I’ll never forget the night my dad told me we were going to Disney World. I was eight-years-old, laying in my bunk bed underneath the covers directing Superman in a crusade against Evil Batman. No kid buys the bad-guy action figures, so you get adept at creating complex narratives on why Batman, consumed with jealousy, turned against Superman and in the process lost his utility belt and batarang (business idea: sell action-figure accessories online). Anyhow, I was underneath the covers, far past my bed time, and my dad came into the room suddenly flipping on the light. The battle being waged on my chest abruptly ended, as my limbs went limp and my eyes shut far too tight.
“Eric, I know you’re still awake, its okay, I have a surprise for you…”
The look on my dad’s face was kid-like in itself, wide eyes, jaw agape, tongue scrambling to keep up with his thoughts.
“We’re going to Disney World this summer! We’re going to drive there with Kenneth’s family!
I was stunned and overtaken with excitement. I’m sure what followed was something similar to this. But in the back of my brat-tastic mind, I remembering thinking, “Drive? Why can’t we fly?” Despicably spoiled thoughts for any child, but my thought wasn’t born of greed because at the moment, I’m sure I would’ve picked a red-eye to El Paso over a week in Disney World. I was that enamored with the idea of flying. Dad said “Disney”, but all I could remember was “Drive”.
[image credit: orlandovacation.com]
[image credit: guardian.uk.com]
When I tell people I absolutely love the idea of flying, they stare at me, wondering where I hide my cape and comic books. Their look of amusement quickly sours once I explain that it’s not flight that interests me, so much as air travel, specifically airports. Given the choice, many would spend an hour inside their oven sooner than spend an hour inside their local airport. But today, I feel the same excitement upon approaching an airport as I did as a kid, measuring my proximity to the airfield based on the roar of the landing engines. I still crane my neck to watch the planes land, wincing as the landing gear appears to brush the top of the eighteen-wheelers on the road below. I chuckle in amusement as drivers swerve about, avoiding crazed taxi-drivers or cursing as they direct their personal vehicles into the rental-car return lane. I’m perfectly anxious, knowing that the chaos outside foreshadows the clamor within.
[image credit: funny-potato.com]
Inside, humans become squirrels, reacting to each and every sound as if it were an oncoming vehicle. A uniformed guard mutters “next in line” as women furiously fumble through their purses and men angrily slap at their empty pockets. Cue Benny Hill the second the TSA agent hands someone their boarding pass, because suddenly their laptop and liquids are set afire. I see the panic in their eyes as they hurriedly remove the flaming items from their bags as fast as they can, flinging them onto the conveyor belt as if it were a sink full of water. On the other side of the radioactive divide, I’ll witness the entire process in reverse. Flyers, frantically sticking their computers and mouthwash in any open pocket they can find, while they fall into their shoes, one hop at a time.
Amid the insanity, I’m always struck with curiosity. I peek over shoulders, eyeing drivers licenses to understand origins. I try to pinpoint accents, take note of attire, anything to understand where people are going to, coming from. Because that’s the mystique of an airport that always leaves me in awe. Thousands of people, for several minutes, will breathe the same dry air, listen to the same garbled announcements, and bemoan the same bad food. Yet, hours later, their destinations and experiences couldn’t be more different. Is that soldier going to war or coming home? What sport does that team play and are they college or high school athletes? Is that his mom or his girlfiend, perhaps both? You can spend hours concocting these random stories which I prefer to do rather than actually talking to fellow travelers. Random conversation at airports is a lot like morning conversation in the elevator, shallow, bitter, tinged with contempt. Instead I’ll throw on my headphones, today’s preferred social moat, and enjoy my time at the airport while it lasts. Because soon enough, I’ll be forced to board an airplane, where cellular signals and human civility go to die (next post topic). Till then, my eyes and imagination wander, weaving together stories much like I did as an eight-year-old.
This guy is definitely an internet entrepreneur. Expensive laptop, headphones, wrinkled jeans and a hoodie. I bet he sells action-figure accessories online….
PHONE CALLS & CONTACT MANAGEMENT
Me: I use my iPhone 4 for all calls, and it syncs via bluetooth for hands-free use in my car. Also, I utilize Google Voice to combine my work and personal phone numbers and to have a majority of my voicemails logged online. For contact management, I’ve synced my iPhone with my contacts in gmail, so that I never have to ‘import’ contacts onto a sim card or phone.
