Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Easily Amused

My interests are all over the place. I'm starting to wonder if this is actually a good or bad thing...

Friday, December 17, 2010

2010 Resolution Evaluation

Now that 2010 is drawing to a close and I'm thinking ahead to the next year's resolutions, I've dug up this year's and saw that I actually managed to keep most of them.

2010 Resolutions:

1. Join a gym. - CHECK

2. Actually go to the gym. - CHECK? Technically, I went to the gym for half the year, then canceled my membership and found other ways to be active. That counts, right?

3. Live it up!! - CHECK!!

Other goals tacked on during the course of the year:

4. 1 month, 1 trip (out of town)
jan - china, san fran
feb - dallas, san diego
mar - mexico cruise, vegas
apr - philly
may - vegas
jun - new zealand
jul - santa barbara, simi valley, alhambra
aug - pasadena, malibu, agoura hills
sep - cabo, big bear, san fran
oct - oc, long beach, nyc, philly
nov - anaheim
dec - china, mammoth

5. Run a half marathon, 10k, and 5k.

6. Reward self for following through on resolutions. - CHECK, CHECK, CHECK... I'm going to go ahead and cap myself on this for the rest of the year...

My favorite resolution to keep this year: LIVE IT UP!!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Basketball Boo-Boo

So, this weekend... some guy ran into my shoulder and dislocated his jaw.

We were playing pickup, I was posting up in the lane, he cut across to the ball and rammed full speed into my left shoulder. Oh, and I also fell and scraped both my knees and had the ball bounced off my head.

Eerily enough, today, I feel brand spankin new.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Fly" - by Nicki Minaj (feat. Rihanna)

I came to win, to fight, to conquer, to thrive
I came to win, to survive, to prosper, to rise
To fly
To fly

Friday, November 26, 2010

Coconut (no chocolate) Brownies

What would a brownie look like without the chocolate? Maybe that just means it turns into a big cookie, but I decided to find out by combining the following ingredients in a loaf tin.


2 cups flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 stick butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp coconut powder
1 tsp vanilla

* Mix all ingredients and bake in a loaf tin at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and let sit for 5 minutes more. Cut into squares and serve. [Well... theoretically, you would cut into squares and serve. It's a different story if your concoction turns out to be one big gooey mess.]

The conclusion? Smells nice, tastes good, looks horrible. Turns out, a cookie recipe turned brownie is only a recipe for disaster.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Light and Fluffy Veggie Quiche

Here's another one of my homemade creations :)


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup almond meal
pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon coconut powder
1/2 teaspoon raw cane sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups frozen vegetables
olive oil to cover the baking dish

* Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, almond meal, and salt. Add the water, coconut powder and sugar, and whisk until smooth. Beat in the egg and gently mix in the vegetables. Transfer mixture into a metal baking dish or loaf tin, and bake for 45 minutes. Cut into quarters and serve. Goes perfectly with breakfast sausages or bacon on Thanksgiving morning!

Happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Roasted Carrots and Onions

I had carrots and red onions in my fridge that I was afraid would go bad soon if I didn't use them, so I mixed them into a glass baking dish and made tonight's dinner. Baked at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes, the ingredients below were drizzled in at will...

- chicken bouillon
- olive oil
- sesame oil
- soy sauce
- ground cumin
- nutmeg
- all-spice
- rosemary
- garlic
- salt

Haven't tried it yet, but mmm mmm, my kitchen smells delicious!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Samantha Stosur's Marinated Chicken

I was reading this month's issue of Tennis View magazine, and saw an interview with Australian pro Sam Stosur. She mentioned that one of her favorite things to cook when she's home is chicken thigh marinated in garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin powder, and cinnamon.

So, like the hungry person that I am all the time, I decided to try it for dinner last night. Must've been good, since I didn't even think to take a picture before I devoured the flavorful dish. The lemon juice really made the chicken juicy and tender!

Thanks for a great dish, Sam!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Another recipe (read: experiment) from my kitchen...


1 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
dallops of almond butter on top
sprinkles of ground nutmeg on top

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter into mixing bowl. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, flour, milk, and canned pumpkin to the bowl. Mix until smooth. Place on a cookie sheet. Add dallops of almond butter on top of each cookie. Sprinkle a bit of ground nutmeg on top of the almond butter as desired. Bake for 15 minutes, take out and let cool for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Almond Meal-Encrusted Chicken w/Roasted Butternut Squash and Sundried Tomatoes

I took a stroll around my new neighborhood this evening, and felt, for the first time since moving to LA, a beautiful fall breeze that made me almost miss Philly. For a second, I was brought back to multi-colored leaves tumbling onto Locust Walk, and felt a slight pang of nostalgia. But then the memory of drafts that turned into sharp chills at the snap of a mud-coated twig brought me back to the present. Boy, am I glad I don't have to deal with east coast weather anymore!

Given my leisurely mood and inspired by the lovely fall day, I decided to actually spend the time to cook something tonight. (Just to preface—this is maybe my 34th (or so?) attempt at cooking on my own, and certainly a first in my new kitchen.) I had some chicken in the fridge, along with a nice butternut squash, so I thought I would try and make a meal of it. (The sundried tomatoes were an impromptu add-in at the end, when I caught a glimpse of the jar as the fridge was closing.) Not a great photo, but quite delicious (by my standards) if I do say so myself :)

Here are the deets for my dinner tonight...

Roasted Butternut Squash: a modified version of one I found from the Foot Network
- 1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 4 teaspoons brown sugar
- salt and pepper
- ground cumin
* Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place butternut squash halves (flesh side up) in a glass baking dish. Sprinkle brown sugar over each squash. Season with salt, black pepper, and cumin. Roast uncovered for 30 minutes (or until the flesh is fork-tender).

Almond Meal-Encrusted Chicken: I was going for chicken parm, but seeing that I had no cheese, marinara, or bread crumbs, I made some substitutes. Actually, without the essential ingredients, this can only be considered a new creation...
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 egg
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup almond meal
* Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slightly beat the egg, and add a pinch of salt if desired. Dip chicken in egg, then almond meal, coating well. Place chicken in a glass baking dish, and leave uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes (or until the chicken is no longer pink).

Spoon sundried tomatoes onto plate to garnish.

Buon appetito!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On Pretending

There's no use pretending to be something you're not—unless you honestly and truly want to become that person who you are pretending to be. I'm in full support of "faking it till you make it," as you are "faking" for the sake of yourself (to give yourself more confidence in a situation where you may be lacking in confidence). In that case, pretending is actually a manifestation of positive thinking.

On the other hand, being pretentious is a different matter. In this case, you are pretending to be a different person for the sake of others. Instead of channeling your insecurity into happy thoughts and actions, you block the possibility of genuinely making yourself feel more secure and confident by pretending to be (your perception of) some other "perfect" person. The grass is always greener on the other side. Trying to manipulate how others see you will only make you look desperate and uncool, two things which most people do not wish to be.

In short, playing pretend can work both ways. Only you can judge for yourself which will make you happiest.

3 Adjectives

There are no 3 adjectives that describe a person completely and fully. When asked to pick 3 and only 3 to encapsulate your entire being, the answer given is always in the here and now - what seems most applicable and appropriate at this very moment in your life.

Knowing that the top 3 adjectives for me can and will change as time passes, what strikes me as most relevant now are:

honest. resilient. impulsive.

It will be an interesting self-discovery to see where the trajectory of my 3 adjectives goes at different stages of life. i.e. I remember when I first moved to LA, they were: happy, energetic, and impulsive. These adjectives still describe me well, but over a year later, what's now at the forefront is a different set of 3.

It's always been my belief that to strive to know oneself more deeply is essential to making oneself happier in the long-run. And this 3-adj. assessment is a good litmus indicator of self-discovery and in the journey toward self-improvement.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Discount everything until you get to the present value of today.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Gold Standard

[In response to a WSJ article by Michael S. Derby: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2010/09/15/greenspan-fiscal-stimulus-worked-far-less-than-expected/]

Greenspan states that the current fiscal stimulus efforts by the US government haven't worked because we are still on the gold standard, and that "you’d be far better off to allow the normal market forces to operate." But is it really as simple as that? If the gold standard's entire premise is based on an agreement by participating countries, where the long-run price of gold is determined by the market (and not by governments and central banks), then what happens to the effectiveness of one country's economic policy (i.e. the United States') if other countries are no longer truly following the standard (i.e. the EU's use of the euro)?

Economies on the gold standard seem less resilient to offsetting real or monetary shocks, an observation generally supported by what occurred during the Great Depression. It also puts the burden on countries with "weaker currencies" to ultimately force higher unemployment. To a large degree, such confounding factors cloud Greenspan's rationale here. Perhaps this is why policymakers are struggling with bringing us out of the current recession.

