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It doesn’t matter where you came from, what matters is where you are going. —Ella Fitzgerald


Realizations about life #485

Everything is a race against time. When did everything become a deadline?

Back to writing my policy memo on Mexico. Sharing my sources:
Mexico Under Seige, LA Times award-winning package on Mexico’s Drug War
– Schaefer, A. “Security in Mexico: Implications for US Policy Options.” RAND.

Sent from my iPhone

I thought I had lost my favorite key necklace sometime in the fog that was February but after my car wash and apparent cleaning, the necklace was found and placed in my little miscellany compartment.

All seems right in the world now.

Too easily

I’m too easily charmed by the dangerously charming,
but when the charm subsides, the intrigues dies & all that’s left is…?

On sharing

I oscillate between sharing too much & wanting to stay in hiding.

These briefs are somewhere in between.

It’s been two days since I’ve been back from my little reprieve and two months since my last. In a little over two weeks, I’ll become a transient again, but by which time, I’ll also have finished all of that academic fanfare and will be ready to board another plane in another two weeks time.

Now I’m sharing two much.

*If you got the SATC reference, that was one of my favorite puns.

LA: so bohemian.

And just enough high-tech.

Not gonna lie: I still love Mo’Dowd

Stephen Walt, usually meh, is unusually insightful today: “I’ve mostly stopped reading Maureen Dowd, as I’ve tired of her Gossip Girl approach to commentary, but sometimes she really does nail it.”

From Mo’Dwod: Like a lover who has learned from bitter experience that his fickle mistress responds better to sweets than rants, the administration has abruptly switched from nagging the corrupt Afghan president to nuzzling him. [Source]

I’m a big fan of the mechanical failure

“… the scholarly literature on breaking up is Duck’s model of relationship dissolution, which divides break-ups into four categories: pre-existing doom, mechanical failure, process loss, and sudden death.” [Source]

A study (from source above) found that strong dislike for an ex post break-up makes you feel better in the long run.

That’s not only misleading but it just sounds petty (note that the test subjects just had to be in a relationship for at least four months and were surveyed a month later) — I think what they meant to conclude with (because you know, I have the capacity to comment on what researchers should’ve concluded) is that the reconstruction of that person’s place in your life, if at all, and simultaneously, the distraction from (thinking of) that person, is what makes you feel better in the long run.

Oh, and if I were going through a break-up, which I’m not currently (cool), I would absolutely hate it if my friends were to say any hackneyed thing that would make me regret the entire relationship instead of realizing why it didn’t work… because of the mechanical failure yanno.

Well, I still want an iPad.

Photo credit: Nicole Nguyen

Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University and the author of a new book, “The Upside of Irrationality,” has studied why earlier adopters do what they do. “It’s not about the cost-benefit analysis,” he says. And rarely is it a successful calculation of higher productivity, though many a person has tried to justify purchases of expensive toys that way.

It can be more about cementing one’s identity. Although people who want to be first with a product aren’t making a direct calculation — “I’d pay $100 for my ego” — they may derive value from showing off a new product or being perceived as being at technology’s forefront.

“I realized years ago that I derive great pleasure from buying a new gadget,” said Professor Ariely. “I bought a Segway.”[Source]

Early adopter love.


Sometimes Veer wallpapers are underwhelming, but other times, you get little gems like this. I appreciate the switching of the vernacular — such a subtle transition. Also, serif fonts are serious. So great!

The Quantifiable Self

“But I soon realized that an emphasis on efficiency missed something important. Efficiency implies rapid progress toward a known goal. For many self-trackers, the goal is unknown. Although they may take up tracking with a specific question in mind, they continue because they believe their numbers hold secrets that they can’t afford to ignore, including answers to questions they have not yet thought to ask.” [Source]

So many thoughts on this and other ideas in this article — will write more later when not in this windowless dungeon of an office.

More Mahmoud love

“Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had some fun with George Stephanopoulos yesterday when the ABC newsman asked the Iranian president whether, as a new documentary claims, Osama Bin Laden is living in Tehran. Any normal leader who didn’t want to risk alienating the United States would simply shoot down such accusations, but Ahmadinejad is obviously not a normal leader, and he clearly doesn’t mind alienating the United States. So instead, after dancing around the question repeatedly, and definitively denying the claim exactly zero times, he insisted that Bin Laden was probably living in Washington, D.C., which we assume was his idea of a hilarious joke.” [Source]

I forget how much I love NY Mag. Why would anyone read celebrity – mere mortals if you ask me – gossip when world leaders like Mahmoud* exist? Oh, don’t even get me started on Qaddafi**. Ridiculous antics paired with oodles of political capital is great.

*We’re on a first name basis ever since we met via his profile in the New Yorker.
**Whose name no one knows how to really spell because he won’t tell us. Sound it out, everyone.

Guys — you catching on yet?

Funny video featuring one of my favorite yoga instructors, Rudy — because single people only practice yoga to meet other singles. Obviously!

A muddle of befuddlement

I’m too delirious to remember and adequately parlay this weekend’s initial excitement to the overwhelming madness that cumulated today — but I did come to the sober realization that I GOT TWO SPEEDING TICKETS in the span of about 72 hours.

More later. Must. Study.

TSA and such*

There are few things that will make me giggle in an economic geography class at 8 in the morning, except reading irrelevant articles (for another class):

I had to read this Atlantic piece by Jeffrey Goldberg about TSA & its security practices for my US National Security class — Highly recommended reading if you’re looking to sneak goodies (or dangerous materials) past airport security (though hopefully not anymore).

While trying to find the direct link, I stumbled on the TSA’s blog. What? The TSA has a blog? And it replies to news articles written about it?

Even as an ardent supporter of blogs, transparency and community involvement, I can’t seem to grasp the necessity for the minutiae of what I can or cannot bring on an airplane. Blogs of this nature are useless unless they serve a genuine purpose. In this case, I’d hope the TSA reassigns “Blogger Bob” to more useful tasks — oh, like keeping our airports safe or something.

*I also hope no one at the TSA is savvy enough to find the redirect from my blog; and if they do, they should… hire me.

Intrinstic motivations

Malcolm Gladwell recently reviewed Dan Pink’s latest book, “Drive,” about what motivates people to do good work. We assume that people are motivated by external factors such as money, but alas, it’s for personal rewards. Of course — we are fueled by our selfish motivations.

“The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”

Incentives, monetary and otherwise, are not the answer, but how do you change internal drive?

In restless anticipation

Two qualities that can be mildly enjoyable by themselves, but together are completely and wholly disastrous. It’s a constant influx of extreme boredom then excitement. The anticipation makes time move more slowly — the boredom and restlessness, twice as slow.

My solution: Why not counteract the dawdling days by moving even slower!

If you are trying to contact me in the early evenings only to find that I’ve fallen asleep, I apologize in advance. I’ve descended into one of the most unproductive phases of my adult life. Someone please inspire me.

Also, I think I’m doomed to write only about time until my watch is fixed.

Education, revisited

And, an accompanying article from the Chronicle of Higher Education on for-profit education.

Instant bliss in every atom

Before I run off to class (classes that truly do get in the way of my education, thanks Mark Twain).

We all have those moments—where time passes by so slow it’s as if she’s been sedated by our own ennui. This essay I just read on boredom suggested that there was a neurological explanation, as there always is (love’s just a chemical reaction, yeah?).

Researchers have discovered that when people are conscious but doing nothing — for example, lying in an f.M.R.I. scanner, waiting to be given some simple mental task as part of a psychology experiment — the brain is in fact firing away, with greater activity in regions responsible for recalling autobiographical memory, imagining the thoughts and feelings of others, and conjuring hypothetical events: the literary areas of the brain, you might say. When this so-called default mode network is activated, the brain uses only about 5 percent less energy than it does when engaged in basic tasks. But that discrepancy may explain why time seems to pass more slowly at such moments. It may also explain the agitated restlessness that compels the bored to seek relief in doodling or daydreaming.

So, bore me & spend a little (more) time with me.
“Pay close attention to the most tedious thing you can find and, in waves, a boredom like you’ve never known will wash over you and just about kill you. Ride these out, and it’s like stepping from black and white into color. Like water after days in the desert. Instant bliss in every atom.”

Time: a measurement system invented by humans to quantify a universal and constant progression whose true definition escapes us. And the caveat—our minds can manipulate and perceive time as it wishes.

Is time subjective? Time keeps moving without us. Don’t be stuck in the wrong time.


Figuring things out

The latest is how to sort all the junk I post online in one neat Web site—this one.

© Copyright 2003-2020 Millie Tran. All this happened, more or less.