Eating Lunch

#liaison #berkeley

I like eating lunch with people. Lunch is casual, dinner is formal. It would be weird to invite some of the people I have lunch with to go to dinner, yet at lunch it is totally cool.

It’s a strange thing. Even if we’er just having something like a burger or a bowl of pho, I feel very caucious who I have dinner with. I rather eat alone than having a stressful dinner.

However, at lunch, I can tackle anyone. I mean, I wouldn’t tackle people while they’re eating of course (lol), but you know what I mean.

There’s so much potential between people while they’re at lunch. We can be strangers, or trying to get to know each other, or really enjoying the hang out. It could be anything.

The Reason to Read and Write

chips_eyes_and_fry_mouth

I’ve been reading more articles on Medium (medium.com) these days because the site is very well designed for reading, and the content is not those that are celebrity related, sensational, or listicles. Every article is marked with the approximate amount of time needed to read it, usually not over 10 minutes. This feature gives me huge motivation to actually click through and read it, knowing that I’ll be able to finish it in a matter of minutes.

Although the articles on Medium are not the brain-rotting sort, I still get tired of them very fast. In fact, what’s on Medium is usually very insightful pieces of wisdom written by pros on technology, design, science, humanity…etc. The topics are varied, but there’s a common theme: how can we improve? How can we improve brainstorming? How do I improve the time when I’m not traveling? (yeah because it sucks so bad) How would you improve your mobile strategy? I’m all up for improving things, but does every single fucking thing needs to be improved? Including myself and everyone I know? I guess so, because there’s a “Better Humans” article collection which provides “Intelligent Ideas for Upgrading Yourself.”

Sure. I can read maybe two of these in the morning before I go to work just to fire myself up and get ready to change the world (aka design something on mobile), but these articles would just drain me by the end of the day. What do I read for relaxation then? Chinese food blogs. The Peking ducks, dumplings, soups and stews have absolutely nothing to do with self improvement, technology, design, or Steve Jobs. They are just delicious looking pictures of food taken in a faraway land. Someone had a great night out. I partake in their joy. It helps me relax.

After becoming a frequent visitor of some food blogs, I stumbled upon a Taiwanese girl’s blog where she writes about not only food but also moments in her life that are memorable. There’s nothing earth shattering and no secrets to success, just small musings on some of life’s most common things. Like when she broke her shoes on the way to a meeting, she met some friendly shoe store clarks who helped her find a new pair of shoes, or how one day she decided to not take the train home, instead she walked home and walked through neighborhoods she’s never been before. I can relate to most things she talks about, and her thoughts make me think of my own life moments and what I’ve learned and felt from them.

Not only do her articles help me relax, they actually make me want to write. After writing more posts lately, I feel that I’ve lightened up the load on my mind by simply sharing my life with others. There’s nothing to improve, no problems to fix, no tips and no rules. There’s only sharing life’s common moments with fellow humans. And that’s my number one reason to read and write.

Chick in Egg Development In Exploratorium

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To me, the most memorable exhibit in the entire Exploratorium, a children’s science museum in San Francisco, is the chick in egg development petri dish. The start of the life of the chicken, its heart, is pumping in the egg yoke while the whole thing sits in a petri dish, underneath the glass in an exhibition case. I didn’t have a chance to take a picture, but it literally looked like that. (Animation credit: yours truly!)

At first, I was stunned at the level of technology we have to keep life going in a foreign environment. However, I highly doubt that the chick, though heart beating and looking quite alive, would survive in the petri dish for long. Even if it is successfully “born” it wouldn’t be as healthy as a chick that comes out of an egg.

In other words, that chick’s life is doomed. I feel sad for this chick after realizing this. But is there a better fate for this chick? Nay, I say. Even if it is actually born from an egg, in an organic free range humane farm, its eventual destiny is to be consumed.

Death. Yes, the fate of all things living.

It is so huge, so inevitable and so unchangeable. I used to indulge in the imagination of my own death, a young one, and the funeral that would follow. It would be the most beautiful death of course, perhaps dying in my sleep, for some reason, without any side effects that would damage my appearance (lol). My friends and family would gather at the ceremony, the sky would weep, and there would be heated discussions on the meaning of some of my art works.

