Political Speculation for Funsies

Even though it’s already been 2.5 weeks since Cruz and Kasich dropped out (it feels much longer though, doesn’t it??), I’m still in a state of disbelief that Trump actually won the GOP presidential nomination. For me personally, this situation illuminates how much of a bubble I still live in, despite my efforts to look outside of it and understand different perspectives. Clearly there’s still a lot of pain out there driving so many voters into the arms of such an authoritarian candidate who built his platform by playing on fears.

Denial is the first stage of grief, so I figured it would be fun to come up with some House of Cards-esque (admittedly far-fetched) scenarios which would prevent both Trump and Clinton from getting into the White House. Keep in mind that this is fun speculation, a ton of wishful thinking on my part, which evolved into a joke that has actually been kinda therapeutic for me.


Moving Moving Moving

Moving always has and always will be a huge pain overall. Packing boxes, sorting things, carrying furniture up and down stairs, it’s all just very unpleasant. It doesn’t mean every aspect of the process is negative, though. I’ve moved a number of times over the past few years for school and work—longer moves being Illinois to California to Milwaukee to DC to Boston to San Francisco.

2014 in a Nutshell

If I needed to describe the past year in a single word, I would use either spontaneity or coincidence—both encapsulate how crazy surprising life can be. For me, 2014 has been unpredictable, full of fun, friends, and growth.

In a few of my social circles, I end up playing the role of activity planner. As my friends and I are older and more ‘responsible’, it’s tough to balance everyone’s schedules sometimes, so I’ve just found it much easier to play things by ear. During the spring and early summer, we planned a ton of movie trips and concert attendances just a day or so in advance and it usually worked out really well.

After I found out about the plant closing, I had the opportunity to really explore. Belize and Peru were planned and booked just a few weeks in advance; I went with no super concrete plans. For Peru, I basically just booked my flights into and out of the country along with a hostel for the first few nights for altitude adjustment. While I had set distinct goals of visiting Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, I left the details like when and how I would go flexible. If I hadn’t done this, I probably wouldn’t have gone white river rafting, which ended up being a huge highlight.

While I was able to live whimsically and carefree on a journey of global exploration and self-reflection for a few months, there were parts of the year that made the world seem very small indeed. It may sound a bit self-centered, but it almost felt as if fate had a hand in crafting some of the coincidences I encountered… 😛

Just a few weeks ago, I crashed at George and Chia’s condo that they just bought in SF. The next morning, Tiffany was able to get out of the office for a bit, so we decided to grab lunch. Since Chia works from home, she was able to come too and meet Tiffany. It turns out that Tiffany’s boyfriend was the last tenant in the unit that they bought, right before the previous owner decided to sell. It was a pretty ridiculous situation. In another instance, I was literally just walking down the streets of Chicago, going to meet my friend Stephanie for lunch. Of the 2.7 million people living in the city, my friend David was sitting outside at a restaurant and called me over. I last saw him when I was living in Wisconsin, almost three years ago. The crazy thing is that almost the exact same thing it happened again, this past week. This time though, it was my friend Chris, who was David’s roommate back in Wisconsin, and I ran into him on the blue line at 9 in the morning, haha. One last Wisconsin connection—I was at a nightclub, celebrating a friend’s wedding after party, and out on the floor I run into Miles, who worked with David and Chris. It is a small world indeed.

A lot of the friendships I “made” this year were more like rekindling of acquaintances. There are a surprising number of people from my high school out in Boston. I found that even if we didn’t hang out in many of the same circles back in the day, it was super easy to connect again and have fun together. We all have a ridiculous number of mutual friends (a given with a class size of 184 and total school size of 640…), have fairly common interests, and can reminisce together about the good ole days.

I feel that social media has an amplifying effect on the generation of coincidences. I had a ton of visitors come to the Boston area this year… some of them I learned about through Facebook. One of the best coincidences to happen through social-type media came through email on a national mailing list that I’m on. I almost always just delete emails from this list without reading them. However, this time, I decided to open it and saw that some guy named Alan was moving to Boston for a year of residency. My roommate, Deep just happened to be moving out due to a job rotation, so the timing was perfect and I figured I would reach out. Alan moved in and it was a start of a really fun era—we got along really well and had some great times together before he moved out to NYC this year.

Honestly, 2014 was a really abnormal year. I definitely could not have predicted even an eighth of the things that ended up happening. I feel absolutely blessed to have the support of the best family ever and the most fantastic friends anybody can ask for. We’ve had good times together this past year, have learned and grown a lot, even if there are really troubling things happening in the greater world.

Here’s to the future—may 2015 be even better than 2014!

Thoughts on Ferguson

In the past, I have typically avoided really commenting publicly on more political and controversial topics like what is happening in Ferguson. Simply put, it is uncomfortable. However, I now feel that it is also important not to be apathetic. There is no arguing that this event is not a tragedy, we should take some time to personally reflect upon it. I am not an expert by any means, but I have thought a lot and have had some meaningful conversations.

Soylent Experiment Day 2

Soylent Day 2

I am a bit surprised at how much skepticism I’ve gotten on facebook about Soylent… Today was my second day eating it, and my first full day consuming nothing but Soylent. I didn’t realize that I was under-eating yesterday until this morning, when I poured my breakfast. There was clearly much more than 1/3 leftover… which definitely helps to explain why I was getting so hungry in between meals yesterday. I was definitely better at partitioning out proper portions. I personally don’t mind the original flavor, but I actually enjoyed the taste after I added chocolate protein powder to the mix.

For those who still remain unconvinced, I have compiled a list of the best uses of Soylent:

Gone Girl

Ever since Gone Girl came out, I have heard from a ton of people that it was a great movie. I honestly have always had a soft spot for Ben Affleck’s movies, and usually am a fan of most movies I see, but this film went above and beyond my expectations. I really liked this movie even though it isn’t the type I usually enjoy watching—I’m a big action/comedy/Marvel kind of guy—this was dark and I left the theater feeling physically unsettled. I actually needed to get froyo afterwards to make myself feel better, ‘cause froyo fixes everything. I’m avoiding spoilers in this post, so feel free to read if you haven’t seen the film yet.

The first clue that the movie was going to be great was the fact that the theater was packed on a TUESDAY night two weeks after premiere. I went with a group of 3 other guys, and we were lucky to get seats together. We were also really lucky to have not brought any significant others with us, as this was literally the opposite of a date night movie.

The next set of clues for me, were in the opening credits. Gillian Flynn, the author of the book, also did the screenplay for the movie. I also noticed that Trent Reznor did the sound. Although I’m not really a fan of Nine Inch Nails, I recognize the intelligence and somewhat experimental nature of his music. While I knew beforehand that the Ben Affleck and Neil Patrick Harris were in the movie from the trailers, I was honestly a bit shocked to see Tyler Perry’s name in the opening credits and surprised to see that Reese Witherspoon was a producer. All of the producers did a great job getting the best possible people to adapt the novel and do the music.

I trusted in Batman and Barney to anchor the acting crew, but was wrong. They didn’t need to, as ENTIRE cast did an outstanding job from top to bottom. Rosamund Pike blew my mind. Her on-screen chemistry with Ben Affleck was palpable. I believe Tyler Perry may have saved the movie from being TOO dark and depressing. He provided just the right amount of smart comedic balance to keep the film grounded. In my opinion, this was easily the best acting he’s done to date.

Part of what made me feel so unsettled by the end of the film was how relatable the characters were. They all felt real because all of them had flaws. It is easy to project oneself (and exes) onto the characters at various points in the movie, or at least empathize with them.

The plot itself was a huge mindfuck (excuse my French). Although it was a bit crazy and nearly unbelievable at times, it was self-supporting, felt logical, and flowed really well. Its unpredictability kept me guessing at what was happening next and asking my friends next to me if what I thought I saw had really just happened.

I need to give another shout out to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the music. Their selection enhanced everything happening on screen and played a huge role in keeping me just a bit physically off balance. The sounds forced your ears to tell your gut that something just didn’t feel right.

Unfortunately, I can’t comment on the filmography much at all. I just couldn’t pay close attention because my mind was firing in too many directions all at once. If/when I watch the film a second time, I will be sure to concentrate a bit more on the shot selection, framing, color palette, etc. now that my mind won’t be turned to mush as much as before.

I felt that the film actually had some smart commentary and reflection on a huge range of topics pertinent to modern US society. It touched on the media, feminism, psychology, relationships, power dynamics, and abuse, both physical and emotional. It showed how twisted everything could be. Gillian Flynn really captured how relationships can shift over time and how both men and women can feel trapped trying to live up to expectations while everything on the surface looks calm and perfect. She illustrates how biased the media can be and show quickly and arbitrarily public opinion can shift.

This is definitely a movie that can make you stop, reflect, and think, which is really refreshing. This movie did not have a Hollywood feel at all and didn’t really rely on tired old tropes—it was more of an indie film with a big budget. I hope this film continues to do well at the box office so studios will take some more chances and take on edgier projects like this in the future.

The Chicago Half

A few months ago, my high school friend Richard got this absurd idea in his head to run the Chicago Half Marathon. Somehow, he managed to convince quite a few of us to join in. At one point our planning thread had something like ten runners, but we only ended up with six in our group after a few pulled out of the race.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Nathan Cheng nominated me to complete the do-stupid-stuff-to-draw-attention-to-a-cause aka ALS ice bucket challenge. I have accepted the challenge by donating to the Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis association (ALSA) in memory of my high school principal, Dr. Eric McLaren who recently passed away from ALS. I encourage everybody who sees this to learn more about this debilitating disease and to donate to research by visiting the ALSA website here: http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html.

Moving into MIT

It has been a while since I posted. The day after my return to Boston, my cousin Mark and his mom arrived to move him into MIT. I am getting pretty decent at this whole chauffeur/tour guide thing, if I do say so myself. It helps that I’ve hosted quite a few visitors now. I must admit that moving into MIT is much worse than moving into Stanford. I remember we had all sorts of music blaring, tons of friendly faces, and loads of signs all over campus.