Friday, August 20, 2010

On Adulthood

when you boil it down, there really is no formula to reaching adulthood. for some, we are thrown into the midst of it by our circumstances. for others, we simply wake up one day and realize that we are no longer able to (allow ourselves to) get away with the same shit that we used to be able blame on adolescent immaturity.

our culture even sends mixed messages—we're told to 'grow up,' all the while being encouraged to remain a 'kid at heart.' throughout our childhoods, we're told that being an adult is no fun, that it's full of responsibility, and that after your 20's, every five years pass like five days. besides, how do we know when we've finally 'grown up'? perhaps that's just a riddle with no clear-cut solution. (it may not even be possible to be fully 'grown up' all the time, nor would that be seen as desirable.)

indeed, we are in disagreement (and act in indecisive accordance) with regards to the classification of 'adult.' for some, it seems odd that 18-year-olds wielding machine guns in the military are not allowed to drink. consider then the unemployed 25-year-old who lives at home and off his parents' money. should he be allowed to hit the bars and get plastered on a consistent basis? imagine another case in which a 28-year-old college dropout 'works' at his dad's company, lives in a condo his parents don't currently use, and expenses everything to his trust fund. by many standards, he is fully considered an adult, but has he reached adulthood? it all depends on whom you are speaking about and to whom you are speaking.

for now, I associate emerging adulthood with independence—the ability to be self-reliant in thought, finances, and actions. and I equate adulthood with maturity—the acknowledgement that things can't (and shouldn't) always be 'me-me-me' combined with the wisdom to wholeheartedly accept happiness and the pursuit of happiness. to realize that we are still somewhat immature, I think, is a step toward 'growing up.' self-discovery is lifelong—not just limited to something we do in our 20's. some parents don't consider their kids to be adults or 'fully grown' until they get married and start their own families. if their kids are ok with that classification, then what's the problem? what if part of adulthood consisted of living at home (as is customary in other cultures—e.g. Italy, India)? wouldn't that just engender a greater appreciation of family and family values in our society?

as with anything, the more we think and learn, the more we think that we need to keep learning. we in the US have the luxury of experiencing 'emerging adulthood,' and it's precisely due to this luxury that such a distinction even exists. but while all this must be interpreted through a uniquely American lens in the context of our current times, I can't help but think that, at the core, aren't we all still made of the same stuff?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut

In Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night, Jones' meeting with his "blue fairy Godmother" was akin to Alice's meeting with the waist-coated white rabbit—both dragged into a supposed Wonderland that greatly affected their lives. In many ways, this was how I felt when I had turned the first few pages of the book. To say that I've comprehended all his intentions upon my first reading would be a serious misstatement. Rather, I enjoy pondering his ideas. Like a deep, rich stew—the longer it cooks in your brain, the more the flavors meld and intertwine into a distinct, delectable aroma.

If I had to characterize my first encounter with Vonnegut's writing, I would say that I feel as though one of my baby teeth just came out—one I didn't even know had not yet matured. Growing up, you lose your baby teeth gradually, to be replaced by permanent ("adult") teeth. Each permanent tooth is a different philosophy and/or experience in our lives that have come to affect the way we think and are. Just as we initially believe in the tooth fairy—the innocence of being a child, we eventually grow into our more practical and mature selves—in some ways, the loss of that innocence. Some may call it becoming jaded, but I prefer to refer to them as growing pains. Some wisdom teeth can be left in, some must be taken out to keep us healthy. On the road of life, we may gather different wisdom—some good, some not so good (in hindsight). Hopefully we don't lose our permanent teeth once we've grown into them, but if we do, they are likely the result of a jarring incident or old age. Constant brushing, flossing, and trips to the dentist are required to maintain the health, feeling, and appearance of our teeth—just as we need to constantly probe, reflect upon, and maintain our own selves.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One And

Two men find themselves trapped in a wood
One was lost, the other stood
Twig snaps left, one turns around
The other has grown accustomed to that sound

The wind blows hard, but only one moves
The other seems only to be waiting for news
The wood is clammy, lonely, and harsh
For one, is torture, the other, a marsh

Thousands of acres of land and space
Have been uniquely interpreted, this place

One can think of it as a zero-sum game
Of one versus all, where nothing enthralls
One has yet to meet the other one
Who's a fan of win-win and makes light of the fun

These two men are both trapped in the wood
One is still lost, the other understood

Saturday, July 3, 2010

On the 2010 NBA Free Agent Trade

Two Heads (or Three) are Better than One

The reason it's not a cut and dry decision for Lebron, Wade, and Bosh to team up right now is because they are each trying to maximize his own contract. Assuming that they (or their agents) realize that if they should choose to forgo some of their individual earnings upfront, they have the potential to win multiple championships and secure themselves nice, hefty checks for endorsements to make up for what they lost in the beginning and then some. The three may be outwardly friendly with each other, but how much of that is for public image and how much is actually game theory?

On a completely unbiased (wink wink) note, the probability of success with Chicago greatly surpasses that of Miami's (or any other team's) due to its deeper bench and supporting cast, notably the young up-and-comer Derrick Rose. There has not been potential for a group of players to even remotely resemble the Dream Team of yesteryear...until now. An acquisition by Jerry Reinsdorf of this year's free agent Big 3 would not only seal the deal on a postseason birth into the finals for the Windy City, but would also bring back the glory days when Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls ruled the NBA. To see such a matchup between the defending champion, Phil Jackson led L.A. Lakers and his former team (albeit with different players) would certainly go down as one of the epic battles in the history of the League. Not to mention, just imagine how salubrious such a finals series would be for the sport of basketball! From every angle, it would be a win-win.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Karl Marx

"Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions."

(from Marx's Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right)


What if this is a heartless world full of spiritless situations? What if people can't handle real happiness because they can't exist without such illusions? Wouldn't religion then be a very much-needed drug for which the people must have in order to relieve their distress?

Wouldn't this argument then also serve as validation for religion, since certain economic conditions and realities have both allowed and necessitated its existence?

On Dating

1. A guy worth dating is a guy to whom you are attracted physically and intellectually, and who has impeccable character. But of course, you also have to be what you want.

2. Someone who genuinely likes you will make his intentions clear. If you're left wondering how a guy feels about you, then he's just not into you enough, and you need to make the conscious effort to move on. There are too many people in the world whom you haven't met for you to be stuck on a guy who isn't totally into you. Have some self respect.

3. Actions speak louder than words. No matter what he says, what he does must back it up. Go with your gut on this one.

4. (I'd prefer not to give away all my thoughts. This one's private.)

5. A fulfilling, healthy relationship consists of two individuals, independently happy with their lives, who come together to make each other happier.

6. Love should not be so complicated. Be honest and straightforward whenever possible. Don't tolerate guys who play games.

7. Never lower your standards. You are not being unreasonable in having the resolve and integrity to stand by what you want. Only by doing so will you truly be able to make yourself happy in the long-run.

8. Be good to people, and the ones worth your time will be good to you. Be good to yourself. Eat well, exercise, and pamper yourself. You deserve it!

9. Really think about what you want—not just in a guy, but in your life, career, etc.

10. The most important relationship you have is the one with yourself (and by extension of that, your family). Be your best self in your most natural, happiest state. The rest will take care of itself.

Be good to people...

Be good to people, and the ones worth your time will be good to you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand

Egotism and altruism may be opposite poles representing two very different ways of being, but let's not forget that there is also a sliding scale. Ayn Rand writes in The Fountainhead: "All that which proceeds from man's independent ego is good. All that which proceeds from man's dependence upon men is evil." She may be playing devil's advocate to illustrate a point, but my conjecture is that this is what she really believes. All power to her, and to her fervent followers, for that matter. I simply do not count myself to be one of them.

The novel, first published in 1943 by Bobbs-Merrill, is a story of one architect's dedication to being himself in a world that disapproves of him in every way. Each situation and circumstance is employed to paint a picture of why the author regards man's ego to be the fountainhead of human progress. Rand is an excellent, logical writer well able to capture your attention and hold it for the more than 700 pages of this book (which in itself is quite an achievement). She also describes man and society in a probing, debate-inducing way. Notwithstanding, I find her perspectives to be too extreme.

Human beings, by nature and inherently, are social creatures. In each of our own pursuits of happiness, we do and will depend on other men to make ourselves happy. Contrary to Rand's view, there are many people who actually genuinely enjoy being altruistic because they derive pleasure from the (private and personal) knowledge that they are making a positive contribution to society. Not all acts of charity are acts to seek or gain approval from others. Moreover, it's not possible or practical to be entirely selfish all the time, for to do so inevitably and ultimately infringes upon others' pursuit of happiness.

