My inactivity on the blog this past week so far has been due to the fact that I have the week off from work. Normally, one would think that a week free from work could potentially be a very productive week. That is what I thought as well and looked forward to this week with a list of things that I wanted to accomplish. But fatherhood has stood in my way. Not in a bad way, but in the way. My five-week old daughter demads and requires attention and most of the time it is attention that I am happy to give her. But in the process, I have found it difficult to get anything else done. She refuses to sleep longer than thirty minutes at a time during the day and has yet to found a way to be happy on the floor by herself. This all means that I have spent much of the week holding her, either trying to get her to sleep or trying to keep her happy in between her feeding time. I must admit that it is a lot of work. I am now sympathetic to the women who stay at home with young children and do not find the time to cook and clean and must bear the complaints of their husbands when they come home and ask upon seeing the house, “So, what did you do today . . . ?” It is not easy. And while I love my daughter (who is getting cuter each day) and I have enjoyed this week to become closer to her, I think I will be ready to get back to work next Monday.
Summer is here, and with summer in New York City comes summer in The Park. Of course all New Yorkers know that there are parks all over the City, but that when one refers to “The Park” there is only one – Central Park. My thoughts the past few times I have been to The Park on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in the summer have been the same: namely, if you do not enjoy your time in The Park in a summer afternoon, you must hate humanity. From the Skate Dancers to the musicians and street performers to the Sheep Meadow and the Tourists, Central Park in the summer is a magical place. One of my most memorable times in The Park was when my wife and I rented bikes for the day and explored every stretch of the Park. Few people have been up to the Harlem Meer or around the Reservoir, but these are some of the prettiest and most untouched locations in The Park. And Belvedere Castle is a must see. Hands down, New York City would not be quite what it is without The Park. I applaud those who pushed for the idea of preserving land and designing a park in the 1850s as the city developed northward. I dare to say that New York would be a much ruder, less attractive, and overall grumpier city without the beautiful park that stretches from 59th Street to 110 Street. It truly is the park of all parks.
I will always remember the day that I stepped onto a number 4 express train heading downtown and found myself standing next to the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. He was going through the morning papers while his security stood out in the crowded car as they scanned the other passengers. I was impressed, to say the least. I had heard that he took the NYC subway to work (which is not always the most pleasant experience, believe me), but as the mayor of New York (not to mention a self-made billionaire), no one would complain if he arrived to work at City Hall by other means of transportation, even if paid for by the city. But here he was next to me on the subway, dealing with the daily delays and rudeness that any New Yorker is all too familiar with.
With that said, however, I must say that subway ridership is up, as is safety and cleanliness. And that is the point. Mayor Bloomberg has done an excellent job with this City. I admit that I did not live here during the Giuliani years, but I like what I have seen from Mayor Mike. It is said that being mayor of New York City is the second most difficult position in the public arena aside from being President of the United States. There may be some truth to that, given the City’s size, diversity, national and international attention, cost of living and economic issues, potential terrorist targets, and so on. But just as he did with his Company, Mayor Mike is steering this City into one of the most livable (besides, of course, the cost of living), safest (in comparison to other large cities in the U.S.), successful and bustling urban areas in the country.
There is some speculation that he may be running for President in 2008, especially since he just left the Republican Party and has declared himself an Independent (see here for the NYT article). It’s true that Independents have not done well in presidential politics, but after having been in New York the past three years and seeing what Bloomberg has done with this City, I would welcome a change at the national level and believe that Mayor Mike could be the right man for the job.
What many people do not know is that Brazil has the largest Japanese population of any country outside of Japan. In the first few decades of the twentieth century, tens of thousands of Japanese immigrated to Brazil with the hopes of saving money by working in agriculture near Sao Paulo. Japanese schools and communities were established throughout parts of the State of Sao Paulo and parts of southern Brazil. Assimilation was never the goal and most, if not all of the immigrants intended to return to Japan. World War II changed all of that, especially once Brazil allied itself with the United States. The Japanese language was banned from all schools and Portuguese was forced upon the communities. Seen as spies, the Japanese were watched carefully and viewed as suspicious from their neighbors of European ancestry (much like they were in the 1940s in the United States). Consequentially, the second generation of Japanese born in Brazil were much more Brazilian than their parents, which has continued today to the third and fourth generation. The Japanese in Brazil today play an important part in the Brazilian government and business world and make up a very educated and productive part of society.
Interestingly enough, however, in 1990, Japan changed its immigration laws to allow people of Japanese ancestry to enter Japan on a three-year working visa. Since then, literally hundreds of thousands of Brazilians of Japanese ancestry have entered Japan, some of full Japanese blood, and some of as little as a quarter or less. Many of these people find Japan a foreign place where they are not accepted and treated as an outsider. As such, they embrace the Brazilian culture that they came from much more than they ever did while living in Brazil.
I have spent a good amount of time with Japanese Brazilians and made a new friend this past week from Brazil of Japanese ancestry here in New York. They are a wonderful people and have the culture and the warmth and love of two of the best countries in the world to draw from. See here and here for links on more information.
Edit: Here is a link to a recent NYT article on Japanese-Brazilians on July 12, 2007.
Japanese pop, or J-Pop, is still largely unheard of in the United States, yet it reminds me of another time and place in my life. When I turn it on, I am whisked away to a Lawson’s, Family Mart, 7-11 (which many people don’t realize is now a Japanese company) or any one of the many convenience stores that I used to frequent while living in Japan. Utada Hikaru, Hamasaki Ayumi, M-Flo, Suzuki Ami, Dragon Ash, Morning Musume, Spitz, Glay, and of course Speed, just to name a few of the many J-Pop artists that Japanophiles may be familiar with. Japan is one of the few countries outside of North America and Western Europe that produces massive amounts of pop-culture for export to the world. While many Americans are unfamiliar with much of Japanese pop-culture, Asia has been living with it for decades. Only recently has the the East Asian pop-culture center shifted somewhat to countries such as South Korea and Taiwan, although Japan still plays a large role in greater East Asia. Just look at how well anime has done throughout the world.
I have found it difficult to keep up with the J-Pop scene while living in the U.S. (maybe because I don’t feel that strong of a need to), but I do still listen to the J-Pop that I own quite frequently. In fact, one of my all-time favorite albums is the debut album of Bird. She has a great voice, unique style and is a far cry in terms of talent when compared to groups like Speed. Even if I don’t discover new Japanese artists I enjoy, I will always have my Bird.
In other news, my daughter Hanna is four weeks old today. One month down, just like that. She is definately growing bigger and stronger. Here is a more recent picture of her.
Since before starting law school, I have been interested in law firms as businesses. When I had downtime at my college job, I used to surf the websites of law firms to view the practice areas, office locations, and profiles of the various attorneys on each site. I was impressed with various firms long before I entered law school. And then I came to New York, where it is said that during rush hour in certain parts of the city, one out of every six people you pass is a lawyer (although this must include many people that are not actively practicing law). In law school, I became even more familiar with the various global and national law firms and had practically memorized the list of AmLaw 100 and Vault 100 firms without much effort. I find myself following blogs and publications regarding the business of law firms and the current trends and movements (see here for example). If I am not completely fascinated by the practice of law, I am at least fascinated at the business of law firms and would enjoy a position to help law firms remain competitive in the global marketplace while expanding and still meeting its clients needs. That, I believe, is where my strenghts might be, and not, rather, in negotiating an indemnity in an Escrow Agreement. But for now, I am doing the latter, and somewhat happily so, I might add. For, if I am ever to work on putting my knowledge and strengths to work, I must gain more of the practical law firm experience first.
I was genuinely moved on Saturday evening while watching a horse race. Yes, your read that correctly, a horse race. I was impressed while watching the 139th Belmont Stakes on Saturday, the mile-and-a-half race that makes up the last leg of horse racing’s triple crown, because for the first time in 102 years a female horse (a filly) beat all of the men. And she did it with style. The horse was named “Rags to Riches” and she was renowned as the best female racing horse in the world. But no female horse had beaten the men in 102 years at the Belmont Stakes and only a handful of female horses have ever tried. Notwithstanding being a beautiful horse, she was an underdog and even stumbled out of the starting block, causing most to instantly believe that she was out of her league. Throughout the race she was on the outside, causing her to have to run even faster than those on the inside just to keep up with the leading pack. In the home stretch, however, two horses broke free, Curlin and Rags to Riches. At that point I found myself cheering for the filly as the horses were neck and neck. Curlin would inch forward and the filly would storm back to take the lead by a nose. Then Curlin would inch forward again, followed by Rags to Riches giving it all she had to barely inch back into the lead. And that is how they crossed the wire – with Rags to Riches winning by milliseconds.
I was moved and I’m not even an equine lover. But what I saw during the race was an expression of courage, strength and heart. She dug down deep and pulled off a huge upset. Congratulations Rags to Riches, a great athlete. You showed the world that you can run with the boys and that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. I know she made a believer out of me. (Click here for the NYT article.)