Thursday, December 29, 2011

Put Me to the Test

I know I've been rather MIA here lately, and I don't have a very legitimate reason for that. Perhaps it's because my life is happy and I feel fulfilled to the point that politics and life experiences don't leave me feeling so jaded anymore. Maybe it's because I'm just lazy and my writing skills are turning to crap because I haven't written much in the past year. The latter seems most likely.

That being said - I'm going to grad school this January. Yays!

Second, I just created (or have been trying to create for months but just today started to actually work on it...) a new research blog that is tied to my undergraduate honors thesis that I wrote back in 2009-10 as a senior in college. The thesis reflects a growing trend in contemporary Chinese internet. The blog is serving as a medium for me to post news articles related to my research and topic, as well as for me to get my research out there and continually add to it and build it through this blog.

Check it out:
Human Flesh Search Engine Human Flesh Search Engine Human Flesh Search Engine
Human Flesh Search Engine Human Flesh Search Engine Human Flesh Search Engine

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Money Honey

I went to a gay club a few nights ago with a group of friends and had this experience that was very minimal, but has been haunting me now for days. This particular night I wasn't drinking, and hadn't pre-gamed at all before going to the club. But once I got there I realized I might as well order at least a beer to hold in my hand and perhaps loosen me up a bit (it didn't). I went over to the bar and ordered a Bud Light. Literally three seconds later the beer was in front of me and I paid. After I paid I thought that I wouldn't leave a tip because first of all, the bartender didn't do anything but crack the beer open for me, second I'm jobless and poor and at least he is making a salary (however minimal), and third that there are hundreds of guys here who will come and order drinks all night long and tip him way better than I'd be able to. So I didn't.

As I went to walk away, he tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and he said something like "at this bar we tip, so if you're not going to tip than go to one of the others." The bastard. And this is what gets me: I was so stunned by this and taken off guard that I threw down a dollar bill onto the bar. Replaying this in my head, I wish I had had some snide remark such as "Okay, I will!" and walked off smiling. But no.

That club is disgusting anyway. It's always filled with old men and rejects who can't even get someone to take home for a one-night stand. They watch you dance like pieces of meat, and the ones who do choose to dance get in your personal space and all you want to do is tell them to back off. Not to mention that many of the old creeps try and touch your butt. Who the hell do they think they are!? That's what bothers me about the "gay lifestyle" - what makes it okay for you, a complete stranger, to try and touch my (or my boyfriend's) ass? We're not pieces of meat and we're not promiscuous. We're trying to dance and enjoy ourselves. So what makes it okay for you to think we like to be felt up? (I'm saving that argument for another post...)

Ugh, that place makes me so angry! I'd never go back but they always play Top 40 music and it's so close to my apartment...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pursuit of Happiness

The happiness you get from being with someone you truly care about is much greater than any satisfaction that having a good job can bring.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Peaches and Cream


If this quote is true, this man should be impeached and removed from office for not doing his duty, which is representing the people of the United States. Clearly politicians are doing something wrong, since our whole society seems to be stagnating and/or failing right about now. American needs to reform and change our two party system, where politicians put party needs before the needs of the people. When will America have a government that is legitimately for the people? 

Priorities

Look around you and see what in your mind should become priorities for the US government.

Driving last night I passed a subway train that was equipped with only one headlight. The very road I was riding on was riddled with deep potholes and raised sewer caps. Earlier I passed a subway bridge that was literally crumbling from the bottom up. I wait daily on subway platforms with hundreds of other people during rush hour while trains are delayed because the cars are so old they become disabled. Get with it people, the infrastructure in our country is failing and yet we're more concerned with who wins Dancing with the Stars and watching Michael Jackson tributes.

We're living in a society where sub-par service is overlooked, and where paying a small fortune for a college degree has become the norm, and most don't even think twice about it. I haven't been following the Occupy Wall Street movement very extensively, but I'm hoping it leads to something. However, maybe I've become a bit jaded. In the US, a nation that values freedom of speech, it seems that protesters are almost always shed in a negative light by the media, and when politicians deem enough is enough, they send in the police, which have a record of being more brutal than police in other countries. But why is it that protests in America are seen as "grassroots" and "granola crunchy" and thus shed in a bad light?


Regardless, it seems that President Obama has his priorities on straight. Instead of focusing on blatant human rights issues such as the right for all citizens of this nation to marry, or focusing on the Wall Street protests which are speaking out against government spending, corporations that influence politics and hold too much currency, and super-sized college loan bills, he's taking time from his busy schedule to focus on honoring sports: Obama Honors Chicago Bears. Sounds about right.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homewrecker

I've been doing a lot of thinking recently (by a lot I mean amusing thoughts when I'm lying in bed and can't sleep) about the future of my life. I've come to the conclusion that if it were possible I would truly aspire to be a stay-at-home wife. Make that a stay-at-home husband who takes care of the house, cleans, raises the children, and perhaps dabbles in history and professes at a local university part time. I believe I would be truly awesome at this job.

My first duty would be to care for the house and keep it clean. I feel this task would be simple as obsessively cleaning and keeping my bedroom looking like a museum is something that comes second nature to me. I find cleaning to be therapeutic and doing laundry, dusting, and cleaning bathrooms does not phase me. My one weakness would be the cooking department, and I would have to make tremendous strides in this area before my dream job can be attained.

The next duty would be to raise the children. While not working, I would be able to both save money on unneeded day care costs while at the same time being a stable face in my children's lives. The fact that I hate children hopefully won't get in the way of this task, but it certainly won't help. And if this were the case, I would not be one of those parents who pops the tykes down in front of the TV set all day while pigging out on chocolates and letting the house get destroyed.

I'm not sure I understand why society places family relationships so highly but doesn't enable average people to have the luxury of creating a stable home environment. For one thing, most families find both parents working while children are raised in day cares during their most nurturing years when they need their parents the most. Dual marital working habits also create stress and fractures in most relationships which must lend some account to the extremely high divorce rates that tear families apart. And last, jobs themselves do not enable families to have family tie - to simply be together, grow together, and enjoy time together.

Why is it that our society places such emphasis on work?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pit of Hell

I just got home from a morning spent at the RMV and I have to let off some steam with a little rant. I went to take my permit exam (which I passed) and while I had to wait a little over an hour to be served, that is not the basis for my annoyance.

It all started as I sat there, waiting. I was sitting nearby the counter and I could see and overhear people being helped by this woman at counter 21. At first I felt sympathy for the woman working there - she was a bit disheveled, and wore a too-tight bright pink hoodie that said 'Boston' or some seaside town's name on it. But after watching her deal with helpless customers, I began to find her rude and lazy. It all began when rolled through her numbers too quickly, so this old man came up to the counter as she was posting the number for the next person. Instantly she had two people to help, and little did she (or I) know, both had significant language barriers. The first was an old Chinese man who had not filled out his initial paperwork at all. The woman just kept repeating "you have to fill this out" over and over as if it would instantly click. I think he got the gist of it and walked off to write something down.

The other person was a young Hispanic woman also taking her permit test. She was holding her own until the vision test came and she didn't understand what the woman was telling her to read. She got to the final part where the RMV bitch said "do you see a bright green light and on which side?" and the girl had no idea what she was saying. The RMV woman just kept repeating it over and over getting ruder with each time. Finally some Hispanic guy translated, but by that point the machine had reset and there was no green light. BUT the RMV idiot didn't realize it and KEPT saying it, even when the girl told her "the screen is black!"

Once the Hispanic girl was taking her exam, the Chinese guy went back and he still didn't have the form completed. He had no idea what she was saying and he seemed like he spoke absolutely no English, nor could he read the form. I wanted to help him but my number was called and I booked it to the window. HOWEVER, after all was said and done and I took the test and was waiting to pick up my certified permit, I saw the old man wandering around looking so helpless. He must have seen me looking because he came over to me and just held up the paper shaking his head. I told him he had to put in his address and sign his name on the back but he didn't understand. I realized I could just do it for him so I tried to get a pen off the desk of one of the clerks who angrily said to me "excuse me sir, but there are pens in the back!" So I threw the pen onto his desk and stormed off. I filled in the old man's address from his expired ID and put a fake signature/squiggle line on the back and told him it was okay.

