Bao's weblog


Meandering thoughts of a Bay Area college student… be prepared for some bipolar vocabulary

I like this video because of the pictures.

Okay, it’s not that I’m trying to make up for my recent lack of posts. It’s just that I suddenly find myself wanting to talk about more and more things… which is good for the health of my blog I suppose.

Unlike my former co-blogger Eddie, I’ve avoided discussing politics for the most part. I’ve shied away from this touchy issue because of two reasons. The first is because I’m afraid of embarrassing myself and the second is because politics is a touchy issue for Americans who, thanks to Audrey and the stats counter she recommended me, represent the majority of my readers. Believe it or not, Americans regularly discuss politics, at least as much as our sophisticated European counterparts, if not more so. (If you wish to express disbelief, please do so in the form of a polite comment below. I will then back up my claim with my political science textbook, which is located in the back of my car and I’m too lazy to take out right now).  This is a very ironic fact considering the number of people who vote in the United States, the world’s premier example of democracy, is extremely dismal.


I ran across this video today and found it interesting. But to be honest, I have no idea what to think of it.

The way he states the current problem seems to be an oversimplification. I also have to admit that I’m a little biased. As intelligent as this guy sounds, we as Americans have been taught that capitalism is awesome. Whenever it fails, we discuss ways to fix it. I’m sure I’ve never even thought about replacing the system.

Stop reading here. No? Okay, but I warned you.

Here’s what I’m seeing so far. Again, politics is a very sensitive issue, so be civilized if you decide to comment, whether you agree or disagree. Here’s a sheltered American taking a brave stab at comprehending the financial issue of a continent thousands of miles away.

Us Americans think we have it bad. Our debt is currently sixty percent of our GDP. National unemployment is around 9.1% while in California, it’s fucking 12%. Did you know that the Greek debt is one hundred forty percent of it’s GDP? Other countries in the EU aren’t doing so hot either; the only country that seems to have its act together is Germany. Hmm, I remember hearing on the radio that members of Europe came to the United States for advice on fiscal matters. I believe it was the Spanish Prime Minister stating that asking the United States for help, considering we’re in massive debt to China, as stupid. Ugh, anti-American sentiment everywhere… why do they hate us? He raises a good point, but his country currently isn’t doing as well either; the Spanish unemployment rate is 21%. We’re freaking out at 9.1%. I believe Spanish debt is also 60-something percent of its GDP, on par with the U.S.

One of my political science professors said that at this very moment, the Euro has a 50% chance of failing. Apparently if the Euro collapses, the currency that would be the best off is the Deutschmark. The Greek currency, the drachma, would lose over half of its buying power. Actually, Germany is in a position to bring Europe out of this crisis. The weird thing is that Germany asks for control of other countries’ fiscal decisions. Apparently, the EU has no central control over other countries’ fiscal matters, despite being able to set up individual interest rates for each country should they decide to borrow Euros. Germany, with her currently thriving economy, is being refused for many reasons, such as the fear of the rise of The Fourth Reich, national pride, etc. You’re essentially giving away some of your sovereignty if you agree to give control to Germany.

The United States, like it or not, is interdependent with the EU. Yes, even Greece. Sure, our main export to Greece is probably fighter jets for the Hellenic Air Force. But if Greece is holding back the EU, U.S. residents will feel the shock via paycheck cuts. Please don’t ask me how it works; I don’t quite understand it myself. Apparently U.S. banks are connected to European ones somehow.

I don’t know… for me this is a heavy subject to be tackling at 11 p.m. I’m going to backtrack. What do I think of capitalism? I think the problem with it is the financial ingenuity part. Financial ingenuity lets us bypass or sidestep barriers put in place to prevent a crisis in the first place. It’s like how everybody got into debt in the first place. For Americans, it was being able to take out a loan to buy a house with no way of paying back the bank. Greece essentially did the same. The trend is that when times are good, people will let you borrow. But you’re not supposed to! That’s a barrier we just broke!

All in all, I think capitalism works just fine if we just, for once, followed the rules. No cheating. No tax evasion (I think the tax evasion rate in Greece is like 35%…).

But of course, that will never happen will it? Hmm… maybe I should join the 99% movement after all.

Filed under: General

Mad props to you if you read through this in one go.

Even though I’m not the only one in the house at the moment, I’m at a break in the storm where all is amazingly quiet. Usually when things are this quiet, it’s just me inside. Ah, this brings me back to that nostalgic weekend when my parents and sister were in L.A. for a wedding while I stayed behind studying for a physics final. With the house all to myself for three whole days, I’ve never been more productive.

So what was I going to write about? Oh right, probably going to write about my past week. I haven’t done those in awhile have I? I remembered mentioning a long time ago that I stopped believing in those posts. Those days were just too spectacular for mere words to do them justice. Yet, here I am. Does this make my life any less amazing? Umm…

Okay. Thanksgiving… or perhaps Needless Turkey Murder Day to you vegetarians out there. How was it for you guys? For me, my day of giving thanks was spent in a small apartment with loud parents and loud kids, with the cousins my age talking on their phones, unleashing the angst that will become Black Friday. You know the whole American Thanksgiving dinner setup, with the two ton turkey, honey ham, mash potatoes, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and cornbread? In my eternal quest for the perfect Thanksgiving dinner, I DID have turkey this year, prepared the Vietnamese way. Don’t get me wrong, for a regular dinner this exceeded my expectations. But for Thanksgiving? It was a step up from last year, but it’s still not quite what one looks for on Thanksgiving. And then again, the turkey was the only thing on the table that was traditional.

My bedtime that night was at one. How exhausted I was with the constant clamor of yelling kids and irritated cousins. The righteous food coma I was in didn’t make the ride home any smoother considering that I was driving. One cousin’s Black Friday had already begun at midnight.

I remembered being so disoriented when woken up by my friend’s text. It was terrible timing that he woke me up at the wrong time in my sleep cycle… the kind of waking up where you’re too tired to even think I want to go back to sleep. Even with a serene, mostly pitch black room and light from the orange street lamps gently leaking through my blinds, the harsh glow of my phone’s touch screen with my friend’s screaming text burned my cornea and gave me a small headache. Before I knew what was happening, I was car-bound to Valley Fair with two of my friends, trying my damnedest to keep up my facade of active and excited friend, for it was my idea to go on this venture to begin with.

The mall was bustling and parking spaces were few. I felt electricity (or maybe it was the cold outside air) which shocked my body into its “active” state. The quotes are there for people who know me and find me the most dreadfully tired person ever. For me, this was when my Friday truly began.

We waited in line for an hour in Forever 21. The store’s alarms rang periodically as the occasional shoplifter casually walked pass with clothing, shoes, and whatnot. Our genius plan to buy some Starbucks coffee while waiting was quickly shot down when we saw the long line of customers dying to be caffeinated on this early a.m. We waltzed out of Forever 21, my friend satisfied with her purchases, and I bought a clam chowder in a sour dough bowl. It was cold, I was starving,  and this was hands down the best clam chowder I’ve ever had.

We walked across the street to Santana Row between six and seven in the morning, marveling at the fact that we’ve been awake for three hours and that the day hadn’t even begun. Well, that’s probably a bit of a misstatement I have to say, as the parking lot was jam packed with people looking for nonexistent parking spaces. Honks were long, loud, and unceasing. Over at Santana Row, the same friend who bought shit at Forever 21 made a beeline towards H and M. I don’t think we had the patience to save her a spot in line again, but there didn’t seem to be one! Patience nevertheless wearing thin, we went to a much emptier Starbucks and played cards.

Fast forward really quick.

My friend wished he had access to plastic explosives. We drove out of Valley Fair with him fantasizing about blowing up rude drivers. Back in Evergreen, I had my second breakfast of the day: pho. It was nine in the morning. Pretty good. If I had later classes, I wouldn’t mind going there for breakfast.

Fast forward. I’m getting pretty lazy.

My friend who actually bought stuff on Black Friday flirted with the border between sleep deprivation and certain death, so she slept while we took a joyride over the hills of Evergreen. These hills were steep, but nevertheless we saw bikers who might have as well have been training for the Tour de France. How hard core do you have to be to be able to bike these hills… on Black Friday of all days? They must be doing something right nevertheless, because they were a fresh contrast from the hectic rat race that was currently taking place thousands of feet below.

Rewind to Wednesday really quick.

