Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hong Kong

Seeing as I was 12 the last time I visited, I wasn't sure what to expect this time (don't even get me started on Macau). I remember a blur of lights, noise (mostly unintelligible cantonese), good food and good shopping, but nothing specific. Gosh what a waste, remind me never to take my kids traveling until they're in high school. This time around though, it was almost an overwhelming of the senses, where every experience is sharpened because it is familiar, but at the same time not.

This is how they deliver vegetables?

Bartholomew in front of Victoria Park (equivalent of NYC's Central Park)

First off, I don't speak cantonese. And I certainly don't read chinese, which puts me at a huge disadvantage when it comes to bargaining at night markets (very important), communicating with my aunts and uncles (so I can tell them about my exciting life back home and how much I have grown - and NOT physically- since they last saw me), and finding my way around the maze-like roads (when i'm not risking my life looking lef-right-left). Unlike Europe, where life is like a pretty picture and things just seem to fit into the landscape (maybe I'm just used to westernized culture?), Hong Kong is full of interruptions. It's colorful, bright, and loud-- not just the language. Buildings are so tall you can't see the end of them, and people live in such close quarters its really quite claustrophobic. People are everywhere, ants moving from place to place, just like in those fast-forward clips of Times Square in Tokyo.

Hong Kong at night

And the food-- it's like the chinese food you find in LA, except hyped up on steriods, better than you thought your dimsum/chow mein/roast duck experience could ever get! Flavors and textures of foods I grew up with are more refined - and also foreign, in a way, to what I know. I've discovered that there really are gourmet chinese restaurants, not the hole-in-the-wall places in LA that seem to have questionable preparation methods (eat, don't question). Don't get me wrong, still still have that in Hong Kong, but at the same time you can buy lunch for less than $3 USD. Clean, elegant restaurants with fishing boats hanging from the ceiling, better soup dumplings than din tai fung (not to mention the people in the window making them are actually Chinese), and tastefully hung paintings. Who woulda thunk?

  The best duck I have ever had!!

dim sum-- it looks the same as the stuff here, but it certainly doesn't taste like it.

Shop selling lots of dried goods that I would never eat.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dear Mr. Jones,

There is a limit to practicing your right to free speech and at some point, it is better to shut up and keep it to yourself. Such an example is Mr. Jones, the pastor in Florida that wants to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of September 11. I think that this man is an absolute idiot, and it makes me shake with anger and frustration that he would endanger the lives of others in order to prove his own point. Watching the news last night, I wished that I could have the ability and power to prevent him from what he’s about to do- talk sense into him, shake him, whatever.

At this point, embassies around the world are on the alert for any violent activity that might occur as a result of this Koran-burning. So are our troops. I’m perfectly fine with people expressing their opinions, but it is when other people are at the risk of getting hurt at that expense when a line needs to be drawn. Mr. Jones, our troops and overseas representatives cannot die to prove your little point- they are already risking their lives to fight this war. Burning Korans will do more harm than good-- terrorists are already blowing up people and buildings without you aggravating the situation even more! There are so many people still hurting from September 11, but outright disrespect for another religion is not going to help solve anything. Unless you are willing to stand at the forefront of your opinions, burning the Korans yourself in front of a mosque in Afghanistan surrounded by Islamic extremists, don’t do it. And don’t you dare make our troops and overseas representatives pay for the consequences of your foolish actions.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

emerging adult, or overgrown adolescent? neither.

The New York Times recently published this article discussing the recent emergence of a new category of quasi-adulthood, or "emerging adulthood," which puts the whole (unemployed) college-graduated 20-somethings living at home status under examination. It explains research about how the mind is still developing into its 20s, and how the embodiment of our age group has transformed drastically in the last decade or so. For example, the article states that today's 20-somethings

"reach the milestones [marks of adulthood] completely out of order, advancing professionally before committing to a monogamous relationship, having children young and marrying later, leaving school to go to work and returning to school long after becoming financially secure." 

So we aren't becoming the cookie-cutter adults we're supposed to be as quickly as in the past. (Minus the fact that I didn't need to read 10 pages to find out) But does this really merit a completely new category of psychological development as discussed in the Times? Is the 20-something group so different from the 'real adults' that we need a category of 'emerging adulthood,' which is really just another way of saying an 'overgrown adolescence'? 