Grandma: My grandma uses a Samsung slider-style phone my dad bought her. She keeps it on a lanyard around her neck otherwise she has trouble hearing it ring and can never find it in her purse. She doesn’t use voicemail because the prompts are too confusing (English is not her 1st or 2nd language) and her voicemail greeting is the sound of her phone rustling against her shirt as it hangs (neck dial). Every time my brother or I come over, she’ll hand us her phone and ask, “Please clear the message for Ba Noi (Vietnamese for grandmother)”; the message stating that she has ‘86 missed calls’. She keeps all her contacts in a black plastic Rolodex, and when she first got the cell phone, had me transcribe these contacts into the phone’s phonebook one-by-one. Any new contact is written down on a new rolodex card and kept until the next time one of her grandsons visit for transcription.
EMAILS AND WEB BROWSING
Me: I use a combination of my iphone4, my iPad, and my work laptop for email and web browsing. I’ve got my gmail and outlook accounts synced to all devices. I will occasionally use the gmail app on my iphone to search through gmail, as I find it faster than the ‘search’ function within Apple’s Mail app. I use Chrome for web browsing on the laptop, and Safari for browsing elsewhere. For Twitter, I use Tweetbot on my Apple devices, and the native Twitter page for my laptop. I’m also a heavy Instapaper user, where I send great articles to die and never be read.
Grandma: My grandma got her first email account several years ago through her dial-up internet service provider, and I spent days teaching my grandma how to use Microsoft Outlook. She filled 4-5 pages in a spiral notebook with step-by-step instructions on how to access her address book, how to add a contact, etc. Since then, we’ve gotten her on broadband and switched her over to gmail. Recently, I changed the color-scheme and text size in gmail because she could no longer read the “tiny letters”. An email that takes me seconds to send can take her 30 minutes as she hunts and pecks at the keyboard with each index finger; looking up every several minutes to review what she’s composed. When I was home for Christmas, she asked me to bring my laptop over, so that she could send me an email and then see what it looked like. She had no idea there was a ‘sent mail’ folder.
Me: I’m an Amazon Prime member and whether its groceries, gadgets, or garb, I’ll do the browsing, research, and buying online if I can. I now make many of my purchases via iPhone, using Amazon’s app. My offline purchases are limited to perishables such as meat, produce, dairy etc.
Grandma: Over the past several years, my Grandma has become vigilant about not trusting any products from China due to the stories regarding quality of their consumer products. She carefully examines the labels on all products, and if she comes across a “distributed by” label with no clear country of origin, she’ll err on the side of caution, assuming it is likely sourced in China. Once at a GNC in search of vitamins, she asked the store manager to clarify if the Generic GNC vitamins originated from China. He explained that the information was only known by Corporate and getting an answer would take a while. She replied that she wouldn’t mind waiting, and stood there for 20 minutes as he called the corporate office to get an answer. Recounting the episode she exclaims to me, “If you’re not sure where it’s from, how can you trust it? You should always check and be sure!” I laugh, impressed with her dogged persistence, amused by her insane paranoia.
RECEIVING THE FOLLOWING EMAIL:
Grandma: After receiving, she would immediately call me or my brother, asking what this was in regards to. If she couldn’t reach us, she’d wait until her mail man came the next day, and would ask him about it. If he didn’t know, she’d ask that he please ask his manager, and she’d be at her mailbox the next day waiting to see if he had gotten her an answer.
Me: I glanced at the address of the sender, scanned the contents of the email, then try to remember if I had shipped or was expecting a package. I can’t remember, so I tried googling the tracking # with no luck. Dumbfounded, I open the .zip file and discover there’s nothing inside. ”WHAT?!” I try re-opening the attachment several times with no luck. I’m petrified that I ordered a box of awesome and it was mistakenly shipped elsewhere. Frustrated, I go to the USPS.com website, and stumble upon a warning regarding fraudulent emails circulating.
I had just opened an email that was obviously spam, essentially rolling down my window when a masked carjacker knocked. Then, I tried my best to execute the worm-laden file, warning the carjacker that my tires needed air and the car tends to pull to the left.
And the winner is…
I couldn’t help but laugh yesterday as I spent over an hour resetting passwords for the 20+ accounts I use for email, online banking, social media, online shopping, etc. Grandma would have never opened that email, and in the event she had, it would’ve taken me five minutes to reset the passwords for her 2 online accounts. So much for the genius of the digital natives eh?