I know the RMV is a miserable place, and probably even a worse place to work, but a little respect and helpfulness for those who need it isn't much to ask. If you don't like to deal with people, then get out of customer service work.

And in other RMV news, I took the permit test and it was absolutely simple. However, there were FOUR questions on it about penalties for operators under the ages of 18 and 21. I realize that most people who take it are teens looking to get into a car quickly, but those questions were not applicable to me. For example, one question said something along the lines of "what is the penalty for a junior operator under the age of 18 driving between the hours of midnight and 5AM?" Luckily almost all the "penalties" involve a 60 day suspension, so I guessed correctly, but still. They need separate exams for people over 21.

Anyway, drivers in the area - WATCH OUT, I'll be on the road!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sharing

Americans Elect Americans Elect Americans Elect Americans Elect
Americans Elect Americans Elect Americans Elect Americans Elect
Americans Elect Americans Elect Americans Elect Americans Elect

Sharing this website, AmericansElect.org which is helping Americans voice the issues that matter the most to them, and is working to match your pressing issues to candidates in the upcoming election. I think it's a great tool (or will be once it's fully developed) to help you discover what candidates share your ideals and advocate for the issues that matter to you. Check it out!

Any resource helps so fools like this don't get elected:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Meet Crim

"There is a time of year in New York when, even before the first leaf falls, you can feel the seasons click. The air is crisp, the summer is gone. And for the first night in a long time, you need a blanket on your bed. It brings up other needs as well..."
Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City, 4.18)

Summer seems to be gone (at least for the time being). The sun's been gone for a few days now and the air is crisp and rainy. It's been the perfect "stay-at-home-watch-TV" sort of week, and having no job makes it easy to enjoy the rain and lounge around.

I bought a Beta fish last night. All the little Betas in their little cups made me want to buy them all, but then they would just fight and kill each other. I ended up picking out a cute little red fish who was noticeably smaller than the others. And after a bumpy car ride from Quincy back to Somerville, I decided to name him Crimson. Here is a picture of his new home (he's not in it because the water is oxidizing):


His new home is a giant lab flask that my friend got from work. I also bought a few bamboo stalks to give him some nutrients and some things to hide behind and interact with. He'll be moving into his new place later in the day.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Too Many D's

Why does the new movie Dolphin Tale need to be in 3D? Why does a Dolphin family-oriented movie have to utilize this technology? Will dolphins popping out at you really make for a better viewing experience? What is this obsession with 3D everything!? I'm dreading the day when 3D phones are commonplace, mostly because this technology makes my eyes hurt and makes me feel sick.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Grab Ya Bags

Doing a bit of a grab bag sort of post where I'm just going to throw a bunch of unrelated things at you that I want to comment on or point out. It's almost like this is my terrible goodie bag to all of you readers out there that I'm handing out after an equally terrible part I presumably threw. Anyways...

My life has been all over the place lately. Even without a job, I find myself crunched for time. I also find it funny how quickly your life can change and how easily I find myself adapting to those changes, especially when I was so vehemently against change as a child. My life in Boston seems to shine a hundred times brighter than my Philadelphia life. I feel more energetic, more prone to do things, and I'm in a much better mood here than I was nearly all of last year. Sure the quick leave from Philadelphia has left me with a bit of a roadblock to push through, but it was certainly for the best and I don't regret the way it turned out.

Back in high school I was always mildly interested in peers who would bounce between relationships so quickly. Of course high school relationships were, for the most part, superficial, but it seemed there were always a handful of peers who would have a new boyfriend or girlfriend the moment they broke off with the previous suitor. And of course, there was me, who had never dated or been in a relationship all throughout high school, and perhaps a tad jealous that others were able to not only hold relationships, but also find new ones so quickly. But now I find that trend moving into my life. Not that I'm actively looking for relationships or  that I'm simply bouncing between them superficially, but at least for the past two years now I've been in and out of relationships - something that I had never before experienced. I'm not trying to say that I should install a turn-style in my bedroom, but I'm merely commenting that perhaps people (or perhaps simply me) reach their optimal dating age at different periods of their life, and mine is simply in full swing now.

Speaking of relationships, while at my friend's this weekend I was caught up on some of the latest episodes of Degrassi, and ruling out the characters that I didn't recognize, I was hooked on some of the story lines even after missing a season and a half of episodes. Not much interests me with the characters, but being the loser that I am, I'm going through seasons 10 and 11 simply to watch all of the Riley and Zane related episodes. Now the real question to ask myself is, am I watching them because of the gay-related romance between the two, or because Zane is Asian? That's a tough one to answer...

And finally, to close out, we touch upon the MTV Video Music Awards. Normally I don't pay attention to this "music" event and I rarely watch it (except for Lady Gaga's amazing performance of Paparazzi in 2009), but this year I happened to catch some segments of the VMAs mostly due to the fact that MTV strategically placed a high-octane episode of Jersey Shore right before the event began. Those devils! Anyway, I leave you with some parting words from Tyler Oakley on why the VMAs sucked this year:


This post really was all over the place and I guess it shows how scattered my brain is at (checking) 2AM. I'm off to sleep even though I have nothing to wake up for in the morning. This jobless life is starting to get a tad boring. Forget the need for cash - I just need something to do!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bach to the Future

Simply another reason why Bachmann cannot become president:


Furthermore, aside from some downed trees and power outages in the area, the hurricane in Massachusetts was minimal at best. Once again the media hyped it up, people were freaked, and nothing came of it. Damn - I spent so much time preparing my bath tub with clean water, emptying my bank account, and collecting all my important documents. Not to mention, I had to hand crank my back up generator for two hours...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rock Me, Irene

Apparently everyone in MASSACHUSETTS is getting up in arms over Hurricane Irene. The media is making it sound like the end of days is fast approaching and that we should all run to our local supermarkets and stock up for the worst. I mean, I can recall some hurricanes that have made it up to Massachusetts before in my lifetime, and yes, the storm waves and rain amounts were large, but it was never as bad as the media made it out to be. And I'm CERTAIN, mark my words, that it will be the same this time around.

Yes there will be rain, strong winds, and probably coastal flooding, but that's expected with any large storm coming into the area. My prediction is that either Irene will severely weaken before it gets up to New England, or else it will veer towards land somewhere up along the east coast and that will also weaken its impact on the northeast. Either way, it won't be as strong as the meteorologists predict. Lest we all remember those "accurate" forecasts every winter of those "terrible blizzards" coming our way, and then you wake up in the morning and there's either NO SNOW or a dusting on the street?

You can't frighten me, weathermen and media alike! I won't buy into this Irene nonsense!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tumbling or Not?

Some days I want to just crack and create a Tumblr account so I can easily reblog things that I find funny, pertinent, and intelligent on other blogs without having to go through the hassle of making a new blog post here about it. Tyler Oakley reblogged this blurb from Judge Judy's interview with Larry King:


“We’ve got a lot of trouble in this country. We’ve got a lot of trouble in the world. Why the states should be interested in prescribing the word marriage from two people who love each other, who are responsible, tax-paying, productive people, who have created a family— sometimes two people, sometimes two people and children. Why the state would have an interest is prescribing that kind of conduct, I don’t understand. I understand the anger about poverty, I understand the anger about AIG, I understand the problem about banks, I understand the problem about Afghanistan and the Taliban, and everything else, but I don’t understand the preoccupation with gays being permitted to marry.”

Two of my best friends and I were lying in my bed Friday night after having gone out and we were discussing this very topic. I completely agree that it's downright ridiculous that our nation is crumbling around us, and yet Republicans and normal citizens alike worry more about SOMEONE ELSE'S RIGHT TO MARRY than they do about the economy, the financial woes, and the poverty that plagues our nation. Forget the achievement gap that I witnessed this past year teaching. Forget the rampant poverty affecting millions of minority groups in America. Let's focus on whether or not gays can marry or serve in the army - that seems like the most pertinent issue today.

Love my girl, Judy!

Watch the full video here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wait, I'm Supposed to Work?

I forgot that the rest of the world wakes up and gets on its feet significantly earlier than I do. Lately my bedtime has creeped farther from midnight while my wake-up time has slipped closer to noon. Granted, in my defense last year while teaching I would fall asleep around eight o'clock at night and often woke up before six. But now while I am slumbering away in my beauty sleep, I forgot that the worker bees are abuzz with bizz-ness.

