Saturday, July 30, 2011

What If?

If you could do one thing in your life over again differently, what would it be?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I *heart* debt

Not really. Curiously, while all the news networks talk nonstop about the GOP and Dems both battling out some resolution to the debt crisis on Capital Hill, we really don't feel it at the everyday Joe the plumber level most of us live in. Yes, gas prices have gone up and food prices and such but those are market factors at work, when was the last time you actually said "Oh damn, the national debt prevented me from buying XYZ" Really, the US has held a debt for the better part of time since the 1940s if not earlier. Only recently did the debt really jump to the levels we're panicking about today.

Since neither side of the political spectrum seems to want to budge (I think they're suffering from a severe case of Kindergarten "I don't wanna"itis) it could be a possibility that the US might default on her loans. Why can't this happen? Well, for better or for worse, the US' position as the main superpower of the world politically and economically (at the time being, China is creeping up fast) means defaulting would show weakness, and in the massive global game of chess, the US's position of King of the West needs to be guarded. There is a reason why whenever some crisis occurs in Africa or Asia, it's the United States who is called upon to provide aid. We have the money, the resources and the man power to do so, it's the basis for how she can get other nations to do what she wants. If the US defaults, her hegemony is essentially halved or even more (less?). The message sent out to the world isn't one of power, omnipotence and omniscience regarding international affairs, but as the fallen giant who epitomizes the reason we had our last recession, spending money we didn't have. So, while today we might not directly feel the impact of the debt, in the next few years we probably will, and not in the "I can't buy this" sense, but in the "Who gives a shit about the country who can't pay its own debts?" sense the next time we try to do something big in the international arena.

Politicians needs to stop bickering and get off their sorry asses and get shit done. They've forgotten the reason they're in their elected position in the first place, to serve the nation and put the interests of the public in the forefront. Instead, they've gotten stuck trying to put down the opposing party and blowing hot air. My generation is already economically screwed over thanks to these goons who think raising the debt ceiling will change anything. Ignoring the problem or sweeping it under the rug won't do anything, in five years, we'll be right back where we started only to find the problem has grown even bigger.

So Republicans and Democrats: Stop acting like little children and get your shit together.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I have a list of topics I plan on covering in the coming week before I leave on holiday so stay tuned.

In the mean time, enjoy this baby sloth and quiver at the adorableness.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back on the Water

So as you guys know, I really miss rowing and my days on the crew team, well, today I completed two crew related dreams in one  - I tried sculling for the first time and I got back on the water for the first time in over a year.

For those of you who don't know what sculling is, it's basically the kind of rowing you probably think of when you think of rowing as a sport, the kind with two oars per rower. It's a little harder than the sweep rowing (one massive oar) I did in high school since you have to manipulate each oar individually. I met up with Dutch who took out a single while I went out with my friend Less in a double. I stupidly took bow seat knowing I would have to steer since I hate being stroke seat or the person that everyone behind has to follow. We got the shell in the water just fine and we got in and head out.

I was worried I would feel lost the entire time, but wobbliness aside, it was better than I expected. Less had been out quite a few times in a single so she knew the ropes much better than I did so I really appreciated her putting up with my ineptitude. I kept trying to remember "left over right" the entire time, meaning to keep my left hand over my right when doing the stroke and on the recovery afterwards. We were on  the water for about an hour, trying out rowing on my own and eventually both of us giving it a go. I found that steering was a bitch and we spent more time going in zig zags than straight lines but it worked out in the end. Even though I was spending more time worrying about flipping the boat, I still got the "flying" sensation I missed so much, the water was absolutely still which only made things even more amazing for me. I really hope I get a chance to go out again later this summer; I want to practice sculling some more so maybe I can go out in a single on my own in the future.

Grade A day if I do say so myself.

Monday, July 18, 2011

And We Move On

I had another talk with my mom today, part of a long string of talks we've had over the future of the family and how things are proceeding between her and my dad. Today she went to talk to the husband of a close family friend; he's an attorney and is advising her in what divorce proceedings entail and the possible risks involved. I didn't go personally but when she finally got back after about four hours and looking tired both physically and emotionally, I knew quite a lot had gone down.

It looks like things are actually happening this time. She realizes it's going to be a long and drawn out fight; my dad, like me, is very stubborn and will never let himself lose, but unlike me, he doesn't know when to stop and accept a deal. The family friend is working to find my mom a good lawyer right now and time will only tell where things proceed from there. What made today different however is that she said that she was finally over "it", "it" being trying to fix the marriage that is well beyond repairability.

In approximately two weeks from today, my parents were supposed to go on their 19 day Northern Europe cruise/holiday but obviously that was cancelled. With my mom already taking those days off and me not having set my August work schedule yet, we decided that we would take our own holiday together. This evening we booked what is going to be our own summer holiday. It's a seven day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean leaving from Florida which will double as a celebration for my mom's birthday which falls right after we get back. Interestingly, the original cruise scheduled was supposed to encompass both my mom's birthday and what was supposed to be my parent's anniversary. My mom still has a few days before and after the cruise days which she is trying to figure out right now.

Both of us need this escape, her to get away from it all and me to get away from D.C. for a little while. After a while, traffic, suburbia and familiarity gets pretty monotonous, even with the company of good friends. I plan to get my fair share of fun while I'm out, beaches, fine dining, drinking and the like. The ship we're sailing on is very new too so that should be pretty cool to explore. Strange thing about cruise holidays, they never seem to get old; I think this will be number eleven for me. The goal for this holiday will be to relax, simple enough. Be both can use this.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pass the Chips


-wake up and grab a quick breakfast before I go with my mom so she can get some x-rays done
-grab lunch at a local pho place, don't get pho in the end
-go to the gym for a little while, do a steady state erg piece and lift a little
-run home and change to meet with Ms. X and a few other friends
-friend is house sitting for relatives and has a pool we can use. I'm greeted by an overly excited and loud schnauzer
-I'm a little late but end up being the first to arrive
-when Ms. X arrives we go chill by the pool and try to figure out dinner plans, we fail
-decide to walk over to the grocery store and wing it
-decide on macaroni salad, a bag of chips, a whole watermelon and chicken nuggets from the freezer back at my friend's house
-I got to carry the 18 lb. watermelon back to the house, pain...
-we get everything prepped and eat on the deck.  It was really nice out and the neighbors were also having a barbecue
-On the way to go to the theatre, we conclude that both the neighbors are Chinese. It turns out they both own exclusively Toyotas and Hondas, suspicions confirmed
-arrive at the theatre just before the movie starts, we get seats closeish to the screen meaning we had to bend out necks since the seats don't recline
-the movie was really good and it was also not as long and drawn out as I expected. I <3 IMAX
-my neck was sore for a little while after and Ms. X had motion sickness on the drive back and crashed in bed when we got back to the house
-Me and the other two take the dog, Baxter, out for a walk
-get back and I chop up another quarter of the watermelon; we finish that and the rest of the bag of chips while watching American Pickers, Pawn Stars and Modern Marvels
-midnight - I drive one of my friends home and then embark home myself
-I think I missed a turn or something and wind up in the middle of an office park in South Bumblefuck, Whoknowswhere
-I finally relent and break out the GPS
-It turns out I had to backtrack about 3 miles to get to a road I was traveling the wrong direction >.>
-finally find my way back to the highway and eventually home
-make some eggs and toast for a snack and eventually went to bed...fully dressed

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter and the Apathetic Teenager

Am I being blasphemous if I say that I am apathetic about the release of the final Harry Potter movie? People have been saying that it's the end of an era, that this is symbolic of the end of our childhoods in cinematic form, but I don't see it that way. Sure, the Harry Potter movies are pretty good, and they have definitely come a long way since HP and the Sorcerer's Stone came out so many years ago, seeing the debut of little Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as well as the now surprisingly good looking Matthew Lewis (aka Neville Longbottom).

lolz, whut?
 Nevertheless, I did grow up with the magical world of the boy wizard. Yes, I read the books (albeit with gratuitous amounts of page skipping and skimming at times), saw all the movies, and even had a dementor costume during my year as a sevie in middle school (lame, I know), but however exciting it was, I never became the fanboy that so many became. Sure, it was cool and in the future Harry Potter will probably be remembered as the apex of literary achievement for my generation but it never caught my attention as much as say my favorite work of all time 1984 by Orwell did. It's not like I don't have a thing for references to mythical creatures, fantasy works, or Rowling's deft use of imagery and syntax to paint brilliant images and scenes of a world I sometimes wish were real, Harry Potter just never "clicked" with me.

When I say "clicked" I mean that feeling you get when you know that something will be integral in shaping who you are and something you will remember for the very rest of your life. While the second part of that statement is probably true, the first one isn't. I got my first Harry Potter book as a gift from a family friend as a Christmas gift. I remember very clearly that it was the biggest book I'd ever received up to that point, it was intimidating and judging by the odd cover of a boy with a scar on his forehead riding a broom, I wasn't too enthralled or eager to sit down and just read; granted, very few books have been able to do that. Eventually I did start reading it, and it was interesting and fun in its on way but I don't remember ever staying up late or wanting to read one more chapter more than I intended to.

As I worked through the other books, things didn't really change; it really wasn't until the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows did the thrill of reading the series hit me. Maybe it's because my tastes have matured or evolved. Instead of the books, I indulged myself in the movies which served me well enough in enjoying the story. Harry Potter turned out to be one of the few movie franchises where the films were as good as the books if not occasionally better; the same can't be said of other book adaptations (aka Twilight).

Back to point, I just spent about $20 for IMAX tickets to see Deathly Hallows part 2 on Saturday. Am I excited? Yes, I am, but am I wetting my pants and doing back flips in anticipation? not quite. It looks to be a good movie and I'm actually really excited to see the final battle scene; I really want to know how the CGI artists rendered what is supposed to be one truly epic battle with all the fiery, dazzling lights goodness the book made it seem like it would be.

Sure, there isn't the ablicious droolability of Thor or the hilarious genius of Bridesmaids (total chickflick but I almost died laughing) but maybe this final Harry Potter movie has some magic to be seen.

Hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised with how the movie turns out.

All the best,


Friday, July 8, 2011

I Should Do TV

"Aww, you're so cute, you should be in front of the camera doing commercials rather than behind the counter"

"My granddaughter would love you, you two should meet"

"How could I say no to that smile?"

"You're so charming, I usually don't buy this much stuff but you do something to people"

So, what do these four comments have in common?

A. They all occurred at work
B. They were all spoken by women 40 years old+
C. I responded to them with the semi-awkward "I'm flattered" laugh
D. All of the above

ding ding, answer D is correct.

So I guess I'm destined to being the next Anthony Sullivan in my lifetime?



See you in 10-15 years on your living room's 3-D hologram TV; I fully expect that you'll buy whatever I'm pitching.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Casey Anthony Trial Verdict

Ahhh, so the trial of the decade has finally come to an end...and as the verdict was passed I was....napping? True, oddly enough. Sorry, eating an entire pizza from California Pizza Kitchen does that to you.

Google news feeds, twitter feeds and facebook statuses ring loudly with shouts of "what the fuck?", "that bitch deserves to die for what she did", and "no justice for Caylee" and all the cable news networks sound like they are reporting the apocalypse. So, what does this not guilty verdict mean for the rest of us? Well, really, nothing. Now hold on before you decide to have me tarred and feathered and then pressed or drawn and quartered (your choice of course). The Casey Anthony trial really isn't anything special per se. Really, the only reason we know so much about it and why the media reports on it so much is because Caylee Anthony was a pretty, White 2 year old whose mother happened to be a partying and not terribly responsible mother, qualities we despise in American culture for understandable reasons. There are dozens if not hundreds of similar situations playing out in similar manners across the United States and the world for that matter at this very moment, affecting disproportionately minority and impoverished populations. Do you honestly think that this case is truly special? Sorry to say, hardly.

I can imagine what you're thinking right now, "JP, you're a dumbfuck, how can you be so cold and heartless?" Well, dear reader, I'm sorry you feel that way, and I can say I am hardly a dumbfuck; sure, I may not be the next Tesla, Einstein or Hawking, but If I can make it in to one of the most selective schools on the East coast and in the world for that matter, you are hardly justified in calling me so. As for being cold and heartless, your convictions may be more understandable, maybe. I'm not being heartless, callous or any other fun word you could look up in a thesaurus synonymous with those terms, I'm just being objective and realistic in a situation where most people would prefer for me not to be.

Am I shocked that Casey Anthony got off on the charge of murder? Not really. While I am no expert on the case (as I doubt is the vast majority of people probably marching in the streets pitchforks and torches in hand), I had my doubts of the integrity of the prosecution's case. Things was mostly speculation on their part and while Anthony was not exactly the best at casting herself in a good light, the case from the get-go was hardly foolproof (and teh fact that the defence showed that the police could have planted evidence doesn't help). Casey Anthony was hardly a good mother, she lied, she was scared, made stupid decisions and acted irrationally, but I have a feeling that if any of us had to go through what she did (and I pray none of us do) our sympathy for her, or at least our levels of rage towards her would be much more tempered.

This case, if anything is a victory for our judicial system and not a failing. Our judicial system is based on a system of innocence until proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It's that last part which people often forget. Also, trials are based not on the character of somebody or speculation but solid factual evidence. In this trial, it cannot be denied that if Casey Anthony were to be convicted based on her character, she would have been jailed for life back in 2008 and probably would be on death row, but that's not how we do things. If we followed that model, half the United States would be jailed and everyone else would be so afraid of offending their next door neighbor that we'd all be reclusive. The only thing that can be proved in this case was that Casey Anthony did lie to police about what happened to her daughter, was irresponsible, and that she was a bad mother, and I'm sorry for the pitchfork crowd, there is no punishment for that except from social repercussions. The jury did a good job here, they listened, saw the evidence, deliberated and acted with their heads rather than their hearts; and while I rarely am a proponent for that kind of approach in everyday life, in the judicial system of the country I was born and raised in, I do believe they did the right thing, however unpopular.

So what's next? Well, just because this trail is over-ish doesn't mean that the saga is over. Anthony will be facing a few years in jail on misdemeanor charges, but I worry for her once she is let out. Emotions run high when young children die, and when the convicted mother is found innocent, her safety is hardly ensured. When she is let out, I fear some sort of revenge killing from a crazed individual who got too wound up in the trail for their own good. Sad thing is, if something like this did happen, I think the majority response by Americans would be a resounding "meh" or "she deserved it, that bitch", which is a kick in the balls of everything this nation stands for. Justice is important, but we are America, where every human deserves to be treated as a human and that sort of response just shows how blind we can be. Same can be said for the jury to arrived at the not guilty verdict, I fear for them as well. They're under great risk from the same people after Casey Anthony even though they did nothing in terms of harming Caylee. It would be a sad day if anything were to happen to any of these people, not "bitches", "motherfucker's who deserve to burn in hell" or what other derogatory term one could label Casey or the jury with, and it would be a miserable day where I lose my faith in the American people if anyone is killed in revenge of this verdict.

Hate me if you will, tell me I'm going to hell, cut my ears off, break my fingers one by one or use whatever other medieval torture method you prefer, but these are my views and don't for a second think you can change them.


Bittersweet 4th

Happy Birthday America, it was quite a day, or not really. It was a heavy day more than anything. I didn't wake up until 11, the first time that's happened in a few weeks actually. I made breakfast and pretty much wasted time on the computer for the longest time before forcing my lazy-Monday ass to the gym. On my way out i noticed I missed a call from my mom. Fuck. It's not like I was in trouble; hardly, but she had already called earlier that day so this must mean that she had some news.

To make sense of this we have to rewind for a week or so. Things between my mom and dad have been slowly deteriorating for quite a while, since Winter really when it was finally confirmed my dad was cheating on my mom. Well, the past three weeks or so, things took another major dip that might have reached a conclusion today, America's birthday. I called her back to see what was up and a tired voice said she was coming home from my dad's and that if I wanted to go out and get dinner with just the two of us. That signaled to me that she had some sort of news to share, something I dread since for a while now I had cut contact with my dad to minimal levels and this, inevitably was about him. "Sure" I said and I headed home. I changed, my mom arriving home soon after. It was early still, around 4:30 so she said she was going to go to my cousin Nate's to get Microsoft Office 2010 installed on the laptop I bought for her as an early birthday gift (yes, I did go through with it, it cost a paycheck and then some but she deserves it. I'll go into more detail in a later post). Around 5:30 she got back, new software installed and reserved and calm as any good Asian mother would be before revealing something that was not-so-subtly hidden as some sort of conclusion between my parents.

As always, we couldn't figure out where to eat. It's rather surprising actually considering there are literally hundreds of restaurants near my house with foods from around the world. We slowly cruised light to light, me just looking out the window before suggesting an Indian restaurant me and Maria went to on one occasion. We sat, ordered our food and she began her speech. Put short, it was nothing I hadn't already predicted. They're breaking up, my mom is looking for a lawyer, my dad is being stubborn as usual and is not willing to waver. He essentially is abandoning me and my mom for his mistress in what we believe is in Philadelphia. Fun fact, I might have a half-sibling in Philadelphia as well since my dad didn't deny if there was another child. Haha..ha.......ha.

As always, I remained stone faced as my mom tried to figure out her next plan of action. She doesn't want to tell my grandpa, he's too old for this crap, and probably only one of my aunts will find out. Funny thing is, later this month, she was supposed to go on a 2+ week Eurotrip to Scandinavia with my aunt and cousin on my dad's side. Her now unexplained absence will surely cause a stir; I look forward to hearing what explanation my dad gives. My aunt will probably believe whatever my dad says and will side with him, but my cousin will almost positively side with my mom, he likes her and me too much to be honest.

We talked about other things as our food arrived, but it wasn't too long before I was trying to shove chicken korma, palak paneer and naan into my face in a vain attempt to stymie the conversation. I know my mom was hurting and it hurts me too, but this time around, I think she is finally getting what I've believed and held to be true for months, that she needs to end this unhealthy relationship. Soon the waitress, dressed in an orange sari came to check on us and try to make small talk. We paid our check, left, and life literally went on as if nothing happened. We went grocery shopping, went home and soon we went to go see the fireworks.

I don't live in a big city, I might live near one, but it's the suburbs. We congregated on the lawn of a shopping plaza and waited for 9:30. It was me, my mom and my uncle and cousin, plus some random distant relative of mine that nobody really likes but that's honestly irrelevant. It was your everyday show, boom, flash, boom, flash. An Indian family sitting on the curb behind I was standing kept asking people to move or sit down because they were blocking their view rather than getting off  their asses and standing themselves; it pissed me off but I kept reminding myself that it would be wasting energy to confront them. This was the first time for both my mom and I in the 14 years I've lived here that we actually went to see our local fireworks; usually we're traveling to some far off place by now. Actually, this will be the first summer without a "family" holiday ever.

We walked home and things continued to just move on as if nothing happened. We talked about how we hoped our aging terrier didn't make a mess of the house since he's afraid of the slightest loud noise and how I should use the 10 cents off per gallon of gas offer we have built up at the local Safeway the next time I take my car to get filled up. It was so ordinary I got lost. I almost forgot that I just saw a couple thousand dollars of chemicals explode in the air in a colourful display of patriotism. It was so ordinary except for the fact that just how little everything that is happening around me bothers me as little as it should. Am I just so desensitized to it all that it just doesn't mean mean anything to me anymore? Have I grown cold? Or has everything just not hit me yet? Maybe it's on a delay, a few days from now I will snap into my senses and bawl my eyes out, enough to "create a river and then row up it" as an old joke we told back on the crew team as a sarcastic response to an overly dramatized sob-story. Everything is just a blur, everything looks the same, just a grey mass of emotion or lacktherof. It's not that I just don't care, it's just that I don't even know what to think anymore.

So why bittersweet? Well, one would be hard pressed to consider this a happy or even neutral (emotionally at least) event in my life, even if it was expected. It's bittersweet because while things didn't work out as we all hoped it would, at least we can work things out now and move forward and at least try and find some semblance of happiness in the future.

Happy 4th, eh?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Who Am I?

I am the guy who will stay up until 3AM for no particular reason

I am the guy who gets a thrill from discovering the scooter he had from when he was 12 six years later.

I am the guy who will be nice to you but won't be afraid of defending his beliefs, even if things have to get nasty.

I am the guy who doesn't get angry easily but can summon lightning and thunder and make you quiver with fear if need be.

I am the guy who geeks out about the silliest things

I am the guy who isn't afraid to try something at least once

I am the guy who finds Mario Kart Double Dash, Super Smash Bros Melee and other old GameCube games very entertaining

I am the guy who assigned his car a gender and gave it a name. (Male, Heindrik Conrad)

I am the guy who wishes it were late Autumn all year round

Je suis le garçon qui espère qu'il n'oubliera pas trop de français à l'avenir

I am the guy who has done many disagreeable things even close friends wouldn't even think of me doing

I am the guy who you think is straight until I tell you otherwise

I am the guy who can eat a dozen donuts in one sitting

I am the guy who will never stop posing questions about the world around us

I am the guy who thinks a SUV without 4WD or AWD makes no sense

I am the guy who will fall for someone hard and then feel distraught for an eternity before he gets knocked back to his senses

I am the guy who will not stop working on something until it's perfect in his eyes

I am the guy who actually liked his vegetables as a child

I am the guy who you don't want to get into an argument with about cars

I am the guy who knows how to manipulate your emotions and make you feel great or like absolute shit, and I am the guy who takes pride in this ability even if it seems wrong.

I am the guy who refuses to spend more than $50 for a pair of jeans

I am the guy who will refer to himself in the third person in a blog post :P

I am the guy who is genuinely pretty satisfied with his life

I am the guy who thinks station wagons are actually pretty cool

I am the guy who get's pissed off at people who think the world is constantly scheming against them

I am the guy who believes that his generation is bound to do great things

I am the guy who will always want to row again one day

I am the guy who can and will cook you a four-star three course meal on your birthday "just because"

I am the guy who finds super flamboyant guys annoying and believes they are probably hiding some set of insecurities

I am the guy who thinks the smile is the most attractive feature on a guy

I am the guy who enjoys watching the Food Network, Travel Channel and The History Channel on a regular basis

I am the guy who gets a chill down his spine when I hear the noise of a V8 muscle car accelerating

I am the guy who will stand by his true friends until the end of time

I am the guy who wants to do great things in life

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

All the best,