These days, however, I don’t think that any more. After re-studying Confucius’ works, I decided that one of my main goals of life is to outlive my parents. Not only will I live longer than them, I will also “serve them well while they’re alive, bury them properly when they pass away, and afterwards remember them well both in life and in ceremonies.”

Having this goal helps me put the lives of my parents, me and my potential offspring into perspective. It’s not just me and my own beautiful death any more. We are all part of the stream of human history, and natural history of the earth. Of course we all wish our family would live forever, but if my great great grandma is still alive, man, she’d be a pretty scary looking witch by now!

Death happens, so does life. One cannot exist without the other. The chick in the petri dish will die, so will I. For death, no organism’s life is more precious than others’. We all go back to the earth. This has been my main takeaway from the chick in egg “life development” exhibition in Exploratorium.

On Being Pretty

Recently I’ve been on a kpop  kick music wise, especially the more dancy kind of kpop girl groups who also rap. There are two girl groups that I especially like,  f(x) and 2NE1. They’re both pretty dancy and rap quite a bit, unlike cutsey style girl groups like Girls’ Generation or Wonder Girls. I realized that my favorite song from f(x) is called Pretty Girl and my favorite song from 2NE1 is called Pretty Boy.

The song Pretty Girl is about how a girl, who is not as pretty as the prettiest girl who everyone likes, uses her magic power to put a pretty face on everybody, thus depriving the pretty girl’s privilege of being pretty and getting all the attention.

The song Pretty Boy is about a boy who has only a pretty face but not so much other nice qualities.

Both songs kind of look down on being pretty, or, at least, a person who looks pretty and lacks other qualities such as being kind, smart, or has a “nice personality”. Funny thing is, all the girls in these groups are very pretty. I’m not sure if they’re born pretty but they’re definitely packaged by entertainment companies to be very pretty, prettier than any girl you just stumbles upon on the street.

This is how pretty f(x) is.

f(x)

This is how pretty 2NE1 is:

2NE1_is_pretty

Working in the visual media industry, I’m very aware that much of our sense of aesthetics is formed and directed by mass media. But everyone wants to look good and that’s why beauty and cosmetics is a billion dollar industry. However, no matter what kind of products regular people buy, they are never ever ever going to look like the celebrities who are representing the brands. Behind every image and video clip thrown in front of your eyes is a group of talented stylists, photographers, videographers, marketing strategists and touch up artists  who know how to create a dream for you and make you take out that cash from your wallet.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t look pretty. You can look absolutely fabulous,  you just have to genuinely accept how you look, and create a look for yourself. The minute a person starts to put a little thought behind who they really are and style themselves according to their own features, they start to break the spells of the media and brainwashing of companies.

I was born with too dark of a complexion for a standard Asian “pretty look.” My friends and relatives used to tease me and said my skin is so dark because I drank too much soy sauce (lol). Here’s me and the standard asian pretty girl, Zi Yi Zhang.

Me and Zi Yi Zhang

Even after moving to the U.S where there are people of all colors, I was still frustrated by not looking like a “pretty asian girl”. But maybe because of my laziness and frugality, I never bought products to lighten my skin color like a lot of asian girls do. Now I’ve totally given up on looking like those girls. First of all, I don’t want to spend money and time doing something that will never work. Besides, I finally  realized that God already gave me a set of pretty good, healthy features and most importantly, a creative mind that appreciates what I already have and can make a style of my own.

Plus, there’s a variety of tastes and beauty standards in people. People who like Kim Kardashian will probably not like my look. But people who like my look might not like her. Even if I’m underestimating the power of the Kardashian makeup, hair, boobs and hips, I fundamentally don’t care about the people who like that kind of look. I’ve got a niche audience instead of a general appeal (lol).

Me_and_kardashian

On the days when I’m totally happy with my look, I feel pretty. And that’s the most important thing that no magazines, websites or companies can ever sell people.