le cahier de kev

le cahier de kev

adventures fresh off the press

A Step Forward Through Cooperation

It has been quite a month since the events of the previous entry.  At that time it was still pretty warm and everyone was getting ready for Halloween.  Just recently it was the presidential election in the United States.  Some people were happy with the results while some were not.  In the end, I think that it's just important for everyone to move forward and work to enact positive change.  


As someone who comes from a mathematical/scientific background, I favor more pragmatic approaches to things.  Rather than try to hinder others, I believe time, energy, and resources are better spent on developing solutions to economic, social, and foreign issues.  Even if we share different views or beliefs as others, it doesn't mean that we would be unable to work together with them.  It's a matter of sharing one's experiences and strengths with others who will likewise do the same that can help propel progress.  Cooperation is a step to build a better future.


Empire State Building shining in the country's colors on election night



(On a side note, I won't combine Part II of the museum pictures here.  It might end up getting messy so I decided to separate them for the next entry.)


I was able to get through a few books in the past month.  I enjoy reading to pass the time and these books really hit that spot.


I finished Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling and Bossypants by Tina Fey in October.  I also reread The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell.



The Most Dangerous Game was a captivating short story that I read back in high school.  It was a very quick read (I think it took me around 30 minutes to complete).  The presented story deals within the realm of the hunter becoming the "huntee" as he fights for survival.  I highly recommend checking it out.


Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey's books were a lot more lighthearted.  While Mindy's book discussed her work on shows she had worked on such as The Mindy Project, Tina's book made me smile and laugh more with her jokes and anecdotes.  Tina was very vivid with her stories about her many interactions with staff from SNL and 30 Rock, with friends such as Amy Poehler, and gave stories on how her father was a badass. haha  With Mindy's book, I really loved the detailed pictures and how her quirky personality came through the words of the book.


Both of their books were very enjoyable and I had a big smile on my face as I read while I was eating or sitting on the train.  These two women worked very hard to get to where they were and it showed the strength of their character.  There were also frustrations with the lack of clarity in terms of decision making for shows and balancing personal and professional lives.  Despite the hurdles that they had faced, they still moved forward with humor and perseverance.  I really admired those qualities as I read through their books.


Currently, I'm reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and The Singapore Story by former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.  In late October I started reading Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything, but I put it on hold once I acquired Anthony and PM Lee Kuan Yew's books.




The one thing I really admired from the two books (from what I had read so far) was their candid approach in their narratives.  With former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, he had the enormous task to lead Singapore after its forced independence from Malaysia.  Just reading the background of his hard work was very inspirational.  He also showed that he was not perfect growing up.  In the book he mentioned that despite getting good grades, he would be tardy at times which led to him getting caned by the headmaster of the school.  I also read through his experiences during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.  This included how he navigated through the system to find work along with stabilizing means of survival (through basic necessities such as acquiring food as well as avoiding any conflict with the military which would have led to severe consequences).  I'm now on the chapter of his journey to complete his law studies in Britain and trying to get Kwa Geok Choo (the girl he was courting who would end up becoming his future wife) into Girton College at Cambridge.


You could sense the passion in his spirit navigating through all of these hurdles so that he can accomplish his goals.  It brought a smile to my face when I read how his hard work paid off.  He would find a way to get to his goal (whether it was through writing a letter to the school, contacting people whom he had previously worked with, or doing his research on a topic of interest) through his inquisitive nature.  One of the stories that came to mind was when he researched on what would be a product that would be in demand during the war (since he needed some financial earnings to support himself and his family).  He collaborated with a colleague Nyuk Lin who also graduated from Raffles College to make gum from tapioca flour and carbolic acid.  This highlighted his pragmatism to adapt to the changing environment through survival.


Lee Kuan Yew's experiences are applicable to the nature of the uncertainties of life.  When an unexpected life event occurs, we must adapt to the changing climate.  Similarly to how the world is evolving through the economic and sociopolitical demands of each country's society, we must always be prepared to keep an open mind and to listen to the voices of both our supporters and the opposition.  It's interesting to visit these thoughts since I remembered in an earlier entry that I wouldn't dive too deeply into politics.  In that sense, I won't lean towards one side while rebuking the perspectives of an opposing side.  What makes critical dialogue and the thought process enriching is the ability to hear out what both sides will bring to the table.  To those who are familiar with introductory calculus, I will use a mathematics example.


If I have a function f(x) = (x+1)(x+2), and I want to find the derivative.  There are two approaches.  I can either simplify through the FOIL method and then use the Power Rule to take the derivative of the function or I can keep the function as is and use the Product Rule.  The main thing to note is that both methods will lead to the same result.  Some people will prefer to do one method while others choose the other.  Neither one is better than the other.  It is just important that you end up with the correct result.  I do agree that in terms of policies, it may not be as clear cut.  However, both sides can contribute to shaping a course of action.


The main thing to note is that there are different perspectives out there and we must respect others' beliefs.  They may differ from ours, but that doesn't make them any less of a person.  As I had discussed earlier, instead of trying to find a way to checkmate the opposition, time would be better spent on producing a policy that is sustainable.  One of the common themes in these books is exactly that--overcoming conflict with those whom you may not agree with in order to move a project forward.  As my aunt would say, "It's quite inspirational!"


I'm still making my way through both books, but am really learning a lot about each of their struggles.  I enjoy both styles of their writing: while Anthony's book is a bit more brash in his approach to his descriptions, Lee Kuan Yew's approach is more eloquent and formal (as expected from a former head of government and the founding father of Singapore).


Things have been going well.  I had lunch with my aunt last Friday and we got to catch up after such a long time.  She's an absolute sweetheart.  We talked about family affairs, the current election, and our plans for the holidays.  What really touched me was that despite not getting to see each other as often, everything just flowed once we started talking.  We both had a huge smile on our faces as we caught up.  After our lunch, we promised to meet up again for another lunch date in the near future.  Ten minutes after I took her home she texted me with some sweet words and I texted her back, "Auntie don't cry...only tears of joy are allowed!"  She texted me back with a smiley and a heart.  It was very cute.


Auntie and Me



Thanksgiving is coming up and I'm excited to spend time with family.  To those of you in the United States celebrating Thanksgiving, I want to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving!  If you are traveling, please have a safe journey.


The medical law and ethics handout will be up soon.  There is a lot of information pertaining to groups affected by abuse and violence, but I wanted to make sure that all of the important bullet points are covered before publishing it for the public.  Thank you very much for your patience.

A Day At The Museum Part I

Summer is finishing up and we're transitioning into autumn.  The last month had been great spending time with family, catching up with friends, and getting immersed with Steven Universe.  I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the story and how they fleshed out the characters for the current season.  I still remember seeing the creator Rebecca Sugar sing and talk during last year's Comic Con Panel.  It was my first time last year, but I was fortunate enough to see a lot of great talent and experience what Comic Con was all about.  It was quite overwhelming and there was so much to take in, but I had such a great time and met a lot of wonderful people.  I won't be attending this year, but maybe next year.  :)


My good friend Raizel and I met up in early August.  It was so nice since she's always here to show support to her children who are studying in the States.  It was nice to just talk and enjoy the scenery.  We didn't expect it to rain hard since the weather forecast stated that there may be a short drizzle.  Fortunately, we were inside the coffee shop when it began to rain.


We covered a lot of topics during our talk.  We showed each other food pictures, shared recipes. talked about family, and traveling.  One of the highlights of our conversation involved connecting with someone.  We discussed how with certain people you meet you can immediately "click" with them at the first meeting.  I'm sure many of you have experienced it where you talk to someone and everything flows naturally from the body language to the pace of the conversation.


We did take fun pictures together:


Smiles and Food at the café







It is fun sharing stories and enjoying each other's company.  This reminds me of a story that my high school American literature teacher told us.  She was having lunch with one of her good friends at a sandwich shop.  She said that the food was not good at all, but at the end of the conversation with her friend she noticed that she ate her entire sandwich.  Since she was so enthralled by the conversation and would take small bites from time to time, she didn't notice that she finished her sandwich.  Even if the surroundings or food may not be what we had expected, the company whom we are with can make a big difference.


So it was nice chatting with Raizel throughout the crazy weather.  We parted ways and planned to meet again over dinner at a later date.  As I called her to wish her a good night a few hours later, it started pouring as I was walking outside.  I quickly fumbled around my bag to open my umbrella.  We both had a good laugh out of it.


I also enjoyed some time off with family during the summer.  Family came to visit so we did the usual "touristy" things around New York.  It was going to be a day full of walking, but one place they wanted to see was The Museum of Natural History.  (Since there were so many pictures, I will divide this entry into two parts.  The first part will begin with the animal, space, marine, and geological exhibits.  Part II will look at the cultural, anthropological, public health, and dinosaur exhibits).


The first time I went was in 2009.  I forgot to charge my camera (I mistakenly thought that I had enough charge) and it died 15 minutes into the museum.  However, I was ready this time!  It was really fascinating, and I enjoyed taking my time looking at the exhibits.  I will let the pictures do the talking, but I definitely went full on "geek mode" when I entered the space exhibit.


Outside the Museum of Natural History



Dinosaur Bone Exhibit at the Lobby



Another View of the Dinosaur Bone Exhibit


Everything brought back memories.  I don't remember, but I think the admission fee was mandatory last time I went in 2009, but now it was pay what you would like.  After payment and getting our sticker badges, we headed inside.  Since everyone had different interests we all split up and planned to meet up at our designated spot in a few hours.


I started off at the animal exhibits (no they're not real lol).  I took a lot of pictures, but chose the ones that really stood out so that you won't have to scroll through a lot of them.


Alaska Moose



Grizzly Bear



The wildlife exhibits showcased many of the animals found in their usual habitats.  It was nice and I loved how the background highlighted their natural environment.


Afterwards, I went to the geological exhibit.


The Earth's History


Many of the exhibits showed weather patterns, different types of rock formations, and minerals (to name a few).  The screen displayed the current natural activity in the earth.  I took a shot of the current locations of earthquake activity.


Recent Volcanic and Earthquake Activity



After the geological exhibit, I went to the space exhibit.  There were a lot of fascinating things ranging from the moon to the stars and galaxies.  Before going down the stairs to see the exhibits, the first thing that I encountered was a figure of the moon.



Entering the Space Exhibit



The Moon



Information on the Moon



My weight on the moon: 22.9 lb (10.39 kg)


I loved the part where I weighed myself to see my weight on the moon!  From the moon, I went down the stairs and headed left to look at the information on galaxies.


Galaxies Exhibit


On the opposite side was the exhibit on stars.


Stars Exhibit


At the center I took a look at the star dust exhibit to read about its scientific foundations in the world today.


Star Dust Exhibit



I looked at the model planets and the space videos they played on the big screen.  Here is a shot of the Astronews information on the Sun.


Mercury passing between the Earth and the Sun



Image of the Whirlpool Galaxy



After the space exhibit, I went to the nature and floral exhibit.  I watched the potato diversity video of the Andes from the touch screen player.  It was nice since I got to sit down after walking so much. haha


Videos on Biological Documentaries 


This led to the exhibits on various flora.  I'm sure many of you are familiar with the big red flower on the top left.  It's the rafflesia which smells like rotting flesh.  If you played the game Animal Crossing, the rafflesia appears if you do not take care of the weeds in your town.


Various Flora


From there I headed to the arctic and marine exhibits.


Under The Sea!



Polar Bear








The Harbor Seal

Very adorable!



I love the ocean which is why I took my time looking at these exhibits and reading the information.  The atmosphere's lighting made it seem like you were at that place.



Magnified exhibit of Mosquito



I took a look at this mosquito exhibit because it discussed how insects played a role with spreading disease.  As you have heard recently, this summer Zika had been a problem as mosquitoes began spreading it in the Americas.  This exhibit discussed malaria and how it influenced the importance of public health in preventing the spread of the disease.



Jade Exhibit



The jade exhibit captured my attention as it had a lot of Buddhist works along with the science and history behind the trade, use, and formation of jade.



DNA Exhibit



The DNA exhibit looked into the genetics in which humans and chimps share similarities or have differences.  There was also a short explanation to the right on what DNA is and the basics of its components (e.g. nucleotide bases).



Comparative Genomics and Human Origins Laboratory



It was closed when I got there, but it reminded me of my laboratory courses during university.  Those were fun!


Ross Hall of Meteorites



I visited the Ross Hall of Meteorites to see the types of meteor formations in space.


Meteorites from an Asteroid


The above was one of the exhibits from the Ross Hall of Meteorites.  These meteorites came from the crust and core of an asteroid.  The details were informative and beautiful.


California Gold Exhibit



The California gold exhibit discussed the history of the gold rush in the mid 1800s when settlers came to California to mine for gold.  This was around the time when California became a state.


I continued looking at the mineral exhibits after reading up on the gold exhibit above.



Cuprite Exhibit



Fluorite Exhibit


It was really fascinating how the Earth can form such beautiful and unique geological wonders.  Just looking at the diversity in the colors and formations really makes you appreciate our world.  There were also a lot of minerals and gemstones that were exhibited.


Various Minerals





More Gemstones


Jade Artifacts


I loved that they expanded on the jade artifacts.  It brought back memories of when I took the East Asian Art class back when I was at university.



Brain Exhibit


The brain exhibit was a pleasant surprise as I was walking around.  I started off with my interests in behavioral neuroscience, but switched gears into public health and biomathematics.  The brain exhibit gave a brief overview of the role the brain plays (e.g. which side controls which function such as speech or movement).


The exhibits were still as fascinating as ever and the museum even had a public health exhibit called Countdown to Zero.  This will be covered in the second part of the entry.  This will be where I will finish Part I of the museum entry since there we covered so much already!


To conclude, I wanted to share a soundtrack with all of you.  The game is called Journey and the soundtrack was created by Austin Wintory.  The soundtrack is absolutely beautiful.  I highly recommend Track 1 (Nascence) and Track 17 (Apotheosis) because the songs can touch you on the inside.  However, I do think the entire sountrack is beautiful.  Click on the picture to listen to the Youtube playlist and support Austin's great work!


Journey Soundtrack



Snap, Cackle, and Pop!

I have a fun entry for July that I wanted to share with all of you.  The title of the post popped into my head because of the main topics in this entry: Snapchat, Kate and I cackling as we made videos, and pop music (but music in general).  


Summer is halfway finished and pretty soon the autumn leaves will fall to the ground.  One thing that stood out this summer was the comeback in popularity regarding Pokemon.  My friend and I were discussing it last week since her son was playing it.  Everyone has been enamored by Pokemon Go.  While we're on the topic of Pokemon, I have a Pokeball paper clip and staple holder that my brother gave me awhile back.  I think that it's adorable which is why it's a staple part of my desk.


Gotta Catch 'Em All, Pokemon!


I did play Pokemon when it first came out, and I remembered trading with my brother and friends to try to collect all of the original 150 Pokemon.  I did see Pokemon Go's gameplay from my friend's son, but I think I've Pokemon-ed myself out from the old games to start this one. haha  But I do think it's a nice little adventure though for those who are engaged in it.  As long as you play safely, certainly go for it!


Kate and I met up before she had to go back for her summer holiday.  It was nice because it wasn't too hot yet at that time.  There was a heatwave in the New York City area one week ago so it became really uncomfortable if you stayed exposed to the outside heat too long.  Fortunately, the rain came to cool things down for a bit.  My Tía and I were talking last week and we discussed how crazy the weather had been.  We had the heatwave and then a huge downpour.  We then laughed it off and talked about arepas to lighten the mood.


So back to my meet up with Kate.  She got me hooked on Snapchat that day.  We were playing around with the filters and snap options which turned into crazy shenanigans!  In some instances we tried to make serious faces, but it took several tries after we had a hard time containing our laughter.  We did face swaps and made some videos which I will share here.


Kate and I made a lot of Snaps, but here are a few that we made:


Top left: Kate and I as doggies

Bottom left: Face swapping with Channing Tatum

Right: Me as Raphael from TMNT


It was really fun and it passed the time.  I did not think Snapchat would be as addicting when Kate first told me how fun it was.  I promised her that when we met up we'd play around with Snapchat.  In the middle of our Snap session, a very nice tourist approached us.  She asked us if we could take a picture of her.  I took her picture and wished her a nice time during her stay here.  Who doesn't love a good picture?


We also tried to play around with the videos.  Here's the video that Kate and I made together (you can hear her laughing at the second clip when I was the zombie):



3 Parts in this clip:

(Part 1) Me as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

(Part 2) Me as a zombie

(Part 3) Me as a firefighter


Kate and I couldn't stop laughing when we were doing the videos.  The zombie one caught me off guard because I didn't know what to do or how to react.  I just opened my mouth while the app screamed for me.  For the rest of the snaps, all Kate told me to do was to look at the camera or open my mouth as we took them.  I tried to contain my laughter when I rewatched the zombie clip and our faceswaps with each other (we promised each other we wouldn't post those online haha) when I was on the train.


We then headed to Gregory's Coffee for an evening snack.  I got a small coffee and a brownie while Kate ordered a hot chocolate and a chocolate chip cookie.  We caught up on how things were going and what she had planned to do for the summer.  She was going to do a bit more writing and rest before returning here to the States in the fall. It was nice inside the café because it was pretty mellow. Since it was on a weekday evening, it wasn't too crowded.  The patrons were all relaxing with their drinks while Kate and I continued telling our stories to each other.


Brownie and a small coffee

A nice treat!


After our evening snack, I walked her to the subway station and wished her a safe trip.  Since she's doing a lot more writing, I gave her a few books to read for her flight back.  We planned to see each other again in the fall/winter.


I have always found listening to radio to be very therapeutic.  If I'm driving at night I will usually have the station set to 106.7 Lite FM since it's more relaxing.  During the day, however, I usually have my own version of James Corden's Carpool Karaoke!


With my phone, I play the FM radio while I get typing done (usually when there's Wifi, I can't use up data!).  Although it's fun for me to listen to songs on my playlist while exercising or eating lunch, I've always enjoyed the random songs that pop in while I listened to the radio.  Sometimes I'll hear a song that I completely forgot about or I find something new for purchase.  I was happy to hear some of my favorite tracks such as the ones featured below.



Listening to some Maroon 5 @ 2 AM



106.7 Lite FM

The station I usually play at night in the car



Music has always been such a comforting thing for me.  Whether the situation was positive or negative, music still played an important role to help me reframe my thoughts.  I can certainly tell you that I remember being the angsty teenager who had to sort out my feelings as I listened to songs to find my "anthem" (oh adolescence haha)  But I can also tell you the song I listened to at the airport while I visited family or what was playing in the car when my friend and I went out for an end of the week dinner.  For example, one thing that comes to mind is that LeAnn Rimes' version of How Do I Live reminds me of sitting at the movie theater answering the Coca Cola trivia while waiting for the movie to start.  I think it all ties in with how I value memories (which many of you can see through this blog).


Also, I still have my old CD player and many of the CDs that I purchased in the late 90s/early 2000s.  I remembered how much batteries I had to use when I brought the CD player along trips.  For many electronics now all you have to do is charge them before you head out the door.  Very convenient indeed!


My old CD player and a few of my CDs


I bought the CD player from FYE.  I don't know if there are any left around here in the East Coast, but back then they were everywhere.  The FYE stores were usually found in every mall that I visited.  I do remember my brother buying me a Jelly Belly Blueberry scented gel case for my Ipod from the FYE near his old job since the FYE was going out of business.  That was around 5-6 years ago.


Although digital music is the main way people receive their music nowadays, I still enjoy going to a physical store to look around and admire the CD's album art.  When I went to look for my CDs at a traditional brick and mortar business, I would take my time to look around and sometimes find a CD that I planned to purchase but forgot about.  After buying the CD, I would sit down in my room, open the CD case, and look at the booklet attached to it.  It was filled with photographs, lyrics, and the special thanks and going through the booklet felt like an experience where I was getting to know the artist.  It did feel more like an activity that I engaged in as I placed the CD into the CD player and read the booklet while I focused on the music.  While digital music is pretty convenient (can you imagine having to lug around all of those CDs along with the CD player or having to change the batteries often?! haha), physical CDs still have that special place in my memories and heart.


It wasn't until I started listening to my physical CDs again that I took time to sit down and just listen to the music instead of simply playing a song in the background while I did some typing.  Another plus was that I also found a lot of hidden nuggets from songs that were not featured singles in the CD as I let the entire CD play.


After I reorganized my CDs, I took a look and listened to a lot of other songs I used to listen to.  Here are a few recommendations that I wanted to share with all of you.  Some of you may or may not remember them, but they are quite nice songs.


Stay the Same by Joey McIntyre

A Puro Dolor by Son by Four

I Want You by Janet Jackson

Fighter by Christina Aguilera

This Is Your Night by Amber

Everybody (Backstreet's Back) by The Backstreet Boys

This Love by Maroon 5

Everywhere by Michelle Branch

One More Time by Daft Punk

Around The World (La La La La La) by ATC

Why by Tiggy


These are just a few (since the list can become quite long), but I might create a music collection playlist on my site so that you can check out what I'm currently listening to.  One song that has been stuck in my head right now is Ciudad Mágica by Tan Bionica.  The first time that I heard it was when Mauricio Macri was elected president of Argentina.  I can't get it out of my head especially when Chano (the lead singer) sings the "Parapa parapa pa pa" part!  (It's around the 1:50 mark)


Ciudad Mágica by Tan Bionica



To conclude this entry I want to share a fortune that my brother gave me when I met up with him for dinner a few weeks ago:


Don't be a soy loser!


It's a cute message, but it does have a point.  Personally speaking, I learned early on in my life that complaining or getting upset won't help me progress.  The only to overcome this defeat was to work on picking myself up and find a different approach.  Mathematics was pretty tough when I was first learning it when I was younger.  I remembered spending so much time on a problem and when I checked the solution at the back of the book, it was completely different!  If I had admitted defeat when getting overwhelmed by proofs or other material, I don't think I would have been able to do what I am doing today.


The thing that ties all of these elements together (the Snaps, the music, and the fortune) is that we are constantly evolving (from flip phones to smartphones with advanced apps or moving from physical CDs to digital music), but that does not mean that we have to completely disregard these elements from the past.  


As I typed this entry, I revisited a lot of memories regarding how things changed for me as well as with my relationships with others.  I think that's what inspired me to redesign my main site.  It was like moving from the physical CD to digital media.  The core of the matter is there, but the form is just different as a result of evolution.  Lecahierdekev from 2012 is still a part of the 2016 version, but new elements have been introduced.  The heart of the site: the blog entries and focus on math and science is still the foundation.


Those of you who are trying to catch up on last minute holiday/vacation plans or are engaging with these new apps like Pokemon Go, I hope that everything progresses well.  (I just looked at the brownie and coffee picture again and I suddenly had a craving for some hazelnut coffee.)  Stay safe and wishing all of you the best.


And don't forget, don't be a soy loser!

#tbt Vegas Vacation!

I know that a lot of my family and friends use Instagram and from time to time they would make a #tbt post. #tbt posts usually reference back to a past event (where tbt refers to "Throwback Thursday").  For example, someone will post a childhood picture or a vacation from 5-10 years ago.  Since my Adventure Blog here on lecahierdekev discusses more lighthearted topics and allows me to share pictures with others, everyone usually comes here for that purpose (which in a sense serves as my "Instagram" haha).


After looking at pictures of past events posted by family and friends, I was inspired to make a #tbt post.  What captured my attention were my pictures from my Vegas vacation/holiday back in 2004 (more than a decade ago!).  I took the pictures using my old digital camera and unfortunately couldn't take as many photos because of the limited memory.  It was a small 2 megapixel digital camera with a capacity for less than 100 shots so I wanted to make sure it would last for the entire week!  Back then the cameras on the phones were not as advanced as the ones found in popular touch screen phones today.  When I took a look at the pictures, I really liked how vibrant and colorful the environments were in Las Vegas.  It's no surprise though since Vegas is known for its casinos, lights, shows, and other entertainment.  I named this entry "Vegas Vacation" because it had a nicer ring than "Vegas Holiday" haha


Please note that some pictures may not be of the best quality (i.e. be blurry).  To be able to take the maximum number of pictures from my camera, I had to set it to a maximum of 640 x 480 with 72 dpi.  Surprisingly though many of the pictures turned out pretty well.  Now when I go on vacation/holiday, I have my digital camera along with my phone to capture more pictures.


Going on vacation/holiday is always fun and enjoyable especially when you get to create new memories and experience things that are different from your usual daily repertoire.  As I glanced at the pictures, I remembered how much in awe I was at the sights.  It was my first time in Vegas so it was quite a lot to take in.  In addition to Las Vegas, I also have pictures of the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam as part of a tour during the trip.  At that time, I was living in another city, so we took a family trip together to catch up during the summer.  My mother and I was in communication regarding the itinerary and planned what we were all going to do together.


On the day of our flight, my mom's cousin helped us load the luggage into the van and drove us to the airport. When we arrived at the airport, we went through the process of security and getting our bags checked.  After boarding our plane, the pilot informed everyone that the flight was full.  It was summer time so it was no surprise that everyone was ready to relax and take time off.  It was a direct flight so it only took a few hours to get from the East Coast to Las Vegas.


The hotel that we stayed at was Circus Circus.  Prior to the vacation, my mom and I were looking at the most affordable hotel which also had a good location near the Vegas Strip.  The two choices that we narrowed it down to was the Stratosphere or Circus Circus.  Since Circus Circus had a good selection of entertainment and attractions, we decided to choose that one.


Outside our hotel/casino Circus Circus



When we arrived at the airport, we took a shuttle with other passengers to get to our respective hotels.  The driver asked each person/group where they were heading and wrote it down on her clipboard.  It wasn't too crowded since we arrived in Las Vegas later in the evening at around 11 PM.  We went to the front desk and my parents presented the printed reservation forms to get our room key.  The bellhop loaded our luggage on a cart and led us to our rooms.


As we got to our room, we gave the tip to the bellhop and settled in.  We had brochures/pamphlets that discussed the events at Circus Circus and what were the other "happenings" around Vegas during that time.  The 2001 movie "Rat Race" was playing on the TV and we were laughing at the absurdity of some of the scenes.  As we watched the movie, we were looking for places to get some food.  I was excited to finally experience a Vegas buffet during this trip!  The last casino buffet that I tried was in Atlantic City a few years before this trip (I think it was either at the Borgata or Tropicana).  My uncle and aunt who frequented the casinos here treated our group (my family and my other uncle and aunt) to the buffet.  My aunt wore her signature jade jewelry and wore green since she said it was lucky. haha


Throughout our trip, we ate at a lot of places.  We had a large pizza from "Pizzeria" at Circus Circus, bought hot dogs that had everything on them (relish, sauerkraut, and other toppings), ordered Chinese food, and ate at the buffet at Circus Circus to name a few.  At the buffet I remembered getting several plates of food with items such as mashed potatoes, calamari, pasta, and chicken.  I still had room for a key lime cheesecake.  I don't think I'd be able to eat that much now!


Trapeze performers inside Circus Circus



Acrobatic performers inside Circus Circus


It wouldn't be Las Vegas without a mention of the casino:


Overlooking the casino inside Circus Circus



After spending our time at Circus Circus, we decided to venture out to explore the other casinos.  At that time, it was scorching outside.  The temperature was 107 degrees F (42 degrees C) so just standing outside made us sweat! haha  You could feel the heat hit you when you leave the air conditioned casino.  


 The summer heat and palm trees



My parents went to the casino to play some of the games, and I stayed with my brother and went to the Adventuredome indoor amusement park and the Midway arcade/entertainment area at Circus Circus.  We bought the All Day Ride Pass which kept us entertained for hours.  They gave us bracelets so that we could go to each ride as much as we wanted.  After we rode the rides several times, we headed to Midway to play some games.


Me playing a racing game at the arcade

(I cropped myself out because I looked ehh from walking and sweating haha)



Ticketing sign at Adventuredome



Line forming to enter Adventuredome



At Mandalay Bay, we took an audio tour at the Shark Reef Aquarium.  As we entered, we paid for admission which included a wand that provided information on the exhibit we were looking at.  The aquarium was quite extensive and very beautiful.


Entering the aquarium at Mandalay Bay



Diverse fish at the aquarium



Aquarium snapshot






Shark swimming



Hammerhead shark swimming



After Mandalay Bay, we walked to Luxor, the Egyptian themed hotel and casino.


Outside Luxor

Quite magnificent!



Fountains inside Luxor



Here is a pic of me sitting outside the Stardust casino.  Stardust was closed and demolished in 2006 and 2007 respectively.  When we went inside Stardust, I could still remember all of the cigarette smoke as we walked through the casino area.


Me sitting in front of Stardust

(Again, I cropped myself out because I was sweaty haha)



We passed by Excalibur, the Medieval themed casino.


Outside Excalibur



We then went to New York New York.  At New York New York, my brother and I rode the roller coaster.  It was crazy and fun.  At that time, I think it was 10 or 11 dollars for an individual ticket.  It should cost more now.  (I just checked, it's $14 for an individual ticket...it's not too bad.  If it went up to $20 then that would have been crazy!)


Outside New York New York



After a bit, we stumbled onto MGM Grand.  The outside was quite a sight to behold with its dazzling lights.


MGM's dazzling lights



Overlooking MGM Grand and the street below


MGM sign



When we walked inside, we passed by the Rainforest Cafe.  Here is the alligator decoration outside the restaurant:


The alligator decoration outside



The next day we passed by Fashion Show Mall.  Who doesn't love a good mall? haha  There were a variety of shops inside.


Fashion Show Mall exterior



Fashion Show Mall interior



We walked around, but didn't purchase anything.  It was just nice to look around the stores.  After visiting the mall, we passed by Treasure Island.


The ships outside Treasure Island



Another view of the ships at Treasure Island



From there, we continued our walk overlooking the Strip.


Standing on the walkway bridge above to cross to the other side of the street



This led us to the beautiful Venetian, a luxury casino/hotel resort with an Italian influence.


Exterior of the Venetian



Gondola ride outside the Venetian's waters



We then passed by the erupting volcano exhibit outside of the Mirage.


Exterior of the Mirage



The volcano exhibit outside Mirage

(we missed it on this day, but caught it on a later date)



From there we visited the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.





Laser light show at Caesar's Palacer

We were lucky to catch it! 



Statues at Caesar's Palace

(I almost wrote "statutes" from rewriting the medical law notes haha)



Statues and fountains



Here is a picture of the Eiffel Tower replica in Las Vegas.


Eiffel Tower replica exhibit



Here is the Tower lit up at night:


Eiffel Tower exhibit at night 



From there we headed to the Bellagio, one of my favorite casinos in Las Vegas.  The exhibits inside were iconic and nothing could beat the fountain show outside.


Flowers and exhibit inside Bellagio



Liberty Bell exhibit inside Bellagio



Fountain show at the Bellagio



Fountain show at the Bellagio

(It was so enchanting!)



A calm night outside of the Bellagio



My mom also suggested that we go on a Grand Canyon day trip tour on one of the days.  She spoke to the front desk and asked whether there were any tours available.  They recommended a tour in which a shuttle would pick everyone up from different casinos at specified times (our pick up time was 8:10 AM at Circus Circus) and take us to the tour bus boarding area.  The individual calls the tour in advance to let them know which day and how many people would be attending the tour.  Payment was made to the shuttle driver who then gave you the tickets and let you in (otherwise, the shuttle driver wouldn't drive you to the boarding area).


At the boarding area, the driver gave us the itinerary and what to expect from the trip.  On the way to the Grand Canyon we would go through Hoover Dam, a gift shop, and a security check before entering the Grand Canyon.  The trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon took us around 5 and a half hours including the stopovers at the gift shop and Hoover Dam.


A view outside on the way to the Grand Canyon



Approaching Hoover Dam



Hoover Dam was surprisingly nice.  I didn't expect that we were going to make a stop there, but it was a nice 15-20 minute break.  The driver told us that it would be good since we could get some fresh air, stretch, and walk around. 


Our stop at Hoover Dam



When we arrived at the Grand Canyon, we had our tour.  The bus driver gave us a few facts and other stories regarding the Grand Canyon.  We then had an opportunity to walk around, explore, and take pictures.


Overlooking the Grand Canyon





Very beautiful!



Looking downward



After we were able to explore, we had lunch.  Lunch was included in the ticket fee.  Each person received a bag which included a turkey sandwich, a bag of chips, and a bottle of water.  I forgot what the vegetarian option was.  As we ate our lunch, I talked to my brother about our trip and told him about upcoming plans for the Fall.  He told me about his upcoming summer plans after our trip.


It was around 11:30 PM when we arrived back at our hotel.  At that time, we only had two more days left for our trip so my parents decided that we should buy souvenirs and look at a few remaining sights for the remainder of the trip.


Although we didn't get to see the volcano show on the day we passed by it, we were lucky to see it this time!

The volcano show starting to erupt



The volcano erupting



As we walked around to find a place to buy souvenirs, we stumbled upon the Freemont Street Experience.  The ceiling has an entertaining light show so we were lucky to catch it.


The ceiling light show



Guess we know who sponsored it haha



On our final night, we packed up and got everything ready.  It was such a great experience and was the highlight of that summer.  I hope you all enjoyed this entry.  It took some time to write.  I did find some notes about the trip on one of my old diaries, but they were words jotted down that didn't go into too much detail. haha  However, I do hope you enjoyed the pictures.  I absolutely love to travel and see new sights because I can always learn something new along the way.


As my site becomes 4 years old this October, I just want to say thank you to everyone (family, friends, and both new and regular visitors) for enjoying my adventure ramblings.  :)  Let us all be good to one another and show each other love, support, and respect as we move toward a stronger future.

Comforting Dinner and Supermarket Escapades

We can actually feel the warmer weather now!  I verified that my continuing education was completed for this cycle and I took care of my taxes.  They weren't too bad (thank goodness!), but I'm just happy that all of that was off my plate as summer rolls along.  I have a lot of great things to share with all of you in this entry to ring in the springtime.


With the nicer weather, everyone is going outdoors to get some fresh air or look at the sights.  I went to the Japanese supermarket, Mitsuwa in Edgewater, New Jersey.  I remembered showing the outdoor scenery from the supermarket during the Independence Day entry.  I had to also go food shopping so I wanted to show you my trip to the supermarket.  Of course, you'll see a lot of bright and vibrant products in a Japanese supermarket!


When you go into Mitsuwa, one of the signature things you will see is the food court.  There are a lot of places to order food and the pictures are visually appealing.  There are a lot of choices whether you want ramen, Chinese inspired dishes, ice cream, bubble tea, curry, or rice bowls (to name a few).


Tempura Bowls


As you can see, Mitsuwa is a favorite place to go to for many people.  The place is very busy and crowded during festivals, holidays, and the weekends.  I prefer to go during a weekday since it's not as packed.  However, I went on a Saturday so it was quite busy!  It's really a fun place to go to when the weather is nice.  The outdoor area overlooking New York City is calming.  It's especially a sight to behold during the night when you can see the lights from across the river.



Rice Dishes and Bowls

There are also vegetable croquettes.  Very tasty!


The selections are good and some places also have a takeout option if you want to order something and eat it at home.  The picture above with the rice dishes and croquettes is where I usually order.  The food is good, and I especially love the pickled vegetables and miso soup that come with my order.  For the amount of food you get, it's pretty affordable.  A whole tray of food would be around 7 dollars for the cheapest option.  The bowls are cheaper which are 5-6 dollars.  The more involved dishes are around 8-10 dollars, but you do get a big meal out of it.  The food court seating area overlooks the coastline which does add to the ambiance.  You can see pictures of the outdoor area from my August 2015 entry.  I usually meet up and have dinner with family and friends here so it has always been a memorable experience.


The area around the food court has displays with manga books, toys, and other anime related goods.  There are also products advertising the goods you can find in the stores nearby.  For example, Kinokuniya bookstore is right next to Mitsuwa.


Assortment of Books

Hello Kitty Lego on the bottom left


This area also has free Japanese newspapers and the Chopsticks magazine which you can take home and read.  You can also look at the displays while you wait for your food to be prepared.


Kinokuniya Display

I especially liked the cat with the birthday cupcake!



After I ate my meal, I headed to the market to do some shopping.  There are a lot of colorful and unique products here that you won't find in a standard supermarket.


Strawberry Creme Oreos


I saw these strawberry creme Oreos and this was the first time I have seen this.  Maybe some of you have seen it in your areas, but I was surprised when I saw this.  It looked tasty, but I didn't know if I would've liked it.  haha There have been times where I will see something that looks appealing on the cover, but when I eat it, they are not what I expected.  I just thought it was nice so I kept a note of it in case I decide to buy it in the future.


Cute Japanese cookies


Of course, instead of the usual animal cookies/crackers, the Japanese spin on them are cute anime versions of these animals.  They were very colorful and vibrant, and I know that if I brought along my nephews and nieces, they definitely would've wanted me to buy them!


Assortment of Bottled Drinks



I like the selection of bottled drinks at Mitsuwa.  They usually go on sale, but they have a great assortment such as the veggie juices, coffees, teas, and other fruit juices.  Years ago I would buy the milk coffee that they have.  It was portable and really woke me up when I had to get work done.  This time I bought the tea lattes at the top of the picture.  There were three types: matcha, chai, and black tea.  I've tried all of them and they were delicious and refreshing.  It's easy to pack when I have to eat lunch or go out which makes them convenient if you're on the go.


There are also ready made/premade sushi, onigiri, bento boxes, and cooked food that you can pick out for dinner.  By the time I got there, it was pretty much emptied out.  Since it was a weekend, a lot of people get those for a quick lunch or dinner.  I did get a few things such as the potato curry croquette (the last one!), seaweed salad, and chicken teriyaki.


(Top left) Premade food section

(Bottom left) Tanuki Sake

(Right) Meat and poultry section


I did pass other sections such as the meat section, but I didn't need any meats.  I did like the Sake selection.  I laughed when I saw the sake packaged in the carton.  It reminded me of the boxed wine I saw at a few parties.


Frozen Dumplings


There are frozen items such as dumplings in case you need something that you can just heat up to eat.  I've had the crab and vegetable dumplings which were tasty as a side dish.  So there are a selection of things you can buy there.  Some items are pricey like the Kobe beef or high end sake, but otherwise it's pretty affordable.  They have sales often so you can use that to your advantage.


In terms of cooking, I made a Filipino-Chinese inspired soup called Lomi.  I know I didn't get to discuss cooking in the past few entries, but don't worry I have one here!  The dish was simple to make and very comforting to eat on a cold night.  I wanted to experiment so I used Udon noodles instead of Hokkien noodles.  I added a lot of vegetables including romaine lettuce, carrots, and snow peas.  I wanted it to be hearty, so I also added fish balls along with the chicken.


(Top Left) Sauteeing the chicken in onions and garlic

(Top Right) Chopped romaine lettuce and fish balls

(Bottom) Snow peas and carrots


I chopped the chicken breasts into strips and sauteed them with the chopped onions and garlic.  I didn't saute the chicken too long since it was going to also cook when I added it to the soup.  I seasoned the chicken with a bit of pepper and some chicken stock.  Meanwhile, in a large pot I boiled 1000 milliliters (around 4 cups) of low sodium chicken stock.  There's a reason I didn't add salt, and I will explain it further into this entry.  Once it started boiling, I tossed in the carrots so that it would soften.  Carrots take a bit of time to soften and I wanted all of the elements of the soup to be soft.  After five minutes, I put in the udon noodles.  I then added the sauteed chicken, onions, and garlic together with the fish balls.  At that point, I could smell the combination of the broth with the chicken and carrots.



Counterclockwise from the bottom left

Adding each ingredient step by step



There was a tip that my mom and other family friends told me when making this soup.  They said to put crab and corn soup towards the end to give it a boost of flavor.  This is why I didn't add salt.  The salt would come from the crab and corn soup mixture.  I cooked the crab and corn soup in a separate pot.  Instead of one egg, I put in two since it was going to go into the large pot of soup.


I continued letting it boil and added a pinch of onion and garlic powder to enhance the flavor.  After 15 minutes, I added the crab and corn soup.  At that point I was getting really hungry! haha  I stirred the soup to incorporate the crab and corn soup with the broth.  Since it was close to finishing up, I added the lettuce and snow peas.  I really loved the color that the vegetables gave to the soup.  After letting it boil for a few minutes, I put it in a bowl to enjoy.


The Lomi soup in a bowl

Topped with Kikiam and scallions


After it putting it in the bowl, I added Kikiam (a Chinese-Filipino sausage dish), fried garlic, and scallions and then mixed it all together.  It was very tasty!  As for the kikiam, you can find it in the frozen section of the Asian aisle or you can go to an Asian supermarket.  The one I had was freshly cooked since there are a lot of Filipino restaurants around my area.  I just bought it and cut it up.  Kudos to the Filipinos and Chinese for their delicious dishes!  This one was very satisfying and really hit the right spot to quell my hunger.


As I was cleaning up a few boxes that had items which I forgot to organize, I saw two things that brought back a lot of memories.  It was a penguin toy that my little cousin gave me and a Super Mario custom made lollipop.  My favorite animal is a penguin.  As many of my family, friends, and clients know, I have two versions of my stationery.  One is the professional version with my logo and the second is the casual version with a customized version of Bad Badtz-Maru (the Sanrio Penguin) dressed up as a scientist/professor.


My cousin gave it to me when she was very young.  She was around 3-4 years old.  She gave it to me as a gift before my flight back to the States.  She's now in college so it's almost 20 years since she gave it to me.  I absolutely adore it.  I call him "Pengui" (pronounced pen-gwee) and always bring him wherever I move.  I had him with me when I was a boy, in my apartments when I went off to undergrad and graduate school, and have him now on my desk.


(Left) My Penguin Toy Gift

(Right) Super Mario Custom Lollipop


The second one was a Super Mario custom lollipop given to me during a combined Halloween/birthday party when I was in middle school.  My younger brother received Link and our other friends had other Nintendo figures.  It was so nice.  When I actually found the lollipop, it took me by surprise.  There were quite a few things that I forgot about, but once I saw the object, I can remember the details.  Time really does move so fast!  My cousin was so young when she gave me Pengui, and now she's in college and traveling to Japan.


As I conclude, I hope all of you have been doing well.  I know that with the whirlwind of events such as finishing up taxes, graduations coming up, and tackling various activities, it can get quite hectic.  The good thing is that the weather is getting nicer.  I always love the spring and summer since there's more daylight and I love going out.  I'll share a story before I close this entry. One evening, one of my friends and I spoke on the phone and she asked me, "Tudo bem?" (which means is everything well/going okay in Portuguese)  I laughed and replied, "tudo bem, e você?" (everything is good, and how about you?)  I then asked her a question in Portuguese and she told me, "Kevin! I only know that because my classmate is Brazilian and that's all I learned from him!"  We both laughed.  It was cute and really brightened my evening.


I hope you all enjoyed the pictures.  I'm finishing up the mathematics handout which I hope to post tomorrow.  The handout so far is 30 pages.  I still have to write a notification entry on my Wordpress to let my followers know when it will be up.  Have a great spring and Congratulations to all of you who are graduating next month!

A Piece of "Pi" and a Slice of Experience

I hope all of you are doing well!  The weather has been getting warmer in the New York City area which I am enjoying (as well as many people around here).  It was also Daylight Savings Time so we get an extra hour of daylight here in the States.  I also want to wish all of you a Happy Pi Day since pi (π) ≈ 3.14 (get it? March 14?) haha Okay, I'm sure you all saw that coming since you all already know my affinity for math!


A cute card courtesy of 123Greetings



In last month's entry, I discussed an event that I was going to attend.  Here was the event:


Fashion Lives with Fern Mallis

Fashion Institute of Technology

March 2016



The one great thing about New York City is that you can experience talks with professionals in a diverse range of fields.  The talk with Fern Mallis was so lively, and she kept our attention for the entire hour.  She interjected personal stories about how she got to where she did (e.g. being let go from a job due to the economic climate, but then finding another opportunity) and discussed how her passion for the field pushed her in directions she never would have thought about.


Poster Outside the Lecture Hall at FIT

(very excited to hear Fern's talk!)



She regaled us with stories from her fashion interviews with designers in the business such as Tom Ford, Donna Karan, and Michael Kors.  The one great thing that I noticed from Fern's lecture was that she engaged us throughout her talk.  The lecture hall was big, but she made an effort to look at and address the different sections as she made witty remarks.  She began Fashion Week in New York City at Bryant Park.  In one of the fashion shows, pieces of the ceiling were collapsing/coming off and sprinkled the stage and some of the models.  She then remarked, "We love fashion, but we weren't going to kill ourselves for it!"  Everything turned out okay in the end with nothing major happening.  She said that it was quite the experience and she continued working on New York Fashion Week for the next several years.


After discussing her background in pubic relations and her beginnings of her career in fashion, she started discussing her stories of her fashion interview work at the Y.  A few stories that she shared included trying to get Bill Cunningham, a fashion photographer for the New York Times, to come in for an interview at the 92nd Street Y.  Since he was a pretty introverted person who rarely shared the details of his life, he declined.  It wasn't until Fern came back from India that the interview came into fruition.


Fern was wearing a chiffon top and met up with Bill.  During the meeting, he accidentally spilled vodka on her chiffon top and he was profusely apologetic.  She said it was okay and to not worry about it.  He still continued apologizing and finally told her, "I'm so sorry.  I will do anything...anything!"  At that moment, Fern smiled and asked him, "Would you do an interview with me at the Y?" (to which he agreed to).  We all laughed.  It was an amazing story and she continued sharing more interesting tidbits from her interviews at the Y.


One interviewee who was known to be quirky in the fashion industry kept asking Fern if she could smoke during the interview.  Fern said, "No! We're inside a building in New York City!"  The interview continued, but the interviewee asked again if she could smoke.  At this point the audience at the Y was laughing and Fern was thinking, "How can I get her to answer the questions?!"  After a bit, the interviewee stood up and asked the audience at the Y, "Do you have any questions for me?"  Fern replied, "You're asking them that when you're not even answering my questions!" Fern then started laughing.


Fern Mallis lecturing at the podium



She then continued discussing other fashion designers such as Tom Ford who had a sold out event.  The place was so packed at the Y that they also streamed for another section on a wide screen at one of the other floors to keep up with the demand.  Tom Ford charmed and seduced the audience (as he always does during his interviews).  Tom shared a quote with Fern, "The most important thing anybody ever taught me is to only hire people you want to have dinner with."  (We will get back to this quote when we discuss Fern's advice to aspiring fashion designers in the next few paragraphs).


You can check her out in "Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis" at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.  She told the audience that the next interview will most likely be in the summer, but she's not sure yet since she's still working out the details.


Although she discussed her work in the fashion and public relations world, she also provided a lot of great advice and information for all of us in the audience.  I also wanted to share it with all of you since the advice is applicable to other fields.  I'm sure many of you are already familiar with it, but I'll put it here for those who aren't.  The first point came from a question from the audience: "Do you have any advice for aspiring fashion designers?"


Although this question has been asked frequently in these fashion talks, Fern provided advice that could be applicable to any field: "Be nice to everyone because you never know who you will bump into in the future."  This was highlighted throughout her talk when many people who she previously worked with ended up becoming collaborators and colleagues in her future positions.  You may not always agree with other people and their viewpoints, but that doesn't mean you won't be able to get along or work together successfully.


Another point that she continued from the above statement was "...Also, people like to hire and work with nice people... no one wants to deal with diva behavior."  Regardless of which background we come from, we will all form relationships with everyone whom we collaborate or work with.  There's always something you can learn from other people, and Fern's stories showcased this aspect.  Going back to Tom's quote above, we want to be with people who we can collaborate and have mutual respect with (which includes having a difference of opinions).  If there's always conflict without working it out together, nothing will get done because everything will be at a standstill.


Fern Mallis signing books at the end of the lecture



I thought that the talk was quite inspirational and it's always a pleasure hearing from the authors themselves since they bring a lot of narrative to life which can enhance the reading experience of their book. 


As I had discussed earlier, the weather is getting nicer.  People are going out, and I just love the warm breeze outside.  Let's see how this spring turns out.  We did have the major snowstorm in January, but it didn't snow as much this year.  There was a year (I need to check one of my old entries) where it snowed in March.  And I'm not talking about upstate New York because it always snowed there haha  My aunt and uncle went to Colombia for a mini vacation and we got to talk before she left.  I love my Tía.  She always gives me advice and tells me to eat, exercise, and sleep well :)


Wishing her a good trip.

(I just blurred her name and my contact info that I gave her while she's away)

Hi Tia *waves* ¡Diviértete!



I was going through my music collection and stumbled upon one of my favorite songs, "That's The Way It Is" by Céline Dion.  I remembered recording this on VHS tape along with other music videos featuring Janet Jackson, N*Sync, Aaliyah, Vengaboys, and other 90s artists and their songs.  There was no Youtube back then so I had to wait through MTV's Total Request Live (TRL) list or watch a channel called "The Box," which played music videos 24 hours a day, in order to record a music video I wanted.  But getting back to the song, this is definitely one of the top ones I still listen to today.  The beat is uplifting and catchy while the lyrics have a positive message, so that's why it still resonates with me almost 17 years later.  I ended up listening to many songs in my old music library which was definitely a pleasant surprise.  I also went back and rewatched the old VHS tape.  It had an episode of "Say What? Karaoke" with Dave Holmes during spring break.  Do any of you remember that show on MTV?  It was really entertaining which is probably why I like doing karaoke with my best friend when we meet!


As I close this entry, I shall share with you the music video for Celine Dion's song.  I hope you all enjoy and have a wonderful March :)




A Belated Winter Wonderland

The new year has been rolling by quickly as the end of February approaches!  Speaking of new year, many of my Chinese friends wished me a Happy Chinese New Year.  It was nice to hear about wishes for success, health, and happiness.  I'll share their wishes onto all of you and hope that all of you and your loved ones have much success, good health, and happiness for the year to come.


As I discussed before, the winter weather came in a little later than usual.  We did have sporadic snow and rain combinations in the New York area.  I do have a few pictures and a video that I wanted to share with all of you so that you can see the current winter weather in New York City.  Even with boots on I almost slipped a few times! haha


Me Wearing My Ushanka Hat



On days with very cold weather I would wear my ushanka hat which had been a true lifesaver for me.  The one thing I like about it is that it protects the entire head.  When there's a combination of wind chill and precipitation, I need all of the protection that I can get so that I don't turn into a snowman!


During the snowstorm in January, it would've been insane to walk outside to capture the video (but I did take pictures though!).  It would have just been blinding snow!  It did seem nice to just relax and watch TV/movies while the blanket of snow covered the roads, but believe me it wasn't fun having to shovel the snow the next morning.  :)  One of my neighbors was saying that she had to catch a flight the next day and was hoping that it wouldn't get cancelled.



A look outside during the snowstorm on Saturday

(It looks like an arctic country, doesn't it?)



The day before the snowstorm I had a conversation on the bus with a British acquaintance who works in Midtown.  We discussed how things were going and how we were prepping up for the snowstorm.  We remembered bumping into each other the year before with both of us wearing boots due to the crazy weather.  As always we had our laughs and wished each other a safe trip home.  On the day of the snowstorm (Saturday), the roads were closed and public transportation was temporarily suspended.  As you can see from the picture above, the visibility was limited and the snow was slowly piling up.  Since the weather had been balmy and mild during the holiday season, this snowstorm was going to be the first taste of winter that our area was going to experience.  Thankfully, it went by quickly and only lasted for a day/day and a half.  When you look at the next picture, you can see just how fun the snow was. haha



Snowstorm from January 2016

(Left) Snow piling up Saturday evening

(Right) Road outside on Monday


On that Monday, I met up with Ms. Baquiran to share media and information since she got a new computer.  I organized pictures and powerpoints that she planned to use when presenting abroad in the Philippines.  Our temporary site is up (link is in my main site under recommendations) and the website email works if any of you have questions.  The site has pictures from our latest fundraiser from 2014 as well as the articles written by journalists.  There were a couple of things that we tackled including the creation of the self breast exam pamphlet and the maintenance of BRCAI Inc.'s media and documentation.  Despite the snow from the weekend, we were still able to smile as we worked on BRCAI Inc.'s organization of media and communications information.


In the following video, I walked through Rockefeller Center as it was snowing on President's Day.  The snow that day wasn't as bad compared to the snowstorm that we had last month.  After it snowed it ended up raining which basically cancelled everything out.  A few days later we had warm weather again so whatever snow remained quickly melted.  In a sense it made it easier to traverse the sidewalks and roads compared to the previous years when it remained cold.  During those years, it took a bit of time for the snow to melt.





The light snow was beautiful together against the backdrop of the ice skating rink, wasn't it?


Despite the hectic weather, there's a certain charm of serenity in the air.  I guess that since there are remnants of snow and the weather is colder, everything moves more slowly.  The usual fast paced walking and rushing to get from Point A to Point B didn't have as much priority.  It was more along the lines of "as long as we got to our destination safely then it's fine."  For me as long as there's sunlight and the weather isn't extreme, I'm happy (which also reminds me that it will be daylight savings time in a few weeks so the extra sunlight will be a pleasant welcome).  I think that when there are so many things going on you try to multitask and your mind moves in a million directions.  When things moved more slowly, it decreased stress quite a bit for that moment.


Regarding my main site, I updated the look and added a few link recommendations.  The background makes it look like the cover of a mathematics textbook.  haha However, I thought that it would be more appropriate since mathematics and public health topics are what I usually cover.  I also thought about maybe adding a music playlist for song recommendations in the near future.  I love music, it's gets me through exercising and commuting!



From my playlist

Ken Hirai, one of my favorite artists

(I have a whole playlist devoted to his music!)



I did put a link for a music streaming service (Jango) under my recommendations.  Ms. Baquiran would have music playing when we would get work done.  She introduced Jango to me when she streamed holiday music in December.  We were scrolling through the stations and I ended up liking their service from what I heard.  Moving through my playlists always brought back a lot of memories.  One of the songs I stumbled upon was Christina Aguilera's "The Voice Within" and I remembered my friend texting me that she was at the concert for the Justified and Stripped Tour for Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera.  It was held at the Izod Center (back then it was called the Continental Airlines Arena) in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  She was so excited and you could tell from her text messages that she loved being there.


I have been writing blogs for my site since 2012 and each blog has brought back different memories.  Although I would cover the contemporary happenings of the month, there would be some aspects that would help me revisit the past.  For example, rewriting my handouts and notes reminded me of Professor Bower's East Asian Art class.  Of course, not all of the memories will be positive.  I've written about past break ups, disappointments, and stresses in my handwritten personal journal/diary.  They are all a part of my life (both positive and negative memories) leading to the journey into the present time.  As I had wished everyone at the beginning of this entry, let's all hope for much success and happiness for 2016!


After I publish this entry I will finish up a mathematics handout I had been working on and then post it to the Mathsci site after double checking everything.  The next handout will be the next part of the medical law and ethics.  I try to alternate between the mathematical/scientific and the law concepts to give it a nice balance for my followers and readers.


There is also an event I will be attending soon which I will discuss in the March entry.  Stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, I hope all of you are well and am always wishing you the best!

An Eventful Finish to 2015

Before I begin, I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year!  I wish you and your loved ones much success, happiness, and blessings for 2016.


I started discussing updates to the site on my Wordpress in the latest mathematics handout.  I was thinking about how should I proceed with performing the redesign of my new site.  As you can all see, there are close to 50+ entries that I had written on this blog since 2012.  It would be easy if I could just transfer them over, but I was informed by the customer support specialist that doing that was unavailable at the moment.  The other elements of the site can be recreated easily, but I don't want to lose the information on this blog for everyone to read.  Those of you who read the Comic Con entry know how much pictures and information was included, so it won't be fun having to rewrite or lose that information!


At the moment, I will continue to use this blog while I figure out a way to transition a new blog (whether to join my site with a Wordpress blog or take a look at the blog features when I create a test site).  As long as the pictures and other media still display properly on this blog, I'll be fine with it. haha  In terms of the main site, I plan to include blogs/sites that I follow and a few new surprises.  So, stay tuned!


This entry should handle both December and January.  December was a little hectic with finishing up with clients, visits from family, and taking a short holiday/break.  However, it was a nice month to conclude 2015.  It was quite festive and unbelievably warm for winter!  It was around 60 degrees F/15 degrees C on Christmas.  Usually there would be small snow flurries or at the very least, colder weather with coats, winter hats, and gloves.  However the cold weather did catch up in January and now everyone brought out their coats and winter gear!


In my previous entry from late November, I discussed finding my old notes and books from Professor Bower's East Asian Art class.


A Snippet of East Asian Art

Courtesy of Professor Virginia Bower



As you can see, she is very detailed and highlights the most important points without getting into unnecessary detail.  This is why I firmly believe that exposure to different fields and subject areas is beneficial.  Looking back, it would not have crossed my mind that an East Asian Art class would be the inspiration for my current approach to work.  It's always nice to keep an open mind, right? :)  This is why I love how interconnected knowledge and subjects areas are.  Each field contributes in their own way to give a nice balance to society and culture.  Just because you are in accounting doesn't mean you can't understand and enjoy the performing arts (and vice versa).  In fashion and design, measurement and mathematics play a role to make sure that the clothes or drapery are proportional.  You wouldn't want your curtains to extend to the middle of the living room, right?


My best friend Jenny and I had our annual holiday outing together just before Christmas.  As you can imagine, it was very fun and full of picture taking opportunities.  We met up late morning and it was pouring.  At that time, I still had my old umbrella (I bought a new one before the new year since it ended up rusting and wouldn't open).  I wore my boots to prevent the water from getting in.  I planned to print out pictures at a photo kiosk before meeting Jenny, but the photo attendant at CVS told me that they ran out of photo paper.  She was very nice about it though :)


I met up with Jenny at the Bryant Park holiday market.  As we caught up a bit, we were deciding on where to go for lunch.  At that time Jenny was starving and the rain kept on pouring so we wanted to get indoors fast.  After brainstorming and looking through Yelp, we decided to go to Gyu Kaku for barbecue since we were close by to the Midtown location.  As we were walking, we shared funny stories with each other.  As we headed into Gyu Kaku, it was packed.  We went on a weekday so we thought it wouldn't be as crowded (Big mistake!).  Since it was during the week of Christmas, there were a lot of people--not just tourists, but people going there for their lunch break.  Jenny put her name down since the wait time was around 45 minutes.  We got there at around 12:15 PM so we would still make the lunch special/happy hour at the time we would be seated.


As we sat down at the waiting area, we shared pictures with each other.  Jenny was also excited to start practicing independently after finishing up her training.  I was so happy for her!


Our Winter Collage!



After our wait, we were brought to our table with staff greeting us with "Irasshaimase!" (Welcome!).  Our server was friendly, but she was pretty busy handling the tables around us.  Despite that, she was very attentive.  We ordered the Premium Party Course for 2 people which included salad, rice, soup, smores, assorted vegetables, and assorted meats.  We also ordered a dish of the chicken garlic noodles.



Salad and Soup



The assorted vegetables included bell peppers, corn, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, and a shishito pepper (the green pepper in the middle).


Vegetables and Chicken Garlic Noodles



The assorted meats included Kobe style Bistro Hanger Steak Miso, Kobe style Sirloin Tare, NY Steak Garlic, Toro Beef Tare, and Pork Belly Shio.


The selection of meats before grilling



Those of you who are not familiar with Gyu Kaku, the servers bring you the uncooked food.  The people in the table then cook it on the grill located on top of the table.  As we cooked the food on the grill, we were talking about how the holidays were going.  We talked about attending holiday parties and spending time with family.  We also discussed how our friends are doing.  The food was delicious.  We laughed because we found our favorite sweet and spicy sauce and poured it on our rice and meats.  As we were pouring one of the sauces, we noticed a small puddle on the table and our hands being wet.  One of the bottles had a leak so we put it on top of a napkin.


Starting to grill our food

Bowl of rice and our favorite sauces at the top


The Pork Belly (Jenny's Favorite!)



We were getting full after eating 75% of our meal, so we decided to exchange gifts.  Jenny got me a portable charger for my phone and other portable devices and a small wallet for travel.  I got Jenny a gift basket of Nutella, red velvet pancake mix, lotions, and karaoke/drinks after our lunch.


For dessert we were given the smores.  The server apologized that they ran out of the sticks to roast the marshmallows so she gave us chopsticks instead. haha  After I roasted my marshmallow, Jenny told me to do it for her since she was afraid she was going to burn it.  I laughed and told her, "Watch, now I might end up burning yours!"  The smores turned out great.  The heat from the marshmallow melted the chocolate into a smooth velvet treat.


Smores with chopsticks



We were full from lunch so we got ready to head out for karaoke for a few hours.  At that time it was around 3 PM when we finished.  We headed to Karaoke Duet 48 for our fix of singing and dancing.  I usually prefer this location to the one on 35th Street since 48 is quieter and less crowded than 35.  We got settled into our room and I got us our drinks.  It was also Happy Hour here so the drinks were all 50% off.  Jenny just wanted a Shirley Temple while I got a bottle of Coors.  I originally wanted a Stella Artois, but they ran out.  The attendant putting the drinks in the fridge said the only ones available were Coors, Budweiser, or lukewarm Sapporo (since it had just come in from the delivery).  We all laughed when she mentioned the lukewarm Sapporo.


I brought in our drinks and we started our karaoke session.  I laughed when I saw Jenny loading up the site of the songs on Billboard 100 on her phone.  We sang a mix of songs ranging from Maroon 5, Adele, Ken Hirai (for me), and many songs from the 80s/90s/00s.  The time went by quickly, but we also planned to do some shopping for a few gifts.  It was around 6:30 PM when we finished and we headed out.  Before we would return to Bryant Park, we planned to stop by Rockefeller Center to get some hot chocolate and take pictures by the tree.


As we walked towards the West Side, Jenny wanted to take some pictures.  We quickly stopped by the area near the Helmsley Building to snap a few photos.  Those of you who have visited my main site know that I took a picture of the Helmsley Building back in Christmas 2013.  To continue the tradition, I took another picture, but this time, I took a wider view so that you can grasp the lights and decorations of New York City at this time.


Helmsley Building and surrounding area

Park Ave. Between E. 45th and E. 46th Streets

Christmas 2015



Facing the other side from the Helmsley Building



When we arrived at Rockefeller Center, we headed downstairs to the lower level to get our hot chocolate/coffee at Jacques Torres.  This location is cozier and more intimate with two tables.  We got our orders and looked through the pictures that we took so far.


Brings back memories!



Years ago I got the hot chocolate, but this year, I opted for coffee since I was getting a little tired.  The combination of walking around and the spring like weather really relaxed me!  Jenny wanted me to take a picture of her with her hot chocolate since she wanted to send it to her niece who loves chocolate.  It was cute.  I actually had a little trouble getting the angling correct so Jenny did it herself. haha


After a bit, we decided to stop by the tree and take pictures.  As you can imagine, it was incredibly crowded.  We headed back up via the elevator.  When we crossed the street, many of the people were looking up and taking pictures/recording.  The Christmas Light Show started to play so Jenny and I squeezed in to get a spot and take pictures.


The Light Show at Rockefeller Center





After the show everyone smiled and clapped.  As we walked through the crowd, Jenny and I tried to find a spot to take a good picture with the tree in the background.


In front of the Tree at Rockefeller Center

Picture Courtesy of Jenny



It was very festive and everyone looked like they were having a fun time.  Jenny and I had a smile on our faces because it was going to be Christmas in a few days and we were just taking it all in.  After we took our pictures, we navigated through the crowd to get back to Bryant Park.


It was around 8:30 PM when we arrived at Bryant Park.  A few shops were closed, but the ones we needed to go to were still open.  Our first stop was Sabon, a shop with bath and body items.  Usually Jenny would get soaps and box sets filled with scrubs and lotions to give as gifts (as well as get something for herself).  Since Jenny had a cold and couldn't smell well, I had to smell the fragrances and choose something for her.  It reminded me of the time I went to Sephora during my lunch break a couple of years ago and I needed to get a gift for my friend and something for myself.  Even after using the testing paper strips, I still ended up smelling like the fragrance department of a department store. haha


After looking around, Jenny picked out the Lavender box set and a couple of bars of soap.  I really liked their soaps since they were colorful and had unique designs.  Just Google "Sabon soaps" and you'll see what I mean.  After she made her purchase and the soaps wrapped, she had to get a gift for her niece.  She stopped by a stuffed animal shop to look around.  The stuffed animals were the ones which you would heat in the microwave and it'll come out warm.  I think that's how it was!


In the meantime, I looked around and saw these colorful paper lights at a shop.


Pretty nice, right? :)



It was a very beautiful display and I loved the arrangement of the colors.  After I took the picture, Jenny came by and showed me her purchases.  She bought an owl for herself and a duck for her niece (? I forgot the second one she got!).  They were cute and she told me that her niece would enjoy it.


It was already getting late and we had a long day, so we just sat down on a table and talked for a little bit before we wished each other goodbye.  We had such a great time and planned to meet again in mid-late 2016 after she finishes up her training.


2016 kicked in and I had a great time with family.  We all ate and used the usual Facetime/Skype to communicate with other family members across the country and overseas. 


I'm also working with Delia Baquiran, the President of Breast Cancer Imperative, Inc. to handle the redevelopment of the site.  I'll have a link up on my main site so that you can check it out.  We are going to have another fundraiser around Fall 2016 so we'll work on those details during the summer.  We met up after Christmas but just before the new year so that she could give me pictures and let me know how she wanted to approach the website.  It was nice and we got to create a framework for the site.


Ms. Baquiran also had a holiday party after the new year and we got to eat and catch up at her apartment.  It was so nice and festive.  It was a nice relaxing night and as always, I enjoyed seeing the doorman who is an amazing buddy who I share stories with every time I would come to the building.  I also saw a lot of familiar faces from our fundraisers and Ms. Baquiran's friends, and we all got to share stories while eating delicious food.


A wonderful night of celebration



As I had discussed earlier in this entry as well as in my mathematics handout, I do have plans to update the blog area of the site.  I'm still glad that the entries are still formatting correctly here on this blog.  What I might do is connect a Wordpress blog to make it "mynewblogname.lecahierdekev.com" with "mynewblogname" being the user name I will create.  Since my site is lecahierdekev, it would be silly to use the name again to make lecahierdekev.lecahierdekev.com.  haha But since lecahierdekev on Wordpress hosts my mathematics and science handouts that won't be a problem.


I think I covered many of the major points from the holidays.  By the time the end of December came in, I knew I had to just combine December 2015 and January 2016 into one entry for the new year.  I should be back on track for my monthly entries in 2016.  Also, thank you very much to everyone who enjoys reading these entries!  I love detailing my adventures and a lot of people enjoy the break from the technical handouts.  Let's continue moving forward in 2016 and as always, I will keep all of you updated with my entries and the renovation of my site!

Post Holiday Catch Up

Hello everyone!  We're heading to our final month of 2015 as the holiday season moves along.  My site turned 3 years old last month.  I couldn't believe it.  It seemed like yesterday when I was transferring everything to my new domain.


In my last entry, I dedicated the entire post to New York Comic Con since it was a huge event here.  I have pictures from my cousin's wedding and catching up with my best friend at a Japanese restaurant to include in this entry.  It's nice to write this blog as a little break from all of the formal course notes and handouts that I've been writing!


To those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving in the States, I hope you all had a nice time eating and spending time with your loved ones.  I had a great time with my family.  The week before my aunt and her family visited since they had to go to New York City.  My other aunt was in New York for a finance and banking conference, and they planned to have lunch with her during her downtime.  I also spoke to Dr. Cowart to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving and catch up on how her family and her were doing.  As always we had a lot of laughs and stories on the phone. 

Here's the Snoopy greeting I sent as a text to family and friends:




In late September, my cousin got married.  My cousin and his wife both had Hindu and Catholic wedding ceremonies.  The wedding reception took place at The Fiesta in Wood-Ridge, NJ.  I've been to The Fiesta back in high school when my family and I attended an award ceremony.  The place was beautiful just as how I remembered it.


The Fiesta exterior

I liked the colors on the fountain



Before heading to the main ballroom, everyone congregated for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.  Inside I saw a lot of extended family and friends who I had not seen in a long time.  One of them was Auntie Mira who I used to see often when I would take the bus home from work years ago.  We would chat about what we were going to have for dinner.  She stopped by the local Vietnamese restaurant to pick up dinner before she headed home since she didn't want to cook. haha  She moved to the Midwest shortly after and she told me how the family was doing there.


There were a lot of hors d'oeuvres including cold cuts, mozzarella balls, mini raviolis, chicken, peppers, and olives.  There were a lot of dishes to choose from, so I got a plate and I went around the room.  I was so happy when I saw the tray of calamari.  The calamari and sauce were delicious.  It was hard to take pictures once I filled up my plate.  I sat down at the table with my nephew, cousin, and family friends from my mom's side.  I caught up with my friend, and he asked me if I wanted something from the bar.  Around that time, I unknowingly threw two peppers in my mouth and chewed them since we were talking (I didn't pay attention to what I was scooping from my plate).


I smiled and tried to alleviate the heat as I nodded and asked for orange juice.  In the meantime, I was filling my mouth with pasta hoping it would do something (but it didint! haha).  He came back, and I drank some juice to let my mouth cool down.  There was a lot of picture taking with family so we would huddle together and smile for the camera.


Inside the Cocktail Area



Ice Sculpture and Hors D'oeuvres



After talking with my friend and the family, they opened up the main ballroom.  We all headed inside to our designated tables.  The space was huge and very elegant.


Entering the Main Ballroom



The other end of the ballroom

The white table in the middle is where my cousin and his wife sat



The Dance Floor and Chandelier



The Centerpiece at our table


As the wedding party was getting ready to do their entrance, the servers asked each of us what dishes we wanted to have for the evening.  I chose a Cesar salad as a starter and the filet mignon for the main course.  The other options you could choose from was a spinach salad and salmon for the main course.  There were people who wanted their pictures taken so we would all switch roles as photographer.


The emcee directed our attention to the curtains at the back and told us to give a round of applause for the wedding party.  The groomsmen, bridesmaids, best man, maid of honor, and the parents of the couple were grouped together as they made their individual entrances.


The Wedding Party's Entrance

Top Left: The bride's parents

Top Right: The groom's parents

Bottom Left: Best Man and Maid of Honor

Bottom Right and Center: The Newlyweds



The wedding party members were dancing to the music so it was a little difficult taking their pictures.  It was very festive and everyone got into the music.  After their entrance, they began with the presentations for the evening.  The groom and bride shared their first dance together as the wedding party cleared the floor for them.


(Left) The Wedding Party clearing the floor

(Center and Right) The couple's first dance


It was very sweet when they held each other and looked into each other's eyes.  Afterward, the groomsmen and bridesmaids paired up together and joined the couple.  The ringbearer and flower girl also joined in.  It was very adorable.


Top: Wedding Party dancing

Bottom Left: Bride dances with her father

Bottom Right: Groom dance with his mother


The wedding party then gave the couple some room as the emcee introduced the traditional dance with the parents.  The bride danced with her father and he gave her a big hug.  Afterward, the groom smiled at his mother as they danced together.  All of them looked so happy and they were nice dances to witness.


The rest of the night was filled with dinner, dancing, and presentations.  The bride and groom sat down after the dance with their parents.  The maid of honor and the best man asked everyone to hold up their champagne glasses as we all prepared to toast the new couple.  They both gave their speeches and shared funny anecdotes from their memories with the couple.  The best man even had a picture projected on the screen of the groom and him as kids when they first met in elementary school.


Top Left: Cesar Salad

Bottom Left: Filet Mignon, Baked Potato, and Asparagus

Right: Lime Sorbet



After the speech, the servers gave us our main dish (the salad and sorbet were given during the dance and speeches).  As we ate our dinner, they played a slideshow of the bride and grooms from their childhood and up until they met.  They also played the video of the groom asking for the blessing of the bride's parents as well as their proposal.


It was a good night and I got to catch up with old family and friends.  I rarely get to see them so it was good to sit down and celebrate with everyone.



A few weeks ago, my best friend was in New York City for a conference.  I told her that I would meet up with her after getting work completed.  We met up near 42nd Street to catch up for a bit as we waited for her other friend since we were all having dinner together.  We caught up on how she was doing and how she's finishing up her residency.  I told her about my research and work and we laughed at how fast time flew by.  When we were undergraduate students, we would become so stressed with the science classes, but we were able to balance it out with fun electives such as Japanese.


Speaking of Japanese, I was cleaning out my old books and notes, and I found my notes from Professor Bower.  If you remember from my previous entries, she was my professor for East Asian Art (Chinese and Japanese focus) who was my inspiration for writing course notes and handouts.  In the next entry, I will show you a snippet of how organized and detailed her notes were which became my current approach to writing handouts.  It also helped me a lot during my grant writing work. haha


Jenny and me



We had dinner at Sake Bar Hagi located on W. 49th Street.  The restaurant features affordable Japanese food (in case you are craving that during the evening).  It's a hidden joint that took us a few minutes to find, but when we did, it was bustling on the inside.


Our dinner at Sake Bar Hagi

Top Left: Various skewers- chicken, meatball, chicken skins, peppers; the right is sliced squid

Top Right: Omusoba (Yakisoba noodles and pork wrapped in an omelette, topped with okonomiyaki sauce)

Bottom Left: Fried Oysters

Bottom Right: Chicken Garlic Fried Rice


We all decided to share family style.  The food was good.  Jenny's friend told us how his studying was going and how he was preparing to take the next Step exam for medical licensing.  The evening went by quickly.  The place was packed, and the three of us were sharing stories throughout dinner.  After dinner, I hugged Jenny and said my goodbyes to her friend.  We all wished each other a good night and safe trip home.


In other news, I'm sure many of you know what's been going on around the world recently.  I spoke to family, friends, and Dr. Cowart about these events a few weeks ago and we all just hoped for peace and happiness for the future.  Blessings are such an integral part of our lives whether it's our loved ones or the once in a lifetime opportunities that we get to experience.  I wish all of you the best as we approach the conclusion of 2015.

New York Comic Con 2015 Experience

New York Comic Con 2015

Javits Center

New York, NY



I wanted to devote a special individual entry on Comic Con here on LCDK.  Originally I was contemplating on whether to combine it with the regular monthly entry, but I saw that both the Comic Con experience and the regular monthly entry for October were packed with a lot of pictures and information to combine into one entry.  For this entry I will use bigger pictures for the most part rather than condensing them into my usual collage format.  This is so that all of you can get immersed in what New York Comic Con is like.


This was my first time at New York Comic Con (NYCC) so I didn't know what to expect.  I previously saw panels, events, and pictures in the press, but I knew that physically being there would be a whole new story.  I've heard stories of tickets for popular days and the 3-/4- day passes selling out within minutes.  Tickets are usually sold in the spring and the event is held in October.  For 2015, the tickets were sold beginning in May.


My brother and his friends are veterans of New York Comic Con so they know the process better than me.  During mid-summer my brother invited me to Comic Con.  It was a nice surprise and I appreciated it.  I don't think I would've been able to go if it wasn't for him (from hearing all of the stories of the ticketing process being competitive)! haha  He told me that he will give me a Friday pass for October 9, 2015.  He had the 4-Day Pass so he would be able to attend the entire time.


New York Comic Con does not usually announce main guests and panels until it's close to the event time (usually they will announce it around August-September).  I'm guessing it's because schedules change for many artists and actors/actresses so things can be solidified when it's closer to October.  When my brother invited me during the summer, I didn't know which artists and celebrities would attend the Friday when I would be at Comic Con.


Fast forward to September 2015, my brother texted me asking me if I was ready for the big event in October.  He gave me a few instructions before attending such as activating the badge, bringing snacks and water, wearing comfortable shoes, and checking the NYCC site to plan out what I wanted to do for the day.  When I met up with him for lunch one day, he gave me my physical badge and a lanyard.


My NYCC 2015 Friday badge



Before the event, I checked out which panels I would sit in on.  I was excited to see that there was an Adventure Time panel.  As many of you know from reading my past entries, I am a big fan of Rebecca Sugar and her work on Steven Universe.  There was also a panel on Surrealism and Pop Art that I planned to attend.  When I was an undergraduate, I minored in Japanese language and culture. It brought back a lot of memories when I took the East Asian art classes and doing a presentation on Takashi Murakami and other Japanese pop artists.


It seemed a little bit overwhelming since I only had one day to take in the experience of NYCC.  However, in the end I just decided to go with the flow and enjoy the day (with the two panels: Adventure Time and the Pop Art being the only ones set in stone).


On Friday morning, I met up with my brother and his friends at 34th Street.  Prior to the event, I told my brother that I planned on attending the Adventure Time panel to see the executive producer and cast of Adventure Time.  I originally planned on going by myself since I didn't want to impose on his schedule.  I asked him if he would like to join me.  He agreed and said that it would be nice to experience it.  His friends had plans to go wait at another panel at Javits, but decided to attend the beginning of the Adventure Time panel.


The Adventure Time panel took place at the Hammerstein Ballroom.  I checked NYCC's Twitter page on my phone to verify the time and location.


Adventure Time Panel Tweet

Courtesy of New York Comic Con



I thought that it was better that NYCC moved some events into areas outside of Javits since it probably would've been insanely crowded had they not done this.  As we walked down West 34th Street we saw groups of people lined up.  We didn't know if they were waiting for the panel so we asked and confirmed.  We got there at around 10:45 AM and the wait wasn't too bad.  People were eating their breakfast sandwiches, talking, reading, and pumping themselves up.


The line started moving at 11:20 AM.  Hammerstein was spacious with plenty of seating.  Everyone was settling in and finding their preferred seat.  Security and staff were guiding people around and making sure that each seat got occupied.  We sat down and Cartoon Network provided the audience with little sword giveaways.


Everyone entering Hammerstein Ballroom and settling in




Adventure Time Sword Giveaway



Me posing with the sword


I had this huge smile on my face since I was about to experience my first panel.  I was also going to see the talented voice actors and the producer in person.  I snapped another picture of the panel stage as everyone prepared to begin:


Panel Stage at Hammerstein Ballroom


The moderator for the panel was the talented voice actor Eric Bauza.  He voiced characters on many shows including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Uncle Grandpa.  He began with his voice of Belly Bag on Uncle Grandpa which made us laugh.  The panel was nice.  Eric introduced everyone starting with the executive producer Adam Muto.  Adam discussed the main story for the upcoming season.  The discussion between Eric and Adam led to the advanced screening of three future episodes of Adventure Time which are set to release in November.  Everyone cheered when Eric asked the audience, "So, do you want to see some episodes?" haha


The episodes were projected on to the large screen (in the above picture that has New York Comic Con over the skyline).  The last two episodes they showed were going to be part of an 8 episode arc focusing on the character Marceline.  It had a deeper story which was really nice.  I don't want to spoil it here. haha  They are going to be premiered in a few weeks anyway!


Eric introduced the cast after the first episode showed.


Left to Right:

Eric Bauza, Adam Muto, John DiMaggio, Jeremy Shada, Niki Yang, and Olivia Olson



They were all charming and warm.  You could tell that they all had great chemistry.  Niki discussed the story behind Lady Rainicorn's lines.  In the show, Lady Rainicorn speaks Korean so when she asked the supervisors, "Are there going to be subtitles for her?"  They replied, "Nah, it's fine" and we all laughed.  Niki said that it was easier for her to do Lady's lines since it was just her speaking Korean naturally.


After the panel discussion, Eric introduced Rebecca Sugar by stating, "If you all noticed, there's an extra seat next to Olivia."  Once he called out her name and Rebecca walked on stage, everyone screamed and cheered.  Rebecca spoke about her work and ideas from Adventure Time.  She then sang "Everything Stays," a song that will be featured on a future episode of Adventure Time.  If you check her out on Youtube, you can see her amazing singing ability.  It was so nice to hear her sing in person and she was an absolute sweetheart to everyone (the cast and the audience) during the panel.


Rebecca Sugar at the far right (next to the staff member in black)



Rebecca Sugar singing "Everything Stays"



After the producer and cast spoke, they had a Question and Answer session where they gave away free DVDs to those who got up to ask.  John DiMaggio (who is the voice of Jake the Dog and voiced other known characters such as Bender on Futurama) was hilarious.  He was sarcastic and rolled with the punches when people asked tough questions.  He also sang the Bacon Pancakes song after someone requested it (you can find it online, I wasn't fast enough to record it haha).  He made a joke about sausage waffles with the cast before singing the song.


Olivia's character in the show sang a song about her father eating her fries.  Someone asked her if a situation similar to that happened to her in real life.  She told us a story where she made a birthday cake for her friend and put it in the fridge.  Her father ate a slice of the cake even though it was labeled for her friend.  Olivia had to then cut the cake where it was sliced and refrost it because of that.  She then said, "That was when I decided to move out of the house!"  John DiMaggio then rolled with it and said, "I think your dad did that on purpose to get you to move out" and then laughed.  Jeremy told everyone how crazy it was when everyone did the Lumpy Space Princess voice for one episode.  He started mimicking it which made us all laugh.


All in all the panel was incredibly fun.  The audience was engaging and the panel had amazing chemistry.  Eric discussed a line that he had to say in Japanese for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and he said that the supervisors said that it sounded Italian.  When he actually said the line, John replied, "That doesn't sound Italian!"  We all had a great time and the hour and a half flew by quickly.


As Eric concluded the panel, everyone clapped.  Some people went up to take pictures while the rest exited to return to Javits.  My brother's friends left earlier in the middle of the Adventure Time panel to attend a panel at 12:15 PM.  My brother and I headed down to the Javits Center.  The closer we got, we saw huge groups of people--costumed and uncostumed.  It was a sight to behold.  The weather was nice, but the forecast stated that it would rain for a bit (luckily I was inside Javits at the time).



Outside Javits Center



The Javits Center is huge!  It's all the way at the West Side so it took a bit of walking to get there.  You could feel the energy and excitement of the people.


We followed the signs and instructions on where to enter.  As soon as we entered, you could see all of the decorations and monitors.  I love taking pictures so I felt like a kid in a candy store! haha


Entrance at Javits Center for NYCC 2015


Another view of the Entrance


The check in process wasn't too bad.  I think it was already 1:45ish when we arrived at the Javits Center so we didn't have to wait.  Everything worked out perfectly in terms of scheduling for me since the Adventure Time panel took place late morning and I had the afternoon and evening to enjoy myself.  The NYCC crew member tapped my badge with the handheld tablet so that I could enter.


At this time, my brother and I parted ways.  I thanked him for giving me an opportunity to attend Comic Con.  He had his own schedule and plans to attend to (as well as meet up with his friends).  He asked me what my plans would be and what other panels I would be attending.  I told him that I would attend the Pop Surrealism Art panel and look around the booths and take pictures.  He smiled and wished me a good time.  I gave him a hug and we went in two different directions.


As soon as I headed in, I was greeted by the Jurassic World sign and groups of people.  I already knew what to expect with attendance for NYCC growing larger and larger each year.  There were press crews recording and photographing the scene, people were looking around, and I was just taking it all in.


I'm at NYCC!


Heading down the stairs



At that point, I headed down to check out the café and locations of the conference rooms for the panels.  I was also really hungry and needed to eat my lunch.  Luckily, I brought a spicy chicken sandwich that I bought beforehand.  I saw an outside eating area earlier when my brother and I headed to Javits, so I planned to sit and eat there.  It was sunny, and I enjoy being near the sunlight.  I moved through the crowd to get to the area outside.  One thing I noticed is that despite being crowded, everyone was incredibly polite.  People would say excuse me or I'm sorry if they accidentally bumped into you, and people were patient.  It was nice and coming to NYCC felt like a vacation.


I found a spot outside (and it was the perfect spot which you will read about soon) and put my bag down.  My legs didn't hurt yet (but they sure did as soon as I headed home that night haha), so I took out my sandwich and my water.


Taking my lunch break


Outdoor area at the Javits Center



Outdoor Area

(People were waiting in line for hot dogs)



As I ate my lunch, I looked through the panels and other information for the day.  I wanted to see if there were other panels I could attend.  It was my time to relax since I would be walking around and exploring for the rest of the day.  There were people photographing those who were cosplaying (wearing costumes) characters.  As I got up to head back inside, I saw people turning their heads and pulling out their phones.  It was someone in the Iron Man Hulkbuster armor and the Hulk next to him.  They were surrounded by NYCC security and crew members.  On the day I attended, Marvel had two panels at the Main Stage so I'm guessing there were a lot of promotional and press work being done.


Iron Man in Hulkbuster Armor and the Hulk


Another picture of them



They were very friendly and posed for everyone.  After a bit, Iron Man said, "It was nice seeing you all, but it's hot so I have to get to somewhere cool now."  We all laughed and Iron Man and the Hulk waved goodbye to us.


I headed back inside and went up the escalator to check out the exhibitor's booths.


Going up the escalator



There were a lot of booths to visit.  I didn't have anything in mind to purchase so my plan was to just look around.  When I got upstairs, the first thing that came into my mind was "which direction should I move!?"  There was always something interesting to see.


Entering the Show Floor to see the Exhibitors' Booths



I decided to move to the right and make my way around counterclockwise.  The following will be pictures that I took while walking around.  From walking around, I liked that there was always something for everyone.  NYCC had diverse booths, artists, and panels that everyone found something that interested them.


Chevy's Display at NYCC



Glass Eye Pix Inc.'s booth



Posters, Toys, and Wigs

Including Pokemon, Sailor Moon, and Tales games



Tall Pumpkin Figure

Happy Halloween!



Figures of Nintendo characters

Including Link, Super Mario, and Yoshi



Bandai Namco's booth

Sailor Moon was playing on the TV monitor

Various figures were on display in the glass case



Sailor Moon Figures @ the Bandai Namco booth

(L-R) Sailor Moon, Sailor Uranus, Sailor Neptune



(Left) Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans Poster

(Right) Super Mario!



Cosplayer as Kakashi from the anime Naruto posing for us

We all loved the use of the smoke from the Jurassic World exhibit haha



The Hobbit Display

Very nice and loved the detail



tokidoki's booth

I'm always a fan of this style :)



Various character designs

Including characters from Star Wars, Batman, and Spiderman




Taking a break at the outside area



There were so many things to see at the Showroom!  I went outside to the general floor area to take a short break.  Look at the line at the Starbucks!  It was amazing (even though I only covered less than half of what NYCC had to offer).  As I was looking through the NYCC book, a nice man in cosplay asked me where Artist Alley was.  I knew it was at Level 2, but didn't know which direction.  I apologized and told him that I only knew that it was in Level 2.  He smiled and said thank you.  Like I said before, it was nice to see people be polite.  I walked around and saw a large balloon display of We Bare Bears.  I thought it looked so precious.


We Bare Bears

Grizz, Panda, and Ice Bear



After my break I headed back to the Show Room to check out the other side.  I still had to visit Artist Alley before waiting for my Pop Surrealism panel at 6:30 PM.


Another display from Chevy



A display of Ninja Slayer



People dancing Macarena on Just Dance


As I was watching the people dance the Macarena, a man came over and asked me what it was.  I told him that they were dancing to a video game, Just Dance.  I still have my Just Dance games and I remembered breaking a sweat to them a few years ago!  I also noticed that I was at the NYCC Livestream Village where they had the cameras and media coverage.


The NYCC Livestream Village

Presented by Twitch and Courtyard by Mariott



People were sitting down and relaxing.  The monitors were live streaming NYCC online.


Left of the NYCC Livestream Village

Very busy



Colorful toys and displays at a booth


Display for a video game

Phantom of the Kill


As many of you know, people put in hard work to design and create costumes for Comic Con.  Of course, it wouldn't be an experience without taking a picture with a cosplayer.  His costume looked like he just came out of a video game.  I know a lot people devote time and energy to perfect their outfits so kudos to all of you cosplayers out there! :)


Me with cosplayer

I was astounded at the detail of his costume

He was a great sport


The next display in the showroom gave me such a big smile.  Those of you already know my love for math and science (as evidenced on my site!).  It was no surprise that I had to take a picture of these plush organs.


Plush toy organs!

Very cute :)


Front angle of the plush organs


It was getting late and my brother texted me asking me if I visited Artist Alley yet.  At that point the sun was starting to set and I still had to head to my final panel for the day.  I told him that I was going to check it out on my way to the panel.  I also looked around to make any last minute purchases as my souvenir for NYCC 2015.


View of Javits as night approached


I checked out Artist Alley and was pretty excited that I was going to see some artists at the Pop Surrealism panel.  I looked at the artwork, designs, jewelry, and other trinkets that these artists made.  Unfortunately, I absentmindedly forgot to take pictures due to the time crunch.  Now I know why my brother said that you'll need more than a day to be able to take in everything!


A few of my souvenirs from NYCC 2015

Comic books, post cards, and artists' business cards


At that point my legs were exhausted.  Even with my comfortable boots I knew that I needed to take a break.  I walked to the other side to head to the B rooms for my Pop Surrealism panel.  On my way, I snapped a final picture of the floor of the Jurassic World display.  The men were dressed up as the guides you would see in the movies.


Jurassic World Exhibit

with the famous raptor


It was really nice and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  After taking the Jurassic World picture, I went to the B wing to wait for my panel.  I was just sitting down and reading the NYCC book.


Pop Surrealism Panel

Courtesy of NYCC 2015


It didn't take long before the NYCC crew ushered us into the room.  I was pretty excited since this brought back memories of the art courses I took when I was an undergrad.


Inside the Pop Surrealism panel


The panel was moderated by Carlo McCormick.  Carlo is a culture writer and curator in New York City.  I loved his laid back demeanor and wit throughout the panel.  During the panel, the artists' work was projected onto the screen while they discussed their background and styles.  The panel was composed of artists (Camilla, Tara, Travis, and Mab) and a gallery owner (Jonathan LeVine).  If you check out their sites (I will put links after I discuss the panel), you can see their bio and artwork.


A few topics that was part of the discussion included how they started their work, their influences in their work, their background and styles, and types of artwork that they did not work on.  Tara McPherson started as an astrophysics major before venturing into art.  Mab Graves discussed her work focusing on innocence and its childlike qualities.  Jonathan LeVine discussed being surrounded by art through music and his gallery.


One of my favorite art pieces came from Camilla d'Errico's "Rainbuns."  Who doesn't love colorful bunnies?  For Tara, it was "Secrets of the Polar Aurora."  There was a mystical quality to it and the blue color was hypnotizing.  Alice in Wonderland is a favorite childhood story of mine and that's what caught my attention from Mab's work.  Travis Louie's work focused on its Victorian quality and I loved how he was able to meld that style with mythical qualities seen in folklore.  I was pretty excited when Jonathan discussed his gallery and featured artists.  That will definitely be my next stop to visit soon.


Panel concluding and going up to the artists


Here are their sites if you want to go check them out:

Camilla d'Errico

Tara McPherson

Travis Louie

Jonathan LeVine

Mab Graves



That concluded my day at New York Comic Con 2015.  I had such a great time and the experience did not disappoint at all!  As I was heading home, I sent my brother a text to thank him for inviting me to NYCC.  He was happy to hear that and told me that he was still attending panels for the evening.  I wished him a good night and a safe trip home.  Overall it was a very unique and fun experience.  In one day, I got to see the cast of Adventure Time in person, meet artists, see a variety of displays and exhibits, and basically get immersed in the NYCC experience.


I didn't know what to expect and thought that the crowds would be too much, but it ended up not being too bad.  I was still able to take a variety of pictures and look around.  When I spoke to my brother, he asked me if I was going to cosplay if I went to NYCC again in the future.  When I thought about it I didn't know which character I would cosplay as.  The designing wouldn't be too bad from what I learned in menswear and designing/tailoring.  But making a costume would definitely be a new experience! haha  It's one thing to create a dress shirt, but another to make an elaborate costume.  I can't picture myself as any specific character at the moment.  Oh well, we shall see how things go later on!


It did feel like an early Halloween and there was nothing better than seeing people of all ages and backgrounds have fun.  I think that's one thing I liked that most about NYCC--everyone was able to be who they wanted to be without any judgment.  In terms of the environment, I was able to get immersed in art and pop culture for one day.  It really did feel like an adventure infused with a mix of Eastern and Western pop culture.


Leaving Javits Center

It rained, but good thing I wasn't outside for that!


Goodbye New York Comic Con and thanks again for the exciting day!  Thanks again to my brother and everyone at New York Comic Con.  If I do get another chance to visit New York Comic Con in the future, I'll know that I'll need more than one day.  And yes, I did crash after I ate a small dinner when I got home. :)

Movies & Other Happenings

I can't believe it's September already with the cooler autumn weather coming in.  One minute it's incredibly hot and the next minute we're all pulling out our light jackets.


I caught up on a few movies as the summer ended.  The first one that caught my attention was "Love & Other Drugs" with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.  I actually planned on watching it in the winter of 2010, but with Christmas shopping, celebrating with loved ones, and traveling I got caught up in the festivities and watching this movie slipped my mind.




Almost five years later, I finally sat down and got the chance to watch it again.  I enjoyed it.  I know a lot reviews and critiques mentioned issues regarding the sex, the schmoozing, and the apparent violations of patient confidentiality, but it's a movie so it's supposed to be unrealistic, right?  You wouldn't expect Jurassic World or Godzilla to be real (I hope!) because that would be insane if they did come true. haha 


Although it wasn't your typical romantic drama, Anne really played her role well as someone who was frustrated with her condition and having to navigate through her feelings and the healthcare system.  I liked that it wasn't your typical romantic movie where the characters are depicted as having perfect lives and ending with a match made in heaven (à la Hallmark Channel).  Instead, it does show the trials that people encounter in relationships especially when there are uncertainties involved.  There was a lot of anger, intense feelings, frustration, and confusion which showed that the characters were human and not perfect.


I did laugh at some of the scenes like when Jake's character was trying to market Viagra as if it was the "ambrosia of the gods."  It was funny.  Mind you, this movie was set in the late 90's when Viagra was first being introduced into the market.  You could also see them using the outdated mobile phones (in comparison to today's standards).


On a lighter note, I also watched "The Hundred-Foot Journey" since you all already know that I like food and cooking.  :)  It was quite the contrast from Love & Other Drugs.




It was very charming and just gives you "good feels" on the inside. They do speak French from time to time, but it won't detract from the story if you don't speak or understand the language.  I loved all of the characters from the Kadam family trying to open their own restaurant to Helen Mirren's stern portrayal of Madame Mallory.  Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon's characters were competitive, but playful.  I did enjoy the pacing of the story and the food made me hungry; however, it did seem rushed towards the end where the events eventually lead to a happy ending.  It did work out and gave me a warm fuzzy feeling seeing the ending though.


The film does change a few things from the novel, but I won't spoil them here.  One thing that comes to mind is that the novel version of Madame Mallory does something that was changed in the film (which I can see would make audiences uneasy).  I can see though why they decided to make the change. 


With many movies though, I do read what critics say, but in the end delve myself into my own experiences of the movie.  Unless a film is unbelievably bad or unbelievably good (which can be pretty subjective also), everyone experiences things differently.  What one person might nitpick, another person wouldn't really care.  My advice is if you want to go watch a movie, go for it.  In the end, whether you like the movie or not is your own experience. 


I know that there were a few movies I liked, but critics hated it (and vice versa).  I don't think I've hated any movie though (either that or can't think of any at the moment).  It's like what Professor Bower (see the previous entry on June 30, 2015) told our class before giving the exam.  "Even if you forgot the details of the artwork during the exam, just write something down like, "the painting depicts an ocean" or "it's a bronze sculpture of Buddha" to get some points instead of leaving it blank."  Similarly, if there was some effort involved, I will give the benefit of the doubt.


2016 is coming up and I'm completing my continuing education for renewal.  I can't believe it went by so quickly!  I remembered just writing about trying to get through my reading list and tackling information on new research developments back in 2014.  Research on cancer is continually updating so that's why there are always new bits of information that I learn about.


There's also a mandatory requirement on completing education on patient care and safety.  Prior to this, only pharmacy law and regulations were mandatory topics to cover.  Patient care and safety has been important in any situation so I was glad to see this implementation.


Published by Garland Science



I highly recommend The Biology of Cancer by Dr. Robert A Weinberg.  The book is quite an accessible and informative read, but it would certainly help if you had an introductory foundation in genetics and molecular and cell biology (usually covered in an undergraduate general biology course).


I enjoy reading and completing continuing education (if I didn't, graduate school would've been very painful haha).  One thing that I learned from my work and background in math and science is to always keep an open mind to different possibilities and see things from different angles.  When tackling application problems in mathematics, learning to visualize concepts really helps.  Much like a person's life is not one-dimensional, there are several factors that play a role when working with patients.  The diagnosis is just one aspect to consider, but there may be issues they want to discuss that are unrelated to their condition.


I also completed topics such as NSAID use and renal physiology as well as the pathophysiology, etiology, and epidemiology of influenza (which reminds me, flu season is coming up ahh!).  The flu affects a lot of people especially when you are in urban environments and you can be exposed easily as a result of crowded, high density environments.  On the other hand, I'm getting through the handouts for my websites.  I got great feedback and look forward to updating a lot more.


I wanted to share a song with you.  I wrote about Steven Universe a few entries ago and I'm still in love with the story and soundtrack.  The music is very catchy and really captures the essence of each episode.  You can see the development in areas such as parents coming to terms with their children growing up as well as interjecting appropriate light heartedness and humor to random situations.



Haven't You Noticed (I'm a Star)

from Steven Universe

Music by Rebecca Sugar, Aivi & Surasshu


The cover is from the episode "Sadie's Song." She's engulfed by teddy bears and other stuffed animals because her mother still sees her as a little girl.  In the episode, we saw that she always gives her a new one after coming home from work.


You can listen to more songs from the Steven Universe soundtrack here: Aivi & Surasshu's Soundcloud Page


Their music has a very warm vibe to it.  Rebecca Sugar, her team, and the composers are incredibly talented and it shows through their work.  I highly recommend the songs "Stronger Than You" and "Giant Woman" since they are a few of my favorites.  Steven Universe does tackle many serious issues which is why it's been one of my top favorites.  The music is the cherry on top which packages the episodes so well.  It's not just randomized singing, but rather, it captures the heart and theme of the character's emotions.


Stronger Than You

sung by the talented Estelle



You all already know that some type of food topic will usually come up in each of my entries and this one is no exception!  I made two Asian inspired dishes: American Chinese styled beef and peppers and Philippine Ube Halaya (a purple yam dessert combined with condensed milk, butter, and another type of milk such as coconut or evaporated milk).


Beef and Peppers with Brown Rice


The beef and peppers was a simple dish to make.  I sliced the red and green bell peppers into thin strips and sliced the onions into crescent shape cross sections.  I mixed the beef slices with soy sauce, a bit of oyster sauce, pepper, grated garlic, ginger powder, and sesame oil.  I thickened it with a bit of cornstarch and let it marinade for 2 hours.


After they marinated I tossed them into the pot with sesame oil and lightly cooked them for 2 minutes.  I took them out of the pot, added sesame oil, and sauteed the vegetables.  I added some peach brandy and chicken stock to meld the flavors.  After the vegetables cooked, I added the beef back into the pot and tossed a bit of chicken stock and brandy.  The sauce was reduced and thickened from the cornstarch.  It was delicious and comforting together with the brown rice!  The touch of peach brandy gave it sweetness instead of using sugar.  I thought that it would give the "umph" to balance the savory flavors of the soy and oyster sauces.



Ube Halaya


The ube halaya was pretty fun to make.  I didn't have evaporated milk so what I did was reduce 2 cups of regular milk down to around 1 cup.  Some people prefer to use powdered milk, but reducing it gives it a more pronounced nutty flavor.  It took a long time though and I had to keep stirring the milk on low heat for almost 30-40 minutes.  If milk overheats, it curdles and becomes grainy.  Believe me, it happened to me a few times before when I was hungry and rushed making macaroni and cheese!  I told myself, "Not this time!"


It worked out and the milk (as shown in the picture) was smooth.  The flavor was bold and delicious!  (I should add that to my coffee instead haha)  It really did enhance the flavor of the ube halaya.  I already had the grated purple yam prepackaged from the store (since it was easier) and combined it with melted butter, condensed milk, and the evaporated milk in a nonstick pot.  I kept the heat low to prevent it from sticking or burning and continually stirred.  I would take a small piece from time to time to taste the flavor and added condensed milk and the evaporated milk accordingly.  I cooled it down and then put it in the fridge.  For me it always tastes better when it is cold.  If you look at the picture on the upper right, you can see a small square piece that I cut out.  I just couldn't help myself!


As the daylight gets shorter and the pumpkin spice aroma rolls around, we are now greeted with the move towards the holiday season.  October through January gets very eventful in the New York City area so I would love to see what this autumn and winter season brings.  In any case, I do look forward to what's to come.

Just a Jubilant July

July has been very festive.  Aside from the crazy heat, it was a nice month of celebrating, catching up, and enjoying the summer.


During the Fourth of July, I spent time with family and we all went to Mitsuwa instead of doing the usual barbecuing.  It was more fun since we didn't have to worry about cooking or organizing things.  We could order food, go grocery shopping, and enjoy the view.  Usually during holidays Mitsuwa is packed.  This day was no exception.  We were able to find seats next to the windows which had a view of the river.  Everyone ordered different dishes so that we could share.  I ordered the Chicken Katsu (fried chicken cutlet) and it came with a lot of sides such as rice and vegetables.  It was very filling.  We were all sharing so we got to taste different dishes from noodles to beef to chicken karaage (Japanese fried chicken seasoned with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic).


Chicken Katsu with sides (rice, vegetables, seaweed, miso)



It was a nice day to walk outside.  Luckily it wasn't too bad since we were right next to the water.  There's a path next to the river where you can stroll or just sit down and relax.  The view was gorgeous.  People were jogging, taking their children for a stroll, reading a book next to the river, and others were taking pictures.  It was a nice Fourth of July and family got to bond without thinking about having to do the dishes after eating!


It's just across the river from New York so those of you who are visiting from outside the region can take the ferry from Midtown Manhattan (or Downtown NYC) to Port Imperial/Weehawken.


The riverside view from Edgewater, NJ (Beautiful!)



I also celebrated my birthday this month.  One of my good friends took me out during happy hour.  She took me to PS450, a lounge on Park Avenue South.  We met up and caught up for a bit before heading inside.  She made me laugh when a large group of coworkers went inside ahead of us.  She joked, "Ooh, someone's starting early!"  After we caught up on how things had been going, we headed inside and were greeted by very friendly staff.  When we first entered, it wasn't too packed.  After an hour, the place was booming with people.  A mixture of people relaxing after work with friends and tourists surrounded us.


It was so nice though since everyone was just laughing and having a good time.  It wasn't rowdy in a sense of people getting drunk and out of control, but more in a sense of people being festive.  Even the bouncer had a smile on his face when my friend and I left and we wished him a good night.


Nachos and drinks

(those of you who know me know the signature drinks I usually order!)



Our server was very friendly and we even got into a conversation with her about adolescence.  Since my friend's son is a teenager we all talked about the crazy things that we did when we were his age.  The nachos were good and the drinks were strong enough without being overpowering.  After a few hours of catching up, we wished each other goodbye and thanked her for taking me out.


A few weeks later, my brother took me out to dinner after we coordinated our schedules.  I met up with him at Kenka, a Japanese izakaya (informal place to eat and drink) located at St. Mark's Place.  I put my name down, but we ended up not having to wait long (around 10 minutes).  There were 6 people ahead of us on the list, but I guess some of them decided to eat somewhere else.  It was nice and reminded me of the time when I was at NYU.


As we were talking, there were tourists taking pictures and other people walking around the area.  Since it's summer, a lot of people came even during a weekday night.  Kenka was packed as we headed inside.  Luckily we got a seat next to one of the old exhibits so we had a lot of space.



Outside Kenka (top)

Kenka menu (bottom)


We've been here before that we know that we can order food and share so that we don't end up ordering more than what we can eat.


Top left: Curry Udon and my mug of Sapporo

Middle: Buta no Kakuni (Japanese Braised Pork Belly)

Bottom left: Yakimeshi (Japanese Fried Rice)

Right: Chicken Karaage, Fatty Tuna, and my Curry Udon bowl


There was a group of people seated to the front-left of us who ordered this giant cylindrical container of beer that had the tap handle (like the ones used by bartenders when filling mugs of beer).  I told my brother, "Damn, they're enjoying themselves haha"  We were sharing stories and he told me about his upcoming plans for vacation in the next year.  He also asked me where I planned to go, too.  My brother has a laid back personality so he always listens to me whenever he sees that I'm stressed.  He'll crack a joke or tell me to just not think too much about things.


I told him about bumping into someone who I haven't seen in a long time.  He already knew my reaction and said, "Isn't it funny that you bump into people who you least expect?"  It's interesting though because the people who I don't expect to see are the ones who I bump into at the most random places. 


As we continued talking, we tried new dishes as well as our usual fare (the okonomiyaki [Japanese pancake with savory ingredients such as shrimp, vegetables, and squid] which I couldn't get a picture of since we engulfed it haha).  The buta no kakuni was very tender and the broth had a nice saltiness that complemented the texture of the pork.  The tuna melted in your mouth and had a nice refreshing kick with the lemon broth.  I finished it off with yakimeshi which was the perfect ending to fill the stomach since it was light yet absorbed everything well.


In addition, my brother gave me a bag full of random assortments of things as a gift.  I smiled because my brother knew me too well.  I love my brother, he's an awesome guy!



A physics textbook, a chicken cookbook, pens for fashion illustration,

notebooks, and a zip folder


After our dinner, I made cotton candy from the machine outside.  (In Kenka, they gave you pink sugar after your dinner which you can use to make cotton candy outside)  My brother didn't want his so he gave it to me.  We wished each other a good night and I gave him a hug for dinner and the gifts.


My clients told me to enjoy my birthday weekend and to treat myself.  I went shopping and found some good deals.  I bought a nice lettuce green shirt from JC Penney, tropical flip flops, and trunks for the summer.


Lettuce Green Arizona V-Neck T-shirt

Courtesy of JCPenney



Tropical Flip Flops with Bottle Opener (Left)

Puma Trunks (Right)


The shirt was nice and light.  It was very comfortable to wear during this weather. The size of the flip flops that fit me were sold out online, but luckily I found it at the store when I went to pick up my order in person.  The cashier smiled and told me that she loved the style of it.  The trunks were on sale in TJ Maxx, and I thought they would be good for swimming and going to the beach.


A few days ago, I discovered a game called "3 Pandas in Brazil" created by Flashteam.  It was a really fun and cute adventure game to pass the time.  I've included the link (just click the title) so that you can play, too!  The three bears all have different abilities and during each stage, they usually have an objective to complete the level.  Levels include helping people whose bus is stuck in a tree get down to throwing coconuts to evade a poacher.  It's so nice to see your culture represented.  Go check it out when you get the chance.  It's not overly difficult plus the bears will make you smile.  :)





I hope all of you have been having a great summer!  I know that it was pretty hot in the NYC/NJ area, but it didn't seem to deter tourists and people from going out. :)  Just stay cool and enjoy the rest of your summer.

Throwback Origins

The weather has been seesawing between hot and cool which isn't too bad.  It's actually refreshing to walk outside in cooler weather after experiencing blistering heat.  On another note, I've been able to meet people from around the world through Wordpress.  I'm been really enjoying the conversations I've had from people there.


A few days ago, I was organizing and transferring files from my old computer, and I stumbled upon a bunch of pictures and documents which I completely forgot about.  They brought back a lot of memories and I couldn't help, but smile.  This was an inspiration for this entry where I will discuss the origins of my work and interests.  Of course, I won't be able to cover everything, but I will share relevant stories that stood out as I looked through the files.


One interesting folder that I found dealt with Para Para videos.  Para Para is a choreographed and synchronized dance popular in Japan.  The choreography focuses on complex movements of the arms and hands instead of the legs.  Many songs used in Para Para are styled in Eurobeat.


I actually did a presentation on Para Para for my Intermediate Japanese class which was fun.  I was a little nervous performing the routine at the end after my presentation, but it worked out well.  I remembered wearing a black bucket hat (the type of hat worn by Gilligan on Gilligan's Island) and dancing for the last two minutes of the presentation.  My classmates and I were laughing, but we were all in a good mood since it was the end of the Spring semester and we just wanted to enjoy our summer (although I did take a summer class that year haha). 


Here is the song and routine that I performed for my presentation.  As you can see from the dancer's routine, the main focus are the on arm and hand movements above the waist.  As you know, most dance is focused on the legs' movements, but here the leg movements are limited to the left and right motion while staying in position.




When I was in graduate school, one of my statistics students asked me about the origin of how I designed handouts.  I was inspired by one of my professors, Virginia Bower, when I took her East Asian Art class as an undergraduate.  The class surveyed major works in Chinese and Japanese art (paintings, sculptures, and architecture).  She was an intelligent and kind woman who made our class interesting (the class was four hours long twice a week...we certainly gave her kudos for being able to lecture us from 6 - 10 PM).  I always loved talking to her during the break.  She spoke with everyone and got to know us personally.  It was really refreshing and made class even more enjoyable.


Before each class, she would give us a handout pertaining to the lecture of the day.  Since it was art history, there was a LOT of information to learn and absorb.  The handouts were very comprehensive.  She had the title of the work, the date/time period it was created, the history behind the work, and what the work was composed of (oil painting, marble, etc.).  The handouts were very detailed and also cross referenced the image in our textbook when we needed to study.  We were a small class and there were around 20 of us.  The handouts helped us follow along with lecture while writing our own notes on the side.


Professor Bower was indeed an amazing and sweet woman.  She even spoke to us in Mandarin since she lived in Taiwan for a few years.  She knew that the material was difficult since the names of the pieces were non-Western and concepts can be easy to confuse such as the different statues of Buddha. 



I miss Professor Bower!

(Courtesy of Smithsonian Journeys)



But that really helped jumpstart my approach when working with undergraduates during my graduate studies.  Math and science is difficult so I applied her approach when helping undergraduates understand concepts in mathematics and public health.  I put my own spin of writing handouts, drew diagrams, and asked students for their input.  By engaging students in this learning process, they ended up working on the problems and the material.  Just as Professor Bower knew that the Chinese characters could become confusing, I knew that students would become overwhelmed if the concepts were all thrown in haphazardly.  The meticulous and organized approach when presenting information was crucial in this regard.


Thank you to Professor Bower for being such a wonderful instructor!  I only wish I took a picture with her.  There weren't any advanced phones like the touch screen phones now when I took her class so I would've had to drag my digital camera haha  But she taught me so much that immersing yourself in the subject (like when you was a tour lecturer in China) can bring insight into teaching.  This is what led me to my work with Dr. Cowart where she put theory into practice in terms of health literacy and understanding various culture's approaches to healthcare and medicine.


On a final note, one of my entries wouldn't be complete without at least one food picture.  This month I made a Philippine dish called "Embutido."  It's a steamed meatloaf that's a popular dish for parties.  It's made with ground pork (or you can you chicken or beef), red pepper, green pepper, raisins, egg, sweet pickle relish, carrots, breadcrumbs, hot dog (to name a few of the ingredients!).  It's similar to making a meatloaf, but instead, you wrap it in aluminum foil and put it through a steamer for about an hour.  It comes out really soft and delicious!  You cut it up and serve it as an appetizer.


Above: Diced vegetables for the embutido
Below: Finished steamed embutido



I also made homemade cinnamon applesauce as a light night time snack.  The only thing that took some time was peeling the apples, but once they simmered in the cinnamon, brown sugar, ginger, and a bit of lemon juice, everything was set to go.  The aroma filled the kitchen with the sweetness of the apple along with the spices.  It certainly brought a pleasant atmosphere as I was writing late at night.



Above: Apples boiling in the cinnamon, brown sugar, lemon, ginger, and spices
Below: Finished applesauce after putting it through a blender



Fourth of July, my birthday, and other events are coming up so it should be an eventful month!  Hope you all enjoy the festivities (if you're going to barbecue or travel).  I hope you all have a safe and relaxing time, however you may celebrate!

Some Summertime Food For Thought

I hope you are all enjoying the warmer weather!


I'm going to post a calculus handout after this so hopefully I don't put my food pictures next to the graphs of linear equations!


I was thinking about how to approach the organic chemistry handouts.  With math and the medical ethics, it's not too bad.  However, with organic chemistry there are a lot of structures and mechanisms to draw.  I was thinking of using LaTeX, a system for scientific and technical writing, when I rewrite the organic chemistry handouts.  I think it will be easier to read and organize.  Right now, I'm just going to try to get the foundation of mathematics handouts posted (since everyone has to take some form of a math/statistics class, but not everyone will need to take organic chemistry).


Here is a sample of documentation using LaTeX (pronounced lah-tech or lay-tech):


Sample of Trigonometry Handout using LaTeX



Creating a Diagram using LaTeX

As you can tell, I like the color green :)



I will keep those in mind when I plan for the summer handouts.  The handout that I'm putting out tonight will cover topics such as slope, points of intersection, and parallel and perpendicular lines.  It should be good.  I have a lot of readers from Singapore and Indonesia when I post math topics.  I appreciate their great feedback!


I made quite a few dishes in May.  It was fun to make old dishes along with trying new ones.


From top left clockwise:

Thai Basil Fried Rice with Shrimp

Chicken Marsala

Herb Meatloaf with Rice

Udon Noodles with Edamame Pesto



If you remember from a while back, I bought an America's Test Kitchen dinner cookbook.  The cookbook had the udon noodles with edamame pesto recipe.  It looked like a great vegetarian dish.  The ingredients included basil, coriander, toasted pine nuts, and edamame.  One additional ingredient I added was mushrooms.  I diced them very small and mixed it in once I blended the pesto with the udon noodles.


It was really good and full of flavor!  It was very refreshing and light, but very filling.  I had some iced green tea with it which complimented it well.


I had a lot of basil left over which is why I used it to make the basil fried rice.  I also added some green peppers, chilis, and some shrimp broth from boiling the shrimp heads.  After cooking all of that, I smelled like a restaurant!  It was nice though because the kitchen was very fragrant from the herbs.


Just a little before Memorial Day, Kate and I planned to meet up before she left to visit family.  If you remember from my April entry, I went to her friend Titta's art exhibition which showcased many contemporary artists.  Time went by so quickly, but we wanted to see each other before she left for the summer.  We went to Niu Noodle House near Washington Square to get some dim sum and noodles with chicken.




We had the lunch set which consisted of a starter (we chose chicken dumplings), the Chow Ho Fun, and the Dim Sum Set which consisted of three choices of dim sum (we picked ha gow shrimp dumplings, the Hong Kong style pork buns, and the sticky rice).  It was a lot of food, but it was so good.


We caught up and shared pictures.  We also cracked a lot of jokes.  It was so nice to just relax with good company before Memorial Day weekend.  Kate was feeling a little tired afterward so I bought her hot chocolate to perk her up.  As we were walking, we stopped by Madison Square Park near 23rd Street.  Kate had a spa appointment around the area so we stayed near the vicinity.  We sat down under a table that had an umbrella and discussed family life and how comforting it is to be around people you love.


I walked with her to the spa and she wanted to ask me for my opinion about something.  It was funny and we both smiled.  When she was called in, I gave her a big hug and kiss and wished her a safe flight home.


I met up with friends one night and we came upon Sebastian Masuda's Hello Kitty Time Capsule in Midtown Manhattan at Hammarskjold Plaza (around E. 47th Street and 2nd Ave).



Like I said with the handouts, I've received good feedback from readers and subscribers.  I'm going to try to cover as much information as I can in the upcoming month.  It was definitely great spending time with family and close friends.


In terms of the ESL Prezi Presentations, I do have them in Powerpoint and PDF formats which I send to my clients.



Now that the Math and Science handouts have taken flight, I can add some more English lessons.  I did put up 18 grammar lessons and 3 writing lessons so far.  The great thing about Prezi and ESL is that I don't have to worry about formatting which I encounter often with math and chemistry.


In terms of Breast Cancer Imperative Inc.'s new site, I'm working with David, the new developer who will handle the redesign as it moves to the Philippines.  What I will do is scan the information from the old website and then put it here as reference in the meantime.


Now I'm getting hungry looking at the food pictures!  I'm going to grab a bite to eat, work on the handouts, and then send things out to clients.  Hope you all had a great month!  We have a lot more sunshine now that we're entering summer so that should be good.


By the way to those of you coming to visit New York City, the Victorian Gardens Carnival is now open at Central Park.  It's usually open during the summer and ends in September.


The Carnival at Central Park

Click the picture for more information.


Those of you coming to visit from the country or around the world, I hope you enjoy your stay here.  The weather hasn't been too bad so far (let's hope it stays that way! haha).

An Artistic and Warm April

Things were able to pick up with my math and science handouts so I was very pleased with the subscriptions.  One of my subscribers, Dr. Michael Lawrence Langan has a very interesting site called the Disrupted Physician.  He addresses a lot of issues such as physician suicide and medical ethics.  I will discuss this in another entry since it is an important topic to examine.


Kate invited me to an art exhibition at Clen Gallery.  It was her friend Titta's opening where several artists were able to debut their artwork. One of Titta's close friends, Kevin Berlin, debuted his work there also.  When I entered the building, there was an elevator operator so I was confused at first on what to do.  But when he asked me what floor I wanted to go to, I saw that he took care of everything.  He manually closed the elevator by winding up the gears and closing the gate.  It was pretty cool.  When I got out, there was a bouncer with a list of names to admit to the event.  We were looking for my name, but I got waved in by Kate et al. and the bouncer and I laughed as he patted me on the back to go inside.


Invitation to the event



It was wonderful and Kate introduced me to many of her friends from her time in London along with others from the fashion industry.  Our schedules have been pretty hectic, but she told me that her mother also came here to visit.  I speak very VERY elementary Mandarin so it was interesting trying to communicate with her.


Kate and me


The talented singer/actress/performer, Paulina, and me :)



Her friend Titta is Italian and it was so charming how Italians always speak to me in French.  That's the great thing about Europe.  Since countries are close to each other, we learn each other's languages.  Titta and I spoke in French for a bit before she had to attend to the other guests.  Kate then introduced me to two of her friends in fashion.  One friend makes her own bags.  She was using one of them that night and it was a beautiful black bag.  The other friend was a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) who was very skilled in dressmaking and design.


They asked me what my background was in and what type of work I did in fashion.  I told them that I'm doing tailoring on the side and how I enjoyed more hands on work performing measurements/calculations as a result of my science background.  They went to go get some wine while I rejoined Kate, Paulina, and her mom.


There were a lot of interesting pieces on display.  Kevin Berlin had his Nutella pieces on the wall.  There was a piece made entirely of bullets/ammunition.  There were also some works with profanity which were interesting (such as the Mona Lisa with "F*** You" painted on it).  If you want to see that, please let me know.  I know that some people wouldn't appreciate seeing that so I won't put it here for now.


The pieces made of ammunition



The Energy of Emotions Exhibition 2015

Upper left: Full house at the gallery

Upper right: Kate's Mom and Titta (courtesy of Kate), very pretty!

Lower left: Kevin Berlin's Nutella works

Lower right: A gallery piece

At the end of the show, we bid each other farewell and gave our hugs and kisses.  I met another one of Titta's friends from Italy who also spoke to me in French. haha  I gave Kate, Paulina, and Kate's mom a kiss and headed for the train station while they waited for a taxi.


I visited TJ Maxx one night last week to buy a gift as well as check their Home Goods section.  I usually find something nice to treat myself to.  As I looked through the baking section, I found animal shaped cookie cutters.  I thought that it would be nice since I like making treats for my nephews, nieces, and younger cousins.


What would one of my entries be without mentioning food, right? haha For dinner one night I made lime brown rice with chipotle peppers, tacos, and baked cookies and creme animal shaped cookies.  I wanted to try out the new cookie cutters that I bought so I thought this would be a great opportunity.


Upper left: Farm animal cookie cutters

Upper right: Cookie dough shapes

Lower left: Baked cookies

Lower right: Chipotle adobo tacos with lime chipotle brown rice


I cooked the ground beef with a bit of chili power, onion and garlic powder, paprika, and added in diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  It was delicious.  The cheese was a mix of shredded asadero, monterey jack, and queso quesadilla.  The rest of the toppings were lettuce, sour cream, and spicy salsa.  It was very filling.  The cookies baked extremely fast in the oven.  The directions stated 8-10 minutes, but after 5 minutes they were ready.  I even had to lower the temperature by 25 degrees.


It was my brother's birthday recently so as a gift, I took him out to dinner for Salmon Tuesday at East Japanese Restaurant on Third Avenue.  We met up around 7:40 PM and exchanged pleasantries.


Revisiting East for my brother's birthday dinner

Salmon Tuesday: All salmon items are 50% off


There was a huge group of people.  However, we only waited for 5-10 minutes.  The hostess took my name down.  My brother and I waited at the bar area while we chatted on how things were going.  After 2 minutes, they called my name and we were seated promptly.  The sushi was a good deal and was fresh.  Four large pieces of salmon sushi was only $1.75.  They also had a menu for made to order dishes such as Salmon Kama (broiled salmon collar), which we ordered.  The salmon nuggets looked interesting, and I might try that next time.  We ate a lot of food and the bill only came out to ~$30 without adding tip yet.  It wasn't bad at all.


Everyone around the restaurant looked like they were having a good time.  It did look stressful for the servers since there were a lot of people, but overall, everyone was smiling and conversing.  We were sharing stories on his other plans for his birthday and what he was working on at the moment.  I highly recommend going to East on days when they have their specials as well as late night (I think 11 PM - 3 AM) where all sushi is half off.


To kick off the start of nice weather and spring weather finally arriving, here's some nice music, Maroon 5's Sugar:



I remembered receiving their CD, "Songs About Jane" as a gift back in 2003.  Since then I've enjoyed their music.  They recently performed in Madison Square Garden last month, but I unfortunately couldn't attend.  I heard from a friend that it was fantastic with Adam Levine being his usual crazy self as well as the band members giving a great performance.


I hope you all enjoy the start of the nicer weather!

All Work And No Play...

...will certainly ruin Kevin's day! Just Kidding :)


Things seem to be okay right now in regards to the blog and the website so I might postpone the new redesign since I'm also working through my new math and science site.  I'm rewriting, adding diagrams, and writing in additional information for the orgo and calculus topics.  In addition, I also redesigned my old Wordpress site to have the html version of my notes.  I know that the Orgo notes were the most requested so I'm working through those, and then, I'm going through the precalculus and calculus foundations since they are needed for physics.


Everyone's been very nice and patient about them which I appreciate.  It takes around 2-4 hours to make one handout since I re-review the accuracy and any typing errors.  This is for the easy ones.  I know that once I get into the deeper topics such as reaction mechanisms, I might just draw them by pen and then scan it.  I think it will be a lot faster.  I tried to use programs such as ChemWriter to design a few compounds, but it took me some time since you can't delete something when you make a mistake (only undo the last action you performed).  It does make nice looking structures though!


My attempt at making the structure of aspirin for one of my handouts.

I drew a simpler looking structure for the Survey of Orgo handout.

The Orgo for Life/Health Sciences handouts will be more advanced.



So I'm sure all of you saw from my February entry that the blog was a little wonky.  I spoke to an IT person from my webhosting service, and she helped a lot.  We got to resolve the matter and now I can continue my entries.  What I'm going to do for now is to combine February and March's entries for this month (March).


The past Tuesday, as I entered the room for English Conversation Group at New York Public Library, I was greeted by Dana and Andrew, two librarians who assist with the group.  Dana and I were talking about the weather and how we were happy that it was getting nicer for spring.  Then she mentioned seeing the snow icon on Friday (which I also so on my weather app) and I told her, "Yes! I saw that too!"  We both hoped that it wouldn't be too bad.  A client also mentioned that the next day and I told him that I honestly hoped that it wouldn't be too bad.


As Friday came, it wasn't too bad.  It did flurry, but it didn't make the commute as hectic as the previous blizzards that we had.  But with Daylight Savings and the weather getting warmer, it does feel a lot better to get more sunshine.  Sunshine is always good, right?



My Math and Science site is up and running.  Here is a snapshot of my Math and Science site:


My notes are now available to the world!

You can click to go to the site.



I have three sets of notes up, and I'm working on alkanes for Survey of Orgo, molecular and valence bond theories/bond length and strength for the Orgo for science and pre-meds, and inequalities and trigonometry for the precalculus review.  Like I stated on my site, I will update every week.  However, I won't be able to post every single day since it takes a lot of time to rewrite, redesign, and scan the notes.  Luckily, I always have my continuing education notes so the information has still stayed fresh in my mind through practice and through research and work.


February has been eventful.  As I had stated, I attended fashion journalist Dana Thomas's book launch and talk at the Fashion Institute of Technology where she discussed the lives of fashion designers Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.  She was very charming and entertaining.  She lost her place in the middle of her talk, but just made a joke about it and continued on.  We all laughed.


Hearing excerpts and the thought process from the author's mouth herself brought the book to life.  I found it a lot more interactive and entertaining.  A major theme that she discussed was how the passion for their craft got lost once their work became more commercialized.  Instead of focusing on one or two pieces, they had to churn out more than double or triple what they were used to to keep up with commerce.  It was pretty tragic to see them become successful and then plummet down.  As Dana discussed, even with all of their money, they couldn't enjoy their life.  They had to keep churning out dresses and other designs at the expense of their creativity and passion.





Dana Thomas addressing the audience and answering questions



There was something that Dana quoted which caught our attention.  She quoted the fashion designer Alexander Wang who said, "I love what I do, but I'm not going to kill myself for it."


It is interesting that she mentioned this toward the end of her presentation.  In cognitive psychology (memory and learning) I remembered the concept of the "Serial Position Effect," where the first and last items have the greatest impact on recall.  Basically you remember the first and last items most vividly.


The quote is true though.  No matter what field you're in, there's a line between working hard and working so much that you miss out on significant life events.  Of course, you have to work hard if you want to start your own business, succeed in school, or perform well at your job.  But when the work takes a negative toll on your health or you don't have time to attend your child's birthday party, then that's something else.


However, there are always different circumstances for each person.  Some people do need to work long hours to provide a better life for their families and themselves.  This is understandable though when you have to make sacrifices and you might not be able to attend events.  But I think the take home message for this is to not sacrifice more of yourself to the point where it is detrimental.


After the event, I had dinner with my brother at Schnippers at Chelsea.  I promised him that I'd have dinner with him to catch up.  Fortunately, I had time after the event and he had free time too after he got out of work.



Two orders of "The Schnipp" burger

My order of the chocolate shake


I treated both of us to two orders of "The Schnipp" and I also wanted to try their shakes.  I heard that they were good, but expensive.  I decided, "Okay I'll get one," since I don't eat this every day.  The food was really good.  I don't know if it was because we were hungry or what, but we enjoyed it.  The shake was thick.  It was like drinking ice cream through a straw.  I knew that they used premium ice cream for it, but I didn't know how thick it would be.  It was definitely worth the experience!


Across from us there was a tourist family with three daughters.  The parents bought all of them vanilla shakes.  There were also people eating and reading their Kindles/working on their laptops so it was nice to see that it was still vibrant at that time.  Well, New York City is always vibrant for the most part. haha


In terms of something more fun, I've been introduced to Sushi Cat and Kitty Cat Clicker (the cat version of Cookie Clicker).  Usually with app recommendations, I would say, "Okay I'll get to it later," and then I'll end up forgetting since it gets thrown into the back burner.  However, these two have been pretty enjoyable.  It's nice to just take a break and not burn out.


Sushi Cat


Kitty Cat Clicker

An addicting alternative to Cookie Clicker!



Receiving the reward



I'm actually taking a break to write this entry.  It's always been very cathartic to just recap thoughts and show pictures of food, places, and fun apps instead of staring at data and formulas. hehe  After I post this entry, I will put the finishing touches for this week's handouts.


The weather was pretty cold up until recently.  I had a lot of English conversation participants who came from warmer climates so they told me that it was quite a surprise to experience this cold since they didn't expect it to be this harsh.  Even I told them that it wasn't this brutal the past few years so it was a surprise for me too.


My friend and I had to walk through Times Square since he needed to buy a pair of jeans.  We weren't surprised to see that there weren't too many people outside since it was freezing that night.  I snapped a few pictures and he snapped two pictures for me before we ran into the store to escape the cold.


Times Square at night

February 2015


That's the summary of February and March for now.  Hopefully we won't have any more intermittent snow coming in!  I'm ready for the weather to be able to sit outside or just stroll to the train station (instead of speed walking to prevent hypothermia from setting in haha).


Stay warm in the meantime everyone!

February 2015 Changes

I will update and revamp my site (which will also have a new blog) to a new format.  I will keep my old blog here for archival purposes.  Everything from 2012 until January 2015 will be available here.  The new site will start with the new February 2015 blog update.





Thanks again for all of your support throughout the years everyone!

Snow has arrived

How is everyone's first month of 2015 going so far?


I've been working on getting my English grammar and writing notes on my ESL site.  So far I've been able to put 18 lessons online (15 grammar and 3 writing).  I remembered when I first started using Prezi, it took me a really long time to get comfortable with it.  I had to get used to formatting, working with the layout, and adjusting the animations.  Now it's been pretty fun to use.  I was able to get creative and use different layouts for each lesson.


After working on the ESL lessons, I was also thinking of converting the science study guides from my site into the Prezi format also.  I'll try it out with a lesson or two for biochemistry, physiology, or medical/health ethics, but my main focus right now is to get the English guides converted.  I was reading an article by Drs. Steven Erickson and Barbara LeRoy on health literacy pertaining to caregivers of adults with developmental disorders which I found very interesting.  I might also incorporate information from science news and journal articles into the scientific Prezi presentations to give people a look at modern health developments.  I also have a portable scanner for documents now which will make putting notes up much easier.  When I first started my site, a lot of my science notes were handwritten so I was only able to upload a few for exercise biochemistry.  With my scanner, I can now put up my handwritten diagrams (such as for the functional groups in organic chemistry).  I'll let all of you know when the science notes will be up.


I felt under the weather a week or two ago which thankfully didn't develop into the flu.  For me, I would usually get a sore throat which would then move into a cold.  However, this time I just had a really strong headache and vertigo.  I bought some medicine and fruits after I got my blood pressure and temperature checked.  The major parts hit me during the weekend so I was able to rest without having the weekday schedule disrupted.


As many of you heard from the weather news a few days ago, our area in the Northeast was planned to have a major snowstorm.  They shut down the trains and buses while the governors put a ban on nonessential driving on Monday night.  It did snow in the New York City area, but it wasn't as extreme as they had predicted.


Here's a picture after the snow hit:


The snow just covered above the base of the shrub so

it was just around a few inches


The winter of 2014 had been mild so it wasn't a big surprise that snow was coming.


I was able to catch up on the episodes of Gotham (I watched 2 when I was sick and 1 during the snow).  It peaked my interest again.  I watched the first few episodes where they had a different villain for each episode, and it was enjoyable.  However, I'm really liking the development of the main villains and protagonists along with their back stories.  I did see that if it maintained a formula of having a different bad guy to defeat per episode it would wear out pretty quickly.


Top Chef is almost finished.  The formula is still the same so I can't comment on how much the season changed.  Same game, different players.  Chefs Tom Collichio and Gordon Ramsay also have a new show about the best restaurant in America, but it just did not catch my interest for me to tune in.   However, speaking of food, I made a few dishes in January:


Left: Estrogonofe de Frango (Chicken Strogonoff) made for post New Year's

Top: Vietnamese Summer Roll with Thai Basil Fried Rice made for a dinner night

Right: Pumpkin Scones made during the snow day



They were very comforting!  Back then I didn't cook as much so I'm making up for it now. haha


In terms of the New Year, it's been going well.  I spoke with a lot of my family through Skype and Facetime and they've all asked me when I planned on visiting.  I told them hopefully during the summer.  My grandmother was so cute.  She slept over my aunt's house since my aunt had the tablet to communicate.  My aunt told me that my uncle was already asleep.  My grandmother still had to talk to my other aunt's family on the West Coast after she spoke to me.  I love talking to family, friends, and neighbors.  Every person seems to have a different story or piece of gossip that they'd like to share each time we meet.


I am attending another event in February at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  It's a talk with fashion journalist Dana Thomas.  If you all remember, I read her book Deluxe a year or two ago.  She's going to discuss her new book Gods and Kings which examines the lives of two designers, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.  Both of them rose up in the fashion world and then were hit with tragedy (McQueen passing away from suicide and John Galliano's controversial remark allegations).  If any of you are interested here are the event details and registration link:


The events for the Museum at FIT are usually free and open to the public.

Feel free to check out their current events on their site in the link below for anything that interests you

as well as instructions for registration:

Calendar of Events at the Museum at FIT



If the link changes in the future, please let me know.  I usually look over old links in previous entries from time to time to make sure that they are current.  But I will all let you know how it goes and try to snap a few pictures if I can.


One of my friends and I planned to catch up before the new year, but we had to reschedule due to circumstances.  Hopefully *fingers crossed* we'll be able to catch up in February.


I hope all of you are staying warm and doing well!  The weather can really wear anyone down so of course, all of you are in my thoughts and well wishes.  Spring will be here soon so we can all look forward to that, right? :)

Wishing you a Prosperous New Year

Another year has passed and in 2015 my site is going to be 3 years old.  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and I just want to wish all of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!


Christmas in New York, chocolates, and winter decorations



The holiday season went by quickly.  I think it's because it didn't snow this year.  In previous years we would have crazy weather around this time so it was a pleasant surprise to see that the weather didn't become severe.  It did snow in other parts of the United States though.  If not at this time, it usually will start to snow in January or February.


Christmas went very well.  I called my former advisor, Dr. Cowart, to wish her family and her a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  We laughed and shared stories about teaching and research.  She told me about changes to the college where they will move from our old building into the former law school building.  I told her about how Thanksgiving went and what I planned to cook for Christmas.  I joked with her about when she planned to relax and retire, and she laughed and told me that she would keep marching on for the time being.  I told her about my ESL work and thanked her for all of her help especially when working with different types of students and considering their learning styles.


Garfield summing up how Christmas with my family went

So much food!



Christmas was fun spending time together with the family.  We gathered at my parents' house and everyone was greeting each other in person and on the phone.  Throughout the morning we were responding to text messages and calling family and friends.  I made Boeuf Bourginon (beef, mushrooms, pearl onions, garlic, onions, bacon, carrots, and herbs simmered in red wine).




Boeuf Bourguignon for Christmas 2014



Family friends gave us sliced ham, cheeses, and desserts to add to the table.  We all gave blessings and enjoyed our meal of noodles, apple pie, spring rolls, ham, and other goodies.  It was festive and peaceful (maybe it was because of the food coma everyone was in! haha).  Everything was filling, and it was nice to actually sit down and catch up.  Usually things are hectic and fast paced even for something like lunch where we engulf our food and get back to our work.


Per tradition (which you may know from reading my blog), I played Garfield's Christmas for the little ones (but everyone enjoyed it too).  It's such a heartwarming cartoon, and I remember first watching it back in the late 80's on CBS and enjoying it.


In terms of reading, I'm finishing up a gift, a book written by Beth Kendrick called "The Week Before the Wedding."  Despite the book starting off slow, things really picked up as I read further.





The book did explore a lot of themes such as "the grass not always being greener on the other side" and how events in life change unexpectedly.  I actually found it interesting considering it's the end of the year and with the concept of "new year's resolutions," there are a lot of directions that we can take in our lives while considering the factors that are not under our control.


I don't want to spoil the details of the book (although if you read it, I'm pretty sure you'll be able to figure out the ending halfway through), but it does make you reevaluate decisions.  Are you doing something because that's what you "think" you have to do or do you sincerely want to do it?  To give a concrete example, are you making resolutions for the new year because it is considered a cultural tradition or do you genuinely want to make changes for the new year?


The book does touch upon this issue, and the main character has to handle her ambivalence throughout the story.  Her conflicting emotions in different situations are similar to what we experience especially as we transition to a new year.  Some people want to start off on a new slate while others want to continue what they've been doing in the previous year.  Whatever works for you, right?


The next book I'm reading is "The Tender Bar" by J.R. Moehringer.  I wrote about this in a previous entry (you can search for it by typing the book's title in the search box on the upper right of this page).  I got it back in 2013 so I'm looking forward to diving into it.


I've also started reading "Brazil: A Celebration of Contemporary Brazilian Culture."  The book provides a history of topics in Brazilian culture such as architecture, fashion, food, photography, and music.  It also profiles significant contributors in each section and discusses how they had shaped their fields in modern Brazilian culture.



I enjoyed how the authors moved from city to city as if you were on a road trip with them where they discussed the positives and negatives of each city.  One point which I am familiar with is the comparison of the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.  If you've been to these cities, you will feel the fast paced, culturally diverse personalities in São Paulo while Rio has a more laid back atmosphere.  As with any place, each has their own personal charm.


The authors did a great job providing the reader with an intriguing narrative combined with colorful photographs to capture the essence of the topic.  Whether it is a beautifully plated dish of contrasting colors or depicting the people in their daily lives, the book provides a wonderful gateway to Brazilian culture.  I can't wait to dive more into it for the new year.


Also, the Winter 2015 schedule for New York Public Library's English Conversation Group is up on my ESL website.  For those of you interested, please come in and join!


I have to head out now so I'll see all of you in 2015!  Have a wonderful and prosperous new year to you and your loved ones!

Post Thanksgiving Wrap Up

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I'm sure everyone is getting some much needed rest this weekend after their meals.


When I was on the train before Thanksgiving holiday, an elderly woman sat next to me.  We had a nice conversation and she was telling me that she was going to go to a church in New Jersey to drop off some clothes.  She told me that she was 71 years old and that she worked for the IRS for 9 years before retiring.  I told her that she did not look 71 years old at all and we both laughed.  We wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving as well as to our loved ones and parted ways.


Family came together at my parents' house.  In my family we usually alternate cooking for each year.  For example, one year my aunt made a roast chicken and a chocolate cake, my mom made noodles, my dad took care of the turkey, and I handled the ham.  This year it was going to be my dad and me who was in charge of the menu since everyone told us, "Whatever you guys make is fine with us."


Before Thanksgiving, my family asked me what I was planning to make since my dad told me that he was going to roast the turkey.  I remembered that I had two VHS tapes of Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) that I recorded in 2010.  In one of the episodes, she made Company Pot Roast for her friend and her family.  I remembered planning on actually making it a while back, but I never got a chance to.  I decided, "Okay, I'll make pot roast with vegetables to make something new."  I took a look at the ingredients and it didn't seem too bad in terms of complexity.  Last thing I wanted was to end up becoming frazzled making a dish!  I also planned to make pancit molo (which was the chicken wonton soup from one of my previous entries... it's usually made with pork though, but my mom does not eat meat except chicken and fish) and pound cake cupcakes.  There are so many cultural influences around New York City from Filipinos to Italians to Cubans that I get to taste so many different cuisines from my friends.


I watched Ina's episode a few days before Thanksgiving to refresh my mind and organize what ingredients I needed.  Surprisingly, it wasn't too complicated.  It just had a lot of steps such as searing the meat, cooking the vegetables, making the sauce, baking in the oven, thickening the stew, and putting everything together.


I needed red wine for the pot roast.  Luckily, the Trader Joe's Wine Shop at Union Square has an amazing deal on affordable wines.  Two bottles only came out to $12 which was amazing since that's one cocktail at a restaurant or bar in New York!


I already knew that it was going to be crazy on Thanksgiving so I actually prepped everything the night before.  I mixed the ingredients for the dumplings, baked the cupcakes, and cut all of the vegetables that I was going to use for the pot roast and soup.  That way, I can just put everything together and focus on my two main dishes.


Clockwise from top left:

Prepping the vegetables the night before, the pancit molo (wonton soup),

the pot roast before putting it in the oven



Before I continue, I just want to say that the collage apps are so helpful!  My best friend, nieces, and other family members use collage apps to organize pictures together.  I actually relented and downloaded an amazing app on the iOS App Store called InstaCollage.  It's like a mini Photoshop so I played around with it and enjoyed the customization features that it had.  You can add stickers, choose a frame, pick from a wide selection of collage styles (I think it's around 100+ collages), remove red eye, use filters, etc.  It has made things so much easier especially when I have to send pictures to family.


I finished making the pot roast in my parents' oven since my dad told me that his turkey was also cooking at 325 degrees F (163 degrees C) and the pot roast needed to cook at the same temperature.  I did not have a Dutch Oven so I cooked the first part on the stove and then transferred everything to a ceramic baking dish when I needed to bake it.  Similar to Ina, I tied the rosemary and thyme herbs together with string to make a bouquet so that it would be easy to take out after it baked in the oven.


For the wonton soup, all of the vegetables and chicken stock were prepared beforehand.  I just brought the wrapping materials to make the wontons and then cook it in the soup.  My mom helped me fold the wontons :)  She was awesome!  She laughed and told me that she forgot how I folded it so I refreshed her memory.  Ten seconds later, she was folding them like a rockstar.  She's so wonderful.


While she folded the wontons and watched the Thanksgiving Day parade, I prepared the soup portion.  I sauteed the onions, garlic, and shredded chicken.  I added the chicken stock, the chicken bullion, the spring onions, and thyme and let them simmer.  My mom finished the wontons so I thanked her and set it aside until cooking time.


The turkey was roasting in the oven along with the pot roast so it was just a matter of letting it cook.  We could all smell the wonderful aroma of the turkey and pot roast so we were all getting hungry.  I informed everyone that it would still take around 2 and a half hours to cook.  While the food was cooking, we were snacking on random things such as the cupcakes and whatever leftovers my parents had!  I finished up the soup by adding the wontons and letting it cook for an hour so that the flavors came together.  After an hour, I lowered the heat on the oven to 250 degrees F (121 degrees C).  When it finished, I placed the pot roast on the cutting board and then put half of the vegetables and sauce into a blender to make it chunkier.  I heated the rest of the sauce by transferring them back onto the stovetop pan (where I originally cooked it).  I had the beurre manié (the butter and flour paste used to thicken soup) ready and placed it in once it started to simmer.


Once everything was complete, we placed the dishes onto the table, said our thanks and graces, and had a nice late lunch/dinner.  Thanksgiving...when you eat dinner for lunch!  I forgot who said that, but it was funny.  We all shared stories and ended up so stuffed and sleepy.  My brother made coffee so that we wouldn't pass out when dessert came.  Good times, indeed.


A few weeks ago, I made Japanese Cream Stew.  It has a nice medley of vegetables (carrots, broccoli, potatoes) and chicken breast melded together in a creamy chicken sauce (chicken stock + creamy roux).  In Japan, there's a packet mix if you want to cut the time in half and just put everything together.


Looking back, the Cream Stew took a little more time than the pot roast since I had to continually cook it whereas the pot roast did have a lot of steps, but once it was in the oven, it was good to go.  Since it was moving towards winter, I thought that this comfort food would help warm things up.



The Finished Product: Japanese Cream Stew with Rice



It was such a nice treat with the softened vegetables and tender chicken in the creamy sauce.


I met up with my brother for dinner after meeting with a client.  We went to a Japanese restaurant called East (which I think I've mentioned going there in a previous entry last year).  It utilizes the Kaiten-zushi (merry go round sushi) where everyone takes whatever they want from the conveyer belt spinning around.



From left clockwise: The menu and specials, the sushi assortment and chef,

and finally, my cheesecake lol



As you already know, my brother and I usually catch up over dinner since we're usually on different schedules.  It was nice though and during that time it was starting to become colder.  I kept contemplating on whether to get the slice of cheesecake (I let it spin around 2 or 3 times before I took it), but in the end, it was satisfying.


We were talking about the holidays and what we were planning to do.  I do have friends coming to visit and we planned on setting up dates in December on when to meet and where to go.  We also talked about gifts and shopping.  My brother always gets amazing gifts for everyone.  Back in 2010, he got me a new laptop for Christmas and after that he got me a personalized Tiramisu cake (which I think I put the picture in a previous entry).  Even though we was always busy and was in another city, he always made time to catch up.  Pretty awesome guy.


I was looking on Amazon for deals and I remembered wanting to get a cookbook from chef George Duran.  I was reminded because he had his Hunt's Tomato commercial on TV.  I also saw his show Ham on the Street back in 2006.



Chef George Duran's book



It was New on Amazon for 67 cents so I said, "Why not?" haha  What I really liked about the book was how casual and light hearted the writing was.  The dishes were all fun twists on such classics like lasagne, smores, cookies, pizza, and burgers.  My nephews and nieces will love these things so I'll surprise them for Christmas (and you already know that there will be pictures posted!).


The pictures of Breast Cancer Imperative's latest fundraiser back in October was provided to me by Delia Baquiran's daughter, Alanya.  I'm going to try to update the website with the new media we received.  Here's a picture of me at the registration desk with Veronica, the one who I worked with in registering guests and handling the donations, along with her two daughters.




As we move toward December and into the new year soon, I want to share something that my aunt shared.




I thought that it was really nice.  It was simple and to the point.  You can certainly interpret it in any way as it pertains to your life, but the message is clear.  You should be able to live your life the way you want to as long as it's not hurting you or others.  If it makes you happy, go for it.


Good grief, it's already going to be December!  I got 90% of my ESL site completed.  I'm very happy with it.  I don't like to present something when all of the details don't fit correctly, but the new layout worked out perfectly.  I'm going to add a sample lesson worksheet and continually update future lessons (I've already transferred quite a few lessons into the new format).  I hope you all enjoy the trip down grammar lane.  :)

A Month of Generosity

Here's a new entry just in time for Halloween.  It has been quite a month full of conversations with family and friends, but it really brought a whole new dynamic into our relationships.  It's interesting how different elements unfold through conversations unexpectedly.  I was talking to my aunt on the phone a few days ago and we were trying to put different things into perspective.  With so many things happening in a short amount of time, it makes it difficult to process your emotions when you have to make decisions at that moment.  For major decisions, I do not want to rush or "be put in a corner" since it might not reflect my best judgment. 


But one point that we definitely agreed on: if things don't go right the first time, we have to make sure it does for the next. So goes life, right? :)


So before I begin my entry, I just want to wish all of you a Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween!

A decorated pumpkin from Chelsea Market



It was my best friend's birthday in early October.  She was visiting New York City so we planned a day together.  It was also our 10 year friendship anniversary so I made her a collage of pictures from each year from 2004 until 2014.  It turned out nicely and complimented my birthday gift for her.


I checked the weather on my phone, and it said that it was going to rain for the entire day.  My best friend and I talked about it on the phone, and we both said, "Oh great!" and laughed.  I met up with her around 1 PM at Starbucks on Fifth Avenue.  We exchanged gifts and caught up for a bit while we waited for the rain to take its course.  She gave me a gift from her cruise from Bermuda.  The paper gift bag was soaking wet and Jenny smiled and said, "I didn't think it was going to rain too hard!"  The cup was beautiful and I loved the swirl design.  It reminded me of a marble cake.  Jenny decided to open her gift when we sat down for brunch.  After the gifts, we headed out for brunch.  At that point, we were both hungry since we just had coffee in the morning.




She wanted to go to a French bistro so we chose one that had good food and a nice ambiance.  After discussion and narrowing down the choices from the menus, we chose Le Parisien. It was such a fun experience.  The place was very intimate.  By "intimate" I mean that the tables were packed close together.  When we came in, we sat at the corner next to another table, but as we sat down, a table near the window opened up (which provided a lot more privacy).  Jenny asked if we could sit there, so they cleaned it up and moved us.


We took a few pictures while we waited for our waiter.


Inside Le Parisien


The waiter came by after we finished deciding on what to get.  Jenny ordered the Poached Eggs with Salmon Gravlax on English Muffins with Hollandaise Sauce and an orange juice while I ordered the Classic Eggs Benedict with Ham and Hollandaise Sauce and a Sangria.  As we were waiting for our food, the friendly bartender saw us snapping pictures and he told us that he had an idea.  Since we were next to the window, he went outside, put a model of the Eiffel Tower, and snapped our picture.


Our window seat view

The breeze was refreshing!


The bartender said, "Very nice picture" with his French accent.  We thanked him and continued sharing our stories.  Jenny opened her gift which included, spa tems, an infinity scarf, fragrance, and the collage that I made her.  The infinity scarf was a pretty rare find, and I quickly grabbed it when I was sifting through the bunch while shopping.  It was white silk with a star pattern on the side.  I told her that it would compliment her doctor's coat.  :)


Our food came out a few minutes later and the dishes looked amazing.


My brunch

Classic Eggs Benedict, Ham, Hollandaise Sauce and a Sangria



Jenny's Brunch

Poached Eggs with Salmon Gravlax on English Muffins with Hollandaise Sauce

and Orange Juice



As we were eating our brunch, we were reminiscing through our 10 years.  It was really nice and we got to laugh at the crazy things that happened to us throughout the years.  Jenny and I also discussed vacations and places we'd like to visit in the next few years.  She then showed me pictures of her baby nephew and he was adorable.  Oh, how easy it is to share pictures with smartphones!


After brunch, we went to Karaoke Duet for two hours of karaoke.  Since it was a Saturday, there were a lot of reservations.  We were lucky to find a spot on short notice.  It was fun, but I had a mild headache from the change in weather so Jenny sang most of the time.  I did like the soap in the bathroom though. haha  The brand was Method soap which you can find in stores such as Target.  The scent reminded me of soap I used when I was in Canada.


After karaoke, we went outside and saw that the weather became nice.  It was quite unexpected.  The sun was shining and it was a lot warmer.  We decided to have a dinner picnic at the Highline since we had a picnic when we first met 10 years ago.  Since the Highline was near Chelsea Market, we planned on getting food there and then bringing it to the Highline.


I have not been to Chelsea Market in a long time, but it was as busy and festive as ever. 


Entering Chelsea Market

(Pardon my shirt, my bag pulled it down lol)





We took so many pictures, but I'll try to put the appetizing ones in the entry.  We walked through the shops to find some desserts.  Jenny was fine in terms of hunger, but my stomach was alternating between getting some dinner or to just get dessert.  While I was deciding, we first entered Amy's Bread which was a bakery filled with the aroma of fresh baked bread and pastries.



Jenny was raving about the Coconut Dream Bar so I bought one of those as well as a Blondie (basically a blonde brownie).  The people were really friendly and we happily took some more pictures after we bought our sweets.


We walked further ahead and took a picture next to a lighted falling water display.  I loved the bright color since it reminded me of an attraction at a theme park.



I asked Jenny if there was anything else she wanted for the picnic, but she said everything was fine and that we can just walk around to check if there's anything that would catch our eye.


We passed by the Italian food area, and I started to get really hungry!  The food looked and smelled delicious, but I had to restrain myself or else I'd overeat. haha  I forgot the name of the store selling this, but you will definitely notice it when you enter the Italian area.


Pizza and Pasta!



More Italian dishes

Vegetable dishes (butternut squash, eggplant, etc.)


We looked around the bakeries to see if they had any Italian style cheesecake.  We found a place that sold it, but it ended up being sold out!  By the time we walked some more, my hunger diminished a bit.  Instead, I started to crave some coffee.  If it's not one thing, it's another, right? :)


As we headed further in, we saw people sitting by Bar Suzette.  The crepes looked good from the menu (both savory and sweet selections), but I was now on my coffee hunt.


Bar Suzette


Near Bar Suzette was Doughnuttery, where they had an assortment of doughnuts in a variety of flavors such as green tea, apple cider, pumpkin pie, or cheddar jalapeno.


Donuts being made at Doughnuttery


Jenny looked around Doughnuttery, but wasn't in the mood for donuts.  We then went backward to check other shops again to see if there was anything else we could pick up.  At that point we were not too hungry so she helped me look for a coffee place.


We headed into Eleni's Cookie which is pretty bright and vibrant when you step inside.


Walking into Eleni's


The assortment of decorated cookies at Eleni's


When Jenny and I entered the store, they were having happy hour.  The saleswoman told us that the cupcakes at the front were all 50% off.  In addition, they served coffee.  Jenny pointed out the chocolate cheesecake cupcake that they had so I was able to satisfy my cheesecake craving after all. In terms of coffee, I asked for a mocha at first, but the other saleswoman told me that they did not have anymore.  I just settled for a regular coffee with milk.


Medium Coffee and Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcake


After our trip to Eleni's we headed out to the Highline.  We looked for the stairs to climb and then took pictures from above.  As Jenny took pictures, I recorded some video of us walking down the Highline.  I'll check to see if I can upload it.  Anyway, as we got to the middle with the seating area, we headed to the top and got our desserts ready.


Jenny with our food


Me with my food (I opened up my Blondie)


There were a lot of tourists walking and talking.  The weather was getting a little cooler, but Jenny and I enjoyed the calm night.  The desserts were really good!  Although the chocolate cheesecake cupcake was more chocolate than cheesecake, it was still pretty satisfying.


Jenny and I then talked about what she was going to do for her birthday celebration with family.  We then discussed meeting again in December to celebrate our holiday time together.  It was a really nice mini picnic, and we didn't feel too stuffed.


I attended a fashion marketing event called "The Future of Fashion Tech" at the Fashion Institute of Technology on October 7th.  The event was sold out so it was pretty packed.  FIT posted the talk online so here's the link.


I found it interesting because the applications of their discussion could be brought to other fields, not being limited to fashion.  Nowadays, people are utilizing their phones and other devices for services such as ordering take out or making an appointment so the speakers discussed how they are bringing their fashion services to the digital age.   One of the speakers, Alexandra Wilson, spoke about an app for iOS called Glamsquad where women can book appointments and a stylist will come to the client's appointment time to prep up the client's hair or make up.  These types of apps help provide convenience for services or last minute work, so in a sense, marketing your service or product to be convenient can help you gain more clients.


I took down some notes and focused on the business aspect and development of digital services.  Since many people nowadays have their phone next to them, developing an app can be pretty beneficial.  It was very informative and I highly recommend watching the video.  Here's a picture that I snapped at the end of the lecture.



The Future of Fashion Tech

The Museum at FIT

October 7, 2014



After the fashion event, I headed to Duane Reade to pick up a few things.  I went into the cookie aisle and found Pepperidge Farm's Pumpkin Cheesecake cookies.  It was the last one so I grabbed it and took a look.


Something to munch on after a stressful day :)


It was really delicious.  The cookies were soft, and I felt like I was munching on pumpkin pie.  The cheesecake flavor was a little more subtle, but nevertheless, it was satisfying.


The fundraiser for Breast Cancer Imperative was also held that week on October 9, 2014.  It took place at the Church of the Holy Apostles on 9th Avenue and 28th Street.  The weather was getting a little bit cooler, but it was a nice stroll.  I was working the registration desk and kept track of the donors and their donations.


At the registration desk


I saw a lot of old faces ranging from former coworkers to old acquaintances.  The fundraiser went by smoothly.  The program was amazing.  We played the video footage from Ms. Baquiran's work in the Philippines, there were singing presentations, dinner and drinks, and stories from people affected by cancer.


I was talking to one of my old acquaintances and we discussed cultural identity since we're both of mixed heritage.  It was interesting because we were examining what cultures we identify with, what languages we primarily speak with family and friends, what customs we observe, etc.  You can be of a certain ethnicity, but when you grow up in another culture (such as growing up in another country), how do you integrate your family culture with the dominant societal culture from that country?  My acquaintance and I are similar ethnicitywise, but different culturally.


After writing this entry, I realized just how much I had to condense from one month.  I remembered writing two entries a month before which alleviated having a lot of information on one entry.  I might do that for November and December.  Looking at this, it probably would've been easier if I split the events midway through October and then the final part of the end of the month.  Well, as I said in the beginning of this entry from my conversation with my aunt, if things don't work out the first time, you'll know how to tackle it the second time around.  :)


I hope you all have a nice and safe Halloween!

Lunch, Camera, Action!

The summer went by really quickly and I couldn't believe that my last entry was in mid-August.  It certainly felt like it was just last week when I updated!  I'm also going to finish adding the "tags" to my previous entries since I forgot them the first time.


I do have a couple of pictures to share (I'm sure a lot of you already know that there will be food pictures!).  The summer was relaxing, and I was able to take some time to finish some major things from my "to do" list.  I'm going to try to piece the events together as closely and chronologically as I can so hopefully I can give the gist of things.


I had to make Japanese curry for dinner one summer night in August, but I didn't have time to drive to Mitsuwa, the Japanese supermaket in Edgewater.  Luckily there's a Sunrise Mart in the East Village which was convenient for me.  As I entered, a nice Japanese woman and I waited for the elevator.  The elevator is the only way to get to the supermarket on the 2nd floor.  To get to the stairs, you have to pass through a restaurant.  Even then, they'll only let you use the stairs if the elevator is broken.  Anyway, we both smiled at each other and entered the elevator (it's pretty big compared to the ones you see in office buildings).


As I entered the store, Demi Lovato was blasting on the speakers.  Surprisingly the music they played during my time there was catchy.  I picked up a shopping basket, bobbed my head to the music, and walked around with my list.  The aisles are small so I had to really focus on what I needed and made sure to not get stuck. haha


Walking through the aisles


I was also reading the labels of other tasty products such as Matcha Tea and red bean popsicles (hooray for being half Japanese!).  It was pretty tempting to get more things, but I focused on cooking ingredients and a treat (the gummy candies).  It was a relaxing experience and there were many students who returned early to their apartments who were shopping for Japanese groceries.  I really wanted to get as much stuff as many of them, but it was a hot day so I couldn't carry fish or anything fresh since I had a meeting to attend afterwards.  There was a line at the check out counter, but it moved really fast.


The bulldog is something I always need in stock for cooking

The peach gummies are always my favorite


I had to renew my passport during the summer.  I was excited since I had the old one which was not biometric so I was hoping to get the new one with the bigger 52 pages.  Since I have family abroad, the passport is important for me to visit them in case of emergencies.  I had my picture taken midsummer, and I was happy with the way it turned out.  It didn't look as mugshot-y as my old passport photo!


I sent everything together via priority mail on a Tuesday with a delivery and signature confirmation for Friday of that week.  As I was checking the tracking information on my phone everything seemed to be in order.  That is...until Friday arrive.  On Friday morning, I checked the tracking information and it went from the sorting facility in Long Island to Los Angeles, California!  I was nervous that it may have gotten mixed up so I was praying and hoping that it would make it to Philadelphia.  On Monday morning, I was relieved to see that it was signed for and delivered in Philadelphia at the Passport Facility.


About 3 weeks later (just before it would hit the 4th week), I received my new passport.  It was beautiful, and I was so happy that I received the 52 page one since I travel often.  I know that some people would check the 52 page box and they would sometimes receive the 28 page one or even vice versa.  I don't know the criteria that the Passport Agency use to choose, but hey, if they both cost the same during renewal, why not get the bigger one, right?  Adding pages cost $82 now (when it used to be free) so it is a better deal moneywise.


A little bit thicker, but still portable


We're going to have our fundraiser soon so it's been busy getting tickets out and getting the preparations ready.  I met with Delia Baquiran in early September.  We were discussing updates to the website, preparations for the presentation on October 9th, assignments for the team, etc.  Delia showed me the flyers and tickets and everything seemed to be going along as planned.


We also caught up on how her trip was and she showed me the video from the launching and blessing of the MAMMOvan in the Philippines.  She looked so proud in the video, and Delia told me that she was crying from all of the support.  It was beautiful and we're going to show it at the fundraiser on October 9.  New media such as pictures and the video will be put on the website after the event.  We wanted to update everything along the way.  After our meeting, Delia had to send out the invitations, buy some supplies, and meet with another member of the team.  She gave me a small "Make Your Own Smores Kit" to go as thanks before we parted ways.


Very cute! Hershey's chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows

Enough for two ;)



Getting ready to put the smores together


I met up with my brother one night because we planned to meet for dinner to have our usual brotherly catch up time.  He works near the Chelsea area so I decided to meet him there after meeting with a client.  He recommended going to New York Burger and Co at the Flatiron location on Sixth Avenue.  He's been to this one a couple of times and it was my first so I checked the menu to see what I'd like to order.


My brother ordered the Chelsea Burger, cooked medium with cherrywood smoked bacon, cheddar, and 1000 island sauce.  I ordered the Soho Burger, medium cooked burger with portobello mushrooms, swiss cheese, grilled onions, and NY burger sauce.  They also had a sauce bar so I tried out the Basil Pesto for half of the burger and used the Chipotle Honey for the second half.  They were both really good.



Unwrapping the Soho Burger


The Soho Burger

I globbed the Basil Pesto on the left side of the burger because I was hungry

so I apologize for the messiness!


It was really delicious and cooked perfectly!  My brother and I were talking about each other's plans for the Fall and Winter.  He was excited about Halloween because he gets to wear his signature costume.  I told him about our fundraiser, laughing about how I've been a lot more focused on English grammar now that I'm helping clients with ESL, and working on designs and projects.  My brother also told me about events that he's going to attend within the next few weeks so I wished him the best and hoped that he would enjoy them.


It was a nice dinner and wasn't too crowded.  I asked him how packed it was during lunch hour and he told me that it was very busy.  We also talked about how family was doing.  I told him that it was pretty interesting how much more connected we were with family compared to a couple of years ago.  He laughed because I told him how family always wanted to Facetime or Skype since it was easier for them to reach me now.  The PATH trains to 33rd street weren't working which made the commute a little more hectic.  I told him that I had to take the PATH to World Trade Center and then take the R train to midtown.  Thankfully, the trains started working again the next day.


It was a nice night and we promised to catch up with each other again in a few weeks.


I started working on developing my ESL site for clients, students, and conversation group members.  I usually had my lessons on paper or Powerpoint so I am currently transferring them to Prezi format.  I was able to attain an educational license for Prezi, which is a program that makes presentations more lively and colorful.  Think of it as a more animated version of Powerpoint.  I started designing the site and added links to my first few lessons.  It should be up shortly after I update this entry.  I wanted to have all of the major pieces together before I published it on the world wide web.  Here is the link to my ESL site.


Here is a snapshot of the current design.  It should be up soon.  I added that picture of Patrick because I loved it when I saw him have the glasses and notes!



I met up with one of my good friends Gail for lunch.  We used to work together professionally a couple of years ago.  We met up outside Gregory's Coffee on W. 44th Street and she told me that they were filming across the street.  The crew was getting the equipment ready and covering up the venue on the other side.  We didn't see anyone whom we recognized, but it was pretty neat.  Oh New York, you are always full of surprises :)


The last time we met up was in late Spring.  Our schedules usually conflict so when we see each other, we always have a lot to talk about.  Despite the fact that we only see each other from time to time, we usually catch up over the phone to discuss major events in our lives.  I took her to Cafe Zaiya at the top of Kinokuniya bookstore.  The food is affordable and the location is beautiful--overlooking Bryant Park.  As we were looking around she asked me what I was going to have.  She picked out a chicken sandwich while I picked out a lunch box combo, which came with three types of sandwiches (tuna, ham, and egg salad), chicken karaage (Japanese style fried chicken, and a sweet dessert).


Sandwiches, Chicken Karaage, and Dessert


We had a great discussion on a variety of topics.  She asked me questions about the health field specifically about pharmaceuticals and public health work.  We also discussed professional development and end of the year affairs.  Time really flew by and we decided to get some fresh air at Bryant Park before we said our goodbyes.  We went outside and it was beautiful.  Everyone was basking in the warm weather.  People were eating their lunch, tourists were taking pictures, a few people were reading under the shade, and others were just having a brisk walk.


We talked for a little bit more and took pictures before we left.  Since she hasn't explored a lot of Manhattan, I told her that I'd take her picture like a tourist and she laughed.  I told her that since I work with a lot of professional immigrants they would always ask me what my ethnicity was.  I couldn't count how many times I had to say "French Brazilian-Japanese", but we both laughed about it.


Sunshine and Smiles


As far as television goes, aside from Top Chef Duels and The Mindy Project, I've also watched Gotham and Red Band Society.  They were both pretty interesting in their own ways, but in terms of Red Band Society, I did my clinical internship in Pediatric Oncology/Hematology, and the children/teens do not get into crazy situations as they do in the show.  The facilities are modern and nice which I definitely saw since the pediatric patients were able to engage in games and other activities, but seeing the teens on the show drive a doctor's car to get liquor for a party just seemed weird haha It was a funny scene in the liquor store when the other patient spoke in Spanish to make the store owner smile and lighten up. (Speaking of Spanish, I've been using it more and more now so I was surprised at how much I remembered from what I learned when I was younger.)


Gotham was dark, but it did keep my attention.  The main focus seems to be on how Commissioner Gordon rose up the ranks in the Gotham City Police Department.  I don't know what direction it's headed, but I thought that the actors and actresses did a good job.  I noticed how clean their words were, but if it were on HBO they'd probably be swearing up a storm.  There were a lot of instances when I could see a swear word be substituted, but I guess since it's on Fox, it's no bueno. :)


I think I covered most of what I wanted to catch up on.  I'm sure you all knew this entry was going to be published today since I at least publish one entry per month.  I'll see if I can divide it some more for October if time permits.  I hope you're all enjoying the cooler weather...pretty soon it's going to be the holiday season again!

Hope Throughout Eternity

Now that Food Network Star has finished, I saw that a new Top Chef spinoff called Top Chef Duels has begun.  The first episode was interesting, but I usually don't watch competition/reality shows consecutively.  Food competition shows are the only reality type shows I watch though since my favorites are dramas and sitcoms.  It does seem shorter than the normal Top Chef franchise so I might tune in before heading to bed.  But I did get really hungry when I watched the burger challenge in the first episode (not a good thing before going to sleep haha). 


Chef Marcel Vigneron's burger was huge containing several components: beef burger with avocado, blue cheese, tomato, bacon, watercress, and a sunny side up egg.  I could feel my arteries clogging just looking at it, but it looked really delicious.


Chef Marcel Vigneron's burger

Courtesy of Bravo TV and Top Chef Duels


I've also been reading a book by America's Test Kitchen that I bought a while back.



I love watching the show on CreateTV when it comes on.  I love their reviews of kitchen products, step by step cooking examples, and educational tidbits that Christopher Kimball and his staff pepper in throughout the segments.  I'm looking through the seafood and vegetarian dishes to see what I could test out.  It's always fun experimenting and you always learn something new when trying out new dishes.  If I do make something new, I'll provide a picture (as I usually do).


I participated in organ and tissue donation education with NJ Sharing Network.  I really found it informative since it's such a critical part in medical science.  Although I found the scientific information helpful, it was the stories  from donors, recipients, and their families that added a whole new dimension to the process.  Seeing the family members discuss how they became involved with the decision making throughout the donation process provided a bigger picture of its social context.  It was touching how they could provide a valuable resource to save another person's life through their loved one's generous donation.


One of the stories discussed a young woman who needed a corneal transplant on both eyes due to disease which left her blind.  She had to drop out of nursing school because she couldn't perform the work without having clear vision.  However when she was able to get the tissues from the donor, she retrieved vision on both eyes.  As a result she was able to successfully continue her nursing studies.


I want to share some facts from the presentation that many organizations have as resources on their sites:


  • One donor can save 8 lives: 2 kidneys, liver, heart, 2 lungs, pancreas, and bowel
  • Tissues can be recovered up to 24 hours after their breathing and circulation has stopped. Examples include bone, skin, cornea, and saphenous veins/tendons


  • Organ viability outside the body (from recovery to transplant):


Heart and lung: 4-6 hours

Liver: 8-12 hours

Pancreas: 12-18 hours

Kidney: 24-36 hours


The ones I was most familiar with were the kidney and liver since those were the cases I usually encountered in case management.  It was good to learn how long the heart, lung, and pancreas could be recovered and used for transplants.  The presentation also covered issues such as the body not being mutilated when recovering tissues/organs, the difference between brain death and coma, the steps to the donation process, and optimal parameters (such as oxygen saturation levels, pH, and glucose levels to name a few).  If you would like more information, please let me know and I'd be happy to provide it.  You can also visit NJ Sharing Network's site for more information and opportunities.


My aunt called me on Sunday at around 4:30 pm because she was creating a video presentation for my grandmother's 80th birthday.  It's been a tradition in my family to create these video/slideshow presentations for major parties and events.  She informed me that my two cousins from the West Coast already submitted their video greetings to her.  I asked her when the deadline was for the video that I had to make, and she laughed and told me, "By tonight!"  It took me a few takes to get the final product completed.  I was a little more reserved in the video because I didn't want to look "over the top" or like I was a character in a reality show.  It ended up being a lot of fun.  I was able to edit it in 20 minutes and get it out to my aunt by 10 pm.


She thanked me for the quick response and texted me a picture.



I don't know where she took the picture, but I thought it was clever and cute.  It reminded me of something you'd find at a tourist attraction gift shop.  Speaking of tourist attraction, we also talked on the phone regarding their recent Florida vacation.  They visited the Harry Potter themed area at Universal Orlando and she told me that they enjoyed it very much.  My uncle and cousins love comics and superhero/adventure themed things so I knew that they were going to have a blast.  My former co-worker went there in 2011 with his friends and highly recommended it.  I don't know when I'll be able to return to Florida, but I'll check it out when I get the chance.


I had to run a few errands at Court Street in Brooklyn.  It helped that it was a nice day outside which made things a lot more pleasant.  It can be a pain when I have to carry pictures or groceries while juggling an umbrella on my other hand.  Something will usually end up falling down as a result!


Walking down the street from the Borough Hall subway stop


Surprisingly, it didn't take too much time at all.  I was in and out of the stores in under 10 minutes.  I got my pictures from the photo shop and made copies of documents since I had to mail a couple of things ASAP.  While I was on the train I tried refreshing my knowledge of Spanish through Duolingo.  I used the language frequently back then since my friends who spoke Spanish would usually stay with Spanish, but now they'd either speak to me in English or French. haha  I couldn't help but smile when I had to translate "The turtle is eating an apple" into "La tortuga come una manzana."  As funny as the phrases are on the app, it will actually be helpful in the long run especially by becoming more proficient with medical Spanish for healthcare and global health.


To conclude, I would like to share a song that I first heard back when I was in college.  I remembered visiting a friend's Xanga blog in late 2003 and hearing this song as the background theme.  Since there was no Youtube at the time, I only had two choices (1) search around for the soundtracks that he usually listens to or (2) simply ask him.  However when I reloaded the page, I saw the name of the mp3 on the bottom right of the page which made things easier.  The song turned out to be "Eternity ~Memory of Light Waves" from the Final Fantasy X-2 soundtrack (which inspired the title for this entry).



It's such a beautiful theme to listen to.  After 10 years, it's still as fresh and calming as when I first heard it.  It brought back a lot of memories living in an apartment with my three roommates, spur of the moment drives to restaurants, and munching on the famous Fat Sandwiches from the Grease Trucks at Rutgers (I loved the Fat Darrell. It consisted of chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, french fries, and marinara sauce together on a sub).  Those were fun days with my student eating habits!


I hope you all enjoy it!  Enjoy the rest of the summer for those of you who are squeezing in last minute vacation plans.  Ms. Delia Baquiran sent me an email a few days ago telling me that we'll see each other again soon.  I can't believe it went by so quickly.  She left in April and it seemed like I just saw her a a few weeks ago!

An Informative Summer

Hope your summer is going well everyone!  The weather today was amazing.  It was balmy, and the breeze from the wind was refreshing.


I'd like to share a few things before I begin.


The 2014 summer session of English Conversation Group started two weeks ago.  Please come join us at New York Public Library's Mid-Manhattan branch if you'd like to practice your English skills.  A lot of the participants that I've worked with are new to the country.  Many of them have just been here for a few weeks so it's a nice, welcoming place to practice English skills with other learners.


Here is the flyer so that you can come and join us:



I met the librarian in charge of the English conversation group, Elizabeth Waters.  She was a wonderful person.  I was initially supposed to meet her during the spring, but since she was on medical leave I didn't get to meet her until the summer.  I enjoy her newsletters that she sends out each week usually detailing how many people attended, what countries they came from, more English resources, and upcoming events that might be of interest at New York Public Library.



I also changed the interface of Breast Cancer Imperative, Inc.'s website.  I redesigned the links and added new information related to breast cancer resources that the President and I found useful.  I tried to keep it as simple and organized as possible after meeting with Ms. Baquiran and taking a graphic designer's consultation into account during the preliminary phase of setting up the website.


BRCAI's Updated Info and Design



I know that Ms. Baquiran has video and other multimedia that she's getting ready for the site so I'll work on getting those up when she gives me the green light.


I tried a new recipe a few weeks ago for a Filipino dish called "Pancit Molo."  It's the Philippine version of wonton soup.  I was pretty excited to try something new and since I was having guests over, I thought, "Why not?"  I practiced a bit when I mixed the filling for the wonton, boiled the chicken breast, and prepared the stock. 


Folding the wontons was novel for me, but once I got two completed, it turned out to be a lot easier than I thought.  Here is a wonderful guide by Nami from Just One Cookbook who detailed simple steps to fold the wonton.  They turned out great, and I was able to fold around 200 with the filling I had.


A small sample of what I folded



The final product: It was delicious!



I was so happy at how it turned out.  The broth was seasoned and balanced with the flavors of the chicken stock and the addition of the wontons.  I didn't want it to be too salty so I kept tasting it as I cooked and added seasonings.  I also cooked burgers and smores cupcakes which tied everything together for a nice summer meal.


Tying in with the theme of cooking, I was watching clips of the finalists from Food Network Star performing on Rachael Ray's daytime talk show.  They had to create a dish that would be tailored to address a food dilemma that a family had (i.e. getting kids to eat vegetables or finding something healthier and quicker to make to substitute fast food eating habits).  They had three and a half minutes to present a dish that they had created in the Food Network Kitchen prior to Rachael's show.


It was entertaining especially when you saw the kids' reactions.  One kid didn't want to try a dish that tried to mask vegetables while another spit out the food for being too spicy from the sriracha sauce.  However, from the parents' critiques, they found the food to be delicious.  I totally understood since children are picky eaters.  Something that's delicious for you might taste unpleasant for them.


Here is the link to their videos from Rachael Ray's talk show site: Dinner Dilemmas (The title is longer so I just shortened it)


I give them a lot of credit because they had to cook, engage the family, acknowledge the audience, and make contact with the camera.  I remembered during my journalism training, I thought to myself, "How bad could it be?"  When I started the interviews, the questions would be in my head, but then I'd get jumbled because my mind would move in different directions.


I became a lot more comfortable with juggling information and engaging the audience (which I'm very thankful to my journalism mentors for), and I was able to transfer these methods to my ESL work and other client/service oriented affairs.


With all of this talk about instructional methods, I'm thinking of what new guides/resources I can add to my page.  I was thinking about something pertaining to English grammar or medicinal math.  I still haven't decided so I'll see where the need will be.

A Refereshing Start to Summer

With summer officially in action, everyone will frequent the outdoors and participate in more activities.  Cold weather can definitely take a toll and make you more lethargic (I can testify to that!) so this has been a pleasant change.  It hasn't been uncomfortably hot yet, but we'll see how it goes in July and August!


A few weeks ago I downloaded an app called "Plant Nanny."  It's simply a water reminder that helps you drink the necessary amount of water based on your weight and how active your lifestyle is (Sedentary, Regular, Active).  For me, I'm 70 kg (around 154 lbs) and I'm active with training and swimming so I'm set to drink 3,174 ml (around 13.4 cups) of water per day.  You can choose the containers with the amount of water you normally drink from.  I have a 500 ml (around 2 cups) bottle that I use.  The range is from 100 to 1000 milliliters (around 0.4 to 4 cups respectively).


When you start you choose one of the basic plants and you help it grow by drinking your water goal for the day.  This app has been pretty helpful because it helped me keep track of the amount of water I drink.


My first plant, Leafy

The remaining number of cups I have to drink for the day is on the bottom right



I recommend checking it out now that summertime is rolling in and many of you are going to go on vacation or participate in outdoor activities.  I've been drinking a lot more water and limiting my intake of soft drinks (and even some sweet juices) so it has been helpful with helping me keep my necessary water intake in mind.  I remembered a while back I thought that 15 cups would be too much, but when I framed it through this app, it made it a lot more manageable.  I think it was pretty psychologically daunting for me just envisioning 15 full cups, but when I exercised and drank from my 500 ml bottle, I realized that it was already 2 cups of intake.


Recently, I caught up with a friend who I have not seen in awhile.  Because of conflicting schedules we weren't able to meet so we were pretty excited when we had some downtime.  My friend Alanya and I decided to meet up at Cafe 81 for dinner.  I was waiting for Alanya outside the restaurant when I received a text from her that she had arrived.   I texted her back that I was in front so when she came out to greet me, I laughed and said, "How did I not notice you pass me by!?"  We sat down at a nice corner at the front of the restaurant which gave us some privacy to talk.




We settled in and the waiter came by to take our order.  We were both starving so we started off with the Sisig (sauteed pork with egg).  The plate came quickly and was nice and hot.  It was delicious, and I loved the combination of the lemon, vinegar, soy, and spices with the meat.


Sizzling Sisig




It was a really nice dinner and we shared stories about how things were going as well as past events.  When I saw her last time, we were only able to talk for a bit so it was nice to actually have the time to sit down and go in depth.  For the next two and a half hours we were laughing, sharing suggestions, and providing encouraging words.  A lot of things that we were discussing were about future plans and what we wanted to accomplish within the next few years.  We also talked a lot about family and culture.  Culture has played a big role in our lives and I shared with her what languages I'm going to teach my kids.


After a bit, the waitress returned and asked us if we wanted to order some more.  Alanya and I decided to have Tocilog (pork belly, garlic rice, eggs, tomatoes, and onions).  The portions are big so one dish can accommodate two people.


Our Tocilog (with vinegar on the side)


After getting our dish, we continued our conversation.  We were talking about the different events that we experienced in college, traveling abroad to visit family, and making general jokes.  It was interesting sharing perspectives because we're both mixed and having to adjust to the different cultures and values that were ingrained onto us as we were growing up showed us similarities and differences in our upbringing.  We also come from two different fields.  She's in international relations and policy while I'm in public health/science and journalism.


The picture our waiter took


After our dinner, we headed out.  The weather was still nice and there were still a lot of people walking through the Lower East Side.  We walked towards the subway and gave each other a hug.  We promised to meet again soon and gave our farewells.  I walked to the PATH station to head back home, but along the way, I passed by a lot of familiar stores and restaurants that I frequented when I was studying at NYU.


I was watching TV a few weeks ago when I was taking care of my little cousin and it was tuned to Disney.  I was laughing when there were two friends arguing because the joke caught me off guard (especially since it was a science joke).


Guy friend: I figured out you were testing me so I gave you a taste of your own medicine.

Girl friend: Well according to the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, you should only ever taste your own medicine!


Now I can see why my little cousins, nephews, and nieces are glued to the TV when Disney Channel is on.


I also caught a glimpse of Food Network Star.  I haven't watched Food Network in such a long time, and I remembered watching a couple of shows like Iron Chef America, Barefoot Contessa, 30 Minute Meals, and Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives a couple of years ago.  I was reading a couple of comments from blogs and other sites, and I realized that they were right when they mentioned that the competition is more interesting than the end result.  After the winner is chosen, their new show doesn't captivate as much as seeing them compete (at least for me).  Food Network Star should be a nice distraction during my downtime.


I also realized that I forgot to add tags to my blog entries.  I'm going back and adding tags to organize what topics I've covered in an entry.  As you can see now on the right hand side, there are tags with topics for each entry.  I'm going to try to organize it after I publish this entry.


In the meantime, I hope you all have a great summer!  Enjoy the weather and if you're going to go on vacation, I hope you and your loved ones have a relaxing one!

One Less Problem To Handle

After Memorial Day everyone usually gets into the spirit of summer.  It was eventful with the smell of barbecue and people enjoying the sunshine.  I've been keeping up with my exercise regimen similar to when I was training in swimming and dance.  I was sore for a few days when I started some of the intense upper body sets, but thankfully, my body recovered quickly.


I have a few food pictures of the food that I prepared for Memorial Day.  I made shrimp scampi with linguine and plated one for a picture (it didn't look too elegant on the tray! haha)


Shrimp Scampi Linguine


I also chopped up some tomatoes for bruschetta.  With all of the heavy meats and dishes, I thought that it would make a nice, light appetizer.


Mixing in the tomatoes, olive oil, herbs, and spices



Since summer's around the corner, I found a souvenir from a Disneyworld vacation a couple of years ago.



I sent the pictures to my brother and he told me, "I remember that!"  How time flies by indeed.  I cleaned it and used it as a pencil and stationery holder.  I'm sure that the water was a little bit higher when I first got it, but I'm surprised there's still a good amount today.  It really did brighten my day because it brought back so many great memories from vacations during the summer.


My brother and his best friend moved into their new apartment a few weeks ago.  They had to move everything from the old place into the new place.  I gave my brother anything additional from my old apartment that I wasn't using anymore.  He also gave me a pair of Asics as thanks and I was very grateful for it. Meanwhile sis left for the summer.  She called me from the airport and told me that they were getting ready to board.  I wished her a safe trip and told her that we would see each other again in late August/September.


Asics gift from my brother



Breast Cancer Imperative, Inc. had its launching and blessing a few weeks ago.  The Philippine Canadian Inquirer covered the event and we were so proud of everyone's hard work.  Here is the link to the article.  Please feel free to share the article.  I've been working together with Delia and the team to piece everything together for the site.  She let me know that there were video footage and pictures being developed so that I can anticipate on seeing it soon.


Coverage of the MAMMOvan

courtesy of the Philippine Canadian Inquirer



There were a lot of things I learned about global health from Breast Cancer Imperative and my ESL facilitation work at the New York Public Library.  As we are moving toward a more integrated community in the United States, it's easier to be cognizant of the health issues that are affecting communities from abroad.  The cultural lens that we use when we examine others can be different than the ones that they are relatively used to.  For example, what may be acceptable to discuss in our culture may not be the same in another culture.


Usually the first step during treatment plans would be conducting assessments.  These provide background information to help assist the patient by focusing on the condition they are presenting.  The stage is usually set with the standard, "What brings you here?" question asked by the professional.  Although assessments cover specific topics that need to be addressed, the discussion most often than not, will not be cut and dried.  Depending upon the circumstances of the visit or discussion, there may be varying emotions that could affect their willingness to respond or cooperate during the assessment.  The professional performing the assessment can either receive informative replies or dead silence.


When examining a biopsychosocial assessment, we can see how comprehensive the questions can get.  These questions create an overview of the health and lifestyle of the patient as well as examine the social and environmental factors currently influencing the patient.  When you examine the assessment, you can see how thorough and personal many of the questions can get.  As such, it's not always going to be easy to get information out of these patients.  Couple in the background of patients who come from different cultures and countries, and things become even more complicated.


Sample page of a biopsychosocial assessment

Courtesy of Indian Health Service under the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

(Click page for the full assessment)



One of the questions that we discussed during a previous ESL session was "What is something that is improper to ask in your culture during a first meeting?"


The answers were varied ranging from asking about age to income.  Now bring in the professional conducting the assessment on the first visit and you can see how the cultural question above will play out.  Imagine having to give personal information to someone who you barely know (despite the fact that they are a health professional).  It can be quite daunting having to answer questions related to alcohol and drug use or sexual health issues.


When starting an assessment, it is important to recognize that a formation of trust has to be established in order for the patient to be honest and open with their answers.  If a patient is not comfortable with the evaluator or the environment, it will make things more difficult to assist the patient.  An important point is to always ensure confidentiality when beginning an assessment.  Usually this will be covered during the introduction while providing the patient with instructions.


Another case is that these professionals have to conduct several assessments (you already saw how lengthy it is!) and can easily become overwhelmed with trying to elicit information while meeting deadlines.  When there are several patients with only two or three case managers/coordinators, time can reduce patience and energy.  Dealing with an uncooperative patient can then become an obstacle to helping them receive necessary treatment.  So how can we deal with it?  It will be different for everyone, but I can share my tools for working with these populations.


1. Separate each situation and do not carry it over to the next case.

When things don't go as planned with one case doesn't mean that I should become less patient with the next case.  Instead of carrying on that stress, I take a break for a few minutes, write the case notes to just reset, and then start anew with the next case.  It wasn't easy at first.  I remembered my mentor and clinical instructors warning us of burnout and getting emotions mixed up.  This lead to more stress and bringing work issues home. 


My mentor shared something with me that still sticks with me to this day.  "We can only do what we are capable of, but at the end of the day, we just have to let some things go... and we must continue to have faith in ourselves and in others for the next day."


We all have our limits, but if we don't have faith in ourselves, how can we instill hope for the treatment and wellness of others?  Despite the strong emotions in these professions, we can only do what we can.  If a patient does not want to discuss things, it does not mean either side is incapable.  It only means that we have to restructure and reevaluate our process and find ways to help the patient to open up.  For this to happen, we have to "reset ourselves" for each case and not carry any stresses to the next person.


2. Show a personal side of you to the patient.

When I mean personal, I mean being kind and open while sharing a story.  I don't mean pouring out your heart or showing your "Facebook self" to the patient!  If you go straight to performing the assessment or not even looking them in the eyes, don't expect them to open up.  When you share personal information, you want to make sure that the person conducting the assessment shows compassion and interest.  Otherwise, why would I want to share information on family issues to a person who just sits down and takes my information like I'm data for a biology lab report?


3. Be patient and find a way to maintain a strong therapeutic relationship.

When discussing matters such as a family history of substance abuse, mental illness, or status of/death from a chronic disease, how a professional handles this information can make or break the therapeutic relationship.  There will be times when a patient will just close up.  This doesn't necessarily mean that the assessment is going poorly, it only means that there are other factors at play.  For example, a question on abuse might bring back painful memories for a patient or examining a history of cancer in the patient's family might be difficult to discuss due a close member passing way.  Reassure them that they are in a safe environment and they can take time to gather their thoughts and emotions before continuing. 


If you rush them or force them to answer due to time constraints, it will backfire.  The assessment is not a cross-examination to get answers so aggressive methods may not be suitable in this case.  When time or deadlines are a factor, be positive and honest with the patient and tell them that you want their treatment and services to be handled as soon as possible and their cooperation can help expedite the process.  Assessments are two way conversations so all parties have a chance to become involved.


4. Take into account their background (cultural, religious, etc.)

Different cultures and religions have different rules when working with healthcare and mental health professionals.  It's important to discuss any issues prior to the assessment.  If a person prefers to be assessed by someone of the same gender or if a person cannot discuss certain issues due to religion, taking these into account can show respect for their identity and beliefs.  If there is no mutual respect given to their requests, the assessment process will be at a standstill.


There might not be resources to fulfill every patient's request; however, showing cultural competence and sensitivity to the needs of these populations can help them open up during the assessment process.  By becoming flexible, they can also work with you to facilitate this process.


In the end, tackling each issue will be "one less problem" and can simplify the assessment process.


I'm really digging Ariana Grande's song "Problem" right now.  It's catchy and light-hearted which is nice to listen to.



Cultural Voyage

It's late May and the warmer weather has finally arrived.  Nothing like a slice of cheesecake to help get things going.



It's funny because when I am under stress either I eat a lot more or eat a lot less.  For example, when I'm working on a website or a proposal (or just have errands or visitors to handle), I'll either munch on four slices of pizza (and still want more) or be satiated with a cup of tea and a small sandwich.  Right now it seems to be the latter.


Since we're on the topic of food, I also received a gift of a box of Portuguese custard cups (Pasteis De Nata) which totally brightened my day.



They were delicious and made the perfect dessert after a meal.  They are not super sweet (which I prefer to the overly saccharine soaked desserts) and have a nice lightness when you bite into them.  But once I eat one, I'd be tempted to have another (kind of like potato chips).  That's why I'm always happy to share!


Around a month ago, I was watching a video on Youtube where a talented violinist, Taylor Davis played her rendition of a well known song from a video game (Legend of Zelda).  The performance was powerful, and I just loved reading her story about her violin training and inspiration.


She performed at Joe's Pub in New York City in early April, but I was unable to attend.  I was reading an article from The Daily Dot describing her passion and how she transformed the negativity from bullying into a positive outlet as a performer.  One thing I noticed while I was reading her story was the unexpected path that she didn't expect (i.e. delving deeper into music).  A lot of times (for me personally), there's the spontaneity of life that catches me off guard when I least expect it.  I can safely say that if I asked myself 10 years ago what I expected myself to do in 2014, I would totally have a different answer.
It's like being a forensic scientist or detective and you're investigating an incident or crime scene location.  It can be intimidating to step foot into the location because you don't know what's you can expect.  They may know the details, but don't really know the true event until they arrive.  I'm pretty sure even the best investigators were apprehensive the first time they encountered such events.  However, only when we step forward and examine the scene will be able to piece the puzzle together and see the answers unfold.
No Investigation = No Answers
Tying in Taylor's experience to this scene analysis, we can expect that uncertainties can elicit feelings of hesitation and asking questions such as "should I pursue this?"  Of course there will be obstacles that we will encounter along the way, but how will they influence us?  Will they hinder us or will we find a way around them?  There were many times when I asked myself, "What If?" in the past and those basically led me nowhere.
Before I continue, I wanted to also discuss that aside from the usual daily activities, I've also been participating in presentations for courses in Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology provided by RTI International.  They've been really informative and interesting and refreshed my knowledge of analytical methods that I learned.  (Now you all know how the forensics example came into my head so you might wonder how it got there...I wouldn't blame you though if you also thought I watched an episode of "Bones" that could've made its way into my thoughts!)
Being inquisitive helped a lot with my communications work.  Whenever I'd have to interview people or speak to clients, it felt a lot more natural and easier to pick up on social cues.  One of the participants in my ESL (English as a Second Language) group made a good point about how we all come from different cultures and the social cues that we learn growing up influence how we perceive other cultures that we come into contact with.
The group I was facilitating asked me about my cultural background and I discussed French and Japanese culture with them.  I highlighted eating customs and etiquette, social interactions and taboos, and adjusting to life in a new country.  It was a very interesting discussion because they discussed their current experiences adapting to life in New York City.  All of them have only been in the United States for a few months, but they have been seizing opportunities to make the best of their experiences here.  Sometimes it's just easy to throw in the towel or feel stagnant when fear sets in.
I think that's why I love working with all of these ESL participants.  They can see the big picture and understand how their culture can be integrated into American culture.  It's not just about totally forgetting their background to assimilate into the American environment, but they understand how important it is to have it as a part of their lives.  When you learn another language that is different from your mother tongue, do you have to forget your mother tongue?
Of course not, right?
In a sense, we don't have to lose our identity or who we are whenever we have to go to a new country or "investigate a new scene."  Otherwise we'd all just end up becoming spies or mercenaries and that would open up a whole new discussion!  Can you imagine having to switch between alter egos?  That would be exhausting! haha
Our culture and our identities have elements that develop a stable foundation yet there's also that constant evolution that plays a role with how we adjust to new surroundings and situations.  I had lunch with a friend recently and she asked me how I was able to integrate into American culture from when I was a child.  She grew up in America, but came from a Jamaican background.  However she noted that despite growing up here, she learned about her cultural identity through her mother.  As we were speaking, we noted similarities of our parents instilling our cultural heritage while we learned about the new culture through outside socialization (e.g. school or work).
It did bring in a stronger perspective to my work in health literacy.  New York City has such a diverse set of people who come from myriad countries around the world so learning first hand through discussions helped me understand what issues they are encountering.
After how many decades on this Earth, I finally rode the Staten Island Ferry.  It was quite a unique experience and didn't know what to expect.  I took the Statue Cruise from Liberty State Park back in 1999 so it's been more than a decade since I rode a New York/New Jersey ferry.  The ride was beautiful, but since it was raining the whole day, it was pretty gloomy.

Boarding the Ferry


Seeing the Statue of Liberty


Arriving back to Lower Manhattan


Despite how stressful things get, there's always that glimmer of kindness that makes me smile.  As I was walking down the stairs to catch the train at my station, there was a mother and her son walking ahead of me.  I was going to open the door for them, but the son opened the door first and the mother smiled and signaled for me to go through.  I wished them a nice day and thanked them.  Despite the fast paced lifestyle of the City, people are still kind.  =)

Functions and Festivities

Family came to visit on one of my busiest weeks!  However it was really fun.  There was a combination of working on the website, the volunteer work at New York Public Library, playing tour guide for family, and my brother's birthday celebration.


First off, the website for Breast Cancer Imperative, Inc. has been set up.  I filled in most of the elements for the site (such as moving the information from the original Breast Cancer Project site), but Delia said that she'll fill in the information after the launching.  I took care of the technical elements for the site such as minor coding and getting the subsections up.  We're slowly adding pictures and other organizational information.  I got the email set up and took care of the web administrator issues.  As Delia stated before she left for the Philippines, it'll work out slowly, but surely, and we can fill things in along the way.


The elements of the site



My brother celebrated his birthday last Friday.  He invited close friends to a dinner at Gyu Kaku in Cooper Square.  I haven't been to this location yet (I previously went to the ones at Times Square or Midtown).



He set up an evening group reservation.  Two people weren't able to make it so he had to adjust the number.  The staff were very polite and accommodating.  They were able to seat us immediately at a more intimate table.  The hostess said that we had to be finished within 2 hours, but even when the 2 hour mark was approaching the waiter recommended dessert.  I said, "Oh okay, I guess we're fine then." And we all laughed.


Miso soup, Villager's Iced Tea, and Edamame
My brother ordered the Meat Lover's Course.  It consisted of a starter of Miso Soup, Edamame, and Garlic Rice.  The main course consisted of assorted vegetables and different cuts of meat.  It was quite filling, believe me.  We ordered drinks while we waited for my brother's best friend.  I got the Villager's Iced Tea since I usually get those at events/parties (either that or a Mojito).  The rest of them got an assortment of drinks such as beers or the Lychee Bellini.
We all talked while we waited for the food.  As many of you know, my brother is very private so he will rarely have his picture taken.  I just snapped pictures of the food.  I loved the edamame.  I would snack on those every time I visited a Japanese restaurant (here or abroad).  We all shared stories and just got to know each other throughout the evening.

Grilling our food


Since there was so much food, the waiters and waitresses would bring them slowly throughout our dinner.  We had to barbecue our food to our liking and add whatever sauces we'd like.  I ate the vegetables and onions with my beef and chicken.  It was delicious! I added a bit of sweet soy to the finished meats and the onions while I combined it with the garlic rice.  It was really good and satisfying.


The rest of them started getting full after a while, but I just kept on eating.  I think stress increased my appetite!  The waiter asked me if I wanted another drink so I chose something lighter (a small Asahi beer) to go with my food.  The conversations ranged from school and work to leisure activities.




My brother putting more things on the grill


As we finished our food, the waiter asked if we wanted dessert.  We looked through the dessert menu, but people didn't know whether to get some.  My brother's best friend said that the smores looked good so he ordered one each for all of us.  It was hilarious because the waiter took off the grill so only the flames were exposed.  We pierced the marshmallows and put it on the fire.  The best friend's marshmallow kept going on fire so we'd all blow on it to stop it from burning.  My brother laughed and then his marshmallow went on fire so he tried to push it onto my marshmallow.  I stopped his from burning, but my marshmallow was unaffected. haha The best friend asked me if he should also roast the chocolate, but I told him that the heat from the hot marshmallow would soften the chocolate.  He replied, "Ohhh okay."


Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the smores since I was focused on roasting the marshmallow.  When I put it all together to make the smore sandwich, my hands were full and the marshmallow and chocolate became sticky so I couldn't snap a photo.  It was really tasty and wasn't too sweet.  Everyone exchanged presents with my brother and he had a big smile on his face.  I was very happy to see him enjoy his birthday.  My little brother is growing up!


After we paid the bill, we headed out.  I snapped a picture of Cooper Square before I met up with everyone.




It was night when we left the restaurant so we asked my brother what he wanted to do next.  He was very casual about it and said that we could just walk around and relax.  We went to the bookstore at St. Mark's and looked around.  I was reading a large book on the history of the different divisions of Manhattan such as Tribeca, East Village, the Financial District, etc.  It was really informative and the pictures were beautiful.


After that, we went to Strand Bookstore.  There was a huge selection of books.  I haven't been to Strand, but everyone was talking about the low prices and large variety.  They weren't kidding.  I looked around and found a lot of hidden gems.  I was browsing books on architecture, store design, and 60's fashion.  I did look at a few things in the science section, but I've already read my fair share of science from continuing education so I wanted to diversify things a bit.


After everyone was done, we walked up to Union Square.  I snapped a few photos since the night was vibrant and the people around us were full of energy.



Spectators watching dancers breakdance at the Union Square stop



My brother still had plans for the night so I gave him a big hug and wished him a happy birthday again before I headed to the train station.  I was walking down the street and just enjoyed the night.  It was the weekend so there were tourists looking through their maps, people meeting up with friends and/or their significant other, and others had a quiet evening sipping on their coffee or eating a nice dinner.


I crashed when I came home.  The day before I picked up a visiting relative from California who was in a hotel on the Upper West Side.  She was visiting with her son and she wasn't familiar with the subway system.  I had to take care of some paperwork with a client so I told her that after I got the work done, I'd pick them up.  I was literally running to the station, but it all worked out.  We had a mini family reunion and shared stories.  I took her to Herald Square and she was in awe.  She called her other cousin since they were also here and we ate at Sbarro (I know very touristy :) )  I just had a slice of mushroom pizza and an iced tea.  I saw the cheesecake, but decided to pass on it.  Her flight was at JFK so she left at 5 in the morning.  She was only here for 2-3 days.  Since her ticket was free she told me, "Might as well visit New York."  I smiled.  Luckily I have family friends here so they were able to take her and her son to JFK.  I wished them a safe trip.  It was fun albeit short.  The last time I saw her was around 12 years ago so it was a pretty long time.


More family came over the weekend, but my mother's cousin took them out (so that I was able to rest).  The only thing I needed to handle was cooking and tidying up the rooms so that they could sleep.  My mother's cousin took the family (it was my uncle, his wife, and their three children) to Tinton Falls, Jersey Gardens, and other shopping areas.  It was funny because they were supposed to come at 1 pm on Saturday and I wasn't prepared yet, but they called and said that they were going to go shopping and changed the time to 5 pm.  I breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Thank goodness" afterward.


It was nice and busy, but now that everyone got on their flights safely, I was able to get some rest.  I told them, "I love all of you, but please give me sufficient notice beforehand when you visit next time."  We all laughed.


It's been a few weeks of volunteering at New York Public Library and I'm really enjoying it.  In the beginning I was trying to gauge how to talk to the participants.  Since there was no set lesson plan, it was casual and just a time to learn about each other's backgrounds and interests.


My NYPL badge!


Unlike a class where you will work with the same people throughout the semester, the participants I work with at NYPL rotate each week.  I would get some people who I've worked with, but for the most part, they're usually different.


I was so proud at how good their English conversational skills were.  They told me that they weren't that skilled, but they were very engaged.  I told them that they were so humble.  We'd always laugh and share crazy stories of our adventures in New York.  It's very admirable considering that learning a language as as adult require considerable effort.  During the group conversation, I make sure that each person gets a chance to speak.  The one thing I learned when I was teaching in grad school was to give personal attention to each student.  Thankfully I didn't have to teach large lecture courses so I was able to work one on one with each student.


Each person had a unique story to share every week.  Some of them were only visiting the United States, others were working/studying here temporarily, and some of them were new immigrants.  As such, there were a lot of cultural differences within the group.  But rather than focusing on the specific aspects that seemed foreign to them, everyone was receptive to learning about each person's customs.  For example in this week's discussion, I started the topic of favorite food and cuisines.  I went around the circle and asked about what types of food they like and what restaurants they frequently visit in New York.  One of the participants asked about wanting to learn how to use chopsticks since she loved Chinese food.  Another person discussed cultures that would eat with their hands instead of using utensils.  One woman said that the hands are the best utensil of all because you can just grab everything.  We all laughed and agreed.


It's been raining for the majority of the week.  It's nice when you hear the raindrops during bedtime, but when you're running to catch the train and you get soaked, it's a different story!  I felt like I was in upstate New York again.  It's surprisingly cool for late April.  Usually it's a little bit warmer at this time.  Watch me eat my words when the weather suddenly becomes 90 degrees.  =)

Have a Wonderful Holiday

An entry is long overdue, huh? :)  It's the spring holidays such as Passover and Easter and everyone is celebrating with their loved ones.  If all of you are going to do cooking and traveling, have a wonderful holiday!  I finished cooking ham, spaghetti, and potatoes to bring to the family gathering.  Can't wait to try everyone's dishes!


I'm sure we're all going to fall asleep after eating!



It has been quite a busy April.


On the evening of April 8, I watched the U.S. premiere of Les garçons et Guillaume, à table at Florence Gould Hall at the French Institute.




The venue was packed!  I had to squeeze through one of the aisles to find a seat.  It was an amazing movie.  We were all laughing throughout Guillaume's adventures and his struggle to find his identity throughout the film.  There were a lot of scenes where we really could feel Guillaume's emotions as he tried to understand the cultural differences in his travels to places like Spain and Britain as well as his interactions with his family (specifically his mother).  Throughout the film she was a prominent presence who guided him and made witty remarks in the different scenarios that Guillaume encountered.


I'm not going to spoil the details of the film (I definitely recommend seeing it!), but I can see how we can all put ourselves in Guillaume's shoes.  Throughout our lives we encounter new situations and adapt to the diverse personalities of the people we interact with on a daily basis.  Not every situation will come out as we expect and I think that's why people enjoyed Guillaume.  He was someone whom we can relate with.  Despite getting embarrassed from making a cultural blunder (dancing the female version of the Flamenco as the result of being taught by his homestay mother in Spain) or misinterpreting signs (waving to someone when you see them wave in your direction, but they really are waving to the person behind you), he continued to persevere and learn about who he really is.


I don't think anyone has ever had smooth sailing their entire life, and we always joke with family and friends about the embarrassing milestones that we had to go through.  But looking back at those events, I can laugh at many of the faux pas that I may have unintentionally committed.  Who hasn't been nervous on a first date and blurted something stupid? :)


I also attended Kate and Paulina's Acting Workshop Final.



It was really interesting and intimate.  Each of the two performers performed a 10 minute skit that covered things such as friendship, dating, romance, and first meetings.  They were all very talented.  Unfortunately we weren't able to take pictures or video due to royalties and copyright, but I was so proud of everyone and their performances.  It's not easy going up on stage and performing, and they all delivered their lines and captures our attention throughout their performances.  I wish them the best in their careers.


My brother's birthday is next week and he invited me to a restaurant with his friends to celebrate.  A couple of years ago, my brother gave me a tiramisu cake as a gift.


Coffee, ladyfingers, and chocolate = Happy Kevin

I love Italian desserts.  (I can do damage to my credit card when I go to an Italian bakery!)


It was beautiful and delicious.  It was light yet full of flavor.  The cake was devoured when I shared slices with others.  Good times, good times.  I'll probably stop by a bakery in New York to get some rainbow cookies when I go pick up a birthday cake.  I remembered in my previous jobs, I would always take a handful of the rainbow cookies when we would have our company parties.  They were so good!


Anyway, he told me that it would be at a Japanese restaurant and he wanted it to be casual.  I told him to just let me know when he finalizes everything so that I could attend.  Japanese barbecue is really good and I'd probably get a mix of the grilled mushrooms and some marinated beef.


I'm also volunteering at New York Public Library.  I help facilitate an English conversational group for English Speakers of Other Languages on Tuesday nights.  I was so excited when the Volunteer Manager, Maura Muller, contacted me regarding the position.  On my first day, I had a large group who came from a variety of countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Morocco, Spain, South Korea, and Japan.  They were all really nice and were very interested in learning about the cultural aspects of America.  I had everyone give an introduction, why they were learning English, what they hoped to accomplish, and what they wanted to gain from the English conversation group.


There were a lot of laughs and I loved at how motivated and receptive they all were when we were doing the discussion.  I'm sure I'm going to get new participants each week so it'll probably be like the first day of class every week!  But I really do enjoy meeting new people and learning about their backgrounds.  This helps me a lot with my work in health literacy where I can understand the different factors that play a role in how a person views their environment.  A person who grew up in Italy will have different social etiquette than someone who grew up in Japan.  I think that being immersed in all of these cultures allows you to understand the intricacies of their viewpoints and social norms.  I look forward to meeting new people, and if any of you would like to come in and participate, please don't be shy and introduce yourself.  I'll make sure it'll be a fun experience!  The flyer is on my website under "News" if you want more information.


Many of the participants during my group asked me what was one of my favorite shows and I told them Top Chef.  They didn't know what it was so I explained it to them.  I told them that it was a cooking competition for professional chefs being judged by their culinary superiors.  When I got home, I rewatched this video that I saw a couple of months ago with Katie and Padma saying the infamous elimination line, "Please pack your knives and go."



I was laughing because it was so ridiculous by the time you got to the end.  It's like when you keep repeating something over and over again and it ends up losing its meaning after awhile.  I've always wanted to host one of those reality competition shows just to say the elimination phrase.  It reminds me of how producers and writers try to be creative and it sometimes ends up becoming overly cheesy.  I loved it when Barney (Neil Patrick Harris' character on How I Met Your Mother) just blurted out a list of elimination catchphrases when he was telling his friend that someone needed to go.  It just showed how ridiculous some of them were!


Well I hope you had a great and relaxing holiday weekend.  I'll have another entry before the end of April.  As many of you know (who read and visit), I try to have at least 2 entries per month.  Stay tuned.

Warmth Throughout the Cold

My goodness the weather has been going up and down!  At least there's sunshine, right? :)


I met with Delia B., the President of The Breast Cancer Imperative, Inc. (you may remember our fundraiser from the Fall of 2012 called the Breast Cancer Project), a nonprofit organization providing mobile mammography (breast cancer screening) to indigent women in the Philippines.  The Breast Cancer Imperative has been approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the Philippines and by the chief radiologist of the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines.  We discussed the current state of the program, looked over pictures,  looked over tax information, discussed the second fundraiser (which will be held in Fall 2014), and the website specifics.


Notes to develop website

The approval documents from the Philippine FDA and SEC are above



As the website administrator, I'm helping her establish a .org website address for the organization, purchasing the domain/handling the paperwork, working with the graphic designers and team to develop the site, assigning .org professional email addresses to the team members, and getting everything set up (I'm basically the IT guy haha).  The MAMMOvan is ready to launch in late April so we're trying to have everything established within the next two-three weeks.  It's a lot of work, but it's really rewarding.  Delia suggested that I examine different nonprofit websites to get an idea of how they're structured so that I can develop a framework.


Delia and I looking over pictures and the construction of the MAMMOvan



It was interesting seeing the development of the MAMMOvan.  When we all first started the fundraising, we had sketches that Delia showed us of the mobile mammography unit.  Now that it's ready to launch she's hammering out the final designs for the exterior.  I'm very excited to see all of this come intro fruition.  Delia's returning to the Philippines soon and won't be back until late summer/early fall so it's a lot of hustle and bustle.


After we discussed the outline and work that we were going to complete, Delia and I parted ways.  She was going to have dinner with her daughter at a Filipino restaurant so I wished her a happy dinner.  We took a picture before we left.  I told her that I was jealous that she and her daughter were going to go to dinner because I had other work to do and she started laughing.


I love working with amazing people :)



One thing I love about New York are the amazing doormen.  Here's one who's been a great guy throughout the years.


Smiles on the Upper East Side

He asked me whether he should take off his bonnet, but I said it was okay


When he saw me, he gave me a big hug.  He's amazing and so friendly.  When I had to hail a cab for an elderly friend, my good friend stood up, took out his mini flashlight to signal a cab driver, and got a cab for her.  When you establish a great rapport with security/doormen, they'll go out of their way to help you out. :)


On March 26, I attended an event at FIT.  The father and son (Mariano and Luca Rubinacci respectively) discussed their Neapolitan style of tailoring.  Each coat is tailored (no pun intended!) to each individual client.


Description outside the auditorium


The talk was very informative and both the father and the son covered the history and business aspects of their tailoring business.  They discussed the ateliers (workshops), the process from first meeting with the client to measurements and fitting, and types of fabrics used in their work, to name a few. There were also great questions from the audience at the end of the talk during the Q & A session.  One guy was aspiring to become a menswear designer so he asked them what advice they would have for someone who wants to get into the business.


Left to Right: (the father Mariano Rubinacci, Moderator G. Bruce Boyer, the son Luca Rubinacci)

I snapped this at the beginning because I didn't know if photography was allowed during the talk



A week ago, I met up with sis to have lunch in Chinatown.  Before we headed to lunch, she introduced me to her friend Eliza from her class.  After our little chat together and wished Eliza goodbye, Kate surprised me and took me to Jing Fong for lunch.  Thank goodness she could speak Cantonese (as well as Mandarin and Tagalog) because otherwise it would have been confusing! haha They first sat us at a table with other people, but when Kate spoke in Cantonese and asked for a table for the two of us, they gave us our own spot for privacy. 


As you know from the dim sum restaurants, the dim sum ladies walk around in carts and you get their attention if you like what they have.  We ate so much and when we received the bill, it only came to $14.  I was like, "What?!?!" And she laughed and said, "I told you bro, you can eat a lot and it's only going to cost a little."


Pork and Vegetable in Bean Curd Skins, Pork Buns, and

the Shrimp in Thick Noodle (got cut off on the left lol)



The Shrimp wrapped in thick clear noodle (yum!) and the filled bean curd






I then took her to the Mahayana Buddhist temple in Chinatown.  She hasn't been there yet so I wanted to show it to her.  It was absolutely beautiful.  Unfortunately now they don't allow photography inside so I'm going to share an amazing picture that was taken from yelp a few years ago.


The Buddha statue in the main hall,

photo courtesy of Yelp user Anna T.


Exterior of Mahayana Buddhist Temple




It was very serene and was just a wonderful experience.  It really brought me back to memories of Asia.  It was amazing, and I was so thankful to Kate for the wonderful day.


It has been an interesting 2014 to say the least.  But it's just been a delight being surrounded by positive people.  Hope you're all staying warm!

The Strength of Simplicity

In one of my previous entries (the one on February 10, 2014), I provided some reading recommendations from my continuing education.  (Oh by the way, the Pharmacy Tech Board approved my renewal application a few days ago so that's one less thing I have to worry about!)


One of the books that I mentioned was How the Immune System Works by Lauren Sompayrac.



The great thing about this book is its easy to understand approach.  The language is very conversational and presents the information clearly.  Although it may seem like it would be watered down, on the contrary, it covers a lot of the foundational concepts of immunology that can provide working knowledge for more advanced topics in cell biology.


This is an interesting topic in scientific literacy.  Many times (as it can apply to in any field), we would equate complicated descriptions or terminology with sophistication or a higher level of knowledge.  It may not always be the case since the lectures could go around in circles and end up being far from the point.


In order to gain interest in a field of study, we have to start somewhere.  In this case, it would be an introductory topic (such as general biology or principles of literature) which would provide an overview of the material.  This is actually a good time to garner interest in the material.  However what usually happens is that in these introductory courses, there is the mentality to maintain their reputation of being difficult (thus, subtly putting pressure on the instructor to make explanations more complex) as well as using them as weeder courses.


With these approaches, it can intimidate the individual to pursue the field or attempt to perform well (if they feel hopeless with any prospects of getting a decent grade on the exams, survival instincts kick in to just try to pass by regurgitating material or conforming to the testing system to get as many right as possible).  Instead of learning the material, it becomes a tactical approach to an academic battle or just another "requirement" to get through.  The material doesn't have to be easy as cake, but it also shouldn't be impossible like trying to get the hidden treasure in an Indiana Jones movie.


For the general population, imagine an individual who does not have a background to navigate through complex health literature or the new requirements for the Affordable Care Act.  People will get intimidated to ask questions so they will do what the students in the scenario discussed above will do and try to just find a way to get through the system without fully comprehending what they're engaging in.  Instead of providing them with the resources to solve their problems, complexity becomes the antagonist to make them feel like it will be a battle to gain proficiency in scientific and health literacy.


Since I also like to give applications from shows and media, I want to share an example from a current favorite show of mine called Steven Universe (the animation reminds me of my childhood with the 70's Japanese animation and bright colors from the 80's Saturday morning cartoons!).  A big contrast from The Walking Dead! haha (Season 1 definitely captivated me)


Go Steven and the Crystal Gems!


In one of the episodes, Steven and the Crystal Gems were inside a pyramid puzzle.  As they entered there were a multitude of doors that they could explore to find the gem that they were searching for.  No matter what door they entered, they always ended up in the center room.  They were over thinking the solution, but Steven remembered their trip to an amusement park where they rode the teacup ride that rotated in a circle.  Steven then suggested that the solution was a lot easier than they had thought.  He hypothesized that what was happening to them might be similar to the teacup ride in which regardless of where they enter, they would be spun back to exit to the center room.


Steven ended up being right when Garnet (the strong fist fighter of the group; the one to the right of Steven in the picture above) punched the ground in the center room which then revealed the path to the gem that they needed.


So moral of the story, there are usually more straightforward approaches to the solution than we realize.  With the examples of American health care reform and the approaches to scientific education at the university level, there is this trend to overcomplicate things to get to the solution.  In most cases, the heart is in the right place, but the execution is where things stumble.  For me, I remember when I would first try a recipe, I would picture in my mind that the dish is beautiful and cooked properly, but what ends up happening is that the final result is not what I expected.


There is constant evolution in these different fields.  If individuals and populations feel left out as a result of this "weeder approach" to health care and the science fields, it will only dissuade them from pursuing medical services or studying that field.  But if they understand the benefits from seemingly simple things such as annual checkups or see how their skills can translate into another field (whether they want to move up or make a career transition), they will be more comfortable in going on that "adventure."


We can see again that complexity does not always lead to that final point that we want to reach.  Simplicity can certainly go a long way when it gives these individuals the confidence to handle more difficult tasks.  Without the simplicity to give them the tools to approach these battles, individuals wouldn't be as motivated to develop their skills.

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week



Mercedes Benz Fashion Week

Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

February 6 to 13, 2014

Lincoln Center, New York, NY


As I briefly discussed in my previous entry, Kate and I went to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center.  Surrounded by an assortment of professionals-- chic models posing for the cameras, fashion bloggers interviewing fast talking PR professionals, photographers capturing every image and pose, and aspiring student designers ready to jump start their future career, it was a very vibrant environment.  Designs from fashion veterans such as Anna Sui and Ralph Lauren as well as recent graduates from schools such as Academy of Art University  graced the runway with their Fall 2014 collection.  Pictures and designer information can be viewed here.


I met up with Kate in front of Avery Fisher Hall where we got our cameras ready to photograph the event.  Kate took a picture of me, I snapped one of her, and fashion students snapped a picture of us :)




Kate strikes a pose :)




After we snapped a few preliminary pictures, we had lunch at Old John's Luncheonette.  Everyone was still setting up and getting ready so we decided to return after lunch.  The luncheonette was recommended by Kate since she had gone here after attending events at Lincoln Center.  I ordered a coffee and Cesar salad while Kate had the gnocchi and salad.  Her gnocchi was really good!  We shared pictures and caught up on how her trip back home went.






As she is now preparing for a writing career, we talked about what path she wanted to focus on.  She's doing additional training in New York through classes and mentorship, and I'm so proud of her!  Since she came from a creative field, she will definitely be able to translate that into her writing career.  Kate gave me advice such as examining current trends, looking at art for inspiration, and taking pictures of objects that can inspire (e.g. leaf changing color or a piece of cake from a bakery).


For me, I provided her with advice on how her ability to visualize can be translated into writing.  Since Kate is good at envisioning details of designs, she can apply descriptive imagery to enrich the background for stories.  I told her to be herself and not really think too much when writing a piece.  After writing down different points from brainstorming, she would be able to see if there's a common theme that she would like to focus on.  She also has so much passion for writing so I know that her drive will make her work come to life.


On our way back the crowd got bigger and everyone was ready.  There were security and fashion assistants posing with the NYPD.  It was really vibrant and you could feel the energy.




We continued photographing and speaking with models and students upon our return.  Everyone was pretty friendly and didn't mind being photographed. (Everyone wants to be photographed in fashion, right? lol)  They happily obliged which made it a fun process.



Interviewing the Model

Doesn't it bring back memories of journalism school when we had to get quotes? haha





Styled from Comme Des Garçons


Final Group Picture before everyone leaves



Afterward we headed to the Time Warner Building to have coffee.  The walk was pretty cold with the wind hitting our faces.  Kate had her "Inuit coat" which protected her from the harsh breeze!  But I did enjoy the fact that it was sunny though.


We headed inside the building and went to Bouchon Bakery upstairs.  We were lucky to find a place to sit since the place usually becomes really crowded.  Once we sat down, more people flooded in!  I ordered a medium Cafe Americano.  At this point, I already had two cups of coffee (one for breakfast and one for lunch with Kate lol).  Surprisingly, I wasn't as jittery throughout our conversation.  From our seats, we looked at the different stores to see what collections were on display.


Kate asked me questions like what theme I'd have in mind for my collection or what I'm currently working on.  Since I'm starting off with menswear, I told her that I was inspired by Tom Ford and the sophisticated look of his designs (such as the tuxedos).  We shared advice and told each other that we would be helping each other out on our fields.  I'd help her with writing and she'd help me with fashion.  What Kate said was on the mark regarding how mathematical and precise the work was.  She told me that it would be easier since I have a scientific background to be able to perform the measurements and visualize the angles of the clothing such as the dress shirts or pants.  Looks can be deceptive though because I remembered picking up a pair of khakis three years ago (since they looked like they would fit) and the khakis ended up being really snug when I tried them on in the dressing room.  It was crazy because I remembered a TV show where someone couldn't get their pants off because it was too tight!


I'll have some of my sketches/designs up when I finalize them.  So yes, I've been immersed in biochemistry and menswear.  haha


On another note, I received a call from my aunt and family from the West Coast.  My cousin and his wife asked me to be a godfather for their son.  I was very touched and excited.  They also asked me when I would return.  I do miss them dearly and hopefully I can return soon.


My godson :)


Inquisitive Minds Open New Doors

This winter has been pretty crazy.  When you see people's faces on the train or walking to where they need to go, everyone looks exhausted.  Hopefully the spring weather will come soon!


I've been working on continuing education so I've been immersed in biochemistry and pharmacology readings for the past few weeks.  Going through my reading list took quite some time, but they have been so interesting.  Things should calm down by the beginning of March after I submit everything to the Board.  However, It was a nice review from my undergrad years, and it also brought back memories of the experiments I had to work on during lab.  I was lucky to have a great lab partner in my chemistry lab.  I think she was premed or predental, but she was so nice and funny.  We laughed when we were so careful bringing the hydrochloric acid because we were so scared to have it spill on our skins.  Fun times, fun times.  As crazy as it was, I enjoyed lab.  Now the lab reports...those were something else! haha


Who doesn't love organic chemistry and pharmacology? haha

I always hated drawing cycloheptane (the seven sided one bordered in red).  The seven sides always felt awkward to draw!  It always ended up looking crooked to me.




Here are a few books from my reading list if all of you are interested on reviewing concepts from the health sciences or if you're planning on furthering your education through graduate school or research:


Basic and Clinical Pharmacology by Bertram G. Katzung, Susan B. Masters, and Anthony J. Trevor

Biochemistry by Reginald H. Garrett and Charles M. Grisham

Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning by the National Strength and Conditioning Association

Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance by William D. McArdle, Frank I. Katch, and Victor L. Katch

How the Immune System Works by Lauren Sompayrac

Human Anatomy and Physiology by Elaine Marieb and Katja Hoehn

Medical Law and Ethics by Bonnie F. Fremgen

Microbiology Principles and Explorations by Jacqueline G. Black

Organic Chemistry: With Biological Applications by John. E. McMurry



I've been feeling like Patrick in this picture for the past few weeks/months!
I'll be happy when I submit my paperwork and application at the end of February!


I'm going to reorganize my clinical statement on my site and put it on a separate page.  There was a little introduction on my Portfolio page, but I'm going to expand it to make it clearer.  I'm also thinking of what new study guide I can post on my website.


The NYC/NJ area was pretty busy during Superbowl weekend.  There were a lot of out-of-towners and security was pretty tight especially in the train stations.  I did enjoy their enthusiasm.  People were wearing the passes around the necks and holding their free goodies.  I wanted to check out Super Bowl Boulevard, but I was busy.  I did see a little bit as I walked to the train station, but the games and autographs looked tempting!  It was also fairly warm that day so it was a refreshing break from the usual cold.


It was also Chinese New Year on January 31st.  I baked some Red Velvet cupcakes to ring in the new year.  I have a lot of friends who are Chinese so it was a lot of texting back and forth that night.  I tweaked it so that they wouldn't be too sweet, and they ended up coming out perfectly.  Baking is also like chemistry which is why it ties in with the latter part of my entry haha




I'm also interviewing a model/artist who has a really interesting background.  I'm excited to learn about how she integrates fashion and art.  I saw a lot of her artwork that she posted on Facebook and it was nice to see her passion through different forms of media.  When I have the interview and the article completed, I'll show it to all of you.


Speaking of fashion and models, Kate and I went to Lincoln Center last Friday for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.  It's running from February 6-13 for Fall 2014.  It was really nice (albeit cold) and we both were able to photograph models and get magazines and other PR stuff.  Kate looked at me and asked, "Now that you're doing things in fashion, are you tired of it yet?"  I already knew that it's a lot of work, but I find it rewarding doing tailoring and designing menswear.  It's also very mathematical with measurements and ensuring that the shirt or pants will fit the person.  I laughed and told her that it was still pretty fun.


I was going to integrate it into this post, but since this entry is pretty long enough (with the points that I want to cover), I'll save the fashion photos and writing for the next entry.


I remembered reading an article where the Texas Board of Education was dropping Algebra II from the curriculum.  It made me think a lot about how science and math are perceived to be difficult GPA destroyers.  There's a lot that I want to see reformed when it comes to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. These classes teach problem solving and analytical skills that can be applicable to a variety of fields be it a vocational trade (such as plumbing or mechanical work) or act as a foundation for further education.  Rather than using them as "weeding classes," the subjects should be structured differently based on the background of the students.


For example, when I taught statistics to undergraduate students, I had to teach three different audiences: one for liberal arts students, one for math and science students, and one for social science students.  The material was similar, but there were different things covered.  The math and science students required more equations and things that you would encounter in calculus.  The liberal arts students had to learn the basics like hypothesis testing and simple probability.  The social science students were somewhere in between.  I had to tailor the study guide and practice tests based on the background of the student.


I remembered when I had to interview for the job.  The Director of Education asked me questions like, "How can you make an engineering student enjoy poetry?" or "Give me an example of how you would teach a mathematical concept to an English major."  She was really nice, but she really tested how different techniques can work for different students.  This is the direction where I wanted health and scientific literacy to go (which is what I'm currently working on right now).


What I hope to see is that science and math be encouraged in future students.  I didn't really understand why some professors or teachers scare their students by stating that the class average is usually 45% in a subject such as organic chemistry or calculus 2.  Rather than making the students anxious, I would love to see their interest get nurtured in the field.  There's also the problem of teaching non majors with the material you teach majors. I remembered during my undergraduate years when students who started off being interested in biology or physics switched majors because of the fear of the high failure rate.


Everyone has their own interests which is great.  There are people who generally do not connect with math or science.  They would prefer another field such as a discipline in the arts and humanities.  There is certainly no problem with that.  They might be good in international relations, painting, or writing.  As such, it's logical that they wouldn't require multivariate calculus or physical chemistry.  But for those who start off being interested in nursing or computer science, it would be detrimental to sway them from the field as a result of their negative experiences from "weeder" courses.  There's also the factor of unmotivated students, which we can take out of the equation for now because if they started off unmotivated (such as needing to fulfill a requirement), another approach will need to be applied.


STEM courses are generally difficult.  The courses are challenging, but stimulating at the same time.  They shouldn't be used as a tool to make students fearful.  Rather than doing that, it would be more helpful to make the material accessible and understandable.  Sure not everyone will get an "A" but instead, the material can open doors to a student's scientific curiosity.  It shouldn't be framed as "If you fail physics or biology, you'll never get into medical school."  Instead, the material should have applications to the medical field (or whichever field the student will pursue) and encouraged to do their best so that they can become a competitive applicant.  The more interested the students become, the better they'll perform.


Within the context of health literacy, it doesn't benefit anyone to continue of perpetuate this cycle of fear for STEM courses.  It will just push people away from taking science and math courses.  Also, not all science and math courses have to be comprehensively technical.  Courses for non majors such as college algebra or general science (such as the ones they feature on The Magic School Bus) can generate interest and appreciation for these individuals not pursuing a STEM career.  They should present a challenge yet not kill an individual's interest on the subject.


If information is framed so that the individual can relate to it, they will be more successful in integrating it into their lives.  This can also be applied to other fields not just math or science.  There will be students who will be totally lost in a Shakespeare class and they'll question the meaning of a sonnet.  Helping them understand and enjoy this learning process can open up new doors.


From my experience, here is how I approached it:


1. Assess the needs of the audience.  If you're teaching math for the liberal arts, don't teach them like how you teach your engineering students.  They most likely just need to fulfill a requirement.  On the first day of class, provide a sheet where students can describe their background (i.e.  what is their major, why they are taking this class, and if they want to see any topics discussed that is relevant to their field).  If the class is large, you can also try to gauge the types of students who take the class by speaking to other instructors who have previously taught the class.  How can this class help the students professionally?  What information is the most relevant?


2. Make the material accessible.  The material may be complicated, but you don't have to ramble on and confuse the students. For example, "When a patient requires a specific dose of morphine, make sure you assess Cartesian plane Deoxyribonucleic Acid Thermodynamics Quantum Allegory."


The example may be silly, but it does highlight how information can quickly go over the students' heads.  Make sure to cover what is required for the course.  It would be nice to add some information that may be for upper level courses, but make sure that it does not detract from the mandatory lessons.  Check in on students and ask if they have any questions before moving onto the next topic.  If a student really is confused, encourage them to come to office hours so that the class doesn't fall behind.


3. Make the material engaging.  Many times introductory courses are lecture based.  Everyone knows that it's close to impossible to provide one-on-one attention to a 500 student class.  While it is easier to get to know and assess students in a smaller class setting, you can still see students' reactions of engagement in a lecture.  If the material is dry and you just read off of a Powerpoint, chances are the students will zone out.  If they can relate to the material and enjoy the demonstrations, they will most likely do better in retaining the information.  It doesn't have to be a Las Vegas show every day, but as long as you generate interest, they will make an effort.


4. Be fair throughout the course.  Fairness in this case can apply to several facets.  Everyone should be on level ground.  If there are students who have previous experience on the material, don't teach on their level.  It will end up making the beginners feeling lost and neglected.  Let the more experienced ones know that you will cover the basics first and that everyone should be caught up within a few classes.


Focus on the material at hand.  Don't test on material that isn't covered or is irrelevant.  This would make students give up on studying because if what you teach in class is not on the exam, what's the point of reading those notes?  Helping them grow by encouraging their positive performance throughout the course will open doors for sustained and future interest in the material.  As long as each student has the necessary tools to perform well, then each one has a fair chance of learning the material.


So those four highlighted the basic gist of my work with students and audiences.  Work with whichever style you're comfortable with, but as long as the learning needs are met for everyone, then it should provide results.


It's going to be my family friend's wedding soon, and I also have to cover a lot of information for my continuing education and research so it's going to be hectic.  However, I will have the fashion photos and writeup for the next entry soon.  Stay tuned for that.  I try to have frequent updates to have study guides or other information that can help others out.  As I said, I'll look into what can be beneficial and have it up on my site.


Stay warm everyone!  I'll probably go and have a cup of hot chocolate after I type this.

(Don't) Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, right?


Yesterday there was a winter storm that caught everybody off guard after the holiday weekend so it made the commute home unpleasant.  The snow had been cleared and today it was nice and sunny (albeit freezing cold!).  It's interesting because a few weeks ago we had the hyped up big winter storm; however, the one yesterday wasn't mentioned as much (for me at least).


I still have pictures that I took the following morning when I shoveled the snow during the first storm post New Years.  The snow piled up quickly and turned into a mountain in an instant after shoveling haha  As a kid it's fun, but when you're older, it's a pain!





As I was walking through the snow, I used my black Ugg boots that I bought around 3-4 years ago.  I rarely use it so it was interesting to walk in them again.  They're pretty comfortable though so I can see why people like walking around in them.  In my old job, I wore them on a casual Friday and my co-workers said they looked like astronaut boots.  I was laughing because I told them that I might've gotten them too big and was waddling like a penguin when I was walking from the train station.  The boots brought back so many memories so it made the shoveling nostalgic.


My "Astronaut" Ugg boots :)



When I watched Top Chef a few episodes ago, one of the contestants was eliminated and had to challenge a chef to see if she could get back into the competition. 


Before she cooked she said, "Don't focus on the finale, focus on the challenge at hand."


It's an interesting quote because we're in the new year and many people make new plans such as juggling new projects, venturing into new horizons, getting married/having children, or relocating.  There's always that constant joke towards the new year where people would ask each other, "Are you ready to make resolutions that you won't keep?"  And everyone ends up laughing because it's true.


Similar to that quote above, we focus so much on that finale (be it becoming a founder of a start up, a famous musician with a multimillion recording contract, or a professional such as a doctor, professor, lawyer, etc.) that we end up getting muddled in the present due to lack of organization and focus.  Given that we have easier access to many resources now, it's a lot easier to find interest in different things, but more difficult to focus on what we want to truly accomplish in the long run.


I admit, I was guilty of that when I was in college.  I took a music theory course and wanted to become a famous musician.  When I took a sociology class, I wanted to become a sociology professor in international relations.  But towards graduation, I looked at what I really enjoyed and what I wanted to make a career in.  It was science and writing.  I enjoyed pharmacology and public health which is what influenced my path in graduate school and the following career goals.  I integrated writing and public relations to health care when I performed grant writing and community health promotion.  As for the pharmaceutical work, I loved chemistry since I was in high school so it was a nice experience to work in case management where I combined patient care and the facilitation of the documentation process.


It's different now than when I was a 20 year old junior in college because I won't jump into becoming a music theory professor or circus acrobat.  It makes it easier to know my own focus and where I want to head for the future.


As we are in the new year, I think it's more feasible to focus on one thing instead of making a billion resolutions.  What would you like to accomplish this year?  Do you want to open a barbecue stand?  Do you want to finish your degree?  Do you want to learn a new language?  Do you want to become a writer?


Once you focus on something, you can basically put your all into it. I can say for me that when I played sports when I was younger, I had to choose what I wanted to do.  I focused on swimming because I loved the water and enjoyed the exercise of going from the shallow to the deep end.  I was terrified at first because I was afraid that I might sink or drown.  But who isn't afraid when starting out?  I could've easily said "screw this" and moved to another sport.


When I started writing, I got rejections from editors.  That experience is what helped me practice and apply the advice that editors gave me.  When I got a position as an editor, I knew how tough it was for writers to put themselves out there.  I was in their position.  Same with teaching and being a student.  When you actually experience it, you gain a stronger appreciation for the field and you will want to help those who are just starting off.  There will be hurdles when you focus, but they shouldn't discourage you from pursuing it to completion.


It's never too late to do something that you want to do.  It's not easy, but when you find that focus, you are going to have the fuel and ambition to master it (or get it accomplished).  We can only make do with what we have.  However the more that we hone our skills and take advantage of opportunities that come our way, we will have a wider range of tools to get things done.


Last week I had to go to the post office to send paperwork to the Board of Pharmacy along with a Christmas card to my aunt.  One of the forms that I had to send to the Board needed to be notarized so it was quite an adventure finding a notary public available when I was free.  I barely missed her one day when I had to rush out of the train to get to her office.  However, I finally got in contact with her since she was working with another client.  I loved it when she used the stamp that made an indentation on the paper.  I've always thought that was cool since I was younger because it always made documents look professional.


The Pharmacy Board emailed me a confirmation that they received everything and thanked me for my time.  The American Pharmacists Association were also the same way when I needed to handle records.  They've always been very quick and friendly when helping me with matters.  I really appreciated their service and they made it less stressful to organize my continuing education and prepare everything for renewal.  My renewal date is in March so I want to have everything taken care of before then.


I think in any profession it's important to be aware of new developments in the field and see if there is any new research that can help facilitate processes.  In the health professions, there's always a need to work with diverse populations on understanding the mechanics of the health care system.  Recently, I was reviewing medical Spanish and it was very helpful when communicating with Spanish speaking individuals.  Making an effort can really go a long way especially when assisting with adherence to regimens and treatment.


There is a lot of fear when there are significant changes at hand (such as changes in testing procedures for a license). When populations cannot communicate their needs, it makes it fairly difficult to find out how to address their concerns.  Facilitating communication requires understanding (both an empathic and knowledge based type) how to identify the problem and then utilizing new information as a tool.  Professionals constantly have to do this on a daily basis to keep up with the demands of a changing environment.


Decades ago there were no treatments or vaccines for a lot of ailments that we don't even think about today.  When there are no cures for diseases (for example, multiple sclerosis), keeping updated on developments can help educate and inform patients.  While there is no guarantee for a "cure all," walking them through the process can be cathartic and may make it easier to help slow down the progression of the disease.  Knowledge is always good, but combining it with skills such as empathy can go a long way (especially with adherence to medical advice and gaining trust and patience).


It's not always going to be that way.  Go ask a social worker or a DMV worker.  Having to repeat information or being spread thin (such as providing service to multiple people) can take a toll.  We're all human though so we do have our limits.  Despite these challenges, being patient and informative can facilitate problem resolution.  It's not always going to be 100 percent successful every day, but providing a helpful presence can lessen escalation problems and frustration.


I can't believe it's almost the end of January!  My cousin's getting married in a few months and one of my childhood acquaintances is getting married next month.  My grandmother is also celebrating her 80th birthday.  It's pretty eventful so hopefully everything goes well :)  Hope you're all staying warm!  If you're in a tropical place, let's switch places! haha

Much Success and happiness to all of you for 2014

I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year!  Today is the last day of 2013 so I want to wish you all of you much success and happiness for 2014.  For those of you standing in Times Square, please stay warm!  It's pretty chilly compared to the warm weather we had a week ago.


I just finished cooking half of our meal for our new year's celebration.  The ham is roasting in the oven so I'm going to use this time to write an entry.  Later on will be full of celebrating, toasts, music, and laughing so I won't be by the computer. :)


The holidays went really well.  Family came together at my parents' house and we all ate, video chatted with family from around the world, and shared stories. There was so much food and the desserts were pretty heavy.  Every time we eat we always make sure to have coffee ready haha  We were all using Facetime from my phone and showed each other our gifts.  Can you believe how advanced communication is now?  I remembered using a cell phone that could only text and call a long time ago.  Now everyone can take pictures, go online, play games, and other advanced functions.  But it has made it so much easier to keep in touch.  My parents got a kick out of it since they got to see their relatives on the phone.


Before Christmas, I rushed to get some holiday shopping done.  It was fun and quite the adventure, but surprisingly it turned out great.  I didn't spend as much as I had anticipated and was relieved that there were a lot of sales.  It was busy, but I made sure to avoid places that would be really crowded.


The Monday before Christmas, my best friend visited and we spent the day together.  It was a day to just relax and not think about work or pharmacy modules to complete (or anything stressful at all).  We met up early at the Union Square holiday market.  We saw a lot of stands that visited in previous years such as Wafles & Dinges and the booth that sells hand warmers.  It was really hard to concentrate since we both left early to get to New York so we didn't have a chance to eat breakfast.  As we were looking at possible gifts and trinkets, all we could think about was where to eat.  We looked at each other and we knew that we needed to find a place to eat.


We rattling out restaurants and we finally decided to go to Alice's Tea Cup Chapter II on E. 64th Street.  We took the F train to Lexington Ave/63rd St. and walked up to the place.  On the way there we saw a pet shop where all of these parents and children were looking at all of the adorable puppies.  The puppies were very playful and energetic.  The families and kids were taking videos and pictures.  It was really nice. 


We went into Alice's and it was busy.  The place was packed and there were a lot of reservations.  It was understandable since it was the holiday season.  Jenny put her name down and it was around a 25 minute wait. We chatted about her moving through her residency and what lies ahead.  We both were laughing when we mentioned how we had modules to complete for our continuing education, but the holiday season is making it hard to focus on completing them!  It was also a special celebration since we've been friends for almost a decade.



We got an order of French fries and the "Mad Hatter for two" which included two pots of tea, three scones, two types of sandwiches, four cookies, and a choice of dessert (either mocha cake or lemon tart).


For the tea, I got the Cinnamon Apple Spiced Tea (Indian black tea with cinnamon chips, apple bits, and other spices) while Jenny got the Rooibos Phoenix (red tea with caramel, honey, and vanilla).


My Cinnamon Apple Spiced Tea



Jenny and her Rooibos Tea



For the scones, we chose the pumpkin, buttermilk, and the raspberry chocolate chip (which came with clotted cream and raspberry jam).  For the sandwiches, I chose the curried chicken salad and Jenny chose the black forest ham and gruyere.  The cookies consisted of two sugar cookies and two soft chocolate chip cookies.  For dessert we chose the mocha cake (since we chose the lemon tart last time).


As we were waiting for our order, Jenny and I exchanged gifts.  She got me a nice purple plaid bow tie.  I got her bubble bath salts, chocolates, a large versatile cup for food, and a candy cane.


My bow tie


As we were waiting for our food, I told her about plans and events for the next year.  She shared her feedback and provided new ideas that I didn't think about.  We also had our time to bond and reminisce about how much we've been through in the past decade.  We ignited a lot of memories of former friends and our crazy adventures.  One thing we talked about was no matter how long we've known each other, we never run out of things to say.  There's always something interesting when the two of us get together!


The food came and everything looked delicious. 


Crispy, Delicious Fries and Tea



The Mad Hatter


Jenny taking a pic of me


It was very relaxing and the servers were friendly and attentive.  Despite the place being very busy, they were very fast when handing things such as ketchup and filling up our water glasses.  We were able to take our time when we were eating and it was satisfying.  We looked out the window and saw that it was still raining hard.  However from the inside, it was quite peaceful to watch the rain.


As we headed out we wished the staff a happy holiday.  We then went to karaoke for a marathon.  Our original plan was to have 3 hours of karaoke, but the kind lady told us that since it was a weekday, we could sing all we want for $12 each until 8 pm.  She also told us that drinks and snacks were half priced.  It was a good deal so we did the karaoke marathon special.




We got a pitcher of water because it was going to be a lot of singing and dancing.  We sang a lot of favorites from ballads to upbeat pop music.  Since that day was our only time to see each other, we also had our "dancing songs" to perform to.  Whenever I chose a dancing song, Jenny would smile and say, "Oh time to dance" and I'd dim the lights while we sang.


Posing in between songs


We needed more energy because the food was kicking in so Jenny asked me if I could get her a coffee.  I got a Long Island Iced Tea.  Those two kept us energetic for the next hour and a half so we looked through the menu and got a Midori Sour to share.



We both enjoyed the Midori Sour since it had a nice melon flavor and wasn't too overpowering like some drinks.  We continued the rest of our karaoke and sang a lot of songs from the 80's and 90's.  We were also trying to figure out a one hit wonder from this one singer.  It took us 20 minutes before were remembered who her name was.  As I'm typing this, I forgot her name again!


After more than three and a half hours of singing and dancing, we headed to Bryant Park to see if there were any last minute gifts we could buy.  As we walked, we took pictures in front of the Helmsley Building.




At the holiday shops in Bryant Park, we stopped by Sabon where they sold really nice soaps and lotions.  As we stepped in, one of the attendants offered to give a free hand treatment.  Jenny tried it and she loved the orange ginger smell.  The attendant smiled and asked me if I wanted one too, but since I was carrying things, I smiled and politely declined.


There were a lot of nice fragrances and one of our favorites was the Lavender Apple.  A lot of the products for the scent were sold out, but one of the other sales attendants said that we could mix and match to create a gift package.  It turned out nicely.  Jenny also picked up some unique soaps that smelled amazing.  All in all, it was a good stop.


We then walked around to see if there was anything else we could find.  We stopped near the tree to take pictures and this one woman offered to take our picture.  She smiled and said that she had been doing that for people throughout the day and was glad to take one for us.  The picture turned out beautifully and we thanked her.


@ Bryant Park


We watched people ice skating.  Jenny and I skated there seven years ago, and we had a story where someone fell and Jenny had to swerve out of the way or she would've tripped.  It's always been a holiday tradition for us to always meet during the Christmas/New Year time.  We'd do new activities and change things up a bit so that we can search for interesting new places to visit or things to do.


Jenny posing near the ice skating rink


A Final Pic before we head home


Jenny and I wanted to have a little snack before we headed home.  She got a spicy German bratwurst and I took a bite out of it.  It was good.  I wanted pasta so we looked around for an Italian restaurant.  We found a place that was near Times Square, but it wasn't too bad.  Usually the places are crowded, but it was fine.  I ordered a plain slice and a pepperoni calzone to bring home.  Jenny and I talked for 10 minutes while I ate my pizza.  We then hugged, parted ways, and wished each other a happy holiday.


So I remember from the previous entry that I wanted to discuss some things that I won't write about in the blog.  It's pretty obvious especially when you take journalism ethics and First Amendment issues.  I'm pretty open about discussing many things.  One of the things I do is to respect people's privacy.  I won't post something that people wouldn't want me to.  Those of you who read the graduation entries that I wrote a few months ago know that my brother is very private so he didn't want his graduation pictures being posted.


As for me, I like to keep a fair balance.  I love documenting memories and sharing photos with everyone.  However, I do draw the line on some cases.  With the advent of social media and greater access to the internet, it's a lot more difficult to maintain privacy.  Back then we would see secret spies like James Bond have hidden cameras to photograph evidence, but now everyone has a camera on their phone or other handheld device.


But in the end it's about just being prudent.  I remembered reading a lot of journal entries that I wrote when I was younger.  I discussed a lot of my feelings and really delved into my personal life.  With that being said, there are rules of etiquette that I adhere to (and have discussed with family, friends, and acquaintances).


Personal relationships and romance.  I do not write about or discuss romance or personal relationships (for me or for others) unless there is mutual consent that gives a green light.  With issues in divorce, separations, or general break ups, it can be a touchy subject.  Imagine how awkward it is when you ask how everything is going with someone and their significant other and you figure out that they're no longer together.  Unless a personal relationship has been established, I wouldn't dive into that territory.  In regards to writing, I will keep these topics on a private level with family and close friends.


Political issues.  Conversations on this topic can be charged and I respect people who come from many backgrounds.  I've been in situations where a Democrat and a Republican had a heated debate on topics such as the presidential election.  Since my research integrates medical law and ethics, I make an effort to be impartial and respect everyone's opinions.  In general, I examine things on a case by case basis.  It will be difficult to examine issues in an entry because other factors that might come into light later on may show another side of the topic.


Pretty much I think it's just those two that I won't write about on an entry.  Every other topic is fair game for discussion.  But I do think that in the end it's just about maintaining boundaries.  It would be too much of a glimpse of my life if I write about everything, and that would just spoil the mystery when we actually meet!


As I said, I like discussing anything as long as it's respectful.  That's how new bonds and friendships form, right?


Okay I published this entry on Dec. 31st and it's telling me that it's January 1st.  What the heck is going here?! haha

Have a warm and wonderful holiday season

It's the holiday season and it has been incredibly busy (when isn't it? haha).


I usually have my Christmas shopping completed by the end of November, but with the combination of continuing education, research, family and friends visiting, and getting work done, it has been quite busy.  On the train I see people holding their shopping bags and other holiday items and it kept reminding me that I need to get it done or I will end up in a hectic war on Christmas Eve.  It reminds me of the Halloween episode of Bob's Burgers where the kids got stuck in their clubhouse so they couldn't go out to do their planned trick-or-treating.  Instead, they tried to recreate it by using things found laying around.  The daughter who was giving the "candy" said, "Oh what nice costumes.  Here's a used coffee filter for you." haha  I don't want to have to give used coffee filters to my loved ones!  But it's not that bad though since everyone usually just likes to go out and eat during the holiday season rather than receive material gifts.  I do enjoy it a lot more since it's about sharing stories and enjoying each other's company with hot chocolate or wine and an abundance of food.  I feel the same way as them since I don't really need anything.  If I do want something, I usually get it myself during the other months of the year.


Nothing can replace the laughs and picture taking with those close to me.  I know, pretty mushy, huh? :)


For my readers, you know that I usually take pictures of what I buy, but since these are gifts for others, I won't do it this time.  I know family and friends read my entries so I don't want to spoil any surprises with people like my niece or nephew saying, "Yay Uncle Kevin got me an Ipad!" (Only if you get A's on your report card haha)  But yes, one hand will be typing and editing on the laptop while the other hand wraps the gifts.  Hopefully my multitasking skills will save me here :)


I went to the bank a week ago and spoke to the bank teller about the crazy weather.  It hadn't snowed yet, but we were both joking that it's going to be a white Christmas. As I finished handling the financial things, she told me that I had a credit card offer and if I was interested in speaking to a representative about it.  I told her no and that there were too many bills to pay this holiday season.  We both started laughing and wished each other a nice day.  Lo and behold, a few days later, there was snow falling down and covering the streets.  It definitely caught me off guard so I had to shovel the snow in the evening.  I do admit, it was pretty beautiful and calming.  Some of the neighbors had their Christmas lights on while others opened the blinds on their windows to look out at the wintery scene.


The snow kept coming down though.  I thought to myself, "Would all of this shoveling be futile?" Well after it snowed, it started raining and melted the snow so everything worked out in the end. haha  But it also snowed a few days ago, and I almost slipped with my regular dress shoes.  So on icy days I use my boots.  It helped a lot so far.  I haven't slipped or crashed into any garbage cans!


A few weeks ago, I met up with my brother at Sticky's Finger Joint near NYU.  He was visiting the City so we decided to meet for dinner after I got some work done.  He wanted to talk to me about starting a business and how he should plan it.


I ordered the crunchy Sticky's Classic New York Style Chicken Fingers with Jalapeño Mac Cheese dipping sauce.  He got the Fire Flame Curry Fingers which are the Sticky's chicken fingers marinated in the hot fire flame curry and finished with a sprinkle of coconut glitter.


My Classic Fingers with Jalapeno Mac dip

crispy and delicious!



My brother's fire hot chicken fingers

nice blend of hot and sweet



My brother is very hands on and has good ideas.  As an artist, he can envision something and translate it into a beautiful painting or sculpture.  We focused on narrowing down what types of ideas he had, where he wants to have the location for the venue, where he plans on seeing the business going, and what products or services he plans on developing.


It was a very interesting discussion because it reminds me of students and clients I've worked with.  Although people will study in one field, the possibilities are endless in how they want their careers to move.  For example, lets take economics majors.  Some people will become financial analysts while others will become professors studying international economic policies.  It's a lot of thinking outside the box.  How can you integrate your current skills to your projected career?


I joked with my brother that he wouldn't be interested in what I do (particularly the sciences).  He laughed and agreed that he wouldn't touch organic chemistry or physiology.  But we did highlight his creative acumen and continued brainstorming with ideas.


As we headed out, the worker at Sticky's waved and gave me a peace sign.  I smiled, waved, and wished him a good night.  I was exhausted so I wished him a good night at the train station.  The large chicken fingers were filling so I just changed into my pajamas, continued my reading and writing, watched some shows, and got ready for bed.


So while I go rush and get some Christmas shopping done this weekend, I'll leave you with Selena Gomez's "Slow Down".  Aside from the fact that it was filmed in Paris (*smile*), if many of you know about me during the holiday season, whenever I go holiday shopping I would listen to dance/club music on the drive to the mall/outlet/store.  Usually I would sing and dance with whomever I'm with, be it my significant other or friend.  It makes the drive less stressful and lightens the mood.  Finding parking is usually the challenge.  I can't tell you how many times I thought I "found" a parking spot, but when I pull up, I see a little mountain of snow on it. haha


As I was commuting home one night, there was a nice elderly man standing next to me while we waited for the bus.  He dropped a dime and asked me if I can see it.  We looked around and he finally found it.  He joked that it was his "senior citizen bus fare" and he counts every penny now that he's retired.  He said to me, "When I was younger, I didn't do that.  I just bought whatever I wanted and didn't look back!" We both laughed and shared some more stories.  He then mentioned how technologically advanced people are now.  He said that his one year old granddaughter can navigate a touch phone and how his accountant son can type quickly on the computer without looking at the keyboard.  It was such a fun conversation and he was just so warm and friendly.  When I got off at my stop, I wished him a good night.  It's always been amazing talking to people.  I hear a lot of stories and just enjoy engaging people about random things from the weather to winning the lottery.


So I hope you enjoy the song and I want to wish all of you a happy holiday season.  Regardless of what you celebrate, I wish the best for you and your loved ones!  My next entry will most likely be toward the new year since it's pretty busy for the next week or so with Christmas and getting some research done.  If it's not one thing, it's another, huh? :)  There are also weddings and other events to attend after the new year so it's just one step at a time.


If you remember I highlighted a bit about health literacy in my previous entry, I'll discuss a medical ethics issue in the next entry.  I'll also cover things that I won't write about along with journalism and privacy. Since it's going to be a celebratory mood in the next few days, I'll keep this entry more lighthearted.


Thanks again and wishing great blessings to you and your loved ones!



Wishing you a healthy thanksgiving

I just want to wish all of you a great Thanksgiving!  Hope it went well and that you didn't get too stuffed! :)


Always appreciate Grandma's help!



I love sharing books and readings that I'm currently doing, and here is one that I'm reading and reviewing right now:


I've taken quite a few ethics courses throughout my education and career.  It has always been a foundation working with clients, patients, students, professionals, and the public.  As the health field requires continuing education and staying abreast with current policies and new developments, understanding an individual's relationship to different systems is important when developing tools to assist the public.  Many times research and regulations are complicated and require a strong background to grasp the ideas and content.
Professionals know the concepts like the back of their hand.  However, presenting them to an audience may not be as easy to convey.  How many of us remember a time when we'd be in a class and the professor/teacher (who clearly knows the material) rambles on while the entire class (minus a few students) look befuddled?  It's one thing to understand the topic, but it's another thing for professionals to ensure that they can reach the audience's level.
Before that happens, professionals should establish a safe and open environment for learning and discussion.  Most likely the audience will come from different backgrounds (cultural, religious, age, and education to name a few) and it will be nearly impossible to target everyone's needs in a single presentation.  That's when the role of facilitator and communicator comes in.  Keeping the discussion open allows participants to ask questions and hopefully have their concerns addressed.  For example, a presentation could cover prescription benefits.  Some people will ask about comprehensive plans that can ensure that they will have access to their medication.  Most likely the professional will be addressing participants who utilize these benefits for high blood pressure or diabetes.  Other participants might not need prescription benefits as urgently, but may rather want to address out-of-network benefits.  The participant may want more options and access to specialists (such as a neurologist or a specialized hospital for cancer) for themselves and their family members.
Obviously you can see that it's not as easy to have a " one size fits all" presentation.
Also consider government regulations and changes in policies which makes a complex discussion even harder to understand.  The most important thing to address is the needs of the audience/patient.  Many are familiar with the Hippocratic Oath which highlights a medical professional's role to practice within their jurisdiction, be respectful of a patient's autonomy, and to never do harm.


Behind every diagnosis or sickness lies a human being.  It may be the patient who's afraid of dying, a family member who's upset at the uncertainty of a prognosis, or a person trying to navigate the complexities of the healthcare system.  In any case, I understood how important it was to not get burned out or to not become hardened when facing these cases on a daily basis.  I've always had an amazing team to work with and we all supported each other when we really needed help.  Professionals will not be able to handle everything, and it's important to value the input of a team member's ideas.  More likely than not, their ideas can help facilitate things.  We know our limits and shouldn't ignore it when the stress becomes heavy.


There are many things to juggle when working with a patient.  Federal and state laws play a significant role with how to approach practicing medicine and health.  They also adapt to a fluid climate.  Take America's current healthcare reform.  This initiative is moving to provide affordable healthcare for all Americans.  This plays a significant role in my research in health literacy.  Since there are people who have difficulty understanding medical terminology, prescription instructions, or complex medical forms, it's important to promote health literacy education to help create people who will become "knowledgeable consumers."  In the end, these are the people who will decide what plan, what doctor, what form of treatment, or what approach is right for them.


Everyone is different and as I had previous discussed, what is a focus for one individual or their family may not be the same for another.  So what can professionals do?


Provide resources and help the public navigate through their concerns.  It's important to keep an open communicative relationship.  Health can cover a lot of sensitive topics so being an open ear can make it easier for them to discuss issues such as not understanding medical procedures or asking about language barriers.


Throughout these cases, ethical issues will arise.  That's when professionals see that things are not "clear cut, black and white decisions."  When a doctor and patient encounter cases such as abortion or end of life care (withdrawing life support), decisions may not be illegal, but that's when ethical issues come in.  Everyone has different beliefs and different ways of approaching illnesses, birth, or other medical issues.


An approach that I had done when I worked with patients/clients in clinical therapy was to assess the needs of the patient, discuss what outcomes they expect or desire, and then work with them to create a plan that will provide maximum benefit to the patient/client.  It's not always that easy though.  There are those who have difficulty understanding practices and approaches so they may not have an easy time making a decision.  That's what inspired me to work with my mentor, Dr. Vennie Cowart so that populations will have access to the information that can help them make these complex decisions.


Certain cultures and religions may not agree with prescription medication or certain medical procedures.  That is perfectly fine.  As long as healthcare professionals provide options, create open communication between the patient (and their families) during the visit, and find ways to incorporate their culture with current medical practice, then that can create stronger trust with the healthcare system.  This will reduce chances of patients' harm (such as engaging in self medication without consultation) and work with them during their treatment process.


This is just a short discussion (I don't want to feel like I'm giving a lecture to my students haha), but it made me think a lot about the current American health climate as I'm reading about changes in insurance plans, services, and provider networks.  The decision making is becoming more complex, and I hope to see stronger changes in patient advocacy.


I know that there's been a lot of tension related to the current health reform measures, and I can understand the frustration that people are going through.  When people see these rules (which can be as clear as reading an ancient language), they will get upset and want answers.  If your loved one is hospitalized and you figure out that your insurance won't cover the hospital expenses, you will want to know why.  But many times prewritten rules are just regurgitated and it not only confuses every party involved, but it also muddles communication.


It will take a lot of reworking and analysis to smooth out the kinks in the system, but I hope that it will all work out for the best and the public will get the necessary health services that they need.

Adventures in the City

It's just been around two weeks since Halloween and there's been a handful of events that occurred.


My sister's friends from the UK came to visit on November 1st so she planned for the four of us to have lunch together during their vacation here.  She actually texted me the night before (it was around midnight), and I got on her back about it the next day. haha She asked for recommendations and after going back and forth between her friends, me, and her, we settled on Thai food.  Since her friends were going to be in Chelsea, I chose Pongsri at W. 23rd Street.


I got there early and had some coffee before I met with them.  Sis texted me that no one was there and if I could come there to keep her company.  I laughed and headed to the spot.  I went into the restaurant and tried to find my sis and her friends.  We sat down and she introduced them to me.  It was lunch time so there was a lot of people.  However, we were all still able to hear each other.  We ordered our food.  We all shared fresh spring rolls and everyone else picked something from the lunch specials.  Sis got sauteed tofu with chili paste, vegetables, and rice while I got the Pad Key Mao with chicken.  David and Derek ordered noodles.


Sis' Tofu Dish


My Pad Key Mao


We had such great conversations ranging from travels abroad and our work/educational backgrounds to casual things such as romance and fun memories.  Derek is a social worker and we both talked about case management and the stresses of the human service professions.  We also talked about Japan since he lived there for awhile.  David and sis talked about their stories in Hong Kong.  She told us a story when they were both in the same restaurant where she saw him, but he didn't see her.  She told the waiter to give him a note which the waiter thought sis was trying to flirt with David. It was a fun story.  David even stated that he didn't know my sis Kate was in Hong Kong at the time.  The food was really delicious and we were all stuffed by the end of the meal.


During our conversations, Kate and I were slipping into our British accents.  She studied in London and I learned British English as a kid so we were able to revisit our accents.  Kate and I looked at each other because we noticed it and we started smiling.


After lunch we took pictures before parting ways.  David and Derek still had a lot of sightseeing to do as well as visiting David's family in Brooklyn.  Derek told me their schedule and I was surprised at how full their schedule was.  For a vacation it was really packed with a lot of events.


Kate and David


Derek and Me


Group Picture courtesy of my sis @helokatie

(left to right) Me, Kate, Derek, and David


Kate and I spent the rest of the day together bonding.  I told her that I didn't want to think about writing or any of the court stuff that I was taking care of.  She asked me where I wanted to go and I told her that I planned on buying some Lindt's chocolate.  It was just after Halloween so I wanted my fill of chocolate.  I don't usually eat candy during Halloween so I thought that it would be nice to have a belated treat.


We were heading uptown and when we got off at Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street, I noticed that she was taking video.  I asked her what she was going to use it for and she smiled and said, "you'll see."  We headed into the Lindt's store where two employees greeted us and gave a free white chocolate truffle sample.  At first I planned on getting a pound of truffles, but decided on just getting the bars.



While I was looking through the huge selection, Kate was filming me picking and choosing which to get (You'll see it in her movie that I'll post).  At first I got four bars since it was their special of "buy four bars, get one free."  She looked at me, smiled, and said, "Are you going to eat all of that chocolate?" I told her that I'd give her some, but she said that she already ate too many sweets.


After thinking about it, I just took two so that I wouldn't go cuckoo for cocoa puffs with the chocolate.  I chose two flavors that I hadn't tried yet (the chili and the cherry intense).  Kate was right since I'm still trying to finish the other bar.  I usually just eat one or two pieces every 3 to 4 days so sis' judgment was on the ball!


I was joking around with the sales associate when I went to pay for my chocolate.  She offered a Lindt's chocolate card and told me that it was free to register.  At first I thought it was a credit card (and I hesitated), but since she clarified "free chocolate rewards", I agreed.  She was very sweet and I wished her a nice day.


Afterward, Kate and I headed down Fifth Avenue and stopped by St. Thomas Church at 53rd Street.  We looked inside and it was absolutely beautiful.  We sat down in the center aisle seats and looked around.


Inside Saint Thomas Church

Courtesy of Kate @helokatie


Exterior of Saint Thomas Church

Courtesy of Kate @helokatie


It reminded me a lot of Trinity Church when I used to work in the Financial District.  The churches were decorative and the attendants were very friendly.  We headed out and Kate filmed some more footage as we went down Fifth Avenue.  There was a line of people at the Abercrombie and Fitch store with the male models standing outside (I don't know if there was an event) and we passed by Armani where Kate took pictures of the gowns.


Kate and I decided to stop by for dessert so we headed to the Plaza Hotel Food Court.  When we got down, we didn't feel as hungry anymore so we just bought two hot chocolates.  We sat down, took pictures, and discussed personal and family things.


Bro and Sis @ the Plaza Hotel


We were discussing where else she wanted to go to since she's fairly new to New York.  She told me that I could lead the way since she was "the tourist." haha I suggested Central Park since we were next to it anyway and planned for karaoke afterward.  We looked at Lady M before heading out to see if they had the cheesecake that she wanted.  They didn't so we asked them when they might have it again.  They told us that the menu is random and suggested to keep checking in.  We thanked them and headed upstairs to take a few more pictures.


As we went up the escalators, we went to the reception area to take pictures.  I took pictures of her and she took pictures of me.  We went outside and she told me that she wanted to film me walking down the stairs like a VIP.  Craziness ensued, but it was fun.  We walked into Central Park and took a lot of nature photos.


Nice fall shot at Central Park

Courtesy of Kate @helokatie



Cute ducks at the pond


Jogging and Walking through Central Park



Beautiful Autumn Foliage


We sat down after walking around Central Park and continued our discussion.  We were also admiring the autumn colors and enjoying the warm weather (since it was pretty nice weather for November).  I remember last year we were still recovering from the severe weather.


@ Central Park

I checked in on her and how her classes were going.  She loves writing so I encouraged her to take as many diverse classes to see what topics she wants to focus on.  It was getting late so we took the train downtown to the karaoke place.  We took a few more pictures as we walked toward the station.


Sunset @ Central Park


The 6 train was delayed and it was packed with people.  Kate was looking at me throughout the ride and whispered to me, "I hope it's our stop next!"


We quickly got out and walked toward Karaoke Duet.  The attendant smiled and we requested a room for 2 hours.  I sang a mix of Japanese and English while Kate sang a lot of Adele. haha  It was a great stress reliever and we just belted it all out.


Song List


Karaoke Room


After our time was done, we walked down and took pictures.  I was getting hungry so I asked her if we could find a place to eat.  She took more pictures and we found a cafe.  I was debating on whether to get a wrap or hot food.  She suggested the hot food since it would be filling for dinner.  It was the food by the pound so I made sure to pick only what I wanted to eat!  While I was waiting to pay for it, Kate saved us a table and was putting the video together.


Filling Dinner

Potatoes, pasta, onion rings, beef, dumpling, and mushrooms


As I was eating, she showed me the complete video. I loved how it turned out.  It really summed up our adventure really well.  A lot of tourists also came in while we were eating so it became very lively at 9 pm.  It's always nice to have company :)


Here's Kate's video of our day titled "British Invasion"


British Invasion

by helokatie


Here is an alternate video she made titled D's and K's in NY which has a more old timey feel to it:


D's and K's in NY

by helokatie


As you can see it was a real blast.  Since it was getting late, we walked toward the train station and parted ways.  She took a picture of me as we left.


Me taking a picture of the night skyline

Courtesy of helokatie


We went to the Rockefeller Center subway stop, gave each other a hug and kiss, and ran to catch our trains.  She headed uptown while I went downtown.  It felt like a movie! :)


Regarding my legal and court judgment, the change was granted by the judge!  I spoke to the court records office and the clerk told me that the judge approved it.  I didn't have to attend a hearing since everything was in order, and I didn't change my name to something completely different.  I just received the final judgment in the mail and organized publication with the newspaper.  So...so far so good.  Now comes the fun part...changing all of my documents.  It's not a big leap since the name is somewhat the same (albeit shorter and organized differently).  People called me Kevin in 1997 and I'm still Kevin in 2013!


The process went smoothly.  It was just a matter of waiting.  It took around two months, but I knew that it was important to not procrastinate with this matter.  The background check, filing, and sending the correct affidavits and paperwork moved efficiently.  It wasn't like I was Carmen Sandiego and stole priceless paintings and jewels from around the world haha


But seriously though, I'm definitely glad that everything is finished.  I did breathe a sigh of relief when I heard the clerk give me the news.  We both even shared a laugh.  It was really nice.  She gave me directions on where I can get the certified copies and how much I'd have to pay.


As I had stated before, the registrar offices for my colleges have been absolutely sweet about sending the court documentation.  I don't know how it will be when I go to Social Security and the DMV, but let's just stay positive :)  I'm going to go pick up the certified copies of the final judgment from the courthouse and scan them for the registrar offices.  It's going to be a jam packed week mailing everything to government offices, visiting the bank, and just making sure everything is in order.  My main focus is on getting my new government IDs handled (social security, driver's license, and passport).


This has been a pretty long post so I hope you all enjoy the pictures and movies of our adventures.  It's going to be Thanksgiving soon so I'll have another entry by then with a couple of topics that I want to discuss.  Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Enjoying some sweet treats

I hope you have a wonderful and safe Halloween everyone!




Before my friend went on vacation, we promised to hang out, but things became hectic.  I gave her a call on Monday to visit her, get a haircut, and then enjoy some lunch.  It was really nice seeing her again.  Her friend was with her and the friend's daughter was so cute.  She always smiled at me when I smiled and waved at her.  After the haircut, we headed to Sophie's for Cuban cuisine.  She had the salmon, rice, and maduros (sweet plantains) while I had the Cubano (Cuban sandwich).  The food was really good!  I don't frequent the Financial District like I used to, but it brought back a lot of memories of the places I had lunch at with my former co-workers.


It was such a great conversation and we shared a lot of stories about family and what's been going on in our lives.  She's planning on going to California with her grandchildren for Thanksgiving so it was nice to hear about her vacation plans with the family.  Since family already visited me during the summer and early fall, I might just stay local for Thanksgiving.


After I had my late lunch with my friend, I met up with my brother at St. Mark's Place since he had just finished an appointment.  He also had to meet up with his friend after we met so we decided to just have something light like dessert while we talked.  My friend had previously recommended Spot Dessert Bar so I asked him if he was up for it.  He said sure and laughed.


The atmosphere was very clean and bright.  We were quickly seated by the server near the windows (it was nice looking outside) and we settled down for a few minutes.  My brother ordered the Kabocha Brulee Cake (warm Japanese pumpkin cake, walnut soil, and condensed milk ice cream) and Chamomile tea.  I ordered the Chocolate Green Tea Lava Cake (warm soft dark chocolate cake, green tea ganache, green tea ice cream, and walnut soil) and Thai Iced Bubble Tea.



Doesn't that look good? :)


It was nice.  I always love meeting up and talking with my brother.  I just updated him on what was going on with me (basically a lot of what I covered in my last entry).  After we had our dessert we shared jokes outside and talked about Halloween plans.  Since Halloween has been on a weekday for the past few years, it's tough to really stay up late.  But I do enjoy the festive mood of the holiday months.  I gave him a hug so that I could catch my train (and he could meet with his friend for dinner) and wished him the best.  I was pretty stuffed when I got home so I just had some yogurt, water, and a bag of chips before I went to bed.


I've been watching Top Chef and it's been somewhat interesting.  It's already in its 11th season so it doesn't have as much spark as it did a couple of seasons ago.  Granted it would be difficult to really keep things fresh and interesting for this long, but they've been doing well so far.  The drama hasn't been as crazy as some other seasons or the first season of Top Chef Just Desserts, so it's been easier for me to focus on their cooking.


My website turned 1 on October 28th!  I just got a message from the website server people that my account was updated and renewed for the next year.  I can't believe it's been that fast already.


I won't make this entry too long since it's Halloween and it should be a time to have fun.  I'll save some other topics that I wanted to discuss for the November entries :)  I'll also update all of you on how my court stuff has been going.  I got delivery confirmation that they received the affidavit (hopefully they did haha) last week.  I've done everything on my part and now everything will be decided "on the papers." I feel like I'm waiting for my college or grad school acceptances again!


In the meantime, enjoy your sweets and I'll have a big entry for all of you in November!

A Tourist for the Day

It has been a busy and productive few weeks, and I think an entry is long overdue!  Expect a long entry with lots of pictures :) (Edit: I actually wrote the entire thing and included all of the details of current things going on.  I decided to split it into two entries so that it won't be jumbled.  Too many details will end up making it too long to read and focus!)


My family visited me earlier this month.  A week before their arrival, I got really sick.  I was bedridden with a strong migraine and very rough muscle aches that made me feel weak and exhausted.  There were times when I'd feel nauseous, but I pushed myself to eat so that I'd recover faster.  I was scared whether I was getting the flu with the changes in weather and everyone coughing when I traveled.  I thought to myself, "Oh great, just when it'll get busy is when this will happen." lol Everything worked out though.  I just took Tylenol, drank fluids, and ate my meals slowly.


My family came together on October 5th and it was such a blast!  We all congregated at my parents' house to have dinner.  My family was coming from Pennsylvania so it took them around 2 hours to get to Northern Jersey.  They planned on arriving around 1 or 2 pm, but since they overslept, they arrived later (around 4 pm).  I rushed to get ready when they were still on the way!


It was really nice seeing them though.  We all exchanged our hugs and kisses.  It was packed and I helped my mom set the food up.  I was already starving since I spent the morning cooking and finishing up my dishes.


Everyone was exhausted when they arrived so we were still deciding whether to take them to New York that night or the next day.  Looking back at it, I'm glad we went Saturday night since Sunday also became eventful.  We all shared stories and laughed.  My aunt asked me if everything was still the same in terms of what's been going on in my life.  I told her yes and that there's a lot to plan for the next few years. My other aunt, uncle, and his brother visited also.  The last time I saw them was in 2005.  Almost 10 years!  I asked how they were doing and how my cousins were doing.  My uncle's brother introduced himself.  He was a little shy, but ended up opening up to me more when we were on the train to New York.


After dinner, we divided the group into two.  My brother took my cousins and my cousin's best friend to 9th street (the Japanese area in St. Mark's) while I had the out of towners and toured them around the touristy areas of New York.  Since I use the Path Smartlink card and Pay Per Ride Metrocard, I rarely have to use the machine to refill both of them.  I had to divide fares and get a Metrocard to get them into the turnstiles.  We took pictures before we entered the Path train.  It was fun being a tourist for a change! haha


Since it was the weekend, the 33rd Street train became 33rd Street/Hoboken which takes a little bit longer.  During the ride, my uncle's brother asked me how expensive food was in New York.  My other aunt asked me about commuting and my bag.  My aunt from Pennsylvania (three aunts were with me--Pennsylvania aunt, West Coast aunt, and abroad aunt) asked me if I took AP U.S. History when I was in high school.  I told her yes and that it was a little challenging.  My teacher was a tough grader and we had a lot of pop quizzes.  She told me that my cousin was having a little bit of trouble with the class.  I told her that it was just a lot of reading and memorization.  I was 15 or 16 when I took the class so factor in my teenage hormones and just wanting to have fun, it was a recipe for disaster!


When we arrived at 33rd street, they were in awe at the lights and experienced how crowded it was.  The food stands were cooking shish kebabs and rice dishes and everyone started to get hungry again.  I took them to the Empire State Building first since that was close to us.  We took pictures in the lobby area and my aunts took pictures with the information booth man. haha  A man who came from the Observation Deck told Pennsylvania aunt that it was foggy and no one could see anything from above.  My aunt thanked him and was relieved that we wouldn't have spent money if we couldn't see anything.


Everyone arriving in Herald Square


As we were walking, we moved toward Times Square.  On the way we saw Bryant Park and the New York Public Library.  Everyone needed to use the bathroom so we made a pit stop at the park's restrooms.  When I explained to them that the huge building was the Public Library, they decided to take pictures there.  Everyone made goofy faces on the steps and West Coast aunt and I exchanged jokes which made her laugh uncontrollably for 5 minutes.


@ 42nd Street, my aunts making a heart in front of the New York Public Library


When we got to Times Square, it was packed!  Very rare do I go to Times Square so I showed them where the New Year's Eve countdown usually takes place and showed them what streets are closed during that time.  They loved the lights and advertisements.  My uncle's brother asked me about Broadway shows and the Lion King.  I told him which shows I watched and told them that if they were staying longer, I'd take them to some shows.  We continued uptown and stopped by a souvenir shop and Superdry, a clothing store.  Apparently my cousins love that brand.  I didn't know about that brand until I asked my brother about it after his trip.


My three aunts in Times Square


Times Square

Yay for being a tourist for the day!


Family group picture


Family group picture 2



We looked around and my uncle's brother asked me if the prices were expensive.  I told him that it depended on the brand and style.  They had a sale where some items were $20 which wasn't bad for a sweater or light jacket.  Continuing on was our final stop which was Rockefeller Center.  I showed them Radio City Music Hall, the NBC Studio, the shops around Rockefeller, and the flags of different countries next to the skating rink.  My aunt asked me if it looked different during the holiday season because of the ice skating and Christmas tree.  I told her that it was very decorative and bustling during the holiday season.


It was getting late (around 10:30ish pm) for them and West Coast aunt was a little tired from her flight.  She asked me if we could take the subway home because walking made her tired.  We laughed and told her sure.  We went down into the subway where it was warm.  I gave her my fan to cool herself down with.  Despite being a rushed tour, they all enjoyed it.  I told them to come again for a longer period of time so that I could really take them around other places such as karaoke and restaurants.


I called my brother and asked him if they were all finished since our group was heading home.  He said that they're still exploring around the area and they would return back to Jersey later.  We headed back to my parents' house and had dinner.  My mom watched my two cousins while they did their homework.  We were all really hungry.  I was heating up everyone's plates once they picked out what they wanted to eat and made some coffee for the others.  We all sat in the living room and had our usually storytime and conversations.


West Coast aunt and I made jokes again and she ended up laughing hard similar to the library scene.  My uncle laughed and said that no one could understand what we were joking about.


"I think they only understand each other," said my uncle while laughing.


It was nice.  We used West Coast aunt's Ipad to Facetime with my cousin and his daughter back at their place.  She was so adorable!  She wore her new dress and danced around the room.  She was always so sweet when I visited her.  We'd dance around when she'd wake up in the morning.


Once it was time for bed, we were all coordinating on who would sleep where.  West Coast aunt, her daughter, and my abroad aunt slept in my parents' bedroom.  Pennsylvania aunt and her family slept on a portable bed in the living room.  My uncle and his brother slept in the guest bedroom.  I slept on one couch in the living room, my other cousin slept on the other couch.  My brother slept in another bedroom with my cousin's best friend tagging along.


Everything surprisingly worked out.  I told them that the next time they visit, they could sleep in my place and we laughed.  My brother and his friends arrived around 1 am.  As we were all in our pajamas already, they were getting ready also.  My cousin wanted to go to Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art the next day.


Next morning, we were all eating the leftovers for breakfast.  My dad also cooked bacon and eggs for the group.  I wanted to have some of the peach mango juice, but everyone ended up drinking all of it!  Instead I turned to my good friend, iced coffee.  My cousin bought breakfast outside and asked me if I wanted anything.  I politely declined and started cleaning up.


We all got ready and Facetimed my grandma.  She asked me when I was going to have children and I told her soon and laughed.  We caught up on how things were going and when I'll come visit her.  It might be in 2014 depending on scheduling and how things will move.


My brother and I took our cousins and my cousin's best friend to the train station.  We got off at 14th street and walked toward the subway to head to the Metropolitan Museum.  On the way, I was feeling a little tired from the night before so I asked if we could stop by for some coffee.  The closest coffee place was Starbucks so we headed in and ordered our lattes/macchiatos.  When we sat down my two cousins were asking me about having children and plans for the future (buying a house, relocating, etc.).  We all shared our thoughts and shared the same sentiment to not rush things especially when having children.


After having our morning coffee, we headed out and arrived uptown near Central Park.  My cousin wanted to visit it so we headed in.  It was really nice and calm.  People were walking their dogs and doing their morning exercises.  I'm rarely in New York on Sundays so it was a pretty nice sight to not be stuffed during rush hour. haha


Cloudy, but calm Sunday morning in Central Park


Me in Central Park


At a bridge in Central Park with my cousin Jinn


Group picture

Jinn's best friend Jared, Me, Jinn, and my other cousin Fairlane



My cousin is also a fitness trainer so she did her running and jumping throughout the park.  I took pictures on her phone while she did crazy stunts with her brother.  People probably thought we were crazy tourists!  Afterward we were walking around the park.  It was big so we got a little lost and ended up on the west end when we needed to go to the east end.  We did get a lot of good pictures though.  We followed the map and saw the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  There were a lot of people, but it wasn't too bad.


We only had a limited time since my cousins had to catch their flight home early next morning.  Their airport was in Philadelphia so they all had to drive back to my Uncle and Aunt's house in Pennsylvania to get some rest.  We decided to focus on the Asian Art since that's what they wanted to see.


Buddhist statue


We quickly navigated through the East Asian art section in order to cover art from areas such as Chinese, Japanese, Nepalese, and Himalayan art.


Serene fountain


This was so peaceful to look at.  If you saw the fountain in person, it would really touch you inside.


Chinese Calligraphy

I loved the details of the calligraphy brushes, table, and paper.  I've had friends take calligraphy classes and told me how important it was to be precise and gentle with the strokes.  Not to mention they informed me that the professor was a very strict grader!  It was beautiful and it reminded me of the classes that I took for my minor in Japanese Language and Culture.  Can't deny that learning about your heritage is important :)


We also went through modern art when we figured out that we had a little time to explore.  My cousin and I saw a glass sculpture of a reindeer.  It was gorgeous and it somehow reminded me of the Christmas season.



After we explored the wing, we headed back to 33rd St. to take the train.  We were all hungry and I was craving nachos so we went into the 7 Eleven.  My brother got a sandwich, my cousins and the friend got hot dogs, and I got nachos (yes, I wanted to treat myself even if it's bad for me haha).  After eating, we headed back to the train and got back to Jersey fairly quickly.


Everyone was getting ready to return to Pennsylvania since everyone's flights were there.  We ate dinner, took final pictures, and gave our hugs and kisses.  It was really nice despite only being two days.  I told them that next time they can stay at my place and they can plan to stay longer so that we can tour them around more places in New York as well as New Jersey.  It was really wonderful.


For some reason though, I feel like more family will give me a surprise visit in November or the holiday season.  I already had to entertain family during the summer and the fall so I hope they'll at least wait until 2014 when I finish handling all of my things! haha


I'm also handling some things with the court to shorten my name.  Those of you who know my full name know how unbelievably long it is.  My best friend actually said it when we had dinner one time and we both started laughing.  I was a little nervous about the impending bureaucratic process, but it surprisingly went by smoothly.  Everyone has been extremely nice...the court clerks, the judge assigned to my case, and the newspaper's legal department.


You said it Garfield!



Since I'm just shortening my name and not changing it to Kevin Brandon Freedom Egg McMuffin, the judge informed me that I don't have to attend a hearing and everything will be decided on the papers.  Yay!  I submitted the paperwork in September and I'm glad that it was reviewed faster than expected.  I was afraid that I'd get a response in November or December for a date in 2014.  I was like, "I won't have time to wait!"  Last thing I want to do is give government agencies and human resources a headache at my 4 million character name when getting paperwork done. lol


I'm also acting as my own attorney so I'm taking care of the paperwork, making copies of everything, coordinating publication, and keeping in contact with the court.  I also called all of registrar offices of my alma maters of what was required to update my transcripts and records.  I shared a laugh with the woman in the registrar's office from my grad school.  Since the school I graduated from also changed names twice since I was there, we laughed at how long the name is now.  The newspaper also published my legal notice, and I cut the clipping from the newspaper as soon as I bought it when I woke up.  I'm now just waiting for the affidavit from the newspaper so that I can send everything to the judge for Final Judgment.  It actually takes some time to process so I'm getting things done as soon as I get paperwork back.


It's interesting because with family and in college, everyone preferred to call me Kevin whenever they'd see my name.  When I was preparing my paperwork, it was a no brainer that I'd keep Kevin as my first name and use family names for my middle and last names.  Once the affidavit is taken care of, I can just wait for the decision.


So a lot of those things have been keeping me busy for the past few weeks/month.  I do want to tie up all of these loose ends because I know that I won't have time later on to handle these matters.


I was watching Home Alone a few days ago, and I saw the scene where the family came together to eat pizza.  So Kevin and Buzz were fighting and it made the milk spill over the passports and plane tickets.  I said to myself, "Who the hell puts all of the family's passports and tickets on the kitchen counter next to the drinks and food?!"  I just started laughing at how crazy that was.


I'd probably yell at everyone to get all of their passports and tickets organized in their bags/purses/wallets before they can even look at a slice of pizza! haha


That's it for now.  I saved a draft of more events that I will publish again in a few days.  It's going to be Halloween in a week so it should be nice.  It's also going to be a year since I moved everything to my site (lecahierdekev).  Wow, look how quick that went.


Until my next entry, hope you all have a great day!

Melody from the Heart

It has been quite an interesting few weeks.


My family from abroad just arrived four days ago and they were pretty excited since it's their first time in the States.  They were enjoying the sights of San Francisco and Las Vegas and by the end of this week, they'll be with me touring The Big Apple.  It's a pretty large group (around 10).  I'm still deciding on whether to take them to a restaurant to eat or cook up a nice meal.  It'll also be my best friend's birthday on the day that they will arrive here so it'll be a lot of scheduling.  However usually with family, I just love having a meal and catching up with all of them in the dining room.  It's more festive that way.  They're pretty relaxed on what we'll do or where to go as long as we're together.


I spoke to my aunt last weekend and she sounded very excited to come here.  Last time she visited the East Coast I was in grad school so I couldn't see her and the family.  We had a great conversation and it seemed like I had just seen her recently.  She always had a lot of food so I would laugh when she would share her selection of what I could have for breakfast.  Oatmeal, coffee, red velvet cake, eggs, bacon, cereal, bagels, baked ziti, soup, a Snickers ice cream bar....it felt like a deluxe continental breakfast!  How will I be able to top that when she comes to visit me? :)


A few weeks ago I caught up with my sister Kate from Hong Kong.  We had lunch at Cafe Zaiya in Kinokuniya bookstore and shared so many stories.  She's a fashion designer with a beautiful collection.  I remembered seeing the pictures from her show and just being in awe.  Look at that...sis is a fashion designer...brother is an artist.  I'm the one who's in the health/science field!  But it's awesome being surrounded by their creativity.


Afterward we headed to the Plaza Hotel where we had cheesecake from Lady M's.  We wanted to have our picture taken together so we looked around and saw two Japanese women conversing.  She laughed and told me to ask them in Japanese to take our picture.  After back and forthing, she asked them politely and they obliged.



The picture came out great!  She shared her sisterly wisdom with me when I told her what was stressing me out about the future.  It was really wonderful talking to her and giving each other insight into our fields.  We headed out to Central Park so that she could take her train at Lincoln Center.  We joked that we knew we were at Central Park because we could smell the horses from far away. lol  We talked about jazz performance and events at Lincoln Center and I told her that I'd love to attend an event with her during our free time.  When we parted ways, we gave each other a hug and kiss.  Her friends from the UK are coming to New York City at the end of October so we all planned to meet together for dinner then.


Speaking of music, soce the elemental wizard, a New York City artist who I interviewed a few years ago, has some great beats to share.  He's very talented both in music and comedy and has been a pleasure to work with.  Come show him your support...check out his page and his music!



Soce Beats Vol. 4

Soce's Youtube Page


As for reading, I found Barron's E-Z Anatomy and Physiology on sale.  I instantly grabbed it after flipping through it.



It's a pretty easy read considering the subject matter.  Brings back a lot of memories of my undergrad final minute cram sessions.  I just wished I had this back then!  I remembered going through Drs. Marieb & Hoehn's Human Anatomy and Physiology book which was intense in terms of material and depth.  It saved me so much later on when I did my hospital internship, graduate research, and case management work.  Back then I'd never thought that I would read an A&P book for fun. :)


Most Talkative: Stories from the front line of pop culture was on sale for almost 75% off.  Andy Cohen, the Executive Vice President of Development and Talent at Bravo, wrote the book detailing his life and his work.



He actually had a book signing and talk at the Union Square Barnes and Noble during the spring.  I think it was either March or April of this year.  I couldn't attend because I had class, but I was interested to see what goes on in his mind when he performs his work.  I just started knowing him because of Top Chef and his talk show Watch What Happens Live.  My former co-workers knew him because of the Housewives series.  I'll take a look at it soon.


I usually try to balance technical readings with some light hearted ones.  Too much of one thing won't be too good now, right?


The weekend was pretty hectic.  I wasn't feeling well on Friday night which continued until Sunday afternoon.  It wasn't anything major.  I just had muscle aches and a headache.  It probably was the transition from the hotter weather to the colder weather.  But it was a really uncomfortable feeling.  There was tension around my neck and head that went down to my lower back.  I'm thankful I recovered quickly.  Since my family is coming at the end of this week, I didn't want to feel lethargic while I made final preparations for food, cleaning up, and planning out the sights to see.


Over the weekend, my uncle got hospitalized for a stroke.  My mom called me Sunday morning with the news and asked to keep him in my thoughts.  He's a dentist so he works hard and is always light-hearted.  I hope he recovers soon.  He's a strong man so I have faith that he'll get through this.


As I'm catching up on everything- from portfolio work and writing to handling family matters, I'm just prioritizing so I don't end up all over the place.

Vibrant (K)nights

I received a call that my uncle and aunt from abroad as well as my family from the West Coast are visiting in a few weeks.  I'm pretty excited to see them again, but I won't stress too much about the planning.  I'm sure they'll want to go to the typical tourist attractions so it shouldn't be too hard :)


The Mindy Project is playing in the background (hooray for On Demand!) as I type this blog and get other work done.  I watched the Season 2 premiere in the On Demand menu and it was pretty good.  I look forward to seeing what crazy antics she'll get herself into for this season.


I'm going to start reading a memoir called The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer, and I wanted to share a few reviews that caught my attention.



"A fierce and funny coming of age story about ambition and yearning and necessary betrayals.  Moehringer's mom pushed him to make something of himself, to go to Yale and eventually get hired and fired by the New York Times, and he exquisitely describes every wince-making step of his class climb.  A superb literary brew."

Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air


"[The Tender Bar] is a success story of a man, raised by his hardworking mother, who grows up to appreciate the value of an education, the support of a network of adults and, most of all, the community that can be established with both elbows on the well-worn wooden beams of an old-fashioned bar, a public house, where all are welcome."

The Sunday Oregonian



I don't try to spoil myself by reading in depth reviews about books (or anything in general).  However when I glanced at a few of them, I really liked the honest perspective that he brought about his upbringing. Usually it's the adversities that people overcome that makes each individual's story rich.  No one has a perfect life and we all are bound to experience disappointment or failure at one point or another.


I wanted to start with the theme of his memoir to set the stage for this blog entry.  Life doesn't always go as planned and I learned to have to constantly adapt to changes that I may or may not have control over.  It requires so much patience, dedication, and most of all, perseverance so that I don't just throw in the towel when things become overwhelming.  I do honestly feel blessed to have such a caring network be there for me for support.


I remembered reading an article about famed baker and cake decorator, Sylvia Weinstock.  You can google her to see the types of cakes that she creates.  She discussed a main element of learning how to construct sugar flower decorations.  When she first started in the cake business, she took apart a rose and examined its anatomy to understand how it blooms.  As you can imagine, it requires a lot of patience to deconstruct and reconstruct a particular object.  Do you remember seeing someone take apart a bike or other form of machinery and they end up not being able to put it back together?  I remembered seeing it in a show before and I was amazed (well I was actually laughing at that time...come on, I was a kid!) at how we can do something so quickly, but not realize or fully comprehend the entire process at all.


It really kept things in perspective when I had things planned out during the summer.  I remembered late June/early July when I was discussing it with my loved ones here to relocate to the West Coast.  I really had to weigh the pros and cons while taking into account the career prospects, opportunities, and living arrangements that had to be arranged.  As I made my list, it was like deconstructing the rose and studying the different elements that will come into play.  The fact that it's not only going to affect me made the decision even harder.  I felt excited and nervous when I finished at NYU.  In a sense, it opened a new chapter.  I had to make sure that I understood the elements of the "rose" so that I wouldn't be in a situation like those characters who took apart the bike, but couldn't put it back together. 


When making the decision to stay in the New York area, I realized that I was happy here and I knew that I could flourish with the opportunities that it brings.  There are a lot of cultural events, myriad classes that I could take (be it academic or recreational), and I'm always meeting new people who decide to come study or work here.  I knew that I could reconstruct the rose and expand on my life in this area.  No doubt it'll be fun to visit the beaches and experience the West Coast lifestyle, but taking things back to reality, I'd most likely be driving to work, hoping that I don't get caught in two hour traffic.  There's that romanticism from vacations or short trips that leave such an impression, but when it disappears and reality sets in, it can be disappointing.


Back then, I did push myself to go to grad school a little further from home so that I would acclimate easily to changing environments for future reference.  It was like when I first learned how to drive.  I first was using my dad's van and my mom's SUV (yes they like big cars lol).  It was a huge jump since the cars were so big.  I thought that I would start off with a sedan, but what ended up happening was that it made it a lot easier to drive the sedan since I used the big cars first.  I learned to not fear this change, but I also learned to listen to my heart and weigh everything before making a big leap.  It may sound fun in theory, but I could end up broke and upset if I don't take other things into consideration (esp. others' feelings).


I saw an ad for Top Chef Season 11 when I passed by the 49th Street subway stop.  I was a dedicated follower of the show a few years ago, but as the judges kept changing and the drama overshadowed the cooking, I lost interest.  I don't mind the drama (I grew up watching The Real World on MTV) so I understand the need to catch the viewer's attention with built in drama or crazy scenarios.  However, things became so over the top with the bullying and immaturity that I just couldn't focus on the food.  It would be easier for the judges because they only see the food, but as the viewer, you see what they do behind the scenes along with when they cook.  Whether they staged their antics or not, it did get unpleasant at times.  But I'll give it a glance for this season.  A little competitiveness is certainly fine though, and I won't let a previous season influence the new one.


As I was cleaning up around the house, I found my snack bag.  It has a lot of goodies that I usually munch on when I'm writing.  I have a bar of dark chocolate that I keep as my "emergency chocolate" when I really need it.  Dark chocolate is healthier so I'm happy I actually acquired a taste for it.  I know a lot of people prefer milk chocolate, but I do prefer the bitter dark chocolate.  I actually ate a bag of Brookside's Dark Chocolate Blueberries an hour ago which ended up tasting delicious.  The sweetness of the blueberries complemented the richer flavor of the chocolate.





My brother called me on the Thursday before Labor Day and told me that he had a surprise for me.  He told me to keep Sunday open.  On Sunday, he, along with his best friend, took me to Medieval Times in Lyndhurst to celebrate my birthday.  My birthday was actually in July, but since our schedules were pretty busy, we weren't able to meet then for it (although it was fun celebrating it with different people!).  It was so fun!  We were in the Red and Yellow Knight's section and he ended up becoming the runner up.  I think throughout my life I went there 8 times, and my knight only won once...and that was when I was in high school.  Hey at least my senior year was eventful!  That was just the icing on the cake though :)


(I apologize for the quality of the pictures.  I only had my phone and didn't plan on taking pictures.)


Outside the Castle


Birthday Surprise




Here's a video of our knight winning against the Yellow Knight:



The place was packed and the people in our row were very friendly.  A guy next to my brother was celebrating with his girlfriend.  He asked what types of beers they had since he saw my brother's best friend's mug and when he said, "Yuengling," the guy laughed and said, "That's all you had to say!"  Good times indeed.  The food was pretty good since the chicken was moist while the other items...the soup, apple dessert, and garlic bread were just as memorable.  I mean it's a place to be entertained, not a five star restaurant dining experience :)


After the show, we headed to the dungeon to take pictures.  The lights were red so it gave the pictures a slight hue.  Afterward, we went outside to relax for a bit and we saw a lot of smiling people getting ready for the next show.






As we were driving home my brother's best friend and I saw a statue of a dolphin that we wanted to take pictures of.  My brother stayed in the car, but he told us that people were looking at us while the two of us took pictures like tourists.  It was a pretty nice statue though!



Who would've thought that an artistic piece like this would be located in Lyndhurst, New Jersey?


It's also Fashion Week in New York and I'm going to meet with my designer friend.  We had a lot of fun discussing trends and styles when we first met, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing her again.  We discuss a lot of stories about inspiration and how we can get ideas from so many sources.  She gave me a lot of encouragement when I was thinking of venturing more into this work so I do plan to make her proud!  We joked that The Sartorialist would take pictures of us if we looked unique enough.


I'll leave all of you with a nice song that I heard from an episode of The Mindy Project.  It's called Who's On My Rocket by Miss Amani.  I don't think I'd have been able to find it had I not seen the episode.



In the beginning of the episode, Mindy discussed the vibrant nightlife of New York City.  It's fast paced and exciting.  People running to the food carts to get something to eat at 2 AM after a night of dancing (and drinking)...chasing a taxi to get to the next stop...laughing and enjoying the great times with friends and/or a significant other. As crazy as it can get with delayed trains or overcrowding, I still have a lot of fun here.  This is pretty much my home.  I love New York and New Jersey.


Hope this song gets you pumped up!  Until next time everyone, have a wonderful day.

Hands On Appreciation

Thank goodness it's Friday!


During my downtime, I decided to take care of some errands.


I went to Barnes and Noble to buy a sketchbook for my designs.  They had a sale on diaries and sketchbooks so I grabbed one with Hokusai's Great Wave.  I love the water so I chose something that would help get the creative juices flowing rather than a plain black sketchbook (although I do have a plain black one with me that I bought back in 2005). haha




I'll be working on some figure drawings and designs for an idea for a piece on menswear and another on womenswear.


I also bought a book a week ago from Reader's Digest called Stealth Health.  When I glanced at it, it had a lot of good advice ranging from healthy cooking and exercise to family and relationships.




Apparently, this is for the Canadian version.  But after I reviewed it, the information can be translated to the American market.  The only differences are minor spelling changes and measurements such as using kilometers instead of miles or writing fibre instead of fiber.  I grew up in a European environment (as well as studying science) so the metric system has been ingrained in me.  It has a lot of great advice, and I wanted to make sure the health and nutrition information were correct before recommending it.  The one thing that was a big plus for me was that the information was in simple language.  It was an easy read and anyone regardless of background will be able to pick it up and understand what's being discussed.


It also touches upon mental health such as providing tips for handling stress, anxiety, or depression.  A lot of the advice is what you'd find in self help "Chicken Soup for the Soul" types of books, but it's indeed helpful.  With fast paced lives nowadays, many people don't get the chance to really do things to relax.  Even during free time (I can speak from my experience), work and other responsibilities orbit our minds (even when we don't consciously try to).  Playing with your pet, exercising, or talking it out with your significant other or good friend are a few things that can help alleviate the buildup of emotions.  I have applied a lot of what I learned from my counseling experience to my current work in journalism and public relations.  Similar to how you need to understand your clients' problems before helping them get through it during therapy, you need to understand the background of a news story or article before writing it. The same goes with fashion.  You have to understand changes in trends and the tastes of your audience in order to tailor the clothes to their needs.


In the end, who doesn't want someone to talk to?


But think of it this way.  How do you feel when you click or connect with someone, even for a brief moment?  Whether it's catching up with an old friend or just joking around with the cashier at the check out line, it makes you feel good when both of you can share stories.


Speaking of check out lines, I also stopped by Bed, Bath, and Beyond to get a few items.



There were so many great things that I had to control myself from redecorating the house!  I did pick up a few things such as a nonslip hanger for belts/scarves (since they keep falling down from my smooth hangers), a pizza cutter (can you believe that all of these years I've been killing myself trying to cut a pizza with a regular knife which ends up pulling off the cheese and toppings? haha well no more!), disinfectant, a small black storage bin, and Downy Unstopables (it's one "p" but I was tempted to type two!).  Now here's a story about the latter.




I was walking through one of the aisles and a scent instantly caught my attention.  I peeked around and found the source of the heavenly bliss (don't you just love adjectives?).  It was the fragrant smell of a fresh laundry breeze.  I saw that it came from the Downy Unstopables.  I read reviews that the blue one smelled better than the lavender one, and I agree.  The blue one was the one I smelled back during my vacation.  I read that it would make laundry smell good for a few weeks and when people did the laundry it would make the house smell wonderful.


I actually wanted to try something different and try to make the cabinets and closets have that fresh smell.  I read online that some people would put it in an old sock and toss it into the drawers and closets to freshen the smell of the clothes.  My friend gave me a small bag with my name on it and Prada cologne as a gift during Christmas.  What I decided to do was put a teaspoon of beads into that bag and put it in the closet.  I might also do a Febreeze type of spray and mix it with water in a spray bottle.




It was pretty soothing to walk down the aisles.  The associates were so nice and we'd all smile at each other when they'd ask if I needed any help.


I have a couple of readings to do.  There are a couple of articles in Pharmacy Today that I wanted to check out.  The latest issue contains continuing education for substance abuse in the pharmacy profession and other articles on sleep disorders and immunization.



I'm also going through Bina Abling's Fashion Sketchbook.  It's very comprehensive and I looked through several different types of illustration books, but decided to focus on this one before dealing with the more advanced one's like Anna Kiper's Fashion Illustration: Inspiration and Techniques.



I'm going to do a twist on men and women's formal wear, and I was inspired by a theme of romanticism that I found in some Japanese art.  When I have it all laid out, I'll share it with all of you!


After going through all of these books, it reminded me of the experiences that I read from Gail Simmons's book Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater.  When she approached the editor about food writing, he told her that performing the hands on work as a chef will allow her to understand culinary writing more.  She burned her hand on a pot, ran around, and juggled her duties preparing meals for the restaurants that she worked at.


When I did work in public health, I learned the theories and case studies, but it wasn't until I actually worked for programs such as the Genesis Health Project Network where I had to speak with investors/collaborators, work with populations, tailor information to suit individual needs (be it cultural, educational, or religious), and learn about the ins and outs of marketing and grant writing that I understood how complex and important it was to reach out to these communities.


The same went with fashion.  I collaborated with a designer on writing fashion advice, wrote trend pieces, and interviewed a new designer for a profile (which reminds me, I have to finish one on a model).  But I knew that the same principle applies.


As I started sketching out pieces, looked at different colors, and felt several types of fabrics (of which I'll end up cutting and sewing), I gained a newfound appreciation for the process (similar to my work in health and Gail Simmons's work in the culinary field).  I learned the ins and outs that could not be gained solely by reading.


But there was one common theme throughout all of these scenarios.


It's all hard work.


This also reminds me of a poster I saw before:



I knew that sitting down and twiddling my thumbs won't make articles appear or designs flash before my eyes.  I had to go into the "knitty gritty" and "burn my hands on the pot" like Gail Simmons.  But look at her now... she ended up becoming a judge on Top Chef and Special Events Coordinator for Food and Wine Magazine.


Yes it can be achieved, but it requires work.  It's actually fun though.  I get to collaborate with people from different fields, conduct interviews, and write.


Just some food for thought.  I do have a few music suggestions for my next entry and I'm anticipating Season 2 of The Mindy Project which will start in September.  Hopefully, it'll be as good as the first. 


Now I have to finish writing a card to a friend. :)

Stylistic Passion

As we're approaching the end of summer, I can see a lot of people squeezing in final plans before autumn comes around.  Speaking of vacations, I saw a commercial for Twizzlers on TV where they played a cover of "Holiday Road" by Lindsey Buckingham.  The song was so catchy and it got stuck in my head!  It did remind me of going on those long road trips as a kid.  My dad was just as crazy as Chevy Chase getting lost and going off in some other direction! haha


Here's the commercial:



I was reading the comments and some people said that the closest it sounded was Monica Matocha's version.  I downloaded it from Amazon and now I'm bobbing my head to it.  Good times.  But now all of this talk about candy is making me crave something sweet.  I think I'm going to go get a box of Mike and Ike when I finish some errands.  Weird...I see a commercial for Twizzlers and I end up craving something else!



I do have a couple of books to discuss, but I just remembered a story from back in college that I'd like to share.


I had a professor in college who told us a story about her daughter.  Back in the late 70's/early 80's she would take her daughter to the bookstore to get a couple of children's books.  This was in Japan so English language books were pretty expensive.  During the train ride home her daughter would dig right in and was already halfway through one book.  My professor laughed and told her daughter to slow down and "savor" the book when in reality, she told us that she paid a lot of money for the books and didn't want her going through them so quickly.


It was such a cute story, but it did make me think about the pressures that I encountered as I was growing up.  Maybe some of you can relate to this, but there were always these external factors that would instigate this conflict of social status.  The combination of neighbors, family, and friends flaunting what they had or bragging about achievements added pressure to come on top.


What happened was that instead of savoring life, I felt like I was in a horse race to either keep up or go beyond what they're doing.  After a while...


I wanted a taste of that life...the good life.


However, I realized just how miserable I was.  I expended so much energy trying to keep up and not be left behind that I was losing my individuality.  I didn't do these things for me, I did it so that it would be the only way to shut them up and stop them from comparing.  I lost focus of my dreams.  Rather than trying to play a new sport, joining a meetup group, or reading a new book, I was fighting an internal conflict with the external world.


"How could you not be driving a Mercedes or a BMW?"


I was left speechless.  How could I have countered that?  I was just a new graduate back then.  What 21 year old college graduate would have the money to own or lease one of those?  Now if someone worked hard and earned the money to actually get a luxury car, then that's fine.  But why would people expect a new graduate to be able to attain one?  Even marriage or owning a home became a rat race in who would have the bigger and better thing.


"Oh you're only having a small reception?  Why aren't you inviting more people?"


It does end up becoming a problem when things are rushed.  It's no longer about someone wanting to get the car that they want, the wedding that they're planning, or the career that won't seem like hard labor digging diamonds at a mine shaft.  It's now about who can outshine who and be on top.


Pretty soon, I stopped myself and remembered my professor's story.  Why wasn't I cherishing the nice book?  Rather than immersing myself in the characters and dialogue, I wanted to finish the book before everyone else.  When I slowed down, I was a lot happier.  I only had one chance at life and I definitely wanted to make my experiences enriching and memorable.  Their opinions wouldn't have an effect whether I was going to drive and Infiniti, a motorcyle, or a horse drawn carriage.  Would their opinions serve as a down payment?  Would they lessen the interest rate?




So why was I stressing so much over this?  It's easy to see the answer in hindsight, but it was unbelievably annoying at that time.  I'm definitely glad that it's over.  Giving myself the space to do things at a reasonable pace severely lessened the stress load.


I'm going through Dana Thomas's How Luxury Lost Its Luster and I'm really enjoying it.  It will really make you rethink about the romanticism of owning designer items.  It's interesting how much power it has that a simple logo can create preconceptions of one's status of wealth and influence.  Have any of you gone to one of those stores in your work clothes or nice clothes versus being in your gym attire?  You will see the difference in customer service.  (I guess you can say that for many places, but it's not always the case).


When I took fashion journalism, we had to read from different publications such as Elle, Vogue, or Marie Claire.  My teacher told us that surveying different forms of cultural reporting and getting used to the language will help us understand the techniques to cater to different demographics.  When I was looking around Barnes and Noble, I found the Ellements of Personal Style.  It was cute because for writing/journalism, I had to read the Elements of Style (a book on grammar and stylistic rules for writing) so I thought that the play on words was cute.



It had beautiful pictures and covered the personal lives and individualistic style of women such as Diane Von Furstenberg.  Diane has such a down to earth, relaxed personality.  Reading through her story seemed so conversational.  I didn't expect anything less from the woman who introduced the wrap dress as well as exhibiting her passion for life through her family, friends, and activities.


I instantly recognized Padma Lakshmi from my many years of watching Top Chef.  She had a recipe for homemade perfume using different essential oils that I might try out.  See, I'm integrating my science and journalism/communications background. :)  Biochemistry + Fashion = Fun


I also loved Dita Von Teese's classical retro style.  I felt like I was transported into a cozy lounge-- lights dimmed and the velvet waves flowing against the background.  I'm intrigued by the look of the pinstripe suit and the 1920's vintage attire most notably seen worn by the gangsters of the era.  (Since I was in a vintage mood, I was also contemplating on getting a pompadour hairstyle, but it looked like it would take a lot of time to maintain! haha) 


I did find a suit from Tom Ford that caught my eye.  It was exactly what I had in mind when I was looking for a contemporary look that matched the pinstripe theme:



Very chic and professional.


But the book is a nice, casual read that delves into the personal style mantras and influences by these beautiful women.  I recommend it as a great coffee table book.  It really did help me get ideas on how to approach and fine tune my fashion portfolio (along with interviewing questions).  It's definitely a lot of work, but I was inspired to sort through what I wanted to focus on.


Another book I picked up was You're (Not) The One by Alexandra Potter.  It was on sale for $3 so I asked why not?  When I read the back it stated, "Most women dream of finding the love of their life.  Lucy just wants to lose him..."



What intrigued me was how many of us dream of finding our one true love.  What ends up happening is that it's not always going to be Peaches and Cream.  I won't be able to touch this one until I finish the other books on my queue, but it did jog a few things into my head about how I became more realistic with love as I got older.  I definitely still enjoyed the honeymoon phase, but knowing that the person whom I'm with has flaws (as well as me) made it easier to communicate and work things out.  It's easy to throw in the towel when things start to get hard, but it won't get any better if the same mistake gets repeated in future relationships.


Indeed, I'm not the 18 year old who has the idealistic view, but I can be a lot more comfortable and trust that we will both be there for each other.


I briefly skimmed the reviews online (I didn't want to spoil myself!), and it looked promising.  Feel free to check it out when you have the chance.


The final book that I'm reading is Sun Tzu's The Art of War.  I skimmed through it in college, but I'm going to sit down and analyze it.  I think that it has so many applications to the real world.  Believe me, romance can test the skills of even the best generals!  But as I had written in the above paragraphs, it's a lot of strategy and decision making to navigate through the trials that are dealt to you.  I only wished that I knew how to deal with it back then, but you know what...when you lose a few battles, you'll know how to approach the war.  Pretty profound, huh? haha




But seriously, I think that we do have to experience some of these things; otherwise, we won't know what the outcome will be.  There will never be a specific set of rules that will be a panacea for what we will go through.  It's just a matter of learning what will work for you while using advice as guidelines.  When I was formulating how to deal with the people who were judgmental about status, I found ways to highlight my individuality without compromising my personal ideals.


I basically reframed my own worldview and prioritized what I needed to accomplish.  I wanted to travel, dine, and go bungee jumping.  Why would I just waste my time playing this game of cat and mouse besting each other?  If they want to that with themselves, fine.  But I didn't want to be dragged into that.


I hope you all enjoy the warmer weather and longer daytime before it gets cold again!  Ugh, Lidia Bastianich is making Cappuccino Ice Cream Cake right now.


Why Lidia...why?!  Just before bedtime too. :)  See, instead of giving them the attention that they are seeking, just use that energy to make Cappuccino Ice Cream Cake.


Have a good night everyone!

Don't Get Egged On

Wow, can you believe it's the end of July already?  It just seemed like yesterday when I was dying from the heatwave! lol  I'm really glad that it cooled down a bit.


I do believe in the importance of keeping in touch with friends and family.  I spoke to my aunt who wasn't feeling well, (but thankfully recovered) and we just shared stories about how things were going.  I do keep in mind to take any opportunity that I can to show my love and support for my loved ones since I do not know when I'll get another chance to see them.


As I was talking to one of my dear friends, we realized how things change so constantly as we got older.  The stresses and duties that we have may prevent us from seeing the more positive things in life.  From my own experience I can tell you that when I'm on the subway at 9 PM with a headache after doing a lot of editing and writing, it's pretty hard for me to smile.


When I worked at my old job, I had to take the train to World Trade Center and this is what happened since the police had to divert all of the trains from the 33rd Street line:



I had to go through that at 9 AM.  At first I was frustrated.  (Boy was I frustrated!)  But what I realized was that my frustration wouldn't change things.  It wouldn't make the line go any faster and it wouldn't change the train delays.  I knew that there will always be things in our lives that don't go our way and sometimes it's out of our control.  But rather than using up that energy to complain, I just used it to try to tackle what is under my control (the tasks of the day).  Why should I not help a tourist with directions or not say thank you to the vendor giving me my bagel just because I'm having a rough day?  They certainly don't deserve any of my gruff because they didn't do anything to me.


It did put a lot of things into perspective when I had communicated with my friend.  I loved the fact that she was always so positive while keeping a smile during our time in college.  There are a lot of beautiful things in this world that get overshadowed by the negative things that hit us (I mean, I'm sure we all know that the negative things can stand out pretty well compared to the positive).  When we were children we saw the simple beauty in a bubble or a dandelion, but as we got older, outside influences start to play a stronger role. 


I remembered enjoying eating a hard boiled egg when I was younger (I still do!), and one day, I brought it to school.  Two of my classmates saw me eating it at lunch and said, "Eww.  You eat that?" This was when I was in fifth grade and I ended up just eating half of it since I felt embarrassed to finish it.  When I got home, my mom saw that I only ate half of the egg and she looked at me and said, "Kevin, you usually love this.  Why didn't you finish it?"  I burst into tears and told her what happened.  She hugged me and told me to not worry what other people should think.  "If you like something (as long as you're not hurting anyone), go eat it/do it/etc."  She was certainly right.


I was nearing adolescence so I, of course, did not want to stray from the crowd.  But let me tell you, if that was me today, I'd tell them that I'll eat my damn egg whether they like it or not haha  (That's a nicer way of how I'd say it!)


But the main point is that I shouldn't have to stop what I love doing or be afraid of taking any chances to enjoy my life.  And that goes for everyone.  If you want to open your own bookstore, climb the Himalayas, or learn a new language, you should give yourself a chance and experience these things. Don't feel bad that you're eating that hard boiled egg when it's really something that you like to eat.


Me playing one of those carnival type games


When I played the game in the above picture, I was given three chances.  The first time, I won.  But for the last two times, I didn't.  The one above was my last chicken.  I admit, I was a little nervous since there were other people watching me.  I didn't want to be embarrassed and not make that shot.  But you know what?  I just thought to myself that I was just there to have fun regardless of whether I won at the games or not.  I didn't make the shot, but the two people who watched me smiled and said, "Good job."


See, why did I have to worry in the first place?


We may not notice it, but many people are there to cheer us on.  You really never know what the outcome will be unless you try.  It's like when they unmask the villain in Scooby Doo.  Sometimes you may know who ends up being the culprit while other times you may not.  I remembered saying to myself, "That person is way too nice and helpful, he/she must be the villain!"


....then I end up being wrong <slap to the forehead>  (But I did feel good when I got it right!)


In other news, there's just been a lot of juggling, but I'm standing my ground.  I still haven't finished the Julia Child book (since I'm also simultaneously handling other matters), but it has been a pleasant read.  Family from Texas and California also visited so I met with them and caught up.  I also met up with one of my friends since she's also heading for grad school soon, and I wanted to see her one last time in person before her journey.


I've also been rewriting old diary entries in my notebook and turning them into coherent paragraphs.  When I travel, I usually just jot main points down and turn them into entries later on.  It's been fun revisiting these old memories.  The entries were from last Fall and now that I think about it, it's also going to be Fall again soon.  Goodness time moves too fast!


Now time for me to grab a slice of pizza.  (and maybe cook a hard boiled egg) :)

Reading, Writing, and Requiescence

I'm so glad that the graduation parties have calmed down and finished.  There were also nice events such as Bastille Day and my birthday weekend that helped end the celebrations on a positive note.


A week ago, I went to Barnes and Nobles and found a great deal on a few books.  Many times books are cheaper online, but there's something about walking into a bookstore and browsing through selections that's fun. I also end up finding some gems that I may have missed if I'm just searching online.


If any of you have seen my bookcase, you'll know that I LOVE to read.


But I'm very old school when it comes to reading.  I like having the physical book in my hand.  It makes me feel studious, and I feel like I'm accomplishing a lot while I read with my black framed glasses. hehe


At B&N, I picked up a new diary/journal book and the following:





The wine book was originally $65, but it was marked down to $14.95.  I was ecstatic when I found it, but my goodness, it was like carrying the Oxford Dictionary!  It is huge!  It's absolutely gorgeous and informative, and I highly recommend it.  It covers the history of wine, production, types of wine, pairings with food, and grapes and techniques used from different countries and regions.


Mindy Kaling's book was a nice quick read.  I enjoyed her comedic references and lightheartedness when discussing her journey into writing and acting.  The sharp humor and sarcasm was something I was used to from many conversations with friends (but especially my brother) which also taught me to quickly adapt and shoot out a quick retort like my life depended on it.  Mindy does a lot of "lists" and brainstorms ideas which may seem like filler, but overall, it was like having a conversation with an old friend.  I finished the book within two days and was a nice treat.  Great things always seem to happen instantaneously, but after reading her book, you can see that it really did take effort for her to achieve her success.  Many other celebrities already have the connections or support to help bolster their careers, but it's refreshing to actually read about someone who took a leap of faith to get their dreams going.


As many of you know, I finished Julia Child's My Life in France almost two to three years ago.  It was an amazing read, and I revisited it when I had to visit family last September.  I didn't know this book existed about her letters with Avis Devoto.  From the bits and pieces I read from My Life in France (I was going to abbreviate it to MLIF, but it looks too close to MILF and wanted to spare the giggles *smile*), I saw how important their relationship was when Julia wanted to get her book published.  I only started the book yesterday since I just finished Mindy's book two days beforehand. It does seem promising as Joan Reardon is a culinary historian and was able to sort through the myriad letters (can you imagine how long that would've taken?) between the two.  Good job to her.


I also have Bringing Down The House as an ebook, but it's so hard for me to read on my phone.



I'm all for advances in technology, but reading ebooks make it seem harder for me to focus.  (It's weird because if I have to read things that are work related, news, or journal articles on the computer, I don't seem to have the same problem!)  I do have a few ebooks on my phone, but after reading one page, I end up getting a tad dizzy and distracted and just close it to play Angry Birds or Slingo.  (Who doesn't love knocking over those Piggies with magical birds or playing a mash of Slots and Bingo?) However, if I read the same thing via a physical book, I'll cover over a hundred pages in a few hours.


Joking aside, what I might do is order a used paperback copy of it online.  I haven't seen the movie yet (but I know about the casting controversy that surrounded it), so I hope to finish it before watching the film adaptation.


This next book was recommended to me by my colleagues in the fashion industry:



I caught a glimpse of a few pages a while back, but it really captured me with its analysis of fashion and luxury.  I'm going to pick this one up also since it does highlight a lot of aspects of the evolution of the business of fashion.  As we know, society places a big emphasis on status.  Different brands and merchandise that we possess can play a significant role with how we are perceived.  What was once only accessible by the upper class and royalty throughout history is now a common part of everyday life.  With the demand for these products, production has to increase.  How does that translate to quality?  Even without reading the book, many of you can probably guess the answer.  I'm also sure many of us know people who have designer bags or shoes.  Heck, even I'm guilty of having bought said items.  In any case, I think this will definitely be a great read.


I also just recently received my Cert from NYU that I finished the program (on the day of my birthday to be exact).  Yay!  It was quite intense, but I'm so happy that I can now place it with my diplomas from Rutgers and Syracuse.  It was a wonderful experience and now I can move on to a great path ahead.  I was afraid that I was going to get a FedEx envelope stating that I was one class short or that there was a requirement I overlooked.  It's like the nervousness we felt when we all were waiting for our college acceptances.  Mordecai from Regular Show summed it up fondly (I don't remember the exact quote), but he told his girlfriend "Envelope's fat, that's where it's at; envelope's thin, you didn't get in." (Although nowadays, the reverse could be true).


<Insert sigh of relief>


It was definitely worth it, and I learned to hone my writing skills.  Now time to get the ball rolling.

Mangiare, Miei Amici

This weather has been going back and forth, and it's crazy!  I looked at my phone and the weather said it was going to be sunny a few days ago, but when I went outside to head to the train station, clouds gathered and water just poured like I was at Niagara Falls.


Last week, I had dinner to catch up with one of my friends.  We went to Malatesta in the West Village.  It was authentic Italian and everyone was friendly and spoke Italian.  I spoke to them with my very basic Italian from college, but it became a fun experience! 


My friend and I started off with the Crostini Misti.  It was presented beautifully with four different variations.  There was gorgonzola, diced mushrooms/olives, salami, and tomatoes and mozzarella. Each piece had great flavors without overpowering.  I also had a glass of Chardonnay that I would have with my pasta.


My friend ordered the special of the day which was Spinach Fettuccine with Shrimp, and she loved it.  I totally forgot to take pictures of the Crostini and her dish. We were both so hungry that we were digging in!  I was able to stop myself to take a quick picture of my dish.  I ordered the Spaghetti Alla Chitarra which had fresh tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and homemade pasta.  It was amazing!  At first I was debating whether to have that or the Tagliatelle Al Ragu (w/ tomato sauce and ground beef).  I decided to go simple and have the spaghetti.  It was definitely the right decision.



Spaghetti Alla Chitarra


Added the fresh Parmigiano Reggiano



It was filling and absolutely delicious.  I will certainly head back here again in the future.  Dinner was great and my friend and I were able to catch up.  It was nice sharing stories and discussing how our summer will pan out.  I explained the significance/history of Bastille Day to her and told her about the festivities in the Upper East Side.  It's exciting and as a member of the French Institute, I'm spreading the word.  Go PR! haha



J'espère que vous pourrez venir!  Nous allons nous amuser. :)


I hope all of you can make it, it will be lots of fun.


On to more good news, my brother's best friend got accepted to Rutgers Newark for graduate school.  He's excited to be pursuing his Master's, and we've had a lot of great conversations. I told him that grad school was a lot of work, but if you have a supportive and caring mentor, it'll be one of the best experiences ever.


I was listening to songs from my old music library, and I found a remix of Janet Jackson's "Doesn't Really Matter."  I remembered hearing that song back in 2001 and fell in love with it.  12 years later and it still makes me smile.  Here's the Jonathan Peters Remix of it:



People are heading to the beach now, and I might make a trip to the Jersey Shore in July or August when things start to calm down a bit.  But I am indeed enjoying the extra sunshine and longer daytime.  Good stuff.


Enjoy the song and if any of you are heading off on vacation, have a great time and a safe trip!

Photo Panic: Post Spring Adventures

Hi everyone, it's been a while!


As I had stated on my previous entry, things got hectic with graduations, meeting up/checking in with family, finishing up final administrative paperwork at NYU, and juggling life's fun activities.  Everything is going well though, and I'm happy to have a breather.  May was just a big ball of craziness.  At the end of May, I had to make sure that all loose ends were taken care of.  The last thing I'd want is for NYU to call me because I was missing something!


Before commencement at NYU, there were all of these festivities at Washington Square Park and the vicinity.  Students and their families were invited to enjoy this carnival type of fun which looked like a blast.  There were food stands and fire twirling performers...at least that's what I thought when I caught a quick glimpse (I had to run to the train station and it was crowded so I had to jet!).  It was nice and I'm going to miss that environment.


I went to get a haircut last week from my friend/stylist, and she told me that she was going to go to Punta Cana in September.  I'm so jealous of her!  As always, we laughed and joked around in Spanish.  It was nice to discuss our future plans and what we wanted to accomplish within the next few years.  She was very encouraging when I told her about my plans and taking the next step in life.  La amo!


I'm also reading Les Aventures d'Alice Au Pays des Merveilles (Alice in Wonderland).  When I was a kid, I thought that she was just having a crazy tea party and talking to anthropomorphic animals.  I didn't realize the symbolism until I grew up.  I'm revisiting it right now for fun.


The graduations were wonderful.  I had fun admiring the venues and cheering my loved ones on.  There were quite a few, but it would be overwhelming to post all of them so I'm picking my brother and my friend's graduation pictures.  They were really nice days to just share stories and jokes.  Luckily the weather was nice throughout the events- for the graduations and the celebrations that came later on.  The weather recently has been an unpredictable Russian Roulette with one to two days of rain then sun or vice versa.


I got to see a lot of people whom I haven't seen in a year or more.  It was fun seeing their warm smiles and family friends asking me personal questions. haha  I couldn't even take one bite from my bruschetta without one of them giving that sly smile and tickling me.  I'm close to my friend's aunt since her son and I went to the same school (Syracuse University...well his was a joint SUNY-ESF/Syracuse University).  He was an undergrad while I was a grad student.  He loves animals and she told me that he found a job working in the Miami Zoo.  I'm so happy for him.  It's always nice talking to her since she's a tough woman and only opens up to certain people.


On to the pictures!  I have a lot more, but I don't want to make it too picture heavy.


Here's my friend's graduation at Lincoln Center:

Group picture (everyone speaks Mandarin and/or Taiwanese here

except me who speaks VERY basic)



Outside Lincoln Center


Inside Avery Fisher Hall @ Lincoln Center



After her graduation, her, her friend Sam, and I went to have dinner at a Korean restaurant at Koreatown.  The food was so delicious!






I still remembered some of the Korean that I learned from college (as well as from my friends) so when I spoke to the people at the restaurant in Korean, they smiled.  They were so nice!  I was afraid I was going to butcher it or say something out of context haha


Here are the pictures from my brother's graduation at the Performing Arts Center in Newark:


(Please note my brother doesn't like pictures of himself in public so it's just the venue)






It was gorgeous.  I felt like I was getting ready to watch an opera.  The people behind me were saying the same thing.  The acoustics were amazing.  When my brother's best friend and I cheered him on, it echoed!  My brother laughed after the ceremony and said that he really heard us.


One of my friend's is going to attend her MFA program so we promised to catch up before she leaves.  We made plans to have some authentic Italian food.  I'm so excited and I got hungry after reading the menu.  Everything's all ready.  I'll see what their dinner special is that night.  But right now I'm deciding whether to get the Tagliatelle Al Ragu or the simple Spaghetti Alla Chitarra.  All of their pasta is fresh made and since I've been in the company of many Italian families, I know how much pride they take to make meals fantastic.


I usually have a lot of ideas when I think about writing an entry, but when I do, I end up just covering half of what I wanted to write.  I think I got everything though!


But it was indeed nostalgic.  Talking to everyone really brought back past memories.  As much as some of us had our fights and differences, we all wanted to see each other succeed.  The degree of closeness changed (as with any friendship over time), but even when we didn't see eye to eye, we didn't want to see anyone crash and burn.  From the conversations I've had with my friends and their families, I did see that despite adversities happening, everyone was able to pick themselves up and push forward.  It's tough, but just like the graduations, there are always new beginnings for everyone regardless of the circumstances.

Late Spring Cleaning

What a weekend...


I spent the weekend cleaning and reorganizing.  Just cleaning out the bedroom closet took me 3 hours. There was so much junk that I had totally forgotten about.  I prepared broken electronics for disposal, threw out broken figurines, and recycled old papers.  On the plus side, I found many documents that I was searching for the past few years.  A lot of them were old notes and books (which are useful as future references).  There's so much more space now and I'm enjoying how less cluttered everything is.


I threw out a lot of old posters and shoe boxes.  I found a box for Ugg boots that I bought in 2010!  I wondered why it was still here.  I asked the same question for a lot of things that were somehow stored, but not thrown away.  I guess I had some sentimental memories for them a long time ago?  Now I just see it as a waste of space lol


These were just half of the clothes!  The stacks were a foot/foot and a half tall.
I'm going to separate and clean up the clothes so that I can give some to family while I donate the rest of them to charity.  My goodness, some of the clothes I had worn back during the 90's, but I'm glad that they were able to hold up until now.
I have quite a few graduations and celebrations to attend.  It'll be nice to be on the other side this time!  I remembered spending time getting prepared putting on my suits and the graduation gown.  I'm happy that I'm done with that though.  It was a great experience, but it was stressful--checking to see that all of my requirements were finished, buying all of the attire for graduation, and preparing for the day itself.
A few tickets for the commencements I'm attending
It'll definitely be busy for the next few weeks, but I'm psyched.  It'll be great to see my loved ones walk.

I bought a shoe rack on sale for $30.  I thought that it was a nice deal and the stacked format can save a lot of space.  It also looks very simple and modern which matches my decorations.



Family planned to come visit me for the summer so I'm also making preparations for that.  I also have to meet with professionals to discuss policy and research.  It'll require a lot of preparation so I've been staying on top of current articles and developments on legal and healthcare issues.  I'm just taking a deep breath before I dive into the pool.


So yes, I just wanted to give a quick update before things get hectic.  It's been raining like crazy recently, but I do hope all of you enjoy the nicer weather when it's sunny outside.  I think I'll go grab a Coffee Coolata sometime.


In the meantime, bon courage mes amis!

Congratulations to All




So many people are graduating this month and I'm so proud of my brother and friends.  They all worked hard and now they've tackled the final academic hurdle.  To everyone else who's graduating this semester.  I want to wish all of you much success and happiness in your future endeavors.


I bought two T-shirts for $6.  One is a Dr. Pepper shirt while the other is a Rolling Stones shirt.  I was so happy with the great deal.  Hooray for bargain shopping!  Since summer is coming along the corner, I thought that it would be nice to find things that I can wear to the beach, barbecues, and other outdoor events.  They fit perfectly and were really beautiful.  Let's see if I'll be able to move like Jagger :)



I attended the art exhibition at Rutgers Newark on Thursday.  The commute was quite the adventure.  I took the subway to World Trade Center, PATH train to Newark, and then the Light Rail from Newark Penn Station to the street near Rutgers.  It was my first time taking the Light Rail so I had to fiddle with the directions and figure out how to validate my ticket.  It was a learning experience looking lost, but now I know how to use it in the future! 


My brother is an artist, and he was presenting his work along with his fellow art colleagues.  The pieces were wonderful and they all showed amazing talent.  There were many attendees so the room was packed while I tried to maneuver through the various pieces.





The catering woman was so sweet and she did a great job setting up the table and providing delicious appetizers for the event.  I couldn't resist the fruits and cheeses!



The art pieces were inspired from many aspects of the artists' lives such as their heritage, an analysis of pop culture, and spirituality to name a few.



Inspired by the elegance of African female attire:



Inspired by the celestial bodies and alchemy:



I enjoyed hearing the artists' perspectives and their path to their final pieces.  You can see their family and friends show their love and support throughout the event.


The exhibit will be available for view for the next two weeks at the Paul Robeson Art Gallery at Rutgers Newark.  Feel free to check it out when you have the chance!


I would like to share this video of a guitar cover of Katy Perry's "Firework" to summarize everyone's achievements.  Cheesiness aside, it's nice to acknowledge our accomplishments since it's not that easy to actually tackle things so easily.  I know that I've felt the pressure along the way when I had to write my thesis or make sense of theories that felt like they just went over my head.  Katy Perry wasn't popular yet when I was in college, but the message stayed the same to try and persevere.


Some tips that really helped me was to fold a piece of paper in thirds, write down my skills on the left side, write down my future plans on the right, and write down what I need to take care of in the middle.  When I actually visualize that I can't get to the right without successfully completing the middle by using the left as tools, I organize ways to handle things step by step so that I don't overload myself.  When I had appointments to attend to, books to read, and jobs to handle, it would look overwhelming if I don't prioritize. 


There was a huge difference with "I have four appointments this week, I also have to read three articles and two chapters, and I have to be at work from 10 to 7 on Thursday"




"I have my eye appointment on Monday morning so afterward I can read the two chapters over lunch, meet with a client on Tuesday morning, conduct two counseling sessions Wednesday afternoon so I can come in early at the Center and tackle two of the articles before the sessions, focus on work for Thursday, and read the final article on Friday."


This technique made it so much easier when I had to tackle intense workloads.  If those of you can benefit from this technique, I'll be happy to know if it helps you too.


Enjoy the song and celebrate with your loved ones!



Blog Stats

  • Total posts(63)
  • Total comments(0)

Forgot your password?