So how did Firepig
the leading provider of Chinese Astrology on the internet? This question comes up
from time to time, so perhaps it's about time I gave it the answer it deserves.
The initial spark was an interest in Asian food, a taste I acquired when I went
to Orange County, California on a business trip in 1986. It's the home of Little
Saigon, the largest community of overseas Vietnamese. The food there was delicious
and the atmosphere stimulating.
Switch scene. My first contact with Chinese Astrology occurred, of all places, near
Camp Lejeune, a Marine base in North Carolina, USA. You see I came across a Korean-Chinese
restaurant and stopped for dinner. It had paper place mats which were decorated
with the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac. On it were their birth years and a one
liner describing the personality represented by each animal.
I found the comments accurate and decided to pick up a book on Chinese Astrology
the next time I was at the mall to learn more. Before continuing, I would like to
answer a question that has been asked more than once: Who was your Master, your
teacher? The truth is I have had none, and I have had many. There is no guru, no
academy in my history. On the other hand, I have been taught by some of the best
people doing Chinese Astrology today.
My training began at a book store where I luckily picked up a copy of Theodora Lau's
The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes, now in its sixth edition. More than twenty years
later it is still the best work in English on personality analysis from a Chinese
Astrology perspective. The place mats I first saw were admittedly superficial, but
Theodora's work was in depth and provided accurate insights for my sign and those
of the people closest to me.
This motivated me to head back to the book store, where I happened upon Derek Walters'
Ming Shu: The Art and Practice of Chinese Astrology. I didn't know it at the time,
but even 25 years ago he was considered one of Europe's foremost authorities on
Chinese Astrology. The Ming Shu book was superficial in its treatment of the 12
signs; however, it included a short treatise on how to actually produce Chinese
I studied it and began to do some for family and friends. As far as I could tell
from what they said about the past they were very accurate for the most part. No,
I'm not saying I became an instant Master. In fact these charts were far simpler
and much more general than those created by Chinese masters of astrology. Still,
they played an important part in my development.
Here it's time to raise another question I am often asked: Do you really believe
in Chinese Astrology? When I hear this I wonder if the person is trying to establish
a religious context, as this is what I associate with belief. My answer is always
to say it is not a question of belief with me. I do Chinese Astrology because it
works. You could say I'm more of an engineer rather than a scholar, scientist, or
theologian. The more I study and practice Chinese Astrology, the better I am able
to help people understand themselves and to make choices in their lives. So I continue.
All that is not to say I don't have beliefs. I do. Twenty five years ago I was halfway
through the prestigious, PhD in government program at Georgetown University in Washington,
D.C. I dropped out and headed to Hawaii where I pursued my new passion, Chinese
studies. I figured the world didn't need another political scientist.
What I do believe is there is much we in the West, and even people in Asia, can
learn from the ancient wisdom of China. I do not, however, believe in any of the
Asian religions. Rather, my philosophical leanings go through Henry David Thoreau
and back to Lao Tzu, that is, philosophical Taoism. I "believe" there is great truth
in the Tao Te Ching. My study of Chinese Astrology, therefore, extends to the entire
field of Chinese culture itself. Thus I consider Lao Tzu as another of my Master
In Hawaii I not only began in earnest to read books on Chinese culture in general
and Chinese Astrology in particular, but I starting traveling to Asia. I made a
number of trips to Korea and Japan. During one trip to Korea I met with a professional
fortune teller and turned the tables, that is, I did a reading for her. She said
I did a good job and encouraged me to continue my study and practice.
The next phase in my development began about a dozen years later. My son Dave, a
former Microsoft employee, offered to do a web site for me so I could reach a broader
audience. He also had dreams of establishing an online, Chinese Astrology business.
He created the Firepig.com
site, and we created an ezine, Firepig Mag, and offered Chinese Astrology horoscopes
for sale over the internet.
The development team included JJ, a Korean American from the University of Washington,
who did the web site code and programming for a relationship compatibility calculator,
Ahn Ahn, a Chinese American from Princeton, who did our Chinese calendar and Four
Pillars chart, and Dave, who provided overall program management and site design.
Back in those early days I did Four Pillars horoscopes manually. They were personality
descriptions based on the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac and analyses of relationships.
The latter has become my specialty.
Also, a little before this time I volunteered for and became an astrology expert
the last ten years I’ve amassed quite a record, becoming their leading astrology
expert. I’m especially proud of this work, not only because it provides a service,
but it also involves public ratings and feedback, which reflect favorably upon the
advice I have given people all over the world. Many hundreds of such reports are
on file testifying to the quality of work I do.
The next three years passed relatively uneventfully. Then one day….
My son Dave sent me one of those, you will never believe this, emails. It seems
he had been contacted by astrology.com
the internet’s leading astrology provider, about doing their Chinese Astrology content.
After an interview and some negotiations they did in fact select my son and I. At
some point curiosity got the better of me, and I asked what initially caused them
to consider us. The answer was they liked the content, especially the writing style,
on the firepig.com
I should note here English was my undergraduate major at the University of Wisconsin.
I owe a lot to the quality education I received there.
So back to the story. As part of the deal we agreed to create automated Chinese
Astrology readings for sale through
. My son provided the computer contacts and expertise and I
the content. The original products were Four Pillars style, that is, based on year,
month, day and time of birth. We also provided daily horoscopes.
The next important development concerned a job offer Dave received shortly thereafter.
He ended up working for a start-up company in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.
After a year he started his own business in Saigon, employing computer programmers
and graphic artists. They, plus some American talent, produced a Vietnamese web
. Up to
then JJ had been producing my automated, Chinese Astrology readings. That work has
since been done by Vietnamese programmers. And, with Dave, they created a new web
During the last three years we have created over a dozen, automated Chinese Astrology
products. As my knowledge has grown, so has the variety of the readings. I have
specially designed several that are unique to our sites, for example, a Three Blessings Reading
. Also, I have begun doing
other styles. A Nine Star Ki
product is now available, and a Mah
Jong card reading is nearing a launch date. I’ve also done preliminary work on a
Zi Wei Dou Shu (Purple Star) reading.
Association with astrology.com
has led to other opportunities. For example, I’ve had the pleasure of working with
to create an automated, East-West annual horoscope. More recently
Susan Levitt has been working with Dave and me on new products with a feng shui
Dave’s technological expertise has also opened new vistas. I now have ebooks and
deals in the works for Chinese Astrology products on various mobile devices and
social networks. I have a Facebook page and Twitter account that I try to update
And, with my son’s location in Vietnam, we have become ever more international.
has had over 100,000 users. In January, 2010, I went to Saigon to promote the site,
prepare the launch of our forthcoming Mah Jong readings and raise money for a children’s
orphanage. One of our main goals this year is to build on our success in Vietnam
by establishing a presence in at least one more country in Asia, perhaps Singapore
and, or, the Philippines.
So it has indeed been a long road from that little restaurant in North Carolina
to Vietnam and beyond. I owe a lot to so many people who have supported and taught
me along the way. I am in their debt. I hope the quality of the work I do in some
way expresses my appreciation. I am so happy to devote my life to furthering wisdom
and helping people improve their lives. Finally, I want thank you for reading this.
In the end it is for you I do this.