This was pointed out to me this morning as I made a non-so secret pass of papers with my friend. I have a job interview today but I had no spare resumes (or a printer), so I asked my friend who lives nearby to print me out some copies and I would meet her on the subway as she went to work and we'd perform a hand-off. That was all fine in my head, until my alarm went off at 8 o'clock after having went to bed around three.

The second I left my house I saw people filing down the street headed to the subway station. Most were dressed in their worker clothes and consumed with their iPod. Even Porter Square station was buzzing with activity! There were newspaper vendors I had not seen before offering me papers, and even a police detail complete with a dog and table to check the bags of random riders. Typically when I peruse down there in the mid-afternoon all I get are grumpy stares from the lone T-worker on duty.

After making the pass-off and trudging back up the ten-story escalator to the surface, I realized my flip flops, gym shorts (when I wasn't planning on going to the gym), and t-shirt stood out like a sore thumb against all of the "biz-casual" types around me. And then on my walk back to my place I ran into two friends who reminded me that not everyone has the luxury to be a bum all day like me. And after getting back home and not being able to fall back asleep, I decided all I could do was write a boring blog entry about my already-exciting morning!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Working on My Fitness

This past week I did something I never thought I would resort to: I subscribed to a year-long gym membership. Albeit the membership fee was relatively cheap, but I still don't see how I'm going to schlep myself there on a regular basis without forcing myself into some sort of fitness regime which would make it so that my OCD mind couldn't NOT go each day.

Thursday was my first day "scoping" out the gym. I went with my friend (who also got a membership with me), but he quickly found ways to occupy his time and fitness while I fluttered around. My first stop was the cycling machine, where I sat peddling uphill for ten minutes while awkwardly trying to get the TV on the machine to turn on (with no luck). The cycling machines are in the front of a few rows of treadmills, and I felt as though all the runners were watching me and judging - even though the signs plastered everywhere say it is a "judgement free zone!" I awkwardly got off and then headed into the back of the pack.

On the treadmill I found my niche. Of course, I hate running. So, I plugged in a moderately-paced uphill course for myself on a ten minute timer and set off speed-walking through half an episode of Wheel of Fortune, yelling out jeers at the ridiculously stupid contestants and calling out letters, forgetting I was in a public space. I ended up taking two spins on the treadmill, with a weight lifting sesh in between. The second bout on the treadmill ensued in even more boisterous behavior. Seinfeld was on at the point and I was cracking up as I speed-walked between two sweating runners. No judgement.

The weight machines were the real icing on my cake. I sat at numerous machines awkwardly reading the "how to" descriptions and trying to hold the bars and handles the correct way. Clearly my year-long stint in high school PE class didn't teach me anything...had I paid attention in the weight room. I finally got the hang of some of the upper body machines (the only ones I'm really interested in - see photos of my chicken arms for reasons why) and gritted through some reps. Wow, nice word usage (THANKS!). I did some curls, shoulder presses, and other tricep things that left me sore and cranky. Of course I was lifting no more than ten pounds at a time, and taking long breaks between reps.

So, the million dollar question: when am I going to head back?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You've Probably Seen This, But...

Watch it again. She cannot move any closer towards the presidency:



A constitutional ban against same-sex marriage? Not only is that disgusting and stomping on human rights for American citizens, it is also going above the choices set by certain states. It would be a truly sad and miserable day if it ever came to that in this country.

And my question is, how has Bachmann moved so far through life without a gay best friend?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Moving Bach-wards

One step forwards, two to three steps back for America. It seems that the game of politics is beginning to tear this nation apart. This was more than evident two weeks ago when the government failed to compromise on the debt issue until seconds before the deadline, causing global stocks to plunge, and lowering the credit rating of America. And the root of all that drama? Why, bipartisan arguing and both sides refusing to budge or compromise while going against the wants and needs of the very people they represent. I'm sure George Washington and our Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves right now at how these "political parties" are dividing our nation.

What disgusts me more than that debacle last week is Michele Bachmann, who is quickly gaining influence. Her comments on family values and equal rights is appalling, and if she becomes the figurehead of the Republicans, I will truly fear that America will be reverting backwards under her leadership. I've been reading The Advocate a lot recently and they've had some great articles about Bachmann's stance on equal rights for all Americans. Take a peek at this:


It boggles my mind at how ridiculous she is. If elected, she would bring this back? What has she to gain from Don't Ask, Don't Tell being re-instated? Not only would it squash equal rights for a group of people, it would be an embarrassment for America and a giant step backward. Politicians seem to think that American policy is one big game, and that they can shape America into the land that they desire, not what the people want. Bachmann has even openly stated that she would not endorse gays serving in the White House under her administration. Sorry, but did I fall asleep last night and awaken back in the Dark Ages? Pathetic. 

It's truly upsetting that we have these figures representing our government and our people. Whether or not she is elected to represent the Republicans, just the mere fact that she holds a prominent political position is depressing. America's torch for being in the forefront of the world stage is quickly diminishing, and politicians like Bachmann are just adding more water to the flame. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Our New Sixth Sense?

I figured that this would become a self-deprecating post where I discuss my recent bout of alcoholism and my inability to consume any food (is it because I'm poor, or too lazy to cook?), however I thought up something better to write about while riding the subway this afternoon. 

Last night after perhaps three drinks too many, I left my friends at the super late hour of eleven and wandered off to meet up with one (un)lucky individual. I'm not sure if it was my obsessive drunk tweeting, my shameless texts to some friends, or my inability to charge my phone throughout the day, but my phone died upon arrival to said destination. Luckily, that wasn't at the forefront of my mind because my friend had a Big Mac waiting for me once I got off the Green Line as though it were Christmas morning. Once I wolfed that down it didn't take long before I was passed out in a drunken stupor.

After a delicious Korean lunch in Allston this afternoon I embarked on the bus back home to Somerville without my phone working, with no iTouch, and sans book. As I sat there staring at the faces around me, which were glaring down at phones and devices of all assortments, I realized that our connectivity has become our culture's new sixth sense. We've evolved and adapted these devices into our lives as though they were new appendages on our bodies.

And when you find yourself with a dead phone, you realize just how strange it feels to be cut off - as though you've lost this sense of yours to the world around you. Without my phone for the night and most of the afternoon I realized that I had no idea if anyone was trying to contact me (of course no one was), if I had received replies to e-mails (I didn't), or what my fellow friends (and random people I don't know, like Deena from Jersey Shore) were up to by checking Twitter. What if someone was calling me to go on a super-fun trip to an amusement park or to inform me that I'd just won this amazing prize that had to be redeemed within the hour, but I was unable to get it because of my dead phone?! I'd been cut off, with my connected sense dead to the world around me. 

Of course my situation wasn't nearly as dire as I made it out to sound, but I believe that there is an emptiness that you can feel when you are cut off from connectivity. And it pains me to realize all of this because I had always thought of myself as being able to conquer feelings of dis-connectivity. But alas, I am also shackled by the norms of society, man.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Spicy Showdown

Last night, my adventures in cooking proved to be both pricey and nearly inedible. It all started a few days prior when my Korean friend and I planned to hang out Thursday night and cook a Korean dish together. He'd never made it before, so I knew it would be a cooking adventure, but at what magnitude I couldn't say.

We began the day meeting at a Korean market near Central Square and purchased some ingredients. When we got to the counter and saw the $35.00 price tag for our goods, we both looked at each other and realized that it would have been cheaper to have gone to a restaurant and had someone else make this dish for us. But we shelled over the money and went home to prepare the dish.

I, of course, proved to be useless in the kitchen. The recipe called for a lot of chopped and cut vegetables, of which I half-assed. I struggled with cutting a sweet potato, and it took me nearly ten minutes and a lot of tears to get through an onion. After that I poured myself a mixed drink and sat back and watched, all the while getting a bit drunk.

My friend continued to make the food which consisted of mixing this spicy/sweet sauce and cooking it together with chicken, vegetables, and noodles in a pan. Everything seemed to go alright until we ate the finished product and found that our meal was extremely spicy, and that neither of us really enjoys spicy foods.

