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  • How Sassy Changed My Life - The book blog. My mom once brought home stacks and stacks of magazines that a friend's daughter was throwing out, which included a bunch of old Sassys and Seventeens. I devoured them, and still have a bit of nostalgia for the Sassys. I think we probably threw them out at some point. I don't have the same kind of insane devotion that other people dig, but I remember it introducing me to Digable Planets and Cute Band Alerts and unusually honest interviews, including the infamous one where they totally dissed that chick who played Kelly on Saved by the Bell. Now that Jane magazine has folded, it seems like it's the end of something - I'm not sure what.
  • Fashion sales:
  • Sort of obsessing over the Katie Couric stuff.
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  • I'm now a contributing editor to Emily Chang's eHub site, which is a web 2.0 resource. You know how you've been hearing about how great Twitter is and stuff like that? That's her site, except she focuses on those tools and stuff that don't really get covered in BoingBoing. I've found a lot of useful sites through her, and I feel really excited about this. I am very flattered that she chose me to be an editor, especially when some of the others have been working directly in the industry for years and are older than me. The other editors are from all corners of the globe, and it's been really great working with them as well. This doesn't really change anything I write here, but the writing I'm contributing to eHub will be more polished.
  • One of my friends asked if I wanted to do a group blog with him. Which I probably will as soon as he gets it up.
  • Sicko got reposted on Google Video and is still up, apparently. Mark and I just watched it, and are now thoroughly depressed. Any further commentary will have to be friends-only.
  • This Film is Not Yet Rated is also posted on Google Video. Links taken from Fimoculous, which is a great links blog. We were going to watch it this week but we watched Sicko instead.
  • Found out that Jane magazine is folding, which I have mixed feelings about. It annoyed me to no end, but I couldn't help picking it up on a bad day after work and just flipping through it on the train.
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Just read:

Roger Ebert's I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie - I adore Ebert, but I really do not need him to tell me what he finds erotic. There's a reason why MOST movie critics don't talk about it, Ebert. Anyway, overall, the book was really funny, and mostly well-written. He gets so hung up on logic sometimes, though, that I think he forgets to actually talk about the movie. Who cares what the alien bugs do or don't eat?

Marc Romano's Crossworld: One Man's Journey into America's Crossword Obsession. This book is not about all crosswords, but about one reporter's attendance of a crossword tournament run by Will Shortz, the guy who edits the New York Times puzzles. This is a fluffy and dorky book. I finished it over two train rides, and thought it was okay but not great. At least I found out why I couldn't finish any of the crossword puzzles in one particular book I bought my last year of college. It was probably edited by Eugene Maleska, who was apparently this puzzle editor who didn't like people putting in clues that are relevant after 1960.

Independent Publishing Deathwatch:
My magazine holders are starting to hold a lot of dead magazines. I have the following: Budget Living, Kitchen Sink, Arthur Frommer's Smart Shopping, and now Punk Planet. However, not everything is dead. I would totally subscribe to Monocle, if only it weren't so damn expensive.

Just watched:

John From Cincinnati - I didn't like this first episode much at all; this whole "mysterious stranger changes the lives of a family" felt like it was just trying way too hard to be weird and mysterious. I wasn't buying it.

Top Chef - The first episode seemed promising. I hated Hung, the guy who's friends with Marcel from Season 2. I know they're angling that guy as "person you love to hate", but I just hate him not only for being smug, but for trying too hard to be smug.

Mark playing Nintendo games. So I guess the patents on the games expired? He bought this console thingamajig and bought some games like Zelda to return to his childhood. He has a PS2 and he hasn't touched that in 2 years. But he brought this home last night and it's like he can't stop. It's so cute.

Virtual China's blog post on child slave labor in China.
Global Voices post on slave labor in Shanxi.
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I have been obsessively reading the New York Review of Magazines. Which apparently is different from The New York Review of Magazines. I read mostly the stuff on the first link, which has a Magazine Death Pool blog, and reviews of other magazines such as Jane and Wondertime. It also featured a story on the now-defunct IPA, which was the distributor for many indie magazines, who folded in the wake of its bankruptcy. (Kitchen Sink and Clamor shut down because of it.)