I don't think so. 

Yes, there may be proof of continuing brain development in the prefrontal cortex that change as we move closer to achieving or deciding on life paths, but those who endorse a new category of adulthood don't have their bases completely covered. 20-somethings today who choose to move home, marry later, return to school, or do whatever they want as opposed to join the real world, do so because they choose to. Choose is the key word. If necessary, they would have to settle on a path that would lead them to a more stable 'journey' to adulthood. The fact is that today many college graduates don't have to, so they put it off. 

For example, if my parents kicked me out of the house today, forget the castle in the air idea I have of becoming an editor... any odd job that will pay my way will have to do. Maybe I sound like a hypocrite, stating there's no "emerging adulthood" stage when i'm possibly in it, but my point is that in the appropriate situation, I would face reality and grow up. 20-somethings are not incapable of getting a grip on reality and dealing with it. We're old enough to make decisions and deal with the consequences, as people our age have been doing for centuries. 

This "emerging adulthood" (that is emerging primarily in developed nations, by the way) is the product of culture. Its happening whether we like it or not, but my point is that this new 'milestone' in life doesn't necessarily merit its own clinical psychological category. We're programmed to respond to our culture and environment, and here's where it has brought us. Take away any security blanket and see how the normal human reacts-- get a job and move on with life, right? No new brain connection developments needed.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

books or ebooks?

The first thing I see when you walk into Barnes & Noble is a booth selling the Nook or Kindle. Reading ebooks has become extremely popular, especially since you can access them on your ipod, itouch, phone, or whatever portable electronic device you carry around, but I don't think convenience can ever replace the real thing. Similar to how the music industry suffered from illegal downloading and mp3s, the print industry is now suffering from digitalized access, and I personally think its a shame. Staring at my laptop screen as I eat Sunday brunch with my family (in a restaurant, no less) seems ridiculous, whereas reading them in paper form is our weekend ritual. I spent a large portion of my childhood reading at the dinner table and reading as I walked home from school (no joke)-- I don't think the habit would have been as easily acceptable if my eyes were glued to a screen of some sort (I was deprived video games as a kid on the premise that it would ruin my eyes. How futile-- I probably ruined them anyway by reading in bed.). 

But really, a kindle that is stuffed to the terabytes with books can't be the same as browsing shelves of books, smelling the old-bookish smell, and reading them on the swing in the backyard. I don't think convenience is the reason that kids camp out each year for the newest Harry Potter book. What's a little electronic file to the cracked spines of some well-loved books? The thickness and weight of a good book in your hands is completely separate from the device that you use daily to schedule appointments or check your emails. Its the ticket to an adventure you can choose for yourself, separate from the daily clutter in life. It's the reason I continue to tuck books in my purse and fill my bookshelf to its double-stacked edges, and I don't plan on stopping. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

friendship in a jar

On the ferry to Balboa Island in Newport Beach (ick, i ruined the picture) 
Do you ever wish you could bottle up a day or a feeling, and put it away so that one day when you're feeling down you can just take it off the shelf, relive a memory, and that moment would come back, making the world a wonderful place again? If I could, today would definitely be in a jar. There's nothing more blissful than a carefree summer day at the beach with girlfriends. Its not even necessarily the beach, but the people that make it exceptionally wonderful-- spending time with girls who understand you, dream with you, and don't mind mulling over every thought of gladness or concern that come your way like its their own. I don't get to see these girls nearly as much as i'd like to, but each time I do, we pick up where we left off. My birthday wasn't so much about celebrating me, it was more like celebrating friendship, and thats the way it should be. After all, how miserable would life be without friends? I'd be sitting there with no one to share my cake with, and there's definitely no fun in that.

By the way, check out this cute post :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Chocolate cake from Miette in San Francisco. I could live in Miette, its a feast for your eyes!

I was cleaning out my room yesterday and found a pair of beauty and the beast figurines in a box. They were from my 8th birthday cake. I remember walking the two blocks home from school in the scorching heat with my friends for my birthday party. Every year i'd have an ice cream cake (preferably mint chocolate chip, from 31 Flavors). We'd have the happy birthday banner hung up in the dining room, and the Care Bears tablecloth with the matching plates and napkins (I swear my mom must have had a stash). We'd play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and musical chairs, and the ooh and ah over the newest Barbie (totally hair or butterfly Barbie) and Lisa Frank stationery.

Tomorrow is just another birthday. 22 is kind of boring- and scary - I don't feel like there's anything huge to celebrate, except getting older (scary.). Can *gasp* really be an adult now? I certainly don't feel like one. One thing's for sure, birthdays aren't so eventful anymore once you start getting older. Good friends and good food, yes, but the company has improved since I was 8 (hey, it can only go up from there, right?) and the food is much better. I'm super looking forward to chocolate cake with lavender frosting from Magnolia Bakery tomorrow! I went last week, and tried their cupcakes... definitely not as good as the cake (if purple had a flavor, this frosting would definitely be it). I have no idea why there's such a huge hype about their cupcakes when purple cake is obviously so much better. people.

Verdict: cake > cupcakes. Who wants two bites when they can have a slice? And despite a beauty and the beast/care bears party, 22 is still much better than 8.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

back when I was in college...

I'm now going to sound super old when I say that. Weiird. And I now have a B.A. in International Studies in Political Science and Sociology. Hooray for finishing college! Thank you to everyone who was a part of the great memories, friendship, and support through the years-- you're what made my college experience wonderful and unforgettable.

What makes a commencement speech resonate? Is it funny? Honest? Realistic? Hopeful and optimistic? Of course it would make sense for it to take the glass half-full approach, but I think that when its overly optimistic and theatrically sentimental, it takes away from the real meaning of graduation. Commencement has a different meaning for everyone, and when you politicize it or personalize it to yourself, it takes away from how special the experience is for everyone in attendance. In case you haven't detected, the student commencement speech at my graduation was less than stellar. It made me wish that I had taken the time to submit my two cents to share with the entire 2010 UCSD Muir College graduates.

I've had the opportunity to read and listen to many commencement speeches in the past years, and honestly, a whole bunch of them are cookie-cutter. But then there are a good few that hold your attention without effort, because they are general but yet personal enough to resonate in everyone-- take the life lessons and advice how they will.

I attended the USC College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences commencement in May, and the commencement speech I heard for the ceremony has stuck with me ever since-- it was not brimming with optimism or overrun with worldly wisdom, but real and brutally honest- no, Imight not succeed in everything I try, and my coursework realistically did not prepare me for anything in life- and did I mention full of humor? It takes a lot to write a great speech-- and not all who write them are good writers, let alone speakers. But when you do hear one, it sounds so easy and effortless, a diamond in the rough. It reminds me how words really do have the power to encourage and give hope to the masses- just like how that song of a speech has stuck with me.

Goodbye, UCSD. It's been a great 4 years, and the things you've thrown at me have me looking forward to the bigger (and hopefully better) things that follow.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

college, check.

I can't believe it-- i'm done! It really hasn't hit me yet. I finished my final and came home as usual, to a huge pile of laundry and a room that needs packing. Just like the end of any other quarter.

Except in the fall, I won't be coming back. And i'm now unemployed.

Its funny looking back, I thought i'd never be done. I remember going on webreg to look at my class requirements, and everything was in red... and now it's all blue and i'm good to go. I thought i'd never finish, let alone declare a major. Aagh time flies a lot faster than we think.

Oh, life.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

21: the peak of youth

My days as a college student are numbered. I can count them on one hand. And as I finish, I just have a few things I'd like to say-- i'll never stop being a nerd.

It seems that as bad as my senioritis gets, I can't help but be consumed by my studying (old habits die hard). And in doing so the past quarter, i've discovered that nutrition is really a very fascinating subject. But despite the amazingness that is the human body, I realize that I am at the peak of my well-being. Physically, anyway.

After I turn 24 (or around that time period, anyway), my bone density will start to decrease. (and because I'm female, it could possibly develop into osteoporosis, 40 years down the line) To try and prevent this, I should be drinking 8 glasses of milk a day. Which is not happening.

My cholesterol will also start going up.

My metabolism will also slow and I will not be able to eat anything I want and not exercise (not that I should be doing that anyway).

I could spout out much much more, but i'll spare you. (Even though my brain is so stuffed full of human nutrition at the moment that I can't think.)

So amidst studying for my nutrition exam, reading nutrition labels (I find them really interesting now that I know what they all mean), and eating junk, I can conclude that my sleep-deprived, special-K bar diet days are almost over. Maybe that's a good thing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

dear sister,

Happy Birthday, Mel!

I can't believe you turn 24 today (oldie), and that you're celebrating it at the California Institute of Sciences. You totally knew I really really wanted to go, and you invited me on facebook just to spite me. :(. Not cool.

Anyway, happy birthday, and I'm glad you're my sister even though you used to force me to play ballet studio and barbies with you. I remember when you used to tape a list of rules on your door that you made me follow before I could go in. And back when we used to share a room, you'd draw a line down the middle and not let me cross it. We still had some good times though, like when we'd turn our top bunk into a fort, and when we pulled down the living room curtain rod and got in trouble because of your stupid ballet studio. I could go on, but i'll stop here.

Have fun celebrating today-- no wait. your week-long national holiday.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

happy mother's day

Syracuse, New York, 1991
I'm the one in purple.

Thanks mom, for everything you do.

Monday, May 3, 2010

technology of the future

In 5 years, 10 years, 30 years, where do you see technology? Greener, faster, more energy efficient?

free public wi-fi networks.


affordable living... on the moon.

A machine that's able to xerox cells to create tissue and healthy organs for transplants.

Cleaner burning fuels with no harmful emissions.

Maybe these ideas aren't so creative, but hey, its midterms week and i'm grabbing these off the top of my head.

Anyway, onto the point... while we go at our daily (sometimes mundane) lives, there are people out there who are wrapping their minds around how they could really change the world and make it a better place. They imagine it and work to make it happen. These ideas become a reality, and down the line, transform the ways we think, live, access education, ideas, healthcare... you name it. And I'm really proud to know a group of awesome people who are working to do that exact thing. Presenting...

The grand prize winners of the 2010 Imagine Cup!

Congratulations Wilson, Jason, Helena, and Kayvon!

These four went to Washington D.C. last weekend to compete in the national round of the annual Imagine Cup competition. Their program (hardware and software), MobiLife, won the grand prize for the software development invitational. In layman's terms (i'm no scientist/computer programmer myself), the program enables medical field workers to detect and diagnose diabetes, sickle cell anemia, and hypertension in young children, just from taking a photo of the microcirculation in the eye. The images would be sent to a lab, and the results would then be bounced back. It all sounds so fast and easy... it's amazing how everyday technology like a cameraphone can be turned into a medical diagnostic tool. I really give my friends props for giving life to an idea, and after months and months of working, taking it this far. Good job, guys, and best of luck in the final round (in Poland!) this summer!

So what innovative ideas do you have that could potentially change science, society, and the world? The opportunities are endless!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Do you use a metal water bottle? What about the caps? Tupperware? Our electronics. Everything we use has had some contact with plastic in its production. Most medicines we manufacture, and research we conduct all uses plastic-- goggles, pipettes, sanitary trays, and the list goes on. We've come to rely on them so much, I don't think we could live without them (unless we go back to the 19th century?). Just imagine a world without plastic.

"Plastics" - the graduate.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

i would like...

A vertical garden.

at CaixaForum in Madrid
image source

at Pershing Hall hotel in Paris.
image source

I remember walking by one when I was in Paris, right by the Seine next to the Musee Quai Branly. There is a HUGE wall there just covered in green- i was just walking along after class, and suddenly found that the wall my side was unusually covered by plants. I stopped, looked up, and WOW. The things you don't notice until you take a step back...

It definitely made the urban scene much more relaxed, bringing nature in. It is amazing what you can do with an empty wall!! There's currently an exhibit going on at the San Francisco flower and garden show with vertical gardens, if you're lucky enough to live close by you should take a look!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

how do you identify yourself?

I was filling out the Census for my family last week, and it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Identifying myself on paper is not such a black-and-white affair as the census makes it out to be. If I define myself strictly in terms of race, I'm Chinese. But things are never that simple, and that initial question brought on a bunch of other ones about how I identify myself...

