Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Anthony Bourdain, Rest in Peace

It is sad to hear that the famous chef, author and most of all a gifted story teller who took TV viewers around the world to explore cultures through cuisines has died.  He apparently committed suicide in his hotel room in France.

In his famous TV series " Part Unknown", he traveled in many places worldwide to film about food dishes and the people and cultural the dishes came from.  But his first love as he would fondly called it is the once capital city of Vietnam  - Hue.   Matter of facts he would made two more episodes about Vietnam and its cuisine.  He would say that Vietnam is a place he would visit again and again for the food and people.    In the 2016 season premier, he visited Hanoi and sat down President Obama for a beer and ate the popular Hanoi noodles with grilled pork.  It was an instant classic.

President Obama tweeted about the meal he shared with the chef:

“Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.” This is how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him. 

Here are some of the links of his Vietnam visits







Friday, August 3, 2018

The Lottery Golden Triangle of America

Within 9 months of 2014,  three Northern California residents hit some of the largest lottery jackpots in history. 

In January,  Steve Tran, a truck driver, split $648 million with Ira Cury from Atlanta.  He bought the ticket at a gift shop in East San Jose.  A few months later in April, retiree Raymond Buxton won $425 million.  The winning ticket was bought at a gas station in Milpitas which is less than 10 miles from the gift shop.  Vinh Nguyen bought the winning $228 million jackpot ticket at grocery store in San Mateo which is about 30 miles from San Jose.

The total value of all three tickets are $977 million.  And now 4 years later in July 2018, a winning jackpot of $543 million will be shared by 11 co-workers at a financial institution.   The ticket, as you guess it, was bought at a liquor store in San Jose, less than 2 miles form the gift shop that sold the $648 million jackpot ticket. 

Just for the last 4 years, over $1.5 billion of lucky money has won here in the Bay Area.  If all other winning jackpots are considered for the last 12 years,  the Bay Area has captured almost $1.8 billion of lottery jackpot.   Not too bad for a place that are already rich with dot.com multi-millionaires.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Unofficial Election Results

 San Jose City Council, D7
  Precincts Reporting:  100%

Tam Nguyen                        31.85%       2,275
 Maya Esparza                      22.51%     1,608
 Van T. Le                             14.17%      1,012
Thomas Duong                     12.14%         867
Jonathan Flemming              10.68%         763
Omar Vasquez                       5.59%          399
Hoang Chris Le                      3.05%          218

Completed Precincts: 231 of 231
Vote CountPercentage
TYLER DIEP (REP)16,68329.6%
GREG HASKIN (REP)11,51220.4%
LONG PHAM (REP)4,4918.0%

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Election Early Results

City Council District 7, San Jose

TAM NGUYEN                                        36.64%      1,942

MAYA ESPARZA                                    18.98%       1,064

VAN T. LE                                                15.93%          893

THOMAS DUONG                                 12.65%          709

JONATHAN BENJAMIN FLEMING     9.67%            547

OMAR VASQUEZ                                  4.69%             263

HOANG ''CHRIS'' LE                             3.35%             188


Member of State Assembly 72nd District  (23 of 231 Precinct)

Josh Lowenthal (D)        34.1%    10,678
Tyler Diep (R)                33.2%    10,411
Greg Haskin (R)             19.5%     6,124
Long Pham  (R)              9.0%       2,808
Richard Laird  (R)           4.2%      1,316

Thursday, May 31, 2018

San Jose D7 City Council Race

Here we go again, another hotly contested race pitting 4 Vietnamese-Americans against each others and 3 other candidates ( 2 Hispanic and 1 White candidates)

Current Councilmember Tam Nguyen is having a time of his life in fending off three Vietnamese-American challengers for that crucial Vietnamese voting bloc that makes up about 33% of the overall  registration. 

He is being accused of being a communist sympathizer, unethical lawyer and now false campaign advertising.  The Vietnamese-American community is divided and without a united voting bloc, CM Tam Nguyen has no hope of winning the race outright in the primary.

So what is the conventional wisdom now that we are 5 days away?

CM Tam Nguyen so far has raised the most money.   Here is the breakdown of the top three money raised (not including the money that candidates loan to themselves) -  Tam Nguyen (~$91,000),  Maya Esparza (~$78,000) and Van Le (~$48,000). 

CM Tam Nguyen also has a very dedicated group of 20 volunteers who have been walking the precinct for him since the beginning  of the year.   And he has a strong name recognition in D7. 

