In grad school, A classmate who would precede a lot of things with, “If I won the lottery…”
Finally I got sick of it and said, “Why the hell do you want someone to give you money you didn’t earn?” I still feel that way.
Also in grad school, the the lottery reached a huge sum (at the time). My advisor sat down, and as an exercise computed there was a positive ROI to buying a ticket.
Deciding that he it would be a crime against his discipline (theoretical condensed matter physics, which is mostly a lot of statistics) to ignore this fact, he went out of the office, next door to the local gas station to buy a lottery ticket. When he got there, in front of him was a colleague, a statistical physics professor, and soon behind him came another colleague. (I came in there later but it was to get a refill on my 64oz Bigfoot).
My uncle Francis, whom my son is named after, was also a theoretical condensed matter physicist. Every time we met up at the American Physical Society March meeting, The first thing out of his mouth was when and how we were going to get a ride to the closest riverboat blackjack casinos. There was even a rumor that we never got invited back to Las Vegas after 1986 — all those tables full of statistical physicists refusing alcohol and doing the minimum bet for hours until, suddenly, the shoe was in their favor and they all switched their bets at once, but separately.
Ironically, it looks like Casino memory is just under 40 years. They will learn the error of their ways next year. If only Francis were alive, I’m sure he’d come out of retirement to attend and make a few bucks at blackjack with me.
On January 21st, as I was down with the flu, I received this e-mail from my cousin:
My dad passed away this afternoon very peacefully. My brother played a song that reminded my dad of his parents. My dad opened his eyes and looked directly at Peter – the first time he’s done this in many days – and then waited for my mom to come to the room, and then passed away.
We haven’t figured out yet when the funeral will be but I will let you know as soon as it’s decided.
Thanks everyone. It’s been a long journey and also a very special one.
I had a task entry for over a year, “blog about Francis” which I finally deleted yesterday. It has a huge number of notes, and in a different time I might revisit them. There is so much to write about my Uncle, I don’t know where to begin.
After thinking the movie over this afternoon, it is a good movie after all. Writer & director Alfonso Cuarón is telling us about a woman’s story – mostly sad without explicitly saying so.
1. mistreatment & abandonment by her boyfriend;
2. pain of losing her baby before birth; and
3. camaraderie of humanity irrespective of the race & age as depicted by saving two children from the sea.
I especially liked the last scene after rescuing two young children abd getting holding shoulder to shoulder with children around the bonfire.
I think it may win the best picture academy award – a beautiful cinematography anyway.
I sent this photo to Francis already but I thought you may like to take a look. It was taken in Tijuana, Mexico during my freshmen year at Berkeley. Francis wanted to eat authentic Mexican food and bought something from a food cart vendor. He kept enticing us with smacking and yum-yum noises as he ate.
Then that night he was visited by Montezuma’s revenge.
Your birthday is coming soon (6/9/12). Happy birthday to you, Terry.
We hope for your & Marie’s continued success & happyness.
I am sorry for not communicating with you. I am still OK but have to do many medical checkup and others.
I have been looking at old photos in an album was sent by my + your mom’s mom after we lost our home by fire in 1991.
I found a photo of you, Ken, & your mom at the Washington Monument, all in smile. What a happy time that was! I often
wish that your mom is still here. She would have be mighty happy and proud of you and Kenny becoming so successful.
Uncle Francis & Auntie Clara
PS: I am a novice at Photoshop to retouch, hence, sorry for the photo being a kind of old faint yellowish look. A higher resolution (but without retouch) picture is attached.
Me, Mom, and Ken at Washington D.C. (1973)
National Mall, Washington D.C.
I still remember when we came up to Pittsburgh for your mom’s funeral. I was only 12 and I remember only one story at the eulogy—so this was good to watch too—and I don’t remember if you or Ken said it but it was about…
Of course it was in a larger story where the people in the audience had laughed, but that was the quote I remember.
I forgot that story and that was one my mom liked to tell her university students. It was in the part of the eulogy where I talk about my mom and me (the second story). It goes like this…
Mom had a heart condition which made life tough on her and she sometimes, when she was tired or exasperated physically, she’d say, “I’m dying!”
“Terry, I’m dying!” She exclaimed one time when I was seven.
I was feeling irritable that day. “Mommy! I’m dying; you’re dying. From the minute we’re born, we’re dying!” I said.
Ever after that, when she’d want to say she’s dying, she’d follow it up with that quote: “Ahh! I’m dying …(pause)… ‘Mommy! From the minute we’re born, we’re dying.’”
Here is the photographic proof my brother found that my Uncle Francis has a secret night job as Shin Joong-hyun, the Korean Godfather of Rock ’n Roll:
As my cousin, Chris, says, now we figured out what her father has been up to since “retiring.” We just got to get him to shave his head, wear and earpiece, and look pensive. 😀 (Knowing Uncle Francis, he’d do that too, if it meant a free lunch…Hmm, maybe the idea for Lunch 2.0 was genetic.)
Speaking of another Chris (and another lunch), Chris Jones mentioned that I need to include more essays from my Uncle. So, the same week last November my brother found Uncle’s hidden secret double life as the Godfather of Korean Rock, this essay was making the rounds in our family…
This is an article written by my Uncle Francis who spends his retirement sending amusing e-mails to family members that eventually get to me, and leaving hilarious messages on my cousin’s answering machine. I’d thought I’d share his latest dispatch with you…
Yeah, he looks like a teddy bear, but he’s pure evil :-D.
My love affair with the China town continues…
Every Sunday after 7:30 AM mass, I have been driving down to the downtown Oakland to have breakfast in Chinatown over past ten years. Once there, I used to devour a sumptuous meal such as a noodle set with big pineapple bread, freshly brewed coffee, and a few cups of jasmine tea at the ABC Cafe for bargain price ($3.50). I could finish the meal in no time and often still felt hungry. But that was so until last year. After getting to the pinnacle of my golden age 70, it isn’t so any longer. Beyond one dim sum plate & tea, my stomach starts grumbling, ‘stupid old man, no more, OK?’. Although it makes the stomach filling easier for most men of my age, this old man, who has perpetually self-generating real or imaginary worries, is different. If the old man cannot eat at the ABC Café, what should he do for next Sunday breakfast?
In past 5 years, a number of first-rate dim sum restaurants popped up in the Chinatown like wild mushrooms. The foods there are fantastic, and waiters and waitresses appear sincere & some even cordial. Since these restaurants are almost always packed with long waiting crowd, the old man’s first worry is about getting refused right at the front door for lack of a table to sit one guy. Even after getting seated by a chance, his second worry follows up, “Can I gulp down only one dim sum plate (plus courtesy green tea) and make a graceful exit without hearing dirty Chinese curses on cheapskate behind my back?” Lately the ripe (‘hopelessly’ is a better description) old age toughened my thick face even thicker. I gave up the damn pride and challenged to myself – ‘old man, let’s JUST DO IT! You have nothing to lose.’