What Rand speaks of are ideals in a substitute world. It is good to have your own ideals and to live by them. That is the crux of integrity, and I very much respect her ability to clearly elucidate hers. But even if I were to follow her line of thought and "reason...alone", I would still disagree with the application of her drastic principles. So by nature of her argument that we should be independent thinkers, she actually encourages us to be free to pick and choose ideas and philosophies from various thinkers, ourselves included. And that freedom, perhaps, is what I feel most compelled to accept from this classic piece of literature.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, May 28, 2010

Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut


"You [the reader] are an experiment by the Creator of the Universe [Vonnegut]. You are the only creature in the entire Universe who has free will. You are the only one who has to figure out what to do next—and why. Everybody else [the characters in the book] is a robot, a machine. [As in real life,] some persons seem to like you, and others seem to hate you... They are simply liking machines and hating machines... It is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn't meant to be reasonable."

Rating: 5/5

Film: Sex and the City 2

In a sentence: This movie was an outrageous date with an old friend, but had enough product placement so as to bring fashion vomit to a whole new level.

Rating: One thumb hesitantly up

Friday, May 21, 2010

Plane Ride

As we head into the white
Where clouds of snow and cotton candy lie
Above the mountaintops and streams
And every now and then the rooftops gleam

Look to the right—
What's that over there?
Man with a mustache, hat, and a beard?
Look to the left—
Chateaus galore
Almost like what I've seen in a storybook before
Don't look down
If you're the type to get sick
Especially when that turbulence gives you a kick
Oddly enough, we rarely look up
But what's there to see, more of that blue stuff?

This is the land where civilizations were built
Where man conquered, surrendered, and killed
This is a land where treaties were made
Between nations, nature, promises were said

It makes me wonder why is it that we're put on this Earth
What can I possibly do—
As just one in this great dearth
Yet flying so high makes the world seem so small
Maybe I can make a difference after all

[Written: 12/22/09, on a flight from Qingdao to Sanya, China]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Film: The Back-Up Plan

Jennifer Lopez's latest movie The Back-Up Plan ($41M worldwide box office gross to date since its April 23 release) is no cinematic masterpiece, but it certainly exceeded my expectations. In fact, if not for a free movie screening and the opportunity to spend time with a good friend, I may very well have never seen this 98-minute long, PG-13 film.

The story is about a woman, Zoe (Lopez), who fears that her clock is ticking, but instead of looking for Mr. Right, pays for a vial of sperm and decides to take matters into her own hands... or, erm, belly. You know the old saying—love comes when you least expect it. Literally the moment she steps out of the doctor's office on insemination day, Zoe meets the man of her dreams, Stan (Alex O'Loughlin). Of course, it's a subjective call when it comes to determining whether art mimics life or life mimics art in this case. The pair's fabulous first date and weekend away (on the second date) can either be read as a condensed representation of a perfect courtship or as a reflection of modern women taking dating advice from sappy rom-coms as unrealistic as this one.

Despite the predictability of this film (including the water-birthing scene that makes most of us squeamish, and the steamy makeout scenes so obviously designed for a largely Lifetime-watching female audience) there are some redeeming qualities that save it from being a complete flop. Even if the spark isn't completely there, O'Loughlin and Lopez sure do look like a stunning pair. This movie does make you laugh in the moment, however fleeting and unmemorable the jokes may be. Best of all, listening to the peppy, feel-good scoring is like taking a hot shower at the end of a long day. No matter what else has failed you previously, you walk out of the experience feeling a little warmer inside. Somehow, you're comforted by the fact that you're not the only one who hasn't found your Prince Charming yet, and that hope is just around the corner, all to the upbeat, motivational derivations of tunes from The Princess Diaries and Legally Blonde. (Don't judge my musical taste. Sometimes, a girl's got to listen to a girly song.)

If there is a lesson to be learned from (or reinforced after) watching this film, it's that you must find yourself before you find someone else. You must know how to make yourself happy, because you're the only person who you'll live with every day for the rest of your life. But you knew all of that already, didn't you?

Movies like these are like chicken soup for the female soul. Even though it's the same flavor stewed in the same way with the same ingredients, it's an affirmation that we're all worthy of love. And that's an idea that never gets old.


Article first published as Movie Review: The Back-Up Plan on Blogcritics.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Anthony Robbins

"Live life fully while you're here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You're going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don't try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Restaurant: BLD

interesting, clean ambiance. went here for lunch. felt a bit like we were dining at crate & barrel. didn't get to try anything on the wine menu, but it looks like they had quite a selection. had the spicy cuban pork sandwich. messy meal, but very good food. wish the fries that came with it could have been truffle. no ranch dressing served at the restaurant, but the aioli was a good substitute for dip. parking was difficult, as is the usual with weho, though valet is only $1 with validation. great place for a business lunch or sunday brunch pre-shopping at the grove.


Restaurant Details Below (from Yelp):

7450 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Neighborhoods: Mid-City West, West Hollywood

(323) 930-9744

Price Range: $$
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Parking: Street
Attire: Casual
Good for Groups: Yes
Good for Kids: No
Takes Reservations: Yes
Delivery: No
Take-out: Yes
Waiter Service: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Good for: Breakfast, Brunch
Alcohol: Full Bar

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Letter to Me (at this Point in Time)

Dear Self,

Realize that there are always going to be a gazillion opportunities in life, no matter how dead-end your current prospects may seem.

Have you have become too mired in the career-building aspect of your life? What's your ultimate goal? To look back when you're old and wrinkly and be able to say, "I have no regrets. I was and am happy." So why is it that our society is so fond of telling us on the one hand to consciously pursue our dreams and peer pressuring us on the other to set goals on traditional paths to "success?"

Remember that one of the best pieces of advice you've ever received is to honestly evaluate what you like to do, then find a way to get paid to do it.

Think hard about how important money really is to you at this stage in your life. Now consider for a moment a scenario in which personal finances were taken off the table—what would you be doing? Work backward from that end state. Imagine that you are in fact doing what you've envisioned. Do you have what you need to survive? If this is insufficient in satisfying your minimum requirements (whatever they may be), then what other things that you like to do can you turn into sources of income?

Perhaps this makes entrepreneurs out of all of us, and maybe we're not really the entrepreneur type. But what does it mean to be an entrepreneur, really? In many ways, it's just as well that you substitute the word "creativity" for "entrepreneurship." Anyone can and should find it in themselves to be creative.

Money should be a means to an end, not an end in itself. Steadfastly pursue your interests and passions, and the rest will take care of itself eventually. Have faith.

Have faith not only in yourself, but in other people. Like attracts like, and if you are a good person from the inside out, then you will naturally and effortlessly form relationships with other good individuals. Character counts. Expect the most from yourself and never anything from others. Their respect (or lack thereof) for the Golden Rule speaks volumes. Stay true to what you believe in, and don't doubt what you know you know—especially when it comes to your morals and values.

Be confident, but never so much so that you lose the ability to keep an open mind. Feed your mind. Read. Write. Think hard. Question everything. And leave room for accepting ideas different from your own. No pain, no gain. Challenge yourself.

When in doubt, reread this letter to affirm your current convictions. Eat well. Stay healthy. Love life. Continue to pursue happiness.

Stay hungry.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why I'm Against Pre-Nups

If you feel the need to sign a pre-nup, then don't get married. You're either not ready or it's the wrong person.

Pre-nup = viewing marriage as a potentially short-term, terminable at will deal + attempting to quantify love and trust + self-reassurance of protection from your spouse

Essentially, you are saying to your significant other... "Hey, let's get married. But in case this doesn't work out, at least I won't be losing out materially." Maybe that's why the US divorce rate is ~50%—society seems to no longer view marriage as a lifelong commitment to be as practical (or, in some cases, even desirable).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

William Butler Yeats

"When You are Old"

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Woody Allen

"To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness."

James Morrison

I don't know where I crossed the line
Was it something that I said
Or didn't say this time
And I don't know if it's me or you
But I can see the skies are changing
In all the shades of blue
And I don't know which way it's gonna go

I thought that time was on our side
I've put in far too many years
To let this pass us by
You see life is a crazy thing
There'll be good times and there'll be bad times
And everything in-between
And I don't know which way it's gonna go

Oh, we're a little closer now
In finding what life's all about
Yeah I know you just can't stand it
When things don't go your way
But we've got no control over what happens anyway

If it's gonna be a rainy day
There's nothing we can do to make it change
We can pray for sunny weather
But that won't stop the rain
Feeling like you got no place to run
I can be your shelter 'til it's done
We can make this last forever
So please don't stop the rain

Let it fall...


