28 March 2009

Newtown High School Elmhurst 1985

My reunion committee has been relying mostly on Facebook, Classmates, and MyLife to find our long lost high school classmates. Well, really the ones with names that are not too common. Still, even though it is the year 2009 with the Internet being a part of many, if not all, people's lives, many people manage not to show up anywhere. Whenever possible, I asked people to use the personal connections they have with the old friends to make the connection. It's been over 20 years and while some people moved out of the area, their parents or other family members stay.

We are now making use of Internet telephone directories to find people. We do get lucky sometimes and some unique names would translate into a phone and an address. As I prepare to tell people over the phone where to go to join our Facebook group, I thought it may be easier to have them go to


instead of the longer FB address with all those numbers. If you know any Newtown '85 people, please send them there! Newtown H.S. in Elmhurst, NY, that is, not the one in Connecticut or in Australia.

23 March 2009

Not THAT Newtown

My high school friend Maria P. has been doing a swell job of looking up people all over the Internet to invite to the 25-year reunion next year. Naturally, for a task that big, problems were encountered. Not just from people having the same first name and same last name, like "George Lopez", but even the school name is not that unique. The Newtown Maria and I went to is Newtown High School of Elmhurst, Queens, New York. It is a landmark building with soaring towers. Then there is this other Newtown in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Lots of time THAT Newtown's location is simply referred to as Newtown, CT. I imagine a few of these email exchanges happened:

Maria: I see you graduated from Newtown High School.
Person X: Yes, in 1985.
M: Great, please join our FB Newtown '85 group.
X: Sure... Uh, I don't know any of those people.
M: Huh?
X: Hey, wait a minute, this is the group for the Newtown High in Elmhurst, New York. I went to Newtown in Sandy Hook, Connecticut!.

I enjoy writing a line or two of poetry sometimes and here's one I conjure up for the topic. It is a haiku, a short form of poetry, with just three lines, five syllables in the first and third lines and seven in the second line. That is a loose definition of haiku, the way my son's third grade teacher defines it.

I went to Newtown
Of Elmhurst, soaring tower
Connecticut? No!

13 March 2009

What Is Your GoogliverseID?

One line in the theme song for Secret Agent Man TV show goes

They've given you a number and taken away your name

Sounds harsh, doesn't it? So dehumanizing? While I am all for treating people as flesh-and-blood beings with feelings, I support assigning numbers to people when it comes to keeping track of these sentient beings in the computer.

I spent many years doing network account administration and know first-hand how frustrating it is to deal with account names created from last names and such. It may be fine for a while to assign Joe Block the name blockj but it won't stay unique long. It is a small world and eventually some other Joe Block will join the company. So what do you do? blockj2 ! Even if the name seems unique, it only takes a big merger to introduce another person with the same "unique" name, perhaps in another country or another U.S. state. Best to go with some sort of numbering system.

Would it be nice if someday when Google takes over the world, we all can be assigned some unique Google Universe ID, or GoogliverseID for short. Perhaps the ID can be made up from the time and date that we were born plus latitude and longitude info, something that cannot be duplicated.

I am doing research for my high school reunion next year and it is a pain not knowing if the John Smith I found is the same John Smith from my year. Some names may appear unique to me but turns out to be popular in that person's culture. With GoogliverseID, that problem will be gone forever. Go ahead, Google, just take over the world already!

11 March 2009

Good News in Recycling

I have some good news from the world of recycling. My brother once told me that Whole Food supermarket takes all kinds of batteries for recycling. I visited the relatively new Whole Food on Houston Street and Bowery but alas it did not have any such collection. The pastry shop inside looked great, even had benches for people with sweet teeth to rest and enjoy their decadence, but I digress. This past Sunday I visited the Whole Food on Seventh Avenue and 24th Street. Bro said it was the first Whole Food in NYC. I thought the one in Union Square is but he is probably right. He has more time to wander around. Me, nowadays I just go to work and come home. Anyway, right there in the entrance/exit area was a container in the shape of a Duracell Coppertop. I suppose Duracell is the sponsor for the service. A security guard was standing in front of the box and I had to ask him to let me take a look inside to make sure it was what I thought. So now in case I want to stop sneakily recycle batteries in my sister's co-op - they have a TechnoTrash collection box - I can make the trip to Whole Food. A bit out of the way for my routine, but Tekserve is just a few feet away. On second thought, maybe it is not such a great idea. I may end up at Tekserver and succumb to all those tempting external 1-TB hard drives...