Me: In Asia, I'm American. In America, i'm Chinese. But really, I've never been to China, and besides my ability to speak Mandarin, my communication skills are limited to writing my own name. Culturally, I'm accustomed to western ways of dress, eating habits, and even ways of thinking, but some of my values are definitely eastern. But just because I look like I fit in doesn't mean I do; Put me with a group of girls from Taiwan, Hong Kong, or China, and I'll feel as awkward as a cow on rollerskates (and stick out like a sore thumb too). Yes, we're the same racially, but culturally we're a world apart.

Race- noun.
1. a group of persons related by common descent or heredity.
2. an arbitrary classification of modern humans, sometimes, esp. formerly, based on any or a combination of various physical characteristics, as skin color, facial form, or eye shape, and now frequently based on such genetic markers as blood groups.
3. a human population partially isolated reproductively from other populations, whose members share a greater degree of physical and genetic similarity with one another than with other humans.
4. any people united by common history, language, cultural traits, etc.: the Dutch race.

I had this discussion with a close friend too, who is half Hispanic and half Caucasian. What does she identify herself as under the census? "Other," or just the half that you identify with most? When I was filling it out with my parents, I asked my mom what she wanted to put down. She told me she felt she couldn't put down she was Taiwanese, because racially she's not, but then again she was born there. She has mixed feelings towards the U.S. Census commercials on T.V. encouraging people to fill in "Taiwanese"... which is what I usually tell my friends she is because it's just easier that way rather than explaining it all. My grandparents were all from China, so I suppose that makes my entire family Chinese by default... but we are definitely not your quintessential definition of a Chinese family.

After processing this in my mind for all of 3 minutes at the kitchen table, I checked the box for Chinese. In retrospect, I identify myself as American, but a) the census assumes that, right? and b) blood runs thicker than water... at least if you use the definition of race as reference.
c) Realistically, it's not that simple.

Monday, March 22, 2010

a picture with words

Picture this in your head: an ice-blended glass of fizzy-grapefruit orange peach mango on a nice sunny day.

Don't little bursts of color go off in your head as you read that? It sounds just like summer! Sometimes, words don't need pictures-- they sound wonderful enough by themselves.

Oh, and its homemade. Just get some diet grapefruit soda (safeway/vons kind), add some Dole orange peach mango juice, and ice. Blend.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


my delphiniums!

Nothing says spring like a visit to the garden center-- I went yesterday with my mom, and we picked out some sweet peas too. Seeing all the plants and flowers made me want to transform our backyard into a wonderland of vegetables and flowers. But I finally settled on my choice: delphiniums. Their prettiness won me over.

Which got me thinking-- we don't really have a purpose for flowers. We can dry them for tea and they're used for medicinal purposes, but some are poisonous and others don't even smell very nice. We put them in our gardens for the sole purpose of beauty- isn't that wonderful for such a simple yet complicated organism? It makes me want a garden full of delphiniums, jasmine, azaleas, calla lilies, daffodils, and hydrangeas... then I'd just sit in the grass and admire them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

snap from the past

It probably brings back memories for him 

Bartholomew and his Moroccan friends, taken in Agadir, Morocco. 
(captions by Wilson)

is this... my.. home? 
No, B, those are camels.
You were born in Florida

...I guess shelves all look the same to him. 

Now back to studying... can you believe I was out riding camels and off-roading at the base of the Atlas mountain range just 3 months ago?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Today was an absolutely perfect day. 

the result of a productive study break!!! (post- writing an 11 page final exam.)

I would know. I watched it go by outside my window as I was studying my life away. 
The worst temptation was when I was driving home with the wind blowing through my windows smelling of flowers, backyard bbqs. All I wanted was to go to the beach, but no... 

Really, all I wish right now is that my 25 page paper on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species would write itself so I can go on spring break already. 

No huge plans yet, but doesn't freedom to enjoy spring sound absolutely lovely? 

Monday, March 8, 2010

news flash: neighborhood watch isn't working

Lately, there has been a ruckus in San Diego over all sorts of things- racial tensions at UCSD, lack of funding for the public school system, all the way down to not-so-important issues like LT leaving the Chargers, and poor sleep-deprived students surviving finals week (me included). Another disturbing story to add to the mix is the discovery of the bodies of Chelsea King and Amber DuBois. Sadly, their stories hit closer to home than the many hundreds of other cases that occur each year. The close proximity of sex offenders to where we all live, work, and play has made me aware that these stories don't just happen to the people we see in the news-- it could happen to any one of us-- scary thought.

I find the deaths of these innocent girls extremely disturbing- also because of the lax sentences that are given to these sex offenders. John Albert Gardner III, who was tried last week for the rape and murder of Chelsea King, is registered as a sex offender. He was released from prison in 2008, serving only 5 of his 6-year sentence. Originally, the psychologist hired for his case recommended he be given a harsher case, but that obviously didn't happen. This brings up the question of why these offenders are not given harsher sentences that they obviously deserve, as well as the validity of life sentences without parole and the death penalty.

There is much controversy in the use of the death penalty- who are we to say who can live and who can't? But in situations like these, I don't see what society would be gaining be keeping child sex offenders around. You put them in jail, let them out, and they do the same things over and over again, hurting innocent members of society, and in this case, children. Why
not take them out of the genetic pool? They've obviously proven themselves useless in the responsible citizen category. The other option? Keeping them in jail (for life, preferably) with our tax dollars. I know it takes many more tax dollars than necessary in giving someone the death sentence, but sometimes aren't sacrifices necessary?

Of course, this is a democratic country and realistically death sentences issued on mass-scale would never happen. These are just some thoughts- I don't even know if I fully endorse the death sentence in all situations, especially where those who are wrongfully sentenced are involved-- i'm just trying to process these events in my mind and make sense of the system that governs it. If you have any perspectives on this issue, please comment, because I'd really like to hear your side of it.

When it comes down to it, the entire situation just makes me uncomfortable. Think of it this way: while these offenders are released back into communities, your sisters, friends, and neighbors walk to school with eyes wide open.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

dear media, you are going overboard.

I don't know if any of you have noticed the uproar at UCSD over the student ad for a "Compton Cookout" party in parody of Black History Month last weekend, but its created an absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary amount of press. In the past week, i've read about it in the LA Times, NBC, San Diego Tribune, Digg, etc. The latest article made me laugh with disbelief. Check it out:

"At a forum attended by hundreds of students and faculty Friday morning, the Black Student Union issued a list of demands, including mandatory diversity sensitivity classes, increased African American enrollment in students and faculty and the creation of space in central campus considered "safe for African-American students."
- article from NBC San Diego, read the entire article here.

Really. Up to this point, I hadn't noticed that we were victimizing African American students to such a large degree on campus. Um, isn't your presented solution basically SEGREGATION? And endorsing the whole controversial affirmative action issue? The media is completely narrowing the focus and spotlighting the black community as victims of this event.... but the solution that the campus comes to? Let's shut down the all-campus TV station!

Like that's going to shut people up. Why don't you shut down the newspaper and radio while you're at it? UCSD, the media, and the public are completely missing the point. You don't punish 27,000 students because a select group of of them have committed an erroneous mistake. The bad publicity has basically now labeled UCSD as a racist institution, when in reality UCSD does not discriminate against anyone (nor do we take part in affirmative action). Low African-American admittance, retention, and graduation rates at UCSD? I highly doubt its intentionally done: the UC system simply takes those who reach the bar and qualify under UC standards. How P.C.

Oh, and get a load of the title of the piece: Racial Tensions Boil at UCSD.

Excuse me, people. As a student at UCSD in the last 4 years, I have never personally witnessed any kind of racial targeting or discrimination by any student group towards another. The drama over this entire thing has become completely overblown way out of proportion (And no, I haven't had my head in a hole for the time i've been at UCSD). In the 2+ years i've been involved in the MultiCultural Greek Council and The UCSD Guardian (all-campus newspaper), racism and discrimination have never been issues that we've had to deal with as a campus. In fact, I think that we've actually made steps towards improvement, admitting more diverse student groups under MGC, and having all of these organizations work together to participate in all-campus events. I highly doubt that the student organization that hosted the event had racism in mind when planning it (targeting their hatred at another group) - they are all diverse organizations in themselves. In the pool of "night-after", "highlighter", "office hoes and CEOs" and countless other themed parties that go on around campus, do "red-neck white trash" or a "chinese laundress" themed parties need to be held in order to counter this one? Students throwing the party were fully aware of what they were doing in their description of the "Compton Cookout." Hate speech? I don't think so... more like gross stereotyping.