Being a bit drunk, my first few bites didn't seem to be very spicy to me, so I made the huge mistake of putting some all together in a bowl, plopping down at the table, and going all-out on it (I hadn't eaten all day so I was starving). A minute later, my mouth was an inferno and I felt that if I had taken another sip of my mixed drink I would have been spitting fire. And I wasn't about to pour myself a glass of milk - milk mixed with alcohol and spicy Asian foods in my stomach did not seem like a good idea. In the end, we picked at it and probably finished about half the pan (with some help from my roommate thankfully).

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Bostonian Plan

Alright, so I was coming back from a job interview this morning and riding the T and a brilliantly fun idea popped into my head. As the train was crossing over the Charles River I spotted a Duck Boat in the river filled with excited (and stupid) tourists. I myself have never been on a Duck Boat, and I actually think it would be a pleasant experience and want to make it happen sooner rather than later.


So my plan is to find someone to ride on a Duck Boat with me and make a day of it - only we must pretend that we are tourists and create a whole new persona. I was thinking of finding some ridiculous university - like the University of Alabama - and creating a southern persona. And don't forget the outfit - I'll need to make sure I don some tourist attire, said college t-shirt, and have a giant camera dangling on my neck.  We will make remarks about how wonderful the city is, and ride the T as though we just time traveled back to the Bronze Age and have no idea how to cope. And obviously we must ask for directions from both citizens and MBTA employees alike!

Double props if the persona turns out to be British. I'd give absolute kudos to anyone who could pretend to be an Asian tourist, for I don't think I can biologically pull that off.

This could be a real experiment into what it's like to be a tourist in Boston!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Absence

Sorry for my week-long absence from this blog. This past week I moved into my new apartment and it turned out to be more convoluted than I had hoped, having made a few baby moves over the period of the week. But as of yesterday, my bedroom is all set up and the apartment itself is quickly coming together.

I bought a wooden poster frame from a woman off Craigslist and inserted my own Great Gatsby poster into it and hung it up the other day, and I can't get over how great it looks:


More substantial posts are on the horizon. I was reading an article on BBC today about China's remarks on the US credit rating downgrade and I had a few things to say about that - so rest assured - I will return anon.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's Not Fare

An article today in the Globe discussed the increase in ridership on the MBTA here in Boston. However, due to more people riding the trains, experts say that an increase in the fare is certain to hit in the coming years. I myself have a solution/criticism that I've been mentioning now for quite a few years:

STOP GIVING OUT CHARLIE CARDS LIKE CANDY!

In Boston, riders have two choices to pay their fares: either purchase a Charlie Ticket or put money onto their Charlie Card. A Charlie Ticket is disposable and allows a rider to put stored value onto the card only a single time. Rides on the subway are $2 with a Charlie Ticket and are dispensed from any machine. These are generally used for single or double rides.

A Charlie Card on the other hand is a plastic card that you may put money on as many times as you want. Charlie Cards enable the rider to pay a slightly lowered fare of $1.70 to ride the subways and buses. Charlie Cards must be given to your by an MBTA worker or are generally found frayed out along the tops of the fare machines free for the taking. Essentially they should only be available to people who live in and commute to work in Boston. However because of their accessibility and the MBTA's unknown need to keep creating them and throwing them into riders' faces, everybody (even tourists) hold a Charlie Card. What is the sense of fare reduction for the loyal in that?


There is no reason why a tourist family in Boston for a week should all be wielding Charlie Cards. If you add up the $0.30 per ride per family member that they're saving for having been given access to those cards, it starts to add up into money that could be in the MBTA's hands. And while many might think that tourists to the city should be purchasing seven-day-passes, most tourists hold a Charlie Card which is handed to them by fare agents when they inquire about how to use the machines.

What the MBTA should do is discontinue throwing out these plastic cards. Frequent riders themselves either already have a plastic card, or they purchase monthly passes which negates this argument. Either way, by ending the plastic card's seemingly endless promotion, it would enable visitors to the city to cough up the $2 required of them for using our public transit system, allowing the reduced fare to remain in the hands (and on the cards) of the residents of this city.

Let's step away from this for a second. While I was in Beijing, China a few years back the city made a switch to plastic transit cards much like the plastic Charlie Cards of Boston. The difference: to obtain a card in Beijing a rider had to pay a deposit fee of 20RMB to be granted access to discount fares. In that sense alone the Beijing transit authority brought in loads of money: nearly all residents in the city held a card, which meant that the authority held 20RMB for each resident upfront to be used to improve the system. And since having a card was so vital and extremely more efficient than paying a bus conductor, the authority was basically guaranteed that riders would not return their card and request their 20RMB back.

And then flash to Boston where plastic cards are lying on the ground in front of fare machines and available to anyone. In fact, I myself have about a dozen Charlie Cards from days when I forgot my plastic card at home but just grabbed an extra one sitting atop a fare machine. I should have paid $2 for my forgetfulness, but since the MBTA wants to throw some cards in my face, I'm inclined to take them.

Just one suggestion this rider has to improve the Boston transit system.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Robert De Niro's Waiting

Change of color at this blog. As much as I love the color orange, it was starting to really get to me, so I simply changed to the darker tone of the same template design.

I also wanted to give a quick shout out to Needarb, who I now know reads my blog occasionally. Hi Needarb! Needarb.

Not much to say today - moving into my new apartment in five days, so I'm basically holding my breath until I finally move in. Been tying up loose ends and preparing for the move, so nothing exciting going on with my life. I'll post something more substantial soon, I hope.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Return of the Resident

Lori posted some great videos this week dealing with the "financial crisis" which is receiving too much attention in America. Since, as always, I agree with her opinions on the matter, I'm going to simply post her videos in the hopes that you would rather hear her than read my rants :)

In this first video Lori discusses the idea of a flat-rate tax in America and the sillyness behind this whole raising the "debt ceiling" debacle. I think she says it best that politics has strayed far from issues and is simply a tug-of-war between two ideal-less teams.


In this second video Lori discusses her theory of why Americans are so withdrawn to the idea of raising taxes for the super rich (who encompass only 2% of Americans). Her idea is that everyone has a notion that they themselves will one day fall into that category, and that our media and culture teaches us that being rich is a right and an obtainable end goal for life.


Here more from TheResident!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Shmeat Wave

I'm pretty sick of everyone on my Twitter and Facebook posting pictures of thermometers and weather reports showing the heat wave we're living in. Unless I'm living under a rock in the ocean (Patrick the Starfish) I'm well aware of how fucking hot it is outside. When I walk outside, I don't need to know it's over a hundred degrees - either way I'm still going to feel like someone's smothering me with a blanket. The only upside to this heat wave is that I'm in Philadelphia packing everything for the big move tomorrow and my apartment luckily has central air, and while it doesn't seem to want to go past seventy-five, it's a big improvement from outdoors.

I thought a teeny bit of me would miss my apartment or Philadelphia, but that idea was instantly shattered the minute I got off the bus. I barely turned my key in the door Thursday night before a mammoth bug ran from the middle of the living room into a small hole in the wall (and he later reappeared in the bathroom). I had forgotten how miserable this city is in the summer, and how the humidity seems to press down upon you when you're outside.

On that front, I splurged and paid for some movers for tomorrow because there is just no way I'm going to be able to carry boxes down a flight of stairs to the truck. Add the heat to that and I would pass out on the sidewalk before even a single box was loaded. Hopefully it will be the best money I'll spend.

Packing has been rather exciting. As much of a pack-rat as I am, it felt good to go through everything and I tossed out a shit ton of things that I knew I would never wear/look at again. In the words of Tyler Oakley in one of his 5AG videos: "If you have to think about it, get rid of it." I threw out an old notebook from high school (why was I holding on to this?), lots of clothes that I had never even worn but I knew I'd never touch, and lots of papers and readings I would never look at if I took them with me. However, through it all I did find some great letters my friends had sent me while I was in China years ago, some mementos from my travels, and things I hadn't realized I brought with me.

So long Philly, you won't be missed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In-State

MA Governor endorses in-state tuition for illegal immigrants (link).

