Archive for the ‘Lotus’ Category

Lunar (Chinese) New Year Begins

February 4, 2008

Chinese New Year focuses on the remembrance of ancestors, family unity, hospitality, honor, happiness, good luck and wealth in the New Year.

The New Year begins on Thursday, February 7, 2008. 

Peach blossom, as seen here in Hanoi, is a popular decorative ...
Peach blossom, as seen here in Hanoi, is a popular decorative item during the Lunar New Year festival. Luxury villas, flatscreen TVs and mobile phones will all go up in smoke this Tet lunar New Year as newly affluent Vietnamese burn paper models of the latest mod-cons for their dead relatives(AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam)

This year, 2008 marks the “Year of the Rat” on the Chinese calendar, one of 12 animal names recycled every 12 years. Legend has it that those born in each animal year have some of that animal’s personality. Rats are said to be the most industrious, hard working and successful, and are often leaders, pioneers and conquerors. Famous people born in the Year of the Rat include George Washington, Shakespeare, Mozart and actors Samuel Jackson and Scarlett Johansson.

Chinese New Year lasts for 15 days until the Lantern Festival, which falls on February 21 this year. This year is also known as “Wu Zhi,” its formal name in the Stem-Branch system; 2008 is year nine in the 60-year naming cycle. The current year is Year 4705 by the Chinese calendar.

Practices for the new year vary depending upon which part of China you are from. Northern China celebrates the New Year with families making boiled dumplings together, symbolic of staying together, warm and full in the New Year. Southern China feasts on sticky rice rolled in balls, with a special stuffing  inside.

“Both in the North and in the South, the theme is the same even though the food may vary,” says Lisa Fan, photographer for the Asian Community Service Center in Vienna, Virginia.

“Harmony and union is what the meal means. One thing you must have at the meal is a whole fish, and some of the fish must be left on the plate to represent savings and prosperity for next year.”

Traditions include wearing new clothes and shoes, hanging red lanterns and banners with words of good fortune around doors — to bring good blessings and ward off evil — and cleaning the house thoroughly before festivities. No cleaning is permitted during festivities as that may sweep away good luck.

Another tradition is using the lotus flower as decoration.

“The lotus flower represents high moral standards. It grows in dirty mud but symbolizes purity and high moral standards,” says Tiny Tang, vice-president of the Asian Community Service Center. “This is a time to fully respect our parents and remember our ancestors. We follow good values which are meaningful for people. It is a reminder of our tradition.”

Tran thi Bay, right, makes banh chung, traditional Vietnamese ...
Tran thi Bay, right, makes banh chung, traditional Vietnamese food for New Year, in her house in Hanoi, Vietnam, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008. Bay’s daughter Dinh Tran Bich Hop, left, and her grand children, back, help. Banh chung consists of three layers, sticky rice, green beans and pork, in a square shape wrapped in dong leaves. The Luna New Year of the Rat begins on Feb.7 (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

Related:
The Tet New Year, Cuisine, China and Vietnam

Grill The Elephant! It’s Time for Tet!

How about a nice hot bowl of horse meat and noodle during the Super Bowl?

An Epicure’s Guide to the Tet New Year: Close Your Eyes, Dig in and Don’t Ask!

I Have Eaten A Pack of Dogs and a Flock of Crow but “Hold the Penis”

Taiwan smells a rat

CIA Director on Terrorism

September 8, 2007

CIA Director Michael Hayden spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Friday, September 7, 2007.  The full text of his remarks can be found at the link at the end of this article.  A few remarks that should be highlighted include:

“al-Qa’ida has protected or regenerated key elements of its homeland attack capability. That means safe haven in the tribal areas of Pakistan.”
[This confirms what our friend Muhammad has been telling us as he reports from the tribal areas of Pakistan.]

“Our analysts assess with high confidence that al Qaeda’s central leadership is planning high-impact plots against the American homeland.”

“Al Qaeda is focusing on targets that would produce mass casualties, dramatic destruction and significant economic aftershocks.”

Read the full text of general Hayden’s remarks:
http://www.vvdailypress.com/news/cia_2717___
article.html/war_intelligence.html

Related:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070908/NATION/109080053/1001
and:
September 11, 2001 Anniversary Approaches: Reality Touches Us

Pakistan: Tribal Areas Remain Terror Enclave

Pakistan: Terrorists Planning Global Attacks

Director of the
Central Intelligence Agency

September 11, 2001 Anniversary Approaches: Reality Touches Us

September 8, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
September 8, 2007

We live in the shadow of America’s failure in Vietnam. My bride was born in a refugee camp just after the communists pushed out the French and took control of Hanoi. Her parents left their home, their jobs and their church to migrate, as refugees, toward the Central Highlands and, to what they thought was the end of the line: Saigon.

But there was more migration ahead. The Mekong, then America.

She was born in a refugee camp. Her father named her after the Lotus Flower that rises like a Phoenix from the muck of the pond’s bottom to bloom at the surface of the water.

She endured a lifetime of struggle.

 

Honglien Do, a Boat Person who spent much time in prison in Vietnam for trying to escape, visits the Vietnamese American exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution on March 3, 2007

And she did bloom.

She is the happiest person I have ever known.

And she can not be dissuaded from her firm conviction in the goodness of the American people and the greatness of America herself.

She is deeply troubled by the “cut and run” advocates who favor a speedy withdrawal from Iraq. She has a great affinity for the refugees in the Middle East today. And she is an admirer of George W. Bush.

She understands sacrifice – real human sacrifice. And she sometimes wonders why many Americans have no concept of that word.

I guess we all, at least most of us, live lives that include sacrifice and pain and loss.  But we cannot share the loss of those families of 9/11.  Their cliff is so steep.

As we approach the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks against America, we will undoubtedly mourn, discuss, contemplate and share many thoughts and experiences.

Last evening, at the Vietnamese Church we attend, I was struck by the look of a man I thought I knew. A man killed in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. But this was not my friend, now dead almost six years. This was a Vietnamese-American man of similar build, stature and hair.

God just made me see, for a touching yet terrible moment, the “cut of his jib” as sailors say – and it was evocative of my friend lost to premature death at the hands of terrorists unconcerned about human life.

We should not neglect the memory, deminish, or marginalize in any way the victims of 9/11, the Soldiers and Marines who have died or suffered in our behalf, the affected families, and all the victims of the terror war; from London to Madrid to the tribal areas of Pakistan.

September 11, 2001 changed all of us. We cannot let that day and all the lost souls go unremembered.

When the ‘Bleed-Out’ Begins: How Will America Respond To Future Terror Attacks?

September 11: Terror Milestone

Forget at Our Peril

September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks