Saturday, October 30, 2010

America Numba 1?

Boy in my US foreign policy class:

"I grew up wondering why Canada didn't want to be a part of America. I thought that America is number one, and will stay that way, because the Book of Mormon said so. And the Gospel is truth, right? Then I read The World is Flat and it scared the crap out of me because apparently India will take over, with its call centers and everything. These are scary times."

I probably have too much to say about this. Any thoughts from you?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hope to Teach For America?

Just one minute and twenty six seconds shy of the the deadline, I submitted my Teach For America application.

Thought I was cutting it close?

Hwanhi, my roommate, hit "send" one minute and sixteen seconds after me.

I hope TFA will not discriminate against procrastinators like us. After all, it stands for equal opportunity right?

For those of you not familiar with Teach For America, here's a little something:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Elf vs. Dwarf

Boy: I like your black leather boots. You look like an elf girl.

I make a face.

Boy: No, it's a serious compliment.

Me: Thank you, dwarf boy?

Boy: That's not nice.

Me: . . .

Boy: Haven't you watched the Lord of the Rings?

Boy: All the elves are hot babes.

Duh. And this whole time, I was thinking Santa's workshop and elf servitude.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Punctuate My Love

Sometimes, reading old love letters is painful. I can't help it - I just linger over every misplaced comma, cringe at all the misused contractions that make me into body parts ("you're beautiful eyes"), and agonize over run-on sentences that could have been easily fixed with elegant semi-colons.

Young Women leaders have drilled into my head that "spouse who understands the necessity of spaces within ellipses (space dot space dot space dot space)" is not appropriate for my future husband list . . .  but surely a comma-conscious man is not too much to ask for?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I've deleted that email so many times, only to try again, bleeding out a line here or there.

How do you even write to one of your best friends whose father just passed away?

No wonder Hallmark makes so much money. For $3.99, you can buy an emotional cop-out. Instead of saying I-cried-about-your-dad-today-in-the-library-and-how-can-I-even-say-anything-to-adequately-soothe-your-pain, you can tie a neat bow around a "I'm sorry for your loss" four by six card stock and feel that you've done your job.

And have we? Do people in mourning want more than flowers and a card when the sense of loss is so fresh? When we try to make consolatory phone calls or emails, are we just putting them in uncomfortable positions because now, on top of dealing with funeral details, they will also have to return phone calls and repeat the same conversations over and over again? Maybe the Hallmark way deserves more credit; perhaps it is selling privacy behind all those cliches.

And yet . . . I know I would keep resurrecting that email from my deleted items. Because, privacy or not, somehow friendship just cries out for more than a bunch of cliches.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I should be writing my paper right now, but . . .

It's so ironic that I'm writing a paper for my OB class on how to motivate Kaplan employees . . . and yet I'm not at all motivated to finish this paper.

Perhaps it's because of the three hours of sleep I had tonight and the four hours last night, I'm just not feeling the miraculous motivating power that is supposedly going to spring from goal setting, efficacy, and expectancy theories. I am powering through though, just because I am looking forward to my soft-boiled egg, honeydew, and homemade wholewheat toast, slathered with Land O Lakes butter.

Instead of writing this paper, I should just write the textbook company and tell them to add breakfast to their categories of motivation tactics.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spoofs on New Era Ads

I'm sure you've all seen the original New Era ads. I saw these spoofs on a friend's facebook and thought that they were hilarious so I'm posting some of my favorite ones here. Do you remember the original slogans?

 Something about R-rated movies.

 Genealogy obviously. But this one is pretty creepy.

 Something about protecting yourself with virtues.

 Exactly what I was asking myself when I listened to 
President Packer's (?) conference talk

 In ninth grade, my English teacher assigned us
an argumentative paper on euthanasia. 
I wrote my paper on why youth in Asia are controversial -
victory signs, hello kitty, and all.

Good point!
(Photo cred: Maggie)

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Extent of Chinese Censorship

You know that the Big Brother is strict and unforgiving when China's own premier, Wen Jiabao, is censored on national TV. The fact that he was censored suggests that there are higher powers in the Chinese government that do not like Wen's message. Possible factionalism in the Hu-Wen camps? If that's the case, then Wen is playing a dangerous game by opening touting political reforms in an interview with CNN.  Perhaps the question is: Hu is emerging on top? 

Read here for more details. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Slices of Budapest

I'm falling in love with Budapest already - largely because of this photo blog. Ordinary people share their slices of Budapest and it's so much more exotic than all of the Lonely Planet books out there.

Here are some of my favorite photos.

Bullet Damages
Hard to say if these bullet damages are from 1944 or from 1956. 

Celebrating Our National Day
August 20th. Hungary's birthday.

Old staircase in the Roma Parliament.
Gypsy Musician
Kálmán Kis, gypsy man, in VIIIth district of Budapest.

A ruin-pub.

(Photo cred:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

You Are What You Eat

Letter home to friends and family on July 26, 2010.

"Sheep penis!" I nearly choked on the chewy, translucent meat in my mouth. The men in their white aprons and chef's hats cackled and made some obscene gesture to further illustrate what I was eating. They must also have looked up that word in the thesaurus because they had some impressive variation. My friend Matt and I looked at each other and blanched. We had eaten it innocently, thinking it was snake meat that was wound around a kebab.