Is it just me, or has the word "illegal" changed in definition over the past few years? It seems that America has been granting people who are in America "illegally" special considerations recently, as simple as keeping them in this country. Illegal immigrants are in this country contrary to our laws, and now some argue in favor of granting them special privileges such as in-state college tuition? Especially at a time when the cost of college tuition only continues to rise.

Flanked by aides and security, Patrick surprised the joint education committee and a crowd of more than 100 people by urging passage of legislation that would allow illegal immigrant students to pay the same price as other Massachusetts residents at state colleges and universities. Now, illegal immigrants pay the non-resident rate, which is double or triple the price, depending on the school.

One argument in favor of this bill would be that it would allow more illegal immigrant students to attend college since high tuition rates have deterred many, who are ineligible for financial assistance. This would in turn increase state revenue as more students enter state-run colleges and universities.

Another argument in favor for it is that there are many children who are in this country illegally who are not here by choice - having been dragged along with their parents from their parent nations. While I agree that it's sad, and that these individuals deserve measures to better their lives, I do not believe that allowing them reduced tuition is the answer. Especially in this day and age, where universities actually target overseas students to "diversify" their student body and thus offer scholarships to many exchange students, America needs to start thinking about the possibility of a "brain drain" where much of our knowledge and research is being performed by students who may not (and many do not) choose to live in this country post-graduation.

While the Tea Party holds many views that freak me out, this quote sums it all up:
“They’re still here illegally. … We’re not in a position to give away benefits to people who are truly not eligible for them because they are not residents,” said Christen Varley, president of the Greater Boston Tea Party, which vowed to fight the bills, though she could not attend the hearing. “If you’re not a legal resident of the state, you’re not entitled to in-state tuition. That’s as simple as it is.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pain Killers

Here is the tale of my mis-adventure yesterday where I witnessed the Boston Police size up and then confiscate prescription medications from a supposed-dealer in a McDonald's.

I had said goodbye to my friend at Government Center and I was about to board the Blue Line back home when my stomach reminded me that I hadn't eaten a single thing all day. I thought, I could either wait until I get home in about forty minutes and find something there (slim chance) or run to McDonald's and grab a Big Mac (across the street). Of course the obvious choice is clear. I proceeded to McDonald's and ordered a hamburger and some fries and thought I'd head upstairs to the second floor seating area and relax while reading my book. Little did I know I would have the entertainment literally brought to me.

When I got upstairs, the whole seating area was empty. I took this as a fortunate sign and sat in the corner at a round table near the window, granting me a view of the entire upstairs area as well as the street below. After a few minutes, this overweight, obnoxious guy came up the stairs with crutches, yet walking perfectly well. He started talking to this old man who was standing outside the bathroom.

Old Man: "They're down there, you can tell."
Crutchy: "You're being paranoid, let's just do this."
Old Man: "They're down there, plain clothes cops."
Crutchy: "Just get in the bathroom and let's go."

They proceeded into the bathroom together. Man, I thought, a drug deal going down in front of me. Here I am, munching on some fries, nonchalantly peeking over at them out of the corner of my eye. But then I laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation. This paranoid old man who clearly wants his fix is scuffling with this fat guy on crutches, who presumes to write him off as being on a bad trip.

Little did Crutchy know that Old Man was right. A minute later about four plains clothes cops came up the stairs and pulled Crutchy out of the bathroom - I'm not sure what happened to Old Man, I never saw him again. It wasn't all "Boston Police, hands up!" or any commotion like that. The cops simply questioned him and asked why he was holding pain killers in his hand. I'll get to that in a second.

First, I want to comment on how stereotypical these cops were. Maybe it was because they were plains clothes cops who have to fit in with their locale, but these guys were the quintessential Boston bros - complete with accent, gruff demeanor, and Irish last names. And then there was the lone Asian cop. Boston Police are one of a kind - it brings me back to the day last summer when the police woke me up at my friend's house looking for my friend's friend whose father had a warrant out for attempted murder (LONG story, which totally deserves a blog post here when I get the time).

Anyway, back to Crutchy. The cops asked him why he had the meds and Crutchy began spouting out this ridiculous story about how he was recently hit by a car. Meanwhile, Asian Cop pulls out about five different pill bottles from Crutchy's backpack and reads the dates on the labels which date back way before this supposed "car crash." One of the Irish cops looked at Crutchy and said, "Haven't I arrested you before near North Station?" Yet Crutchy stuck with his story.

In the end, the cops confiscated all the meds but allowed Crutchy to remain a free man (for the time being) and escorted him out. One of the cops who stayed behind to do some paperwork happily called out to Crutchy as he hobbled down the stairs, "See you next week."

I'm not sure what's more disturbing: that I was eating alone at a McDonald's and saw this little show go down a few feet away from me, or that I was eating alone at a McDonald's? I'm going to have to say the latter.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Disenchanted Post-Grad American

Dear President Obama (and the US government),

As a post-grad living in America, I wonder when this shift occurred within our system of higher education that changed earning a degree and an education into a game of economics. When did a solid education to prepare you for your future and a stable career give way to name-brand college marketing?

I ask, how are we, the youth of America, supposed to bring about change and innovation for our great nation if we are slaves to our student loans and exorbitant college costs? You, Mr. President, recently spoke about bringing innovation and scientific output back to America to combat the global competitiveness in this field. But how are we to do that when our college tuition continues to rise, yet the value of our Bachelor's Degrees lower over time?

When did the rite of passage for high school graduates signing one's name onto a freshman year college loan become the norm? Why aren't words like "subsidized loan," "loan forbearance," "consolidation," and "borrower accountability" taught on the SAT? Seems as though these words are tremendously more common and usable in post-high school life than "amiable" or "noxious."

How is America supposed to move our people out of poverty when the average college graduate leaves school with thousands of dollars in student loans? How are young Americans supposed to reasonably survive in America as post-grads when most of us are paying $1000-2000 each month to our student loans? How are we supposed to save up, purchase a house, and invest in bettering our nation when we can barely stand on our own two feet because the "college dream" we aspired has left us in debt? Instead of creating a stable workforce for the future, we are crippling those who stand to become the future of our country.

And where to begin on the high interests rates that are fixed onto our loans. When did it become standard practice that a college loan would be paid back in payment installments over a twenty year period, in which the borrower will pay back nearly THREE TIMES the amount of the original principal due to incurred interest? Why must young Americans need to pay back loans that amount to nearly one to two years of working wages while living in a country with a shit-economy and ever-rising costs of living?

And what of the risks of being a post-grad? Forget the chances of finding a job or career, what about the future of our credit and borrowing abilities that can be easily hampered by missing a loan payment or being delinquent on a student loan?

Jobs will come and go; retirement will produce job openings and sector growth will produce access to new jobs across the board, but the widening gap in our higher education will only become more problematic. Over time, obtaining a Bachelor's Degree will be akin to receiving your high school diploma - only $50,000-150,000 times more expensive - and the need for further post-grad education will become (already is becoming) the norm. Living with your parents until you're thirty will also become the norm, since post-grads will be so busy working solely to pay off student loans that trying afford rent or saving for future mortgage payments will be out of the question.

I myself do not have terrible amounts of student loans to pay off, but just thinking about how my future finance plans have to account for thousands of dollars owed simply for pursuing an education disgusts me. It disgusts me because it doesn't have to be like this - and in fact, it's not like this in other equally-prosperous nations! And it disgusts me because one self-guided missile used in the "war on terror" could have adequately paid for my whole college education.

Think about that.

Sincerely,
"Disenchanted Post-Grad American"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Border Control

Seems as though Denmark is taking measures to curb illegal immigration and crimes caused by illegals in their nations recently. Harks to America's own Secure Communities initiative that is making waves here in the US. Europe is angered because this move goes against the EU's open borders policy, but in my own opinion, I respect Denmark for looking to the source of the problem and working to fix it themselves.

Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said earlier: "We have seen too many examples of violence, break-ins and brutal criminality committed by perpetrators who have crossed the borders."

What's it going to take America for our government to realize that not all of our "guests" are respecting our nation and our values and ideals? How much more violence and drug trafficking must we endure before we truly make our communities safe?

My Harry Potter Chronicle

Friday marked the end of my Harry Potter journey, all the way from my childhood years to the present. From seven books to seven movies. From book release parties to opening day movie celebrations. Yes, Harry Potter may be a fictional story created by a brilliant author that many may see as juvenile, but Harry Potter is no different from any of the other amazing stories or television shows that our generation grew up with and continue to enjoy as adults.

