Friday, December 31, 2010

new year's revolutions

it was a thursday.  the last thursday of the year of two thousand and seven, before the weekend plus new years bonanza that offered my partner and me a long awaited break on the worst project during my time in consulting.

the project was the worst for several reasons.

a) during the financial crisis, there were a lot of companies going bankrupt.  this was one of them.  our data indicated that they were about to land in a heap of deep, smelly, toxic, never-get-your-foot-stuck-out-of-the-swamp shit, to the point where there was no return.  the company was never going to have the money to pay us for any sort of project that we were going to propose to them, because they were probably going to be worth somewhere in the vicinity of negative 100 million dollars. (not exaggeration)

b) our boss, a little aloof and unaware of the hardware requirements for exact precise multivariable statistical modeling, basically made us tweak a model that said they were going to lose a bajillion dollars, to get it to maybe say they were going to lose, around $5.04 less than that.  (ok, that might be an exaggeration)  only, miscommunication as to what he wanted made us not exactly sure what to do and we basically created lots of iterations of the model.  this always took hours for a computer to process, and if you made a small error, you had to process the whole model from the beginning.  think of the frustrations of an average computer science course and multiply them by around 10.  or some exponent of that, because computing problems can become exponential when it comes to data processing.

in case you didn't understand all that, it fucking sucked balls.

c) there are a few problems inherent with adding more variables of precision of multivariable statistical modeling.  all data pertaining to periodical financial payments suffer from the same problem no matter how "good" you get your model, because data are (can you believe it, data is the plural form of datum, so "data are" is correct here as weird as it sounds) either incomplete or obsolete, due to the imperfections of data gathering and constantly changing macroeconomic conditions that are unpredictable.

d) basically, because of all that, my partner and i essentially spent most of the past two months (during the time when things are usually relatively slow) staying late doing work that had around a 1% chance (probably not exaggeration) of ever amounting to a billable project.  we were just cogs in the proverbial machine, doing useless drivel just for the sake of being "employed" doing something.


the hum of the fridge tempted me.  tempted me to walk closer, and grab another coke.  another coke for my sanity, along with one of those chewy chocolate chip granola bars.  god damn it, i'm going to get something out of this shitshow of a situation, as i chomped on my granola bar.  ah shit, that just means i'm going to get fat.  so basically, i lose again.  STUPID PROJECT.  ah, i'll take a water.  MULTIPLE waters.  take a shitload of them HOME, gotta take a little for my trouble right?  i was going nutso.  crazy even.

2007 was a rough year.  it had been a rough time.  growing pains had been excruciating, i would imagine that certain extenuating circumstances probably made them more so than the average young adult coming out of college.  a lot of pressure and responsibility had been squared on my shoulders, and i was pretty close to a mental breakdown.  time was slipping out my grasp, and i was getting left behind.

i thought back to the first project i had at my job.  how i quickly met extreme amounts of adversity over a situation that was blown way out of proportion and how i suffered through that experience.  was it worth it?  there was just a cocktail of unfortunate circumstances that made me really depressed about everything, the way my life was headed and where it was at that point.  i remember my sister's college friend (who was on the project with me), reassuring me, "though you may not believe it about yourself, you are different from most people.  i know that because i know you and i know your sister.  i have faith that you'll stick it out, you'll become stronger, and that you will do amazing things.  just be patient for the right opportunity."


we had just finished the latest iteration.  it was time to take the next few days easy, for the new year was going to arrive.  i bid my partner goodbye and walked home along quiet park avenue.  i remember walking through the snow covered beautiful bryant park area on my way home, and promising to myself that as shitty as 2007 was, 2008 was going to be something different.  the course of my life will change, and it'll be drastic.  but i can't keep wallowing in self pity, i've got to go out there and make shit happen, because shit won't just happen on its own.

because shit's just nasty on its own.  jay kay.

i like to think of it as new year's revolutions.


as 2010 comes to a close, i find myself making the same promises to myself as i have 3 years ago.  let's hope i'm right about it, again.

carpe annum.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

stepping stones

some truths i've been wrestling with recently from countless late night conversations:

- we are all inherently unlovable people.  we are flawed.  love for one another, in its purest, unadulterated form, cannot exist with simple human capacity.