From: "Please Don't Stop the Rain," Songs for You, Truths for Me

Friday, April 30, 2010

Celeb Sighting: Dr. Oz

At his wife Lisa's book signing in Culver City.

How much would you pay to see your future?

"A Stanford bioengineer has become the first scientist in the world to decode his own DNA with a machine he invented, allowing him to peer into his genetic blueprint to see his risk for disease — and expanding the frontier of medicine... [His] machine, the size of a freezer, sequenced his human genome in only four weeks, for $50,000. The procedure is expected to cost $10,000 by the end of this year."

If you're able to scrounge together the resources, would you pay $10K and wait 4 weeks to map your complete genome?

Source: http://www.siliconvalley.com/news/ci_14987438

Happy Madison Square Garden

Culver City, CA

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On learning to play the guitar

Just because you don't currently have the ability to do something doesn't mean you can't acquire that ability. Many things in life are deterministic. Fate's not going to just come to you and give you the ability to play. If you want it bad enough, you'll figure out a way to make it happen.

So for me, the question is not necessarily when, but how badly do I want it?

I regret...

...nothing. There's no point to looking back in regret if you can't actually click 'undo' on your life.

Monday, April 26, 2010

When the Sun Don't Shine

dreary, weary, most lackadaisical day
serious, worn-out, and caught up in the fray
of non-thinking, head-spinning, nonsensical displays

say, have you ever not been present when others aren't away?
hey, cut out the bevy of um's, maybe's, and okay's
and instead concentrate
on the things that aren't so opaque

or maybe that should be my strategy of late:
to try my hardest not to be dismayed
by the uncertain future that feels like a weight
and running full steam into me like a freight
train. it's hard to pick up the energy after you've ate

when you've basked in the glory of cakes and baked
goods and have had a taste
of hunger that's been hard to insatiate

crave, to be better than what's there for you straight out the gate
hate, the traits people have placed on you that don't really explain
who you are. but wait
that's just another lame game if you're not so sure of your personal aims

more of the same--
death, war, destruction, and pain
though you're not to blame, per se, they still can't be tamed
leaving you drained and only partially sane

so, mate, what's on the horizon for what I became
any sage wisdom that you can ordain
as I navigate the tumultuous rage that so frequently characterizes this stage in the maize
my fears I've tried so far to keep at bay
but how do I gauge?
at what age do I get to lay claim to my name in fame?
and create something that's finally here to stay?

or do I leave it to fate
and simply turn the page?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Concert: Semi Precious Weapons (feat. Nico Vega, Breedlove)

Live at The Roxy Theatre | Los Angeles
Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | 8 PM

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wall Street - The View from Here

Wall Street is a buttress of Americana. Its charter (loosely) is to make something out of nothing, or at least, pump money into our economy by wheeling and dealing. So why is it such a surprise to us to find Wall Street gambling with our assets?

We should know by now that greed and pride step into the ring whenever money enters the equation. Perhaps we have forgotten that this is an unfortunate by-product of human civilization, and have grown comfortable in our now-wealthy, powerful nation. Miles' Law holds—"Where you stand depends on where you sit."

As the middlemen (more eloquently, financial advisors), these firms deal almost exclusively B2B. In this high-stakes game, you lose your reputation, you lose your clients, and your money goes out the door. It's rare for even those at the very top to think about how their institutions can benefit industry. And why should they? It's a dog-eat-dog world, and if each executive, managing director, or analyst fails to generate significant profit for his respective firm, then it's his head (and paycheck) on the chopping block.

So it makes sense for the government to be the one pondering this case, figuring out how it will make the dogs work toward the common good rather than in self service—which leads us to the current Goldman Sachs debacle. When the SEC charged the global investment bank with misleading mortgage investor ACA Capital Management in synthetic CDO transactions late last week, the straw broke the camel's back. The government finally decided that its laissez-faire approach to financial regulation has been sorely inadequate. As of yet, we haven't seen the SEC's full hand, and after the Bear Stearns hedge fund managers (Ralph Cioffi, Matthew Tannin) were acquitted last November, it's likely we won't until the commission goes forward with the prosecution, but at least now we're getting somewhere.

Where does that leave us, the employees of industry, the private investors who gain most of our knowledge of Wall Street from reporters and the Internet? Surely we are not well-equipped, without at least interacting with such financial institutions, to bear the full burden of due diligence. Caveat emptor; life's not fair. Our lesson should be the same as those who deal directly with the Street. If you decide to stay in the game, when it comes to buying low and selling high, don't forget about the third option in your playbook. "If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting." (Benjamin Franklin)

Monday, April 19, 2010

If enough time passes, can a sport effectively run out of history?

Question of the Day: If enough time passes, can a sport effectively run out of history? (Matthew Futterman, WSJ*)

It's not just a game of baseball, it's a game of statistics. You pick whichever numbers are relevant to support your argument, however "history-changing" that may be. At the point when the next record to be bested becomes inconsequential to even the most die-hard of fans, then second- and third- bests will simply go down as additional data points to be crunched later. And whoever complained about better precision as a result of a larger sample size? Surely the Gods of baseball won't complain about more precise odds.

*Question Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303950104575185811532724200.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsForth

Friday, April 16, 2010

El secreto de sus ojos

'Un hombre puede cambiar lo que sea: su cara, su casa, su familia, su novia, su religion, su Dios. Pero hay algo que no puede cambiar. Un hombre no puede cambiar su pasión.'

- Pablo Sandoval, El secreto de sus ojos


¿pero lo que si su pasión es simplemente vivir una vida feliz, y una gran parte de esa felicidad es su familia y su religión? ¡no puedo esperar para ver esta película!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Word of the Day: Eyjafjallajökull


Use in Context:

Event: Violinist Gil Shaham and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra

WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL -- pastoral, stately, and with plenty of spunk to spare. such was the musical result last night of the mellifluous pairing and chemistry of violinist Gil Shaham and the one voice that was conductor David Robertson's Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. the set list was a neat Stravinsky-Mozart dialogue, adeptly executed for its mainly young adult and elderly audience.

from the opening sequence of Stravinsky's Danses concertantes to the august closing of Mozart's Symphony No. 36 in C major, K. 425, the charismatic Robertson leads us on an exploration through the playful joys, trials, and tribulations of springtime. for someone who enjoys the purely classical but prefers the more emotionally rich romantic genre, the lead-off piece was, at times, a bit bland, even in a technically polished performance. at the level in which modern-day orchestras operate, if not for Shaham's dexterity and personality, the night may very well have stayed comfortably within the confines of dignified mediocrity.

the two sandwiched pieces, both violin concerti in D major (Mozart's No. 2, K.211, Stravinsky's only), not only featured Shaham, but showcased his classical range. one highlight of the night was the spirited cadenza near the end of the Mozart concerto. this was a time when the regimented became less so and the assertive woodwind section finally had no opportunity to cover up the soloist. what a pleasure to hear the lower notes of the violin being played in the Stravinsky, followed by some of the highest notes of the night in a passionate passage in the 'Capriccio.'

overall, it was an intellectual, charming performance, with more than a few terrific moments with Robertson and brother-in-law Shaham at the helm.


Notes from the Program:

STRAVINSKY - Danses concertantes (Marche: Introduction, Pas d'action, Thème varié, Pas de deux, Marche: Conclusion)

MOZART - Violin Concerto No. 2 in D major, K. 211 (Allegro moderato, Andante, Rondeau: Allegro)


STRAVINSKY - Violin Concerto in D major (Toccata, Aria I, Aria II, Capriccio)

MOZART - Symphony No. 36 in C major, K. 425 (Adagio: Allegro spiritoso, Poco adagio, Menuetto, Presto)

*Founded in 1880, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) is the second-oldest orchestra in the country and is widely considered one of the world's finest. In September 2005, internationally acclaimed conductor David Robertson became the 12th Music Director and second American-born conductor in the Orchestra's history. The SLSO is one of only a handful of major American orchestras invited to perform annually at the prestigious Carnegie Hall. Recordings by the SLSO have been honored with six Grammy awards and 56 Grammy nominations over the years.

*Gil Shaham was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in 1971. He moved with his parents to Israel, where at the age of seven he began violin studies with Samuel Bernstein of the Rubin Academy of Music and was granted annual scholarships by the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. In 1981, while studying with Haim Taub in Jerusalem, he made debuts with the Jerusalem Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic. That same year he began his studies with Dorothy DeLay and Jens Ellerman at Aspen. In 1982, after taking first prize in Israel's Claremont Competition, he became a scholarship student at Juilliard, where he has worked with DeLay and Hyo Kang. He has also studied at Columbia University, and currently lives in New York City with his wife and their two children.


