Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holidays Hiatus

I'm not really taking a hiatus, though it has and certainly will look like it for a good while.
Apologies for the lack of update :(

I will, however, point out in this crappy post that if there is one thing I hate about the holidays it's how long it takes to get anywhere

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Real Destiny Problem

I got a Facebook group invite from Adam this afternoon to join the group COCKROACH special at DESTINY TEA AND CAFE LOUNGE.

There are a few things that I want to comment on about this situation so I'm going to section them, since I am a control freak.

The story, in short, is that a girl went to Destiny Tea and Cafe, the location at Silverstar and found two small cockroaches in her drink. The waitress told her the manager was not in and was only going to take off 13% off the bill (i.e., no tax). The customer felt that she should not be still charged her for the drink and when that didn't happen, she went around showing people the cockroach. She asked to talk to the manager to no avail and started a Facebook group. The next day, the manager got back to her and after finding out she was a student, 21 years old, and does not speak Mandarin/Cantonese, the manager refused to speak to her because she was "immature." The manager asked to speak to someone who does speak Chinese. When the girl got her friend to call back, the manager told the friend that she'd call him back in 10 minutes but never did. After the customer called back Destiny a few times, the manager threatened her with legal action if she does not take her Facebook group down.

The story has now been cross-posted at RFD, CLUBRSX, and even BlogTo. I decided not to post photos since I don't want to see cockroach pictures on my blog, but any of the links I provided in the post will give you plenty graphics.

The Crux of the Problem
I think for the most part, it's evident that the crux of the problem is not the fact that there are cockroaches in her drink. If this was the issue, she could have filed a formal complain rather than start a Facebook group. Plus, it is not like any of us never experienced having bugs in our food. Personally I've found bugs in my food at a number of restaurants but I never felt the need to escalate the situation. I call the server over, s/he sees the bug and s/he apologizes, takes the food off the bill and/or replaces it. Sometimes if the store has a good policy, it will compensate (with a coupon/new dish/give the entire meal for free, etc.). The problem began with the server not treating the issue properly because she felt that she did not have the authority. But of course it didn't help when the customer walked around showing ppl the cockroach. The customer was being a bitch but if she had just offered to take it off the bill, all of this might have been resolved. Nevertheless, the question is, was it fair for the customer to start the Facebook group at that point? Should she have waited to contact management first before escalating the situation publicly? I think so.
  • From a pragmatic standpoint, the situation might have worked out better for her.
  • From a fairness standpoint, the place should be given a chance to clean up their management. What happened did not deserve a publicity stunt.
  • From a realistic standpoint, however, if i were the customer, i would not have wanted to go through the redtape to get to the management and starting a Facebook group would have been the easier solution.
The reality is, sometimes the mass can have too much power and not all of us have the ability to constrain our power, especially if you are in the situation. Personally, as an observer, I would not have joined the Facebook group at that point. I would not have publicly supported her. However, implicitly, it is possible for me have taken a note of the situation in my head and not go to that particular location.

Agism, Classism, Racism, and Culture
What made me feel really upset and decided to join this group was the way in which the manager did handle the situation. The fact that she asked for the customer's age and class and ethnicity and then deemed her unworthy of her attention. Of course, it is a possibility that the customer might have interpreted things wrongly and perhaps the original intention was not discrimination but I think it is very likely that it did happen. It is not unheard of for Asians to discriminate people based on age, class, and race, especially because the customer's name sounds brown/middle eastern. The only thing understandable about it is that it happens in their culture, but that does not justify the manager's action. (I have an urge to add that especially because she is in Canada, but I do not wish to discriminate cultures. Albeit her actions might have been a lot more understandable were she in Asia, it should still not be allowed to happen anywhere). What the manager did was flat out discriminating. Nothing justifies that.

Even if some of the discrimination issues were not true (I think the age part is for sure true). However, I feel that for the problem to have escalated to this level, management should apologize regardless.

The Escalation
It begins at the low level, the waitress was rude and did not know what to do. Blame it on the next level, the manager. She should have handled the situation better and then taught the employee what to do. But she didn't. Instead, she discriminated and pointed fingers. She sounds uneducated and rude. Discrimination aside, she threatened for legal action. Are you kidding? Well, I hope so, I hope she was just bluffing, though a very dumb bluff. Nevertheless, the question is, has this situation escalated to the upper managements at Destiny? Did the dumb manager contact someone who had more authority before she threatened about legal action? Because if she did, then the upper management needs some lessons in business management.
  • First of all, whoever came up with the legal actions should know that for the company to sue for libel, as the plaintiff, the onus is on them in civil court, not beyond a reasonable doubt, but based on the balance of probabilities that the customer was lying. There is no way they can prove that, especially not with the graphic pictures. Unless they can find some proof for a motive for that girl to be lying, they are pretty screwed. The only they can possibility sue for was their act of discrimination, but I'm not really sure how they can accomplish. Most that can happen is the judge telling the defendent to take off the part about discrimination, but the cockroach part is already a bust on the company's rep.
  • Secondly, as a business, why would you escalate something so small publically? Are you out of your mind? As a corporation that owns over 7 entities, each of them with several stores in various locations, do you really want the pictures of cockroaches in your food to to go even more public? Why don't you want to settle this privately, apologize to the girl and give her a coupon or something. It sounds like she just wants some justice, she doesn't even seem to care for compensation. By threatening legal action, this stuff is going to go on television and you are going to pay for a lot more than an apology and 15% off VIP card.

Bad Management

The fact that this situation as gone this far already shows that the management at the upper level needs to pay more attention to their stores
. My family actually knows some upper management people/investors of Destiny. It is a Taiwanese company and most of their upper management is Taiwanese. I would like to imagine that at least one of them would deal with it before it blows up even further; however, it is not unlike the culture of the company to leave the little stuff for the little people (who may or may not be Taiwanese, this is not about our culture) until it gets to the point of no return. That, is the crux of Destiny's management problem. The company is highly unstructured. It is made up of a large number of investors who takes ownership over the stores in which they invested the most. It is a chained entity managed informally like a franchise. Each investor is only interested in their own store but if one store is managed badly, they all go down. Management structure aside, each of the investors still needs to train their staff, manage their staff, and learn that business begins at the customer service. Until then, there is only going to be more problems. It's like a dominoes effect, one person starts the trend, then they all do. Hopefully, Destiny will learn from this.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

An Antithesis

Harvey says (3:09 PM):
your i love toronto posts are hilarious, mayor miller should hire you
lynnie says (3:09 PM):
lol which one? cuz there are many =P
Harvey says (3:10 PM):
all of them, they sound so enthuastic..."You can call Toronto boring (and it really is), but who says boring isn't a good thing if that's what you are known for?"
lynnie says (3:10 PM):
hahaha, well i think it's boring in a city way, like it's a nice and boring big city; whereas there's boring like waterloo, in a you want to throw up when ur here kinda way

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My relationship with coffee

My dear Francis sent me this wonderful link from the Times!


Christopher Niemann draws out his love for coffee using, you guessed it, coffee and napkin.

Here's one of my favourites, as it closely resembles my relationship with drip coffee and Starbucks over the years. Ignore the bagels.

Here’s a chart that shows my coffee bias over the years.

For good measure I have added my bagel preferences over the same period. (1) Drip coffee, (2) Starbucks, (3) blueberry bagels, (4) sesame bagels, (5) poppy-seed bagels, (6) everything bagels

Please don’t hold my brief affair with blueberry bagels against me. I cured myself of this aberration.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On being a dumb human

For a person who spends most of her time making fun of other people and calling people names, I never thought I'd be the one who scars someone's impression of a human being.

I went to the MC Coffee and Donut shop to get a cup of coffee and they recently got a new set of cups. Instead of using styrofoam now, they use the Van Houtte paper cups but they still continue to use Dixie lids. There were a lot of things that could have stopped me, such as remembering from my donut shop experiences that most cups come in standard sizes, but my sleepy haziness got the best of me.

After trying to fit every size lid on my cup, I was thoroughly convinced that none of the lids fit. The large is too small and the jumbo is too big. Adam tells me to push the jumbo lid down, and I told him I did and it still didnt fit. I even saw a cup next to me with a lid too small on top.

I went to bug the cashier to tell her the lid doesn't fit and being the FOB that she is, she keeps telling me the lids are on the side. After much frustration, she got up to get the jumbo lid and put it on top of my cup and left. I was really frustrated.

"But it doesn't fit!" I called out to her.

She comes back and pushes the lid down into the cup...and voila, it fit.

I felt so stupid.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

There's no place like home

13Going in to the office yesterday didn't turn out to be a mistake after all. In fact, although I hated having to wake up at 5:30am to take the Greyhound downtown, I really loved being back in Toronto...it is home. Doing something other than my paper was also a very welcoming distraction; I spent the whole day just working on the docs and looking at the application I haven't seen for so long.

But I think what I loved the most about going back to Toronto was the fact that it was...Toronto. A big city in which I grew up, in which everything is an toronto-bay-streetarm's length away: from restaurants to shopping centres to parks, from finance to transportation to entertainment, from neighbourhood to neighbourhood to neighbourhood. In the early morning, men and women, dressed in business suits and wool coats, are bustling about the streets with a coffee in one hand and a briefcase in another--the city is so alive with power. And in the evening, strolling up to the Eaton Centre, watching the city light up as the night falls, it all feels so...rhythmic and exhilarating.

I am a city girl. I love being in the big city. This is where I feel the safest, protected by the tall glowing skyscrapers, surrounded by the tireless parades of people, with each person rushing by you in lively steps, engrossed only in their own affairs...and yet, without missing a single beat. And this...this is where I get comfortably lost: beneath the buildings, among the crowd, within this silent vibrance.

I wish I was a poet so I can paint you a picture of how beautiful I feel when I walk alone in my big city.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Broken Heart

IMG_0686My dad and my brother have always been fans but I've never really followed basketball. I recall going to my first rap's game in high school because I ran into Celane on the bus who had an extra ticket and ditched my friends with whom I was supposed to go to the movies. I don't even remember who we were playing and what went on at the game since I only went because I've never been to a basketball game.

When I did start sort of started to follow basketball, it's always been a ride on the bandwagon. I bought a game package for someone over Christmas two years ago and I went to one of the games. Later that year, helping Chet scalp playoff tickets with Andrea earned us a free game at the playoffs. I did follow the rest of that series, which we ended up losing to the Nets in round 1. I watched the playoff games with everyone last year too.

n122607803_31348962_2245I think this year is the only year that I've started following the Raptor's since the beginning of the season. I sat through most of the games with Adam, watching as we win and lose. I went to the the game against the Heat last wknd at the ACC and it was so frustrating to watch a game with us leading in double-digits then having the Heat take the lead. Fortunately, we ended up winning that game. Today's game was even more frustrating. Fifteen points lead and then we went overttime and LOST the game? I hate the Nets. I really do. And the Raptors has really got to stop teasing me like this.

But melodrama aside, which is really not my point for this post and is taking me really long to convey, what I want to say, actually, is how much i hate getting emotionally attached to a sports team. Right now, I have been following the Raps not only because they are the Toronto team, but also because I actually really love watching most of the players on the team (alright...mainly the latest starting lineup). But like, what I mean is, when I'm watching the game, I get excited when Bosh makes a good play, when Parker steals a ball, when O'Neal rebounds, Calderon makes a good pass...you get the point..., but I also know that, regardless how the season is going to end, the team is most likely not going to stay the same. I find it difficult to understand how Adam can follow Ford and call him his favourite pointguard but then completely not following up on him after he gets traded. How do you negotiate your identification with a team vs. your attachment to a player?

I understand why ppl like Jordan regardless of the team he's on (because of his ability to play). I can also understand why ppl still dislike Carter even though he's still a good player (because his ethics sucks). But what i dont understand is how you can like a player on a team you also like and then not like the same player after he gets traded. And if your emotional attachment lies with the team, then how do you explain the large number of people who stop supporting a team because it has horrible players that are constantly getting traded? I know everyone has different reasons for who and what they support. Harvey says "you should have a criteria for liking a team" and that he "like[s] teams that play basketball the right way", which denotes that he likes basketball for the sake of the game itself, but you know, that seem to also connote that he likes a team when they plays well, which takes away the whole aspect of "loyalty". But he's gonna be a lawyer soon, so what more can you expect?

At any rate, although I was never an advocate for blind loyalty, I think for the time being, I will continue to follow the Raptors even though Harvey's says my "emotional attachment has been misplaced". I'm from Toronto and I think we have some great players on the team. There. Leave me alone. And stop breaking my heart Raptor's.


ETA: Tal found this--Rules for being a true fan, scroll down to loyalty (rules 18 and 19)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

That New Reality Show

Before I left the house today, Adam was channel surfing and Paris Hilton's face flashed before me as the channels were changing.
"Wait!" I called out, "was that Paris Hilton??"
"Whoa, she looks a lot better than she used to, go back go back, I wanna see!"
So Adam turns back to the channel and I find a significantly more refined-looking Paris Hilton sitting on a throne-like seat and Adam informs me that Elvin, one of our roommates, also said the same thing about her looking better.
"Must be plastic surgery," I announced out loud, "didn't she, like, disappear for a while? Probably waiting for her surgery to heal"

The shot pans to the rest of the scene and I see a bunch of girls sitting across from her throne.
"Umm..." I said hesitantly, "is this the new show where she's picking a new best friend?"
And to my horror, Paris Hilton begins scrutinizing each girl the way they do on American Idol and The Apprentice and decides on the girl that's not going to make the cut as her best friend. After the girl gets eliminated, she gets the traditional last scene talking about her experiences of being on the show with Hilton. As the show comes to a close, Hilton lies sideways on one of those 19thC chairbed things and announces to the world how hard it is to find a new best friend.


I felt my blood pressure rising as I stormed out of the house in the rain. How bad is reality show getting these days??? When I first heard of the show, I thought it was going to be Paris Hilton going off to random places in the world in search of a new girl to be her best friend; still dumb, but not an exploitation of human weakness and low self-esteem. Are you seriously telling me that you are making a show with a bunch of low self-esteem girls vying for a social validation by Ms. Paris Hilton? What kind of message are you sending to the public?

The scene that especially angered me was when Hilton decided to provide a public insight about how hard it is to find a best friend. No, no, no. No you did not. Don't go around pretending that this show is insightful and observational about the human condition. NO. The public is not stupid, we know how hard it is to find someone who really gets you. But. that's. not. how. you. make. friends. What type of value are placing on the word "friendship"? Is a friend someone who worships you on a throne and does whatever they can to please you?

A normal human process of making friends is a negotiation between social validation and individualization. People do things to please their friends in order seek validation. In turn, they are socialized to adhere to social norms. But at the same time, if your friends can't accept you for who you are when you are not violating social standards then you stick your back up and you find new friends. I know that not everyone is capable of doing it, but is this not the goal of social development? Is society not working towards helping people increase their self-esteem so that they are confident enough to say no? What type of behaviour are you condoning by putting this on TV? Are you saying that it's okay to bitch fight in order to get the attention of a popular and rich girl?

I HATE REALITY SHOWS and this has got to be one of the worst ones I've ever seen. Ironically, Adam tells me that there are worse ones out there. Have you heard about the show Parental Control? The premise is simple: Parents hate the girlfriend of the son, so parents pick three girls they like and send their son out to date them. Fine, I get that. But making the girlfriend sit with the parents and watch the dates live on TV while the boyfriend is making out with the girls? And then the show is about the girl and the parents fighting and swearing at each other? WTF???

I hate reality shows for that very reason. The exploitation of human feelings. This is not okay. Stuff like Temptation Island when you separate a couple, put one on an island with a bunch of peopel to seduce the person...WHY? What is the goal you are achieving? Under normal circumstance, a man may not cheat on his girlfriend, but if you are to place him on an island with hot girls trying to take off his pants everyday for a month, he most likely will cave. Don't give me the BS that you are testing his loyalty because placing someone under an extreme circumstance like that does not help with his development as a human being nor his relationship. It is absolutely ridiculous.

Human beings are not toys. Their feelings are not toys. You can argue that these people are consenting to be a part of the show so it's their own fault, but I cannot agree. There are people out there with low self-esteem. There are people out there who needs money. There are people out there who are not ethically intact. But as another human being that's a part of society, we are not there to watch them suffer and toy with their minds, we should be there to help them and care about them. And even if you don't want to care about them, you can at least leave them alone.

Note that I am not saying we are better than these people on the reality shows. I believe that they are fine on their own if there were not the existence of these horrendous shows seducing them towards the road of sins and stupidity. By watching these shows and creating these shows, you are the ones calling them stupid and that you think you are better than them. That is not okay.

These shows destruct humanity.

Perhaps my views are left-winged and that I am looking at this from the standpoint of protecting society, but I believe that humanity is important for our wellbeing and that I believe we should care about each other.

As a disclaimer, I do admit that my knowledge of reality shows are limited as I refuse to participate in this unethical phenomenon. I know there are reality shows that are out there which are more helpful than destructive. But seriously, this nonsense with things like My New BFF and Temptation Island has got to stop. We simply should not and cannot sink any lower.

And please, Paris Hilton, for the love of human beings, go away.

Monday, November 10, 2008

That New Korean Restaurant

Over the summer, I noticed that Charlie's Lunchbox, one of the Korean restaurants at the university plaza closed down. I actually never went there when it first opened in my 4th year while it had really good food and service (so i've heard). By the time I went there last year, it was already sold to this really really old (in their 60s?) Chinese couple. The food was horrible and there was no one in there; needless to say, I don't miss it being gone.

Today, we had the opportunity to actually eat out (it's been a while!), even though we were limited to the university plaza. Since I hate all food Waterloo, I told Adam that we can pick between that new Korean restaurant opened in place of Charlie's or Meetpoint, a middle eastern restaurant that opened up two weeks ago because at least i know i don't already hate it before i walk in.

Honestly, I have no idea what the name of the new Korean restaurant is. Maybe "Ga Jeong" (I have trouble retaining names when I don't understand them). Anyway, as we walked by, Adam and I were excited because the place looked really busy and the picture signs outside showed authentic Korean food like pork bone soup and ganponggi.

To make a long story short, the wait was long but the food is amazing.

The wait (*/*****)
No, we weren't waiting to be seated because the restaurant was that busy; we were waiting to be served the whole time. When we sat down, we were given a menu after approximately 5 minutes. While we were looking over the menu, I went to get tea for everyone since the sole waitress was too busy. After 20 minutes of waiting for her to pick up our order sheet and menu, I took the stuff to the counter where two old Korean couples were poring over the bills for a big group of people (who have been there for at least 10 minutes trying to pay the bill). After we put our order in, it was about another 20 minutes before our order arrived. So total wait time was about 45 minutes before we got our food (maybe even longer). The waitress is also inexperienced and worked really slow but I'm not sure why the cooking takes so long too.

The food (****/*****)
Adam ordered "tonka", his friend ordered beef and vegetable stew, and I ordered kimchi and pork stew. Their food was definitely really authentic, i think even better than owl and minerva. The servings was ok but they gave really big servings of free appetizers that made us really full! Adam's tonka, which was similar to Pork Katsu or Chicken Schnitzel (basically battered and deepfried pork) except with this sweet and salty Brown Sauce squeezed over it, was really big in portion. My kimchi stew had really little pork that consists of a lot of fat and John's beef was non-existent. Good thing they all taste really amazing, even for Toronto standard (and we're talking waterloo food here!). The price is medium, about 6.99 for pork bone soup, 8.99 for the stew dishes and 10.99-12.99 for the galbi and bulgogi stuff.

Is it worth the wait?
Adam says it isnt and I'm still sitting on the fence. To some extent we got there while it was really busy. After we got our food, the place calmed down and ppl who came in then got their food a lot faster. But then it got busy again and ppl were not being served properly. There's a sign outside that is asking to hire waitresses so maybe if they had more experienced waitresses, the wait might be better. I'd definitely try my luck there again! I mean, come on, real good food next to the uw campus? what more can you ask for??

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What being busy means

I used to wonder why people are so busy all the time. When I ask them how they are doing, what they are up to, they tell me that they've been really busy and really stressed. But when I ask them why they are so busy, the most common answer is "I don't know...I just have a lot of stuff to do...a kinda muffled answer that really is neither here nor there. So in the back of my mind, it's really hard for me to believe that a person has that much stuff to do; I feel that they are just pretending to be busy so that they sound important; that or they are too dumb to know how to organize their lives properly. Why are they so damn flakey? Who the hell can be that busy 7 days a week?

I fully admit that i have become one of those people I hate. After constantly apologizing for not calling them when I said I would, not making it for lunch when I made plans, not seeing people when I tell them I want to see them, I am beginning to really hate myself. And when I ask myself why am I so goddamn busy, I don't have a good answer.

As a full-time graduate student, I'm taking two classes. Two classes is pretty normal as we have lots and lots of dense readings everyday, papers, seminars, exams to prepare for. So in a regular 40 hours work week (5 days of 8 hours), if 6 hours (a day) are dedicated to class time, 16 hours (two days) to readings, 16-24 hours (2-4 days) to writing papers and prep for exams, that doesnt give me much time. In the event that i dont have something due other than readings, i'd get maybe the wknd to do something other than school work...sorta...since now that I have to start doing house chores on my own, it really eats up all your time. Living off-campus on a budget is a bitch. Cooking is like a fulltime job and between cooking and eating it can literally take up to 2-3 hours. Then there's grocery shopping for the food, doing the laundry, and cleaning the house.

When I do go back to toronto, for like maybe once in two weeks for a wknd, I usually spend Friday night hanging out for a bit, Saturday all day is running errands in toronto that i can't do in waterloo like getting chinese groceries, getting my eyebrows done, getting car fixed, driver license renewed, passport renewed, etc. In the event that i actually don't have free time and am supposed to be doing school work, i might still hide in my room in toronto and do it. Often I get back to Waterloo after my chores on Saturday night so I can do my studying in Waterloo on Sunday. Once in a while, I can pull out maybe an evening to do something more exciting than being in front of the computer or doing household chores but that's usually when I'm in Waterloo on a weeknight or something and i don't get to see my friends.

So when people ask me why i am so busy, it's really hard to say. I'm busy with school, mostly and during my free time i gotta run chores. It doesn't sound like an exciting, eventful, highly intense kind of busy...just a very boring kinda busy.

I honestly can't wait until grad school is over. Like someone was saying, grad school is like a class that just never ends. I miss being that person last summer when I can just be spontaneous and laid back, go out and do stuff whenever someone calls me, regardless of the event.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On Emotions

Over the last year, a lot of the ideologies I've been living under have been slowly thwarted by things I see, events I experience, lessons I learn. Sometimes you face something and it hits you right away, sometimes it just takes time and multiple lessons before your conviction even begins to sway.

When Harvey and I first began talking in fourth year, he was bemused by my indifference, apathy, and relativism. i rarely have an unwavering stance on anything because i believed that everything in this world is conditional and subjective and that nothing is certain. Time moves and things change, we have no control. To be honest, he was a bit dumbfounded. He tried to teach me about about passion and how important it is to realize dreams and make the world turn. He was using Barack Obama as an example, actually, way before the world realized he was going to be an amazing presidential candidate. You have to believe, he tells me.

Professor Easton Fraser came in our class two years ago while I was taking English 301H to teach us what it takes to be an academic. Passion, he tells us, is the key.

I make fun of Adam all the time because he is what I consider overly emotional. He gets excited, you know? When he wants something done, when he believes in something, he's enthusiastic and hyper. I usually find him way too idealistic and too hopeful and I always tell him to calm down and not get overly excited about something that might not even happen. You gotta trust, he says, you gotta believe that you have control.

And you know what? In the end, he's usually right. Once in a while, he gets disappointed, but most of the time, things happen.

To be passionate, to believe, to trust, to give your heart to something and allow it to be moved....or risk it to be broken. And you know what? I can't even stand to invest my emotions into any sports game because I can't bear putting my heart into a team only to see them get eliminated.

To be passionate is to be emotional and "emotion" is a bad word. If you look up emotional in the thesaurus, you'll get synonyms like disturbed, erratic, hysterical, impulsive, irrational, pathetic, sensitive, temperamental....you get the picture. Indeed, emotions has always been considered the other end of the binary for reason and logic. Emotion is the heart and reason is the head and you should always use your head. Girls are too emotional, someone might explain, they let their feelings take over their head.

Sometimes, people might tell you to "go with your heart" but come on, really? What does your heart know about the real world? Emotions are things I avoid having unless I have to and I live my life by the belief that I should never allow emotions to affect my decisions. I pride myself in being logical and detached, never allowing my life to be impinged by feelings. Feelings? Ew.

But let's face it, we need passion. If there is something we can take out of this year's presidential election, it is passion. We can't change something and we can't work towards something if we are not passionate about what we want. How can we improve ourselves and things around us if we don't have hope, belief, and the drive to change? Passion and emotions are not the opposite of logic and reason but its partner for achieving extraordinary things in the world. Did you know that studies have found that people with their emotional side of the brain damaged is incapable of making decisions? No matter how good the person is still good at analyzing and evaluating, without emotions, you cannot decide.

We decide because we feel and know what is right and we do because we feel. If we can't feel then we won't have a drive to do and to make changes in our lives. Let your self go and allow yourself to take in the emotions. It's okay to feel, to care, to invest, to get excited, to be passionate and it's okay to get hurt once in a while. Be ambitious and believe a little and it will drive you to be the best. If you fall, get up and start again. You never know until you try.

I know hide my fear to fail, my fear of being disappointed, my fear of getting hurt behind my cynicism and doubt. I tell peopIe am practical and realistic but somewhere along the line, I lost my drive to be better and to improve, to search for what I want to do in life. I want to be moved! i want to be excited! I want to want! There is a difference between being passionate and being irrational. You can be smart and still be excited about something you desire. Passion does not blind, only witlessness does.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Childhood memories

Have you ever looked back at your childhood and hated some of the stuff you did?
There are so many things as a child that I did that I am not so proud of and wish i could go back and change things, despite the fact that i wasn't consciously trying to be nasty.

Every Hallowe'en I am reminded of when I used to hide my candy underneath my bed and check them everyday to make sure that my brother did not steal them. On one hand, I was saving them and I didnt want to eat them all at once the way my brother used to eat his candy, on the other, I wanted to use the candy as leverage such as chocolates i don't like but he likes to trade for stuff i do like. But usually, by the time the next hallowe'en came around, most of them would still sit underneath my bed and they would have to be thrown out. It boggles my mind why I didn't just share them with my brother.

Another selfish thing that I really hate myself for was when when i was in grade 2 and my brother went to some fair and got two huge colouring books. He came home and gave one book to me and i saved those pages like treasures, colouring them only once in a while in fear of it running out. My brother, on the other hand, just coloured all of them (not very carefully either) and wanted to colour in mine. I refused to let him colour in mine and one day when i opened the colouring book, i found some of the pages torn out. I got really upset because my brother was "stealing" from me, which was a horrible concept, and told on him. My brother got in huge trouble (i think he got spanked) for it. A couple of years late, when I came across the colouring book again, it turned out that i only coloured like maybe 10 pages out of like 500 pages (it was a really big thick book). I remember i didn't want him to colour in my book because i wanted my book to stay pretty and he never coloured within the lines, but it so wasn't worth it in the end.

I'm sure I did nice things too when i was a kid, but when i look back and think about the not-so-nice things, it really makes me cringe and feel really sad. Obviously, people would just tell me that I should let go of the past and just be a better person now, but it still bothers me from time to time.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Hallowe'en!

It's been a while since I celebrated Hallowe'en the traditional way...and I'm not even sure dressing up in a costume before going to a club/party really counts as traditional. I haven't gone trick-or-treating since I was in grade 9 or 10 or something (I know, my size allows me to persist) and I haven't pumpkin carved since I was in grade 3! When Adam suggested that we pumpkin carve, I looked at him with a mild expression and let him continue talking. In my head, I was wondering when will we have time to go buy pumpkins, let alone carve it. But Tuesday night, he dragged Elvin and I out of the house in the name of getting groceries and we bought four pumpkins. Wednesday night, he made sure all the roommates knew we were doing this, and invited some others. Last night, after his night class, he gathered everyone and with two pumpkins bought by Trisha, we began a 5+2 man and 6 pumpkins carving marathon. The +2 being Elvin (who went clubbing after carving out the top opening part) and Harris (who came in and out to help as needed..haha)

The left is Adam trying to take a picture of me with the pumpkins. You can see I'm not so happy cuz he keeps telling me to hold it in different ways. Right is Trisha looking mighty excited with her hello kitty pumpkin.

Adam told us we had to design first. I'm working on my first pumpkin and Justin and Trisha are designing batman one.

I love scooping out the slimy gut!! My mom never lets me play with food like that!

Cheng is scooping the gut of the pumpkin out and all I was ready to stab stab stab!!!

Our finished products!
Pumpkins from left to right:
  1. Trisha primarily worked on the Hello Kitty one that glows pink for some reason.
  2. Justin made a "Jewish Boy" in five minutes.
  3. Trisha drew and carved out the batman symbol and adam skinned the outer side.
  4. I designed and cut out the ghost while Adam cleaned it up for me.
  5. Cheng spent a long time working on his teethy pumpkin that turned out really good.
  6. The very right is my first pumpkin I've ever made. Adam and I wanted a evil wide smile!

Some shots of them. Cheng looking mighty scary.

We lined them up outside our steps.

Happy Hallowe'en!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My first ever hockey game!

I've always said that one of my goals in life is to attend a hockey game (as a joke since they are so hard to get in Toronto) but it worked out that I finally go to go to my first hockey game ever while I was in Columbus.

The Columbus Blue Jackets were playing against the Vancouver Canucks last Tuesday and the Nationwide Arena was just across the street from our hotel. My co-worker and I decided to go to the game after the conference reception and we got so lucky!While we were buying tickets, the ushers called me over and gave me a free $57 dollar ticket (lower bowl!!) so we ended up buying another $57 ticket and split the cost.

The game was really really good. We got in the arena in the middle of 2nd period and canucks were losing to the blue jackets 2:1 and the bluejackets scored another goal before 2nd period ended. Although the seats did not fully sell out, it looked about 80% filled and the crowd were really good fans. Yhey were very enthusiastic which makes everything a lot of fun. Interestingly, we were sitting next to a big group of Canuck fans holding a huge flag so we were cheering with them!
The last period was the best part, the canucks came back strong scoring a goal in the first few minutes! Towards the end of the game, they were on power play and they handled the puck extremely well. For a long time they were passing it to each other in the offensive zone and taking shots continuously. Unfortunately, the goalie was too good and they never scored.
Last two minutes of the game, the canucks coach actually took the goalie off the game and added an extra player in hopes of pulling the score even. but last 30 seconds, the blue jackets scored on their empty net.
exciting, huh?

Funniest thing, however, was the road closure.

I didn't know whether going to this hockey game would satiate me for good but it looks like it definitely didn't. I would love it if I can go to a hockey game one day.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Declaration of love

This will be a post declaring my love....for Starbucks.

I'm very particular about my consumption in general, I tend not to eat, drink, purchase goods that I don't like. If I'm in a restaurant with others and I don't like the food, I'll end up not eating very much. I explain it like this: A girl has a quota for the food she consumes--she can only eat so much. So I gotta use up the quota carefully, especially since I'm such a foodie!

I'm also very picky with my coffee and my usual drink at Starbucks is a Grande Caramel Americano (*HINT HINT*) and I hate it when they add too much water and dilutes the flavour. (Remember my post about the relations between size and shots of espresso?). So every time I go to Starbucks I always tell them this in different ways but they almost always mess up my order no matter which location I'm at.

  • First time I asked for it "with room...err..not too much water," I got the response, "you mean less water." And I still got too much water.
  • Second time I said it with "less water" and I got the response, "you mean with room." And I still got too much water.
  • Another time I decided to try it with "can you put it in a tall cup for me?" and I was told that i wanted a "Triple tall Caramel Americano BUT that will cost more so I'll just charge you Grande Caramel"
  • Another time I tried "easy on the water" and I got the response "you mean light on the water."

There was maybe one time or two times when I the barista actually asked me as they added water to tell them when to stop (i think both at the King and University location <3).

The best, or worst, time was when I was at the John and Woodbine location and the girl gave me actual gooey caramel that doesn't dissolve when i asked for it with "easy on the water". Adam was smart enough to coerce me to go back and ask for a proper one (since normally I just sit in the car and bitch for 30 minutes and then pawn the coffee off for him to drink instead). The Asian guy who was so amazing and so cute not only fixed it for me but, totally getting why i ask for less water, asked me if I wanted an extra shot. When I said no, he said "are you sure?" with a mischievous grin (I swear I thought I saw a wink) and I couldn't help but say yes (not to say that I didn't like the fourth shot of espresso and drink the whole thing down ecstatically euphorically).

So yes, despite all the wrong orders, my love for Starbucks continues to be undying. Although not all the store is consistent, for the most part, they have really good service. Mike Tran's girlfriend Janet recently started working at the Chapters on King location and loves it there. But we all know now that the best location is the one on Woodbine and John..heheheheh.

Politics in the Swing State

If there was one thing that I could not stay away from during this trip to the States was the election. Everywhere we went, there were TVs showing news about the election. When we were in the hotel, there were TVs in the lobby and TVs by the elevators that talked about the election all the time. The airport was the same and even at the foodcourt, there would be a TV at the centre showing the news while all the vendors would have their TV tuned to the same channel. When we get into our hotel rooms, out of about 10 channels we can receive, half of them were news about the election.

You would think that with all of this publicity, everyone would be talking about it, but apparently the answer is no. While we were around the city, we saw a few Obama stickers in cabs and what not, but we didn't see much advertisement signs in people's front lawns. It almost feel like the election is really outside of their concerns. I figured since Ohio is a swing state, there would be much more action going on! Maybe we were just outside the range of the talk, which was right smack in the middle of downtown of the state capital. The dichotomy was quite strange.

However, the question seemed to be answered when we were at the Conference and all the Americans we met told us that all the non-Americans they've met know more about American politics than they do. Dr. George Grinstein, who organizes the conference, told us that you never hear students in his school talk about politics because people just dont think it's something to talk about.

He also believes that a part of this reason is because as American citizens, they are censored. He tells us that if you were to watch the news on TV, a lot of the stuff that's bad for the government gets censored it. Case-in-point: he says that Kennedy had ordered the assassination of Fidel Castro at least three times and everyone around the world knew about it, but this information was censored for Americans. Apparently, if you want real news about America, you gotta go read BBC online.

Since Dr. Grinstein's field is visualizing data, he calculated and visualized the American economy based on the GDP and told everyone at lunch that 8 months ago, they each owed a couple thousand dollars (8?), now they each owe something like eighty thirty-two thousand dollars. He believes that the last eight years, America and its reputation was destroyed. He is set that McCain gets elected, he's going to take his family and his research grants with him and move to either France, Montreal, Toronto, or BC. It's really crazy to listen to someone like him talk about American politics. He seems to think that America is on the verge of its demise--even DoD is starting to worry about the mass emmigration out of the States into Canada will cause severe brain drain in the event that the Republicans win again. Is it really that bad?

Here's one for kicks:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Population of Columbus: 0

I'm not gonna lie, despite it's tiring and a lot of work, I really like going on business trips.
Having an entire hotel room all to yourself is better than awesome (is there a word for it?)
I come home and I throw my stuff anywhere, take off my clothes as I walk to the bed and flop down. I don't have to be considerate and keep my makeup and stuff in my bag, i can just leave everything around however i feel like it.
I can get room service should I choose, I eat on my own time, with new people i meet and go bar hopping every night.

It's unfortunate the city seems as though it has a population of 0.
They had to close the road due to a Blue Jackets Hockey game last night. Their roads are twice the size of toronto and the number of ppl leaving the arena were less than toronto on any given time of the day. geez.

I did, however, attend that game. First live hockey game EVER. Will update about that later.

Presentation tomorrow! Wish me luck!

Monday, October 20, 2008

iHome not at home

Just a quick update on my excitement about the alarm clock i am waking up to.

I'm currently at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio and there's the iHome as the alarm clock!!!! I put in my ipod nano in there and i wake up to my own music! I so want one now, but Adeel is telling me that it would be an impulse buy so i gotta think about it more.

Hopefully I'll have more time to do updates, but currently busy all the time!

Friday, October 17, 2008

You've Got a Message

Yesterday, while we were watching You've Got Mail in class, I couldn't help but notice the similarities between the start of my relationship with Adam and the movie.

When Adam and I first started talking, it was purely an online relationship. He sat across from me at work but my company had an unwritten code of fulltimes not mingling with coops, mainly for the reasons that coops come and go and you end up with no friends if you fall into their clique.

He was about halfway through his second coop term at my office when we were caught in the elevator together and an awkward conversation about how he's always in earlier than me ensued (with me defending myself and asking him why he's monitoring me). Two weeks later, when I came back from my business trip, I emailed him and told him that I was in way earlier than him that day. After a few email exchanges that day, we moved our conversation on to google chat and began the two-month long of chatting every minute of every workday (as corroborated by the message history). We talked about everything that was both important and unimportant. From whether the Backstreet Boys comeback is logical to wondering why people want to buy lululemon shirts that contain seaweed to the meaning of life. However, if there was one thing we did not talk about, it was our present personal lives. We also contained our converstaions strictly online because I didn't want people to know we were talking. We would chat for 8 hours with four monitors between us in an open concept office and then we would go home without even saying goodbye out loud.

I made a point to tell him that our relationship is nothing but "intimacy by convenience" (which was kinda mean) because he happened to be someone who was easy and fun to talk to and made me laugh a lot. I didn't want to know about his problems in life nor was i going to share mine with him. I was on guard because I felt a little embarassed that I was talking so much to someone who was two years younger than me and really enjoying it. A month later, I lost the battle.

Is Email any different than chatting? There is the obvious delay in time of response as well as the difference in topic. When two people are having a conversation, they are quick to exchange ideas and, for the most part, the topic is limited to one (at most two). Things one person will say and their attitude changes depending on the reaction of the other. But at the same time because the response time is quick and you have less time to modify what you say, you won't be able to take more care in plotting out and executing some longterm rhetorical goal. When two people are exchanging meaningful emails, it becomes an exchange of monologues and you can only predict how the other person will say based on (educated?) guesses.You may even engage in three or four different topics at the same time.

So which one is more expressive of your true self? When you are chatting and there is less time to plan your response or when you are emailing when you can't modify what you say based on someone's immediate reaction? Would Adam and I have gotten together if we were exchanging long and meaningful emails with longer gaps of time between each exchange? Hmm...

Thursday, October 16, 2008


When I woke up this morning, Adam told me that we need a socket. I was very confused by his nerdtalk until he told me that I was sleeptalking in Mandarin and he couldn’t understand anything (he barely speaks any Cantonese).

I am not a sound sleeper; I am known to move around, hog blankets, grind my teeth, sleeptalk, and even sleepwalk. When I was about 7 or 8, while I was in Atlantic City with my family, I woke up outside of the hotel room and started crying.

I asked him if this was the first time that i sleeptalked in Chinese. He said most of the time when I sleeptalk I mumble and this was the first time that I spoke loud and clear (which must have been a bit creepy). Unfortunately, I cannot remember what I dreamed about last night, but I am now really curious about which language I use most often in my subconscious. But in the case of dreaming, I am guessing that it would be dependent on who I converse with in my dreams.

I find this fascinating for two reasons.

For one, I remember when I was in elementary school and we used to discuss what language we think in and I used to wonder about whether we need language to think. Can we think without language?

I know when I first came across the question which language I think in the answer was Chinese. By the time I was in grade 10 or 11, the answer became fuzzy. Sometimes I stopped to wonder if i’m thinking in Chinese or English, which suddenly becomes impossible as soon as you are donig metathinking. What I do realize is that there’s a lot of switching going on during thoughts, depending what language can term the ideas the best. Recently, when the question occurred to me again, I realized that now I mostly think in English, which is inevitable given I only speak Chinese to my mom whom I see once every two weeks. Yet again, I was told that the language you count in out loud in is the language you think in, and I always count in Chinese (every time I do it, adam calls me a fob) so does that mean I sitll think in Chinese or only that my subconscious is my mothertongue? Or perhaps the theory is just flawed and counting is just a mothertongue thing?

The second reason why what happened last night was fascinating to me is the fact that my boyfriend does not speak my mothertongue. I am a devout Sapir-Whorfian and I feel as though by the sheer fact that he can’t understand me when im not conscious means that he may not be able to understand all of me. But does that matter?

I have been using the fear tactic to get him to learn Mandarin. I told him that my dad speaks no English and he is not going to be happy when they meet if they can’t communicate. But another part of me knows that learning a language is different than being immersed in the culture. But perhaps that’s an absolute defect of human relationships.

Consubstantiality. We can be one in essence and yet we still retain unique substance. Two people can be one but never be one.


maybe the beauty of love is in the perpetual, unwavering endeavor of bridging that gap.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let's all be thankful together

If this post is going to be about Thanksgiving dinner last night, I believe it proper to begin with a formal thank you to the host of the evening Matt Chan. Thank you for your hospitality, your hardwork on the turkey, your effort on making the event happen, and most of all (this might sound a bit mushy) for your friendship.

Of course, also thank you Yukiko and Paul for being the co-hosts and the ginormous turkey!

So what was this wonderful event? According to the host on the Facebook event:
Because I’m SO thankful for all the great people I know, I’ve decided to show it by getting you all over to my place for a Thanksgiving bonanza. I actually did this last year when many of you were in NYC, and it was DELICIOUS.
This alone tells you that the dinner is going to be kick-ass!
Although knowing Matt, that "SO" thankful part probably was layered with some sarcasm, but I always take what i can get and im going to take it literally that he's thankful he knows such a great person like me.
And that I attended the event because I am thankful for all the great people I know as well!
=D =D

So the food:
Borscht, Bruschetta, Shrimp Platter, Broc & Cauli Stir Fry, Sweet Corn, Baked Mixed Mushroom Platter, Mom’s style Turkey & Mom’s style traditional stuffing, Pineapple Ham, Roast Beef, Grilled Salmon, Mash Potato, Jumbo shell pasta (alfredo, zucchini, italian sausage), Rice & Stir Fry, Fruit Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Fruit Flan, Cupcakes, and lots and lots of wine.

Speaking of wine, I think a good number of us were pretty drunk by the time dinner actually started and our table was especially loud and obnoxious.

This is the other table.

You can tell that there were a lot of people there...thirty was I believe the final count. Matt, Yukiko, and Paul had to spend the entire weekending preparing the 24lb monster that took 7.5 hours to cook!

Although Ju and I talked about ordering a Turducken online, it really wasn't a good idea since that turkey was so ginormous and I was unable to find a grocer that was willing to ship to Toronto anyway. I ended up making the salmon fillet as I was assigned. For the record, I have never made fish before and I think my lemongrass salmon turned out ok!

Matt did a good job on keeping mums about Tal showing up. I figured I was lucky enough to have influenced Ju to buy a last minute ticket from Seattle to Toronto for Thanksgiving, but who knew that Tal would be here too! And to think that a few days ago Tal and I were emailing about how it was a shame he was going to miss the event of the year.

I pretty much crashed by the time dinner ended, with the wine, the turkey, and all the other goodness. This is the first thanksgiving I had since the first time I came to Canada, which was about 16 years ago, and it was definitely a thankful event.

Again Matt, thanks for the awesome awesome evening and putting up with so many people in your house!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Bush Legacy on Jon Stewart

On top of Katrina, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, politicization of the judicial system, financial crisis...How else can Bush screw up?
Is the economic crisis the "turd" icing on top of this administration's "shitcake"?
What is left for them to "de-complish?"
He may never be ranked as the best president, but is he working towards being ranked as the "_____" president?

Your answer is here:
Canadian Link
American Link

Still a long way to January!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

On Words

I know I said I jumped off the wagon just a few hours ago but the point of my post isn't really about Palin, but good writing.

When I watched the interviews and debates given by Palin, I noticed a lot of things and I can point them out for the most part and for the rest i just kind of talk around the issue, unable to perceive what exactly is making me react in certain ways.

However, when I read the articles on NYT or New Yorker, they can not only articulate the exact point I'm trying to make, but also point it out in a way that is succinct, poignant and clever.

In Parts of Her Speech, George Packer points out that the reason why Palin is so frustrating to listen to is because she lacks verbs in her sentences. Her sentences "quickly clot up with nouns...Sometimes most of a paragraph can go by without one." -- which is a reflection of her candidacy as pure "identity politics." The verb that she uses most often is "to be" because the only thing that she can offer is herself. This analysis is a billion times more interesting than me calling Palin a puppet.

I used to wonder what the differences are between someone who gets accepted into journalism at Columbia vs. other good writers I know who can't get in--now I can see that there are huge differences:
  • there are those who are perceptive
  • there are those who are perceptive and articulate
  • there are those who some are perceptive, articulate, and eloquent.
  • and then there are those who some are perceptive, articulate, eloquent, and witty.
As James Wood points out in his analysis about the republican's attacks on Obama's words, "words do matter." As you grow older, you realize that even if you are insightful and perceptive, there are a lot of people in the world who are just as smart as, if not smarter than, you. You can make a sharp analysis about a movie, full of observations and even profundity, and those around you may be impressed, but if you go online and read some blogs, you will most likely find that a lot of other smart people have already made similar observations and remarks. As you get older, you recognize that it's no longer just about ideas, but how ideas are expressed. (That's also also one of the reasons why rhetoric is so important.)

I remember a while ago, I read an article on Salon.com about the death of literary critics and one sentence really struck me. Louis Bayard, a book critic notes:
I find I'm drawn to critics for the same reason I'm drawn to any writer: the quality of their prose. They can misinterpret and misevaluate to their heart's delight as long as they make the words dance.
It's true: you can say whatever you want, you can have the most brilliant or the most insensible ideas, but how you say makes the difference.

Before I descend the wagon

I have decided to stop following U.S politics. I am sad to say that I jumped on the band wagon because Palin was driving it and what a mistake that was. The lack of seriousness displayed by both the republican party and the people supporting them towards the current political arena makes me sad. But before I go, I want to share with you some insight by Harv and an article from the NY Times that's insanely funny yet insightful.

Harvey says (1:24 PM):
this election is way more serious than this
we have an economic crisis the likes of which we have not seen in decades
two wars
iran about to get a nuclear weapon
north korean still powering theirs down
pakistan transitioning from mushareff with tensions with india
while pakistan and india have nukes and historical tensions
the most ineffiicient healthcare system in the world's industralized countries
lynnie: stercorem pro cerebro habes says (1:24 PM):
Harvey says (1:24 PM):
i don't see it, but definitely local conflicts that have global reprecussions at the very least if it's not addressed
lynnie: stercorem pro cerebro habes says (1:25 PM):
but i mean, how do you expect the public to pay attention to something so far away, albeit important when you have a circus clown runnign around being a distraction
Harvey says (1:25 PM):
no, but i wish they did
i mean, i've been following this the whole year, every day, because this is what matters
this is how serious each citizen's choice is


Now that he’s finally fired up on the soup-line economy, Barack Obama knows he can’t fade out again. He was eager to talk privately to a Democratic ex-president who could offer more fatherly wisdom — not to mention a surreptitious smoke — and less fraternal rivalry. I called the “West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin (yes, truly) to get a read-out of the meeting. This is what he wrote:

BARACK OBAMA knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and OBAMA is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.

BARTLET Senator.

OBAMA Mr. President.

BARTLET You seem startled.

OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.

BARTLET I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET Come on in.

BARTLET leads OBAMA into his study.

BARTLET That was a hell of a convention.

OBAMA Thank you, I was proud of it.

BARTLET I meant the Republicans. The Us versus Them-a-thon. As a Democrat I was surprised to learn that I don’t like small towns, God, people with jobs or America. I’ve been a little out of touch but is there a mandate that the vice president be skilled at field dressing a moose —

OBAMA Look —

BARTLET — and selling Air Force Two on eBay?

OBAMA Joke all you want, Mr. President, but it worked.

BARTLET Imagine my surprise. What can I do for you, kid?

OBAMA I’m interested in your advice.

BARTLET I can’t give it to you.

OBAMA Why not?

BARTLET I’m supporting McCain.


BARTLET He’s promised to eradicate evil and that was always on my “to do” list.


BARTLET And he’s surrounded himself, I think, with the best possible team to get us out of an economic crisis. Why, Sarah Palin just said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” Can you spot the error in that statement?

OBAMA Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren’t funded by taxpayers.

BARTLET Well, at least they are now. Kind of reminds you of the time Bush said that Social Security wasn’t a government program. He was only off by a little — Social Security is the largest government program.

OBAMA I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.

BARTLET Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.

OBAMA Which was?

BARTLET A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.



OBAMA I mean, how did you overcome that?

BARTLET I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.

OBAMA What do you mean?

BARTLET I’m a fictional president. You’re dreaming right now, Senator.

OBAMA I’m asleep?

BARTLET Yes, and you’re losing a ton of white women.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET I mean tons.

OBAMA I understand.

BARTLET I didn’t even think there were that many white women.

OBAMA I see the numbers, sir. What do they want from me?

BARTLET I’ve been married to a white woman for 40 years and I still don’t know what she wants from me.

OBAMA How did you do it?

BARTLET Well, I say I’m sorry a lot.

OBAMA I don’t mean your marriage, sir. I mean how did you get America on your side?

BARTLET There again, I didn’t have to be president of America, I just had to be president of the people who watched “The West Wing.”

OBAMA That would make it easier.

BARTLET You’d do very well on NBC. Thursday nights in the old “ER” time slot with “30 Rock” as your lead-in, you’d get seven, seven-five in the demo with a 20, 22 share — you’d be selling $450,000 minutes.

OBAMA What the hell does that mean?

BARTLET TV talk. I thought you’d be interested.

OBAMA I’m not. They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I’m — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?

BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.

OBAMA You’re saying race doesn’t have anything to do with it?

BARTLET I wouldn’t go that far. Brains made me look arrogant but they make you look uppity. Plus, if you had a black daughter —

OBAMA I have two.

BARTLET — who was 17 and pregnant and unmarried and the father was a teenager hoping to launch a rap career with “Thug Life” inked across his chest, you’d come in fifth behind Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and a ficus.

OBAMA You’re not cheering me up.

BARTLET Is that what you came here for?

OBAMA No, but it wouldn’t kill you.

BARTLET Have you tried doing a two-hour special or a really good Christmas show?


BARTLET Hang on. Home run. Right here. Is there any chance you could get Michelle pregnant before the fall sweeps?

OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET Well ... let me think. ...We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I’m a little angry.

OBAMA What would you do?

BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

OBAMA Good to get that off your chest?

BARTLET Am I keeping you from something?

OBAMA Well, it’s not as if I didn’t know all of that and it took you like 20 minutes to say.

BARTLET I know, I have a problem, but admitting it is the first step.

OBAMA What’s the second step?

BARTLET I don’t care.

OBAMA So what about hope? Chuck it for outrage and put-downs?

BARTLET No. You’re elite, you can do both. Four weeks ago you had the best week of your campaign, followed — granted, inexplicably — by the worst week of your campaign. And you’re still in a statistical dead heat. You’re a 47-year-old black man with a foreign-sounding name who went to Harvard and thinks devotion to your country and lapel pins aren’t the same thing and you’re in a statistical tie with a war hero and a Cinemax heroine. To these aged eyes, Senator, that’s what progress looks like. You guys got four debates. Get out of my house and go back to work.

OBAMA Wait, what is it you always used to say? When you hit a bump on the show and your people were down and frustrated? You’d give them a pep talk and then you’d always end it with something. What was it ...?

BARTLET “Break’s over.”