- a lot of relationships are temporary.  and as much as i want to hold on to them, stop time and freeze moments, and life to remain the same as it was, i cannot keep savoring pockets of time over and over again.  versions of ourselves are never constant; people are changing continually.  memories conjure up idealized visions of a person, when in fact those memories are merely fantasies.  but that idea of a person, that VERSION of a person, is gone forever.  

- thereby, relationships that end but result in formative periods of life are not a waste of time.  they are not a waste of time.  not. a. waste. of. time.

- we do not have the capacity for redemption of any sort of regret or mistake that we have made.  there is nothing we can "fix" by overcompensating.

- guster is a very emo band.  (ok maybe that's not really being wrestled with)

unfortunately, intellectually understanding these truths doesn't equate to successful emotionally grappling with them.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

a little something for the holidays

the holiday season always gets one in a pensive mood, for a lot of reasons:

a)  it's the time when you go back home and stay with the family, usually with long periods of time with nothing to do but think in one's room
b)  it's the end of the year so it's a time of evaluation, etc.
c)  the holidays become more and more a time of nostalgia instead of a time of wonderment (at least for me)

i just dug up something i wrote almost 7 years ago, whilst in college, about love.

what is love?

as mentioned in the post, i agree with ben folds, that it's stupid to try to do a love song because there's only so much you can do that hasn't been done before.  well, i guess you can say that about anything in the media about a love story, but a song allows for smaller amounts of variation as an art form than say, a book or a movie.  a song almost requires a deep part of oneself now to be original, some sort of personal touch to it that's really hard to fabricate. 

i won't get into the way love is overromanticized and idealized and what not in today's society, because that's a whole other gak post.  however, i got a request recently from a friend to do a cover of a song she liked, and being the holidays which is supposed to be cheery or something, i decided to just run with it and have fun.  the song is called, "1, 2, 3, 4" by the plain white t's.

the song is a very simple love song with very simple lyrics.  in fact, it's not a very unique concept, it's lyrics are similar to the song "back at one" by brian mcknight, or my favorite female punk rock song three small words by josie and the pussycats (ok, maybe i just love rachael).  it reminded me of the common early 60's beatles songs, just very simple lyrics and chord structure, but catchy.  (now, don't get a heart attack, i'm not comparing them to the beatles).  it's overall kind of gute.

so i decided to team up with sam chu and his handy dandy camera, to make a nice looking vid for xmas.  fiddling around with fcp is a bit fun, it was actually enjoyable to edit, but a huge pain to wait for everything to render...i need a faster compy.  i think a lot of my editing got lost in the rendering and what not...but i  hope you guys enjoy the video for the holidays.

side note: for me, it's actually never as easy as "1, 2, 3, 4".  in fact, i probably only said that particular phrase in the low teens for the past decade, a few each per family member.

extra bonus:  awesome relient k xmas song that someone showed me:

Thursday, December 23, 2010


i recently read a heartbreaking work of staggering genius by dave eggers on the recommendation of my sister.  she actually recommended it a long time ago when we were on some family vacation around 6 years ago, when i scoffed at the title.  i was thinking, "that sounds like it was written by a pretentious douche.  blah blah blah."  my sister told me, "i think you'd relate with the author."  i laughed in disgust.  alas, my sister knew me better than i knew myself.  she gave me reading after all.

but i was also right.  after reading the book, the author comes off as a pretentious douche.  except it is palatable because he is cognizant of his own douchery.  and as i've come to terms of my own douchiness in spite of the fact that i champion the anti-douchebag cause like no other (that's for another entry), i realize that we are all douches, and we are all frail.  self-awareness, however allows one to harness the pretentiousness (i think pretention would be a better word for the noun version of pretentious but it's not one for some reason) into something powerful emotionally, and see where we are coming from and why we feel what we feel.

there's nothing i can really say that hasn't already been covered by the many reviews i've been perusing over the web over the book, that the book starts out with a great canvas of the tragedies of egger's life, and then slowly moves along as he drags on about his life in san francisco, with little bits and pieces of wisdom here and there thrown in the mix.  that when he writes, it's with an unashamed raw honesty that removes any shred of shame and bares it all so his secrets, as he says, would become less painful than if he were to contain them within himself, as cancerous, mutating things. (i'm paraphrasing.)

but what i can say that's unique to me is that i'm alarmingly like eggers.  i say alarmingly because there's a whole lot of "us vs. them" mentality similar to what you find in salinger's "catcher in the rye".  sometimes it's good to want to stand out, to be as eggers puts it, "I think if you're not self-obsessed, you're probably boring."  but then it's one thing to be a dreamer and say all these idealistic types of things in theory, and another to offer any real viable practical solutions.

for me, it's been easy to acknowledge that i've been somewhat of a whiny bitch sometimes, but i use that sometimes as justification for continuing on doing so.  it's fine to feel pain and to acknowledge that growing up is painful, and that the idiosyncrasies of society and its unwillingness to really be accepting and open can really be terrible to outsiders, people who's experiences they don't fully understand.  but at some point, you have to "grow up" and face the fucking music, because life's not going to pass you any favors just because you go against the grain.

what makes the book unique for me is the raw emotion, unfiltered truth behind his thoughts, the knee-jerk reactions and impulses spewed out for every stimulus he encounters.  pretentious as it may be, it is unequivocally truthful, and that to me is invaluable.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

objects in the mirror are not as evil as they appear...

there's a lot of people, normal looking people, people you talk to everyday, at work, school, church, wherever, that have a lot to hide.  i used to think that the way i thought was common to most people, that i generally believe in doing what's fair and just for others by SOME sort of standard even if it's at a cost to myself.  but over and over again, i find that most of society does not feel the same way.  i was surprised to find out certain things about people i knew over the past few years, things i would be like, "NO!  SAY IT AIN'T SO!"  and being just in bitter anguish about what i knew about that person and reconciling it with my previous conception of that person.  it disgusts me that there are people who will just not care about what happens to others as long as it benefits them.

now, being inherently evil myself, i do agree that my standard is not up to par, and that my voicing of this is probably akin to pot, kettle, and blackness.  but it's just appalling to me how some people can just really lack any sort of sense of responsibility for their actions, and WORSE, be unapologetic for their wanton destruction.  the obvious ways these kinds of evil manifest itself in our world are through senseless acts of violence and destruction, but what's scarier is that this same type of evil is amongst us, subtly hidden through various layers of deception.

i often think of my own capability of evil.  what are my motivations for all circumstances?  where is the source of pain that causes my own desire to destroy and hate others?  how can i come to terms with it?  at times, i feel like i am ultra judgmental and legalistic.  at other times, i am wrought with the guilt of people i have failed.  i find that my thirst for vengeance sometimes makes me at my worst, finding ways to cut people to shreds.

i want to believe and hope in people, but through the various encounters and stories i hear, it gets harder and harder each year to think that there's any shred of decency left.  i have always been at war with my own cynicism with people in general, basically assuming them to be guilty until proven innocent.  the worse part is that it seems that a lot of the time, we just ignore the dirt and evil everyday, and maintain that it is just collateral damage, the cost of living this life.

i hope i never get to the point where i just accept the way people are as "business as usual".  and i hope to be able to always be willing to pay the consequences to man as best as i can for my own sins.

Friday, December 17, 2010


there are plenty of reasons we don't like/hate other people.  most people don't get along with others because they're different.  they don't fit in some way, they create awkward situations, they're annoying in some way, they don't adhere to similar principles, they are too uptight, they are too easy going, they are too stupid, they are too pretentious, they are overly polite, they are ridiculously rude, they smell/don't have proper hygiene, they're boring, they're too out there, they're crazy, they have terrible taste in music/film/literature/art, they have no ambition, they have too much ambition, etc.

however, sometimes there's a reason that's deeper than all of those that make you feel a certain kind of hatred for someone.  perhaps hatred isn't the word i'm looking for, hatred sometimes implies that you actually care about that person's unwell-being, whereas i'm thinking something more like loathing.  where it's not like a burning hatred, but like an ugh-like feeling.  like the feeling you get when you get up for bed and get ready to go outside in freezing weather to go out for the day for work or whatever.

growing up, there was a phase of my life where after years of introversion, i taught myself social norms.  i won't get into the reasons for the sudden decision to do so, but i will say that it did reinforce the fact to me that insecurity isn't only particular to the "uncool", but manifested in different ways.  throughout the process, there were growing pains for sure, but i luckily had friends that were positioned to help me along the way, and were eager to do so once i sought out their aid.  i consider myself to be a rapid adapter and improviser to various circumstances, and i was able to put on an almost completely different persona in a pretty short period of time.  i suppose this was my very first experience as an "actor".

there was another kid however, who was also a bit awkward.  he reminded me a lot of himself, in pushing to be socially acceptable.  unfortunately, he was doing it "all wrong".  he didn't have the advantages or support group that i had, and was doomed to failure from the get go.  i saw a lot of myself in him and was turned off.  i would sometimes think to myself, "ugh, you can't do that man.  you're trying too hard."  part of me hated the idiots who humored him by making him believe that they accepted him when they were actually just keeping him around for their amusement, laughing at him behind his back.  but another part of me loathed him because he was showing traits that reflected how i was in his position, what i saw as weak and stupid.  i would not humor him in the same way that others did, but i didn't help him along either, partly because i thought he should figure it out on his own, and partly because i thought he may have been a lost cause in that regard.  because of that, he saw me as an enemy, someone who was "hindering" his progress to becoming "cool".

thinking about it now, i regret my actions; i probably should have reached out, but i didn't want to because i hated what i saw of myself in him.  sometimes, whatever weakness or struggles that we have, we magnify in others and criticize them more harshly for it, whether they deserve it or not.  we think that because we have overcome them, they have no excuse for struggling through them.  but the truth is, we are the most specialized in helping those people.

other times, we see ourselves in other people, and see those same struggles.  and desperately want to save them from it, as if doing so would redeem our own mistakes.

i wonder what triggers the difference.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

regret. hope.

i am undeniably human.  and therefore, err.  somehow need to push back the erring.

thanks to tom for gakking me this song a while back:

"where did i go wrong
i lost a friend
somewhere along in the bitterness
and i would have stayed up with you all night
had i known how to save a life"

- the fray

this is one of my favorite music videos:

also got this gem from julia:

guy in movie's name is Nick Vujicic, he's an actual guy irl.

Monday, December 13, 2010

yay for janet again! (part deux)

it's my sister's birthday, so in addition to a shopping spree thing for her birthday, i decided to write an updated post on her.

so it's been 6 years since my last post on my sister on her birthday.  she was only turning 23 then which seems so young and gak like.  6 years later, a year before the dreaded 30, my sister is still alive (amazingly, the universe has allowed her continued existence to remain intact), taking names and kicking ass.  sort of.

since the last post, my sister has studied in paris, almost worked for a high end fashion company in france (before they were closed by proctor and gamble), started her own line which has had its shares of unfortunate near successes that have been thwarted by the economy (apparently people are less willing to buy high end fashion clothing in tough economic times, go figure).  

my sister has been continually pressing after her dreams, but the difficulty to succeed, especially in this environment, is high (without prior connections and/or lots of moneys) and she sometimes is discouraged.  for some reason, since i finance some of her operations and am in a bit more of a financial secure position than her, she has started to rely on me for support instead of vice versa.  since i am undeniably immature, and thus unable to give her the emotional support that's probably more characteristic of an older brother, she yells at me for being inept.  money does not equal maturity, folks.  mo money just means mo problems.  but that's for another post.

but one thing i do admire about my sister throughout all this is that she has been able to keep knocking on doors amidst the rejection she faces.  she always is willing to try something new, network, and be on the hustle, grinding out every bit of potential in an opportunity.  it'd be a travesty to me if things didn't work out for her because of her effort and talent.  

our relationship has evolved too.  since we now live in the same vicinity, we hang out on a regular basis.  i have introduced her to some of her favorite shows such as dexter and 24, and i used to humor her by watching gak like gossip girl and project runway.  we have been an invaluable source of support for each other in our respective professions (i mean i think you really need a crazy sibling that's doing something out of the ordinary to understand what you're doing when you're asian).  

some have compared our relationship to dexter and deb in the show dexter, where the two have essentially depended on each other, dexter for deb's understanding of human interactions and emotions and deb for dexter's representation of a completely stable force in her life.  plus, another similarity is that deb curses a lot.  and dexter kills people.  uh, i mean...what?  anyhow.

anyhow, this entry is a bit too warm fuzzy, so i'll just end by saying that i will look to my sister and see how she leads the way into the end of the 20's era, and try to emulate the attitude of giving everything my best shot.

Monday, December 6, 2010


when most people meet me for the first time, i pull back from my average linguistics usage and talk pretty much like a normal human being.  probably a tad on the quiet side actually.  but the way i talk to my friends is totally different.  all throughout the past 10 years or so, there's been some sort of catchphrase or linguistic abnormality that i would employ on a regular basis.  in fact entire entries have been dedicated to decoding what i say, unfortunately, they have been met with harsh criticism and eye rolls from the people who probably have sticks up their asses and who think they mean srs bsns.

most of the things i use now (my repetoire is usually changing) however are not my own inventions, but an evolution of speech of what makes things easier to express in a rapid fire instant messaging type manner.  the focus of this post will be on the ever malleable term: gak.

it's been a while since i realized that this phrase needs to be clarified more than most of the other things i use, primarily because of its frequent usage.  mark chen once told me over the summer, "you know, i was beginning to think i pinned down the meaning of your word 'gak', but now i'm not so sure."  needless to say, i found this confusion hilarious.

to put it simply, gak is an all purpose word used to describe something that's off.  if something is gak, it means that it's not what you expected.  gak's derivation is debated to come from a variety of sources, even plugging it into urbandictionary won't give one a satisfactory take on it.  i suppose nickelodeon's substance of gak is an accurate way of picturing gak in a tangible form, it's like a substance that is used to soak a person in who has pretty much failed in some way.

anyhow some common expressions i use that incorporate gak (they may have explained before but this is in more detail):

WTGTD (what the gak that do):  a combination of the phrases "what the gak" and "what that do".

"what the gak" is essentially a tamer version of "what the fuck", because instead of fuck, we use the semi-harmless gak to convey the sense that something is amiss, but not to a "what the fuck" level of amissness.

"what that do" is a phrase that is essentially equivalent to "what the hell just happened just now" combined with a "are you serious?".  it's effect is more potent when you delay the amount of time between the words, like "what.  that.  do." 

so in summary, wtgtd is a combination of amissness with a touch of disbelief concerning it.

LIG (like it's gute, where gute = gak+cute):  this is just the next step in the evolution of the phrase: "like it's cute"

"like it's cute" describes some sort of occurrence where cute doesn't actually mean cute, but more like clever.  that guy was trying to be "cute" by doing something that he thought would be clever, when in fact it was probably just dumb.

by inserting gak into cute, to make gute, we just simply add the little flavor that says the thing we're describing not only was "cute", but a bit off in its "cuteness".

sometimes cute can actually mean cute, and the gak is just added for humorous effect.  like when i showed a picture of a bulldog recently in my tweet, LIG was an appropriate phrase to use.

and sometimes LIG doesn't even need a reason to be used at all.  normal things can have a LIG like quality to it, just because it may be slightly out of the ordinary for some small particular reason.

JAG (just another gak) - this is describing the average person.  the average person is JAG.  used when describing or contrasting oneself from the norm.

gakked in the eye - essentially getting screwed over in some way.  again, imagine getting gakked by the nickelodeon substance by failing some sort of task.

gakking around - the equivalent of any response you provide in an instant message conversation that essentially says you are doing nothing.  (which is impossible, since you're always doing something, so you're pretty much dodging their question because you're too lazy to answer them appropriately)

any word can be interchanged with gak, but usually you only want to change one word in a sentence or phrase otherwise it gets a bit too confusing and you usually want to use multiple syllable words so it's easier to quickly determine what's being gakified in the context of the sentence.  sometimes certain combinations work better than others.  For example, the word computer is better transformed into gakuter rather than comgakter or compugak, whereas an iPhone would be better expressed as an iGak.

some common gak rules:

- any syllable ending with a c/k sound is a more likely candidate into transforming for gak
- nouns are usually better candidates for gak
- gaks tend to gravitate towards less stressed syllables, though not necessarily

now these probably aren't all the usages of gak but i believe i've covered some of the main bases.  and i've been writing way too much on this now.

so i will now leave you with this humorous usage of gak:

on the fifth day of gakmus, my true gak gakked to me:
four calling gaks
three gak hens
two turtle gaks
and a gaktridge in a gak tree

notice that three gak hens i used gak for the adj instead of the noun.  that's because things that are french are usually gak, and for the sake of variety.  (the same usage of gak in each sentence would be too repetitive, things need to be changed up).

knowing thyself

i'm always refining my image of myself, trying to become as self aware as possible in all contexts and circumstances.  fortunately, i have met good people to reveal to me aspects of character flaws and that ask me questions that make me constantly question why i do the things i do and about the events that have shaped me up to this point.

recently, i figured out a few things about myself:

a) what drives me (hint: i'm definitely not a "like me", that's for sure)
b) my self-consciousness when it comes to my self-consciousness
c) having a holden caulfield-complex

unfortunately, just knowing things about yourself isn't simply enough to shut it on or off.  character development is painful, and requires a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.  and sometimes it's hard to continually get up and believe that process is worth it, or that at some subconscious level, you want to hold onto those aspects of yourself.  i guess that requires a certain measure of faith.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

keeping it real

doesn't merely mean aggressively stating your perspective of truth, but allowing yourself to be vulnerable in acknowledging that your perspective of truth may be wrong.

especially when accepting that truth hurts like hell.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

the beauty is in what isn't said.

like so many jimmy eat world songs, i feel like the best ones ("for me this is heaven", "sweetness", "praise chorus" ,"23") aren't as given as much attention as their more popular songs.  which is just fine for me, it kind of adds to the possessiveness you have when you have music that you enjoy that others don't really get in the mainstream too often.

while JEW has become mainstream-y, i feel like they still do try to experiment and innovate when it comes to producing emotive music.  i say emotive, instead of "emo" because i feel like they carry the emotion without being "emo".  in my opinion, bands like Taking Back SundayYellowcardGood Charlotte, Simple PlanThe Starting Line and to some extent All American Rejects (though i love listening to some of their songs as a guilty pleasure), have saturated the market with overly bitter and whiny content.

the song i cover by JEW is "chase this light", something that i've listened to a lot a few years ago.  here are the lyrics:

I'm a suspect, I'm a traitor
I'm only here in body, visiting
Yellow faces and the distant screams
The beauty is in what isn't said
I'm rising to my feet

Because tonight, the world turned in me
Because right now, I don't dare to breathe

Oh, babe, I know
It's alive
And somewhere for us to find tonight
Chase this light with me

My just so
My last call
My life is yours, in your gifted hands
Confetti rain fall on the quiet street
These things I found are special now
The knot is in my reach

A movie still-photograph
Through our martyrs eyes I can see
I've seen the best of love
The best of hate
The best reward is earned
And I've paid for every single word
I've ever said

Confetti rain falls on the quiet street
The beauty is in what you make it
So get up on your feet

what i like about this song is how much meaning is packed into such a short song.  the movement of the music and the vocals also give it a sense of urgency, while the lyrics and melody serve to couple that with a sense of reassurance.  it also has a kicking bridge, which i always love.

i always wanted to play this with a band.  and now that i think i'm going to try to maybe form something of a band or do some stuff musically, i decided to finally finish this sucker off, because i've meant to cover this song for a while.  the song was a bit difficult technically for me, but i think i made something halfway decent: