Archive for ‘Reflection on Life’

April 23, 2012

Why the Internet is pretty awesome.

For most people, mornings go something like this:

1. Wake up.
2. Check email.
3. Check Facebook.
4. Get out of bed.

For most people who write blogs, mornings go something like this:

1. Wake up.
2. Check blog stats.
3. Check email.
4. Check blog stats.
5. Check Facebook
6. Check blog stats
7. Refresh page
8. Refresh page one more time.
9. Realize it’s not going to change.
10. Get out of bed.

So imagine my surprise when I checked my stats first thing this morning and saw THIS:

20120422-235249.jpg

I checked the top referring site… and low and behold it was Reddit. I love you, Reddit.

And my friend Shyal. Who posted it under athiesm. Athiesm on Reddit has 600k+ subscribers and the rest, as they say, is history. The link stayed on the 1st/2nd page for quite a while.

Granted, the traffic was ALL for my last post which was a transcript I wrote for Dr. Tyson’s video. But blog stats are blog stats. I know it wasn’t really my work they were coming to my blog for but it was still my blog they were visiting. It’s like having a really hot friend and telling everyone she’s going to be there when you throw a house party. You know they’re coming to your house for her. but whatever. It’s your house. You’re cool by association.

So I did what I assume most people would do when something like this happens. Sat in front of my computer for the next 3 hours and hit refresh every second and saw the views jump up to 500 views at a time. EVERY SECOND! And let me tell you. It was amazing, guys. It was like being on a high I never wanted to end.

As I type this, it’s still going pretty strong (16,000+ views!!!) but it’s plateaued a bit. My favorite part of blog stats has always been the location section which tells you which countries your visitors are from. Today’s list? Is so unbelievably long. And I can’t correctly pronounce more than half of it.

I’ve always thought the Internet was a pretty cool place… but today, somehow, I felt closer to it all. It’s really humbling that something you type up sitting on the floor of your apartment in Korea could be seen and read by so many people all around the world. Even if it is someone else’s words. Even if all you did was type it up.

In Dr. Tyson’s words: Think About That. It’s not like I’m here and they’re out there. We’re all connected, always. As much as we want to be. We’re able to share thoughts, ideas, a little part of our world and everything in between. In real time. And, that, is pretty awesome.

Advertisements
April 22, 2012

A fascinatingly disturbing thought by Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson- Transcript

I discovered this amazing video today and couldn’t find a transcript so I decided to write my own :) Enjoy!

A fascinatingly disturbing thought by Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson – COMPLETE Transcript

Alright, just a couple of thoughts: one that’s sort of deeply cosmic and another one that is fascinatingly disturbing– I think.

And you’ll be the judge of this.

Consider a couple of fundamental facts that has been gleaned in the past 60 years- that the ingredients- if you had asked your chemistry teacher 50 years ago, once you looked at that mysterious chart of boxes that sat in front of your class, the periodic table of elements- where did those elements come from?

The chemistry teacher would actually not have an answer for you. They’ll say, well, you dig them out of the earth. But that’s not where they come from.

It took modern astrophysics to determine the origin of the chemical elements. We observe stars (and) we know what goes on in their center. They explode, laying bare their contents. And what we have discovered is that the elements of the periodic table -that which we are made of- derive from the actions of stars that have manufactured the elements, exploded (and) scattered their rich guts across the galaxy, contaminating or enriching gas clouds that then form a next generation of stars populated by planets and possibly life.

And so, when you look at the ingredients of the universe, the number one ingredient is hydrogen, next is helium, next is carbon- sorry- hydrogen, helium, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen. Those are the top ingredients in the universe. And you say well, okay, that’s kind of cool. Well, and you look at Earth- cause we like thinking of ourselves as special- we say Oh! we’re special! What are we made of?

Well what’s the number one molecule in the body? It’s water. But what’s water made of? H-2-O. Hydrogen and oxygen. Hm. Hydrogen and oxygen. In fact, if you rank the elements in the human body, with the exception of helium, which is chemically inert- useless to you for any reason other than just to inhale it and sound like Mickey Mouse. You can’t die from helium unless that’s all you breathe. So, number one in the human body is hydrogen. Matches the universe. Number two? Is oxygen. Matches the universe. Number 3? Carbon. Matches the universe. Number 4? Nitrogen. Matches the universe. And for each of us the fifth element- other- is the same in both places. Ok? Other.

So, we learned in the last 50 years that, of course, not only do we exist in this universe. It is the universe itself that exists within us. And had we been made of some rare isotope of bismuth, you’d argue and say hey, we’re something special.

But there are people who are upset by that fact, saying that well does that mean we’re not special? Well, I think it’s special in another kind of way. Because when you look up at the night sky, it’s no longer we’re here and that’s there, it’s that we are part of that. And that association, for me, is actually quite enlightening and enobling and enriching. Like it’s almost spiritual. Looking up at the night sky and finding a sense of belonging, given what we’ve learned about the night sky.

And so now we ask ourselves- are we alone in the universe? We’re made of the most common ingredients there are. And our chemistry is based on carbon. Carbon is the most chemically active ingredient in the entire periodic table. If you were to find a chemistry on which to base something complex called life, you would base it on carbon. Carbon is like the 4th most abundant ingredient in the universe. We’re not rare. You can make more molecules out of carbon than you can all other kinds of molecules combined.

So, if we ask ourselves: are we alone in the universe? It would be, in spite of my diatribe about UFOs, I tell you in the same breath that it would be inexcusably egocentric to suggest that we are alone in the cosmos. The chemistry is too rich to declare that, the universe too vast. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand in all the beaches of the world. There are more stars in the universe than all the sounds and words ever uttered by all humans who have ever lived. To say we’re alone in the universe… no, we haven’t found life outside of earth, yet. We’re looking- haven’t looked very far, yet. Galaxy is this big. We looked about that far. But we’re looking.

And how about life on earth? How- is it hard to form? Just ’cause we don’t know how to do it in the lab, doesn’t mean nature had problems. So it may be, given that information- that given the right ingredients- which are everywhere, life may be inevitable. An inevitable consequence of complex chemistry.

If that’s the case, we look around our own solar system. We look at Mars- all the evidence suggest that mars was once a wet, fertile place. An oasis. There are dry river beds and flood plains and river deltas and meandering rivers and it’s all bone dried out. Something bad happened on Mars. Some knobs got turned in its environment that left it the way it is right now. Some bad knobs got turned on Venus, too.  Runaway greenhouse effect- you saw the clip on that. Nine hundred degrees farenheit on Venus- something knobs got turned there, too.

People say why spend money up there when we can spend money down here.  Because, up there, we might learn something about down here, okay. I don’t want a runaway greenhouse effect down here. Venus is the best example in the solar system of a planet gone bad. Let’s learn about that, first.

So, it turns out that the moment that asteroids impact- when they hit- (they) can cast rocks in their surrounding areas into space with escape velocity. So they never come back to the planet from which it was launched. If Mars was wet and fertile before Earth was, as all evidence suggests, and if Mars had life before Earth had life, It is possible for there to have been bacterial stowaways in the nooks and crannies of the rocks that were cast into space.

This hardy bacteria that we already know exists on Earth. So by extreme temperatures, pressures, freeze dry- with constituted radiation- the hostile environment of space would be nothing to some of these bacteria. It may be that life on Earth was seeded by bacterial stowaways on rocks that were cast free from mars. This is a plausible scenario that is called panspermia- the transference of life from one planet to the next. If that’s the case, that makes all of us descendants of Martians.

Now let me give you a disturbing thought- a fascinatingly disturbing thought and I will leave you on that note.

If you look at the closest genetic relative to human beings- the chimpanzees- we share like 98+% identical DNA, we are smarter than a chimpanzee.  Let’s invent a measure of intelligence that make humans unique. Let’s say intelligence is your ability to compose poetry, symphonies, do art, math and science, let’s say. Let’s make that as the arbitrary definition of intelligence for the moment. Chimps can’t do any of that. Yet we share 98/99% identical DNA. The most brilliant chimp there ever was, maybe can do sign language. Well, our toddlers can do that. Toddlers. So, here’s what concerns me deeply. Deeply.

Everything that we are, that distinguishes us from chimps, emerges from that 1% difference in DNA. It has to because that’s the difference. The Hubble telescope, the grand… that’s in that 1%. Maybe, everything that we are that is not the chimp is not as smart compared to the chimp as we tell ourselves it is. Maybe the difference between constructing and launching a Hubble telescope and a chimp combining two finger motions as sign language- maybe that difference is not all that great. We tell ourselves it is. Just the same way we label our books optical illusions. We tell ourselves it’s a lot. Maybe it’s almost nothing.

How would we decide that? Imagine another life form. That’s 1% different from us. In the direction that we are different from the chimp. Think about that. We have 1% difference and we are building the Hubble telescope. Go another 1%. What are we to they? We would be drooling, blithering idiots in their presence. That’s what we would be.

They would take Stephen Hawking and roll him in front of their primate researchers and say well this one is like the most brilliant among them ’cause he can sorta do astrophysics in his head. Aw. Isn’t that cute. Little Johnny can do that too. Well that’s so cute. In fact, Johnny just did that… let me just get it… it’s on the refrigerator door. Here it is. He did it in his elementary school class. Think about how smart they would be. Quantum mechanics would be intuitive to their toddlers. Whole symphonies would be written by their children. And like I said, just put up on the refrigerator door- the way our pasta collages are on our refrigerator doors.

So, the notion that we’re gonna find some intelligent life and have a conversation with it? When was the last time you stopped to have a conversation with a worm? Or a bird? Well, you might have had a conversation but I don’t think you expected an answer, alright. So, we don’t have conversations with any other species on earth with whom we have DNA in common. To believe that some intelligent other species is gonna be interested in us, enough to have a conversation, they’ll look at our Hubble telescope and say, “isn’t that quaint… look at what they’re doing.”

So, I lay awake at nights wondering whether we as a species are simply too stupid to figure out the universe that we’re investigating. And maybe we need some other species 1% smarter than we are for, which string theory would be intuitive, for which all the greatest mysteries of the universe… from dark matter, dark energy, the origins of life, and all the frontiers of our thought would be something that they would just self intuit.

I’m jealous of that possibility because I want to be around for those discoveries.

April 19, 2012

Why life as a twenty something is pretty awesome.

I love taking pictures at the airport right before a vacation because I know that when I look back at my vacation pictures, that’s the picture I’ll want to relive most.

And heres why.

The endless preparation is behind me. No more hotel reviews to read, the search for the cheapest, fastest flight is over and my bags are packed and checked in. I’ve crossed off all the items on my to-pack list, I’m done with the frantic last minute shopping runs. And perhaps the most dreaded of all: my bags are under the luggage weight limit! I don’t know about you but I’m more afraid of the scale at the check-in counter than the one in my washroom.

And while I’m no fan of sitting in an uncomfortable chair for hours on end, I know that at the other end of that flight lies a great adventure. That is what is so special about the airport moment: anything is possible beyond it. But so often we focus on the check in lines, the security lines, the washroom lines, the crowds of people and the overpriced airport food that we forget about the exciting journey we’re about to embark on.

Being a twenty something is a lot like that airport moment.

We’ve put ourselves through years and years of school, went to saturday morning heritage classes and took some form of extracurricular activity to become a well rounded person.

20120419-201316.jpg

And while most of us are still unsure of where life our lives are headed, we have a vague idea of what we want and know that the road to wherever that is will be filled with lots of laughs and tears. Sometimes more of the latter than the former.

But that’s ok because if airport moments and vacations are anything to go by, I know that at the end of this vacation we call life, the memories I’ll most want to relive are these. Because it encompasses all the work we put in to get here and the anticipation of all the possibilities that lie ahead.

We’ll look back at these 20 something years and wonder why we worried so much. Because everything turned out alright. Because the decisions we made were the right ones. Because we ended up with the right people. And because these really were the good old days.

April 19, 2012

My Fav Videos on Vimeo

I’ve been kinda obsessed with discovering new videos on Vimeo lately.

So what’s the  big deal with Vimeo and how is it different from YouTube?

For starters and the way I see it- Vimeo has quality video. The videos are shot and edited  by professionals and the videos alone are real works of art. (whereas on youtube it’s usually about what and/or who is infront of the camera and as a result, the video quality usually sucks.)

However, I’ve yet to find a whole channel I like. That’s what I’ve found particularly difficult about Vimeo- discovering new videos. I’m still pretty new to this whole discovering-new-videos-on-Vimeo-thing but here are a few I’ve really enjoyed.

1. a story for tomorrow

Video Description: This video was written and produced while traveling through Chile & Patagonia with my girlfriend. We spent 5 weeks exploring this amazing country, and this is how we chose to document it.

Why I love it: Dare I say it, (because my fav videos are always changing) but this is by far my most favorite video right now. It has all the elements of a good video: a solid story, great narration and incredible cinematography. I also love the two questions: 1) Is it possible to be happy with this life? and 2) Did you enjoy your story?

I checked out gnarly bay’s  channel and they have quite a few other travel videos that are just as good. This one is from their time in Thailand. And it’s amazing.

2. Move. Eat. Learn.

(**There are three separate videos linked above. One under each word.**)

Video Description: 3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage… all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food ….into 3 beautiful and hopefully compelling short films….. = a trip of a lifetime.

Why I love it: Watching these makes you want to a) book a ticket and discover some place new b) eat something delicious or c) learn something new. Isn’t that the point of life?

3. Frame of Mind

Video Description: Ben and I taking photos in different locations in Hawaii.

Why I love it: I have no idea how they did the transitions. The shots are seamless and as a result the viewer is mezmerized, unable to take her eyes off the screen for the entire duration of the video.

4. Caine’s Arcade

Video Description: A 9 year old boy – who built an elaborate cardboard arcade inside his dad’s used auto part store – is about to have the best day of his life.

Why I love it: The story is heartwarming and that boy’s smile is absolutely adorable.

5. Love your story

Video description: Lorimerworks filmed this piece for Jasmine in October of 2010, shot primarily in Tuscany.

Why I love it: Jasmine Star is one of my favorite wedding photographers. I’m not sure if I like her blog or her actual photographs more- but this video was beautifully written and I love the story.

So there you have it- some of my favorite videos on Vimeo. The underlying theme in my favs is definitely a good inspirational story.  What are some of your favorites? And how do you discover more of what you like?

April 3, 2012

Guess what!?!?!?!

My laptop is no longer fried.

So after weeks of hair dryering, rice packing, and turning on successfully… only to have my laptop die within minutes…

My laptop has finally finally finally been on (and working) for more than 15 minutes. (and this warranted a blog post. obviously)

20120403-032247.jpg

I can’t help but think that it’ll turn off again. That I must use every second with diligence. Make use of every moment I have with it.

And as I took a break to make myself a drink, I couldn’t help but think…

… that’s probably how we should treat life. With gratitude for each extra second we have. As if it could all vanish any second.

March 29, 2012

Is this what YOU want to be remembered by?

I read the following quote somewhere on the Internet a couple of weeks ago.

“In 100 years, there will be 500 million profiles on Facebook. Of dead people.”

And then I wrote a really morbid post. In fact, it was so morbid that if I had hit publish, my mom would’ve probably called me within minutes and threatened to disown me if I didn’t delete it. Ya. It was that bad y’all.

So I sat on it. And did what I always do: try to find a positive twist. And find I did.

Instead of thinking of 500 million profiles of dead people, why not use different words.

When you change your language (and therefore the framework with which you approach something), you change everything.

So, yes, it’d still be odd to have “friends” in the other world on Facebook. But wouldn’t it be nice if Facebook, other social networking sites and the Internet as a whole created a memory online. Consolidating all our online selves. Once people pass on in real life. Somehow.

Ok. So let me start from the beginning.

I’ve never met either of my grandfathers. They both passed away long before I was even born.

My mom always tells me that I’m a lot like her father. That he was a bookworm, too. When I visited my uncle’s home in Sri Lanka in 2004, I was so excited to find that he had kept some of my grandfather’s books. (My grandfather had owned literally rooms of books so my uncle couldn’t keep them all and had to donate most of the books to a library.)

I jumped up and down with glee when I first saw the collection. Ya. Books excite me that much. And then I opened the first book to discover there were swordfish bugs.** Or those silver bugs that eat paper and make old books their home. (**Note: I may or may not have just made up swordfish bugs. There is such a thing, right?)

Now I’m all about finding out more about my grandfather through his love of books and the kinds that he read and chose to line his bookcases with, but bugs will stop that quest. In a heart beat.

Now fast forward to today. Imagine he had had a list of fav books on amazon or better yet! Imagine he had written a blog.

I could easily click-clickity away without traveling thousands of miles or back in time to find out everything he believed in. Everything he was, breathed, liked, thought. Everything he wanted to share.

And that’s what is so cool about the future of the Internet, Facebook, Blogging, Vlogging.

Our kids and their kids and every future generation will have not only pictures of their ancestors but videos and words and thoughts and anything else we decide to put out there.

The Internet makes it possible for every kid in the future to have something that was only available for the descendants of:

(a) Einstein, Charles Dickens, any other published author

and

(b) famous actors/actresses, royal families and otherwise wealthy folk

Yup, you’ve guessed it. I’m suggesting that not only is the Internet making it possible for us to break down the barriers of entry with WordPress (the written word) and YouTube (videos) and the like today, but that it will also inevitably allow us to leave behind legacies which was an option only available to the elite few in the past.

Now imagine that.

This puts blogging and vlogging in a whole new light.

And our general online presence.

Everything we put online will live on, long after we’re gone. So every time you hit post, share or publish, ask yourself this: Is this what I want to be remembered by?

And my message to Facebook is this: find a way not to create an online graveyard but a memorial yard. Or something like that. And ensure that all “friends” links of the people who have passed on is disabled along with their walls. Basically find a way to turn a Facebook profile into an online book. One that cannot be changed in any way. But one that can be pulled off the proverbial shelf and read by anyone. Or wait. Maybe not anyone. Shouldn’t Facebook have an option for this somewhere? Kinda like a donor card.

No. Wait.

The remnants of the morbid post I deleted are seeping into this one. Which could only mean one thing: I should stop writing.

If you’ve read this far, thank you for trusting me with your time. If I could, I’d give you some food. (like these beautiful cupcakes)

20120329-191632.jpg

But I can’t. So hopefully, I’ve given you some food for thought :)

Have a happy happy day :)

March 29, 2012

Life is short.

My mom hates it when I say life is short.

She’s super superstitious. I think she thinks that the more I say it, the truer/more applicable I’m making it to my life aka the shorter my life is going to be. Or something ridiculous like that.

Anyway, the reason I say it is because…
1. it is short.
2. to remind myself that it’s short.

For the realists in here that disagree and counter with it’s the longest thing any human will do, dude I’ll say you’re right. It is the longest thing you’ll do… until you realize seconds or days… if you’re lucky, months before it’s your time.. And then you’ll agree with the rest of us and say: ya dude. Life is effin short

And to that I’ll say huzzaaaa. Told you so.

Ok. Not really. But I’ll want to. And my mom will stop me.

Here’s a totally-unrelated-to-this-post pic of me holding a puppy in Busan. We were bar hopping and they randomly had puppies you could hold! On the street! I <3 Korea!

20120329-131356.jpg

March 12, 2012

Home. Away from home.

As much as you want to experience everything and absorb every ounce of your new host country, sometimes you just want to be home. Even if it is just for a weekend.

But the flight from Seoul to Toronto is 14 hours. Spending 28 hours in a plane for less than 20 hours at home isn’t feasible nor smart.

Enter the greatest invention on the planet: the American base.

Ok so you might be thinking: really? How can you betray and turn your back on your fellow Canadians. And to that, I have this to say:

As much as we hate to admit it, Canada is like America’s little brother. Sure when we’re home we don’t think much of each other. But on the other side of the planet? We’re from the same family. We connect on a level that only siblings can. We bond.

I may not be American. But Taco bell and Subway and Starbucks and People magazine and ouchless hair ties and menus in English spell home for me. That’s exactly what the American base in Daegu is like. That and more.

After 4 long months, I had taco bell for the first time. My fav order at taco bell –fries supreme, no beef, no beans, extra cheese and green onions with 4 packs of hot sauce and 4 packs of mild sauce- doesn’t exist in the American Taco Bell. Apparently, fries at Taco Bell is strictly a Canadian thing. That blew my mind. And made a pretty strong case for why Canadia may be the cooler brother. Just sayin ;)

20120312-181000.jpg

Anyway, I ordered a quesadilla and was just happy to be eating non sweet bread with normal, stringy, yummy cheese.

20120312-181255.jpg

And then we went shopping. I got so excited when I saw ENGLISH magazines, ENGLISH books, ENGLISH labels. ENGLISH everywhere. On everything. Ok. So I got a little more than excited.

20120312-181115.jpg

And stocked up on toiletries. Things I didn’t think I’d see for a long time.

20120312-181746.jpg

Macadamia nut cookies from Subway? And a tall latte sprinkled with a generous layer of cinnamon from Starbucks? Yes, please!

20120312-182920.jpg

Ok, so Subways and Starbucks are all over Korea. But sitting in the one on base was different. Here’s why: although you’re drinking and eating the same stuff, the atmosphere in a Korean Starbucks is notably different. You are usually the only non-Korean. And while you might be thinking duh, you’re in Korea Einstein, like I said before, it’s just nice to feel like you’re home. Once in a while.

As I was sitting in my American Starbucks in Korea on an American base, I noticed this:

20120312-183032.jpg

Even the sidewalks and pole things on the base is the same as back home! How awesome is that!?

But perhaps the thing that blew my mind/impressed me the most was the power outlets in my friend’s apartment. They were all North American! With two flat prongs instead of the two rounded prongs found in Korea.

She even had a normal North American washroom where the shower area is separate from the rest of the washroom. And therefore the whole washroom doesn’t get wet every time you shower.

Living in a foreign country with a foreign culture and people… where you’re notably foreigner, is fascinating. No two days are the same and you’re always learning, always excited about something new you just discovered.

But between it all, you miss home. You miss the little things. Like being able to understand menus and labels. The familiar taste of fastfood.  Being able to speak English without the oscar worthy acting performance.

And it’s nice to have somewhere you can go where it’s just like home. Away from home.