Yesterday’s lapse made me realize that amid the amusing stories and puzzling questions, I fail to appreciate the tech-savvy of my 84-year-old Vietnamese grandmother. Fact is, she’s more technologically proficient than most in my parents’ generation, yet I often bristle at her questioning and dismiss her suspicions. Clearly, 20+ new passwords later, I could stand to heed her advice. I’ll share this story with her eventually and can already hear her response:
“Why? Why would you open the attachment? Channel 2 always warns us not to open strange attachments. If you’re not sure where it’s from, how can you trust it….”
Touchè Ba Noi. Touchè.
Defaming a Comcast customer service rep
Came across this article recently that takes a peak into the lives of adults who live alone. As someone living alone for the past 14 months, I certainly can relate to those profiled who talk of freedom and the lack of “social checks and balances”. I’m even able to take the experience further as someone who works from home. There are days where I literally do not leave the 700 square foot confines of my apartment within a 48 hour period; my social interaction limited to conference calls conducted in little more than basketball shorts and wool socks (heat rises).
I know what you’re thinking.
But in truth, most of my friends would describe me as outgoing, an extrovert even. In group settings, I’m often one of the first to speak, and I definitely feed off the energy of others. Leading many to ask “do you really like living alone?” in a tone that’s less curious, more concerned. As if the question was truly: “do you really like Nickelback”. Well my answer is always yes (in reference to living by myself, not Nickleback).
I have truly enjoyed living and for the most part, being alone for the past year. Although this comes with the caveat that that I’m happily engaged, so this experiment in solitude is temporary. Within a year, I’ll be happily moved in with the bride-to-be, joining the 3 in 4 households in America with more than 1 resident. On one hand, I can’t wait to reunite with the fiancee and finally live together, but on the other, there are certainly things I’ll miss about my “1 bedroom - 1 bath” lifestyle.
1. Kitchen sink ad infinitum
The sink is where you dispose of used dishware, glassware, etc. Most houses these days have only 1 kitchen sink (unless you’re this guy). However, for the past year, my kitchen sink has expanded beyond the boundaries of the linoleum countertops. My desk is my kitchen sink until the end of the workday, or until I hang the phone up inside my cereal bowl. More than once I’ve reached for a pen and come back with a fork. Concerns regarding space and fungus are the only reason things end up being moved from the desk —> kitchen sink. That or a video conference.
“Are you using that saucer as a mousepad?”
2. Re-use, re-cycle, re-frigerate
Life experience tellls us that when we have leftovers, the refrigerator is the tool used to maintain edibility. Therefore, when I have tupperware that I’d rather not wash, but re-use eventually (within a fiscal year); the refrigerator is the tool used to maintain edibility! Had a discussion with a friend of mine who said her male roommate did this, and it absolutely disgusted her. A clear example of the ‘social check and balance’ system, I’m able to bypass as I fill my pre-frosted tupperware with leftovers.
3. Coming out of the closet
Literally. My clothes have physically come out of my closet. The idea that clothes should be hung like drapery is rather insane if you think about it. Drapes are only hung to adorn windows. In the instances where I choose to wear them, my clothes are indeed hung — on me. However, when they’re not adorning me, why must they hang? This is why a good portion of my clothes are strategically placed wherever I remove them. On my futon, my coffee table, my nightstand, etc. I do have a rule though that no ‘worn’ clothes should go on the bed (I sleep there for Christ sake!) Which is why after doing
Geneva Convention sanctioned torture laundry, I’ll throw my clean clothes on one side of my bed. This prevents me from enjoying the short-lived luxury of having a full queen-sized bed to myself. This also makes the most logical sense as the first thing you do upon waking is get dressed. Finally, clean laundry makes the bed smell like dryer sheets/angel wings.
4. Being so fresh and so clean means not being an Outkast
The more clean your dwelling is, the more obligations you’ll have to be social in your space. Messy people never ‘invite people over’ after a meal to just hang out, play games, watch TV, etc. No matter how hard they try, the majority of Americans who live with others will not understand the social constructs of living alone. Anytime I’ve made the mistake of having unplanned guests over, they stare in bewilderment as I try and explain the Kitchen Sink Ad Infinitum and always leave abruptly when I offer them any leftovers. This leads to my final point…
5. Fear and Loathing
For the past year I’ve not only lived alone, but lived alone 7 hours away from my fiancee and most of our friends. I’ve established a small group of friends here, but for the most part, I have absolutely zero obligations in the evening and weekends. Most people imagine that this would be lonely, but in actuality its incredibly freeing. To know you have a finite amount of time in a new city, and an opportunity to experience solely what you want out of it, has been amazing. It’s amazing though much in the way that Vegas is amazing. You love every second you’re there, but only because you know within 72 hours, you have to leave. I love every minute I’m here, but only because I’m always ”a couple weekends away” from visiting the fiancee or “a few more months” from moving back.