Lee Ann Womack

'I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance... I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances but they're worth taking,
Loving might be a mistake but it's worth making.

Don't let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to selling out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance... I hope you dance.

Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.

I hope you dance... I hope you dance.'


why is it so often the case that what we hope for those we love, we feel is too much to hope for for ourselves? we're worth it too!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wal-Mart's Expansion into India, a Hypothetical Discussion

(inside the corporate strategy meeting room at Wal-Mart HQ in Bentonville, Arkansas)

manager: we need to expand. the current markets where we've gained foothold are or will become saturated.

new analyst: China?

manager: been there, done that. we need to boost profits this year if we want to stay in-line with our growth targets.

analyst #2: India?

manager (pointedly, as everyone else walks into the room): India? they've banned foreign companies from direct-to-consumer retail.

director: but if we start to build a relationship with the Indian farmers now, they'll want to work with us later when legislation loosens up.

Raj Jain (Head of Wal-Mart's Indian operation): not having access to our own retail stores through our own investments is a serious impediment. how do you pay for that big back end if you are not going to have access to the front end?

director: yes, well, it's also an impediment to Carrefour and Tesco. we invest the time now, reap the huge benefits--and they will be huge--later. besides, we're already in the B2B business.

Scott Price (President and CEO of Wal-Mart Asia): India already exports $125M, mainly textiles. I would like to set a target of more than $1B of exports ourselves. Today our overall revenue is $400B globally, so a billion sourced by India for exports is not that big a number. I think a lot of product lines could be done from here. If we can get the agriculture to global standards, I think India has a huge opportunity to become a food basket for the world.

manager (playing devil's advocate): so effectively, we become the middleman by default? or is this our R&D plan for eventually doing our core business of retail?

VP: both. it's a win-win. the Indian government wins because we're helping them realize their full potential for exports, and we win because--well, let's face it--we wouldn't be considering this if it wasn't bringing positive cash flow to our books.

Raj: The benefits foreign direct investment in retail can bring to contain rapid inflation [are the subject of] serious debate in government.

VP #2: ok, what you both say make for a great PR stance, but how much upside are we talking about for the company?

(manager looks at new analyst, aka 'excel whiz')

new analyst: our base projection is a range of $a to $b in the first # to ## months, but depending on factors x, y, and z, including feedback from local farmers, it could be anywhere from $c to $d. comps also show a favorable EBITDA.

(all are silent for a moment as they flip through the deck)

manager (proddingly): so, looks like a go? I'll get my team's heads around this right now to see how we can make this happen in the next 6-18 months.

Raj: [I] feel confident that we have a good model[, but] it is a slow process; it doesn't happen overnight... if all goes as per plan, I think, in five years we should have several cash-and-carry operations in India. it may not be across India, but certainly in the important geographies in India. we should have a very good understanding of the end consumer, of the trade. and we should have a scale from which we can grow very rapidly.

manager (to the analysts, after all others have left the room): well, fellas, looks like we're in for some long hours.

analyst #2: no, boss. looks like we're in for one hell of a ride!


Sources of Quotes:


Timothy Leary

'I am 100 percent in favor of the intelligent use of drugs, and 1,000 percent against the thoughtless use of them, whether caffeine or LSD.'

- Timothy Leary


but who determines the specifications of 'intelligent use'?

Anaïs Nin

'We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are.'

- Anaïs Nin


does this mean we should moderate ourselves to be less subjective, or is how we naturally see things our best hope for objectivity? should we even strive for objectivity? if not, what should be our goal?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Billy the Bullied

There once was a young boy named Billy
Who, like others his age, was quite silly.
Bent his teachers out of shape
Homework he tried to escape
Only time made him less willy-nilly.

This same boy a couple years later
Became the victim of haters
Who pushed him around
In class, on the playground
And picked on him sooner or later.

Now fast-forward ahead to high school
When Billy was Captain of Cool
He had the best grades
And all the hot dates
The playground he finally did rule.

Those bullies he used to despise?
His goodness brought on their demise
They faked their amends
And 'wanted' to be friends
So Billy promptly said his goodbyes!

More Troubles for Toyota

Finally a snowball at the bottom of the hill, or are there darker days yet for the Japanese car-maker?


'Toyota Stops Selling S.U.V. That Was Called Unsafe' - by Christopher Jensen

Celebs: Simon Cowell Lookalike

Sources of Photos:

[Re-posted from FB, 11/15/08]

Quote: Ayn Rand

Not that I agree with everything she says, but this is a great quote...

'Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.'

- Ayn Rand

Monday, April 12, 2010

Musical Interpretation: Piano Concerto No. 2 in c minor (3rd mov.) - by Sergei Rachmaninoff

love is war. only with soulful passion can the arduous fight ever be won. but wow, does victory feel good in the end!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Musical Interpretation: Piano Concerto No. 2 in c minor (2nd mov.) - by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Such is the feeling and passion of the musical score
Brought to life, one story built upon the last

One moment a calming, babbling brook lulling a baby to sleep
The next a sweeping dance into the arms of your star-crossed lover
Yet another a left-handed triplet accompanied by right-handed melodic bliss
As swell after swell of sound waves hit the shores of our auditory perception
We are reminded of a distant memory, which somehow self-transforms in a sudden

A whirring bee in a new forest, stuck in unfamiliar honey
And while lying there, he becomes transfixed by the blue of the bluest sky
By the warmth of the afternoon sun
By the lyrical songs of two courting birds in a nearby tree

And as the scene comes to a close
The sweet nectar of the foreign place somehow becomes a hazy blur
As he drifts off into euphoric slumber

Celeb Sighting: J-Lo

Saw J-Lo in Culver City on Friday, and yes, she is as gorgeous in person, if not more, than she appears on the big screen. Photo turned out pretty well for a non-SLR!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Southern California

listening to 'Superstition' by Stevie Wonder and thinking how enamored I am by the presence and charm of these palm tree-lined streets, however traffic-ridden they may be. may this feeling never become trite to me.

Listening to the Music

I've had a love of music from an early age, constantly drumming my chubby fingers to the beat of my mom's favorite Chinese movie soundtracks. I begged for a piano to play, but my parents thought I was too young to be serious about my interest. They relented, however, when one day I carved out a five-year-old version of a keyboard onto the rented living room oak table with the tip of a mechanical pencil. Mission accomplished: the next day, my parents bought me a keyboard. My dad was still in school, and couldn't yet afford to buy a piano.

But I didn't care. Having a keyboard was definitely better than not having anything at all. For the next year, I plunked away at the plastic keys with such intensity and dedication that my parents decided to find me a piano teacher. After many years of piano lessons, I've had a wide variety of piano instructors. From an eight-bucks-an-hour student teacher to sixty-bucks-an-hour university professors, I have climbed up a steep ladder in my piano education, financially and figuratively. I have also gone from playing on a sixty-one note keyboard at home to nine-foot Steinway concert grand pianos onstage.

Through it all, I still remember my first music teacher. Her name was Shelley, and she had the most patience that I have ever encountered. She didn't seem to ever get annoyed that she always had to tell me to slow down or to keep a steady tempo and not rush through the pieces I was playing. I would even get impatient with myself for forgetting to keep my notes and rhythms even. Once, I asked her how she stayed so patient, but she just smiled and told me to "listen to the music." I was confused, but then she pointed out that "Row, Row, Row your Boat" was a gentle lullaby, not a Turkish march accelerating poco a poco.

Later, I learned that Shelley had a deaf daughter. The little girl couldn't hear a radio blasting full-blown into her ear, yet she would start waving her hands around and stomp her feet into the ground whenever Shelley or her students were playing the piano. This experience has taught me to not be afraid of being original or of walking to the beat of my own drum, even if it means taking risks to explore my parameters, musically or otherwise. Looking deeper into Shelley's original statement to "listen to the music," I found the answer to patience in the score. It involved the delicate weave of a musician's own feeling and interpretation into a composer's original intent. That is what gives a performance that sparkle of originality, substance and style, and makes for a genuine enjoyment of music.

I don't know what happened to Shelley or her daughter. I switched piano teachers when we moved to a different city and lost contact after moving out of state a few years after that. I don't know how old Shelley's daughter is now or whether she still has a love of music, but often when I play the piano, I can still see that little girl stomping the ground and waving her arms and fingers, reminding me to "listen to the music."