March 7, 2012

4 o’clock

For most of my life 4 o clock meant… Oprah show time!

Obviously there were detours here and there.

In elementary school, it meant end of track and field practice.
In high school, it meant end of detention.
In university, it meant nap time.
In my first job, it meant testing time.
In my second job, it meant half of my day was over.
In my third job, it meant meeting time.

And now. Now, it means this.

20120307-162215.jpg

Tags: , ,
February 15, 2012

the BEST valentine’s day cards. Ever.

Economics and Tech/Social Media? I’m sold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Peeps :)

P.S. These were taken from http://fosslien.com/heart/ and http://mashable.com/2012/02/08/valentines-day-cards-geek/

February 7, 2012

7 Lessons my kids have taught me

“I hope you learn something from those kids.” -my mom

And you know what mom? I have. Here they are. Neatly organized into a list. Not only am I a kickass teacher, I’m also a pretty good student. Who takes notes. And then organizes them. And shares them with her friends. So here they are:

7 Lessons my kids have taught me over the 3 months I’ve taught them.

Side note: Today is my 3 month being-in-Daegu (and therefore teaching) anniversary!!!

1. Be kind- one person can make a difference. I was really really sick a couple of weeks ago but Kayla asked me to take one for the team because we were already short a teacher. Anyway, I went into class, assigned work, and put my head down on my desk. 30 seconds later I felt a tap on my shoulder. I look up and Jamie asks me if I’m ok. I tell her I’m not feeling well and before I can even protest, she walks behind my chair and starts massaging my shoulders. I was all “oh Jamie you really don’t have to do that” and then she goes “don’t worry teacher, I do this for my mom when she’s sick. This will make you feel better.” WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT? I love that kid. And she brightened my day in a way I can’t explain in words. And she was right… I did feel better.

2. Laugh til your stomach hurts. Do this at any time. For any reason. Do it by yourself. Or with a friend. Do it in a tree. Or just to be. In a box or with a fox. In a house or with a mouse… sorry for getting all Dr. Seuss on you there there. But you do get the point. Laugh! Be merry!

3. Be silly. Have fun. Don’t take life seriously.
I think the following picture pretty much sums it all up. I asked Caden to finish writing the date. And this is what he wrote: “Today is… your special day!!!”

4. . Experiment. Push the envelope. Define your own limits. So I have this one really adorable kid I teach. But of course he’s also the class clown aka trouble maker. And this kid will come into class everyday and find a way to annoy me until I yell at him. And then he’ll stop. It’s almost like he’s testing my limits everyday. And in the process, figuring out what he can and cannot do. Some days he gets away with a lot. And some days he doesn’t. But that doesn’t stop him from trying. every. single. day. This kid will go far in life.

5. Don’t hold grudges. That kid I talked about in #5. He does something bad. I yell at him. He stays mad at me for maybe 3 minutes. And then he’s all teach-ah! Look! At! My! New! Lego! Set!

6. Be generous. Share. Even if you have just one cookie left.

7. Tell those you love… that you love them. And here’s proof they love me:


I think as kids, we all know the secrets to life, to happiness. And in the process of growing up, we forget. So here’s me reminding you to go out and play, laugh, get in trouble. Life is too short to take seriously :)

January 8, 2012

2 Months, 2 Homes: Life. Is. Good.

Exactly 2 months ago today, I arrived in Daegu, South Korea.

I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting from this place. All I knew was that it was going to be new and exciting. And that’s usually enough to sell me on something.

And boy, what a ride it has been. From climbing mountains to my first Korean wedding to CSI Korea: the burgled apartment edition to Hello Kitty Cafe to becoming! a! blogger! to this-is-my-42nd-post!!! to making best friends to Pepero day to the most adorable children ever to eating lots of kimchi… And I could go on forever…

But if you’ve been reading my blog (or receiving annoying panic-y calls) not all of it has been so peachy.

I had my first I’m so done with this place and I need to bounce asap moment a couple of days ago.

I had just gotten back from a week in sunny Sri Lanka and Singapore with family and friends to cold, freezing Korea. And everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong in the span of 2 days.

Anyway, as I write this, I’m happy. I’m sitting in my warm, clean new apartment that has more or less consistent hot water (still not perfect but I can manage). NO balcony. Or windows big enough for any human being to climb through. I really can’t complain.

Life. Is. Good.

P.S. My new apartment has a shoe closet even bigger than the last one. I think the universe is trying to speak to me.

P.P.S. So Mr. Burglar guy took my little pouch of sd cards. And the sd to usb convertor thing I had in it. I have a mac which does not have a sd slot. So I kinda can’t upload pics from Sri Lanka until I get another one. I will get on it as soon as I do!

January 1, 2012

Happy Birthmonth Thumbelina!

I don’t believe in birthdays. I believe in birthMONTHS. Birthmonths start on the 1st of the month and end on your birthday. So for example, if your birthday is on the 2nd- you get a 2 day birthmonth. AKA seriously gypped on the birthmonth phenomenon. In this department, my bro and I lucked out. Because we’re both born on the last day of the month. So we get the whole shbang. A WHOLE MONTH. And…. January is my little brother’s birthMONTH!

My brother doesn’t read my blog. And let’s be real here. He probably never will. But that’s not going to stop me from sending a shout out for his 24th BIRTHMONTH! To my brother. The one that lives in a parallel universe and would totally appreciate this token of love. And read my blog.

The brother-sister bond is a special one. Because you kinda hate each other most of your life. Until some pivotal thing happens in either of your lives… and then… and then you stick together like elmer’s white glue 12 hours later. REAL HARD. Or crazy glue 12 seconds later. Either analogy will work here.