So do I truly enjoy living alone? Could I join the movement for life? The answer for me is no, though I can certainly see why many do. No, soon enough my nights will be spent with the bride-to-be, happily hanging clean clothes and putting dirty tupperware into our one-and-only kitchen sink. I honestly can’t wait.
After being on my own for the past year, I realize marrying into a roommate-by-law relationship isn’t going to be easy, but I’m not at all worried. For those few times I end up sleeping on the couch, I’ll be taking a pile of clean laundry with me.
“He is so much what I am” - Stanley Lee
“In Asian culture, you’re supposed to do hard work and you’ll get noticed,” - Daniel Chao
These are a couple of quotes from this NYT article, explaining the support of Jeremy Lin in the NY Asian community. While I respect those quoted for their own opinions, I couldn’t disagree more with the message of the article. I do not cheer for Jeremy Lin because he’s so much like me. I cheer for Jeremy Lin first, because he is SO. NOT. ME. It’s the reason we initially cheer for any athlete — because they possess talent far beyond our own and we live out our dreams of athletic grandeur with them as the vessel.
This isn’t to ignore the fact that the Lin’s popularity among Asians is driven almost entirely by his race. I admit, I’m completely fascinated by Jeremy Lin, far more than I ever was with Yao Ming despite being from Houston and a die-hard Rockets fan. And yes, it is because I can imagine that Lin and I shared many of the same experiences growing up. As children, hearing kids make fun of your parents’ accent, eating foods your classmates found weird, or mistakenly taking your shoes off when you didn’t have to at a friends house. I assume that at some point as teens we wondered why we were picked last in gym class (rightfully so in my case) or what it would be like to date a non-asian girl (no difference!). I certainly cheer for Jeremy Lin in large part, because of the background I assume we share.
However, if Jeremy Lin is not the NY Knicks point guard, but instead a Nobel Prize winning scientist? There’s no idolization, no youtube highlights, no Linsanity. None. You can claim this is overtly obvious, but I’ve cringed in the past few days as people have tried to tie Lin’s popularity to values often treasured in the Asian culture. Yes, he’s humble, he’s diligent, and he’s hard working. Yes, these contribute to his success, but why must these qualities be the reason for his success? What about his lateral quickness, his court vision, his physical endurance? Jeremy Lin’s humility certainly gains my appreciation, but his athletic talents draw my attention and his background earns my adulation.
My parents love Jeremy Lin because they get to hear a young man deflect praise to his coaches and teammates when interviewed on TV. I love Jeremy Lin because I get to watch an asian guy fucking dunk a basketball on Sportscenter. Is that so Linsane?
1. Locate screenplay for the Citizen Kane of romantic dramas
2. Write a script, swapping out minor details while maintaining the critical premise of memory loss
3. Re-hire Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling
4. Shit. Ryan Gosling’s booked.
5. Find appropriate replacement. Mystery accent not needed. Pained “my sock is wet” expression still critical.
6. Make movie.
7. Title movie by using the following formula…definite article + noun
8. Create movie poster where the co-stars embrace closely but — and this is critical — a kiss is implied. The hook is set.
9. Pin said poster on Pinterest
10. Pat yourself on the back. You’ve just made a hit movie.
Never buy a cow without sampling the milk
My fiancee and I are in the process of planning our wedding and I’ve quickly discovered that despite being a $72 billion dollar industry, the wedding industry is in desperate need of common sense and innovation. DISCLOSURE: I’m a male and the presence of my genitalia pre-disposes my resentment of said industry.
To begin we have begun researching venues for our wedding. Your starting points for this exercise are bridal magazines (unfortunately the pages are not stiff enough to slice your wrists) or The Knot (it’s like the ESPN.com of weddings — you go elsewhere for further details/opinions, but you always start there.) The Knot lists all wedding venues for a particular city and once you find a venue you’re interested in, you go to their website for 3 reasons: photos of the venue, pricing, and contact information. Now I understand why venues don’t necessarily post pricing information online and generally I had no issues finding contact information. Finding photos of venues however was an absolute terror. I ran into 2 issues.