The other good news is that I just noticed on a recent Staples monthly statement that since Feb 2009 they accept all kinds of ink cartridges for reward money. It used to be just HP, Epson, and Lexmark, then Epson got replaced by Dell, or something along those lines. Now any manufacturers' cartridges can be traded in for $3 apiece. I'll be working harder to "rescue" those old printers that people throw out every now and then. It seems some people know about the program already though. A few weeks ago I picked up a multi-function device and its two cartridges were already gone. I still took it to my backyard to wait for a trip to some electronic recycling event. A suggestion if you take the cartridges to Staples: The cashiers usually don't want to touch the cartridges, for fear of getting ink stain and all. They would simply waste a brand new plastic bag to use as a glove then to contain the cartridges. Better to bring the stuff in an old paper or plastic and give the cashier the whole thing, show them the items of course.

There, I think that's enough recycling rant to certify the Environmentalist tag in my Blogger description.

07 March 2009


The Clutter Monster reared its ugly head again in my world. My brother's iBook no longer shows the screen. It has a video out port but for the life of me I cannot find the adapter. The adapters I have are for PowerBooks. I would like to hook the iBook to an external monitor and see if it works that way. Strangely, I can connect to the hard drive via FireWire and target mode, but displaying his home folder always ends in a freezing of Finder.

While I couldn't find the iBook adapter, I did come across something that I totally had zero recollection of. It's sort of an acrostic poem that spells the word CAPSTAN, which perhaps some old Vietnamese person out there would recognize as a popular cigarette brand. For whatever reason, I always have the following one-liner in my head:

Con Anh Phá Sản Tại Anh Ngu

It translates to Your Son Ruins Your Fortune Because You Are Stupid. From time to time, I blame myself for pampering my son too much, perhaps that's why the phrase sticks. There is another poem that spells CAPSTAN in each line, either forward and backward. I came across it in a tiny notebook I had during my stay in the Indonesian refugee camp. It was some farewell book my eldest sister didn't need at the time, or maybe she thought I could make better use of it. My Chinese is pretty spotty but I can understand that most of the pages mentioned Best Wishes and such. Anyway, here's the acrostic poem that I find interesting:

Chiếc Áo Phong Sương Tình Ân Nghĩa
Nghĩa Ân Tình Sao Phụ Anh Chi
Cho Anh Phát Súng Tim Anh Nát
Còn Ai Phải Si Tình Anh Nữa

Too many words to translate into English. You are on your own, for now.

01 March 2009

William Cowper JHS 73, Maspeth, Queens, NY

I hope it is not a sign of encroaching old age, but these days I find myself longing more for the past. First I joined the Facebook group for my high school year. When I came across my junior high group, I joined without a second thought.

When I graduated in 1982 it was called William Cowper JHS 73 but now it is known as Frank Sansivieri Intermediate School 73 or I.S. 73. Wonder how Mr. Cowper feels about it? It was not the first school I attended but it was the one that I actually graduated from. I was fresh off the boat, so to speak, when I spent one day at some school in Brooklyn near the Sheepshead Bay area, which was where my family's sponsor, Uncle P., lived. I think the next day it was decided that we would move to the Bronx soon so there was no point for me to go to school just yet. Even the stay at the Bronx school did not last that long, as by summer we moved to Elmhurst for my father to be close to his job. JHS 73 was a long way from where we lived and I had to go there by public bus, although I remember some days I walked home, either to save the nickel or because the bus was too crowded. Along Grand Avenue I would go, pass some supermarket with a large parking lot where sometimes kids would arrange fights, pass the two Elmhurst tanks that are now gone, I think, pass Robert's house - Robert would later be a best friend at Newtown but I didn't know him then, even though we were at JHS 73 together - over some LIRR tracks, on to Seaman at the corner of Queens Boulevard and Grand, where Grand becomes Broadway. Soldiering on, I would pass Elmhurst Library, turn at Corona Avenue, pass Newtown, then turned left to go over some other LIRR tracks. I think I would keep going straight to Elmhurst Avenue then turned right and go for a few more blocks to get home. The whole trip had to take at least an hour, but back in those days I think life was simpler and I had a lot of time to waste.

Having arrived in the U.S. just half a year earlier, naturally I got put into ESL and that was where I met Ms. Madeline Butler. I cannot recall much details but I know she was nice to me, maybe because I tried hard to learn the language and showed improvements. She was very supportive of my efforts. I know one time we went to Rye Playland and I had so much fun playing bumper car - it was my first. The ESL class was next to the gym, on some floor. Good grief, it is almost 30 years ago, I cannot recall much.

Eventually my hard work paid off and I left ESL. I even went on to be admitted to Arista, the honor society, although I don't recall knowing what it meant to be in Arista. I do know we performed Somewhere Over the Rainbow at some ceremony. I did not know about the dress code for the evening and did not arrive with a jacket, not that I had one to bring. Mr. Gotkin let me wear his jacket to get on the stage to receive my Arista certificate. Some memory!

I belong to two Facebook groups related to the school. It is so nice to see all the young faces. After all, these are kids in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, in their teens. If there is a reunion, I don't think I will go. I didn't know enough people back then and it's been so long. I make exception for those who went on to Newtown High School and kept in touch with me. Still, I look forward to hearing about the teachers.