Anyway, it's a pretty interesting read (at least for me), but also kind of snarky when they shouldn't be. For example, they bitch about being able to find most of Entertainment Weekly's content online in other forms, and imply that this means that the magazine is probably going to lose circulation over time because their subscribers can get it for free. That's faulty reasoning - a lot of people don't go online in the first place, and it's easy to read a $2 magazine on the train. Magazines are in this weird space right now - there's more and more magazines being launched everyday, but also more folding as they find out that they can't keep up with the Internet or find enough advertisers to support their content. On the flip side, there are some magazines that manage to defy the odds and actually increase circulation and pickup. The recent launches like Good and Geek seem to be doing okay, and magazines have started branding themselves in order to stay in business - such as Readymade and Dwell. It's a trend that I don't like, but which seems inevitable. (I mean, I saw Dwell-branded sheets in freaking Macy's at high-end designer prices - they look nice, but do people actually buy sheets based on a magazine they read?)

Hmm, I just had a thought: magazine publishing industry similar to the garment/sweatshop industry?

I'm still reading A History of God, by Karen Armstrong. I'm almost done with it, but I keep having to stop, because it gets really tedious sometimes. It's not that it's boring or hard to read - it's written in a very familiar tone, but she says the same thing over and over again. I also think she gives way too much credit to Buddhism. (It's not as simple or as bloodless as she seems to think it is.) I don't know how much she studied Buddhism before reading this book, and she doesn't mention it that often, but the implication is that people would be much better off if they approached religion as Buddhists do. It's weird that she keeps interrupting the history of Western conceptions of God with mentions of Buddhism, because it's totally distracting. Other than that, the book itself divides chapters into different conceptions of God - God of the Philosophers, God of the Mystics, etc. And now I'm on the one where maybe God is dead.
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PublicSquare is an interesting concept - basically it's something you can use as a template for your own magazine, zines, etc. It's free; if you want more stuff, you can pay a small fee.
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I am so spoiled. Mark is making me dinner, and I got home-made cupcakes from one of my co-workers. I have the lazy:

  • As a small present to myself, I bought Missbehave magazine. (Warning: website has music.) It is so adorable. It's like Sassy, but with hip hop self-confidence instead of indie insecurity. It's even published right out of Brooklyn, and the editor-in-chief's last name is Choi! So nice.
  • I typically implement a news ban around my birthday. I have no desire to re-live the horrors of past years, but I couldn't avoid seeing the news about the Virginia Tech gunman. I read some article (I forget where) which naively described the feeling of relief that each ethnic group found out it "wasn't us". Which is such bullshit, if people actually think most Americans give a shit about the difference between Korean and Chinese or Vietnamese. It's all the same to them.
  • Really good post on the suck that is American immigration.
Feb. 22nd, 2007 10:10 pm


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It's friggin cold.

There's a bunch of new magazines that I spotted, but haven't bought or read because I'm trying not to spend money on unnecessary items. (But I did pre-order Virgin: The Untouched History because dammit, I've been waiting a long time for it to come out.)

Radar is back in print. Do they have the funds to actually print for a year? It's still irreverent, but does it have any substance? I didn't really feel like paying the five bucks to find out.

Good is a new magazine "people who give a damn". If you subscribe, the proceeds go to an organization of your choice. They had John Hodgman on the first cover, which is a plus. I've been flipping through the new magazine, and it seems like a very good start - the writing isn't clunky, the subjects are interesting, and the graphic design is lovely and not too cluttered.

Geek is self-explanatory. Articles and interviews about Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, and fan-fiction abound in this. I have not seen the new issue yet. Seems like it'll be interesting, but possibly not nerdy enough for hardcore geeks.

I also forgot to mention that I read Anais Nin's Spy in the House of Love. It was a quick read, and it was kind of weird to be reading it on the train, but it was also vaguely unsatisfying. Maybe I'll read it again when I'm not really rushed.
Feb. 1st, 2007 10:29 pm


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KCRW Bookworm interview with Dave Eggers

Recipe for brussels sprouts roasted with balsamic vinegar

Kevin Smith's Top 10 films of 2006

KCRW The Treatment interview with Forest Whitaker - mostly about the Last King of Scotland, which, by the way, he was amazing in.

I've been cleaning up my stuff a little (and by a little, I mean very little), and I noticed that I have a bunch of defunct magazines. I have two issues of Kitchen Sink, which stopped publishing last month. I actually liked Kitchen Sink's art more than I liked the writing, which I found kind of clunky. I have the second debut issue of Radar, which is now only online. I liked Radar, but I never thought they were going to last. I have Budget Living - that ended last December, as advertisers decided they didn't like the magazine telling people how to live more cheaply. Not that anything in the issue I had could actually be classified as "budget". Maybe it was budget living if you had a trust fund. Frommer's Smart Shopping is gone, too. I only bought the first issue, and it was full of useful advice, but they picked cheapness over quality too much for my tastes. His other magazine, Budget Travel, is still around. Oh, and I used to read Sassy - I didn't buy it, but my mom used to get all her friend's daughter's old magazines and I loved flipping through them. I wish I still had them. We probably just threw them out in the trash or something.

I have nothing profound to say about this, except maybe I really like magazines that cost too much to make. Anyway, I saw a new magazine today - MissBehave. The editor is an Asian chick, yay! The tone is really hip hop casual and loud, and there's little insecurity. I really like it.

Huh. It's published by Mass Appeal, which explains the hip hop design.

Anyway, I CANNOT subscribe to any more magazines!
Jan. 6th, 2007 08:50 pm


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A Whiter Shade of Guile - Joe Queenan writes about the whole white-people-save-black-people-from-themselves movies, and in a really funny way. "If there is anything black people the world over have learned from Hollywood - and there isn't a whole lot - it's that no matter how bleak the situation seems, they can always rely on some resourceful, charismatic and, in some instances, shapely white person to bail them out."

It's been a long time since I've read Queenan, who was snark-incarnate before "snark" became the most overused word on the Internet. I remember him because he used to write for Movieline - the well-written, funny, honest magazine before it got bought out and turned into a worse version of Premiere. Before it got bought out, Movieline was (in)famous for its annual sex issues, and the Jennifer Lopez interview where she insulted almost everyone in Hollywood before she broke out.

Dammit, now I'm on a total nostalgia trip. Salon did a short profile of the magazine some years back. Some of my other favorite writers from that era of magazine-goodness were Stephen Rebello - see interview with Steven Soderbergh, and Martha Frankel - see interview with Christopher Walken, who I also remembered for her interview of Leonardo DiCaprio before he hit it big, and for her rant about how Hollywood portrays pregnancy in movies. I can't find that article, but I remember her revealing that she and her best friend started taking birth control pills before they even really knew what sex was because they were so freaked out by the consequences of Hollywood-depicted sex. There's one part where she describes a movie where the protagonist has to decide whether to save the baby, which means the mother will die, or save the mother and the baby will die and the lead of course decides to save the baby because killing the baby would be a sin and she writes something like "These are my choices? No thanks!"

And there was also Edward Margulies, the former editor, who also co-wrote a feature with Stephen Rebello called "Bad Movies We Love".

Good stuff.
Dec. 5th, 2006 11:21 pm


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  1. Is Hillary Clinton high on something?
  2. Rolling Stone's articles are really good. I don't know why I am so surprised by that but I am.
  3. I'm really pissed that I'm not getting my Elle subscription.  Arrrgh give me my shallow fashion fix dammit.... Maybe I shouldn't have sent them money.
  4. Reading other people's reviews of dim sum restaurants is driving me nuts. If you're a vegetarian, what the fuck are you doing in a dim sum restaurant in the first place? And hello, if the waitstaff speaks perfect English, you need to leave immediately.
  5. I'm freaking out a little about Christmas shopping.
  6. I'm in love with Heroes.
  7. Also liked but didn't love last week's Battlestar Galactica.
  8. I have no attention span right now.
  9. I learned today that "ong choy" is "water spinach". That explains a lot.
  10. I should sleep.
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1. Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton - I was going to read Bill Clinton's, but do you know how heavy that thing is? I didn't think much of the implications on reading it until I got to the part where they hold the International Women's Forum in Beijing and the Chinese government censors her speech. It made for some interesting reading, and while I don't exactly believe that she's telling the whole truth in the book, some of the things she said were very apt. Some of her choices, though - how in hell did she think she wouldn't piss anyone off by being involved in health-care and having closed-door sessions? I read the health-care sections very carefully, but I could never figure out what she was actually trying to accomplish with her project. And I can't get over how she goes on and on about free speech and doesn't see the irony of trying to censor video games.
2. 2001 Best American Magazine Writing - The best articles were the profiles - of Ron Popeil, the guy who sells stuff on QVC, of Robert Parker, wine expert, although I thought the Rolling Stone profile of John McCain as a maverick presidential candidate was a bit overrated. The best and most comprehensive story was Time's exposure of campaign financing and how innocent people get shafted by credit-card companies, small businesses get obliterated because banana companies contribute extraordinary amounts to both parties, legalized sports gambling in Nevada contributes to illegal activities everywhere else. It was a very engaging and entertaining collection. Maybe I'll be able to pick up more of the series later.
3. Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett - Also engaging and entertaining fantasy about the apocalypse, or the rush to prevent it. It's funny, in a very British way. I am, however, starting to be a little sick of all the stories reinventing Christian apocalyptic themes. There's only so many times I can read about Beezlebub and Metatron and how angels do stuff. I haven't even finished Angel Sanctuary yet! Anyway - this is a note to avoid novels for the next year with apocalyptic themes.
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Yesterday we watched Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which is based on a book of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson, the guy who coined the term gonzo journalism. I haven't read Thompson's work, so I have no opinion on that, but the movie I just didn't get. It seemed like one introspective trip that is, because of the drugs' effects, taken outside. It's weird. Mark likes it because it reminds him of his experiences in high school and college.

I finished John Hodgman's Areas of My Expertise, which should be read in Hodgman's voice for the best effect. He's my favorite of the recent crop of Daily Show correspondents, and every time the Mac commercial comes on I have to rewind and watch it again.

I recently bought San Francisco magazine, because I was desperate for something to read on the train ride home. You would think that I would learn my lesson sometime about buying magazines, but no, you'd be wrong. They redesigned their magazine from a normal format to an oversize format - kind of like W, the fashion magazine. The most recent issue has a good, long, thoughtful investigative article about why black people are leaving San Francisco (for Oakland! and Stockton!), the effect of which is totally ruined by the next twenty pages of its special advertising section for new real estate for SOMA and South Beach. The investigative article makes good points about how the only way black people in San Francisco can make any decent money is by selling their property to move somewhere cheaper, right? The advertising section starts out with the following sentences: "Who is moving to SOMA? In a word, everyone."

Anyway, I work in the area in where the advertisers are selling their condos, and if people are dumb enough to spend close to $1 million for a two-bedroom condo atop Safeway, and right next to the 280 freeway, and across from the train station that runs every day until 1am, then they totally deserve those condos.

I realize that magazines are beholden to advertisers, but they really couldn't have put that special advertising somewhere else? Who are these people writing for anyway?

I started Can't Stop Won't Stop, but I think I'm going to have to start over. There's just way too much information for me to process at once. And I suspect I'm going to go on a music buying spree afterwards.
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Currently I'm just stressed out. I may be the only full-time employee in my department soon. We'll see how fast my boss can hire someone else, but I am so wary of training someone else on this stuff...

Anyway - I have some thoughts that are eating my brain but I am too hungry to link to anything:

1. Some people pointed me to the stupid Forbes article advising men not to marry "career women". Salon had a decent rebuttal.
2. There's a picture floating around of George Bush rubbing some black guy's head for luck. No, it's not photoshopped.
3. East Bay Express continues to investigate the coming merger of several newspapers under one company. I forget whose it is, but the latest development is that the Bill Gates foundation has contributed significantly to it, although the details are confidential. I find this ironic because currently the San Francisco Bay Guardian - the East Bay Express' competitor, is suing their owner, New Times Media, for selling their ads at a ridiculously low price and undercutting the competition. Anyway, SFBG has been making the same complaints about New Times Media ever since it bought up East Bay Express, SFWeekly, and the Village Voice that East Bay Express is making about the new, mainstream merger.
4. Speaking of East Bay Express, this week's cover story ticked me off. It was ostensibly about the new class of wine buyer (young, cheap, and unpretentious) and how no one caters to them. And then at the end it turned into a shill for the launch of their new wine review column. Bleh.
5. I'm media-obsessed, always. I just read today that the editor of Dwell magazine stepped down, because of her personal conflicts with the direction the magazine is going. I have a one year supply of the magazine, which I got because of my membership in MOCA, and I loved it. It was about people expressing their passion for a topic that they championed and loved, and was all about finding practical solutions for average homeowners, not just upscale millionaires. Dwell itself, right after the editor quit, announced a "re-organization". I haven't picked up Dwell in a while, but I believe it's gotten bigger, and their circulation has actually grown, which is highly unusual in the volatile magazine market.
6. Another interesting development was that Marie Claire changed editors and hired a former journalist for editor-in-chief. I bought the latest issue, and it had Maggie Gyllenhaal on the cover. The big deal, it seemed, was the editor ripping into Ashley Simpson for talking about being proud of how you look and then after the interview went to print, she went and got a nose job. The direction's supposed to be more political, "smarter", and more informed, while still being about fashion. It would be a relief from the Bonnie Fuller makeovers, that's for sure, but I was really disappointed in the fashion spread with different political figures like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, etc. Ok, I get that it's about fashion, but you couldn't have asked them any political questions?
7. Project Runway - the judges' comments about Michael Knight are driving me up the wall. "I love that he thinks!" "He's SO smart!" I'm just waiting for them to say, "He's so articulate!" I hate the Cardassian even more after watching the latest episode.
8. It's going to be the last season of Scrubs! Grr...
9. Currently making creme brulee for tomorrow. It's such a finicky dish to make, but I love cracking the burnt sugar.
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The new Belmont Library is amazing. It only opened a few months ago, and every day it's packed, and I can see why. There's a large parking lot, and there's a park attached to it. Inside the library, the shelves are kind of sparse, but there's so much room, for computers, wireless, so many comfortable chairs, and gorgeous views.

And the best thing? There's a little cafe inside, in the corner. I think that's genius. It's not Starbucks by any means, but I've always thought that more people would go to the library if they could get some coffee there.

San Carlos Library has been moved to second favorite. I discovered that they did not have Nickel & Dimed, even though I borrowed Bait & Switch from them. And there aren't enough Octavia Butler books at either of them. I put in a request for them to buy Fledgling.

I read through both Persepolis graphic novels in one sitting at the Belmont Library. It's also a great place to sketch, since you have a good view of the park, and there are these wonderful, old, old trees. I am so out of practice. I took a lot of shortcuts in my sketch, and I drew without my glasses. I think next time I'm going to go outside and draw.

I bought Gourmet's latest issue. If you want some good reading, just buy this issue - it comes with a 100-page supplement, with contributions from writers like Junot Diaz, David Rakoff, Monique Truong, Calvin Trillin, and other people. It is exactly what I think a literary magazine should be, actually - global, covering a wide range of topics, but always about human relationships.

I liked Junot Diaz's the best, especially this section:

Many Dominicans from my class background, at least in my experience, tend to be unwilling to eat anything other than Dominican food. An immigrant reflex, a way to cope with all the changes of that fateful flight out of the home country, to mediate the fact that Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore. Nothing like immigration to make those who leave Santo Domingo even more Dominican than those who stayed behind.
Jun. 15th, 2006 08:57 pm


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Embarrassment - finding your junior high yearbook and looking at the picture of you when you were thirteen and your mom still cut your hair and gave you crooked bangs that still covered your eyes anyway. God, that's so painful. Why oh why didn't I just fix the damn bangs?

I've reneged on my no new magazines promise to myself and bought the latest issue of GiantRobot. Holy shit, one of them got married? They opened a gallery in San Francisco? (The newest one is on Shrader.) How much more could they possibly take on?

I should just get a subscription already. The highlight of this issue for me was Daniel Wu's article talking how he decided to form his own boy band with friends and document the process. I've been downloading the Quicktime links from their band website, and the article answers some questions, but not all. Like, the press boycott of the group is mentioned in one sentence. And you can find out here why Daniel hates the press over there so much. If you think the paparazzi are soulless pricks here, the Hong Kong version is a million times worse - they have no compunction about going through garbage, staking out people's homes - they probably don't even need long-lens cameras for their work.

The music sucks, even by Canto-pop boy band standards. Terence Yin is the only one who can sing, and every time they go off-key, they jokingly blame Daniel for it. They can't dance, either. Oh, and they covered Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time. In English. They probably didn't get permission, either.

Daniel's Cantonese got a lot better. His accent used to bug me, reminding me of my own increasingly Americanized Cantonese. I think he should come back to the States to do movies, but that's just me. :P

I first saw him in Purple Storm, in which he plays a Cambodian terrorist who loses his memory and some Hong Kong psychologist decides to implant memories in his subconscious so that he will be a good person. It's a decent action movie, with a little bit of incredulous sci-fi thrown into the mix.

I have to get my hands on Bishonen.
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I am 25 today! I got a dozen beautiful red roses from my department. My manager let me get off early today, and I took some time to walk all the way down to the Ferry Building, following the concrete ribbon structure along the way. It was a beautiful day outside, and as I walked I watched the ocean. I had a great view of Treasure Island, and the Bay Bridge. It's stinkiest right under the bridge. I briefly skimmed the little informational bronze plaques and square towers set into the floor, read a poem from an Angel Island inhabitant, and walked and walked and walked. It was fun, but I am tired!

Yesterday we went over to my parents to have dinner. I was feeling a little guilty about having left this weekend for Los Angeles, so I decided to make it up to them a little. We had a quiet dinner, interrupted only by Kaitlin's chattering. That girl sure can talk. She seems to have gained a lot of weight, which is great, considering all her clothes were hanging off of her the last time I saw her. She got a memo from her art program mentioning the teacher walkout on Thursday. Oakland teachers have been going two years without a contract now, so I don't blame them for getting antsy. I'm glad it's not a strike (yet) - if an actual strike happens, Kaitlin's education is going to be pushed back even further than it is now. So I'm crossing my fingers. She's improving so much that I'd hate to see any interruption in her routine.

I've been reading Bidoun, and it's really good. Some of the articles are a bit too academic for my tastes, but the interviews with the artists and filmmakers, and the photography is the most interesting part. It's taking me forever to get through it, though - the material is really dense, and I'm reading it like a book. I have Issue 6 - Envy - the one page that should not be missed is the Bidoun Phrase Book, where you can learn to say things like A friend of mine said that if Cairo's nouveau riche, then Beirut is bourgeois, or Of course I know you're Phoenecians. I'd never assume you're Arabs. It's so obvious. in Beiruti Arabic.
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Work suddenly dumped itself on me. Damn. We're in audit season right now, so there's a lot of pressure. I'm kind of pissed at myself because I'm discovering mistakes I made months ago and wasn't able to correct in time. Grr..

Other than that, I had a marathon IM session right before dinner today. I haven't done that since college! Am I getting old or what? I am, because everyone around me cannot stop talking about housing, and the future. Like, retirement and stuff. I think I talked to like, what 6 different people about life, the universe and everything. It's kind of crazy, actually. I wish everyone would just move near me; then I could see them whenever I wanted to.

Things I learned today: There is a Chinese Hospital in San Francisco, that serves the Asian population there. They have Chinese food in the hospital. You know what I wonder? I wonder if they let you eat oranges and chicken soup if you have a cold. My mom would never let me touch the stuff when I was sick.

I also learned that Chinese women are at higher risk of dying from breast cancer, mostly because they do not go get mammograms, they do not do breast exams, and they generally don't allow their doctors to do breast exams, most likely for cultural reasons. There are a lot of things we don't do, that we should, for cultural reasons.

I checked out some of the new magazines in the bookstore. There's a new one called "Cookie", that is a family oriented magazine. What it makes me think of is the joke in Everybody Hates Chris, where Chris is talking about how his family only buys generic food. "We didn't have cookies, we had COOKIE." There's another one, called We Men, that's bilingual, written in Chinese and English, and about as thick as a September issue of W. I flipped through it, but I didn't get it. Even though there was a beautiful Asian male model on the front cover, the models inside were all white guys. Bleh.
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