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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Blast From the Past

Current Mood:
CC is listening to: Nothing right now

Oh my god, I'd forgotten about this series--and it was one of my favorites growing up! Just watching the theme song is like taking a time machine back to my childhood :-).

"This is my domain, and I protect those who come here. For I am Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle!"

I also came across this old favorite:

1981s The Lone Ranger

I SO had a crush on the Lone Ranger when I was a kid :-).

That spinning "produced by Lou Scheimer and Norm Prescott" credit ought to be the official logo of the 80s child :-).


Posted by Unknown | 9:25 AM | 2 Comments |
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Monday, March 23, 2009

Outliers: A Review

Current Mood:
CC is listening to: Nothing right now

I just finished reading Malcom Gladwell's "Outliers: The Story of Success" yesterday. The book challenges how we look at success.

In a nutshell, if you had two people that were equally driven, equally intelligent, and equally motivated to succeed, the thing that could determine who would be a better success than the other would actually be things beyond their control. These would be things like their age, their culture, their upbringing.

As a matter of fact, the book lists a lot of people--people whom we recognize as successful businessmen--who simply had the luck of being at the right place at the right time, and at that critical time of opportunity possessed the right amount of training required to pull ahead of the pack and be successful.

Simply put, it's nature and nurture. And the one who has both on his side is more likely to succeed than the person who only has one or the other.

Seems like a no-brainer when I summarize it like that, but I'm oversimplifying it. The book is surprisingly interactive. It starts off with something like, "Look at this chart and see if you notice something." And then it walks you through the results, and then based on those results it questions and challenges your personal assumptions about success, and then as the final blow, proves its point with studies that have very compelling data. It was logical, and I enjoyed the way it was able to involve me in the process.

That being said, I think Outliers started out very strong. Towards the end though, it kind of fizzled out for me.

By the time I got to part 2 (which is 2/3 the way through), I'd been thoroughly convinced that yes, success is not all about just one person's efforts. I get it.

Now what? Well, it didn't really say.

I have to confess I was looking for Gladwell to give some sort of hopeful message for those who didn't have a good experience growing up. Something like, "Okay so let's say you've got the chips stacked against you. You can still be successful. Just look at this person, and that person--they managed to do it, and here's why."

But he doesn't. And because he doesn't, when I finished the book, I was left with a strange feeling of, "it's not complete." He makes such a strong case for the role of nurture, that I felt if I was someone who only had nature on my side, I'd feel doomed.

That's not his intent, of course. On his website, he answers precisely that question.

Doesn't that make it sound like success is something outside of an individual's control?

I don't mean to go that far. But I do think that we vastly underestimate the extent to which success happens because of things the individual has nothing to do with. Outliers opens, for example, by examining why a hugely disproportionate number of professional hockey and soccer players are born in January, February and March. I'm not going to spoil things for you by giving you the answer. But the point is that very best hockey players are people who are talented and work hard but who also benefit from the weird and largely unexamined and peculiar ways in which their world is organized. I actually have a lot of fun with birthdates in Outliers. Did you know that there's a magic year to be born if you want to be a software entrepreneur? And another magic year to be born if you want to be really rich? In fact, one nine year stretch turns out to have produced more Outliers than any other period in history. It's remarkable how many patterns you can find in the lives of successful people, when you look closely.

It's a fascinating book--I just felt it stopped short. It's not a good enough reason NOT to read the book. I may have one point against it, but I walked away with at least five other things that have forever changed the way I look at (and analyze) success :-).

Posted by Unknown | 6:01 AM | 0 Comments |
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Friday, March 13, 2009

Sake Chazuke

Current Mood:
CC is listening to: Precious Memories--Jim Chappell (The Earthsea Series)

Steve and I have Japanese neighbors, and we're currently in a "gift war" with them :-). You know how it goes: first someone gives a gift to you, then you give a gift back, and then they give a gift back to you, so forth and so on. It's gotten to the point that when they go to Japan, they often bring us back something, and when I go to Manila, we often give them something :-).

I think part of the coolness of it all is that Steve and I both like a lot of things about Japan. One of our dreams is to one day have enough money to be able to take a leisurely, no-expense-barred two-week vacation in Tokyo :-). That'd be SO awesome.

Anyway, it's kind of fun to be able to practice a few Japanese phrases with them, and to be able to introduce Filipino things to them like barquillos, dried mangoes, barquiron, and a lot of other things that the Philippines is known for. And in turn, we get to experience a lot of new Japanese things too. This latest thing that we got (I got it as part of a "Happy Girl's Day" gift) I've become addicted to. It's called sake chazuke, and it's great.

Each packet has seasoning and dehydrated bits of rice crackers, red salmon, and seaweed. What you do is sprinkle the whole thing over some leftover rice, pour some hot water or green tea on it, and you've got rice soup. I like it so much that I ended up eating them two packets at a time (hey, it's pointless to fight it--I eat one, I know I'm going end up going back for a second one anyway :-)).