Read an article published by the UCSD Guardian here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


"One of the things I miss most about first grade is the exchange of valentines. First-graders know how to handle love, and that is to give your heart to everyone. It's like boxing the trifecta at Santa Anita. You allow for almost every possibility."
-Chris Erskine, read his LA Times column

Aren't these vintage valentines adorable? I wish they still made them like this, as oppposed to the Hannah Monatan/Dora the Explorere ones they have now... ick.

I remember those days. Valentine's day was one of the brightest spots in my Februaries. It meant cupcakes with heart rings on the frosting. Carefully picking out my favorite boxed valentine cards to pass out to my classmates. Making mailboxes for your valentine messages on "art day." Reading through your valentines, and picking out the thickest ones for last (candy!). Red heart minnie mouse suckers, cinnamon candy hearts, boxes of conversation hearts, and pink frosted cookies. I miss those days.

Lately, I've come to the conclusion that Valentine's Day as you get older is like asking a girl out to prom, or getting engaged... since when did it become so complicated? Many of my friends have boyfriends this year, and we've spent evenings chitchatting about what their plans are, or gifts special enough. Dinner? A picnic? The art museum? Not to mention all the magazine and newspaper articles that boast "the perfect gift" or "planning the perfect evening." I don't get it. I'm fine celebrating love the other 364 days of the year too-- when flowers and chocolate are not ridiculously overpriced, and love is just a part of everyday life... because really, that's what life is all about, right?

Since its not first grade anymore, and I now know how to use the internet (and type- that took a few years), here's my valentine for you:

Happy Valentine's day, and thanks for making my life wonderful, all 365 days of the year.

I'm going to go eat a cupcake now.

Friday, February 5, 2010

bucket list

inspired by one of my best girlfriends, i thought i'd do one too.

I realized that I'm graduating in a short five months (along with some of you). It is a scary thought that I will be leaving this comfortable bubble and entering a new chapter of my life. But I haven't done everything that I wanted to do before I leave college. So here is a list of things that I want to do within the next five months and I would love it if you, my friends, joined me in some of these activities. Hopefully this will rekindle some and strengthen my relationships with all you fabulous creatures.

-learn to surf

-check out Cups in downtown La Jolla!

-moonlight kayaking. and kayaking the caves. and snorkeling at the cove!
-check out the cave and the cave store.

- eco-friendly whale watching tours from La Jolla Kayak OR whale watching with the Birch Aquarium Naturalists

-Museum Month is this month! Check out the museums at Balboa Park
- Museum of Natural History
-SD Museum of Art

-Celebrate earth day at Earthfair in Balboa Park (April)

-learn to hit some golf balls at the Torrey Pines Golf Course

- take a tour of the USS Midway

-go hiking on the trails around San Diego

- explore hillcrest

This list is getting kind of long... but there is a lot that I want to do before I leave! Let me know which adventures sound like your cup of tea!

Monday, February 1, 2010

caricature of society?

"Weight discrimination in the United States increased 66% over the prior decade."
- Rebecca Puhl, researcher at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

I read an article in the LA Times health section today that contained a statement about how how obesity is a psychological manifestation of American culture. Here's an excerpt that said it pretty well:

"[The obese are] almost a caricature of greed, overconsumption, overspending, over-leveraging and overusing resources,"... "Though it's not entirely rational, it's an understandable reaction, especially in a country founded on the Puritan ethics of self-reliance, sacrifice and individual responsibility. If people feel they're sacrificing, then see someone spilling over an airplane seat, they feel angry that that person is not making the same sacrifices they are."
- Fed up with fat and saying something about it, LA Times, read the entire article here

photo credits

I thought that was a pretty interesting way of looking at it. Do you find yourself to be discriminatory towards the overweight? While living in Paris last fall, it definitely caught my eye that people were, well, smaller. They eat very well, don't hold gyms in as high esteem as Americans, and smoke like chimneys. During my sojourn, I ate tartes, crossaints, fromage, and all the other french delicacies you can imagine to my heart's content, and returned (reportedly) tinier. We're obviously doing something wrong.