This was how we found out what it really was.

In that same evening, my friends and I had eaten fried scorpions (not bad except for the pieces of legs stuck in your teeth), grilled starfish (charred and bitter), and gecko hide (burnt, crunchy mess). We did end up eating the snake meat (I was sure this time) and snake skin. The snake meat, seasoned with red pepper flakes, was absolutely fantastic. It was all part of a glorious attempt to eat what the locals eat and live up to our "When in Rome" policy.


(Me, Natalie, Anne)
Got to love Anne's seductive I'm-about-to-eat-a-starfish look.

(Me & Matt)
Back when we still thought it was snake meat.

 The crew

The triumph was short lived though. My coworkers hooted and slapped the table when I recounted our gastronomical adventures the next day at work. Apparently they had never eaten any of that. My next-door cubicle neighbor said that that was especially for foreigners who would shell out big bucks to eat what nobody else would eat. On a more serious note, he also informed me that I better watch out for my health because as a woman, I had just eaten too much "maleness," or yang, and I would not be able to handle it.

Sure enough, I got sick the next day. Despite my insistence that I already had the sore throat before eating all that stuff, my cubicle neighbor shook his head and blamed it on the overwhelming yang. The lady across the hall, looked at my hands and informed me that it was because of my diminishing yue ya, the milky semi-circles at the tip of your cuticles. Apparently one needs at least eight to be classified as healthy. She instructed me on pressure points to massage daily and sleeping habits to adopt in order nurse my precious yue ya back to their previous glory.

After I got sick, I became part of an experiment among the neighborhood ladies. As I laid moaning on my bed, I listened to my wai po pick up phone calls from her friends with advice on foods to cook me. Their solution? A lot of ginger, black fungi, congee, and nothing cold. One morning I came out of my room, bleary-eyed, and saw that my wai po was reading her food chart intently. She looked up at me, stuck her tongue out, and grinned, "I think I nearly poisoned you!" According to her chart, there were certain foods that will hurt your chi, or your life energy, if you eat them together. Apparently what I was having for breakfast, shrimp chips and watermelon (it's the Vitamin C), formed one of the fatal combos. When I looked skeptical, she quickly hid the watermelon from me.

While I still laugh at some Chinese food theories that seem bizarre to me, I now approach the subject with an added measure of reverence. I occasionally look at my tongue in the mirror to monitor my yin yang balance and constantly check to see whether my yue ya have edged back. But I'll admit, when my wai po isn't looking, I still eat my shrimp chips with my watermelon.

 Waipo and me

Monday, October 4, 2010

Partying with Global Times

July 17, 2010
After  I told my friend at Global Times, a super right-wing Chinese newspaper, that I would be happy being the MC for one of their events, I didn't think too much about it. After all, I would just be introducing some of the performers in English and Chinese and smile my face off. I enlisted Matt, one of my BJ street-cruising buddies, and we both agreed to just wing it. No big deal right?

We first made a bunch of stage jokes that none of the Chinese audience understood. They did crack up though when Matt, overconfident with his Chinese, told the crowds that the dancers were really angry (excited) to be dancing for them.

 Matt and me on stage.

Perhaps because we were doing a good job, my Global Times friend decided to leave for a more important meeting and handed it over to us. She pointed to a few important looking people and told us that we didn't have to worry because others would be there to take care of the logistics.

Boy was she wrong.

Matt and I suddenly realized that we became the de facto Global Times spokespersons because all the GT staff ditched. We were soon mobbed by those same important looking people who saw their chance to make some drastic changes to the program.

The dance company representatives switched up the dances while I was on stage announcing them.

At the last minute, a few pizza boys informed us that they really wanted to do a dance (no kidding). So, we watched helplessly as they sauntered on stage, doing a Backstreet Boyz-esque routine while tossing pizza dough into the air.

 Mini celeb, sneaky event staff, my big head, and an overwhelmed Matt.

Then enter mini celebrity on the left. The venue event staff pulled a supposedly "next pop queen" out of nowhere and demanded that we interview her on stage to promote her new book, CD, and vegetarian dish that she had brought to the event. My waipo later reported that she forced herself to choke down the celeb's tofu mystery dish just because I was selling it hard core on stage. The things that waipos do for their grandchildren.

 Interpretive Dai ethnic ballet.

 Korean drums!

 The Chinese didn't know how to take it when the Tahitian 
dancers started yelling in the middle of their dances. 
It was very awkward.

Matt and waipo. She loved rocking the VIP status.

Matt and I grabbed sushi at a fancy restaurant afterward. We laughed about all the improvs and close calls. After all, we pulled through and it was not even a big deal. Yeah right. 

p.s. I'll be back-blogging a lot about my China trip this summer. Due to the censorship, I wasn't able to post all of these little posts that I had crafted in my head while my face was being squished against the BJ metro doors.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lawn Party

What happens when you tell a bunch of college students to revamp the Kennedy Center's supposedly "too serious" image with department funds?

You get a hippie-feel, blankets-on-the-grass, lay-out-in-the-sun party of course. Complete with guitars and free gelato.

We even had three guys show up in kilts.

And wrapped ourselves in the ethnic drapery that we were sitting on.

*More photos to follow later.