Is Becoming Self-Sufficient a Fool’s Errand?

Is it?

Continue reading “Is Becoming Self-Sufficient a Fool’s Errand?”

Letter to Self: 19 Christmases and Counting

My Dear 10-year-old Self,

It seems like just yesterday you landed at the terminal of the LAX. I bet you feel like an alien – unable to understand the language and the environment is certainly not what you’ve expected – but I tell you, you’re going to get through this. There are lots of adventures waiting ahead. There are obstacles, too, but I’m telling you, you’re going to get through it.

Continue reading “Letter to Self: 19 Christmases and Counting”

2020 Election and Why I’m not into the Talk of Politics

I’m sure I sound like a lot of people from the younger generation. In fact, what prompted this blog post was because I watched a video on YouTube about how there were so few people from the 18-29 age group that had voted in the last Presidential election – only 46%. I was 25 then and I voted so I guess that makes me one of the minority.

Did I tell you I hate politics? Even though I’m fascinated by the study of politics or political science, I’d never watch CNN or CSPAN or any news networks that talks government 24/7. To me, watching politicians debate is like watching a bunch of dudes and gals arguing over the simplest matters using extremely technical jargons, to the point that no one can understand what was said.

As part of my 7-year college education, I had been there – trying to squeeze in as much college-level vocabulary as I can while trying to use filler words to make my essays as long as possible.

Eight Months of Working From Home

Did I mention my mom and I have been working from home since the March 18 earthquake?

It’s been a rough eight months. She works in the living room while I work upstairs in my room. During work hours, she has an office-issued desktop, a laptop, a tablet, and a phone opened to YouTube and from each device, there’d a video playing. Most of the time, it would be either Chinese news and gossip or presidential rallies with the songs “God Bless the USA” and “YMCA” playing on repeat.

To be honest, I can barely hear anything else other than those things nowadays. Those things are blaring 24/7, not kidding. She has headphones but refused to wear them, saying she doesn’t like the wire. So I bought her some wireless headphones but she’s indecisive about which device she should connect the headphones to. It’s been about two weeks and those brand-new headphones are still sitting on the dining room table. I’m pondering about returning them.

Big Fan

No, I won’t deny that fact. My mother is a big Trump fan (she said it herself). She listens to every word the man says and when someone says something awful about him, she would say that person is stupid.

Did I also mention she actively donates to the campaign and buy the merchandise? In my mind, I think that’s a little bit crazy. How does she know she’s donating to the right cause and not just some scam?

Me, Honestly?

I can’t say I’m a fan of anybody or anything. I don’t have an opinion (unlike my mother) or a sway of one candidate for the other.

All I know is the music has got to stop before I go insane. All I know is government politics created this situation and I want the noise to stop before I go insane. Being woken up one night with loud music coming from my mom’s room is okay but every night is not okay.

Election 2020 Talk over Dinner

With the election days away, everyone in the family is talking about it even though the only two people with voting rights are me and my mom. Then when I want to change the topic, everyone would either try to talk over me or they’d shush me.

Last night over dinner, my cousin was talking about how he would vote for Joe Biden if he could. “Well, you just got kicked out of the family.” My mom said half-jokingly. She had said that exact thing to me after interrogating and pestering me on who I voted for ever since I dropped my vote at the ballot drop box last Tuesday. “You voted for Biden, didn’t you? Didn’t you?”

“I’m not telling you.” I said. “Who I voted for reserves to be my right.”

“If you voted for Biden, I will disown you.” Whatever, I rolled my eyes after she finally left the room. This is my house, you first need to move out.

Back to dinner last night, after my mom mentioned about placing bets to see who would win the election, everyone began shouting and asking me where they could place bets.

What am I, Google? “Look it up yourselves, you all have phones…” and a pair of hands and a pair of eyes. Surprise, surprise, I didn’t get to finish my sentence. My mom shushed me, she was watching election news on YouTube.

The Meaning of Christmas

I spent this Christmas Eve sitting in my car in a near-empty mall parking lot, calling the only person that would understand my situation while listening to the rain peter-patter on the roof of my car. Continue reading “The Meaning of Christmas”

Three Years, Three Months, Twenty Days

As I mentioned in a post last week, I am posting my new speech which I have written for Toastmaster today. This is the speech I’m set to present today. Wish me luck and hope you enjoy this semi-fictional story. Continue reading “Three Years, Three Months, Twenty Days”

New Name Adaption

Credit: Sozo Today

This thought originally appeared in my head about two months ago but because of reasons beyond my comprehension, I haven’t expressed in words until now. Better late than never, right? Continue reading “New Name Adaption”

Not Such An Oddball After All

me-and-grandmaFor a greater part of my life, I have struggled with accepting myself as part of the family I come from. I look nothing like my mom and compared with all the photos I have of my dad, I don’t look much like him either. Continue reading “Not Such An Oddball After All”

A Walk Down Memory Lane


There is nothing like returning to one’s elementary school after fifteen years to find it closed and on the verge of being expanded once again into a larger school because the current size can’t accommodate for the current population. Talk about perfect timing.