The piece made me reflect on the way our society is, and all the power we have in our hands to change it. However, the problem is not as simple as its presented in the article. If you look into the issue more, the government and health policies really do have the power to turn this around. They can't rely on citizens' personal initiative to be healthy when they're offering shelves upon shelves of cheap junk food- just go look in your local Wal-Mart. Based on its target demographics, what low-cost foods of nutritional value are they offering their customers, compared to your average Whole Foods grocery store? You can't make junk plentiful and cheap, and then discriminate people for being fat. The idea behind environmentalism is similar- don't expect people to be recycling and making an effort to be green when there is little incentive (sadly, the benefits way down the line doesn't seem to factor into the majority of the population)- why not start charging for plastic bags at grocery stores and taking plastic water bottles off the shelves? The smallest steps can make such a huge difference in the long run, we just need to implement them.

Yes, we're making the effort now, taking unhealthy foods out of school cafeterias and encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags and metal water bottles. And we're still not doing enough. But why now? This isn't rocket science- we should have figured this out ages ago. Now we have these huge issues on our hands that will take generations, and many tax dollars, to solve.

Friday, January 29, 2010

penny for your thoughts

"All over the world, human psychology, local custom and the pressures of poverty are AIDS’s best friends. None of this should be foreign to Americans. We know we should quit smoking. We know we should go have that lump checked out. We know we should give up the French fries. But we don’t. In America, as around the world, a good amount of sickness and death is at least in part self-inflicted."

- taken from When a Pill is Not Enough, NYT magazine

In society today, instant gratification seems to be at the forefront of the decisions we make- manifested in not only the huge decisions, but also the small ones, such as what we want for lunch, buying another round of drinks, or choosing to drive instead of walk to school. The consequences following the choices we make aren't the first things that pop into our minds. Here's a penny for your thoughts- maybe it'll strengthen those New Years' resolutions you've got for yourself this year.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I'm back!

Well, i've been back for a while. 

So here the question- now that life is back to normal, should I still keep this blog going?

comments appreciated! 

Friday, January 22, 2010

what? reverse culture shock?

Please beware that this is the obligatory "i'm back and I hate it" post.

early fall- biking in Versailles

Not really.

It's been a month since I've returned, and mostly I just feel like I never left. I mean, what does 4 months abroad have on my 16 years in California?

In my study abroad handbook, there is a warning for returnees:

Can You Survive Reverse Culture Shock?

1. Nobody cares about your travels

2. Normality will hit hard

3. People just won't understand you

4. And some might be jealous

5. Worst of all, you might feel stuck.

Stages of Reverse Culture Shock: disengagement, initial euphoria, irritability and hostility, readjustment and adaptation.

My symptoms: almost nonexistent.

Maybe people were jealous, but for the most part, everything went back to normal.

However, here are some things I did notice:

1. I'm able to live on less- after living out of a suitcase for 4 months, I realize that I really do not need my entire closet to survive. I'm also more careful with my money and how I spend it (even though spending on the dollar is better than spending on the euro)
2. I still have to remind myself that I can go out on Sundays, and no, not everything will be closed.
3. American bread sucks.
4. Cold does not (really) affect me. Tornado warning? When you've walked around Venice in December, cold fingers and wet shoes are nothing.
5. I dress nicer. In Paris, sneakers are not socially accepted unless you are a) running in the park or b) a tourist. I've realized that I'm much more aware of what i'm wearing, and its actually a bit more effortless because i've become so used to dressing like that. My tastes when shopping have also changed a bit- more 'euro' apparently, but I'm not sure. I just go by what I like.
6. No more decorative boots, gloves, and scarves. I find it funny when I see them on people in San Diego. After having to wear them for months for mere survival, I am happy to pull out my flats, tanks, and flip-flops. Because I CAN!
7. California sunsets. Oranges, yellows, pinks, and purples. Much different from the winter sunset in Europe. I like it though...its just so California.
8. A long-distance relationship is easier. We're on the same time zone!
9. I don't like looking at pictures of Paris. Its a little bit painful. But other than that, I'm good.
10. I miss speaking french. I learned so much while I was there, and I know i'm already losing it. If you want to practice, let me know!!
11. I still know my Paris Metro routes. What useless knowledge. If only I could replace it with knowledge of international economic agreements,. That would help so much this quarter.

That's about all I can think of off the top of my head. For the most part, I'm glad to be back. There's no place like home.