He’s played a huuuuuuuuge role in the person I’ve become today… and regardless of how many times I’ve wished I was the only child , I love him with all my heart. And wouldn’t change him or his place in my life… for the world.

So here are some memories to illustrate how (wonderful) he is and how our relationship has changed over the years…


Childhood

If you have a Sri Lankan mother, this will resonate with you. If you don’t, watch Russel Peters’ “somebody gonna get hurt real bad” video, and you’ll get the general gist of it. My mom had this huge long wooden spoon. Actually I should probably say she had many of them. Or she had many of them over the course of our childhood. Because they would break. Often. And no, not from kitchen-ly duties.

The wooden spoon, as many Sri Lankan children will tell you was not only used for mixing puttu dough, but also substituted for the long wooden cane. We lived in Canada. Parents didn’t have access to wooden canes (they were readily available throughout Sri Lanka). So they improvised. With a wooden spoon.

This wooden spoon was stored in the kitchen top drawer. Why is this detail important? Because the sound of opening and closing of this drawer could send us from comfortably relaxing on the couch watching tv to frantically running towards the washroom to lock ourselves in. Yes, the opening and drawing of a drawer in the kitchen could only mean one thing: mom was mad. Of course there were rare cases when she was actually just cooking and needed some cooking utensil. And even in those cases you could catch us running.

Anyway, my mom always thought I was too skinny. Too underweight to be physically punished. (or to be able to handle it) Whatever it was, this meant I never got hit with the wooden spoon. Sure, I got threatened. But never actually hit. Which only meant one thing: my brother got twice the beats from this wooden spoon. Ya, he got all MY beats too.

Reason #462 why every girl needs a brother.

The Teenage Years

One night, Heidi (my high school best friend and I) got this GREAT idea. That happened a lot back in the day. Great ideas I mean. Like the time we saw an island from the shore in Cuba. It looked so close. So we thought, hey let’s be all adventurous and… lets paddle boat there! Yes. Paddle boat. I don’t need to tell you how that adventure turned out.

So Heidi was sleeping over one day and we got this GREAT idea to sneak out. With the car. We were 15. Give us a break. But I will tell you that we planned these missions SO well that we’d put the MI team to shame. No detail was overlooked. Except for that tiny detail of having a goody-two-shoes little brother.

Who was awake.

And watching tv in the family room.

He stopped us. Obviously. Because walking out with my mom’s car keys when we didn’t have a driver’s license wasn’t suspicious at all.

We tried to sell him on coming with us for an adventure of a lifetime. A drive around the neighbourhood with his older sister who didn’t have a license. He didn’t budge. And basically told us that if we left the house, he was waking up mom and dad.

Mission aborted.

Reason #256 why having a younger goody-two-shoes brother totally cramps your style.

Adulthood… sorta. (I was 19, he was 17)

That pivotal thing I talked about up there… it happened in 2005 for us. I had moved away and he missed me. Ok. SO I missed him too. And I guess it took us 10,000 km to make our pivotal thing happen. And just like that. We were bonded. Elmer’s glue meets crazy glue bonded.

So it all happened one night… one day. Night in Sri Lanka. Day in Toronto. Or the other way around.  The point is, we were 10,000 km apart. And some serious bonding was about to go down. Across borders. Across oceans. Across timezones…. And now I’m going to get to my story without being any more dramatic.

Bro: uh sis**, is mom a round?

Me: no, why… what’s up?

Bro: so uh I’ve gotta talk to you about something

Me: uh huh…

Bro: so there’s this girl.

Me: uh huh… (while in my head… FINALLY! HALLELUJAH! MY! BRO! IS! GROWING! UP! Do. The. Happy. Dance!!!) … ya I’m listening

Bro: so she’s really nice and I really like her…. It’s just that. It’s just that I didn’t feel right doing anything about it… or asking her out or anything… without you know…. Uh… telling you about her first.

And then. And then my heart melted from all the adorableness and cuteness of what I had just heard.

If you know my brother, you know he doesn’t do adorable. Or cute. He’s the World of Warcraft playing, grade 12 math teaching, iron chef watching guy. Oh and let me point out that the bit about grade 12 math? That was me he used to teach. While he was in grade 10. Ya, poster child. Clearly.

**my bro calls me sis. And while this may not warrant a story or explanation in most families, it sure does in my mine. And in keeping with today’s lets-embarrass-my-bro post… here’s that story: when we were younger, my mom insisted that my bro call me akka (Tamil for older sister) and I call him thamby (Tamil for younger brother) She insisted that we do this in public too. Yes, even at school.

Now for a couple of immigrant children, there’s nothing more embarrassing than showing just how different you are from the other kids by using a foreign language to address siblings. As if talking to siblings in school wasn’t embarrassing enough. But of course I happily obliged. I called my bro Thamby. And then all his friends started calling him Thumbelina. I was such an awesome sis, no?

So I guess at some point he figured he was never going to call me akka. And settled for a happy medium: sis. It made my mom happy – and he wouldn’t be further ridiculed by his friends.**

This picture is special for two reasons:

  1. it was taken on my 24th birthday
  2. if you know my bro, you’d know he never dresses up. So don’t let that shirt fool you. He’s wearing basketball shorts on the bottom and a tshirt underneath. But he put on that shirt because it was my birthday and he knew how important it was to me. And that right there? That’s love.

LOVE! YOU! BRO! and Happy happy birthmonth! Oh and that $120 I owe you…I was hoping this adorablesweetcute post would, kinda, you know, cancel that out. LOVE! YOU!

December 9, 2011

Live Simply so others can Simply Live.

Kayla: your new washing machine will be delivered tomorrow.
Me: thankyoythankyouthankyou!
Director: but Tia, (in his most serious voice) it’s not pink.

Making fun of Tia and her obsessions transcends all kinds of barriers. Even language ones.

BUT I DON’T CARE. I don’t have to handwash any more. Or bake scones. Or churn butter. Or pop out 39 children.

On a sorta related note, let me get all reflectiverandeflection-ist for a second. So before my washing machine broke, I really wasn’t looking forward to doing laundry. (not that I look forward to looking laundry at all) but I reallyreally wasn’t looking forward to it. Why you ask? Because dryers are kind of a rarity here in Korea. And that means hanging stuff up. one.by.one. None of this bearhug big bundle of clothes to move from washer to dryer in one swift motion. (which I’m awesome at by the way)

But it’s funny. This thing called life. And it finds its way of putting you in your place.

While I wasn’t looking forward to doing laundry before, I didnt think for a second that ATLEAST I dont have to handwash stuff. Take it from me, hanging up stuff once its washed doesnt even compare to manually washing 3 weeks worth of clothing. (not that I actually did… but let’s pretend I did for the sake of this comparison)

And now? Now I’m just really thankful I will have a working washing machine.

Be thankful. Count your blessings. And make the most of it… because… it could be worse.

Cheers to the freakin’ weekend! And washing machines! And the century we live in!

Happy Friday!!

Speaking of Fridays, 5 fridays ago… I was home. In Toronto. At my going away party. WITH ALL THIS YUMMINESS. Each of them arrived with dessert. Or a book. Or both.

I know I’m not the greatest with words. Even worse at talking about my feelings, but I miss all of you. And I’ve watched your “what I’ll miss about Tia” videos at least 395 times. Each. But who’s keeping count…

Andddd on that note, here are some cheesey lyrics. BECAUSE I CAN.

It’s been too long and I’m lost without you
What am I gonna do?
Said I been needin’ you, wantin’ you
Wonderin’ if you’re the same and who’s been with you
Is your heart still mine?
I wanna cry sometimes
I miss you

So just as I was about to hit publish on this already hijacked post, a friend sent me this link:

Go hug your mom. And tell her how much you love her.

Speaking of moms, I’ll be seeing mine at the end of this month!

I’m trying to book my flights for Sri Lanka… And I’m looking at 18+ hours of travel. From TAE to CMB with Beijing and Singapore as transits. I’m pretty sure booking flights to the other side of the world would be easier. Or the moon. I’m thiiiiiiiis close to pulling my hair out. one.by.one.

Thank you for flying tiainkorea airlines, our sincerest apologies for the many detours and pitstops. Please come again!

Tags: ,
December 8, 2011

Love, Bunkers & Childhood Memories

Childhood memories are special. Not because they are innocent. But because of the way in which they are engrained in our memory: innocently.

I have two memories before the age of 3. Both are as vivid as yesterday. The first is of my paternal grandmother’s house. The yellow walls. The oversized verandah. The huge papaya tree.

And the second is of our family bunker. Yes, bunker. I was born in Tellepallai, Jaffna in 1986 and lived there until I was 4. The war that plagued the country for 16 years from 1983 to 2009 was in full swing during my formative years. So bunkers in my toddler neighbourhood were as common as… little blue bins today.

The bunker doesn’t foster memories of war or soliders or bloodshed. Instead the bunker and its smell remind of me of love, of family, of laughter and of togetherness.

And my washroom here in Korea? It smells** like a bunker. I’m not reminded of the war or helicopters circling overhead… or the sounsd of bombs dropping. Instead, I’m reminded of my family, of laughter, of love… and of being together.

Yes, homesickness is in full swing. Because of my washroom. That smells like a bunker. Go figure.

**The smell of a bunker, to me (and the way I remember it) is this really strong earthy smell. I love it almost as much as I love the smell of gasoline. Maybe a tad bit more. It’s one of those smells you either hate or love. Or learn to love. And why does my washroom smell like contained earth? I’m guessing it’s because it’s not insulated. And it’s made of stone and bamboo. I may or may not have made all that up. Or made an educated guess. I have an undergrad and half of an MBA. You decide how educated that is.

Tags:
December 3, 2011

27 years & Road trips… to Picton

If my family had a middle name, it would be road trips.

And this was my dad’s idea of picking the ultimate-awesome destination:

  1. Hear random town name mentioned in random conversation with random person.
  2. Find town on map (this was before the days of GPS and mapquest)
  3. Sell town to mom, brother and I as if he had a best friend who just went there. And loved it.

Like this one time. He somehow sold us on Picton. Picton. PICTON!

My dad was always the spontaneous one. And my mom? She’s the let’s-take-this-random-situation-and-squeeze-all-the-fun-out-of-it type. So they made a great team. And they made me. Clearly that is too much awesome in one family.

And it all started 27 years ago today.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY AMMA AND APPA!

and here’s to 27 moreeeee. :)

December 2, 2011

And they do it with so much Adorable.

From spending the day with kids to hanging out with my Korean teachers (some of whom have kids a few years younger than me) to partying into the night with other foreign teachers who are mostly in their 20s, I’ve learned this: we’re all pretty much the same. And we all want the same things: to be heard and to be loved.

I’ve learned that you can make a connection regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or culture That all you need to do is look for the similarities and love the differences. That keeping an open mind means understanding who you are is constantly changing. And that staying true to who you are doesn’t necessarily mean drawing lines and keeping yourself locked in.

I’m reminded to play. During every minute of my work day. I’m reminded to laugh and be silly. I’m reminded that life is lived in the in-between moments. Those moments in-between the question and the answer.

And I’m beginning to learn to accept every moment as it unfolds and not question, expect or want anything else. Yup, these kids  are teaching me more about life than I could ever teach them. And they do it with so much adorable.
November 29, 2011

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

With a title like that… you know this is going to be a looooooong post.

I’m the let’s-take-the-easy-way kinda girl. Because life is short. And if something can be done in less time and with less effort, then uh… why struggle? (I struggle anyway but that’s another story for another post.)

So I lovelovelove pretty views. I mean, I live for views. You know the kind that take your breath away? Those. Whether it’s from the top of the CN Tower or the Eiffel Tower or <insert your fav tall structure here> or… mountain tops.

But see, there is a slight technical difference between a man-made tall structure and… a mountain. They’re called elevators/escalators/lifts/flying glass cubes. Whatever you like to call them- I like them to come packaged with my pretty view. Like French fries with ketchup. Or samosas with chutney. Or crunchy apples with peanut butter. One without the other should never be!

So I brought 5 pairs of shoes with me to Korea: 4 heels and a pair of black flat boots. I figured the only kind of working-out I’d be doing is yoga so why pack runners?! But Korea is on a mission to change me. And I’ve gotta admit- she’s been showing some pretty solid game so far. Here’s the foot gear I wore for this view-finding-journey:


They were probably made for driving to, and walking around… in a mall. And to say I had a couple OMG-I’m-gonna-die-moments would be an understatement.

So the journey started with this pretty Jetsons-meets-nature path (doesn’t it look all futuristic!?)

Which led us to this beautiful pond/lake…  it felt all calm and serene and peaceful-esque. We went over to the edge and watched the fishies do their thing.

And then I made a friend. Isn’t she just precious?!

Then we passed this mountain of rocks. If I wasn’t with the most awesome 1/2-Korean-1/2-german-American I know, I would’ve thought it was one of those things Koreans just do. You know, pile rocks up in random spots on the mountain. Totally logical explanation. Only in my head. Like most other things. I digress.

So Noel told me to pick up a rock nearby. A ROCK TIA – not a clump of mud. I think he called it a tarp? terp? turd? Turd. And then you’re supposed to make a wish. And put it on the top. Here’s mine:

And then. AND THEN. the most random sight. EVER.

That’s right. A gym. On a mountain. In the open air. It’s like oh-hey-I’m-not-already-getting-the-workout-of-life-let’s-stop-and-REALLY-workout.

So this is probably where I should mention that Noel is a boxer. So is Sherif. And Jade? She climbs the mountain approx 3 times a week. No biggie. uhhh. NOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY I STRUGGLED SO MUCH. You would’ve too. It took “us” 2 hours to climb up and down. And by “us” I really mean me. If I wasn’t there, it would’ve probably taken the 3 of them, oh I don’t know… 27 mins? In total.

To the left of that gym, is this cute washroom.

And then we reached the top. (The I climbed the CN Tower in 27:13 tshirt I’m wearing in that picture? Total coincidence. I didn’t plan that AT ALL. And if you were wondering when I did that cray-zee thing… it was when I worked for HP and and they did a fund-raising climb in partnership with WWF- World Wildlife Fund. Like I said before, I’m an elevator/escalator kind of girl usually.)

And here’s a plaque we found on the way to check out the helipad.

And here’s the helipad.

And the rest is a blur because I was so hungry and my legs felt like mashed potatoes.

Until of course my new friends took me to the most awesome-est restaurant ever: Seoga & Cook. (Every restaurant I’ve been to so far has been awesome. More awesome-r than the one before. That’s what life is like in Korea. It just gets more awesome by the minute.)


Then the food came and I forgot to take a pic before we devoured it. So here’s a collage of a half eaten plate and a pic of the pic of the full plate on the menu.

And like with every night in korea, the night just doesn’t end until you’ve had a little kiwi-soju-lovin’.

Mountain climbing. Wishing on a Rock. Gym. On said Mountain. Awesome food. And a little Soju. All in a day’s work.

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

November 23, 2011

Dancing in the Kitchen, Crack Cake and Best Friends

Somerfield’s Cadbury Gateau

We had a ritual. No, ritual isn’t even the right word. It was more like a well-choreographed, synchronized dance. We all knew exactly what to do. And somehow, 30 seconds after getting home from Somerfield’s, the three of us would sit around the table. in silence. To enjoy two of life’s simplest pleasures: best Friends. and cake.

It wasn’t just any cake. We called it crack cake. Layers of melted chocolate between slices of warm cake and… a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

It was so addictive. And so good.

And today. Today a conversation about samosas somehow turned into a conversation about our beloved cake.

 

November 18, 2011

Firsts, Un-comfort and the Natural Spontaneity of Life

I’m the kind of person who takes all the best bites first. Wears all the new stuff in her closet first. Asks to hear the good news first. Because life is short. And you never know exactly how short. That and…what if I’m really full by the time I get to the best bite. Or what if I save the new stuff for an “important” event and there are so many other newer things to choose from by then. Or what if the world.ends. in the hot minute between the bad and the good. Yes, I leave no possibility behind.

So mission teach-english-in-south-korea wasn’t a difficult decision. People assume I gave up comfort and the known for un-comfort and the unknown. And that I must be crazy. They can’t be further from the truth.

I’ve never had a plan. I don’t know what tomorrow holds and I like it that way.

The whole let’s-plan-and-worry-about-the-future-and-completely-miss-out-on-the-present-moment just isn’t my thing.

“I love the natural spontaneity of life- the randomness and rawness that makes life so beautiful.” -Tia

Ya. I just quoted myself. in my own blog. I’m clearly way too cool for school.

And on that note, here’s a totally-unrelated-to-this-post-but-still-SO-AWESOME k-pop video (I believe k-pop means Korean pop):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bw9CALKOvAI&ob=av3e

%d bloggers like this: