Saturday, November 19, 2011

back from L.A. with new/old friends.

I had the best time in Los Angeles this week! I flew into LAX at 8PM on a Wednesday and it took almost two hours to get out of the airport, to USC about 15 miles away. This is L.A.
Hello, LA!
My high school friend who I hadn't spoken to in years agreed to let me stay at his place which was unbelievably one block away from campus. We took a mini-tour around campus as he finished up errands before he himself had to fly out for an interview the next morning. Beautiful 50's weather, we woke up at 7:30AM and went onto to our prospective grown-up events for the day.

After day's events, I walked around USC and its beautiful campus. There are a ton of bikes and skateboards, and I even heard USC's band with platinum records practicing out on the fields. The Trojan statue was wrapped in duct tape to keep it from its rival UCLA's attacks for the upcoming USC-UCLA football game. In the past, UCLA has had a helicopter drop manure on the statue. I spotted the coolest-looking people in boots, cardigans and funky messenger bags.
Prepared for the USC vs. UCLA game
While packing, I even caught some Korean television before heading across town to UCLA.
Korean television? Oh, I missed you.
Someone I met at the interview agreed to drive me to UCLA since he was heading back to San Francisco that night. The ten miles from USC to UCLA took almost 40 minutes- oh, traffic! After an utterly irresponsible waffle dinner with a friend from Rice, I retired early after an eventful day. Next morning I explored the giant UCLA campus which felt like a city with a streets running across campus, multiple parking lots, and hills/stairs all over (it is 419 acres, as big as Disneyland!)
Regency Village Theatre
Walking on Weyburn
I grabbed a latte at one of the many Coffee Bean's around tow and walked down the beautiful Weyburn St. where a small film crew was shooting a car trunk scene by the side of the road.
 Then beautiful UCLA campus with its Italian brick buildings:

The symbolic Royce Hall
ROTC at flagpole
And back to Houston Friday night. A short but fun-filled trip to the coolest city in California with new and old friends, and I learned that 50's weather is enough to have me coughing and sniffling the entire day. Loved L.A., loved the schools, hope to make my way out to California sometime real soon!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

row row row

I finally made it to rowing today after weeks of being unable to make group rows. Since I was finishing up the class much later, I was the only novice this morning. There were sixteen people, so we naturally divided up into four quads- prelude to my traumatizing moment.

We row-row-rowed downstream with me in the 2 seat. Jose sat behind me & yelled out instructions and suggestions: reach with your back, push with your legs, control your slide. So many things to remember, all while you are repeating the same motion over and over again. I wrote about how difficult it is to keep the repeating motion going, and today was equally difficult, but I learned to feel the water and enjoy it a little bit more.

He's caught the elusive ejector crab. Picture
We got to the end of the creek and the other two boats were lined up, waiting.... uh oh. One of the rowers had suggested that we race, and everyone began jokingly dirty-talking the other boats. All the boats lined up and with someone shouting "start!", our stroke began rowing at a ferocious rate, 0 to 60 in two seconds. Holy crab. I panicked, fumbled, my oar hit seat 3's then my ribs, and Jose yelled out "weigh nuff!" (=stop).

Oh-oooooh. That's how a race starts.

All the while my hands were killing me. I refused to look at them until I got in the car, and oh my oars, those dishes will not be washed today or tomorrow. After a painful shower, I called up Sporty Bro who was walking on Times Square & flooding the family chat room with his NYC photos. I uploaded a photo of my own which elicited a stronger response from Appa: "OMG".

A productive weekend minus the fact that I can no longer straighten my fingers. This reminds me of the most heartbreaking interview I heard today with Darrell Hammond of SNL (that he portrays John McCain... is the connection). Spending the evening prepping for my L.A. trip this week.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

importance of pain.

Today at work I dropped my mug and oatmeal in the hallway for no reason. They were in separate hands and I simply dropped them both while walking. The mug shattered on the hard floor and without thinking, I went to pick it up. It was not pretty- my thumb splattered blood on my oatmeal bowl and I bled through bandages all day.

I wondered if it was possible to simply get rid of pain- why do we need it anyway? It only causes "pain" and suffering, right? But wait. Congenital insensitivity to pain, or CIP, is a recessive disorder where the patient cannot feel pain, heat or cold and is caused by a defective gene coding for a Na+ channel. Often times, infants with CIP will go undiagnosed until they hurt themselves and fail to respond. In a case like Ashlyn's, she has to be checked from head to toe every day to make sure she hasn't unknowingly hurt herself. So pain has a purpose, acting to alert us when our bodies have life-threatening injuries that require attention.

A better alternative may be that we replace the sensation of pain with another, something specific yet not as "painful" like tingly ears or an itchy chin. You would be aware of the damage to your body without having to suffer the consequences.

I found it interesting that many articles mention CIP patients can feel emotional pain- I'd think emotional pain and physical pain are two separate things, but perhaps it's questionable.
no thumb wrestling for a while
As for my day, it began to look up in late afternoon with a text from M: "Picking up Chick-fil-A, want anything?" In addition, I walked into the department kitchen to find cookies and hot cocoa. Fingers crossed for no clumsiness tomorrow, the biggest Pepero day in the history of this Korean pseudo-Valentine's Day's (11.11.11) & Veteran's day!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

living with(out) regrets.

My day started off on an interesting note. Since I woke up early, I spent a leisurely morning on Google looking up "life's biggest regret's". Recently I have been nursing mixed feelings about a BIG decision I made couple of years ago, and on this particular morning I was in a state of regret. Did I make the right decision? Where would I be if I'd taken the other road? Had I been blinded by pride?

Needless to say, that lemon tart pie has left the bakery. But I also began to think about the emotion regret. There is a sense of defeat associated with feeling regret, and often people will deny feeling this forbidden emotion. But let's be honest for a minute: What do you regret in your life? What do you wish you could have done differently in your past?

A 2005 study by Roese and Summerville evaluated Americans' biggest life regrets by looking at nine articles studying regret and organizing the answers from 3,041 participants into six major categories. Biggest percentage of people expressed regrets on decisions they made on education.

Biggest life regret by far: education

  • Career: jobs, employment, earning a living (e.g., “If only I were a dentist”)
  • Community: volunteer work, political activism (e.g., “I should have volunteered more”)
  • Education: school, studying, getting good grades (e.g., “If only I had studied harder in college”)
  • Parenting: interactions with offspring (e.g., “If only I’d spent more time with my kids”)
  • Family: interactions with parents and siblings (e.g., “I wish I’d called my mom more often”)
  • Finance: decisions about money (e.g., “I wish I’d never invested in Enron”)
  • Friends: interactions with close others (e.g., “I shouldn’t have told Susan that she’d gained weight”)

I laughed out loud when I saw the examples- look at #1! The paper suggested that education may be the biggest life regret in this study for Americans because 1) education is widely available (university, professional schools, associate degrees, leisure learning classes) and 2) education opens the door to other possible desirable outcomes which may further be a source of regret ("I would've had a different job if I'd graduated").

Also fascinating was the Zeigarnik effect: "Regrettable failures to act tend to be more memorable and enduring than regrettable actions."(Gilovich and Medvec 1995) When asked "what they'd do differently", most people answer they should have done X, rather than that they should not have done Y. You can probably imagine thousand scenarios for what would have happened if you'd done something (picture a tree sprouting hundred branches) as opposed to reality where the possibility did not happen at all. knows regret

I haven't lived enough to feel regret to soak my dinner bread with tears, but should I be so worried about regretting a decision that I am terrified to make a move? Nah. But rather than declaring yourself immune to regret, I think it's important to recognize why you may be feeling regret: for me, I wonder if I'd spent enough time pondering the implications of my decision before I made it, if I gave my alternative a fair chance. So lesson learned, moving on and living in the now (especially since the past does not exist anyway).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Leaving florida!

Leaving my extended business/personal trip to Florida. It is so warm and sunny here in Fort Lauderdale,  hitting high 80's in afternoons and the warm sun shining on beautiful people.
lounging by the pool
People are so relaxed and welcoming around here. I guess it's hard to be angry and rude when you are surrounded by palm trees and sunshine all year around. I had the most delicious Peruvian dinner yesterday & lounged by the pool and walked around the canals. Oh, and just finished eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. Waiting to fly back to Houston where work+class are waiting for me. Fingers crossed that I'll have a chance to visit here again...