Despite his shortcomings, he is actually well liked for his humility and easy going personality. 

His opponents are strong and will split the votes within the Vietnamese-American community.  Van Le has her supporters and she has shown in 2014, she can attract votes.   However, this is her 5th try; will the voters just feel tire of her and her many failed attempts?

Chris Le admitted that he is spoiler.  He did not even bother to raise money or precinct walking.  Thomas Duong is new kid on the bloc with no records of community activism or participation.   Despite such inexperience and lack of record, the Mercury News and SVO (the other name for Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce) are endorsing him just to further splinter the Vietnamese-American voting bloc. 

Maya Esparza is being pushed to run by  South Bay Labor Council.  Does she really want to give up a cushy union job that she cannot be fired from and that pays more than $150,000 a year?  Not really.

Labor is doing all the walking, mailing and fund raising.  They just want to get back at CM Tam Nguyen for not voting for low income housing and other Labor's related agendas.

With such a low turnout expected (with less than 1/3 of the registered voters will cast their ballots), CM Tam Nguyen and Maya Esparza will likely be the top two candidates to go on to the general election.  However,  the wild card factor has always been, will the Hispanic voters go to vote?  If not, we might have two Vietnamese-American candidates in the general election.

Goldman Prize Winner - Nguy thi Khanh

The Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1989 by late San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman. Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organisations and individuals.   The prize is considered to be the Nobel Prize for environmental conservation and protection activism.

The 2018 Goldman Prize winners include the first Vietnamese ever to receive the award - Nguy thi Khanh.

The other winners are Francia Márquez, a leader of the Afro-Colombian community; Claire Nouvian, a tireless defender of the oceans and marine life; Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid who built a broad coalition to stop South Africa’s massive nuclear deal with Russia; Manny Calonzo who spearheaded an advocacy campaign that persuaded the Philippine government to enact a national ban on the production, use, and sale of lead paint; and LeeAnne Walters who led a citizens’ movement that tested the tap water in Flint, Michigan, and exposed the Flint water crisis, compelling the local, state, and federal governments to take action to ensure access to clean drinking water.

See excerpt below from an article written by Do Minh Tam and Lars Blume for Energy Transition.


"...Ms. Nguy Thi Khanh was nominated for her work to slow down coal power expansion in Vietnam. For Khanh, Vietnam’s energy future is at a crossroads and every decision and every dollar invested today will be felt in Vietnam and in our earth’s climate for decades to come. When the Vietnamese National Assembly decided not to pursue nuclear power in 2016, Khanh and GreenID saw that changes for the better are achievable.
Born into a rural family in Bac Am, a village in northern Vietnam, and growing up near a coal plant, Ms. Khanh experienced the pollution and dust from coal operations firsthand and witnessed many people in her community developing cancer as a result. She was always passionate about the environment and after graduating from college began working on water conservation issues and community development for a small Vietnamese nonprofit organization.
In 2011, Ms. Khanh founded Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) in order to promote sustainable energy development in Vietnam, as well as good water and air governance and green development. She also established the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA), a network of 11 Vietnamese and international environmental and social organizations that collaborate on regional energy issues. GreenID helped develop local energy plans to both support the uptake of renewable technologies and manage pollution.
This helped households and entire communities to minimize pollution of rivers, turn waste into energy, and acquire new, affordable technologies such as solar lights and worm farms. The success of the work has shown that there are very real, effective and affordable alternatives to energy from large hydropower and coal-fired power...."

Friday, May 25, 2018

Phong La for Alameda County Assessor

Of all the Vietnamese-American  candidates running for offices in California, Phong La is running a rather quiet campaign within the Vietnamese-American community.

His county covers a 14 cities including Oakland with a population of  over 1.6 million.   The county assessor  is not usually a highly contested seat.  It is not unusual for an incumbent to serve decades in office.  The seat is open after the incumbent decided to retire after 17 years.

Phong La is running against two other candidates.  He has the backing of Alameda County Democratic Party and over 50 elected officials from US representatives, state-elected officials, county-elected officials to mayors and council members.

He is both a tax lawyer and a co-owner of a machine  & metal shop (with his family). 

With the demographics of 43% White, 27% Asian-American, 12% Black and 22% Hispanic, his chance of winning is very high since the other two candidates will split the White vote.


Anthony Bourdain, Rest in Peace

It is sad to hear that the famous chef, author and most of all a gifted story teller who took TV viewers around the world to explore cultur...