Steve likes it too (not that he's ever gotten to have one all to himself :-)). You can probably guess that I've used up all the sake chazuke, but the good news is I'm able to order them online. I'm patiently waiting for my shipment to arrive from San Francisco :-).

{playfully shakes my fist in the air} Curse you, nice Japanese neighbors :-)!

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Posted by Unknown | 10:44 AM | 0 Comments |
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Watchmen Movie Intro

Current Mood:
CC is listening to: The Great Prairie--Jim Chappell (Serenity Rush)

Many people who read the Watchmen graphic novel absolutely loved the 5-minute animated beginning of the movie. I agree that it was a brilliant way of giving the viewer a sense of the history behind the plot. The way the events were pieced together, as well as the way it was presented, was very well done.

If you haven't read the graphic novel, the 5-minute intro still works very well because it immediately destroys any assumptions you had about this being a happy, feel-good movie. You realize that this movie is going to be about the dark side of superheroes, and if you didn't know that this was rated R, it gives you the perfect opportunity to grab that child's hand and hightail it out of there :-).

If you want to see a bigger-screen version, you can view it here.


Posted by Unknown | 8:59 AM | 0 Comments |
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Monday, March 09, 2009

Watched the Watchmen

Current Mood:
CC is listening to: The Only One--Chicago (The Heart of Chicago: 1967-1997)

We saw the Watchmen movie yesterday. I had written in a past blog entry that I wasn't sure I wanted to watch it after seeing the preview and reading the graphic novel, but was kind of hopeful that the story would look better on screen.

It did look better on the big screen :-). Steve and I agreed that Zack Snyder did a very good job condensing the story and cutting out material that wasn't necessary. There were some departures from the comic, but I think I heard Snyder say in a TV interview some time ago that he hopes that fans will understand, when they get to the end, why it had to be done. And I agree that his change (the "doomsday" vehicle was explosions in several world cities vs. the original vehicle of a giant octopus destroying New York) worked much better.

I liked the fight scenes with Nite Owl and Silk Spectre. I thought it was pretty cool that, even though Nite Owl cared for Silk Spectre, when it came to fighting together he doesn't "check up on her." When they were doing that prison fight scene, at one point Nite Owl was walking in front and Silk Spectre brought up the rear--they were walking down the hall and fighting bad guys the whole way. He didn't look back at her even once to see if she needed help. It sounds like a very trivial thing to like, but it was the most equal treatment of a male-female tandem fist fight that I've seen :-).

Here's a clip of that part. It looked more dramatic on the big screen, though.

That smile they shared before the fight was cute :-). And it reinforces a thought that stays with you throughout the movie: that if you're going to be a superhero, part of you has got to be a *little* psycho.

Oh, and I want to know where she buys her shampoo and conditioner :-).

I'd write more about the film, but I'm kind of running late for work. I might continue this entry later on. Might not. We'll see :-).


Posted by Unknown | 6:50 AM | 2 Comments |
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Monday, March 02, 2009

The Naturalization Interview

Current Mood:
CC is listening to: Nothing right now

I had my naturalization interview scheduled at 10:55am today, and I made it there with 20 minutes to spare. I think I spent about an hour waiting, because I was out of there by noon and the entire interview only took about 15 minutes tops.

The USCIS officer has you take an oath to tell the truth, much like what you see on TV. Then the officer asks for your green card, driver's license and passport. Then the officer reviews some of the information in your N-400 application (spouse's name, where you live, where you work, how often you've traveled, things like that). After that, the officer asks you in person most of the questions that you answered on the N-400 including:

  • Have you ever claimed to be a U.S. citizen?
  • Since becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident, have you ever failed to file a required Federal state or local tax return?
  • Do you owe any Federal, state or local taxes that are overdue?
  • Have you ever been a member of or in any way associated with the Communist Party?
  • Have you ever committed a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?
  • Have you ever lied to any U.S. government official to gain entry or admission into the United States?
Once that's done, you're asked to read one to three sentences out loud. Then you're asked to write one sentence in English (the officer dictates the sentence, you write it down). Then the officer gives you up to 10 civics questions, of which you're supposed to answer 6 correctly. I was getting the questions right, so I think she stopped at 7. If she asked me more questions, I don't remember what they were. The questions I remember being asked were:

  • What is one promise you make when you become a US citizen?
  • What movement tried to end racial discrimination?
  • Where is the Statue of Liberty?
  • Who was the first President?
  • What did Martin Luther King, Jr. do?
  • Name two national US holidays.
  • What did the Emancipation Procamation do?
But there are 100 possible questions you get asked, so it was safer to just memorize them all :-).

Then she asked me to write my name on two of the passport pictures I submitted, she stapled them to my application, then she filled out a piece of paper and said that I passed and to look out for the letter telling me when and where the oathtaking is going to be. She said it'll take a few months. This is what the results sheet looks like (I smudged out the identifying information):

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it won't take TOO long before I get the letter :-).


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