[Written: 10/6/05]

Verse: Epitaphs (à la Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters)

"Mr. William T. Banks"

Life is a closed door
Where I, wedded, am on the outside
Constantly knocking…knocking to get in.
Working the night shift as the town century,
My days were a thick fog, sunk in the bogs of drinking and riot
Manipulated mainly by a mere finger of hers on a dog collar.
Love and sympathy were oceans away, it seemed;
Like a spider, she trapped me in her golden threads,
Her web spun of enchanting evil ensured my agonizing pain
For my sorrow was the core of her happiness.
Twisting my soul around her delicate beauty
And tearing my love into shreds of her hatred
She left me after she had drained me of all
That was my chance for a slow and painful recovery.
Years later, as a melancholy victim
Wrinkled and stooping with old age,
I died with the scar of her wickedness
And no one with whom to inherit.


"Suzie Weaver"

I dread even to think of my horrid mistake to marry him
Hence, I kept my own name
But nonetheless, I left him
When I found out about his unvirtuous "nighttime strolls."
In the midst of all the disgrace and asinine chatter, I was purely disgusted!
Disgusted! By the stench of alcohol
Disgusted! By the mix of cheap perfume and his musky cologne
So I bound him with the very chains of my imprisonment
And he became my helot.
I know he complained of my heartlessness
But suppose you are in my situation:
Forsaken wife and a good education gone to the dust
He deserved all that he got
In the end, guilt took me by the feet and my conscience dragged me down
When I died of a raging fever
With none but a homely stone to mark my grave.

[Written: Middle School]

Verse: Collegiate

What to do
How to plan
When to go
Who to deal
Where am I headed

Do I keep pushing,
Plan on finding me
Go search for...
Dealt me a new hand
Heading toward...

I don't know.
Abstract thoughts overflowing
As water in a water balloon
Stretching, becoming thinner

But holding on
Trusting that no part will snap,
transparent though it may become--
Knowing that there are plenty of chances
Plenty of multi-colored water balloons in the box

[Written: 9/10/05]

Sound Bytes of a Sunday Afternoon in the Quad

1:44 PM
- alarm goes off
- "oh, no, no... a little bit at a time"
- keys jingling
- "and, like, he told me... no!"
- flip flops against the cobblestone
- coughing
- garbage truck wheeling clumsily along
- faded, distant music - mellow
- keys that sound like wind chimes
- "wow! like a rock"
- creak of door opening
- "alright, I'll see you later"
- "I'll go rock climbing!"
- "not today, when we have less work"
- "I'm scared of heights!"
- humming of an alicia keys song
- "next time..."
- actually you know what? I think it's harder to wake up at 6:30"
- "hey, how is latin going?"
- a loud, chattering group walks by - many voices
- "well I gotta go get some work done and watch some football!"
- chopping of a helicopter flying overhead
- "snappy!"
- "hey, what's up... how was brunch"
- loudly chewing of gum, pop
- indistinct voices in the distance
- more flip flopping, across the lawn this time
- feet dragging on the ground, squeaky shoes
- alarm has not been turned off
- opening and closing of a door, creaking, high-heeled click, click,
walking away
- keys on lanyard hitting the stomach with every other step
- alarm not stopping
- "no! I..."
- "ok! who's looking at you?'
- airplane flying past overhead
- "87, like an hour?
- "discombobulated?! who says that?!"
- sound of duffle bags rubbing against a cotton t-shirt
- someone clearing his throat
- alarm still going strong
- "I'm dying! I have slept..."
- "gonna get bus passes"
- "how are you Adam"
- "5:30"
- "I know but I'd like some"
- two long and separated car horns
- "guys"
- latin beat of a cell phone goes off
- "due in a half-hour on Tuesday"
- "where are the fraternity houses"
- "hey, what's up?"
- alarm not shut off yet
- high-heeled click, click approaching, opening and closing of a door,
creaking, going inside
- jeans rubbing against jeans sound
- grocery bags
- alarm turned off
2:04 PM

[Written: 9/11/05]

Beyond Fear

"He can who thinks he can, and he can't who thinks he can't." –Orison Swett Marden

Throughout my years of middle school, I recall many accomplishments in a wide variety of fields, from academics to sports to piano playing. I'm certainly proud of them; however, there could have been a whole lot more had I had more confidence in myself. Although it might have seemed otherwise, when I was a fifth and sixth grader, I was very timid inside, and mentally not able to handle the pressure of many things, and I knew it. I just couldn't bring myself to get over it.

One particularly torrid afternoon in the summer before seventh grade, as I was sitting under the ceiling fan, flipping through one of my Teen People magazines, something caught my eye. For some reason, it just popped out at me, and I found a poem that would change my actions and the way I felt about everything from that moment on:

Fearless-by Brooke A. Morris, 16
More afraid of not flying than of falling
More afraid to hide away my feelings than of bawling
More afraid to sit in silence than to speak up for myself
More afraid to sit back and watch than to stick up for someone else
More afraid to close my mind than to open my eyes and see
More afraid to close my heart than to let in diversity
More afraid of not trying than of failing
More afraid of not thinking than of letting my imagination go sailing
More afraid to settle for less than to keep striving
More afraid of not living than of dying

After I read this poem, I literally told myself to stop being afraid of trying new things. Up to that point, because I was such a pessimist, I had always focused on things I knew I could succeed in, and not even attempted new activities and clubs that I had never done before. I also constantly pushed myself to the thinnest wire over the smallest of deals. As a result, disappointment, discouragement, and frustration came along all too often and settled over me like dark clouds before a thunderstorm.

Back then, I was so self-conscious about absolutely everything I did. Nowadays, I figure, what's the point? You live through live doing what's right, and what pleases you, not others. So why should I live by others' standards and limit myself to their criticism and despondency?

If not for my newfound conviction that I could triumph in anything as long as I really wanted to and was willing to work hard at it, I would have never discovered an activity I truly loved—student council. Had I not moved beyond my fears and doubts, I also would have never tried out for volleyball, which is now one of my favorite sports.

And Brooke, although we've never met, I can't even begin to thank you for all the courage you've given me to have faith in myself. For the past two years, whenever I questioned the certainty in something, I have looked to your poem for motivation, and found that failure is not the worst thing in the world. The very worst is not to try. By believing in yourself and reaching for the stars, you will have shined a beam through the darkness of your fears. The possibilities are endless, so just open up your heart and fearlessly challenge the world!

[Written: High School]

Summer Campfire Story

Whenever I'm feeling down, I try to think back to 8th grade, when I attended the 42nd annual IAJHSC Student Council Convention in Normal, IL. There was the usual, a general session, award presentations, the state service project, etc.—but then there was the keynote speaker, Mr. Kevin Wanzer. He was a motivational speaker who, I think, inspired all of us that day.

I will always remember what he told us:

Everyone is born with a bowl of shining light. This light is leadership and the ability to help and work with others. Throughout our lifetime, we will meet many people, all of whom have different personalities. Some will be positive, and some negative. It's the same with your bowl of light—more light may be added to it, or pebbles may be thrown in.

What this means is that the positive people will influence you and make you a better person through their kindness, understanding nature, and open-mindedness. However, there will always be negative personalities in the crowd. They can be unenthusiastic, judgmental, or just plain discouraging. You might even be able to name a few in your classes at school. So if you're not careful and nonchalant about everything, pebbles will be thrown into your bowl of light.

Sometimes, it's hard to resist following the crowd, especially if all the popular kids fall into the negative category. All you have to do is trust your instincts and don't let it impact your standards and morals. Instead, you must try to help those people to take pebbles out of their bowls of light.

And remember: There is not one person who has cleared himself or herself of all pebbles added to their bowls of light. This gives us reason to always keep at it, and constantly take pebbles out to make our bowl of light brighter and stronger.

[Written: High School]

Verse: Confused

I don't know what I want to do
I don't know who I want to be
Yet I do
I do have dreams, but how will I ever reach them
Why do I feel like this

Who am I?

Why do I care so much
But then am so self destructive
I feel like it's all my fault
But am I really the only one to blame?

Where do I go from here
What exactly is it that I need to do
Just tell me
Give me a plan
As detailed as you can make it
To the day, to the hour
What should I be doing right now
To work towards my goals

What are my goals?

Or is it just that I don't have the capacity
To be who I want to be
But I don't even know who or what that person is

Are the sacrifices worth making
Will I regret it
I already do
For the past, I mean, what I've done before

I want to be respected
I want to be admired
Why can't I just be normal
And not have those feelings all the time
What's wrong with me
I'm usually not like this
I'm usually more optimistic
Aren't I?

Why am I so confused
The grass is greener on the other side of the hill
Mine is always tended to yet still parched and somewhat incomplete

I feel so tired
What's the use?
Everyone has the same ending
Is luck really fate or just people's doing
Can fate be controlled
Or is it all an illusion
Why are people the way they are?

What am I going to do with my life?

I keep telling myself that I don't care what others think of me
That in itself is a contradiction
Everyone cares
Just some more than others
And in different circumstances

Everything is how you define it
Then why do so many things have universal definitions?

I don't get it
These empty yet full days of life
What is it all about?
Why are people and things not what they seem

Why can't everything just make sense for once?

How did I get to be this way
I feel so different from others
When it's uncomfortable and disadvantageous
But not any more unique than regular people
When it counts to be an individual

I feel like I need to stop everything
And just take time to figure it out
But should I even bother

Is it worth it?

This space before me is blank
And waiting

[Written: 9/23/05]

Verse: Vengeance

A woman of emerald green
With green shoes,
And green clothes,
And green skin.
And the eyes--
I distinctly remember them:
Piercing green eyes.
The only difference in color
Was her fiery red hair
Spilling out all over,
Static to the slightest touch--
Like gasoline poured over a
Boisterous and unruly fire.

Unkempt and uncontrollable temper--
Like her red hair.

Beware of the mad woman;
She will sweep you off your feet.
Persuade you
Manipulate you
Knock you down with her conniving ways.
Beware of her innocent acts
Full of jealousy
Full of revenge
Beware of a woman in emerald green.

[Written: 9/30/05]

Verse: Hope

Hope is a feeling inside of you
Where dreams can be genuine and true
It gives us joy when we get what we want
It gives us pain and it makes us so blue

Ironic feelings may sometimes daunt
But keep your faith; don't let them taunt
A rush of emotion, a swell of pride
It is your favorite confidant

Obstacles come and go with the tide
As long as to the rules we do abide
If ever doom comes knocking on your door
And asks you if your hope has yet died,

Tell him, "No," not yet, "According to my lore,
Given up is something I've not done before."
But whatever I do and whatever I say
Hope is the one thing that'll help my spirits soar.

[Written: 10/1/05]

Verse: Dreary Friday

Split splat of raindrops against my four-paneled windows
Sputter of the dead heater/AC
Low rumblings of airplanes, or thunder, or wind pockets…in the distance
Tuneless buzz of the fridge
Errr—mmmmmm of the broken printer
Nasal ehhhhh of the vibrating cellphone being turned off
The roommate's AIM getting a message on the laptop that she forgot to turn off
A loud party next door
A drunk girl singing off pitch outside…

Clattering footsteps approaching
A. knock. at. the. door.

…for the room across the hall

Michele's in Jersey
Alex's in California
Becca's in Venice
Lauren's in Connecticut
My parents are in China
And me

Well I'm staying here actually
Piano on Monday
Midterm on Tuesday
Econ Scream no. 2 on Wednesday
Midterm on Thursday
Management work on Friday
Performance on Saturday
Presentation prep on Sunday

It's like a messed up version
Of Fonzi's "Happy Days"
These days are yours and mine
But he forgot to mention


need to hear background noise
artificially generated tv sounds fill
the empty void

the world is going fast around you
and you are still
eyes shut
everything whirls

And you stare at bright computer screen
Aware that there is this life
And just this life
One only for you to max out on

So I guess I will
Not take things too seriously
Like the tv blasting Comedy Central

As if fake, synthesized laughter will make me laugh too
On the outside
And make me feel less empty inside

What am I feeling
What am I saying
Why am I like this

I'm not homesick
And I'm not in denial
I'm not alone really
writings on the facebook wall
just that independent feeling
of college

for now the tv makes me feel better
my cure for loneliness

[Written: 10/13/05]

Verse: Documentation of a Transient Thought

Is there a world out there
void of sins
void of the craze of perfection
Is that oxymoron just not possible

Are our minds controlled by some power
not even necessarily higher power
other humans
Or maybe just by some beings

Am I being told what to think
what to write
what to type
Where is this coming from

This impetus
inspiration, if you will
is it simply a whim
Or something more than that

I've never felt so compelled
yet so free to let the words just flow
just stream out like a poetic consciousness
If it can be considered poetic

Fragmented mind
what is this sudden craving to scribe
ecrire (as the French would say) the foreign language of my thoughts
To paper and in a drop all and do it now


What do the spaces represent
(on this page)
are they perhaps a figment of my imagination
or just full stops in my train of brain waves
Sawed short and interspersed with randomness

yet wonder
wonder at the world
at what is
what is to come
what will be

I feel as if so much here is superficial
but of course we live in a somewhat superficial life
of superficial happiness stimulated by superficial materialism
What is real

why do I feel so real at this moment
so far removed from everything and everyone
that I feel that I am abnormal

or maybe I am
or am not

who else feels this way?

Why can't I express these thoughts
whatever you term it
out loud
by mouth
in spoken terms

why am I always so reliant on preparedness
where is the spontaneity of speech
literally, speech speech
as in giving a speech
where are the words, or some would say bs that just comes out
there is some innate drive toward detail and some degree of perfection
from which I can't stray

makes no sense
to you
or me
you think you may understand
but really you have no idea

how can you?
I'm not even quite certain
but in a way I am
I am certain in what I am thinking at
this very moment in time

or is it really me thinking this

Could it be ____ prompting me to ask?

don't answer—don't listen to me…disregard what I've just said…and
disregard that too

I wouldn't know how to respond

Or maybe that would just be the catalyst
to bring out my inner spontaneity

what could it be

[Written: 10/13/05]

Verse: Homonyms

Throw out a word
Any word
For me to grab onto

Presents or presence
But what about sweater
That has nothing to do with sweat

Pair that with pears
Or is it just that
Moose use mousse

Dear Principal,
Follow your principles and
flee the fleas on the deer.
I've heard that the herd will
reign over the land unless
the morning rain keeps us from
mourning over the tail of the bear.
Oh, we owe it to the poor animal
at least to make this one happy tale
and not waste the honey by pouring
it over our pores.
I know the colonel has said "no"
to our request, but we are so hoarse
from feeding the kernels to the old horse.

So, try not to idle away your days
by drifting off into in a daze or sewing that
shirt for your idol.
Instead, your efforts are better spent
waiting a week.
After all, you're weak when it comes to
placing the weight where it belongs.

[Written: 10/30/05]

Verse: Ho-llaween

Hey, what are you going to be for Halloween?

There's the seemingly innocent—
Oh, I'm going to be a rabbit.
I'm thinking about being a nurse.
I'm dressing up as Snow White.

The naïve mind would think these are just fine and dandy,
But the college girl mind works differently.
To get an idea of how exactly some of them think,
just add the adjective "sexy" to each costume.
Suddenly, you've got a playboy bunny,
skin-tight white uniformed nurse…
Who knew a Disney character could have such cleavage
and short skirt?

And then there's the blatant—
Can't you tell, I'm a Victoria's Secret model.
I think I'll be a hula dancer this year.
I am definitely a French maid.

Even the naïve mind would know better,
For these college girls are just looking for a character
that'll allow them to expose their fancy-looking lingerie.
What with the scandalous clothing
or lack of it
And the variety of otherwise classy material
like silk, satin, and lace
Have almost been degraded with the way they are used…

It almost seems too cliché
Either that or this practice is inherently Halloween,
Or should I say "ho"-llaween?

[Written: 10/30/05]

A Stab at an Age-Old Question

What is the meaning of life? The question may be daunting or broad, and is one that many attempt to answer. "Life," as defined by Webster's dictionary as "the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body." But as for the meaning? I doubt many people would think of that primarily as the length of time between birth and death. I think the answer may be seen as complicated or simple, or a combination of both.

Life holds so many different surprises for each individual person. I think one thing we all strive for spiritually, whether actively or intuitively, is happiness. Happiness means different things for different people. For almost all of us, love is a big part of what makes us happy. The Beatles even argue that "All You Need is Love." But love in itself is complicated--there is expressed, unrequited, filial, marital... even love of mankind. Happiness also is affected to some degree by success. If one is doing well in his career or has
accomplished something for which he is proud of, then he sees the happier, sunnier days of life.

Often I find myself looking at a beautiful view (i.e. a clear blue sky, a city night-line), seeing an invigorating movie that makes me think, or volunteering at a local middle school--and it'll suddenly occur to me that, "Wow. I am really lucky to be here. I love life, and I can't imagine why people can be so cynical or commit suicide when there's so much good in the world and there's so much to live for!" (And when I say good, I mean in terms of good people, circumstances, nature, etc.) It's fantastic to be alive! Sometimes when walking down Locust Walk and I see the sunlight peeping through the trees, I take a deep breath of air and smell my own happiness. (The air smells especially fresh and cheerful in the morning after a late night rain shower.)

I guess it helps that I'm an optimist by nature. Whenever anything bad happens, I inadvertently turn it into something positive, or something I can learn from. For example, I had finished an econ extra credit assignment, but had neglected to bring it with me to class the day it was due. Of course, the professor would not accept late work. But I immediately thought to myself, "You know what? This just means you have to work harder on your other assignments and make sure nothing goes wrong there, so that you end up not needing the extra credit anyway." I took the situation as a sign that I needed to focus more on my econ homework and study harder for the class in general.

Love and optimism make me happy to be alive. Whether or not that's the magic formula for you is of course going to be subjective to your experiences and its influence on your point of view. So what would YOU say is the meaning of life?

[Written: 11/7/05]

Verse: A Set of Haiku

This Thanksgiving break
I am staying on campus
Work, eat, sleep, study.

This is what they say
Friends close, enemies closer
Is it really true?

I crave the shopping
From the store into your home
Shopping is heaven.

Money just goes out
During holiday season
Then you end up broke.

[Written: 11/21/05]

Verse: Confusion

the murchy waters of the Illinois River
the development section of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, 1st mov.
why things are the way they are
why status is so important to people
the "I really don't know what to think" stage
the changing colors of the nighttime sky

Change---maybe that's it
Are we afraid of it?
There's something about it that
causes Confusion.

I know one may first think of
small, inconsequential things
But this is about--
what is it about exactly?

the simultaneously orderly and chaotic elements
why outgoing people talk and why shy people are silent
the lack of information, lack of details
why, just...

[Written: 11/3/05]

Verse: Brink of Adulthood

what is it in this life that’s worth it
when we are old and grey
how would we feel
then-momentous decisions now seem but a blink of the eye

what are we to gain from this world
whose clammy hands grasp at the next best thing
it’s almost amazingly simple
what we want and need are only ever-present in the warren of our minds
troughed but unwavering

what is this overwhelming sense of fear
divergent to a constant drum of serenity somewhere
so deep it feels outside our capable consciousness

in the end
isn’t it the soft that overrules the clear-cut knowing
yet some of us cling to the hard as an anchor in a sea of ambiguity
unless by some happenstance confidence has gelled the two
are these then the universal truths we’ve “ascertained”

- --- -- ------ --- -- - - - -- - - - -- - ---- - - (pregnant thoughts with hollow meaning)

enter high strings and important-sounding basses
but is this symphony we hear actually a concoction of our psyche
making sense of our being
and passing off dissonance as complexity

take a deep breath
and it may wash over you
hold it
and it may do the same (or even let you down)
what’s the difference then
between letting it slide and choosing your battles
the solitary distinction perhaps
may just be
how we choose to phrase it

[Written: 11/24/07]

Advice Received: David Boxenbaum

'Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities happen every day.'

- David Boxenbaum, General Manager, Octone Records


explanatory element:
* open your eyes to all the good in your life
* opinions and preferences change/evolve over time, and when this happens you will encounter new opportunities that are just as (if not more) amazing than the last

reactionary element:
* if you want something bad enough, then you'll find a way to make it happen
* self-determinatory: go out there and make your own opportunities/dreams a reality

College Grad not Good Enough to be a Pot Washer

In today's job market, it seems that employers are looking for a perfect match. And since relationships are also a big part of the equation, especially in the entertainment industry... how much would you be willing to bet that if I apply for this, I won't even be called to interview?


Pot Washer
20th Century Fox
Los Angeles, CA
Originally posted by 20th Century Fox Jobs

* Clean all dishes, silverware and glassware.
* Clean and polish all kitchen equipment.
* Maintain cleanliness of warewashing and potwashing areas.
* Monitor use of dishwasher and trash compactor.
* Store all flatware, stemware and silverware.
* Empty all kitchen garbage cans.
* Other duties as assigned.

* Must possess some High School education.
* Must be able to lift at least 50lbs.
* Must be able to work overtime.

Ugly Betty

'Anything you truly want has to be worth fighting for.'

- Betty Suarez, Ugly Betty


There is no such thing as passion-free living... just self-suppression of our ability to live passionately.

Sandi Kirschner

'Don't let your job define you.'

- Sandi Kirschner, Chief Marketing Officer, Pearson Education


Who you are is so much more than your occupation or career. Figure out who you are and determine what defines you.

The Simple Economics of Designer

yes, designer brands are a want and not a need. yes, there are certain products that seem (or are) outrageously overpriced. but no, many people that pay for designer products are not in fact crazy.

there are, of course, many ways to look at what a decision to buy designer means. but from an economic standpoint, when you boil it down, the consumer basically is a buyer of a buyer.

you, the consumer, pay for a particular taste--that is, the taste of the buyer who determines what constitutes the brand. your clothes/shoes/chosen items are thus selected for you.

accordingly, if you have an appreciation and taste for high quality, authenticity, and style, and money and time are of no consequence, it would likely be to your interest to travel to that particular country/region known for producing the best of that particular item and buy it there from the locals. that way, you are basically seeing the same choices the brand buyer sees while essentially crafting your own personal brand. that, to me, seems like the ultimate luxury.

although--traveling can be expensive, and sorting through all those choices can be time-consuming. not all of us have that luxury of traveling around the world and being our own 'buyers.' that's where designer brands come in. the premium we pay on these products is both the time and money saved and the value we place on the corporate buyer's taste in substitute of our own. the opportunity cost of not being that front-line buyer then becomes largely subjective, as individual preferences determine the cost to be anywhere from minimal to excessive.

value, therefore, is also subjectively recognized when your expectation/willingness to pay exceeds the listed/market price. it then follows that the realization of value occurs when you take advantage of this arbitrage opportunity (i.e. make the purchase).

so whether consciously or not, many consumers of designer brands are actually behaving rationally in terms of their own economic interests. clearly, notwithstanding many other contributing factors, economic sense does not equal fashion sense, and the multi-faceted emotion associated with buying/wearing/using designer can really be a curve ball. but that would be opening a whole other can of worms, wouldn't it?

[Written: 1/6/10]

Out for Number One(s)

Selfishness, if taken to an extreme, eliminates human camaraderie. It too often leads to the pitfalls of prisoner's dilemma. Existing purely for our own sakes erodes the invaluable social capital we've built to make for a more pleasant life. In order to maintain and propagate this social capital, we must be fully willing to contribute without intentional gain to the world in which we live. In building up our communities, we are building up our own potential for a happier existence.

Life is an ongoing negotiation. We must be constantly open to expanding the pie instead of dividing it in order to best satiate both our fellow negotiators and ourselves.

[Written: 1/15/10]

Philosophical Alignment

I don't believe in blinding or even full agreement with any philosopher. It is extremely rare, if not impossible, for two people to have the same thought in all cases. As such, there is always something that someone else has said/written that is more succinct or a better description of reality (or our experience of it). The search for and collection of thoughts that both align with and shape our own then cannot be a destination but a constant, lifelong journey.

[Written: 1/26/10]

Moneyball, by Michael Lewis

michael lewis knocks yet another one out of the ballpark with page-turner 'moneyball.' best damn sports book I've ever had the fortune of picking up at an airport, even for someone who rarely watches baseball, much less heard of billy beane or the oakland a's.

Rating: 5/5

so many good passages to choose from. the following, one of my favorites, reads as if out of a movie scene:

'this kid wears a large pair of underwear,' says another old scout, 'it's soft body. a fleshy kind of a body.'

'oh, you mean like babe ruth?' says billy.

'I don't know,' says the scout. 'a body like that can be low energy.'

'sometimes low energy is just being cool,' says billy.

'yeah,' says the scout. 'well, in this case low energy is because when he walks, his thighs stick together.'

'we're not selling jeans here,' says billy.

'that's good,' says the scout. 'because if you put him in corduroys, he'd start a fire.'

billy takes a step toward the Big Board, sticks the kid's name onto the top of the second column, the seventeenth slot...now a high second-round, or even low first-round, draft pick. if baseball scouts were capable of gasping, these men would have gasped. instead, they spit tobacco juice into their cups.

that was the moment when the scouts realized just how far billy beane was willing to go to push his supposedly rational and objective view...

[Written: 4/3/10]

I Believe In...

1. living in the moment
2. everything in moderation, including moderation
3. all things working themselves out in the end
4. the goodness in people
5. the future in all its uncertainty
6. defying expectations
7. no pain, no gain
8. there being no replacement for being happy
9. the truth as being more compelling than the most well-crafted story
10. giving all I have, all the time
11. the impossible
12. rudeness being a weak man's imitation of strength
13. having a good time
14. laughter
15. the potential of what's inside the box, but even more so what's out of it
16. the pursuit of happiness

If being yourself is not good enough, then it's not worth it.