Thursday, July 31, 2014

Benjamin Franklin, The Whistle

Came across a portion of this story while at the Benjamin Franklin Museum and knew I wanted to share it in its entirety. This story is an excerpt from a letter to his friend Madame Brillon.

When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.

When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, this man gives too much for his whistle.

When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, "He pays, indeed," said I, "too much for his whistle."

If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, "Poor man," said I, "you pay too much for your whistle."

When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, "Mistaken man," said I, "you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle."

If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, "Alas!" say I, "he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle."

When I see a beautiful sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a husband, "What a pity," say I, "that she should pay so much for a whistle!"

In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.

Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider that, with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the whistle.

Text was found here

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nora Calhoun on Learning From Bodies

Ability is not what makes death significant. At birth this baby had capacities below that of a healthy fetus at ten weeks. Holding his body, living and then dead, proves to me that it doesn’t matter how early the human heart beats, how early it is possible to feel pain, or when the senses develop. No ability or strength confers human status—not being viable or sentient or undamaged or wanted. Being of human descent is enough; you cannot earn or forfeit your humanity. If this baby’s death does not matter, no death matters.

Read the rest here.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

The new racism: Racism without "racists"

I consider myself a "minor minority." Racism discussions in America tend to center on the big three: White, Black, Latino. Most Americans think of a Chinese or Korean person when they hear the word Asian, so as an American of Indian descent, it's pretty easy to fly under the radar. Because I am used to looking different than everyone around me almost everywhere I go and because I lean more towards curious than fearful when it comes to learning about other cultures, I am very interested in the dynamics of interactions between races. 

Plus, I am a nosy people watcher, but also very quiet. I tend to take on an invisible quality, so people often say or do things around me I don't think they would around one of the big three. White people talk to me about black people. Black people talk to me about white people. I watch how the Latinos and Koreans who run the corner stores in West Philly interact with the mostly African American clientele. I watch as people awkwardly stumble over whether to say black or African American. I see Africans who don't want to be associated with African Americans. I watch Asians of various stripes obsessed with keeping their skin as light as can be. I've been in Indian churches where you would think they are reading Bibles that replaced Israel with India. I've been in white suburban churches that foolishly think they have not taken on cultural elements. I've been asked if I've ever shot a bow and arrow or whether I was from Indochina and if my parents were illegal immigrants, from church people no less! :-)

All this to say, I don't get too uncomfortable around these discussions. I find them fascinating. Sometimes sad. Often eye-roll inducing. And this blog post isn't going to be a dissection. Perhaps one day I will write my street-level observations. For now I will fall back on leaving a quote, because I find it good to chew on and also because I am getting sleepy and don't feel like writing anymore.

The new racism: Racism without "racists." Today, racial segregation and division often result from habits, policies, and institutions that are not explicitly designed to discriminate. Contrary to popular belief, discrimination or segregation do not require animus. They thrive even in the absence of prejudice or ill will. It’s common to have racism without racists. 

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate. 
Toni Morrison 

You can read more quotes on racism here

HT: Christena Cleveland

P.S. - I love you all. God made us so different and that is wonderful! Truly! Don't be ashamed of whatever color you are. Don't hate on others. And slam awkwardly into one another more often socially. Maybe it will feel weird at first, or even for awhile. Keep doing it. It's good for you. And it's right. And to all the darker skinned girls chilling in white churches that never get asked out, God sees you, even if that sweet, nerdy guy in your Bible Study who throws around words like eschatology doesn't. And don't worry if you never are chosen to be a wife and mother, you'll get bigger mansions in heaven. (Calm down y'all. It's a joke.)

(The Asian in me has no problem doling out lectures.)

(And the rusty writer in me likes using unnecessary parentheses liberally)


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Passport Photo Requirements

My passport expired recently. It saw very little use, with my only overseas trips being a short weekend jaunt to Canada and a deliriously hot, but wonderful, ten day stint in Venezuela. While my family leaves the country yearly, each time I board a plane, I somehow end up in Texas. All of my international travel takes place solely in my imagination, fueled by Rick Steves podcasts, travel blogs, pinterest boards, and harassing coworkers for all the details from their vacations to Israel or Italy.

When I mentioned to my father that my passport was no longer valid, he insisted I update it immediately. He knows I just sit in my cubicle year after year while the passport just chills in a desk drawer, but immigrant parents always want you to be prepared to flee the country. So I went online, printed out the necessary forms, read all the frequently asked questions like a good nerd, and did the required amount of grumbling about how much money it would cost. Still, I started to get excited. Even if it meant traveling solo, I was determined (determined!) that the new passport would be littered with stamps.

And if I'm being completely honest, I was also really looking forward to having an updated photo. With my brown skin and thick brows and non-smiling expression, I looked a little like a terrorist in the old photo (Note to the NSA: I am NOT a terrorist. Even when I simply think of spitting my gum out onto the sidewalk while walking because all the flavor is long gone and the toughness is causing my jaw to ache, I feel guilty and hold it until an appropriate receptacle is available. I am a rule follower and respect all authority figures, even the parking authority). Since the rules called for a neutral expression in the photo, I practiced different ways to smile without actually smiling (warm eyes and the slightest upturn of the corners of the mouth).

I brought the old passport to work and showed the photo to a few people, confident that I would return from lunch with fabulous new photos and that we would all be stunned by the before and after. My brows were did, the Bobbi Brown foundation was carefully applied that morning, and I wore my favorite sophisticated red lipstick (Afghan Red by Nars).

I marched on over to my favorite store of all time, CVS pharmacy, and there was thankfully no wait in the photo center. But from there it rapidly went downhill. The clerk had me take my glasses off. Remember that scene from She's All That when Rachel Leigh Cook's character walks down the stairs with her glasses finally off and is magically gorgeous? Now imagine the complete opposite and that was me. My glasses stay on my face at all times. I do not wear contacts. I do not simply wear them to read. They only come off once I go to bed at night or in the shower. I vaguely remembered the FAQ stating glasses could remain on, but because I was not certain and because of my aforementioned respect for even low level authority figures, I did as told.

Apparently it threw me off my game entirely because the photos were printed right then, and instead of smiling with my eyes, they went cross-eyed. CROSS-EYED! I forgot to turn the corners of my mouth upwards and managed to look stern, confused, and bloated. I didn't even think that combination was possible!

I am aware of how vain this all sounds. And I also know the best thing for the sake of this little story would be to attach the photo. But I'm still single y'all and I'm not that dumb. I need a lesson in photo fierceness from the hot felon.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I Shall Not Want - Audrey Assad

A quiet, contemplative song to end the week.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Gender Dominance in Conversation

It was interesting reading this article, especially after a recent conversation with a female friend who went through a very similar situation at a leadership development course.

I routinely find myself in mixed-gender environments (life) where men interrupt me. Now that I've decided to try and keep track, just out of curiosity, it's quite amazing how often it happens. It's particularly pronounced when other men are around. 
This irksome reality goes along with another -- men who make no eye contact. For example, a waiter who only directs information and questions to men at a table, or the man last week who simply pretended I wasn't part of a circle of five people (I was the only woman). We'd never met before and barely exchanged 10 words, so it couldn't have been my not-so-shrinking-violet opinions. 
These two ways of establishing dominance in conversation, frequently based on gender, go hand-in-hand with this last one: A woman, speaking clearly and out loud, can say something that no one appears to hear, only to have a man repeat it minutes, maybe seconds later, to accolades and group discussion.
Soraya Chemaly

Read the rest here

HT: Sayable | Lore Ferguson


Friday, February 17, 2012


At then end of an exhausting week, when I am weary, passages like the one below are a source of great comfort. Praise God, whose grip never wavers. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Jude 1:24-25


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I want this kid's attitude

Above is Nemanja Vidic with a cute, chubby, awesome Asian kid. I want to walk through life with the energy and fierceness of that little boy. I already have the Asian and chubby part down, now it's time for me to work on the awesome factor. Below is a little clip of him in action.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Child Beauty Pageant Buffoonery

My favorite lines:

A stick's a lot different because you have to do all the work and I think it's going to be a lot more tiring...than with a real horse.

Kylie Felter

I agree Kylie. It is much more work for you to skip and canter around the cones on your own legs. I hope you will be kinder to horses now that you've trotted a mile in their hooves. (And may I suggest you respectfully ask your parents to sit out any future competitions that are canceled due to horse herpes.)

If you happen to have a problem like this later in life you already have the experience of riding a stick horse!

Savanna Steed

Savanna, may you never have this problem again. I pray the solution to your future problems will never, ever, be riding around in a glittery outfit on a stick horse. (Also, with your last name, it would be sweet poetic justice if you ended up the winner.)

Let me make it clear, I think the girls made the best of the situation. My issue is with the parents and officials who thought this was an appropriate plan B. Testing their poise and adaptability?! More like lazy planning. Seriously, were there no other horses in the entire state of Utah available for this junior queen competition?! It's cowboy country out there! Surely there were some ponies or donkeys or mules or big-boned sheep or obese dogs that could have stood in as substitutes.

I'm not sure whether I should admire or be disturbed by everyone's ability to keep a straight face through that entire news segment.

Monday, March 28, 2011


This is how you can ensure I will not read your tweets, facebook status updates, or blog posts - simply post song lyrics. Snore. Boring. And yet, I'm about to engage in a little hypocrisy and post some lines from a song.

From this one place I can't see very far
In this one moment I'm square in the dark
These are the things I will trust in my heart
You can see something else
Something else

Sara Groves, From This One Moment

Remembering that God knows what my next steps are

Remembering that He sees me specifically

Remembering that He is good

Twenty eight is not quite looking like I expected. In the midst of my uncertain outlook, I will trust in my heart that He can see something else. And that His something else is better than my something else.