(Note Legacy of the Force in the background)

I can still remember how I got into the Harry Potter series. It was the beginning of sixth grade and the Sorcerer's Stone had made it's way to America. This was before there was any hype or prospect of an amazing series behind the sole book. The Winthrop Public Library had received a copy (just one) of the book and the librarian, who I was best friends with at the time, recommended I read it - she had just finished it and thought it was an amazing book. So I brought the book to school to read for our silent reading period at the end of the day and instantly began to fall in love with the characters and the premise.

When the time of the second book was released I was right at Barnes and Nobles buying a copy and reading the book within a day. By the fourth book's release, book stores were getting into the Harry Potter hype and holding midnight release parties. The first such party I attended was for the release of the fourth book (or maybe the fifth?) and I went to the Barnes and Nobles with my friends, and had fun with some themed activities. However, I remember we were too lazy to wait in line and by midnight we just ran across the highway to Stop and Shop and bought a copy there (no lines). 

When the movies began to get released when I was a freshman in high school, I have to admit I wasn't very interested in them. I hadn't seen the first movie until a few months after it came out, and to this day I've only seen Sorcerer's Stone once. However, thankfully the movies only got better over time and I found myself seeing most of them on opening day. I recall seeing the Chamber of Secrets with one of my best friends: we couldn't get into the screening because it was sold out, so we bought tickets to this horror movie that was playing and snuck into Harry Potter. The only seats we could find together were the first two seats of the very front row of the movie. The whole time I was nervous someone would ask for our ticket and kick us out.

For the final book I went with my friends to the Harry Potter celebration in Harvard Square, a night or two before my departure from America for China. Although I didn't dress up (and went with people who did), I enjoyed myself and the festivities and it was a very fun night. I didn't have time to wait for the book at midnight, but I did manage to get a copy the following day. 

And now the final movie is out, and I have to admit that this movie was amazing. The final battles were portrayed exactly as I had imagined them as I read the book. I went to see the movie by myself on Friday - because I couldn't wait until my friend would go with me this coming week - and I have to say, seeing it alone was a great way to end the series and take it all in. Years in the making, and it's finally come to it's conclusion. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Had to Share (The Resident)



This one is hard to watch (graphic) but just scroll down or minimize the page to listen to her argument, it's pretty damn good.


She always manages to say exactly what I feel about the issues. I'm honored to share a similar outlook on hot button issues with Lori! Find more from TheResident!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Literati

This has been quite a fruitful summer so far in terms of the amount of reading I've been doing. Not having a job but still getting paid enables me to sit by the beach or on the couch most of the morning and read all of the lovely books I've been getting at the public library. In the past two weeks since my summer began, I've already completed about ten novels - albeit three of these were Star Wars EU novels, but to each his own, right?

My latest completion was Bossypants by Tina Fey. Her humor was right up my alley and I was able to finish the book in just under two days because I could not put it down. The book turned out to be different from what I at first imagined it to be about, but overall it was witty and provided a clearer insight into the hilarious life of one of my favorite comedians. I would categorize her writing style as very similar to Chelsea Handler's, whose first three books top my list of favorites.

I also went to the library last week in the hopes of checking out The Pearl by John Steinbeck, to reread this book from sophomore year of high school English. Instead I picked it up, flipped through it, and put it back down feeling it wouldn't interest me enough and would slow my reading pace. However, I did in turn read The Short Reign of Pippin IV, Steinbeck's only work of political satire. It provided a quick read but I attribute that only to the Parisian setting of the novel, and the slightly mocking political undertones.

This summer is chugging along. By August 1st I'll be in my new apartment, and then my next step is to start looking for a job (even though my paychecks continue until late August). Next weekend I'll be back in Philadelphia to pack up my apartment, clean up my place, and say adieu to my home in the City of Brotherly Love of one year.

A new start is on the horizon, and "I'm ready (and I'm gone)."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Genus: Bro Dude

Rant coming in which I blame straight women for the number one evil in America: the bro dude. I'm sure these specimens exist in other countries around the world, but the American bro dude is in a class all his own. Not to be confused with the genus "meathead", the bro dude is often observed wearing his tan cargo shorts, white sneaks with the low-rise socks, an Abercrombie t-shirt, and his favorite-sports-team baseball cap, this "man" hardly qualifies as human.

As I sat on the Blue Line yesterday heading into the city, on a day when the Red Socks were playing in town, I was able to witness the idiocy of a small group of said creatures. This pack consisted of four gentlemen, one who was morbidly obese. Side note: I always feel as though the bro dude pack makes sure to ally themselves with one overweight specimen of the same mentality. Moving on, these creatures were in rare form on the train, each carrying a Poland Springs bottle that was clearly filled with clear alcohol. What ensued was a train car-full of people witnessing these fools in their natural inebriated habitat.

(not the creatures from the train, but the same sub-type)

Perhaps it was a defense mechanism that caused these guys to begin calling things aloud in the car. "Next stop, your mom!" one of them said. Seriously? Or maybe it was their need to display their dominance as a species that made them announce "Grab ya kiddies to go pet some shaaaaks!" at Aquarium Station. 

What caused this hyper-masculinity in American men?

My theory into the evolution of men into this sub-species is that their evolution was aided by straight women. Or more like, today their continued presence is fueled by straight women who find these qualities attractive in a mate. The big question is, how did men evolve from gentlemen of some degree from the turn of the century to distant, leather jacket-wearing men of the mid-century, to the bro dudes of the end of the century and present? Was this evolution of men over the century aided by the projections women put out of the type of men they were attracted to?

Nevertheless, what these bro dudes successfully do is alienate members of our society and perpetuate roles that one must fall into. For one thing, the bro dude perpetuates the role of subservient women. By treating women solely as objects of desire and remarking on the "hotness" of a specific woman, it keeps women in a cyclical role of submissiveness. This can be seen in the genus "platinum blonde bitch" which is the typical creature of mate for the bro dude. 

The bro dude also portrays a mold that all American men must fall into, and while this mold which has existed long before the bro dude walked the earth, the bro dude does nothing to combat it. The bro dude goes to push the idea that men need to be hyper-masculine and that being any other way is "abnormal" (see genus "gay male"). While many cultures uphold roles that men are "supposed" to fit into, such as the breadwinner, the warrior, or patriarch, the bro dude and American society push these roles further. While other species of the bro dude exist in countries around the world, you also find greater acceptance on men who do not fit the bro dude mold. In Europe and many Asian countries, masculinity and "manliness" is not solely measured in how many muscles you have, the uneducated way you speak (words like, "yeah man", "what up", and "-in instead of -ing"), or how many girls you can get with. Furthermore, these cultures produce men who treat women with more respect and admiration, and are not as quick to judge a man who does not fit the bro dude mold as "queer" or different.

Most bro dudes will grow out of this lifestyle choice and become full members of society upon entering their late twenties, but sadly that's not the case of all men. Some bro dudes in the family "asshole" continue to uphold this lifestyle and outlook on masculinity much into their later years. Furthermore, since this classification of man is relatively new to American society, the findings are not extensively conclusive.

Next we'll take a look at the elusive, yet trashy genus "platinum blond bitch."

Friday, July 8, 2011

History in the Making

First, to start: the spot I had removed was not cancer :)

Moving on, today is a historic day in the making. In America, today marked the final space shuttle launch in the history of America's space program. The shuttle Atlantis launched successfully this morning bringing supplies to the Space Station and ending an era of space travel. I'm eager to see what innovations NASA will have in store for the future. Sadly I myself did not get to witness the launch live because I met my friend in town for lunch, although I was streaming NASA TV for much of the pre-launch system checks this morning.


