rule of thumb for Obamacare subsidy is, once you qualify for subsidy, why not choose the platinum plan which is the best plan?  Once you prove that your low income can only afford a certain amount of premium, the government picks up the tab for the rest anyway.  So picking a cheaper lower quality bronze plan makes no sense for those who qualify for Obamacare subsidy.

For people like me who are not rich by any standard, but who has a paycheck that is above the poverty level for Obamacare subsidy, I have  to help my employer pay 10% of my monthly premium and I also have a downgraded high deductible plan that makes me pay a lot more out-of-pocket expense. The Human Resource at work told me this sharing of health care coverage was new since the Obamacare because health insurance providers had raised the premiums a lot since then, yada, yada.... So I am just tossing money into the sea now just in case I may get seriously ill or sick enough to ring up a big hospital charge, and then the insurance provider will pay.  It sucks.  My health insurance now is downgraded to be  like earthquake insurance....

P.S. I did like Obamacare though when I wasn't working in 2014 and didn't have employment health benefits. It was because before Obamacare,  I was denied self-coverage by all insurance companies in 2013 after I quit my job, (well a handful because the insurance industry in this country is almost like being monopolized by a few companies)  due to my previous cancerous mole removal when I was with my job's health plan. That created a record to put me in the "pre-existing condition" category that they wouldn't want to insure me until Obamacare made into law to make insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions.  But now that I am working, I don't like Obamacare because I am actually having a high deductible health plan through my employer,  that doesn't pay for anything until I hit the big deductible limit.  Well, I did at least get free flu shot.  No, my women's exam isn't free even though my insurance company advertises that  it should be free.  My visit to the OBGYN is free, but the pap culture she sent to the lab for analysis cost me big bucks and isn't paid for by health insurance because it's considered to be pathological and not "preventative care"?  I have no idea why because without the pathological analysis in the lab, my visit to my OBGYN alone didn't do shit in detecting cervical cancer.  This just shows how insurance plans are designed to rip us off.

Friday, January 22, 2016

DMVs In Nevada Are Just As Overwhelmed As The Ones Here In California??

As of now, I still haven't replaced my lost driver's license because my online appointment is in February.  I did swing by my local DMVs early this morning at 7:00a.m (1 hr before DMV opened) by cab, thinking I could be one of the first in the line so I could replace my lost driver's license by walk-in... But God didn't answer my prayer (I have been praying to ask that I can get my driver's license replaced ASAP).  I got there at 7:00am today and a big crowd already looped around the building.  So I took the cab home.  I just couldn't afford the time to stand in line this morning. It could be hours and  hours.  It's not like I don't have to work to pay my taxes and health benefits, I just don't have the time to camp out at the DMV the whole day.

Frustrated, I checked on the internet to see why this kind of madness is happening in California.  But it turns out that the DMVs in Nevada are having the same problems.  I have to admit however,  just by looking at the video, the situation here at my local DMVs in California looked a lot worse and a lot more depressing.    Many Americans may wonder, "Is America really becoming a third world country like Donald Trump says?"  Well, as someone who visited and traveled to third world countries a lot, I have to tell you that, based on what I experienced with the DMVs here in California, I felt like I was in a third world country. I actually felt like I was one of those refugees being stranded in Austria,  waiting for the gate to open so I could march into Germany.  Getting a driver's license or replacing a lost one belongs to the very basic service which any decent government should provide to its taxpayers efficiently.  And how is America not a third world country when getting a driver's license has become so damn difficult?  Getting a driver's license surely isn't this hard for Chinese citizens in China, and getting a driver's license was actually very fast for my sister-in-law in her native country Myanmar. If it's so hard to get a lost driver's license to be replaced, I can only imagine how much worse  are other government services ....  I'm just thankful that as of now the government hasn't taken complete control of healthcare where everybody from anywhere in the world can go for free universal healthcare, otherwise, I can see I will just have to die while waiting in line to see a doctor.  

I just don't understand the Americans.  My husband and his whole Democratic family all embrace the law that gives all illegal immigrants driver's licenses.  But they haven't been to the DMV yet lately. They haven't seen it themselves.  But even without seeing, can't they just reason how can a country deliver good services to its citizens when it has to provide the same services to all non-taxpaying illegal foreigners from all over the world? How can this be done without degrading the quality of the existing services to the citizens??  I'm not political but I'm beginning to realize now my American family and I are not seeing eye to eye on what priorities the government should take.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

After 5 Years' of Retrofitting And I Am Still Not Impressed With Downtown Los Angeles

It's amazing how this video was made 5 years ago and people had such high hope for the future of downtown Los Angeles.  Now I am actually in the so-called future 5 years later, and I still don't like downtown Los Angeles.  Getting to downtown Los Angeles in the morning is actually becoming more and more a nightmare every year.  This means more and more people are actually commuting to work in downtown Los Angeles, and not enough people are moving to live inside downtown Los Angeles like this video projected, despite the effort of retrofitting.  There has been lots of money pouring into downtown Los Angeles, particularly investment from China.  (I know because I work as a management consultant and I serve clients from China).  But investment money alone can't make downtown LA livable.

If you look at the traffic in the video and think it's very bad.  I have to tell you now that the traffic is actually much worse now.  I'm glad that I have the excuse to work from home today (because I'm waiting for appointment to replace my lost Driver's License), because yesterday when my boss made me take a bus to go to downtown, it was a very horrible experience.  I grew up in Hong Kong, and I never had a car when I was living in Hong Kong.  I didn't care for a car because I loved to use public transportation to go to school and go to work.  But here in Los Angeles, it's just very unpleasant to have to use the public transportation. I was actually stranded yesterday in a very scary part of Los Angeles and I will tell you later. By the way, wasn't yesterday supposed to be a national holiday? It was Martin Luther King's day, no? May I know why I had to always work on this day since I moved to America?  

Anyway, keep dreaming on to make downtown Los Angeles livable like Hong Kong and Singapore, but downtown LA has elements that Hong Kong and Singapore just don't have that will prevent downtown Los Angeles from being a place where people will frock to live and raise a family. These elements are both very political and cultural.  The concept of building within downtown LA and building it up is a concept that works in Hong Kong, Singapore, even Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney, but the reason downtown LA is what it has been, isn't the lack of a retrofitting concept or effort.  It's because of the political and cultural elements that made downtown LA different from other livable cities around the world.  Until such elements are examined and reconciled with the development of the city, making downtown LA a livable city remains the concept that carries a future tense that has yet to happen...

Friday, January 15, 2016

DMV Is One Reason I'm Not Motivated To Naturalize As An American

Yesterday I took a cab to the DMV because I recently lost my wallet which means I lost my California Driver's License with it.  In order to replace my lost driver's license, I had to visit the DMV in person. I tried to get an appointment online but both the DMVs near my work and also my home are so booked up that the soonest appointment I can get is mid February. Are you kidding me????  I can't wait this long so I decided just to walk-in yesterday. Based on my experience in getting my first driver's license when I first arrived at America "legally" years ago, I expected the DMV to be crowded.  But yesterday when I got to DMV, the situation was actually many times worse than I expected. I saw the line of crowd so long that it looped the DMV building several times. It wasn't moving one bit.  I went into the building and took a look and the inside was jam- packed.

If the DMV was a mad house when I first arrived at the USA years ago "legally", it was a much much madder house yesterday when I was there. Just by looking at the looping line and the crowd inside, it was hopeless for me to get my service before 5pm yesterday. I arrived at 9am sharp.  So I hailed  a cab from my i-phone and went home.

Now I  have been working from home and my boss is not liking it too much.. Too bad, I lost my driver's license and I am not supposed to drive now.  My boss just talked to me on the phone and suggested may be I could take the metro link (Los Angeles's public transportation system) to go in the office next week??? OMG...why couldn't she at least offer me a ride or something? My employer is a big company and therefore it has a fleet of limos...but unfortunately, those aren't for low-level corporate slaves.

My white American mother-in-law has been nagging me lately to naturalize as an American citizen because she (a Hillary fan) wants me to vote for Hillary..  Meanwhile, the voting right in America alone doesn't motivate me to become an America citizen.  I just don't want to go through another long line in the immigration service to become American.  I don't know the lyrics of the American National Anthem. I have no time to study the American democratic system for the citizenship test which probably can be as annoying as the DMV written test I took years ago.

 I don't want to deal with the line and crowd at the DMV now, and why should I want to go to another government agency to become American?  Just so I can vote?  For what, for my interests? Like what do my American side of my family get that are so much better because they are Americans?  Nothing except for "the perception and illusion that they have the right and freedom to choose their government" and therefore, "the perception and illusion that they enjoy more rights and freedom than me or my Chinese family who are living in Hong Kong".