1. A Minotaur and Templar Knights guard the venue photos
You could be an archaeologist with a secret alien map etched onto the back of Moses’ tablets, and you’d still have trouble finding a venue’s photo gallery within their deep labyrinth of links and menus. This was a common issue with the large hotel chains, where I understand weddings are not their primary business but, when I click the “weddings/events” link, I expect a wedding-specific photo gallery within a click or two away. Instead I’m led to a page that says “Yep. We do weddings here.” Any photos I do find are horrific, which leads to the next issue…
2. Have nose. Call me?
Here are 3 different wedding venue website, and 3 photos I found that they use to represent their space. Now these weren’t their only photos, but this is pretty representative of their collection
You know how helpful these are in picking a venue? As helpful as this would be if you’re searching for a mate online
“No no, those other photos help set the tone, emotional atmosphere, etc.”
…And the nose shot gives you a sense for his curiosity and inquisitive nature.
I’ll take some cheese with my wine
I don’t want to simply be the griping groom, so here are 3 ideas I have for wedding service companies…
- Your venue is your product. Showcase it. All I need are high quality photos of the venue. I don’t care about your history and I don’t need your dentist-office-music-stream crashing my browser. Plenty of other industries have realized the importance of aesthetically pleasing design — yet an industry that relies solely on aesthetics, clearly hasn’t
- Pinterest It. Have never seen anything catch on so quickly with females in the tech world than Pinterest has in the past several months. Now imagine a wedding services website (whether it be a specific vendor, Knot-like portal, or individual wedding planner) that allowed me to quickly view & discover vendors in the simple and gorgeous way Pinterest lets its users create pin boards. Want to find a flower vendor? Filter to flowers and all (or exclusive) flower vendors are displayed on the pinboard for me to choose. Dresses? Same. Brides? Ok, too far…
- Let me see my wedding. Today. There are now websites and apps, where I can use photos of my home and preview how a piece furniture will look like in my home before I buy it, or how a certain color of paint will look on my wall in a particular room. Why can’t we “weddify” this? Why can’t a venue allow you to ‘preview’ your wedding by selecting picking/choosing things like table cloth colors, chair types, flowers etc. They work with many of the same vendors over and over, for hundreds of weddings - there’s no shortage of photos (data in this case) that can be used to create this feature.
Now obviously, these things are far departure from how the industry is now, and many will argue why invest thousands when the industry is raking in billions as is. Well, rapid growth leads more individuals/companies to enter in search of their slice of a growing pie. As more and more vendors crowd the Knot.com and fill the pages of Bride magazine - they’re going to need ways to differentiate themselves.
In the wedding industry, I’m not able to “sample the milk” before “buying the cow”. But at least try to show me the teats.
When I was growing up, I wrestled with my love/hatred for writing. I hated the benign essays my teachers assigned, however I loved the challenge of writing something I’d be proud of no matter how boring the topic.
Jane Eyre is Jessie Spanos
Since then I’ve entered a corporate world where the only writing I do is in emails and PowerPoint presentations and few appreciate the use of figurative language to communicate business results
Me: Our dollar sales have gone through the roof a la Superman, straight up. No opening a door or window, just…
Corporate: Do you have a graph?
Me: Yeah, it’s on the next page…
So Twitter and Facebook ended up being fun receptacles for my brain vomit, but how many epic status updates can you have before people start blocking you? Not many.
(unless you are Jackson Chung)
So finally, after years of swearing I wouldn’t, I’ve started a blog. Not because I believe people are interested in my life on a day-to-day basis
(OMG i just made the most amazing fucking omelette ever with these new non-stick pans I got online for SO CHEAP. I got the best deal E-V-E-R. They were originally you don’t give a shit, but I ended up getting them for you wish I would die)
Nope, I created this because I loved writing back when I was told what to write about and I knew who the audience was. Now, I have the freedom to select any topic I want yet have no idea if there will even be an audience. Not knowing my audience, not understanding who I want to write to, has been the biggest obstacle to the creation of this blog. Nobody was responsible for my writing in school. I had to write because it was my duty as a student. My teacher read my writing because it was her duty as an educator. Now I’m going to write because I choose to and nobody has to read it??? Friends tell me,”well just write - don’t worry about the audience” Ever try writing without an audience in mind? It’s not possible. The 13-year-old girl writing her in her secret diary to “nobody,” writes as if it it’ll be discovered by the parents who don’t understand or the boys who can’t take a hint. Everyone writes with an audience in mind.
Which makes you my audience (you’re in rare company). I’m writing for you because I choose to. You’re going to read because you choose to. And we’re going to fucking love it because it’s on the interwebz and it’s better than working.
I’m so excited. I’m so…scared.