Second, this evening at midnight (East African time) South Sudan officially became the newest member of the world community, gaining its independence from Sudan. While the creation has been nearly six years in the making, it wasn't without bloodshed and turmoil that brought South Sudan into existence. Furthermore, South Sudan has long strides to make, and is hailed as the "least developed country" in the world. South Sudan faces creating a sound Constitution, building infrastructure, and lowering infant mortality rates, while improving clean drinking water, education, and rights for its citizens. The eyes of the world are on you, South Sudan - you can do it :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Media-Starved

Enough about me - I'm tired of talking and harping over my life and the changes sweeping it. Back to the news, world developments, and stories. And no, I will not be discussing Casey Anthony, because until this afternoon I had never even heard of her before, and I don't agree with showcasing her trials and tribulations (literally). It's only a matter of time before our media-starved outlets grab her story, interview the hell out of her, and then turn her story into a grief-stricken Lifetime film.

Instead, I bring you this news article from the BBC explaining how one Indian state is going to extremes to curb population growth. The health officials in this one state are giving out prizes, such as cars, to citizens who sign up to be sterilized. It says that they expect over 20,000 people to sign up and contribute to limiting India's growing population - which is set to surpass China by 2030.

While I think the prize aspect is a bit gaudy, I think it provides a needed incentive for those wishing to (in my eyes) perform a public duty - which is upholding and protecting the future of their state. Population growth is a  pressing issue and seeing that the world as a whole already fails to feed all of the mouths that we have today, I can only imagine how difficult that task will be in the future. Furthermore, it is the duty of nations such as China and India (which together hold about one-fourth of the world's population) to gain control of their populations. China already fails to feed and care for it's 1.6 billion people and Chinese society has been showing a great divide between rich and poor.

On the flip side, I can see that it is a big choice for people to make, to give up producing offspring and someday having a family, but that is not always the dream of every person. And as long as sterilization remains a personal choice, I believe it's a non-issue.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Changing Directions

This Fourth of July weekend has proved to be a very thoughtful time for me. Drinking, eating, and fireworks aside, I was able to discuss and self-reflect on some of my plans for the future. With my abrupt end with Teach for America, I've been faced with determining my career path earlier than planned.

I've figured that I'm not throwing teaching out the window. I've completed half a Master's in Education, and I'm going to see to it that it's carried out to completion at a school here in Boston. A Master's in Education will allow me to continue teaching as a career path while I work to finance my further studies and research on the path to becoming a full-fledged historian/professor. I'll teach while working on my PhD in the coming years, and then hopefully perform research and attain tenure as a professor someday.

The academic/professor lifestyle really attracts me. For one thing, I love writing and performing research, and if I'm able to do that for a living while focusing on topics and research that appeals to me, even better. While the road to a PhD is long, expensive, and trying, and the payout of a historian and professor can often be poor, I believe this is the path I'm destined to take. After working closely senior year of college on my thesis with my favorite professor, I became attracted to the academic career path. She's able to perform research on topics of her choosing, attend and display findings at conferences, and even travel to complete research. Add lecturing and teaching seminar courses at the collegiate level to that, and it seems like a very ideal job in my opinion.


This Teach for America fork in the road is just that: a small hurdle to climb over to moving forward. It in no way ever steered me off my path, and in the end, I'll have more experience to bolster my qualifications.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Week Removed

I've been in Boston now for one week, and I can't stress how much my life has changed for the better in this short period of time. My life went from stress and overbearing "programs/work" to enjoying life, being positive, and enjoying my location. Gone is the stress and uncertainty caused by Teach for America, gone is the boredom and loneliness, grime and disgust of Philadelphia, and gone is the negativity that permeated my life as a Teach for America corps member in a city I did not enjoy.

As I said, it's only been a week but I've already caught up and seen most of my amazing friends, signed for an apartment in the city, and put my feelers out for continuing grad school. I can't stress enough how much happier I am living in Boston (albeit living at home in Boston until August 1st) - a city that seems far more open and cheerful than Philadelphia, a city with a better climate and temperature than Philadelphia, and a city with a class of people far above those who live in Philadelphia. It's amazing to be back on the coast and have the ocean and ocean breeze around me. The air is significantly cleaner, and the beach provides a much needed aesthetic to my life.

I'm swearing off programs forever.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guys and Ghouls

Last night I spent the night at my friend's house and had a ghostly adventure. Her mother is on vacation and the empty house provided a 'reassuring' backdrop as I slept. Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up from this bizarre dream and then this eerie feeling overcame me. The dream itself consisted of me and my friend entering her kitchen to find all of the cabinets askew and opened by a 'friendly' ghost and then discovering this rabid-looking cat climbing the walls of her house. Waking up from that dream of course left me feeling nervous, and then as I lay there trying to sleep again, that "sleep apnea" type thing that happens to me occasionally occurred, where I felt as though I were awake and paralyzed and heard a strange noise in my ear. Add some clanging wind chimes going off in the kitchen to that strange noise and I lay there with the pillow over my head trying so hard to fall back asleep. I distinctly remember a cold breeze sweep over me and I was certain a ghost or ghoul was hovering over me ready. In conclusion, I had a good fright and didn't sleep that well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Week Start Jump Start

Early Monday morning. Got up early and headed into the city. And by nine o'clock I had finished my dermatology appointment and was walking back to the trolley with a chunk of skin missing from my chest. Let's rewind a second.

I had scheduled this dermatology appointment after watching this PSA concerning skin cancer, and due to the fact that I never used suntan oil and always have new freckles and spots showing up on my body and back, I grew a little concerned. When I got to the Tufts Medical Center, I cautiously walked into the waiting room only to find that I was not only the first one there at 8:00AM, but over time, the youngest person by nearly half a century.

The doctor checked over my body and skin and said everything seemed normal and there was nothing to worry about. But then she noticed one spot on my chest that she said had a strange coloring, so she decided to REMOVE it and run some tests. GREAT, I thought. I was terrified because I had never had anything like that done before. Before I knew it, there was a giant needle of numbing crap waiting for me and a small razor-looking instrument sitting on a sterile tray.

Of course the little procure didn't hurt, but I could NOT look while she took the few seconds to scrape away my flesh as though she were running meat through a slicer. It's been a day now and I have to put vaseline on it, and I'm terrified to see what is under my band-aid.

Welcome back to Boston?

But in much, much better news, I have a new apartment for August 1st that is literally a few steps from the Porter Square Red Line station in Somerville. I'm really ecstatic about that, although I'm dreading the move from Philly to Boston at the end of July...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thanks for the Memories

A year has come and gone so quickly. I feel as though last week were August 1st, 2010 and I just moved into my apartment in Philly. My apartment was a home in the making, and it really was a year-long process to make it comfortable and looking great. I remember that first month where I had no bed, no desk, and ate PB&J sandwiches for nearly every meal. But even though I had no food and an air mattress for my bed, I still had cable to keep me company.

In mid-September, a small hole sprung up in the air mattress and that prompted me to run to IKEA and finally purchase a bed. With that bed the apartment began to quickly materialize, and new additions (mostly from IKEA) made my place more inviting and someplace that I would look forward to come home to after work.

And now, today marks my last day living in this apartment. I'm not moving out tomorrow, but I will be returning to Boston for the summer. I'll make my way back to Philly in late-July to clean out and pack up my apartment, and then move all of my things back to Boston for my July 31st move-out date. But today is the last day where I will remain in my apartment fully furnished and decorated.





See everyone in Boston :)

Summer Promise

In an effort to save money, I vow that this summer I can only eat out at a maximum of two times per week. This is a major cut back from eating out nearly twice a day when I'm in Boston with my friends. I've got a bit of money saved up for future rent and living for about a half year, but I feel that I waste SO MUCH MONEY on food, which in my eyes is instant satisfaction with no lasting benefits.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

T-rrific Adventures

I was just reading Joseph Birdsong's (of 5AwesomeGays) latest blog post in which he recounts some of his crazy encounters while riding the "El" (elevated subway) in Philadelphia. Reading over his traumatic (and clearly true) tales inspired me to recount some of my own harrowing woeful stories of public transportation. However, this past year I haven't had many encounters on the "El" here in Philly, so therefore I'm going to recount some of my most memorable experiences while riding the T in Boston to get me pumped up for my return this weekend.

"The Hot Cars"
All too often I find myself in hot, steaming cars with the heat on in the dead of summer. And no, it's not that these cars just have no A/C - there have been times where the heat is actually blasting through the car from the floorboard below.