I spent four years here when the school was only half this size or maybe even a third. There used to be a wall on the left side of the building you see above. This wall marked the school border and that was as far as you can get on this side.

When I attended this school, the building exterior was blue and there weren’t any murals on the wall, let alone encouragements like 我行 (wo xing) – which means “I can” – and 我能 (wo neng) – which also means “I can” but in a different sense. Apparently, those words have become a thing in China.

In my time, the exterior of the buildings were just a plain muddy yellow. The chairs around the columns also didn’t exist in my time neither did the little shelves nailed to the columns.

school-2In fact, it wasn’t until I arrived at this very spot did I finally recognized the school I used to know. It was those stairs in the back. Seeing them brought back only one memory – the day I fell on those stairs and broke my chin wide open. I ended up getting six stitches that day under my chin and still have the scar the prove it.

school-3Also, how can I forget this stage? It’s the same stage I walked across the day I received my red tie in second grade. Getting a red tie in China is quite a symbolic event for a student. It’s like getting initiated into a club. Once one gets a red tie, you’re supposed to never take it off.

The side wall also didn’t exist in my time. The entrance used to be at the other side of that wall and a stairwell existed behind the stage. Beneath the stairwell was a little office. It was the office of my gym teacher. It was the place he sold extra notebooks and supplies to students at a steep price.


This part of the school didn’t exist in my time. This spot was the one place I would never step foot in, not unless I had no choice. It was dark, dingy, and dirty. It was the school’s cafeteria and library. The library had walls that looked charred as though the place had recently burned down. There was hardly any books in it. The only time I’ve ever been in the library was when it was mandatory. Oh, and let’s not mention the cafeteria. The food was dreadful even when we were paying for the meals. Now that I’m thinking about it. Yuck!


This blacktop is also new. The school used to end at the blue pole at the far left of the picture. I don’t remember the apartments across the street existed either. The only thing I can remember that was outside the school was the smelly outside market. The pavement was always wet with reddish water as men and women did live butchering and slaughtering of ducks, chickens, fishes, and a wide variety of meat. At times, I would be able to smell the dankness coming from the market from the classroom. It was not pleasant.


After spending four years here, stuffing my brain with tons and tons of knowledge while spending all my free time completing the pile of assignments the teachers had assigned. Reflecting on it now, It was a difficult yet unforgettable experience and one I do not wish to repeat.

My Take on the Evolution of the Camera

Nowadays, with iPhones and other smart phones and tablets, 4G web everywhere, and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), most people can simply tap a button on their phones, snap a picture, and share it with everyone but did you know…

Nikon_28ti_camera_Austin_Calhoon_Photographthat once upon a time, a camera looked like this? It was bulky and worst of all, it uses film rolls instead of SD cards. Not only were we limited in the amount of pictures we can take (usually between 33 and 35 per roll) but we also had no idea how they will turn out unless we drive to the nearest store and wait an hour or so for the pictures to be printed out.  If the pictures turned out terrible, oh well.

Oh, and let’s not mention if you accidentally open the back cover, all your pictures will go poof. Been there, done that.

Around mid-2000’s, digital cameras came into existence. I remember when my mom bought our very first digital camera and getting extremely frustrated learning to use it. She kept whining about how there was no reason to go digital other than being able to send pictures over email. It was a 3.2 megapixel digital camera with a 512 MB memory card.

Still, it wasn’t much better than the camera that used a film roll. It was bulky and difficult to use. I took the camera to Disneyland for my 8th gradefinepix-z-fujifilm-431x300 field trip and remember standing in front of the castle, taking picture after picture and never satisfied with any one of them. The pictures were blurry and grainy.

In 2008, during her job training, my mom realized she needed a camera and luckily, it was 4th of July and there was a sale. I still have no clue why she went with this pink 7.2 megapixels Fuji Finepix Z but this camera ended up taking us a long way.

DSCF9742 1It was with this camera I took my first macro photo and got me addicted to photography. It was with this camera I got interested in learning all about photography and eventually posting pictures on my blog. It’s also the camera that took me on many trips – to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago, and the East Coast.

In November, 2015, however, when we saw a Sony 20-megapixels camera on sale for less than $100 on Amazon, we decided it’s time for an upgrade. My first time to use the new camera was at a Christmas party when I shot a picture of a chandelier. I thought the picture turned out amazing.

This is it, I thought, we’re finally caught up with the trend.

