Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cantab Boys and Girls

These YouTube videos are more than a year old, but it's not every day that I laugh out loud uproariously enough to alarm Niki (who just came racing upstairs).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer 2011

Speaking of the real world, listed below are my plans for this summer:

(June 6 - August 6)

For nine weeks, I'll be working as an associate intern at the Boston Consulting Group office in downtown Houston.

Aside from the work itself, which promises to be interesting, the fact that I'll be home for most of the summer is exciting for me and is one of the primary reasons I asked to be assigned to the Houston office for my internship. (It also doesn't hurt that Texas is a pretty good place to be doing business right now.)

This will actually be first time home for longer than a month since 8th grade. Assuming I have any free time on my hands between working, spending time with childhood friends and rediscovering my hometown, I'm planning to buy some new furniture and redecorate my room; my middle school self had truly bizarre taste, even by my standards.

(August 8 - August 27)

In August, I'll be heading to Mozambique to conduct research for my international studies senior thesis.

Based on our coursework in INTS 427 Social Enterprise in Developing Economies, a team of two other students from the class and I will be studying the Mozambique operations of TechnoServe, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that "helps entrepreneurial men and women in poor areas of the developing world build businesses that create income, opportunity and economic growth for their families, their communities and their countries."

The organization's mission is threefold: identifying and nurturing promising entrepreneurs, building local local industries linked to dependable markets, and promoting progressive practices that foster a supportive business environment. Through strategic alliances with experts in the fields of finance, management consulting and agriculture, TechnoServe has enabled the launch or expansion of thousands of businesses in developing countries around the world, including Mozambique, which has ranked among the world's poorest nations after being ravaged by a 16-year-long civil war following its independence from Portugal in 1975.

Our team is planning to spend the first week at the regional TechnoServe headquarters in Maputo to learn about the organization's operations and administrative structure. For the remaining two weeks, we will be visiting cooperatives and field sites in rural Nampula Province, where TechnoServe is launching its new Millennium Mills Project. More details to come in August!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Life After Yale

Congratulations, Yale Class of 2011!

"Life is really short, kind of like Yale...So work hard, love deep, and get to know Marvin Chun."

P.S. Does this mean we 2012ers are seniors now/have only one more year until we meet the same grisly fate of entering the real world?

Sunday, May 22, 2011


1. So what can you do with a degree in cognitive science?
Read minds, duh. (Good thing I still have one more year to discover additional practical applications.)

2. What is your dream job?

3. Summer plans?
I'll cover this in a separate entry, but geographically, in decreasing order of duration: Houston, Mozambique, and Munich.

4. Do you have a summer playlist?
Still looking for new music! Recommendations, anyone? (Somehow I doubt that this will be a motivational pick for my morning commute.)

5. What is your most recent regret?
Cleaning my room. I can't do anything here for fear that it won't stay this immaculate—I think I might sleep in the guest room tonight.

6. Do balding men wash their heads with soap or shampoo?
No idea. Hopefully I've inherited good anti-baldness genes from my father's side of the family and won't ever have to find out.

7. Who is your hero?
Nathan Hale, Robert E. Lee, Empress Myeongseong, Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Jean Monnet

Friday, May 20, 2011


An excerpt from today's New York Times:
"Germany's Anti-Chaos Crusaders" - Nicholas Kulish
Knuth Kaufmann, a 41-year-old former accountant for the German Air Force and current member of the local Ordnungsbehörde, or Department of Order, eyed a young woman bicycling down the cobblestone lane. As she approached, he ordered her to dismount, and he reached into his pocket. Out came a yellow card with a large red circle around a picture of a bicycle, a reminder that it’s against the rules to ride in a pedestrian-only shopping zone.
Kaufmann guards the thin line between quaint and chaotic in this historic town of 26,000 at a bend in the Rhine River. He always carries a tape measure to ensure that hedgerows and outdoor cafe chairs don’t jut out too far into walkways, a digital camera to document the various acts of low-level malfeasance and a handheld computer — the Psion Teklogix Workabout Pro — to write tickets. In three years on the job, he has never used his pepper spray.
“We are always watching,” he said. “When something is wrong, when something is broken, when something is dirty, we are responsible.” His girlfriend constantly admonishes him for being unable to ignore small infractions, even when he’s off-duty.
Kaufmann and his two Ordnungsbehörde colleagues are not cops, and they’re not clerks, but they are an integral part of German society, found in every city, town and village. (Berlin, population 3.4 million, has some 1,120 inspectors.) “It’s a German thing,” said Birgit Rohleder, the lady who was nabbed on her bike, “a German idiosyncrasy.” Just minutes after being busted, she told me that she wished there were more people like Kaufmann patrolling the streets.

But seriously, any other Ordnung-loving Houstonians interested in setting up a local Behörde? (I've noticed a few lawns in Midtown that could use some extra manicuring.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Houston Greek Fest

The annual Houston Greek Fest at St. Basil's is not the largest Greek cultural event in town—that distinction belongs to the three-day Houston Greek Festival at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Montrose—but you wouldn't have guessed it from the crowd that gathered at St. Basil's yesterday for gyros, Greek music, and frappés.

The Greek national anthem:

The highlight of the afternoon—apart from the delicious spanakopita—was the Niko Niko’s World Gyro Eating Championship, an official Major League Eating event hosted by local Greek restaurant Niko Niko's in conjunction with the International Federation of Competitive Eating. (Incidentally, it kind of blows my mind that competitive eating is somehow considered a sport.) Competing for the $4,000 purse were some of the top-ranked eaters in the world, including #1 ranked Joey Chestnut (of Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest fame).

Chestnut's total of 21 gyros in ten minutes tied the record Bertoletti set in 2009. Bertoletti came in second place, just one gyro short with 20.

It was impressive, to say the least, but let's just add that there should never be that much tzatziki sauce flying off a stage...

More pictures of the festival:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Food Wins

Notable food wins of the past few days:
  • Belated Mother's Day dinner at Tony's
  • Spicy salmon rolls at Ginza
  • Year-old dongchimi
  • Lobster kimchi fried rice

All this after Mother excitedly tells me that I've "보기 좋아졌어" a.k.a. Korean mother code for "you've gained weight."

But speaking of food, will this be me if/when I have children?

(Answer: Probably)

Friday, May 13, 2011


To the mosquito who somehow found its way upstairs and woke me up at 4 am by buzzing in my ear:

I will find you. And I will end your miserable existence, leg by spindly leg.

I'm trying to be understanding, really; I get that you were probably thirsty for some drank and needed to feed your family too. And maybe you were even able to detect the sweet Vietnamese iced coffee still running through my veins last night. But rules are rules—only in public spaces, remember? Sneaking into my room and waiting for me to fall asleep so that you could attack my defenseless neck? Not cool.

To said mosquito's friends and family:

Play dirty one more time and I will actually take one of those mosquito racket zappers to Mozambique and practice my backhand on swarms of your cousins. Maybe I'll even take this.

Consider yourselves warned.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Where the Grass Is Green

All denial about the fact that seniors won't be returning next year (unless they all fail, which would actually be kind of fantastic) aside, it's great to be home.

I've spent the last two days hanging out at the gym, playing with Niki (my dog, not the neighbor), measuring the water levels of Buffalo Bayou, conquering the Ottomans, catching up on episodes of 신기생뎐, pruning orange trees in the backyard, getting foot massages in Chinatown, and subsisting on a steady diet of gejang and goat's milk. And checking my inbox only twice a day (at 10 am and 10 pm). Pure rehab.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One More Year

Four final papers, seven hours of packing/cleaning, a bag of Tate's cookies and one red-eye flight later, I am finally back home, albeit in a sleep-deprived daze of post-shoving-my-life-into-boxes-at-the-end-of-the-year-for-the-seventh-year-in-a-row exhaustion and I-can't-believe-the-year-is-already-over incredulity.

Which is good, in a way, because the reality of parting ways with graduating seniors is starting to kick in—I'm going to miss them more than it would be entirely appropriate to admit in public/cyberspace.

I know there's some feel-good wisdom out there about how farewells are necessary before you can meet again, but my current sentiment is captured by the following Charles Schulz quote:
"Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes."
But just to make myself feel a little better:
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth."  - Robert Southey

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Arbeit Macht Frei

One week and 60 more pages of paper writing until summer.
Seven days to pack, clean up, and suppress all sentimentality.

On an unrelated note, does anyone know where I could find a pet eagle?

QOTD: It's like having your own Pokemon!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Final Class of the Year

A few notes I jotted down from Professor Simmons' lecture on happiness:
  • People enjoy almost every activity much  more when they are with others than when they are alone. (Kahneman et al., 2003)
  • I am a maximizer, not a satisficer (and am therefore more likely to be less happy and more regretful of choices).
  • Experiential consumption > material consumption.
  • Welcome to the hedonic treadmill.
  • Uncertainty prolongs emotional experiences.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

掌er Says

"Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars."
- Gustave Flaubert
What a sport.