"Let Us Out"
Most of my troubles occur on Blue Line trains (although I find the Red line to be the slowest and most frequently delayed). Once in the summer I was heading over to my grandmother's house in East Boston from work and was hoping to get off at Airport. Granted there were also quite a few people in my crowded car who also wanted to get off as well. When we pulled into the station, however, the doors didn't open. At first most of us thought it was just a delay and they'd open eventually, but then people from the other cars quickly poured out and before we could do anything, the train was moving to Wood Island. And of course, it was I who moved to the emergency speaker and explained that the doors never opened.

"Wind Swept"
One day on the Blue line between Orient Height and Wood Island I found myself nearly being swept out of the train. It was a nearly empty car aside from myself and one lone rider at the other end. I was sitting at the end of the car right beside the inter-car door. All of a sudden the train bounced a bit and the door FLEW open, blowing huge gusts of wind into the car and nearly knocking me off my seat. I got up but with the shaking of the car and the wind in my face I could barely stand. I tried to push it shut again but it had slid and locked into place. Once again I had to use the emergency intercom and inform the driver.

"Third Rail?!"
My last harrowing tale concerns a full-out evacuation I was a part of. One day, of course after a long day of work in Quincy Market, I was on the Blue line traveling home. The train stopped right after Maverick, but still in the tunnel. We sat there ... for a century. Finally the conductor informed us of a "downed wire" ahead and that we couldn't go any further, meaning that we were going to have to evacuate. Of course, luck would have it, that I was in the third car (of the old four car trains) and we were evacuating from the front door of the conductor's room. Making our way to the front took a long time and moods tempers were flaring. Once we got to the front, we were guided along the side of the track and we walked from the tunnel to the nearby Airport Station. We were instructed to walk slowly and carefully as the third rail on the opposite side of the track was still active. I felt like a refugee after some terrible apocalyptic event, emerging from the underground tunnel among a group of strangers from all walks of life. 



And my one public transportation claim to fame: while living in Beijing, I often took the #13 line around the northern area of the city. The stop closest to my apartment, Xizhimen, was the terminus station and while waiting for the train, lines would form on the spots where the train doors were known to stop. And when I mean lines, I mean long and winding lines full of perhaps 50 people per line. So this one day I got there and I found myself at the very back of one of the lines. Clearly obtaining a seat was going to be non-existent, especially with the fury that Chinese bum-rushed subway seats. However, when the train pulled up and the doors opened, the pushing began and along with a few other denizens of the city, I found myself quickly getting to the front, squeezing through, and getting a seat. As long as I live, this will remain one of my defining moments.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Depressed Denny

Might I have depression? This is the thought that roamed through my head tonight after awaking from a 6-8pm nap. Today was the second-to-last day of school and my whole body has been aching after getting terribly burnt from an exciting weekend at the Jersey Shore.

When I awoke I found myself without motivation, and wishing to remain in bed and just lay there for the rest of the night. Sure, maybe I'm exhausted from my weekend activities and the end of my first year teaching. But when I finally jarred myself out of the bed I found that I was too lazy to make anything for dinner, too lazy to even attempt a one page response I have to write for my class that just ended (already a day late), basically too lazy to do anything. And this seems to have become a trend of mine over the past few months - increased exhaustion and a sharp increase in my lack of motivation.

Nothing seems to interest me anymore that doesn't involve my bed. I spend my time either sitting here in my computer chair or laying in bed. I have a couch I bought that I never sit on, and a kitchen that I never eat in. My library books that I was so excited to get have gone unread, my to-do list that is a mile long goes un-done, and my return to Boston is creeping ever closer.

Tomorrow I will have officially finished my first year teaching. I keep telling myself that no matter what comes next, it can only get better - you never have to go through your first year ever again - and the skills I learned this year will make any consecutive years better. The end of school trip on Friday to an amusement park was really the cherry on top of a great year (leaving aside TFA and Mastery problems) with my kids. All the kids went crazy for the trip. Saturday I went to the Jersey Shore with two friends and we had a blast going to the beach, eating seafood, and hanging out at my friend's beautiful beach apartment. It was the perfect weekend - aside from this incredible sunburn I got yesterday at the beach that covers my entire chest - and is extremely painful!

My outlook on my imminent return to Boston is positive. I'm excited to be near friends and family and finally living in the city as I've always wanted to. I can finally have it all - the beach nearby, the BPL, my amazing friends whenever I want to see them and not missing out when they get together, and visiting my family whenever I feel (without having to live with them!).  If I keep those thoughts in the forefront of my mind, I know that I can make the best of not having a job starting out.

Now, I need to make sure that I go in tomorrow with a clear head and an optimistic outlook. I want to end the year on a strong note and be sure to show the kids that they meant the world to me this past year and that I couldn't have asked for a better group to teach.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Realzors

It was real, Philly. I'm moving back to Boston for August 1st. I have to find myself a job. I have to get myself back on my own two feet, figure out where I truly want to go in life, and get myself together. While I hate uncertainty in my life, especially concerning work and the future, I am finding a bit of excitement from the uncertainty and sense of adventure for what's to come.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Put in Place

Reflecting back on this past year, I've really been put in my place. I have never in my life been met with so much failure in such a short period of time. So far in life, I'd have to say that I've had a lot of positive successes and have never really had to truly fight tooth and nail for anything that I've wanted, be it at college, work, or education. But this past year I struggled, met with failures, and have had to fight for myself in ways I hadn't truly thought possible.

The failures began early this year when I began to find myself not fitting into the mold at my school. This high-performance charter has very high expectations of staff and a very (often times) rigid system of instruction and discipline. My school provides teaching coaches to all first year teachers at the charter and I found early on in the year that I was struggled to fit into the mold of my charter. My first failure came when I didn't pass my close-out metrics for my coaching cycle.

Moving on from the coaching plan, I could tell my instruction was improving and I was becoming a better teacher, but having been in my first year, there was still much to learn. My school then put me onto an improvement plan to work on fitting the mold and tightening up my teaching. However, the close-out metrics were extremely high for a first year teacher to attain and I found myself failing again to meet them. And this time, the price for failure was not obtaining a contract at the school for a second year. This came as a blow to me, as I felt I had made significant improvements throughout the year and I was just started to get my feet wet with teaching.

Having not been rehired at my school, I then found myself on the chopping block (and still remain) at Teach for America. Policy states that all corps members need to retain their two-year placements, or else Teach for America has the right to dismiss. Once again I found myself needing to fight to keep my position within the program, and I found my whole character and persona as a teacher being inspected.

Teach for America ambushed me last week with dismissal, a move that came relatively out of the blue. I left the dismissal meeting distraught and without a clear picture of just why they had chosen that course for me, after there had been talk with staff about re-placing me at a new school site.

The next day, more failure: because I was dismissed from Teach for America, I would also be dismissed from the Penn program I had put so much time, effort, and worst of all, money into. I couldn't handle this and sought to fight the dismissal within the program due to lack of evidence and ambiguous terms.

Last night my dismissal grievance hearing took place and for one hour I found myself arguing in favor of my character, my teaching, my ability to serve, and my very core and personality. The meeting was tempered and civil, and I felt that I voiced all that I had inside, and the meeting went where I wanted it to go. However, once again I left the meeting with no clear picture, and the decision of my dismissal (whether it sticks or not) is still to be determined within the coming days.

All in all, I've not only been met with a slew of failures this year, but it's been trying on my very being. I've noticed that a lot of grey hairs have recently found home in my hair, and I don't doubt that the stress and anxiety from this year has brought this on. While my decision with Teach for America is still being determined, I am trying to be realistic and I'm not holding my breath. Perhaps it would just be more enjoyable to return to Boston, a city I WANT to be in, with people I love around me, and concentrate on finishing my Master's in Education at a different school and find a job that won't make me fight and defend my very being, let along a school that actually knows how to developmentally teach children.

My only solace is to know that by this time next week, my first year of teaching will be behind me, and on my own terms I believe it went very well. I taught my students and served them well. I loved my kids and enjoyed all my moments with them. I will never forget the times I had this year and the enjoyment that came from my school (even when it also brought pains).

This Friday I'll be going on a day-long field trip with my students to an amusement park in Jersey to celebrate the end of the year - which should be very exciting, and then on Saturday I'm going to the Jersey shore with some friends - hoping to spot some guidos and guidettes. Send positive energy my way, please - I really need it!