I couldn’t be more wrong. The amount of megapixels for cameras nowadays are way higher than 20. I saw some smartphone cameras are in the 40’s or even 50’s or 60’s megapixels. It’s unbelievable and here I was goggling over a 20 megapixels camera.dsc00515

Now, of course, a 20 megapixels camera takes a better picture than a 7.2 megapixels or a 5 megapixels (my tablet) camera. Comparing the pictures now, I believe the amount of megapixels makes the most difference in landscape and macro photos. I mean, just compare the left to the right. The left was taken with the pink camera and the right taken with the new camera. Both were taken around the same time a year apart. You’ll see a difference, even if it’s slight.

In conclusion, while I know I’m behind with the trend of digital photography, I realize that I might never catch up and I’m okay with my current digital camera. I also realize that almost everything in the universe evolve whether it’s technology, people, or land. Some just evolve quicker than others like the camera going from old fashion film rolls cameras to digital to digital DSLR and very soon, a super compact camera that is loaded with amazing features.

Originally published on May 7, 2014
Revised and re-posted on September 27, 2016

Image Credit: Google (unless noted)

The Waiting Game

As I told my curious reader in the comments of Is the Universe Working Against Me?, I am going to see a dermatologist today. Well, I went. Continue reading “The Waiting Game”

Is the Universe Working Against Me?

Why do I feel like a part of the universe is working against me here? Continue reading “Is the Universe Working Against Me?”

41st First Day

carlos-boozer-quote-i-felt-like-the-first-day-of-school-or-somethingYou would think that after 40 first days of school, I would be some sort of expert by the 41st first day of school. Still, the fear continued.  Continue reading “41st First Day”

The Strangest Dreams

At the end of July, I wrote about a vivid and dramatic dream I had about my mom and I vacationing on an island. Continue reading “The Strangest Dreams”

Ramble about Being Smart

How would you respond when someone tell you, “You’re very smart”? Continue reading “Ramble about Being Smart”

What’s in a Name?

Did I tell you about the time when I had to make the decision of whether to keep my Chinese name or take an English name? Continue reading “What’s in a Name?”

Essay: Why isolate between two poles? Hire Ambiverts!

Here is the third speech I wrote for my public speaking and please note that this is a counter-persuasive speech in which I am against managers hiring introverts (no offense to all introverts out there, I’m one myself but that’s the assignment). Continue reading “Essay: Why isolate between two poles? Hire Ambiverts!”

Essay: Why Introverts Make Great Leaders?

My public speaking class officially came to an end this morning, after I turned in all the research I conducted for my speeches and receive the grade from my final speech along with a great big donut. My finance class will end tomorrow and then I hope I can finally take a breath before my corporate tax class starts next Monday. In the least to say, I’m happy with the grade I got for my public speaking class because who wouldn’t be happy with an A? 🙂 Anyway, here is my second speech and please note this is a persuasive speech.

Why Introverts Make Great Leaders?

If I were to ask you to picture a stereotypical leader, what qualities would immediately spark in your head? According to an article in the ASCA Newsletter, most people would immediately picture someone confident, brash, and outgoing. Were those the qualities you thought of? If yes, then you’ve pictured a classic extrovert. From my last speech, I talked about an experiment done to compare the effectiveness of an introverted vs extroverted leader. The results were that the stores with an extroverted leader earned a higher profit than the stores with an introverted leader. So does this mean a company shouldn’t hire introverts for leadership positions? In my opinion, as an introvert, I think companies should hire introverts for upper management positions and in the next 4 minutes or so, I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of introverted leaderships as well as what can the companies do to close the gap between introverted and extroverted leadership.

The ASCA Newsletter article, 7 reasons Introverts Make Great Leaders, says that introverts make great leaders because they are great listeners and are usually calmer and better prepared than extroverts. They often prefer to collaborate rather than telling others what to do, unlike extroverts who prefer to lead. Also introverts don’t typically settle on a single idea. They like to explore deeper for alternatives and will explore until they are satisfied. In addition, introverts prefer solitude to reflect and theorize on ideas and if they’re not doing those things, they’d write.

However, everything always comes with a downside. For introverted leaders, it is that they prefer to be alone and they prefer not to be the initiator of conversations and social interactions. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to brainstorm with an introvert. Also introverts prefer one-on-one conversations rather than speaking to a group. Lastly, according to an article by J.G. Skakoon, a consequence with having an introverted leader is that the introvert’s performance can be impaired by distractions whereas distractions would go unnoticed for an extrovert.

So what can a company do to close the gap between introverted and extroverted leaders? To cancel out the cons I just spoke of? Well, a company can rethink open-plan offices despite many studies suggest that open-plan offices tend to lead to counterproductive behavior. Or a company can provide separate meeting rooms to reduce distraction as well as allow employees ample time to prepare for presentations. Secondly, companies should encourage employees to think like an introvert, allow them quiet to reflect on ideas. Finally, companies should allow introverts to shine! Companies should allow introverts to perform tasks normally done by an extrovert. Employees should encourage to show patience when introverts speak, to allow them the time to think before speaking. Lastly, leaders should be allowed to choose their team members.

So why should companies hire introverts for leadership positions? Because instead of jumping to conclusion and into the task, introverts are good listeners of ideas and quiet observers as well as they often go beyond a single idea. Now that you’ve heard all about the pros and cons of an introverted leadership, does it cause you to rethink the image and qualities of a stereotypical leader?

Essay: Difference between Introvert and Extrovert

As my public speaking class draws to an end, I’ve decided to share the speeches I wrote for the class. Yesterday, I shared the last speech, today, I’ll share the first speech I wrote for the class. As you read, please keep in mind that this is an informative speech.

635511481591862041-1767377861_theodysseyintroDifference between Introvert and Extrovert

True or False? Introverts are quiet and shy, extroverts are wild. False. People who prefer introversion just tend to think before they speak while extroverts tend to speak before they think. However, with these two completely polar opposite personalities, don’t you wonder how they will get along in a group? First, though we have to define what really makes an introvert and extrovert, then we’ll compare and contrast the two personalities in a group and leadership setting.

What categorizes one as an introvert or an extrovert? Well, it depends. From the research of psychiatrist Carl Jung, introversion and extroversion refers to the origin of our energy or what energizes us and what drains our energy. However, contrary to popular beliefs, introverts are not quiet or shy, they are simply those who prefer to observe before they speak rather than the other way around. For example, when socializing with strangers, introverts tend to want to get to know the person better before sharing their inner thoughts and beliefs. Extroverts are the opposite of that. They are those who have no problem speaking to a large group of strangers. Basically, extroverts get their energy from being surrounded by people while introverts get their energy by focusing internally on thoughts, ideas, and reflection. What happens in a group setting, when introverts and extroverts are forced to communicate? According to senior organizational consultant at the University of Arizona, Mark Trommer, “it can be hard for people to communicate with one another if they have different styles.”

And now, we are going to compare and contrast between those different styles. First of all, you should know that the effectiveness of introverted and extroverted leadership is dependent upon the type of work structure. Under the leadership of an introvert, team members tend to be proactive. It is the team members’ duty to take the initiative in introducing changes and new ideas to the team. Therefore, experts believe that the performance of a team led by an introvert tends to perform better. On the other hand, under the leadership of an extrovert, team members tend to be dutifully followers looking for guidance. They do what they are told and their leader tends to feel threatened when a team member attempts to introduce a new idea to the team because it would mean the team member is stealing the spotlight. Let’s apply those characteristics to a real life experiment conducted by the University of Carolina.

This experiment was conducted by Adam Grant and David Hoffman and it is an experiment to test whether higher performance would come from passive employees as when being led by an extrovert or proactive employees as when being led by an introvert. The profits of 57 different stores of a single US pizza chain were compared over 7 weeks and it is according to whether the store manager is an extrovert or an introvert. The results show that the stores with extroverted managers earned 16% more profit than the stores led by an introverted leader while stores led by an introvert earn 14% less profit.

So there you have it, the quantitative analysis between extroverted and introverted leadership in a group setting. Just to recap, introverted leaders are most effective when the team members are proactive while extroverted leaders are most effective when the team members are passive, meaning they’re followers. Based on the experiment’s results, does this mean the company should only hire extroverts for manager positions? Does this proof extroverts make the best leaders? I guess we’ll find out.

Essay: What has people done?

For once in a long time, I don’t have anything written today. I spent the entire weekend writing my final speech for my public speaking class and I am giving that speech today. Continue reading “Essay: What has people done?”

The Meaning of a Book

Religion and Politics. These are two topics you will never see me post on my blog. Why? Because those are two of the most opinionated and sensitive topics out there. Because those are two topics that essentially started wars and tore apart families, friends, and mankind. Because I dislike those two topics.sms-4381 Continue reading “The Meaning of a Book”

The Final Straw

No Words

Last night, I wanted so bad to hurt someone, something. Punch a hole in the wall. Rip my pillow in half. Throw everything at the wall. But I couldn’t. Damn that sentimentality. Continue reading “The Final Straw”

What am I?

So far I’ve read quite a few responses to today’s daily prompt and learned a lot about my fellow bloggers’ detailed family lineages and quite frankly, I know almost nothing of my own. Continue reading “What am I?”

Random Thoughts About Writing

114-07-july-26th-2015Writing’s an art, in my opinion but this wasn’t what I thought until about two years ago.  Before that, my relationship with writing was merely obligatory, just a requirement to fulfill a task assigned by teachers, tutors, etc. Continue reading “Random Thoughts About Writing”