 I don't care for the American politics and the so-called democracy.  It's because if the American democracy is actually adding all these illegal alien crowds to my local DMV offices and thus degrading and delaying services to the American taxpayers, then I don't really see the advantage from such a democratic system, which seems to serve everybody else in the world before its own people.  So why should I go through all the hassle to become "its people"???  I just don't want to spend the effort and time.  Right now, I am pretty annoyed by the fact that all these illegal aliens are overwhelming my local DMVs, thus causing me to not being able to replace my lost driver's license, and my loss of mobility because I can't drive now.  I can't imagine how much more outraged and heart broken I would be if only I had spent lots of time and effort going through the naturalization process to become an American, only to find out that being American only means that my wait for service at the DMV is not going to be anymore faster or easier than a non-American....

As of now, I wonder how many American citizens and legal immigrants aren't able to drive their cars because they are in my exact same situation??  The fact  that there are American citizens and legal immigrants like me who can't drive now while many illegal immigrants are driving out there, almost sounds like a joke in a sitcom.  But sadly, this is the American reality.  Now what are the perks for being American, really???

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Yesterday I Was In Myanmar But Today I Am Back In Los Angeles

I spent my last day in Yangon yesterday drifting in a boat with my family along the Yangon River, not really registering my surrounding.  My sister-in-law told me I was river cruising the magical Midstream Kyauktan Pagoda (which miraculously was never flooded even when the city was flooded).  She told me a lot more but I was so spaced out that I wasn't really listening at the time.  It was because I took Midol yesterday for my severe cramps and then I just felt dizzy and spacey the whole day.  I am still feeling spacey now.  I have no idea why my drowsiness is so long lasting this month around. I took Midol every month, and while  it always made me drowsy, this is the first time I am still feeling spacey a couple days after my last dose.  May be it's my jet lag also.  I feel like I just came out of an oral surgery, only I have been feeling this way since the day before yesterday....  I had a good time in Myanmar but I'm right now feeling disoriented and dizzy.  I miss the hotel back in Myanmar and the pampering service there. I'm going to need sometime to get adjusted to be without all the hotel luxury. I'm supposed to feel energized after a vacation, but I feel sleepy and disoriented.  Just yesterday, it was summer for me, and now it's winter in Los Angeles.  Yesterday I could just order room service when I was hungry, now I am hungry, but all I can have is a box of  Kellogg's frosted flakes.  When I first came to America, I hated cold cereals. I wasn't raised on cold cereals and I just hated the overly sweet cereals; their dry  texture and the cold milk just didn't work for me. After a while of having no fast and easy access to the comforting hot breakfasts I grew up on,  I finally got used to cold cereals.  I ate them without enjoying  them. I ate them just to fill up my stomach in the morning before jumping into my car.  As I am chewing on a spoonful of my frosted flakes and milk now, it just feels cold and yucky to me all over again. I can't believe that I actually have been eating these for over a decade! And I still don't like them.  I definitely need to do grocery shopping tomorrow. I will only get oat meals from now on for busy morning breakfasts because I really hate cold cereals. This is my one major change of life style for the year 2016!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My Meditative Nights In Myanmar

Every night since I had arrived at Yangon, I have been hanging out at the hotel pool, trying to meditate.  But shutting off all images that show up in front of  my eyes even after they are closed hasn't been easy.  As of now, I think I have managed to do that for may be  3 seconds.  Then a lot of images like my beloved beach in Los Agneles, my previous year's Christmas wish that has yet to be granted, my cramped apartment that I don't like,  and all the shitty moments at work just keep rushing by even though my eyes are closed and my surrounding is quiet.  It just amazes me that how busy the human mind is and how hard it is to quiet it down.

Since I am not good at clearing up my mind, every night after my 3 seconds' meditation, I just indulge in my "night dreaming", staring at the golden pagoda ahead of me.  It's because to me, having my eyes open feel much better than having them closed when my mind seems to replay more unpleasant experience than pleasant.  It's not that I didn't have pleasant moments.  It's just when I close my eyes, I see more unpleasant footage.  I just don't know why.  When my eyes are open, I at least am distracted by the sight in front of me and my mind starts to wander into the future.  Is this just how my own mind functions? Or is this how everybody's minds function too?  Now I am curious.  I mean is it typical for people to see footage of the past when they close their eyes, and then dream into the future when they have their eyes open and stare at a distant object?