My statistics midterm was on Wednesday, something I was dreading and looking forward to simultaneously. A friend of mine who transferred over from a high school in Vietnam talked about her old study habit when she had daily midterms at six in the morning, which I thought was useful enough to try on my own. I hit the sack at 8 p.m., then had my girlfriend wake me up at 2 a.m. As crazy as it sounds, this gave me a good 6 hours of sleep, better than most people my age I’m guessing. So from 2:30 (30 minutes was just fucking around, trying to get myself awake enough) to 6:30 I studied at home with green tea and the occasional IM to keep me company. I took a quick shower and arrived at the school cafeteria one hour before the test, hoping to run into somebody from my class. I ran into one person. Then we met up with her friend, also from this class. Then we ran into a group of classmates studying for the midterm and going over the take home portion. Now that I think about, it’s pretty amazing how in the end, 25% of our class met up in the cafeteria and studied together.

I took the midterm. Were these questions hard? Easy? I was cautiously optimistic at my potential score. For the last midterm, our class average was in the 60’s. When I got home, I saw that my professor had emailed the answer key and felt sick to the stomach. Not only had I not seen these answers before, but I didn’t even remember the questions! Shit! But wait. Okay, there was one question I remembered… Damn. I got that one wrong. Too depressed to look at the other questions, I closed the file and tried to forget. I had Thanksgiving and Black Friday to look forward to.

Fast forward to Monday (yesterday).

The class average was better this time around. I literally heard the class sigh in relief as the professor showed us the distribution via stem leaf plot (it’s a statistics class). Most people got scores either in the sixties or eighties. Four or five people even got A’s, half of those being over 100%. Better than the first midterm, where the only A was a 92. Thinking of my early encounter with the answer key, I dragged my feet over to pick up my midterm, praying that it was at least a low B. My professor’s poker face as he gave out our tests one by one offered no clue as to what our scores were…

Good God. 96!? Is this my test!? So this is what winning feels like! It turned out that I missed only one question on the exam.

Go figure…

Filed under: General

Everybody asks me why I go to sleep so fucking early.

One day, this happened.

Like how I'm giving credit by putting the link as the actual website? Clever yes?

One of those days, I was awake enough to remember that promise to myself. Damn does it feel good. I’m just afraid of missing that college experience where people come home from parties at six in the morning. But it’ll be okay. They’ll be all exhausted and hungover. Then they’ll see me sleeping underneath my cozy blankets. But at the same time, I feel like an old person.

Filed under: General

Nothing has changed… so why is this post so long?

It fews pretty good to have the number of views on this blog slowly climb back to the twenties or so per day, considering some days I’ve had less than ten during my long break. I wonder whether or not this is coincidence sometimes. I really don’t want to sound conceited or anything, but I’m happy that my writing provides an interesting enough read. 😀

De Anza has some pretty interesting people in the tutorial center. If you stay there for as long as I’ve had, people join you, then leave, then more people join you. Then they leave. It’s feels really nice how I felt comfortable enough to talk to every single one of them. Half the time it’s the other person that initiates the conversation. It kind of defeats the purpose of a tutorial center when you’re having this much fun with total strangers and your progress with statistics homework slowly grinds to a halt.

I still can’t bring myself to blog once a week like I used to. Perhaps I have more going on in my life than usual. Hmm… am I an approachable person? It seems as if my social life has skyrocketed ever since the quarter began.

I plan on spending more time tomorrow in the tutorial center. I’ve held long enough conversations to find out that the people I’ve talked to are sort of like regulars. We didn’t really say goodbye. It was more of like a, “See ya tomorrow probably,” kind of deal.

This blog seems to be focusing more and more on new friends doesn’t it? It’s okay though, since I still keep in touch with the old crew once every week or two. I might have mentioned this before, but I’ve been feeling kind of nomadic because I keep moving from new people to more new people and never bothering to keep in touch with most of my recent contacts. I’m just happy I have friends I can always fall back on in the end… a mother base if you will.

Filed under: General

If you’ve got something to say than spit it out!!

I’ve got nothing to say. Haha, but I may as well say something. After all, it’s been six days since the last post and I’m starting to get used to the fact that I still have a blog to regularly update. Have to get back into it you know? College apps are over for me… for now. I’ve already been accepted into San Francisco State for Business Administration. I was actually quite surprised because they’ve mailed their acceptance letter precisely four days after I turned in my application, two days before the application deadline for CSUs ended. I’m still waiting for the other campuses though.

This has been a very dull weekend for me; it provides a sharp contrast to the birthday party I’ve been to last week. I’m surprised at how busy my weekends tend to be without me noticing it. So on rare occasions such as these, I find myself wandering around the house, bored out of my skull, studying but not really studying, yeah… basically procrastinating, playing the role of the typical college student that I am. This weekend was a glimpse into my life if I had no friends.

No scratch that.

It’s what my life would’ve been life if I had given in to “trends” and had fallen out of touch with my high school friends. I suppose until I transfer to a four year university, my friends at community college are somewhat temporary. I feel like a nomad saying this. I heard most people lose touch with high school friends.

Maybe if certain people hadn’t moved to Milpitas than this wouldn’t have happened.

That’s it for now. I’m still not used to blogging once a week like I once did. Maybe I’m getting lazy. To be honest, not having a personal obligation to this blog felt liberating. I didn’t miss it at all. But I’m back here, willingly, and surprised that I am back here willingly. I think that’s a good sign that this blog still has plenty of life left in it.


Filed under: General

UC apps completed… and more…

Driven by my mother’s paranoia, I finished my UC applications and turned them in on November 1st. I highly doubt that this will give me a better chance of getting accepted, but my mother will feel better about it and now there isn’t as much pressure as there will be when people are hurriedly completing their personal statements on the 29th.

I’d like to shout out to Christine, Marcus, and Michelle for giving me very valuable input on my personal statements. Everything seems especially top-notch!

I actually went to Marcus’s 21st birthday party yesterday and it was loads of fun. It was the sort of fun I haven’t had in a long time: the sit down, relax, and “play a little pool” sort of fun. Maybe it was just because his house was so warm and smelled like homemade cooking while it rained outside. But while everybody was upstairs crapping their pants over a scary game, I was downstairs with two other people knocking billiard balls into pockets. Smiles all around. Laughter. A roaring fireplace wouldn’t have been out of place down there. And while up there was full of screams, adrenaline, and “what the fucks!!?”, down here was slow and lazy. It felt right.

Pandemonium in the form of the friends upstairs brought itself downstairs and the slow and lazy setting was replaced by the contagious festivities. We shot each other with Marcus’s Nerf guns. For me, it must have felt like this because the holidays were coming. Cue the Santa Claus beer commercials and the snow falling down on Target’s holiday discounts. This can’t be said enough on my blog, but the fun always seems magnified whenever the holidays are approaching.

My friend and I were the first to leave the party. Along the way to drop her off, we talked about how fun it was to see the old faces again, how it felt like high school again, how rain makes her sad and makes me happy… isn’t it heartbreaking? We always chase after nostalgia. If I could imagine a physical manifestation of nostalgia, it would be a floating golden orb emanating light. And if you catch it, it turns into a snow globe with distant memories of us sitting in Starbucks, eating at Sweet Tomatoes, joking around in French class, and definitely a seemingly infinite number of hugs. If I could, I would hug all of you guys. But it’s embarrassing to hug someone for too long because than they’ll start saying something like, “Okay, letting go now…?”

My friend, on the other hand, thinks nostalgia is somewhat sad. And she’s right, it really is. I feel it, too. I don’t know why it’s sad though. Shouldn’t happy memories be happy? Why don’t they age nicely like wine or cheese? I think it’s because times change when we don’t want it to. So then we miss the past when things seemed right.

When I envision my future, it bears a strong resemblance to the past. Everything is right again. I don’t know if I’ll be lucky enough to have such a future in store for me; it just reiterates the fact that all of our futures seem like tiny origami boats floating in the middle of a turbulent sea.

Filed under: General

Growing up

College applications, 21st birthday, Company… lately the theme seems to be “Growing Up.”

I wonder when the old stress ends and the new one starts. It’s probably when you get your first full time job out of college right? No more job hunting, no more midterms, no more. Unless you’re going for a master’s degree…

Then you begin worrying about utilities, your 401k, marriage…

Well that doesn’t always have to be the case right?

This is all so weird. You know what happens when a plane such as an F-16 or the Concorde breaks the sound barrier? Nothing. If it wasn’t for the airspeed indicator or mach indicator, the pilots and passengers (if applicable) would never know. Well, does anybody ever notice when they stop becoming a student and turn into an adult? Does she notice the sudden lack of midterms? Does he notice himself saying, “Crap I’m late for work,” instead of, “Crap, I’m late for my class!”?

It’s nice to know that I’m still connected to this blog even though academics is taking up most of my time.


Filed under: General